Amazon sets the rules of the box for Japan Post

Amazon has faced an interesting problem in Japan, like everywhere else: the boxes that Amazon delivers goods in are always big, they are much bigger than the goods when the goods are small. The box comes filled with packaging materials, paper and plastic where you fish for your goods. This is done for logistical reasons as handling large uniform sized objects is easier. The downside is, of course, that Amazon standardized on a box that’s way too big to fit in any of the letterboxes world around, causing grief to delivery companies, post offices and customers. Not to mention the amount of waste.

How do you think Amazon handled the problem? Do you think Amazon downsized the shipping boxes to save on materials cost? Do you think they were nice to the post office and customers and introduced a smaller packaging that would fit the letterboxes for the smaller objects? Nah. That’s not Amazon way.

Amazon started selling new letterboxes in Japan last year that are designed to be large enough to accommodate Amazon’s own post. How is that? They now set the rules: “Here is the post size that we will send to you and, here, buy this box to replace yours because we designed it to actually be big enough for our post.”

All in the name of “efficiency”. Of course.

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Medvedev called on U.S. to improve relations with Russia

First steps for improving the relationship between U.S. and Russia belong to U.S. They must take the initiative this time, said Dmitri Medvedev.

“In order to overcome the existing problems, you just need to abandon the sanctions and put the relations on the working plane. It is necessary to return to normal calm, productive negotiations – then everything is stabilized,” – he said after the ASEAN Summit in Myanmar.

Medvedev found it difficult to say when the relationship between the two countries will be able to improve. “It does not depend on us, because we are not the ones who imposed the sanctions,” – he explained.

As usual, CNN is playing fools by trying to ridicule Medvedev in their report and comparing his quiet life style to Putin. Obviously, they have nothing better to say on the subject.

On the other hand, The Wall Street Journal reports a mounting pressure from the European businesses on the governments to lift the sanctions as the businesses suffer severe losses and have to cut jobs to survive the loss of a lucrative market.

U.S. is probably more interested in weakening Europe than taking initiative to repair the relationship with Russia. So the words of Medvedev are likely to fall on deaf ears this time. It is more reasonable to expect that Europe might take an initiative this time under the pressure of its suffering business.… -->

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Sony Corporation – ready for a takeover

The good old Sony logo.

The business world never seizes to amaze. Another great company bites the dust – Sony Corporation. The company was brought to a complete distraction in just 15 years. Well, ok, it still exists but that is, first, not for long, and second, that is a pitiful shadow of the once great company.

In the news, Sony is selling its computer business “to concentrate on mobile”. What a load of bullshit. Sony is also apparently spinning out its TV business. Am I the only one that finds it all hard to believe? Sony, the great empire of video everything – video recording, video transmission, video viewing, video gaming – is going to concentrate on mobile phones. What a joke. Sony always had and still has the greatest technology in video and throwing all that out of the window is just, well, business nonsense. And therefore something else will happen.

I have a feeling of a deja vu with this story. Nokia folded while being the market leader to concentrate on, what, networks. Now Sony is folding while being the market leader to concentrate on mobile. Nonsensical explanations at best for the rest of us.

When did it all start? Sony started to sell off its assets, buildings in the first place, some time around the turn of the century. That was a clear indication of things going quite wrong financially – someone wanted the cash and did not care at what price to the company it would come. That started the financial erosion of the company that progressed swiftly: I do not think Sony owns much in terms of property anymore. Sony announced to stop manufacturing the Aibo robot dog in 2006 and that was the clear beginning of an end in technological sphere. Best and inventive products were not encouraged, the research engineers were the first to go in the several job cut rounds that followed. No new and exciting products came out.

There could be more at play that is obvious to me but these two pillars of destruction: financial erosion and enforced technological stagnation are already unsurprisingly sufficient to bring a company to its knees. Or to bring Sony to an extremely vulnerable position, ready for a takeover, if you prefer. And that is exactly what we see happening – takeover of key businesses of Sony by overseas companies. That is what it is all about. Who will get the Sony logo?

Good-bye, Sony. I will keep a fond memory of you.… -->

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Nokia for free. You wanna fries with that?

It turns out that Nokia is being sold for about 5 billion Euro. And Nokia also passes its Qualcomm license worth more than 1 billion Euro to Microsoft. So the total price is, in fact, in the ballpark of 3,5 billion. And that is for a company that brings 15 billion in sales every year. Criminal. Uncle Sam, you wanna fries with that?… -->

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Global survillance economic results

An article in The Morning Call talks about economic impact of the NSA surveillance, but limits the discussion to its area of interest – the US companies, while making me think about the rest of the world:

Worldwide spending on the cloud is expected to double over the next three years to more than $200 billion. U.S. firms have been leaders in developing the technology. According to a new report from the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, however, global worries about NSA surveillance are likely to reduce U.S. market share.

The report’s admittedly loose estimate is that U.S. cloud-computing firms will lose $21 billion to $35 billion in revenue between now and 2016. According to the report, some 10 percent of non-U.S. members of the Cloud Security Alliance said they’ve canceled a project with a U.S. company since the disclosure of the NSA’s surveillance. In addition, 56 percent indicated “that they would be less likely to use a U.S.-based cloud computing service.”

Interestingly, this does not only apply to the US economy. There are companies everywhere that would rather prefer not to be monitored. That would rather prefer to go about their business without this stranger looking over their shoulder day and night. What will happen?

I think we may be facing a new arms race soon. The businesses with money were not all that interested in keeping things private until now. Now they will likely invest in tools for privacy and the tools will get better. And so off we go, there will be demand for privacy from the, ahem, private sector and the demand for surveillance from the government sector. Big money to be made.

Just wondering… will the common citizen become “collateral damage” in this war?… -->

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Jack Barnaby … died? or made die?

Jack Barnaby was a hacker specializing in ATMs and medical equipment. He was working on the medical implant and hospital equipment security. He was scheduled to give a talk titled “Implantable medical devices: hacking humans” at the BlackHat USA 2013 tomorrow. The talk would focus on the security of wireless implantable medical devices, of which there are millions in the world. Jack planned to reveal software that uses a common transmitter to scan for and “interrogate” individual medical implants and discuss how they may be abused. And he is dead.

“The San Francisco Medical Examiner’s Office said Jack died in the city on Thursday. It gave no details. He was believed to be in his mid-30s.”

Jack Barnaby demonstrates an attack on an insulin pump

Interesting. We are 4 days after now and still there is no information whatsoever. Some reporters say he was 35, some – 36. Nobody has any details on why he has died, of what causes. Not even a statement like “from natural causes”. Simply no information. Weird accidents happen. But being in security we are entitled to an unhealthy bit of paranoia.

At the time when medical equipment is riddled with viruses and malware, disclosing more problems with the medical equipment, demonstrating how people could die from a remote network attack on their implants, all that is a serious crime against good business. I would not be surprised if his death was “nothing personal, just good business.”… -->

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Airport lounges

I have been through the Vienna airport recently. They built a very modern new terminal there. Respect goes for handling the airport security efficiently and having a sufficient number of screening posts to handle the current traffic (although I am not sure it will be enough if the number of flights increases). What kept me wondering for good five minutes is the lounge though.

See, ten years ago lounges were all over the place. You could not walk down any corridor at any airport without bumping into one or another airline’s lounge. Now, fast forward to this modern construction and… I spent literally five minutes looking for the lounge, then got my directions from the staff, and spent another five minutes looking for it again. The lounge is literally hidden away!

Why would they do it? Are we afraid to hurt the feelings of the economy class people? Are we interested in minimizing the number of visitors to the lounge? What is it? Why on Earth would you want to make the most profitable class of passengers – business traveler – despair in their search for the lounge?

And it is a tendency I notice in a lot of places. Many airports rebuild the lounges, decreasing their numbers and hiding them away. Airlines limit what the travelers can do with respect to a lounge. You know, one used to be able to simply walk into a lounge by flashing the card. Now you have to fulfill a myriad conditions before you get admitted.

I understand cost saving strategies. What I do not understand are the most profitable customer segment alienation strategies.… -->

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Water – an artificially global problem

You must have heard that the amount of potable water is limited in the world. You must have heard that we all have to save water in the whole world because water is precious. Nearly all of that is nonsense. At least the “global” part of it definitely is.

Yes, water is important, in some parts precious. However, drinkable water is not a global problem. It cannot be. It is a local problem, local to the particular geographic location. Saving water in a place where there is abundance of it does not do anything for other locations where water may be scarce. Problems with water must be solved locally.

This problem was artificially converted into a global problem. It allows increasing prices for water anywhere, requesting that people save water where they cannot be made to pay for it – it is an economically profitable wave of uncertainty created to rip off people.

This is a shameless ripoff because we are made to pay for an abundant resource as if it is scarce. Water is an artificially global scarcity problem.… -->

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