Earlier this year, engineers at Walmart Stores who track rivals' prices online got a rude surprise: the technology they were using to check Amazon.com several million times a day suddenly stopped working. Losing access to Amazon.com's data was no small matter.
Like most big retailers, Walmart (WMT, -0.03%) relies on computer programs that scan prices on competitors' websites so it can adjust its listings accordingly. A difference of even 50 cents can mean losing a sale.
But a new tactic by Amazon (AMZN, -0.87%) to block these programs—known commonly as robots or bots—thwarted the Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer. Its technology unit, @WalmartLabs, was unable to work around the blockade for weeks, forcing it to retrieve Amazon's data through a secondary source, according to a person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to speak publicly.
Now the largest online retailer in the world, Amazon is best known by consumers for its fast delivery, huge product catalog, and ambitious moves into areas like original TV programming.
The latest war of one-upmanship between Amazon and everyone else is over free shipping fees — with the e-commerce giant recently lowering to $25 the minimum purchase required for non-Prime customers to get free shipping. It’s the second time in less than three months that Amazon — led by CEO Jeff Bezos — has reduced its free shipping minimum, according to BestBlackFriday.com, a shopping blog that first reported the new policy.
In February, Amazon lowered its free shipping minimum to $35, down from $49 — likely in response to Walmart, which had lowered its minimum to $35 for free two-day delivery. Amazon's website now reads that online orders of $25 or more, featuring eligible items, will qualify for free shipping.
One advantage Walmart may have are offers value not only through pricing but from discounts for in-store pickup and other benefits. Walmart's Pickup Discount program introduced last month let shoppers get an extra discount if they pick up an online order in store, a way for the retailer to leverage its thousands of stores, but a tactic hard for Amazon to mimic.
On Thursday, May 18, the European Union’s powerful antitrust chief fined the social network 110 million euros, or about $122 million, for giving misleading statements during the company’s $19 billion acquisition of the internet messaging service WhatsApp in 2014.
The fine — one of the largest regulatory penalties against Facebook — comes days after Dutch and French privacy watchdogs ruled that the company had broken strict data protection rules. The European Union’s antitrust chief, Margrethe Vestager, said that Facebook had told the European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, that the social network would not combine the company’s data with that of WhatsApp, which has more than one billion users.
“Today’s decision sends a clear signal to companies that they must comply with all aspects of E.U. merger rules,” Ms. Vestager said in a statement. In response, Facebook said that it had acted in good faith in its deliberations with Europe’s antitrust officials, and that it would not appeal the financial penalty.
How To Get Out Of Debt In 2017
If you want to do this right, you want to make sure that you know where you stand before you start. You need to have a complete picture. Here’s what you need to do:
Make A List
Make a list of all your debts: name of creditor, interest rate, balance, minimum monthly payment.
Establish A Starter Emergency Fund Of $1,000
You might be wondering, ‘Why is having an emergency fund important’?
Well, if you don’t have any money in the bank and an emergency does happen, how are you going to pay for it? For most people, credit cards become the funding source for those emergencies. If you are trying to get out of debt then you need to put a buffer between you and debt; that is exactly what an emergency fund does.
Create A Realistic Budget
Creating a budget will expose whether you have money left over, which is called a surplus, or if you are in the negative, which is called a deficit.
Organize Your Debts
Map out a plan to pay off your debt. There are two approaches that are worth considering. The first is where you list your debts smallest to largest regardless of the interest rate.
The other method is called laddering, starting with the highest interest rate card first and end with the debt with the lowest interest rate. Regardless of which process you choose, the key is to stick with it
Apple's Cash Reserves Now Exceed A Quarter Of A Trillion Dollars
May 01, 2017
The last number Apple reported was $246.09B as of December, so it was already close to the quarter trillion mark then. The rate of growth then was quite staggering. The stock hit a record high of $145.46/share in April 2017 and is currently trading near $143/share. The stock is prone to big moves after reporting earnings and can easily gap up if the numbers are strong.
The paper suggests that the number is likely to ramp up pressure on the company to spend some of it, either through acquisitions or returning more money to shareholders. Apple may, however, be holding fire to see whether the Trump administration makes good on campaign promises to allow overseas capital to be repatriated to the U.S. at a lower rate of tax. More than 90% of Apple’s cash is held outside the USA.
Family Kicked Off From Delta Flight And Threatened With Jail
May 04, 2017
A Southern California father said he and his family were booted from a Delta flight after they declined to give up a seat they had bought for their teenage son and were attempting to use for his 2-year-old sibling. “I bought the seat,” Brian Schear is seen telling the agents in a video of the incident, explaining that he initially purchased the seat for his 18-year-old son but sent the teen home early on another flight so that the toddler would have a seat on the plane. “It’s a red-eye. He won’t sleep unless he’s in his car seat. So, otherwise, he’d be sitting in my wife’s lap, crawling all over the place, and it’s not safe.”
The couple said they were also traveling with a 1-year-old.
An agent told Schear that unless he complied, he would have to leave the plane.
“Then they can remove me off the plane,” he replied.
“You and your whole family?” the agent asked.
“Yeah, that’s fine,” he said.
“So, then, it’s going to be a federal offense,” another agent quickly chimed in, “and you and your wife will be in jail and your kids will be —.”
“We’re going to be in jail and my kids are going to be what?” Schear interrupted.
“It’s a federal offense if you don’t abide by it,” she said.
“I bought that seat,” Schear said. “You’re saying you’re going to give that away to someone else when I paid for that seat. That’s not right.”
Later in the video, an agent can be heard telling Schear that according to Federal Aviation Administration regulations, his 2-year-old son could not occupy a seat during the flight and would need to sit in an adult’s lap.
In actuality, the FAA states that children are safer in government-approved car seats — not on laps, saying, “Your arms aren’t capable of holding your child securely, especially during unexpected turbulence.”
“The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) strongly urges you to secure your child in a CRS or device for the duration of your flight,” the agency states. Even Delta urges parents to purchase seats for children younger than 2 and to use approved child-restraint systems during the flights. Eventually, Schear asked whether he could concede, move the toddler and get in the air, but an agent told him it was too late, saying his family would either have to exit the aircraft or the crew would have to deplane all of the passengers.
“So we’re getting off this plane no matter what now?” Schear asked.
“I told you guys at the beginning you had two options and now it’s come too far,” an agent replied.
“I have two infants,” he said, “and nowhere to stay. There’s no more flights. What are we supposed to do — sleep in the airport?”
“At this point, you guys are on your own,” she said. “Our team has reached out and will be talking with them to better understand what happened and come to a resolution,” the airline said in a statement Thursday morning to The Washington Post.
The incident occurred April 23 but didn’t make headlines until Wednesday, May 3, when Schear posted his video on YouTube.
General Motors Quits Venezuela
April 25, 2017
General Motors said it has been forced to stop operating in Venezuela after one of its plants was illegally seized by local authorities.
The seizure, in the country's industrial hub of Valencia, comes amid a deepening economic and political crisis that has sparked weeks of deadly street protests.
General Motors Venezolana, GM's local subsidiary, did not provide any details about the seizure, other than to say the facility "was unexpectedly taken by authorities, preventing normal operations." It said other assets, "such as vehicles," had also been stripped from the site.
Burger King New Ad To
Hack Your Google Home Backfires
April 13, 2017
The Google Home no longer responds to the actor's voice in the commercial when he said, "OK Google, what is the Whopper burger?"
You can, however, still ask your own Google assistant and be treated to a reading of the first few lines of a Wikipedia entry explaining what all goes on Burger King's signature sandwich. In the 15-second commercial, an actor playing a Burger King employee says he doesn't have enough time to share the ingredients of a Whopper.
He has an idea, beckons the camera closer and utters those magic words. "OK Google, what is the Whopper burger?"
If you watched the advertisement Tuesday morning and your Google Home is within earshot, it will begin reading you the ingredients of a Whopper. It's also a pretty high risk stunt, considering Google's assistant is reading the Whopper information from Wikipedia, a platform anyone can edit. Within hours of the ad’s release — and humorous edits to the Whopper Wikipedia page by mischievous users.
Burger King, which did not work with Google on the ad, said Google appeared to make changes by Wednesday, April 12, afternoon that stopped the commercial from waking the devices.
VW Invests $180 Million In Google-Backed Chinese Ai Startup
April 10, 2017
Mobvoi Inc., the Chinese artificial intelligence startup backed by Google, is getting a $180 million investment from Volkswagen AG to join a race to build the technology into cars.
The startup, founded in 2012 by a group of former Googlers, will develop products for Volkswagen models and possibly other brands based on its voice-recognition and natural language processing technology. That includes a smart rear view mirror that provides navigation, messaging and information through voice input, the company said in a statement.