Amazon Is Abusing Apple’s Enterprise Certificates Too →

February 1, 2019 · 14:11

The Amazon Flex app is where you will spend most of your time scheduling and completing your deliveries. So it only makes sense that after signing up and getting approved for Amazon Flex, your next step is to download the Amazon Flex delivery app on your phone and start making deliveries!

Unfortunately, because Amazon Flex is not a program that is completely open to the public, the Amazon Flex app cannot be found on the Google Play store or the App Store. Instead, you must manually install the Amazon Flex app on your phone through a special process. The instructions are quite different for iPhone and Android, so be sure to reference the correct section depending on the phone type that you are using!

So that’s the big three tech giants all accounted for. Who’s next?

Amazon’s Ring Has Access to All of It’s Customer’s Live Video Feeds and Recordings →

January 11, 2019 · 10:36

Sam Biddle, for The Intercept:

Despite its mission to keep people and their property secure, the company’s treatment of customer video feeds has been anything but, people familiar with the company’s practices told The Intercept. Beginning in 2016, according to one source, Ring provided its Ukraine-based research and development team virtually unfettered access to a folder on Amazon’s S3 cloud storage service that contained every video created by every Ring camera around the world. This would amount to an enormous list of highly sensitive files that could be easily browsed and viewed. Downloading and sharing these customer video files would have required little more than a click […]

At the same time, the source said, Ring unnecessarily provided executives and engineers in the U.S. with highly privileged access to the company’s technical support video portal, allowing unfiltered, round-the-clock live feeds from some customer cameras, regardless of whether they needed access to this extremely sensitive data to do their jobs.

Trust takes a long time to earn, but it can be lost in a heartbeat. I still cannot believe that companies don’t take this topic more seriously, especially after all of the Uber and Facebook fiascos.

Amazon Key’s Camera Can Be Disabled by a Third Party →

November 18, 2017 · 11:38

Thuy Ong, writing for The Verge:

Now security researchers have found that the camera can be disabled and frozen from a program run from any computer within Wi-Fi range, reports Wired. That means a customer watching a delivery will only see a closed door, even if someone opens the door and goes inside — a vulnerability that may allow rogue couriers to rob customers’ homes.

This is exactly why I wouldn’t want to sign up for Amazon Key. While I understand that Amazon will try to make everything as secure as possible, everything can be hacked.

Amazon’s team clarified how they verify their drivers:

Every delivery driver passes a comprehensive background check that is verified by Amazon before they can make in-home deliveries, every delivery is connected to a specific driver, and before we unlock the door for a delivery, Amazon verifies that the correct driver is at the right address, at the intended time.

We have had multiple examples of insufficient background checks in law enforcement circles over the past few years and I seriously doubt Amazon can do better. Someone will always slip through the cracks. And that’s just the people behind the whole operation — the system can still be hacked.

Amazon Key →

November 18, 2017 · 11:29

From Amazon’s press release:

Amazon Key allows customers to have their packages securely delivered inside their home without having to be there. Using the Amazon Key app, customers stay in control and can track their delivery with real-time notifications, watch the delivery happening live or review a video of the delivery after it is complete.

No. Way. Why would anyone want to compromise the sanctity of their own home?1

  1. I wrote this short comment a day after the press release went up, but didn’t post it — I felt it wasn’t relevant to Europe. I changed my mind because of recent developments.

August 10, 2017 · 09:34

The 2017 Amazon Echo Show looks like what people thought the future would look like in 1980. In 2007, the iPhone was the future.

Why Amazon Prime Video Isn’t on the Apple TV →

June 1, 2016 · 08:45

Dieter Bohn:

Bezos argues that for video players, he only wants Amazon to sell devices that support Prime Video. And while “you can always get the video player on the device,” you can’t always get them on “acceptable business terms.” When our own Nilay Patel pressed Bezos and asked whether those terms involved Apple’s famous 30 percent cut on all purchases, Bezos said that “private business discussions should stay private.”

I would probably use Amazon Prime Video if I could get it on my Apple TV. But I can’t. So I won’t (both pay and watch). I hope those are acceptable business terms for Bezos.

Thoughts on The New Kindle Oasis

April 15, 2016 · 22:24

I bought my first Kindle in 2011. It was the model with side mounted buttons to flip pages, a non-lit screen, and I loved it1. Not because it was a good device, but because it allowed me to carry so many of my books with me, read them fairly comfortably, and I wasn’t worried about destroying it — it was cheap enough that should anything happen to it, I would just go get a new one. Five years later, the latter has changed quite a bit.

Continue reading →

  1. It’s either a Kindle 4 or Kindle Classic, depending on who you ask, and I got it just before the Paperwhite came out. Figures.

Amazon to Sell New Kindle With Rechargeable Case →

April 6, 2016 · 21:28

Greg Bensinger:

In a first for the Seattle online retailer, Amazon will soon sell a higher-end Kindle with a rechargeable protective case for extended battery life, according to a person familiar with the matter. This removable cover will allow the Kindle to be thinner than earlier devices.

Also under development is a separate Kindle case with a battery that can be charged using solar power. It is unlikely this case will be released in the immediate future, another person familiar with the matter said.

New ‘Flagship’ Kindle Coming Soon; Details Next Week

April 4, 2016 · 23:28

Jeff Bezos let loose today…

I’m a Kindle Voyage user for the past year or so, and while I like the hardware, the software needs a lot of work. The latest updates that I’ve been seeing seem to focus on the wrong things — the reading experience should be near perfect, first and foremost.

Amazon Removing Kindle eBooks That Have Table of Contents at the End →

March 13, 2016 · 10:17

Michael Kozlowski:

Amazon has begun a quiet campaign of removing Kindle e-books that have the table of contents at the end of the book, instead of the front. Amazon has a new algorithm that is automatically emailing authors and telling them they have five days to make the changes or the BUY button will disappear. In some cases authors aren’t even getting the emails  and their e-books have just been removed.

The giant, stretching and flexing his muscles.

Amazon Removes Encryption From Fire Tablets →

March 3, 2016 · 22:52

Patrick Howell O’Neill:

While Apple continues to resist a court order requiring it to help the FBI access a terrorist’s phone, another major tech company just took a strange and unexpected step away from encryption.

Amazon has removed enterprise-level device encryption from its Fire Tablet devices. While Amazon’s Kindle Fire, Fire Phone, and Fire TV devices run the same operating system—called Fire OS—the update only applies to the company’s tablets, although this still affects millions of users.

Amazon Suggested Their Customer Was Being a Dick →

January 5, 2016 · 18:55

Sebastian Anthony:

On a fateful day in October 2015, Pedro—an IT contractor living in Ireland—was surfing for a specialised textbook he needed for a new extracurricular art class. He found the book, ordered it, but was disappointed when it arrived. The listing had said that the book was the current edition, but Amazon sent Pedro the previous edition.

Pedro got in touch with Amazon customer service to see about getting the proper version. A few days later, Amazon told Pedro that they had ultimately failed to find the right version of the textbook and that he should instead return the book for a full refund.

Pedro, who by this point had spent a long time looking for the correct version of the book and then more time waiting while Amazon looked for the book in its warehouse, wasn’t very happy with the overall shopping experience. Pedro made his displeasure known by providing negative feedback on a customer satisfaction survey, and he figured that was the end of it.

But it wasn’t. According to Pedro, when he next opened up, a giant dildo—specifically, “The Hulk 10.25-inch Huge Dong Black”—had been added to his shopping basket.

I don’t think Pedro was being anal about his order, but someone at Amazon was obviously frustrated enough to cock-up his day — I wonder if the reported working conditions have anything to do with it.

While it certainly looks like an associate at Amazon placed a giant dildo in a customer’s shopping basket, we cannot prove it. With that said, the €100 “gesture of apology,” the hints from Mühlbauer that the associate had been fired or changed role, and Amazon not denying the incident, all point towards an uncomfortable truth: the giant dildo really was thrust into Pedro’s shopping basket without his permission.

Thanks for that paragraph Sebastian — I laughed out loud.

‘Consumers… Well… We’re Fucking Stupid’ →

December 21, 2015 · 23:21

Don Melton:

Anyway, Netflix is talking about the bitrates for their 1080p videos soon being as low 2000 Kbps for the simple stuff. That’s down from the 4300-5800 Kbps range they’re using now. And I’m sure they can do that on the low end without any perceivable loss of quality while streaming.

But can Apple and Amazon sell 1080p videos — averaging about 5000 Kbps now — at bitrates as low as 2000 Kbps — less than half that average size — without a perceived loss of value?

I don’t know. It’s hard to predict because consumers… well… we’re fucking stupid.

A very insightful and technical post about video and audio encoders, bitrates, and the future for Netflix, Apple and others.

An example would be TIDAL and their HQ uncompressed format, or whatever they’re calling it. I’m sure it’s great if you have the right equipment, young enough ears, and the ability to tell the difference. I still can, but just barely, and quite frankly the added overhead in terms of size (amongst other hurdles) is just too much of a hassle for me. The current iTunes/Spotify/pick-your-vice formats are more than enough, and if they flipped the switch overnight without telling anyone, I doubt many would notice. I know I wouldn’t.

Amazon Kindle Voyage 2 Unlikely in 2015 →

November 24, 2015 · 18:12

David Rothman:

A Kindle Voyage 2 is unlikely in 2015, but the game isn’t over. If you were putting off buying a new Voyage, you’re probably safe purchasing the original model now—even though Good E-Reader said last summer and several weeks ago that the 2 would show up this month.

I’m still extremely satisfied with my first generation Voyage1 and I encourage anyone who does any substantial amount of reading to get one. It’s far from perfect, but it’s the best there is.

  1. Typography on it needs work.