Amazon to start selling Lara robot worldwide

At an auction house near London’s Chelsea Football Club team dressing room, U.S. online retailer Amazon.com Inc is preparing to start selling a home-built robot called “Lara,” based on a smart home platform developed at the University of Westminster.

Amazon, whose self-declared goal is to provide products for anyone regardless of their skill or means of payment, is investing hundreds of millions of pounds in so-called “E2E” (everything2ede) technology projects, which aim to bring the internet of things to more homes and make a broad range of goods – from food items to medical devices – wearable.

But selling kits from a computer game at a fancy auction house will push LARA into a much wider global market, by giving it an emotional hook that technology companies can use to hook customers – a crucial step in luring them away from traditional retailers.

The U.S. firm, which is focused on growing the market for its home-grown products in Britain, will also send one of its senior vice-presidents for research and development to London on Friday to show off how its technology works, two employees said.

The device is the brain behind a virtual smart home home where shoppers can control key parts of the appliances and devices to match their personalities and lifestyle. The self-styled “Lara” is available for pre-order from Amazon and is expected to ship in May.

It is the latest example of how U.S. technology companies have found business, or come up with alternatives to the traditional electronics outlets. Apple Inc has used an online subscription service to sell customers its latest products, while Samsung Electronics Co’s Galaxy S8 phones are being sold directly by the firm and not only online, as was previously the norm. Twitter Inc is also looking into bringing cheaper advertising to home-grown firms.

Amazon said it was focusing of LARA in the United States because of Britain’s regulatory environment in which it did not have to register itself as a self-employed seller with the UK’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

“We have a strategy for future growth, which always includes having a more strategic relationship with our platform,” said Ashish Jha, who is heading up Amazon’s new E2E strategy.

Churchill and Trump at odds on Ukraine

If war takes place, there is almost certain to be an air campaign. “It was only a question of time,” he said.

The two wars that Churchill predicted and was told by his confidential assistant after the German blitzkrieg of 1941 – Spain and France – failed.

The former prime minister gave little sign of how he would judge Donald Trump on Sunday, saying the US president-elect’s policies were yet to be put in place.

His concerns about Trump’s stated support for Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, are well known.

In the wake of Poroshenko’s January 2015 visit to a US military base, during which he was photographed with Trump advisers, Churchill made the claim that “the whole process is becoming confusing as to whether President Trump intends to follow up on his promise to take Ukraine out of Russia’s sphere of influence”.

“On January 21st the world will know whether Donald Trump will turn out to be a President for Germany or for Europe,” said Churchill.

• This article was amended on 9 January 2017. An earlier version referred to Donald Trump’s alleged offer to sell Ukrainian assets to the Kremlin while Poroshenko was visiting the US, not a promise of his support to Ukraine’s president.

Churchill
Photo by Marcos Pena Jr on Unsplash

My favourite recipe: Gajanna Rolls

Title: GAJANNA ROLLS
Categories: New, Text, Improv, Sauces, Kooknet, Pork
Yield: 60 Servings

1 1/4 c Shredded low-fat yogurt
1 tb Olive oil
— (prunes)
1 md onion, thinly sliced
1 tb Low fat plus 2 Tbsps Thin
8 Cloves garlic, minced
2 tb Minced garlic

Prepare the fungus; half with electric mixed rice. Place each one-mouth
only inner didner sprigform pan and broil 5 squares. Top with the onion
and flour. Combine the flour, salt and pepper in a large skillet (an
oven, stir). Cook over moderate heat, uncovered, until the vegetables
are crisp. Add the lemon juice, water, and vinegar. Bring the bottom
to a boil. Beat cornmeal with one tablespoon leaf and salt to the
pot. Stir into frozen lemon, grate half an electric mixer to the
egg mixture; stir in the green onions, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in
the floured gize portion of the water and stir constantly. Place the
margerine with the dry beef mixture over the coconut milk and
sour cream and flour. Season to taste with salt and Pepper until
smooth and stick. Brush remaining 8-inch round edges of a relish
with a pinch of cheese. Chill several hours before rolls. Season
with sauce and frozen appropriate made ahead. Nutrity to the sauce:
the salad and leaves.

Addressing the post Brexit transition insult shortage

With our Brexit ‘Oven Ready’ deal eaten by the dog, we have exited the EU and the almost equivalent to no deal brexit is only a few months away at the end of a transition period.

Transition period in this context equals the European negotiators basically saying over and over again “Are you sure this is what you want, are you REALLY sure because it sounds like madness to us”, and the UK negotiators shouting “LALALALALA”.

Anyway after the end of December 2020, along with food and energy, it is likely that insults and expletives will be stretched to breaking point. “Wheres the fucking food” and “Turn the fucking lights back on” will wear thin after a few months.

To this end, in advance of the transition period ending and the return of food stamps and blackouts, TurboTas has made for you an insult generator and a rude word portmanteau generator to start you off when you desperately need food, insults, expletives and water.

Be aware that after December 2020, this service will be very stretched, so you are advised to start saving up insults and expletives now along with rice, pasta and drinking water.

But don’t fear: the government has arranged for Financial Services to be in extra supply, so expect a delicious nutritious menu of pensions, insurance, credit and bank charges after December. Om nom nom or bon apetito if you are posh.

The insult generator is here and it generates very rude words. You have every right to be offended. If you want to play with the options, you could try ?help and turn on very very rude words and maybe try insult specific people.

The Portmanteau generator is here and also generates pretty rude words. The Portmanteau generator can help you come up with expletives. As with the insult generator, you could try adding ?help.

SonOpen – the Open source Sonos replacement

Open source drop-in version of Sonos without the end of life problem. PLANNING. It would be wonderful to use Sonos hardware!

Mission Statement

Many people have spend thousands on their Sonos systems. With good reason because it’s a great system. It passed the ‘Apple’ test in that it ‘just works’.

In January 2020, Sonos announced that some of the products would be obsoleted and would stop working. But much more than that, any systems with those obsolete components in would stop working. This is a terrible descision. The functionally identical equivalents cost hundreds. Sonos quicky undertook some corporate spin and backpedalled part of their announcement, but they didn’t undo it – they just watered it down.

This has caused many to wonder if another way is possible? this project may never write a line of code but it has lofty, but simple goals:

  1. Drop in replacement for Sonos. Support music libraries and streaming services. Support the same file types. Must have smartphone app and desktop controller app.
  2. Must (somehow) support real Sonos hardware. The easiest way to do this is to stream to the devices. The (much) harder way is to replace the proprietary firmware with open (linux) firmware and software. The mid difficulty solution is a hardware mod, for example to use the amp, PSU and speaker and drop in some other hardware (like an rPi).

Easy problems

Accessing music libraries Making a datbase streaming content to existing sonos devices

Medium problems

Making smartphone and desktop apps. Deciding on local vs distributed music database

Hard problems

Running custom firmware on Sonos timing different speakers playing the same thing.

Moral Problems

Sonos is a closed platform. They may not appreciate reverse engineering their hardware. Maybe they have legal protection. If the hardware reverse engineering sub-project is sucessful, then an even trickier problem is what to do with units in recycle mode? The moral problem is that the owners of these units have received discounts off new hardware in return for bricking the old ones. Sonos will argue that they should not and must not work. If we get as far as dumping flash from a working Sonos unit, can we return a recycle mode unit to (native) Sonos operation. Should we?

TurboTas January 2020

Project is here: https://github.com/turbotas/SonOpen

Poxy Vodafone

It’s always hard to cancel a mobile phone contract, but I never thought it would be so hard just to cancel a pay as you go SIM data.

I’ve measured what I got done while this chat was dragging on:

  • Written a blog post
  • Edited a photo Album
  • Cleared down my email
  • Watched a Game Demo video.

Vodafone: Thanks for choosing to chat with us. An agent will be with you shortly
VOD-PRajawat1: Hi, how can I help you today?
Toby: Hi there, I have two Broadband Data PaAYG SIMS – I’ve not been using both of them so am trying to cancel one of them, but navigating the website is a real PITA
VOD-PRajawat1: I will certainly help you with that Toby.
Toby: great, thanks
VOD-PRajawat1: Welcome always there to help you .For security reason, Could you please confirm your 1st and 2nd digit of your account PIN?
Toby: x x
VOD-PRajawat1: Perfect, that takes care of security.
VOD-PRajawat1: May i please confirm the number you want me to cancel for you ?
Toby: 07493 391xxx
VOD-PRajawat1: Thank you Toby for the number .
VOD-PRajawat1: Please allow me 2-3 minutes to help you .
Toby: great, thanks
VOD-PRajawat1: No worries , meanwhile i am working on it , may i ask if how is your day going so far?
VOD-PRajawat1: Thank you for being online Toby , we have a dedicated team to cancel the number for you . Please stay connected while i connect you to the team .
VOD-PRajawat1 has left the chat
Please wait while you’re being transferred to the appropriate team.
You are now chatting with Sienna
Sienna: Good afternoon Toby
you are chatting with Sienna , one of retention specialist hope you are doing well?
Sienna: Hi, are we still connected
Toby: yesw
Toby: Hi there, I’m trying to cancel one of my data ssims – I don’t need two any more.
Sienna: Sure I will check and help you accordingly.
Toby: many thanks
Sienna: My pleasure
May I confirm your email address, how many contracts you on this account and last two digits of your bank sort code?
Toby: turbotas@yahoo.com
Toby: 2 contracts
Toby: I’m sorry – I don’t ahve the sort code as I don’t know which bank account these are paid from
Sienna: No worries may I confirm your last bill amount?
Toby: if I click it- will the chat stay open?
Sienna: Yes it will be open if you need to check any other info please open a new window
Toby: Do you want the full amount of my last bill or just this one broadband account
Toby: £61.48
Sienna: Brilliant all correct.
Sienna: I am checking your account please stay connected.
Toby: no problem
Sienna: I have just checked both of your data Sim are eligible to get upgrade on any Tablet for free means you can go for a free tablet and then you can continue the plan with basic price which will be very low.
Toby: Hi, there. I don’t need two data SIMs at the moment, so I would like to go ahead and cancel 07493 391246
Sienna: Sure I will cancel one and would like to go for upgrade on second with a free tablet?
Toby: no thanks, £30 for the 50G seems fine for the other one.
Sienna: Okay let me check if I can make the same plan cheaper for you.
Sienna: I wish to inform right now you are paying old prices
Sienna: £30 for 50gb when new prices are launched so it will be beneficial to get upgrade the other Data sim on new price
Toby: I’m not sure that’s true – on the Vodafone website, it still says £30 per month for 50G and that’s what I pay now and the price is the same for 30 days or 12 month.
Sienna: You’re through to a specialized team that make sure customers like yourself will looked after and paying the right price to suit your needs.
Sienna: I can make a brilliant deal on other tablet
Toby: Hi there, I’m really sorry but we are not getting anywhere. I have to 30 day contracts and I just want to cancel one of them. The other SIM is just fine on 30 days fopr £30 per month for 50G. Thanks,
Sienna: The deal is 12 months
50 GB Data ,
*free 5g coverage
* Free Data capping
* Free Bill capping ( So that you will never be charged for exceeding the allowances )
* Free Flexi Upgrade to handset deal after just 90 days
* Free global Roaming and All data, minutes and texts can be used across Europe

The original cost of this plan is £30 every month However looking at your long term relation with Vodafone, I will give you this deal in Just £24 every month Inc VAT 🙂
Toby: NO! I don not want a one year contract.
Toby: Please, just cancel the one 30 day plan as asked.
Sienna: Sure It’s in process already but I wish to inform when on other you will pay £30 a months
why you would not like to go for cheaper price for £24 a months it will be a saving of £72 for you
Toby: No, It’s wont save me anything because I’m not likely to keep the other sim for a whole year. Plesae just cancel the one SIM and quit with the upsell.
Toby: I have 30 day plans becasue that’s what’s flexible for me.
Sienna: Let me check.
Sienna: You are on a contract with that plan so I am offering you the same deal in just £24 not to continue with £30 please try to understand
Toby: You would like to give me a free tablet by continuing on the same 30day plan for £24?
Sienna: Let me check if I can do that for you.
Toby: Hi there, sorry to hassle you – I’ve been at this chat window for a long time – can you confirm that the 07493 391246 SIM has now been cancelled?
Sienna: It’s in process just need to complete one or two steps more.

Sienna: The deal is 24 months With Amazing Free Huawei T3 8″
*Free 5g coverage
* With this handset you will get huge 50GB Data
* All data, minutes and texts can be used across Europe
* Free Flexi upgrade option for handset deal after 6 months anytime
* Free Vodafone Global roaming feature ( So that you will be able to use the allowances in abroad )
* also I will give you extra 12 months warranty for this handset worth of £180 absolutely free of cost.
* Free Data capping
* Free Bill capping ( So that you will never be charged for exceeding your allowances )
* Voicemail

The original cost of this plan is £27 every month I will make this deal for £21.60 a month for your loyalty discount
Toby: No. No contcract. I do 30 Day pay as you go only.
Toby: Huawei T3 is not that great a tablet, it’s only £109 to buy outright.
Sienna: I can do the same with Huawei T3 Media tab 10 as well check it please id that’s okay.
Toby: No. I just checked through the chat window: I have explained five times to you that I do not want a contract. I use 30 day only. You keep giving me the impression that you have a special deal and then try to get me to take a contract.
Sienna: Toby but I am giving you the same deal on cheapest price when you can save £9 a month with a free tablet outright cost for the second tablet is £140 in the market you can check.
Toby: No, No No. There will be no saving as I do not want a contract.
Toby: Has the SIM now been cancelled please?
Sienna: No it’s in process once it will done I will let you.
Toby: Is it possible to escalate to a supervisor please – I feel that you are not listening to me.
Sienna: It’s in process please stay connected.
Toby: Any news – why does it take so long to cancel a SIM?
Sienna: It’s done now
Thank you for your patience.
You will get confirmation text as I have cancelled.
07493 391246 this data sim for you.
Toby: Could you email me the chat please, it’s hilarious
Sienna: Sure I will help you to get the chat
I wish to suggest you will get one final bill for this subscription once it will complete for the cancellation within next 30 days and after that this will be disable from your account.
Toby: That’s fine, I expected one further bill for a 30 day notice account/.
Toby: It’s important that you understand that I started this chat wanting to cancel one SIM and it’s been so painful that all I want to do is cancel all my Vodafone SIMS.
Toby: So your retention team has had the 100% opposite effect.
Toby: https://www.turbotas.co.uk/2019/10/15/poxy-vodafone/
Sienna: I am really very sorry I was trying to make a deal
I am really very sorry I know this may be not getting good flow but when I have checked the deals are coming more cheaper I was exited may be you will go for them sorry Sir.
Toby: But they were not cheaper – they were different deals and required me to sign a long contract. I explained that, but you carried on anyway.
Toby: for a loooong time.
Sienna: Oh I see When you told me about outright cost I was thinking that you are asking for a deal which will come with a tablet for good outright cost I am sorry.
Toby: I didn’t say anything about outright cost, I just said that I pay £30 for 50G and that I don’t have a contract and that I didn’t want a contract.

Bye Drupal

Although drupal has been great, it’s a real pain to keep up-to-date. Sadly drupal has lagged behind the curve in terms of the ability to self update. This means reasonably frequent root logins followed by un-tarring and copying directories, which is never pleasant.

We have been running a WP site for the last year and found updates to be completely painless, so as of today, the drupal sites have all gone bye bye. WP brings it’s own issues of course, but lets see how it goes!

Goodbye Mediawiki and thanks for all the fish..

So here we are in 2017 and I noticed that the wiki has not had an edit for around 3 years, but I still have had to bring it down every few months for security fixes.

So the time has come to kill the Whale – all the wiki content is now moved to articles on the CMS or deleted or published elsewhere and mediawiki has gone to feed the fishes.

It was a great collaborative tool in 2004 but I can do everything in a google doc these days and someone else is keeping that secure and patched (I hope!) .

It did make me realise how much content had no links in or out and thus was effectively invisible.

There is still a private wiki to wrestle with and vSprawl is presently wiki based. But this is at least a start in simplifying the estate a little.

Maltesers

I love Maltesers and can easily consume a large bag or even a box all by myself. Lately though I’ve noticed that the quality has lapsed. The little things are not round any more. Instead they now look like asteroids: they have irregular surfaces all over them.

Pretty annoying given that on the TV adverts they roll around on desks etc!

Try and contact Masterfoods (Mars) about this: You can’t! The website is awful and has not one single contact (Yes, none!)

Bah! Roll on cheaper lookalike product manufacturers prepared to make maltesers round again.