Archive for September 1st, 2012

Amazon.com Hiring Talented People

The eCommerce giant Amazon Inc is recruiting talented people. Amazon is getting lot of press on their new projects like Streaming Video, Amazon Lockers, Amazon Fresh. They are looking for Software Developers, Technical Program Managers, and Software Development Managers. Anyone who is interested in applying should fill out Amazon’s form and email it, along with their resume to dakottaa@amazon.com.

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‘Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII’ headed to 360/PS3 in 2013

The “new direction” Square Enix is taking the story of Lightning is … actually kind of the same direction as before. As in, it’s another sequel to Final Fantasy XIII. “Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII” was unveiled at tonight’s Final Fantasy 25th anniversary event at PAX.

According to the game’s Japanese website, Motomu Toriyama is heading up the third game in the Final Fantasy XIII series (yes, we seriously just wrote that) ? a game that’s said to end Lightning’s story. A video was shown during tonight’s event that we’re expecting to see pop up any time now, but we’ve got a concept art gallery below for you to check out in the meantime.

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Awesomenauts 1.4 coming next week, Voltar more omniscient

Okay, so technically Voltar won’t be more omniscient (is that even possible?), but he will be getting a nice buff in the Awesomenauts 1.4 update. Specifically, his healbot is getting a nice buff.

Furthermore, Coco will pick up some new upgrades, including a “blaze” effect for her lightning ball and homing electricity particles for her shock attack. The latter looks particularly nasty, dealing lots of damage up close.

Patch 1.4 will be released next week.

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Walmart tests iPhone ‘Scan & Go’ feature to trim checkout time, slash costs for retailers

Wal-Mart Stores Inc is testing a “Scan & Go” system that would allow shoppers to scan items using their iPhones and then pay at a self-checkout counter, a move that could trim checkout times and slash costs for retailers.

If the test by the world’s largest retailer is successful, it has the potential to change the way people shop and pay, making the process more personal and potentially faster.

Earlier this week, Walmart invited employees with Apple Inc iPhones to participate in a test at a Walmart supercenter in Rogers, Arkansas, near the company’s headquarters, according to a form on the Survey Monkey website. (https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/selfcheckout)

“All of the effort is to speed your way through the checkout so that we can reduce costs and improve the shopping experience,” said Paul Weitzel, managing partner at retail consulting firm Willard Bishop, who said he had not seen Wal-Mart’s test. “With smartphones and improved technology we’re only going to see more of this.”

The test comes months after Wal-Mart said that it would add more self-checkout lanes at its Walmart and Sam’s Club stores as it continues to look for ways to lower costs and prices for its shoppers.

Pushing more shoppers to scan their own items and make payments without the help of a cashier could save Wal-Mart millions of dollars, Chief Financial Officer Charles Holley said on March 7. For every 1 second in average transaction time at the Walmart U.S. chain, the company has said that it spends about $12 million in cashier wages.

Shoppers often complain on Twitter and in other forums that it takes too long to pay at Walmart, where sometimes only a few of the several checkout lanes are open and staffed with cashiers. While some retailers employ baggers to speed up the checkout process, at Walmart one employee scans and bags items.

“We’re continually testing new and innovative ways to serve customers and enhance the shopping experience in our stores,” said Wal-Mart spokesman David Tovar.

Walmart’s current iPhone app already includes functions such as letting shoppers create lists and seeing which items are in stock.

The test comes as retailers and restaurants are trying to figure out ways to speed up the checkout process by letting customers pay with a tap of their smartphones.

In the Walmart iPhone scanning test, shoppers can scan products with their phone and put them in bags while they shop, and then pay at a self-checkout counter.

The test does not allow users to pay on their phone. The app transfers the scanned items to the self-checkout kiosk and then shoppers complete the transaction using the normal self-checkout process.

Wal-Mart earlier this month said it was joining with other retailers to develop a mobile payment network, a retailer-led initiative that would match similar services by Google Inc

and eBay Inc, among others. While self-checkout aisles are common at many stores, the ability to scan items with one’s mobile phone while shopping is not a typical process. Among other tests, Supervalu Inc’s

Jewel-Osco chain once let shoppers use handheld scanners and then enter that information at the checkout to pay, but that test ended years ago.

“This is probably the fourth technology that we’ve tried between shopping carts, RFID chips, the handheld scanners and now we’ve got smartphones,” Weitzel said of the retail industry. “We’re looking for ways to improve that experience as an industry.”

Wal-Mart’s test appears to be limited to one store, but it appears that the company sought out participants beyond its staff for its study. The company asked employees to reach out to friends and family in its search for participants, according to a copy of an email sent by the company’s @WalmartLabs team and obtained by Reuters. A company spokesman would not verify this on Friday afternoon.

Wal-Mart offered participants in one-hour sessions $100 for their time and a $25 gift card to use in the store for purchases, according to the form on the Survey Monkey website.

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Facebook cracks down on fake ‘Likes’

Facebook Inc is weeding out fake “Likes” on its social network that are being caused by spammers, malware and black marketeers as it strives to maintain credibility as an advertising platform.

Facebook said the number of Likes, or endorsements by users, on corporate pages is likely to drop by less than 1 per cent, on average, after the crackdown.

“Newly improved automated efforts will remove those Likes gained by malware, compromised accounts, deceived users, or purchased bulk Likes,” Facebook said in a post on its official blog on Friday.

“While we have always had dedicated protections against each of these threats on Facebook, these improved systems have been specifically configured to identify and take action against suspicious Likes,” the post continued.

Thanks to a growing black market, companies can instantly raise their profile on Facebook by purchasing thousands of Likes at a time – a practice that is forbidden by the No. 1 social network, which has 955 million users.

Many of these Likes come from bogus Facebook user accounts rather than genuine users of the social network.

Meanwhile, various spam-like programs on Facebook deceive users into unwittingly liking something when they perform another action, such as clicking to watch a video.

Facebook said the cleanup will benefit both users and companies that maintain pages on the network, by giving a more accurate measurement of fan count and demographics.

Ensuring the integrity of Likes is serious business for Facebook, which depends on advertising revenue from large brands and other businesses. Many of the ad campaigns that companies conduct on Facebook are designed to garner Likes – a sign that their marketing message has resonated with consumers.

“It’s their currency,” said Jeremiah Owyang, a partner at research firm Altimeter Group. “Facebook is playing the Federal Reserve, to take the counterfeit currency off the market to ensure that there’s quality in the marketplace.”
The problem is not unique to Facebook, say analysts, who note that Twitter and Google Inc also grapple with fake accounts, spam and other techniques to game the service.

But for Facebook, the pressure to show that activity on its social network is genuine has grown as concerns have mounted on Wall Street about the company’s long-term profit potential.

Shares of Facebook set a new low on Friday, falling as much as 5.3 per cent to $18.08, after brokerages cut their price targets on the stock. Facebook has lost more than 50 per cent of its market value since its initial public offering in May.

Facebook estimates that 1.5 per cent of its users are “undesirable” accounts set up for purposes that violate its terms of service, according to its most recent 10-Q regulatory filing.

“I think what they’re intending to do is get a handle on it before it gets really out of control,” Brian Blau, an analyst with research firm Gartner, said.

“You can imagine no business wants to pay for advertising to fake accounts.”

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