At Amazon people bend over backwards to make sure their employees feel taken care of and their needs are met. When it comes to the treatment of their employees the same courtesy is not always extended. In fact it never really is and its actually pretty bad. In fact some people are calling them out right horrible and there is long hours for less pay and it is really bad. Although despite all these discrepancies between the two and increased scrutiny into Amazon’s work environment, the online retailer, has also been named. Although the Reputation Institute (RI), a global reputation management consulting firm with the America HQ in Whats more according to a ranking that this concerning the headquarters in Cambridge. 

“We tracked their reputation during that whole (public relations) crisis when the New York Times article came out about their work place practices. Then toward the holiday season, Amazon recovered really quickly. But they haven’t fully recovered and really the driving factor behind their bounce back is how strong they are in products and services innovation and financial performance.”

The three dimensions of a work place that people usually consider when they are looking at these kinds of metrics are workplace culture citizenship and governance and transparency. These heavily influenced the reputation in America’s tech industry for this years. But what are you to do there are so few options today that we have actually moved into a monopolistic society and there really doesn’t seem to be any sigh of there being anything really different. Consider the following point is that lets say you wanted to order something online from a retailer like Amazon and have it shipped to your house, who would you call? are you drawing a blank, good because there is no one. When we consider what we are going to do in the future it is scary considering that the consolidation of power will only get more and more pronounced.

Prior to the bruising workplace conditions for white collar workers at amazon became a frond page news in the New York times what were Amazons workers are saying some pretty scathing things about their employers. Since the story appeared, there has been a huge backlash of reactions which include more than 4000 comments on nytimes.com many of them by Amazon workers. This is all regarding their white collar workers, when we consider the situation of the blue collar workers the conditions have been seen to be down right deplorable. Glassdoor has more than 8 million reviews and a rating of 400 thousand companies. which includes 5 thousand revise. what they are saying about this was not so good even before the controversy came to the fore. When asked someone said, “would you recommend the company to a friend?” as a possible employer, and “do you approve of the CEO” the responses where an almost resounding no across the board. Although for their in house surveys they have a lot better responses, why you might ask is because people do not trust their submissions are going to be given anonymity.

If you snoop around any tech circle there is probably nothing more coveted and valued than a nice purse of bitcoin. Flip the bill and ask your parents or grandparents what a Bitcoin even is and they will probably scratch their head, or think its a kind of new toy. But for law makers and people in the know this is some of the biggest grey areas in our society going forward and a large question as to how we should value and regulate this thing that for all intensive purposes doesn’t exist like our current financial systems. For a judge in Miami-Dade Country, the virtual money is nothing more than shadow currency. On last Monday Judge Teresa Mary Pooler completely discarded charges charges that were brought forth to the tune of felony against website  designer Michell Espinoza, who had been accused of transmitting and “laundering” 15 hundred dollars equivalent in bitcoin. This was an impossible case to even go to trial because for the sure fact that Bitcoin is not a tangible wealth. that be be hidden under a mattress like case or gold bars.

in the paper that explains how the Florida law forbids exchanging money for what they refer to as illicit activity, such as credit card fraud or out right theft.

Now this is where things get interesting because it does not seem as if the inability of a Florida Judge to understand or comprehend the tangibility and value of the currency is not beyond the scope of possibility as the end all be all for how we should consider this with our society. In this case the stakes were pretty small is we consider them in the grand scheme of the economy, but even the scope of what the bitcoin has done in the past. For instance today there are so many cases within the context of the world and ransoms paid it has very recently been the case that they are paid with bitcoins. Now are we to say that there is no legal baring or grounding we can refer to in this regard? In my opinion it seems to be the case that if more cases like this come to pass then it could go one of 2 ways. In the first case, it becomes regulated and it becomes encapsulated within our current economy and all will be well in the new world order and nothing changes. But if we take a step back and consider what could happen if in fact this stays on the fridge of our society and instructions yet still affects them what is going to happen. This is probably going to not every come to pass because if we are looking at it from the perspective of how they are looking in the context of the world market they are loosing favor, and fast. Another way we could see this going is that we are left to wonder where in the world the monetary system is going to go after the Trump presidency and the total collapse of the U.S. economy and possibly the human race.

There is a new European iOS App Development Center, announced back in January, is about to officially launch their university di Napoli Federico in Italy. When Apple made made their announcement, its plants for what is now seen as their new development center, the first of its kind in fact to offer training for app developers in Europe. They didn’t say which school it would be partnering with to push the specialized curriculum too. This is just one of many decisions in the past new months that have the general public scratching their heads and wondering what the heck Apple is thinking and what their plan moving forward is or will ever be. Apple as we know is set to report their fiscal third quarter financial report fairly soon. and as we can imagine it doesn’t look good, in fact it looks down right bad. They really needed a good quarter, at least a neutral one, to restore faith in their company among their investors and we are going to see that this skid may actually be the new normal and its going to be pretty scary for the American economy when we consider that there is not going to be a real recovery.

The firm does not expect that the third quarter results and even the forth quarter guidance will change its view on Apple Inc. Oppenheimer expected the iPhone 7 product cycle to be much weaker than is due to a lack of major improvements. As a result the firm lowered its fiscal 2017 revenue and earning report per share of investment. Because of the the firm has thus lowered its fiscal 2017 revenue and warning per share all the way down $209 billion on $8.18 per hare from their initial $222 billion on $9.04 per share which is also based on assumed lower iPhone and Apple Watch shipments. Oppenheimer downgraded Apple back on April of the 27th which was based on a bearish outlook for the iPhone 7. The firm also has the belief that incremental design changes this coming year will also not be compelling enough to really drive an upgrade cycle as we know it and thus continue to believe the 7 cycle will undersell the 6s cycle. Thus the firm has really lowered its fiscal 2017 iPhone shipments to 197 million from 213 million. That’s a pretty hefty chunk of change and a problem when we consider what a vital role they play both in the national discussion in regards to policy and the determinate challenge that surround our world and tech initiatives as a whole. When we are looking at what will happen if Apple falls from grace the catastrophe scenarios the news wants to play up is probably never going to happen. The reason being is that if Apple were to go away tomorrow, who would really replace them ? there is such a small pool when it comes to tech and the tech industry as a whole that the potential raises and gains are only incremental and are thus not really going to be cause for concern as we are often led to believe.

As fitbit people like to point out, walking does burn a lot of calories. But the energy you use doing it stops to be as sueful after your you get on pavement, fact. That is to say that Pavegen CEO and founder Lauerence Kemball saw the ability to create a new kind of sustainable energy technology that we can all use, and easily. 

This is a kind of tile that creates kinetic energy and recovery systems for the everyday user. We’ve seen a kind of these technologies in the past, to the tune of race cars and buses, but never anything like this. recovery systems in automobiles can convert kinetic energy normally lost from braking into electrical energy. Pavegen has found how to take this from the street, to your feet. This is a new frontier for energy. 

Pavegen hopes their tiles, which are all about capturing the spring in you step will change the way we move through the world and power it. The CEO compares their tiles to the sensation one has when walking in a children play area. The downward force we exert when walking and energy storing flywheel inside the tile spin in order to convert kinetic energy into electrical energy through electromagnetic induction. Basically, its like a generator, only instead of spinning a turbine, with wind, water or coal or something on a huge scale, it spins a fly wheel with each and every foot step.

What is so beautiful about this idea is its ingenious and environmentalism, but more than that its their simplicity. These tiles can conceivably go anywhere, there’s floor space and foot traffic. This could line the sidewalks of a airport terminal, sidewalks, or playgrounds or sports fields. That’s the idea that has attracted its large support from big companies like Shell, and celebrities like Al Gore and Akon the rapping, singing dancing sensation.

The creator has said that, ” I just hacked it together. There was wood in it, and it was held together by duct tape. I went to 150 venture capitalists, and they all said no, the government said it would never world, we can’t help.” But now who is having the last laugh, this guy and who is going to benefit, the whole planet.

This has been a long and taxing process, so much so that it has taken seven years to get to this point, and there is still so far to go. Pavegen tiles have since been used to fight light soccer pitchers in Brazil and Nigeria, a hallway in Heathrow airport, and offices and shopping centers in London. Although people respond well to them and its it cool gimmick, the reality remains that its a ways away from being something that is cost effective when compared to other means of energy production.  Still there is a lot of hope surrounding this little startup and the sky is the limit for what they are going to do. What is going to likely happen is that they patron restrictions will cease to be a thing and the technology will reach the next level in the hands of other designers.

There is no doubt that there is something seriously wrong when we consider SolarCity Corp and its Nasdaq presence. Management can’t seem to get it right when it comes to their predictions of how many installations it will do in a given quarter. This is a big problem because what determines their money flow is logistics. If you have a team waiting around that you’re not paying, or if you have to produce things too quickly and pay over times you are loosing money at every turn. Good logistics means good profits and for such a tech dominated industry and company specifically you would think they would be on top of it. The problem is that they only employ the tech sector in terms of their actual devices and engineering rather than applying it to understanding new and burgeoning markets. solarcity_installers

For the myriad of problems Solar City faces, it would be wise to adapt to today’s solar industry and maintain a solid footing in their market position, This would require that they undergo a big shift in terms of management’s thinking something I’m not sure they’re ready to do. Some argue this is a glaring blind spot of their market. 

Loans could fundamentally change the game when it comes to financing for them. It signs up to 20 years contracts with customers and then assumes that customers will then want to renew those contracts for another 10 years which is not always the case. However, the fact that their equipment will be old and outdated by them is an almost certainty. There’s also the annual escalation in contrast which goes against the falling costs of solar energy. That makes a big old difference when it is the default more common than Solar City assumes 10 to 15 years into each contract.

Solar city is in a good position despite all the negativity around them, So much so that they are still positioned for market supremacy. This is because they are positioned to be the top notch go to solar provider for any en devour that Elon Musk tries to do. That is to say that they are positioned to play a huge roll in Tesla Motors, SpaceX and perhaps the most profitable en-devour for them on the horizon is teaming up for the creation of hyperloop one the newest argoHyperloop_cw09.keyproject from the mind of Elon Musk. The thinking behind the hyperloop is actually fairly simple. You reduce the oxygen in a tube to reduce air friction them send a cap-sol that holds both people and cargo at lightning speeds reaching over 760 MPH which hurls them at speeds never known in world.

What makes this so good for Solar City is that the way the hyperloop gets its power is through solar energy. And given that they plan to put their first “small scale” project to connect San Francisco and Los Angeles that is going to take a lot of energy and solar cells. It is going to be interesting to see where Musk goes next and how the hyperloop will affect their business going forward, but we can be fairly certain it will be a favorable en devour for them.

When we think of tech marketing many images and thoughts come to the fore, but we should ask do they actually work in doing what is at the heart of marketing, which is sell more of your product. Today it is arguable that the allure surrounding so much of marketing firms is the product of many tech startups that hit it big and realize they do not have an understanding of business as such. That is to say that these individuals get into whatever field they are in because they are skilled engineers or programmers, and are driven to make the best product or develop the greatest software, not necessarily be the best business person. Obviously they are looking to cash in on what they make, but the road to getting there is often vague to them. Thus we see that these people in the absence of certainty seek out people who think that they are more qualified in this regard and as marketers are best at first and foremost marketing themselves and the service they provide. Thus we see a kind of culture that is pervasive within the valley where like everything there is being overly valued. asdfasdf
Across the board what we are beginning to see is that some tech companies are sticking their guns and saying that they can handle the marketing of their own products and doing it in house. This is a ground breaking approach and for them it is actually working. Of coarse there have been some world changing marketing campaigns to come out of the Silicon Valley, most notably we think of the, “think different” campaign from Apple that became ubiquitous with making it more than a computer, rather it was a life style, a way of navigating the social arena and differentiating yourself. Essentially saying that in buying your Apple product you are more than a consumer, you are a part of a lifestyle, a movement that is both widespread buy more importantly individualized to you. It was seen as a sfgkjmeans of empowerment that this tool would give you the power to not only think different but be different. Of coarse this is one of the most successful ad campaigns in human history and kind of makes you think that of coarse tech giants should seek out and pay the huge sums of money they do to marketing agencies. However, when we look at the data this may not actually be the case. For instance  is it actually the case that your record sales were the result of the marketing behind it, or from the sheer fact that its a superior product or service. The data is beginning to suggest that it is the later, and the sums of money assassinated to it in marketing is a kind of net loss.  For instance, is it not the case that the sheer design of something for consumers is a kind of marketing in itself. Insofar as you are designing to the sensibilities and desires of the individuals you hope will wield them.

 

An event that is arguably worth more value and attention that it has received in recent months for Apple amid their FBI fiasco, is something that is good, really good actually. Its referred to as Apple’s CareKit and it released last Monday. This is and open source platform which allows the developers to create consumer-oriented apps that will help their patients communicate with their healthcare providers and monitor them more closely than ever before possible. Jeff Williams a chief operator of the program says that “When we introduced ResearchKit, our goal was simply to improve medical research, and we thought our work was largely done,” he said. “What became clear to us later was the very same tools used to advance medical research can also be used to help people with their care.”

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The initial release will reach little more that 10 thousand participants which will make it the worlds largest research study of disease according to Apple. The app will also help the researchers understanding of Parkinson’s disease. This is one of the few diseases they are going to hyper focus on. The idea being that if they atleast know to a limited degree what questions they are trying to answer before hand it will stream line the process and make this platform a lot more useful to its users and the medical field in general. This is a standard role of business in information technology. 

This platform will also pair with your smartphone giving a wider range of data points including regional and environmental factors and contaminates. Thus creating this application which is designed to monitor health conditions, Apple is going to essentially provide an intimate detailed information on consumer behavior in a way that previously was not available on a large scale. This is going to be an interesting new frontier of computing, personal security, net neutrality, business, and of coarse health. It is on one hand extremely optimistic and hopeful for what this platform will be able to do on so many levels, however, we need to bare in mind that Apple brgis the most profitable company in the United States. We often have this very cushy image of them as being the computer of the people and our buddy we get expensive coffee with and talk about NPR on our way to Yoga class. But why do we have this image? Is it warranted? Probably not, Apple as we know is a sever abuser of human rights from the cobalt mining they support in Africa that exploits children into a life of bondage and slavery, to the very manufacturing of their products in China that exploits their work force to work for about a dollar an hour US for 6 days a week, for over 12 hours a day. I’m not saying that this new invention of theirs may not do some good, I think it will. But to sit there will a straight face and think that there will not be some unforeseen consequence of giving this company our most intimate data of our lives is extremely naive and potentially dangerous.

 

IT just got incredibly personal. The controversial app “Peeple” invites users to recommend and rate others professionally, personally, and even as a date. It’s set to launch in Canada and the United States starting this Monday, March 7th.

There was an uproar regarding the idea, as the app was set to allow for people to be added and rated without their consent. The criticism sent developers back to the drawing board. Now this latest version will only allow for members who have signed up to be visible on the site.

The original app was also going to utilize a “five star” rating system similar to that of Yelp. This idea has also been dropped, likely because of its dehumanizing nature and philosophical and ethical issues regarding quantifying the value of a human being.

Instead, judgments will take the form of “recommendations.”

peeple2Co-founder Julia Cordray explained that app users will be able to control which recommendations appear on their profiles, making the site less likely to be a hub of cyberbullying and a magnet for the ugliness of the internet. Not that it will help all that much.

Especially when you take into consideration that, in April, Peeple will unleash a premium service called the “Truth License” that will enable those who pay to upgrade to view all comments made regarding the members, whether those members have chosen to share the comments or not.

Upgrades are likely to cost about $1 a month according to Cordray.

“We are going to hold everybody accountable to what they say about others,” she explained. How likely the couple is to hold itself accountable for the monstrous platform for public and personal criticism is exemplified by the fact that the company is still pushing to release the app despite the mountains of backlash that its concept has received.

The firm behind Peeple was apparently shocked by the outrage that greeted its first unveiling of the app. Web users stated that the concept ranged from “creepy” to “terrifying.”

“We could never have predicted the backlash to the concept,” stated Cordray. “But it was a positive thing because we ended up being able to give the people what they wanted.” She was quick to add that despite any storm of criticism that may have greeted the app at first, 10,000 people did volunteer to beta-test the app.

The following changes have been made to the original concept: Peeple users will be able to control what goes live on their profiles, no one can add others to the app without their consent, profiles can be de-activated, and the star rating system will be replaced with a public view of the total number of recommendations received.

Users will also be able to grey-out the “dating” category so that they neither make nor receive recommendations in the field.

Peeple, an app under development and co-founded by an Orange County woman, came under Internet fire for its purpose to give people a star rating, much like Yelp. The founders have shifted gears and are now pitching the app as a positivity network.

To use the app, members must use their Facebook log-ins. They can be blocked or reported if they break rules, and activation involves a entering a pin code sent to a user’s mobile phone.

University of East Anglia law professor and privacy advocate Paul Bernal still believes the app is worrying: “It has solved some of the problems, but very significant problems remain,” he stated. “The fact that you can no longer rate people who aren’t on it is probably the best thing they have done but it also means it’s unlikely to succeed as it will be much more limited for the people who do join it.”

“The idea of de-activating your profile is illusionary because the data is still there and vulnerable,” he added. “The Truth License overrides almost all of their safeguards- if people say bad stuff about you that stuff could get out… I actually think calling it the Truth License is unbelievably creepy.”

Facebook’s Free Basics internet access app has been controversial since the get-go. Zuckerberg’s initiative to “connect the world” by offering free internet service to selective sites (including Facebook) for people who otherwise would have no internet service at all has been seen by some as “internet colonialism” more than an effort fueled by altruistic values.

On Monday, India’s Telecom Regulatory Authority made its opinion clear; it ruled in favor of Net neutrality and banned Free Basics.

“This is a very important decision for the future of the internet in India,” commented Barbara van Schewick, the director of Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society. The Telecom Regulatory Authority actually quoted her in its decision for its ruling.

“[The TRA decided] ISPs should not pick winners and losers online,” she continued. “The internet is a level playing field where users, not ISPs, decide what they want to do online.”

TRAIFacebook spokesperson Derick Mains disagrees with this characterization of the Free Basics initiative: “Our goal with FreeBasics is to bring more people online with an open, nonexclusive and free platform… While disappointed with the outcome, we will continue our efforts to eliminate barriers and give the unconnected an easier path to the internet and the opportunity it brings.”

The TRA claims that while differential tariffs such as those set down by Free Basics may make overall internet access more affordable, which then expands and accelerates internet access, differential tariffs also classify subscribers based on the content they want to access.

The regulatory agency believes that this classification “may potentially go against the principle of non-discriminatory tariff” and put small content providers at a disadvantage. It also allows telecom service providers (TSPs) to promote their own websites, apps, or services by offering lower rates to access them.

The TRA also states that the Free Basics idea creates issues that either ignore or exploit confusing variables that occur only in the context of the internet. For example, unlike traditional markets where producers and consumers are distinct, internet users are also content producers.

epa02951514 Indian students try out a low cost $35 (Rs 1,700) tablet computer at its launch in New Delhi, India on 05 October 2011. The tablet computer called 'Aakash' was developed by British-based company Datawind and a team of technologists from IIT Rajasthan.  EPA/STR ** Usable by LA Only **

Another confusing aspect? Every service provider is dependent on other networks, meaning no TSP controls the entire internet infrastructure. If a provider can then occupy “one edge of the internet” and then “charge differentially for data that it does not alone process, [this] could compromise the entire architecture of the internet itself.” In fact, it could make the internet less open, instead of more, meaning Free Basics may actually creating the opposite of its desired affects.

“In India, given that a majority of the population are yet to be connected to the internet, allowing service providers to define the nature of access would be (the) equivalent of letting TSPs shape the users’ internet experience,” the TRA continues. “[This] can continue to be risky.”

The TRA believes that letting TSPs charge differential rates on a case-by-case basis “creates substantial social cost.” Therefore, it ruled that offering or charging discriminatory tariffs for data services based on content is prohibited.

“If ISPs really want to get more people online, they can, for example, offer 500 MB of bandwidth to everyone at 2G speeds, but what people do with that bandwidth is their choice,” explained van Schewick.

And I’m not talking about the explosive two-wheeled gadgets that are banned from international airports.

Canadian entrepreneur Philippe Maalouf has always been frustrated with the misnomer: “I’m watching all these news reports saying ‘hoverboard’ with a straight face- and it’s not… I was like, are people aware that this board is not even hovering? It’s on wheels!”

Maalouf is the CEO of Omni Hoverboards and leads a small research and development team devoted to creating a hoverboard that actually hovers above the ground using tiny propellers.

So far, Omni Hoverboards has been remarkably successful. Last summer, it released a prototype that blew away previous Guinness world records by flying 905 feet over the surface of a lake. I definitely recommend checking out the video; Maalouf himself rides the board slowly and surely across the lake’s surface amid a mist of water kicked up by the propellers.

“You feel like you’re riding on the back of a dragon,” described Maalouf. Or rather, “You feel like it’s you who’s flying. And that’s new. That’s the innovation.”

Maalouf has big goals for his board, which should hit the markets in 2017 and set the buyer back somewhere between $25,000 to $50,000.

hoverboard“Someday, maybe you could commute to work with one of these things,” Maalouf speculated. “But I think regulation might prevent that.” He admits it’s more likely that the boards would be developed for recreation purposes, similar to the way ATVs are used. He also said they might be useful to inspect bridges or as FEMA rescue vehicles.

One of the biggest challenges for Omni Hoverboards has been to figure out how to power a machine that must remain extremely light and must run for long enough for the board to be fun and useful. Maalouf and his team have deduced that battery systems are too heavy for a flying vehicle, opting instead for gasoline-powered engines.

Omni Hoverboards isn’t the only team making strides in hoverboard development. The aerospace firm Arca has developed a rideable floating rectangle that uses 36 fans to generate 272 horsepower, allowing for a hover time of up to 6 minutes. Pretty impressive, but also bear in mind that the ArcaBoard needs six hours to recharge. It also costs $19,000, plus $4,500 extra.

hendo hoverboardThen there’s the Silicon Valley-based Arx Pax, co-founded by Greg Henderson. Arx Pax sold 10 Hendo Hoverboards on Kickstarter for $10,000 each in 24 hours before moving on to bigger and better hovercrafts; Henderson wants to use the technology behind the successful Hendo to create large, fast and efficient transportation systems.

Henderson’s hovercrafts use what Arx Pax calls Magnetic Field Architecture, which involves vehicles with “hover engines” that create a magnetic field and electric currents in such way that allows the vehicle (any passengers within) to float above conductive surfaces. Because there is no friction involved in floating transportation, this kind of travel could theoretically be faster and more fuel efficient.

“Our technology can share the same infrastructure… A single person, or a train with a thousand people could take advantage of this incredibly efficient low-cost new maglev technology.”