With operations in over 200 countries and territories, Alibaba is the world’s largest retailer and e-commerce company, one of the largest Internet and AI companies, one of the biggest venture capital firms, and one of the biggest investment corporations in the world. The company hosts the largest B2B (Alibaba.com), C2C (Taobao), and B2C (Tmall) marketplaces in the world. Its online sales and profits surpassed all US retailers (including Walmart, Amazon and eBay) combined since 2015. It has been expanding into the media industry, with revenues rising by triple percentage points year on year.
The robots, which can lift up to 500 kg, pick up densely packed bins and bring them to human pickers who place the products in boxes for shipment to customers. The robots are controlled over Wi-Fi. They say that after the 60 robots were placed into service, throughput in the warehouse has been tripled and human labour reduced by 70%.
Amazon has been running a robotics challenge to try to eliminate the human pickers. This is a video summarising the 2017 challenge in Nagoya, Japan.
Here is a video from the MIT team from the 2017 competition.
What should I find in my E-mail today but this, from Amazon.com.
After more than two decades as the preeminent source for books for Anglophone readers in Switzerland, Amazon.com have decided to celebrate Boxing Day 2018 by punching their loyal customers in the gut. They will no longer be able to order physical books or any other non-digital product from Amazon.com, but will rather be restricted to the much more limited selection available from Amazon subsidiaries in European Union (EU) countries.
People living in Switzerland who wish to order books in languages not available from subsidiaries in the European Union, for example Japanese and Chinese, are completely out of luck. They will no longer have access to books from any Amazon site outside the EU.
Why is this happening? Well, as usual, when you encounter something foul, coercive, and totally irrational, it’s a good bet the wicked European Union and its crooked Customs Union is involved. The European Union has used its economic power to coerce Switzerland into conforming its trade policies with its deeply corrupt Customs Union. The EU styles itself as a “free trade” zone, but in fact, it is a cartel with tariff barriers surrounding it which are erected to protect constituencies with political power in Brussels.
It deeply offends the slavers in Brussels that anybody should book a profit, anywhere in the world, which is not subject to their taxation (even though imports from outside the EU are subject to tariffs, duties, and Value Added Tax). So, by putting up barriers, they prevent Amazon.com, a U.S. company, from shipping physical products even into non-EU countries over which they can exercise their power.
If you wonder why the issue of remaining in the EU Customs Union is such a big thing in the Brexit deal, this is why.
When you mention a book in a post or comment, with just a little bit more effort you can make it more convenient for a reader who might be interested in buying the book to find it and, at the same time, generate some revenue to support hosting the Ratburger site or line your own pocket.
Suppose you should mention my own classic and highly collectible 1989 book, The Autodesk File. Note that the title of the book is in italic type (as book titles should be; magazine articles are in roman type surrounded by quotes), and that it has a link which, when clicked, takes you to the page on Amazon.com where you can empty your bank account buying a used copy. Here’s how I did that, and how you can too.
First, you need the International Standard Book Number (ISBN) for the book. If you have the book at hand, you’ll usually find it on the book’s copyright page and often the back cover. This is a 13 or, for older books, 10 character code which looks like 978-0-934035-63-7 or 0-934035-63-6. The punctuation is irrelevant, and may be ignored. The last character of a 10 character ISBN may be the letter “X”. If you don’t have a copy of the book, you can look it up on Amazon.com, which will give you, under “Product Details”, the ISBN-13 of the book, usually in the form 978-0934035637.
Now that you have the ISBN, go to the Fourmilab ISBNquest Web page. Enter the ISBN in the field with that name and press “Query”. You’ll get back a page with lots of information including, in the “Book Information from Amazon.com” section near the bottom, a link to the book’s page on Amazon, which will look something like “https://www.amazon.com/dp/0934035636/?tag=fourmilabwwwfour”. For convenience, this link is “hot”, so you can click it to display the page or use your browser’s “copy link address” feature to copy it to the clipboard. Now simply apply that link to the book’s title in your post or comment, and the title will take those who click it to the Amazon page for the book.
The “tag=fourmilabwwwfour” field in the link causes purchases made through the link (and subsequent purchases in the same session) to be paid a commission to Fourmilab’s Amazon Associates account, which is used to (partially) defray the costs of hosting Ratburger.org, which are commingled with those for Fourmilab.ch. If you have your own Amazon Associates account, or know the account tag for a business or worthy cause you wish to support, fill its tag in the “Amazon associate tag” field in the ISBNquest request form and it will be used instead. See the description in the ISBNquest page for details of the request form fields and results from a query.
(If you’re interested in reading The Autodesk File, don’t waste your money on a decades-old out of print copy. The current Fifth Edition, with more than twice the amount of material, is available on the Web for free.)