Round up #188: Bezos’ lauds inefficiency, VSS

Round up #188: Bezos’ lauds inefficiency, VSS

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

Today’s (Sunday April 14) Kindle Daily Deal

Today’s

Kindle Daily Deal (at AmazonSmile*)

has some particularly good options! Remember that you can order these e-books at this reduced price, and then either delay the delivery until the appropriate gift-giving occasion, or send them to yourself and print out a certificate to print, gift-wrap (if you want), and give whenever. I think e-books like this make great small gifts (or larger)…the recipient doesn’t have to have a Kindle to read them (although they do need an Amazon account).

Note: check the price before you click/tap/eye gaze (the last can be an option in virtual reality…and Windows 10 works with eye trackers) that Buy button. The price may not apply in your market, or you may see this after the sale…

Books in the sale include:

  • Sapiens: A Brief History of humankind by Yural Noah Harari | 4.5 stars out of 5 | 5, 764 customer reviews at time of writing | $3.99
  • Second Nature by Nora Roberts
  • The Gown: A Novel of the Royal Wedding
  • Hunting LeRoux: The Inside Story of the DEA Takedown of a Criminal Genius and His Empire by Elaine Shannon
  • Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly | 4.4 stars | 2,113 reviews
  • Twenty Wishes (Blossom Street #5) by Debbie Macomber
  • Song of the Lion: A Leaphorn, Chee & Manuelito Novel by Anne Hillerman | 4.5 stars | 832 reviews
  • Peach Blossom Pavilion by Mingmei Yip
  • Out of the Silent Planet by C.S Lewis (The Space Trilogy #1)
  • This Is Me: Loving the Person You Are Today by Chrissy Metz
  • One, Two, Buckle My Shoe (Hercule Poirot #22) by Agatha Christie | $1.99
  • The Dead Room (Harrison Investigation #4) by Heather Graham
  • Darkest Hour; How Churchill Brought England Back from the Brink by Anthony McCarten
  • Ending #1: The Last by Katherine Applegate
  • The Nesting Place: It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful by Myquillyn Smith
  • Not My Father’s Son by Alan Cumming

Enjoy!

Jeff Bezos’ Letter to Shareowners 2019

Jeff Bezos, CEO (Chief Executive Officer) of Amazon writes an annual letter to the company’s shareowners, and it’s always fascinating!

Throughout the year, Jeff (and Amazon generally) can feel somewhat…guarded. This is one place where you can see the enthusiasm this person who has been there from the beginning still has for the job!

You can read

the letter

here, but I want to call out a couple of things.

  • Bezos points out how third-party sales (other people selling things through Amazon, rather than Amazon selling them directly) has grown from 3% in 1999 to 58% in 2018. This ties right into something I say quite often : Amazon wants to be the infrastructure of the internet. This is a good thing for us as Amazon customers: it makes us (satisfied, loyal customers) one of the most important assets they have. Jeff says this growth happened through programs  “…pushed forward with intuition and heart, and nourished with optimism”
  • Bezos makes a strong case against always going for efficiency. You have to experiment, you have to fail. That may seem counterintuitive for Amazon, which seen to be so much about efficiency, but it’s key. I have a certification in performance improvement (I’m an Associate Improvement Advisor), and there’s something people suggest which always makes me (internally) laugh. They say that you find the most efficient people, see what they are doing, and then teach that to the underperformers. What’s funny about that to me is that it suggests the efficient people have found the “best” way to do something. Those efficient people, at least in using technology (which is my “day job”…technology in healthcare) are like that because they like change, which is super unusual. Even when things are going very well, they’ll experiment. Come back to them in a month, after you’ve shared their “best” practices, and they’ll be doing it differently

Another big thing in the letter is the push for machine learning/artificial intelligence (which we most commonly see in Alexa)…and if you did want to be afraid of something at Amazon (I’m not), that might be a good choice. 😉 It’s going to be a tremendous challenge for software to adapt that ethos that efficiency isn’t always best…which may suggest a slowing down (not just at Amazon, but throughout society) in innovation.

British Amazon workers “exposé”

This

The Guardian article by Anna Tims

may get a lot of play. It’s something we’ve seen before, in terms of theme: Amazon workers talking about how they are exploited. Undermining it being convincing to me is that we aren’t given actual names. That doesn’t mean it’s false, of course, but it does make it less verifiable.

Amazon employees listen to Alexa recordings

Gee, I thought we wanted big companies to listen to their customers. 😉

There has been a ton of

news coverage

about Amazon employees listening to Alexa recordings.

That’s not unauthorized listening. It’s analytical: what did Alexa say, what do I hear that person saying, how can we align the two better…that sort of thing.

I’ve always assumed that had to happen, separated from the employee knowing personally-identifying information. It doesn’t bother me if somebody who doesn’t know it’s me knows that someone asked Alexa to play music by

Puddles Pity Party (at AmazonSmile*)

(which I did earlier today).

You can delete your Alexa recordings if you want…again, I don’t do that, because I want it to learn more things and learn them more quickly.

On your app, you can delete individual recordings something like this:

Menu (three horizontal lines in your top left corner) – Settings – Alexa Account – History

Talk about precious!

Amazon is spending a lot of money on its upcoming Lord of the Rings TV series! According to this

Daily Record article by Craig McDonald

that could be 1 billion pounds (about 1.3 billion U.S. dollars…thanks for the conversion rate, Alexa!).

That’s a next level budget. I wonder if people think it looks like it had more money than heart we’ll see some wag call it “The Lard of the Rings”. 😉

I’m hoping to write about Disney+ (Disney’s $6.99 a month streaming service launching late this year) soon in another one of my blogs, The Measured Circle. Certainly, streaming competition is only getting stronger, but it’s Netflix that should be worried. You see, Amazon and Disney don’t need to profit on streaming, if that acts to increase income in other ways in other parts of the business. Netflix doesn’t have that same luxury that same way.

#VSS365

I have a great deal of fun with writing prompts. I like taking a minute or two and coming up with something creative with very specific rules…and yes, I like it when people show appreciation.

Every day on Twitter, there is a writing prompt for “very short stories” (VSS). It will give you a one word hashtag, and then you are to use that word in a “story”. Mine tend to be snippets of dialog, but other writers do a lot of creative things.

For example, yesterday was “vortex”, and I wrote this:

Your wretched writing is a veritable of amateurish alliteration! Can’t you say anything without it?”
“How’s this–screw you!”
“That reminds me: about your poetry….”

I may do more than one in a day…I deliberately don’t take much time on them, that’s part of the joy for me.

If you want to play along, you can search for #VSS prompt, follow @misskeelahrose (who seems to be the host), or to see my contributions, you can follow my main Twitter feed at

https://twitter.com/bufocalvin

If you are playing, let me know…I’d love to see your VSS!

What do you think? Did you know that humans at Amazon would be listening to Alexa recordings? Do you care? How do you think the Lord of the Rings show will go…is Disney+ a competitor? Do you worry about how Amazon workers are treated? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.


Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

Bufo’s Alexa Skills

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

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