A Blog by Jonathan Low


Sep 26, 2020

With AstraZenaca Vaccine Trial Still On Hold In US, No Word On Side Effects

AstraZeneca's lack of transparency about serious side effects suffered by participants in its Covid vaccine trial is raising questions about efficacy - and honesty. It has not helped the company's credibility that it reported issues first to its investors, not to public health authorities.

All of which may reduce public willingness to use the vaccine. JL

Elizabeth Cohen reports in CNN:

As US health authorities consider whether to allow AstraZeneca to resume the clinical trial of its coronavirus vaccine, crucial questions remain about neurological illnesses suffered by study participants. Both suffered neurological illnesses. The nature of the illnesses matter. If the two had similar conditions, that would raise questions about whether the vaccine was to blame. "These are both neurological diseases, and that by itself is a red flag."

When Coffee Makers Are Hacked And Demand Ransom, 'Smart' IoT Is In Trouble

An army of appliances vulnerable to hacking is being produced, used and, eventually, abandoned. And no, there are no protections. JL

Dan Goodin reports in ars technica:

The lifespan of a typical fridge is 17 years. How long do you think vendors will support software for its smart functionality? Sure, you can still use it even if it’s not getting updates anymore, but with the pace of IoT explosion and bad attitude to support, we are creating an army of abandoned vulnerable devices that can be misused for nefarious purposes such as network breaches, data leaks, ransomware attack and DDoS.

How Covid Mask Sellers Made A Fortune On Etsy

Supply, demand - and the internet. JL

Jacob Kastrenakes reports in The Verge:

Between April and June, shoppers purchased $346 million worth of masks from Etsy. 100,000 sellers started offering masks on Etsy, and most of them typical Etsy sellers: individuals, predominantly women, who make products by hand in their homes. (But) one apparel company sold 500,000 masks on Etsy, bringing in $4.1 million between April and mid-September. eBay banned mask sales in March and didn’t allow cloth masks to be sold until May 1st. In the month eBay waited, 12 million masks were sold on Etsy. “It was like Cyber Monday, except everyone  just wanted one product."

The Marketing Psychology Explaining Why Your Dishwasher Is Singing To You

Consumers will supposedly associate a pleasant melody with a brand or specific appliance, thereby deepening their attachment. Or revulsion. JL

Ashley Mateo reports in the Wall Street Journal:

It’s a form of branding. “The little tunes appliances have started spitting out these days are known as audio logos.”Appliance makers view sonic branding as a low-cost investment that inspires loyalty. “An audio logo is a reminder that the brand is there to serve consumers, a free ad. Sounds can also convey attributes of a machine: sturdiness, fun, elegance. Instructions for how to turn off each appliance’s electronic melodies (are) in the user manual if you didn’t already toss it, or check YouTube.

How Covid Is Changing the English Language

All you covidiots out there will need a quarantini after doomscrolling while social distancing or self isolating...JL

Roger Kreuz reports in Scientific American:

The Oxford English Dictionary’s editors (have) released special updates, citing a need to document the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the English language. Most of the coronavirus-related changes have to do with older words catapulted into common usage, such as reproduction number and social distancing. Self-isolateself-isolated and shelter in place all received new citations. Community spread was first documented in 1903. Covidiot, doomscrolling and quarantini are on the editors' watch list. The pandemic has produced only one truly new word: the acronym COVID-19.

Whole Foods Staff Say Amazon Pick And Load Workers 'Causing Store Chaos'

Culture clash: Whole Foods' team spirited, customer-oriented employees are being shoved aside - literally - by Amazon Prime Now contractors driven by volume-based compensation.

The result is aisles crowded with aggressive Amazon Now contractors, frequently empty shelves and frustrated customers. But given Amazon's history and competition with Walmart, online ordering is the future. JL

Hayley Peterson reports in Business Insider:

Employees who fill Amazon Prime Now orders– bought online for shipment or pickup from Whole Foods shops– are blocking aisles, neglecting virus protocols, and intensifying extreme understaffing. Whole Foods workers said they are  having a hard time keeping shelves filled as Amazon Prime workers canvass stores to fill online orders. Understaffed teams have to stop what they are doing to assist Prime buyers (while) labor budget plans have been slashed over and over again."

Sep 25, 2020

The Reason Amazon's Smart Home Products Increasingly Sold By Stoking Paranoia

Fear sells products just like it sells social media engagement. JL

Jared Newman reports in Fast Company:

Amazon’s vision for the smart home is an increasingly fearful one, in which intruders must be persistently fended off. Even previously innocent products like the Echo speaker now play a key role Amazon’s ever-expanding security push. This results in a vision for technology that’s more paranoid than that of other tech giants like Apple and Google. Amazon seems to be turning security into the foundation of its ecosystem. The danger is insidious: We perceive more crime than there actually is. Products like Ring's persistent surveillance raises people’s suspicion and feeds their prejudices. Amazon is tapping into those anxieties to build out its ecosystem.