Undercover at Amazon warehouse – brutal reality of working for online giant

Undercover at Amazon warehouse - brutal reality of working for online giant:



I spent five weeks at the firm’s newest warehouse in Tilbury, Essex, armed with a secret camera bought from Amazon’s own website.

I found staff asleep on their feet, exhausted from toiling for up to 55 hours a week.

Those who could not keep up with the punishing targets faced the sack – and some who buckled under the strain had to be attended to by ambulance crews.

The plant, with no natural light, is flooded with fluorescent bulbs – night and day have no meaning.

Many of the clocks have been covered over with tape by employees desperate not to be reminded how long is left of their shift. But time still rules here – a new package must be sealed and ready to go every 30 seconds.

Whatever the hour thousands of workers are racing to hit goals set by computers monitoring their every move. In my five weeks I saw staff struggling to meet impossible targets, in constant fear of the sack.

Two half-hour breaks were the only time off my feet, but it was barely enough time to race to the canteen and wolf down some food to keep my energy up.

My body ached, and my fitness tracker showed I walked at least 10 miles most days.

Here’s a new article from Bloomberg for all the assholes saying that it can’t really be this bad, or the workers should be thankful for Amazon:

“The emergency responders of Licking County, Ohio, are under strain. At least once a day, a medical unit from West Licking Fire Station 3 makes a run to the Amazon.com Inc. warehouse 3.1 miles away, in the township of Etna, about 20 miles east of Columbus. The calls for routine medical issues that occur in grueling warehouse jobs come at all hours, says Steve Little, the fire district administrator. Shortness of breath. Chest pains. Myriad minor injuries. During the busy holiday season, he says, the warehouse sometimes issues multiple emergency calls a day.Amazon isn’t helping cover the costs. Under the deal the company negotiated in 2015 with local officials and the state’s private economic development agency, JobsOhio, it’s paying no property taxes to Licking County for 15 years. As part of a two-warehouse deal, the state gave Amazon $17 million in tax incentives, and JobsOhio handed over $1.5 million in cash, funded with income from the state’s liquor monopoly. The new facilities are “almost a million square feet we have to protect, but we get no extra money,” Little says. “We have no voice in these deals, and we get no cash. Our residents are being forced to pay instead.” In November, voters in Little’s district will be asked to approve a five-year, $6.5 million property tax levy to keep the fire department operating.”


visnot: Never Alone (Kisima Inŋitchuŋa) | 2014 “With the story…


Never Alone (Kisima Inŋitchuŋa) | 2014

“With the story of Kunuuksaayuka, told by Robert Cleveland, it’s just a masterwork. It’s a well-known story among the Iñupiat people, and in our case of producing a video game that really reflects indigenous heritage, it captures the imagination, and it’s something that you have a very specific kind of task to do. There’s a blizzard, you know, and it’s just a nonstop blizzard that is overpowering the people. And there’s one man that wants to figure it out, and in our case of the story, it’s a girl that wants to find the source of that blizzard.

The FCC’s Next Stunt: Reclassifying Cell Phone Data Service as ‘Broadband Internet’

The FCC's Next Stunt: Reclassifying Cell Phone Data Service as 'Broadband Internet':






The Federal Communications Commission’s decision last week to repeal net neutrality was a major blow to internet freedom, but it’s only the first in a long line of actions that the FCC will take to tell itself that America’s broadband situation is better than it actually is. Up next: redefining high speed wired internet to include cell phone service. Because, according to FCC chair Ajit Pai, that’s totally the same thing.

This idea to reclassify smartphone data as broadband was first proposed in August, but with the net neutrality repeal out of the way, the FCC is expected to vote on the proposal by February 3. Currently, the FCC defines broadband connection as 25Mbps download speeds and 3Mbps upload speeds minimum. The new proposal would keep these minimums in place for fixed wireline broadband but also expand the definition to include cell phone data coverage.

This would not only camouflage many of the communities in the US with no access to the internet, but could prevent them from getting necessary funding to build that access. Cell service is often slower, more expensive, and comes with data caps, and even tethering a computer to a phone for internet isn’t a long-term solution, especially for families with multiple people trying to log on at once to do homework, or work, or watch Netflix.

“It seems antithetical to all the other efforts we’re doing,” said Deb Socia, the executive director of Next Century Cities, a coalition of municipalities aimed at expanding local broadband access. “I spent a good part of my life as a teacher and a principal. If I had a classroom full of children that included a lot of failing students, I wouldn’t change my standards [to increase the number of passing grades,] I’d change the intervention.”

Though the process to change these definitions is not as formal as what was required to roll back net neutrality rules, there was still an opportunity for groups to comment this summer, and if there’s enough public backlash, it could potentially meet a different fate. Like net neutrality, it ultimately just comes down to the FCC to make the decision, but groups like Next Century Cities are hoping to hold the agency’s feet to the fire in the meantime.

In January, the group is launching a campaign called #MobileOnly, challenging people to spend one day in the month using only their cell phone data for internet access—no laptops, no computers, and no Wi-Fi. It’s a challenge that’s so unappealing I refuse to even entertain the idea, but it’s one that millions of Americans will be left with as an only option if these broadband definitions are changed. Socia herself will be doing the challenge, as will the two Democrat commissioners on the FCC, Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel.

“Promoting deployment of mobile broadband services alone is not sufficient to bridge digital divides in underserved rural and urban communities,” Clyburn said in a press release for the campaign. “By standing together through this movement, we will demonstrate why it is so
essential for all Americans to have access to a robust fixed broadband connection.”

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story stated that the #MobileOnly challenge was month-long, but participants are asked to pick just one day to take part.

Net Neutrality was first. Canada came after.

Our phones are next.

Nolite te Bastardes Corborundorum.

excuse me.




No amount of backlash will change their minds, we need to jump on our reps to fight it.

We also need to keep fighting them, I see much less coverage which is what they want.

At this point I think maybe it’s time to dismantle the FCC since they don’t care about the American people

I think it’s passed time to firebomb government strangled organizations that suck big corporate dick, and don’t give a shit about the american people. Public executions for any politician or person of significant influence that isn’t truly and demonstrably for the betterment of the wellbeing of the Earth and it’s People.

United We Stand, Divided We Fall.

You Can Now Play the First LGBTQ Computer Game, For the First Time

You Can Now Play the First LGBTQ Computer Game, For the First Time:




Caper in the Castro is a legendary video game, not because legions of die-hard fans continue to play it, but because it was thought to be lost forever. Now, what is largely considered to be the first LGBTQ-focused video game (it was released in 1989) is on the Internet Archive for anybody to play.

The game is a noir point-and-click that puts the player in the (gum)shoes of a private detective named Tracker McDyke who is, in case you couldn’t guess by the name, a lesbian. McDyke must unravel the mystery behind the disappearance of Tessy LaFemme, a transgender woman, in San Francisco’s Castro district, an historically gay neighbourhood.


The game was released as charityware – freely, with a strong request to give a donation an AIDS Charity of their choice. I’d like to push towards still following that and donating, if you’re able.

(And you might also want to donate to the Internet Archive, who is hosting it now, while you’re at it – they’re in the middle of a donation drive, and could use your support.)

I just realized that this almost definitely qualifies as, like, the lesbian grandmother of every single contemporary Gay Twine Game.

So, like, yeah. Context.

( @canmom )

I reblogged another link to this earlier but I still appreciate getting tagged in, and the extra plot details. It’s super interesting to hear such an early game centres its narrative on a trans woman (though I *really* hope she has a role beyond “murder victim”). Looking forward to trying it out later.

(hey @porpentine you might be interested in this too?)

Researchers trick Google’s AI into thinking rifles are helicopters, without any knowledge of the algorithm’s design


In Partial Information Attacks on Real-world AI, a group of MIT computer science researchers report on their continuing work fooling Google’s image-classifier, this time without any knowledge of how the classifier works.

In their new study, researchers used a “black box” approach to discovering adversarial examples: they fire a bunch of images into Google’s image classifier, make notes of where it makes mistakes, and systematically explore how to force it to misperceive one object for another.

This is possible because machine-learning image classifiers are using blind, statistical modeling to identify the salient points of any given image: their creators don’t say “turtles have shells and stubby legs and tails” or “rifles have long stocks, barrels and triggers.” Instead, the classifier is fed a bunch of pictures of turtles, rifles, or you, and asked to figure out what they share in common.

This works great in non-adversarial context: that is, when no one is trying to fool the classifier. But it turns out that making a classifier that works when someone is trying to fool it is very different from making a classifier that works in a peaceful situation. This is often the case with algorithms: think of how Google’s Pagerank algorithm made near-miraculous progress in identifying relevant web-pages by counting the links people had made in the past, but had to be radically revised once people started making new links for the purpose of confusing it.

In the new paper from MIT’s Lab Six, the team demonstrates impressive progress in using the “black-box” method for fooling the algorithm: they modeled deficits in the classifier that let them undertake arbitrary tricks, like making a row of guns (with slightly tweaked shadows and lighting) look like a helicopter.

Adversarial preturbations and examples are a very exciting domain of security research. I hear that there’s going to be a lot of this at next summer’s security conferences.