Updates from September, 2017 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Geebo 8:52 am on September 18, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , intellectual property   

    You can fool Amazon some of the time 

    You can fool Amazon some of the time

    What a lot of consumers might not realize is that Amazon doesn’t sell all of the products on its own website. There are a plethora of third-party vendors who sell their products through Amazon. One could assume that being an Amazon vendor affords you a certain level of protection. Unfortunately, one vendor recently found out that’s not the case.

    Amazon received an email from a law firm claiming that a replacement toothbrush head sold by a third-party vendor was in violation of intellectual property. This was no small vendor either. The item was a big seller on Amazon and the company saw a $200,000 drop in profits after Amazon dropped them after the email. As it turns out, the law firm who sent the email didn’t even exist. The fake law firm had a fake website that had stolen assets from other law firm sites to make it look more legitimate. However, Amazon allegedly did not take the time to investigate the claims of intellectual property violations and just removed the product in question from their listings.

    Reportedly, this is a common practice on Amazon. According to CNBC other businesses that sell on Amazon have gone through these fake take downs as well. This is similar to the failed flagging system on craigslist where users will flag competing ads as being in violation of craigslist’s terms of service. With the amount of money these companies make you would think they’d have an employee or two to verify these false claims. This is very unprofessional on Amazon’s part, implying that they’d rather save the money by pulling a hot item than having someone on their legal team investigate.

     
  • Geebo 9:01 am on September 15, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    With new iPhones comes old scams 

    With new iPhones comes old scams

    It can hardly be argued that no company has a more loyal userbase than that of Apple. While the days of camping out in front of Apple stores may be a thing of the past, that doesn’t stop the devoted Apple fans from wanting to get their hands on Apple’s latest device as soon as possible and as cheaply as possible. This week, Apple unveiled a new line of iPhones in the iPhone 8 and the iPhone X, and whenever Apple unveils a new iPhone you can count on the scammers to try to take advantage of those who are trying to obtain one.

    The scams that involve iPhones aren’t new scams, just twists on the same old scams. Mostly it will be people trying to get you to wire money to someone through Western Union or Moneygram in order to get the phone. As always, we recommend never wiring money to someone you don’t know personally, otherwise the scammers run off with your money and there will be no iPhone in your future.

    Some red flags to be aware of are things that indicate the ad poster may be from overseas. They can be little things as posting the + symbol before a phone number, or specifying prices in USD. Another good indicator the poster may be from overseas is if they list their WhatsApp number, as WhatsApp is not as popular in the US as it is overseas. Also look out for severely lowered prices for new iPhones with an accompanying story that says something like “A relative bought me this phone but I already had one”.

    If you’re an Apple fan, it may be better to just be patient and stick out the wait until Apple’s supply of iPhones levels off, or even skipping a generation until the prices become more affordable.

     
  • Geebo 8:57 am on September 14, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Bodega, ,   

    Why ‘Bodega’ won’t work 

    Why 'Bodega' won't work

    Yesterday, a new retail start-up made its splash onto the internet and you could say that it wasn’t the most auspicious of debuts. In a nutshell, the start-up called Bodega wants to put unmanned pantry boxes into places like apartment lobbies, gyms, student housing, offices, etc., so people won’t have to travel so far to get necessity items. Basically, the pantry boxes are just smart boxes that unlock with a phone app then charge your account for whatever you take. It’s like the unmanned stores Amazon are experimenting with except much smaller.

    The internet in general was not happy with Bodega’s debut after an article from Fast Company said that Bodega’s founders wanted to make mom and pop corner stores, the actual bodegas, obsolete. The complaints online ranged from accusations of cultural appropriation for using the word Bodega in their name to the claims that the Bodega boxes are nothing more than glorified vending machines.

    However, I think Bodega’s main drawback is that it’s largely ignoring a customer base from the bodegas they’re trying to replace. While their boxes may work in a perfect world imagined in Silicon Valley, in the real world a lot of people still use cash as their primary means of purchase, not everyone trusts or wants to use a smart phone app with their money. That’s not even taking into consideration that the boxes are not refrigerated, meaning as long as they don’t have milk and eggs people are still going to need their corner stores.

     
  • Geebo 12:26 pm on September 13, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , The Rights Lab, University of Nottingham   

    British university hopes to end slavery by 2030 

    British university hopes to end slavery by 2030

    The University of Nottingham in England has gathered 100 academics from at least 15 disciplines in order to bring about the end of slavery worldwide using what they call The Rights Lab. The project intends to do for slavery what the World Health Organization did for smallpox. They’re taking on all forms of slavery from sex trafficking to slave labor and hope to eliminate slavery worldwide by the year 2030.

    On of their more ambitious projects is what they call their ‘Slavery from Space’ program. The intent is to use satellite technology to identify brick kilns in India which uses a massive amount of slave labor. The program isn’t just about identifying slaves, it’s also trying to find them the correct resources once their emancipated as trafficking victims often receive little to no counseling and often find themselves in situations to be trafficked again.

    Let’s not forget that this is not just a problem that happens in other countries. The United States is one of the top destinations for recruiting and delivering the victims of trafficking in slavery. Thanks to sites like Backpage, anyone can be a trafficker as long as they have the money to pay Backpage with a gift card to place an ad. So for the price you pay for a drink at Starbucks, someone else is using the same amount of money to continue slavery in America.

     
  • Geebo 8:59 am on September 12, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Darkstore, last mile, , T-Force Final Mile   

    Start-up tries to solve the ‘last mile’ problem 

    Start up tries to solve the 'last mile' problem

    In the retail war between Amazon and WalMart, we constantly hear about the ‘last mile’. The last mile in the delivery chain is supposedly the most expensive phase of home delivery and each retail giant has been trying to solve that problem for years. Now a start-up out of San Francisco seems to have a plan that they think solves the last mile problem.

    Recently, noted tech blog TechCrunch did a write up on delivery fulfillment start-up Darkstore. Darkstore wants to take the fulfilment centers of retailers out of rural areas and bring them into bigger population centers in order to cut down time and cost on the last mile. Darkstore has storage space in several urban markets and uses delivery services like UberRUSH and Deliv to get the items to your door in a more timely manner.

    However, Darkstore just recently partnered with another delivery company called T-Force Final Mile which has expanded Darkstore to 40 markets nationwide. The problem is T-Force Final Mile used to be called Dynamex. Dynamex is also used by Amazon in some markets and have not had the glowing reviews that one would hope. Both Yelp and Amazon reviews contain stories of Dynamex allegedly delivering packages to the wrong address or not delivering them at all.

    Maybe this new partnership with Darkstore will cause T-Force Final Mile/Dynamex to improve their image and reputation, otherwise they could drag down Darkstore with them.

     
  • Geebo 10:10 am on September 11, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Hurrican Irma, price gouging   

    Florida suffers price gouging in wake of Hurricane Irma 

    Florida suffers price gouging in wake of Hurricane Irma

    Before Hurricane Irma even made landfall in Florida, the state Attorney General’s office received over 8,000 complaints about price gouging. In what has unfortunately become the norm during natural disasters, some retailers took it upon themselves to raise the prices on such necessities as gas, food, water and lodging. Some reports have indicated that some gas stations in the affected area raised their prices to $8 a gallon during the evacuation period. While some may call this just a simple case of supply and demand, price gouging like this is illegal in Florida and the Attorney General has been serious about fining infractions.

    Violators can be fined $1,000 per infraction and can be fined up to $25,000 in a 24 hour period. Now, with the devastation in the area becoming even more widespread, price gouging is even expected to rise. The way the state determines price gouging is that they compare prices from 30 days prior to the date of the infraction and see if the price has been raised in an outrageous fashion.

    If you feel a retailer is taking advantage of the Hurricane you can report them to the state’s Price Gouging Hotline at 1-866-966-7226, or their website at myfloridalegal.com. It is recommended that you either keep your receipt or take a picture of the inflated charge before submitting a report.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on September 8, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    When it comes to ‘Don’t be evil’, Google gives Backpage a pass 

    When it comes to 'Don't be evil', Google gives Backpage a pass

    Nicholas Kristof, of the New York Times, is one of the few nationally known journalists who has continually reported on the transgressions of Backpage when it comes to Backpage’s part in the sex trade. In one of his recent columns, Kristoff goes after an even bigger fish in the polluted waters of internet sex trafficking, Google. The Mountain View, California, search king opposes the proposed amendments to the Communications Decency Act that would remove the protections from prosecution that sites like Backpage have been hiding behind, otherwise known as the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act.

    Kristoff claims that Google has an unfounded fear when it comes to their argument of a slippery slope with Google claiming the new amendment to the CDA could open them up to frivolous lawsuits. However, a spokesperson for the National Center for Missing and Exploited children points out the new legislation is crafted in such a way that it only applies to those sites which are directly receiving money from traffickers.

    “This bill only impacts bad-actor websites,” notes Yiota Souras, general counsel at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. “You don’t inadvertently traffic a child.”

    Yet the majority of Silicon Valley is opposing the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act mostly out of fear that it will somehow affect their right to free speech, which couldn’t be further from the truth. There is no slippery slope here. There is no downside. I think what the mostly insular tech community forgets is there are actual people being trafficked and sold into sexual slavery on sites like Backpage and aren’t just faceless pixels.

    Instead of worrying about Backpage’s ‘freedom of speech’ these tech companies should be more worried about the fact that many of the women and girls being trafficked on Backpage have no freedom at all in a country that prides itself on liberty.

     
  • Geebo 9:02 am on September 7, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Prime Day   

    Don’t fall for the Prime Day phishing scam 

    Don't fall for the Amazon Prime phishing scam

    A phishing attack is when a scammer sends out a mass of emails that look like legitimate emails from such places as a bank telling you to log into your account and offering you a link to do so. Usually they do this under the guise that something is wrong with your account. Instead of sending you to your bank site, the website it sends you to is almost a mirror image of your bank’s site, but it’s a fake. It’s designed to copy your log in credentials in order to steal your financial information.

    More recently, a phishing attack has appeared that purports to be from Amazon. The email looks like it came from Amazon itself and it thanks you for buying an item during Amazon’s Prime Day, its once a year site-wide sale Amazon holds in July for its Prime Members. The email then asks you to write a review for the product your purchased and promises the chance for you to win a $50 Amazon gift card if you do. Then a link is offered to take you directly to Amazon. Much like the bank phishing scam, instead of taking you to Amazon, it takes you to a site which looks almost identical to the Amazon sign on page, but as usual it isn’t. If you enter your log in credentials here, they could be stolen and the perpetrators could use the financial information stored in your Amazon account to buy items for themselves. By the time you notice, the merchandise could have already been delivered to a temporary address and you’re stuck with the bill.

    When dealing with phishing emails like this, never click on any of the links. If you feel it may be a legitimate email, go to directly to the website by typing out the address in your browser. Always make sure the URL is spelled correctly as scammers will often use addresses that are slight misspellings of the actual URL. Also make sure when dealing with any website that needs your financial information, the URL should start with https, not just http. In most modern browsers it should also display a lock icon to let you know the site is secure.

     
  • Geebo 8:59 am on September 6, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Apple Watch, Baseball, Bostron Red Sox   

    Red Sox accused of using Apple Watch to cheat 

    Red Sox accused of using Apple Watch to cheat

    The Apple Watch has mostly been seen as a toy for people with disposable income that lacks any real purpose. Well, the folks at Cupertinio might be happy now that one of the largest sports brands in the world has been allegedly using the Apple Watch in a scheme that would make Dick Tracy jealous.

    Baseball powerhouse, the Boston Red Sox, have been accused of using an Apple Watch to steal signs from the opposing team’s catcher. In baseball, the catcher will signal the pitcher as to what type of pitch to throw. If an opposing team can steal the signs and signal the batter, the batter could be better prepared for the pitch. While it’s not illegal to steal an opposing team’s sign, it is illegal to use technology to steal the signs.

    In the alleged scheme, the Red Sox would receive signals in the dugout from an instant replay camera crew sent to an Apple Watch and then would signal the batter. The scheme was noticed by the Red Sox’s perennial enemies, the New York Yankees. While the Sox have admitted to the scheme, they’ve also filed a counter-complaint against the Yankees, accusing them of using cameras from the Yankees TV Network to steal signs.

    As devoted and rabid as the Red Sox fanbase is, Apple should start marketing the apple Watch to Boston fans with the slogan “Use the watch that help the Red Sox beat the Yankees.” Then they might actually start selling some.

     
  • Geebo 8:58 am on September 5, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: gasoline,   

    Stop buying gas you don’t need 

    Stop buying gas you don't need

    Whenever a natural disaster like a hurricane hits the Gulf Coast, it’s almost a guarantee that some of the oil refineries will be knocked off-line. Hurricane Harvey was no different, flooding several refineries and closing them down. This has caused a run on gas stations in Texas in such cities as Dallas, Austin and San Antonio. Gas stations in these areas have run out of gas, but it’s a man-made crisis born out of fear.

    The runs on gas stations have become so prevalent in Texas that not only has fighting broken out between customers, but some people were also filling up illegal containers like trash cans in order to hoard gas. It was these runs on the gas stations that caused the outlets to run out of gas because they’re not designed to distribute that much gas when everyone in the area is looking to fill up their tanks, or whatever other container they might have.

    If people had just gassed their cars like they normally would, there wouldn’t have been shortages. The gas is out there, but these runs are disrupting the delivery schedule to gas stations. Just think of all the gas that must have been wasted by people waiting hours in line to top off their tanks. Instead of reacting to fear, we should be conserving gas instead. While the supplies are being replenished, think about limiting your driving to only essential matters or not running your air conditioner as much when you drive.

    In times of crisis we need to think more about everyone else than just ourselves.

     
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