Amazon Echo Data Leaks, Shows Poor Engagement

Amazon Echo Data Leaks, Shows Poor Engagement:

First, Alexa and the Echo speakers came to market for a single reason only: To provide Amazon’s customers with yet another way to easily make purchases from its online store.

Second, while Amazon does currently lead in the market for smart speakers, Google is very quickly catching up. And I still expect Google to surpass Amazon, perhaps as soon as by the end of 2018.

Not being able to monetize Echo and Alexa is a problem. And it’s going to be a problem for Google, too. In that case, the online search giant will attempt to leverage its own Google Home/Google Assistant user base with, yep, you guessed it, advertising. Something that Google has publicly stated is coming to the platform.


I’ve seen this first hand at my sister’s — she & her husband add items to the shopping list only to shop at an actual brick-and-mortar store (the horror!). Even when they buy from Amazon they fire up a web browser on their laptop and don’t use their Echo at all. Mostly, they use it for music and for the occasional trivia question.

This cannot be what Amazon hoped for when they released this beast.

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Ask an indie rock veteran: What’s the best band of all time?

Ask an indie rock veteran: What’s the best band of all time?:

Can you make an argument for the best band of all time? —Aileen, Glasgow Scotland I’ll try. I can’t promise even I’ll buy it though. Anything like this leaves you wide open to the counterargument, “they suck.” Which is always much more effective than it ought to be.

That said, let’s try The Smiths.

Yes, let’s. Read on for the math and analysis, with which I strongly agree.

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Global Supply Chains Are Dangerously Easy to Snap

Global Supply Chains Are Dangerously Easy to Snap:

… Global supply chains are, in fact, a national security issue, and one that has been neglected by planners for too long.

… When everything works, the supply chains allow distributors and retailers to keep minimal stocks, a model known as just-in-time. In the U.K., for example, many retailers only stock 24 hours’ worth of fresh produce. The system works so well that between 2010 and 2015, 52 percent of U.K.-based suppliers reduced their stock levels, while just 22 percent increased their stock. That, too, helps keep consumer prices low by saving on warehousing costs. At Tesco, Britain’s largest retailer, an orange, whether it’s from Argentina, Chile, Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, Morocco, Peru, South Africa, Spain, Swaziland, Turkey, or Uruguay, sets the consumer back a mere 30 pence (39 cents).

But if someone damaged the supply chains, all of this falls apart fast.

… Cyberattacks—whether perpetrated by a government or proxies—could wreak havoc in companies’ logistics systems, which organize the travel route of every product. Or, an adversary could sabotage harbor operations. For that matter, workers at harbors or distribution centers could simply go on strike. E-commerce is just as exposed as brick-and-mortar chains to supply chain disruptions.

Delivery disruptions are, of course, not a new concern. So limited were supplies during World War II that the British government was forced to maintain rationing after the war had ended. 

… But the real challenge may be nature. Britain’s sweltering summer heat, a byproduct of climate change, has already caused shortages of fans and air conditioners in a country unused to scorching weather. After Japan’s 2016 earthquakes, Toyota—one of the world’s largest automakers and a pioneer of just-in-time—had to suspend production at its Japanese factories because it couldn’t get the parts for its cars. In a 2015 report for the Hawaii Department of Transportation, Ian Robertson, an engineering professor at the University of Hawaii, recommends that in case of an earthquake or tsunami warning “every effort should be made to evacuate all ships and barges.” But Hawaiians rely on those very ships for their livelihoods. “Closure of any of the Hawaiian commercial ports for more than a week due to storm or tsunami inundation would severely affect the health and safety of island residents,” Robertson notes in the report.

Disruptions to global supply chains are, in fact, more devastating than a traditional military attack. “We assume that we’ll always have daily deliveries, and consumers have come to rely on it,” Marsden, the Cardiff University professor, noted. “But we only need to look at truck-driver strikes to understand the effects of disruptions to supply chains. The 2000 lorry-driver strike put the fear of God in the [U.K. Ministry of Defense].” Brazilians suffered a similar fate earlier this year, when a trucker strike caused food and fuel shortages. When President Michel Temer responded by sending in the Army, commanders discovered that they, too, were short on fuel. An adversary could bring a country to its knees without dispatching a single soldier.

… And exactly because an attack on global supply chains (not to mention natural disasters or animal or plant disease) is more likely than a military attack, this is not a paranoid scenario. On the contrary, we have been lucky that our fragile supply chains have not yet been hit. Navies, including Britain’s Royal Navy, protect global shipping traffic, but supply chains can be sabotaged by cyberattacks or attacks on harbors or distribution centers. By teaming up, governments and the private sector could better protect these lifelines.

… Governments and industry might also consider whether the global supply model is sustainable. No supply chain is completely secure, but localized production reduces vulnerabilities.

(Via Foreign Policy)

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Tokyo Celebrates 150th Anniversary with Uplifting Message

Tokyo Celebrates 150th Anniversary with Uplifting Message:

Standing before a life-size model of Nihombashi’s Nakamuraza Theatre on the newly remodeled sixth floor of the Edo-Tokyo Museum, calligrapher Shoko Kanazawa sweeps a large brush over the white canvas on the floor.

This year marks the 150th of the renaming of Edo to Tokyo, and with Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike looking on, Kanazawa, dressed in a black hakama, helped write a message commemorating the anniversary, and celebrating Tokyo’s future.

“Congratulations, Tokyo,” said Kanazawa, standing over the finished piece. “Let’s fly together.”

(Via Tokyo Weekender)

If you want a short primer of fairly recent Japanese history give this a read.

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Perseid meteor shower peaks August 11 and 12

Perseid meteor shower peaks August 11 and 12:


’One of the best—if not THE best—meteor showers of the year is about to kick into high gear, and the timing is perfect; with the new moon occurring at exactly the same time as the Perseid meteor shower, this show could be spectacular at 60-70 meteors per hour and sometimes double or even triple that.…’

Via Big Think

(Via Follow Me Here…)

Hmm. I need to find a good spot in Japan for viewing. Suggestions?

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Disaster Movie

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