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Lawsuit Threatens Amazon's Prime Now Delivery Model
November 6, 2015
Four former delivery drivers for Amazon Prime Now, or APN, last week filed a lawsuit against Amazon, arguing they should have been classified as employees rather than independent contractors. The suit also names Scoobeez, the courier service through which they worked for Amazon; ABT Holdings, Scoobeez's parent company; and 10 John Does as co-defendants.
Film Industry Claims Victory in Shutdown of Major Piracy Sites
November 4, 2015
The Motion Picture Association of America ran a victory lap after announcing the shutdown of movie and television torrent sites Popcorn Time and YTS. The shutdowns resulted from major legal wins in Canada and New Zealand. The MPAA last month obtained injunctions against the sites in those countries, effectively blocking them from further operation.
Fire, Aim, Ready: Is Your Marketing Approach on Target?
November 3, 2015
Business-to-business marketers know what customers want, in general terms, from initial contacts with the people they buy from. It's taken awhile, but through trial, error, some more error and eventually some actual thought, the mystery has been solved. Before I give it away, just ask yourself what you want in any communication from anyone when it comes to a business issue.
New Parental Leave Policies, Bookstore Show Amazon's Softer Side
November 3, 2015
Amazon has informed employees of significant improvements to its parental leave policies. It also announced the opening of its first physical bookstore in a letter to customers. Both moves no doubt have been in the works for a while, but the timing of the announcements may not be coincidental. Amazon's image could use some buffing, having become tarnished by bad publicity.
DJI Plants Ubuntu Brain on Drone
November 3, 2015
DJI on Monday unveiled a high-performance embedded computer running Ubuntu 14.04 for use in its Matrice 100 drone. The Manifold supports CUDA, OpenCV and ROS, and it is compatible with third-party sensors. It lets developers connect a variety of devices -- including infrared cameras, atmospheric research devices, and geographical surveying equipment -- to the Matrice 100.
Oracle Banks on CX Cloud Verticals
November 2, 2015
Oracle last week announced a variety of industry-specific solutions and enhancements to several existing products at Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco. The company unveiled industry-specific vertical solutions for the financial services, communications, consumer goods, high-tech, industrial manufacturing and automotive fields as part of its Customer Experience Cloud.
The New York Times May Get Technical With Ad Blockers
November 2, 2015
The New York Times Company last week indicated would take steps to circumvent ad-blocking tools. "As you know, the Times' digital subscription revenue stream means that we are less exposed than most publishers to the impact of ad-blockers," said NYT Company CEO Mark Thompson during an earnings call. "Nonetheless, let me make it clear that we oppose ad blocking."
Using Tech to Fix the Horrid US Political Debates
November 2, 2015
I watched with interest last week's Republican debate and realized very quickly that whatever that was on my TV, it sure as hell wasn't an actual debate. The idea is for us to be able to compare the qualifications and positions of a variety of candidates and then make a more informed choice -- but if every candidate is asked a different question, then how do we compare the answers?
When Innovation Misfires
October 29, 2015
Innovation is not always good -- it can backfire. Good innovation helps to grow a brand in the marketplace and results in more customer love. Bad innovation does the opposite. Companies would be better off doing nothing than innovating badly. Many public companies innovate on a regular basis because they think they have to. After all, they must keep their investors happy.
Qualcomm Unveils Muscle Camera for Surveillance Systems
October 28, 2015
Qualcomm on Tuesday announced a muscle video camera for surveillance systems. Part of the company's Snapdragon 618 IP camera platform, it combines a six-core, 64-bit processor; next-generation graphics crunching; and embedded digital signal processing. The unit can perform advanced video analytics, which can reduce cloud processing and storage costs provide more reliable analytics, Qualcomm said.
Walmart Catches the Drone Delivery Bug
October 28, 2015
Walmart on Monday filed a request with the Federal Aviation Administration to begin deploying commercial drones to transport goods from outside vendors to its distribution centers, as well as to customers' homes. The company, which has been testing drones in indoor flights, wanted an exemption in order to deploy small unmanned aircraft systems, wrote Walmart VP Shekar Natarajan.
NY AG Could Be Broadband-Speed Mythbuster
October 26, 2015
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has launched an investigation into Verizon, Cablevision and Time Warner Cable. The purpose of the probe is to determine whether three of the state's top telecom companies are providing high-speed broadband Internet as advertised to consumers and businesses. The probe was launched in response to consumer complaints on the issue.
Dish Network to Automate TV Ad Sales
October 26, 2015
Dish Network on Monday launched Dish Media Sales, an automated marketplace that will let advertisers buy TV spots the same way they can buy ads online. With the initiative, Dish will give advertisers the ability to purchase targeted, linear TV ads, impression by impression, using real-time bidding technology -- similar to the way online ads are purchased.
Starting a Startup: Tips for Budding E-Commerce Entrepreneurs
October 26, 2015
So you're thinking of starting an e-commerce business. It's an exciting prospect, but it can be daunting. How do you even begin? How can you ensure that your startup gets past being a startup? It's important to understand one thing about e-commerce: Just because it's online doesn't mean it's easy. With that in mind, here are a few tips to get you going with your enterprise.
Google Views Itself Through Machine Learning Lens
October 26, 2015
Google CEO Sundar Pichai last week lit up his first earnings call with accounts of a solid third quarter and machine learning dreams that could permeate all the company's products. As the call drew to a close, investors asked about the vision for machine learning. Google has been rethinking everything it has been doing, and doing so through the transformative field of machine learning, he said.
Key EU Court Ruling Gives Bitcoin Tax-Exempt Status
October 23, 2015
The European Union's Court of Justice on Thursday ruled that bitcoin, the virtual payment system that has shown promise and potential as an emerging currency, should be considered exempt from Value Added Tax under existing law. Swedish national David Hedqvist sought a ruling from the Swedish Revenue Law Commission to determine whether bitcoin should be subject to VAT.
Twitter Talks Up New Storytelling Tools
October 22, 2015
Twitter announced two tools, a Collections API, and an ecosystem of partners designed to let publishers organize tweets to better tell a tale. The API creates a single Collection ID that can be used to edit, update and publish a story from any tool in the Twitter ecosystem. Publishers can find tweets and organize them into a single story, then display them on their own websites or in their apps.
YouTube Red Offers Paying Customers Ad-Free PewDiePie
October 22, 2015
YouTube on Wednesday introduced YouTube Red, a $10 a month ad-free channel. Membership extends across devices, and consumers can access the service from other YouTube channels or apps, including YouTube Gaming. Subscribers to YouTube Red will get a twofer -- it automatically provides access to Google Play Music, which also carries a $10 subscription tag.
Federal Investment in Big Data Applications Heads for Liftoff
October 22, 2015
U.S. government agencies appear to have gotten the memo: Big data is good for you. The acquisition, storage, processing and management of large chunks of information will drive the use of big data technologies, according to a survey of federal IT managers. To accomplish those goals, federal IT managers increasingly are seeking the support of the private sector.
Amazon, NYT Revive Workplace Culture Brouhaha
October 21, 2015
Amazon and The New York Times this week engaged in a rehash of their dispute over the publication this summer of a story that describes harsh working conditions at the company. NYT reporter Jodi Kantor misled Amazon, alleged spokesperson Jay Carney, as she failed to challenge the credibility of former Amazon employees whose negative comments formed the backbone of the story.
MIT Machine Does Big Data Analysis the Human Way
October 20, 2015
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology last week announced they had developed an algorithmic system to analyze big data that eventually might replace humans. The system, called the "Data Science Machine," designs the feature set and searches for patterns in big data. The DSM's first prototype was 96 percent as accurate as the winning submission by a human team in one competition to find predictive patterns in unfamiliar data sets.
Amazon Throws the Book at Fake Review Writers
October 20, 2015
An "unhealthy ecosystem" has developed outside of Amazon and it has been harming the company's website, Amazon said in a complaint filed last week in Washington State Superior Court. The suit alleges that 1,114 "John Does" placed fake product reviews on the company's website. The perpetrators apparently have been selling reviews through Fiverr, for as little as $5 each.
Appletizing Microsoft: All You Need Is Love
October 19, 2015
The question that's been bugging me lately is this: Why hasn't Microsoft managed to break through with mobile consumer devices? While Apple has been breaking into the enterprise through consumer demand, Microsoft's enterprise tradition hasn't been helping with consumers. Case in point? Windows Phones. Meanwhile, why do I care? After all, I'm an Apple product enthusiast.
Appeals Court Validates Google's Mammoth Books Project
October 17, 2015
Google won an important legal victory on Friday, when the Second United States Court of Appeals in New York upheld a lower court's judgment in its years-long battle with the Authors Guild over Google Books. The case "tests the boundaries of fair use," Judge Pierre Leval wrote, but Google's actions did not constitute infringement, because they were for a "highly transformative" purpose.
Federal Agencies Warming Up to Big Data
October 15, 2015
It just makes too much sense. Big government can function much better if government agencies take advantage of the benefits of big data technologies. Given the perception that governments operate on a bias favoring the status quo, it may come as a surprise that U.S. government agencies are slowly but surely embracing the adoption of big data innovations.
E-Commerce Firms Need to Wise Up to Cybercrime
October 15, 2015
Every business owner and executive must think long and hard about cybersecurity -- especially considering all the break-ins and data thefts during the last several years. Data breaches and security issues are in the headlines on a regular basis. One good source for getting a grip on some possible solutions to the problem is AT&T's new report, "What Every CEO Needs to Know About Cybersecurity."
Uber Rushes In as Same-Day Deliveries Ramp Up
October 14, 2015
Uber on Wednesday made its UberRush merchant delivery service a full-fledged division of the company, officially rolling it out in New York City, Chicago and San Francisco. The announcement followed a soft launch earlier this year in NYC. Americans waste too much time and productivity by transporting things from one point to another, Uber reasoned.
Upvoted Tells the Story Behind Reddit's Best Stories
October 10, 2015
Reddit earlier this week announced the launch of Upvoted, a new publication featuring original content from a team of staff editors and writers. Reddit has more than 202 million monthly users. Its podcast have been downloaded more than 1.6 million times since January, and its newsletter has hundreds of thousands of subscribers, according to product manager Heath Black.
Amazon Casts Its Net on the Internet of Things
October 9, 2015
Amazon on Thursday leapt into the Internet of Things market with the announcement of its AWS IoT platform. AWS IoT lets devices -- ranging from cars and turbines to sensor grids and light bulbs -- connect to services from Amazon Web Services. That in turn allows companies to store, process, analyze and act on the mountains of data generated by connected devices.
Customer Engagement in the Age of the Silent Traveler
October 9, 2015
The rise of social media has given customers a new platform for interacting with travel and hospitality companies, from airlines to car rental agencies. Today's travel customers primarily use these digital technologies to coordinate logistics and log complaints; gone are the days of calling a reservation specialist to book flights or running through seating options at the check-in counter.
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I plan to do my holiday shopping…
Online only -- I like the convenience and comfort.
Online only -- I'd shop in stores if their stock weren't so limited.
At brick-and-mortar stores only -- I like to see what I'm getting.
At brick-and-mortar stores only -- I enjoy the holiday shopping atmosphere.
At brick-and-mortar stores only -- I want to support local merchants.
Online and in stores -- I want the best of both worlds.
I'm not planning on doing any holiday shopping.