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Free Amazon Products For The Price Of Fake Reviews

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Earlier in 2019, Jessica (not her real name) had “spent” over $15,000 on Amazon for over 700 products – all as a dishonest side hustle.

In the back corner of Jessica’s two-family home dining room is a table with un-reviewed Amazon products on top and up-for-grabs underneath. Jessica’s routine goes a little like this: her boyfriend brings in Amazon packages from their front porch, she takes photographs of the products from the boxes, and while watching TV, she posts thoughtful 5-star reviews (some complete with photos and a video) on the Amazon products.

Full Of Everything

In her home are the most random finds, from Halloween decorations and common house items to more faux leather purses, earbuds, and queen-size inflatable mattresses than humanly needed. Although most are cheaply made, Jessica has given each a 5-star review and proudly points to the items as ones that she “would have had to pay for”. Not that she does a faulty job at quality assurance, but that those companies that sell on Amazon send her products and commission her for the purchases.

What Jessica (treacherously) does helps sellers who are seeking growth in their businesses in two ways: by bolstering their reviews and by elevating their items’ sales ranks against similar listings.

Bribery

To make it to Amazon’s massive scale of inscrutable algorithms and fickle rules, third-party sellers can easily get away with a reliable cheat to get good reviews and a high search ranking – through bribery.

Reaching out to Jessica and other review groups with thousands of dedicated members through Facebook, WhatsApp, or email means giving a specific set of instructions to follow to closely simulate a legitimate-looking Amazon purchase that typically goes like this: look up specific, company-provided keywords to elevate the product’s profile in the search results; purchase a certain product using, in Jessica’s case, her Amazon Prime member account and Amazon Chase credit card, to be labeled as a “verified purchase”; and leave a 5-star review after a calculated amount of time, at least five to six days upon receipt of the items.

The sellers then reimburse the expenses incurred outside Amazon, perhaps via PayPal or with an Amazon gift card, and allow the reviewers’ possession of the items. 

Since Jessica’s credit card is an Amazon-branded rewards card, she also gets extra bonuses for her purchases. Looking at it this way, third-party sellers aren’t the only ones reimbursing her fake reviews – Amazon is in on it, too.

“Inauthentic Reviews”

On BuzzFeed News’ query on how Amazon policies inauthentic reviews, the Amazon spokesperson noted that over 13 million bogus review attempts had been prevented and that it responded accordingly against more than 5 million accounts of review-manipulating sellers. Sly third-party sellers, though, still continue to exploit the blind spots in the system and get away unharmed.

Most Amazon products aren’t really sold by Amazon itself, but by independent third-party sellers. If you ever come across a product with a “Sold by (Store Name) and Fulfilled by Amazon” written below the price, these are merchandisers who get a cut in the sales with their access to Amazon’s customers. In 2018, Amazon recorded a $160-billion spending by customers on items from third-party sellers – an impressive 58% portion of all the site’s sales, which Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos doesn’t find delightful.

With thousands of new sellers on the site each day, a Wall Street Journal story in 2018 reported that in every 1/50th of a second, a new product from China was uploaded. As an appeal, comments from these Chinese sellers like, “This will help our small business out a lot!” and “We’re a small family business selling on Amazon” draw in the empathy of reviewers to the small business owners.

This scheme on Amazon’s algorithm gives people the illusion that a product has a crazy sales velocity, making it more search-visible. In addition to reviews largely impacting listings, search ranking also depends on the frequency of sales. The higher the ranking, the bigger the sellers’ monthly revenue.

In Jessica’s experience in fake reviewing, she has rated almost every item five stars, except for a cross-body purse that shipped with a broken magnet, which she rated a three to eventually receive a $20 refund from the seller. Although sometimes there are awful products, they still get the same 5-star rating; she just doesn’t trust health and beauty products on Amazon for her chemist boyfriend’s warnings on toxic ingredients in unregulated products.

Diminishing Returns For The Rest Of Us

This involvement in product reviewing was enough to give Jessica the exposure to the existence of inauthentic Amazon reviews. For other customers, however, the trouble of discerning commissioned reviews from genuine ones becomes present, all while unsuspecting patrons become prey to cheap products with inflated ratings. This display of fraud then diminishes the factor of trust in the site.

Attracting genuine customers to a listing could cost excessive amounts of money without the guarantee of good reviews. To solve this, some desperate sellers engage in treachery. Pattern chief revenue officer John LeBaron inferred, “The cheapest, easiest way to make money is to cheat.”

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Run Your Home The Smart Way: Apple HomeKit’s Best Products of 2020

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Today’s technology makes our lives so much easier. One of the things it can now help you with is run your home. Apple has created HomeKit to help you make your house a smart home. Apple developed HomeKit to connect to intelligent products to iPhones and iPads so that you can control all of them with just a tap or a voice command to Siri.

Just by downloading the free app, you can control almost anything in your home that’s a smart device. But what are the products you need in your home? Buying everything will be a waste of money. Some products are just not okay with your budget. We’ve narrowed it down for you. Here are Apple HomeKit’s best products for 2020.

4 Of The Best Apple HomeKit Products Of 2020

Ecobee3 Lite

There are a lot of options if you want a good quality smart thermostat. At just $169 to $190, you can get the Ecobee3 Lite. The temperature sensors and the ability to be controlled by Siri will be worth the money.

Comparing it to the newest Ecobee smart thermostat, the Ecobee3 Lite is not only cheaper but works just as well with Apple HomeKit. The only difference the Ecobee4 has, besides the $250 price, is the Alexa speaker built in it.

Philips Hue White LED Starter Kit

If you want smart white bulbs that are dimmable and yellowy, the Philips Hue White LED Starter Kit is for you. This smart bulb kit comes with two Hue White bulbs and the Hue Bridge. At just $70, you can get a smart LED set that has many cool and useful features. It also goes great with almost everything, including the Apple HomeKit.

August Smart Lock Pro

Security is always crucial in every home. You can now ditch you’re worrying when you’re out of the house. The August Smart Lock Pro is the best smart lock when it comes to HomeKit connections.

It doesn’t even end with HomeKit. This smart lock is compatible with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, IFTTT, Nest, and optional Z-Wave support.

You can get the lock, the open/close door sensor, and the necessary plug-in WiFi hub for $169.

Logitech Circle 2

Another way to ensure security in your homes is with cameras. The Logitech Circle 2 can be set up inside or outside your home. With night vision, two-way audio, and motion sensors, it can catch even the smallest movement.

It does come wired so that it will need an outlet. This can prove to be a good thing. You won’t need to worry about when batteries will die. It will always be on as long as it’s plugged in. After you set the cameras up, you can view the feed right on your Home app.

All this costs $180. If you do want to up your camera game, Logitech does have an assortment of mounting accessories. You can also extend backlog of clips from the free 24 hours to 14 or 31 days for only $4 or $10 monthly.

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Navigating The Soon-To-Release Honda E

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As part of Honda’s vision to have electric or hybrid versions of its core European models by 2022 and to have two-thirds of its vehicles electrified by 2030, the Honda E will be eyeing its urban markets with a synonymous price point to the Renault Zoe and 40 kWh Leaf. This stylish, higher-tech EV rivals other EVs with its infotainment options housed in an original Civic-inspired body, however only running with a smaller 35.5 kWh battery, which Honda defends is apt enough for urban driving while keeping the car’s weight, efficiency, and sportiness.

Honda personalized its Urban-inspired concept with more rounded head and tail lights and a higher-riding seating. It kept intact the pop-out door handles and cameras-as-mirrors in smoothing out the E’s aerodynamics.

The Honda E’s charging port is located atop the hood, covered, which you can pop with a remote or your own phone. Its trunk is spacious enough for a few grocery bags or for short weekend getaways. Its bold interior is adorned with furniture fabrics and faux wood accents, and comes with an HDMI input jack to plug in your Chromecast dongles.

“Our interior designer wanted to create a space that’s like a living room, with a sofa and TV,” Takahiro Shinya, head of dynamic performance for the Honda E, noted. “That’s to ensure that this car is not only comfortable for when you’re driving, but also when you’re charging. We wanted it to let people use it almost as a private room.”

The Honda E will be unveiled in the UK in two models: the E and the E Advance. Both come with 232-foot-pounds of torque, weigh 3,086 pounds, and are rear-wheel drive vehicles, with the base E model packing a 134-horsepower electric motor and the Advance with 152 horsepower. Comparing the E to Renault’s rival Zoe, the E weighs less yet has more torque than Zoe’s 180-foot-pounds.

The E’s dashboard has two 6-inch side screens for the mirrors, an 8.8-inch driver info display, and two 12.3-inch touch-screens at the center for the driver and the shotgun passenger.

Putting the wheels in motion

On a 60-mile trip on varying Valencia landscapes, both wet and dry, the Honda E showed exceptional performance even after quite an overwhelming glance at its infotainment systems in the beginning. The infotainment ergonomics of the Honda E allows you toggle physical buttons located on the steering wheel and dash if you choose to operate old-school instead of depending on touch displays. A classic volume knob can also be found in the middle of the console.

Entertainment wise, the E’s navigation app supports both Android Auto and Apple’s CarPlay while still giving you access to various apps like Honda’s Aha radio.  Additionally, quite reminiscent of Sony’s Vision-S concept car at CES 2020, the Honda E’s screen-swapping feature between the driver and the passenger incorporates more convenience.

While the features are already impressive, the drive goes on accelerations that fit city scooting and highway driving. The E has an independent suspension with MacPherson struts on each wheel and a perfect 50:50 weight distribution that allows it to corner with minimal body lean. Also, its 14.1-feet radius gives it a very tight turning circle that can outturn the Fiat 500 and most small cars.

The E’s braking energy recovery system also lets you have maximum control. The center console’s button enables the single pedal control that brings the car to a complete stop when you lift off the gas. The side paddles then help you control the level of energy recovery, from minimal to aggressive braking.

The side cameras give a clearer view while also reducing blind spots. The problem, however, is if the electronics malfunction, you’re left with a blank, unusable screen – far worse than a broken mirror. The rearview mirror, on the other hand, is backed by a physical, regular mirror other than its rear-mounted camera.

The Honda E’s intelligent driving system is powered by Honda’s sensing tech that uses radar and high resolution wide-angle cameras, that in the event of a far lean to an edge, the road departure mitigation system lets the steering wheel nudge the vehicle back into place. Akin to the Civic and other recent Honda models, the automatic braking also minimizes collisions with pedestrians and cars with its adaptive cruise control, road sign detection, lane keep assist, automatic high beams and more. Being the high-tech car that it is, the E also has a Parking Pilot that lets you select a desired vacancy and automatically parks into parallel, diagonal, lined, or parking garage spaces. If it goes amiss, the brake can stop and resume the process.

On the tradeoff, the Honda E only has the WLTP electric range at 137 miles on a single charge, down to a 20 percent battery life after the 60-mile cross-country trip. It, however, supports up to 100 kW chargers, with such juicing the E from zero to 80 percent in 30 minutes, and more common fast chargers, such as a 50 kW, taking merely a couple minutes longer.

The Verdict

Although the Honda E sadly falls short in terms of range and battery size as compared to its Renault Zoe competitor with a 50 kWh battery (and a 242-mile WLPT range), Shinya believes that urban buyers won’t find the range as a huge factor that matters for commutes.

The Honda E will sell at a base price of £26,160 ($34,200) with the E Advance starting at £28,660 ($37,500), including the £3,500 government rebate. It arguably is more expensive than the Renault Zoe at £25,670 or around $33,600 (including a £3,500 rebate) but cheaper than the 40 kWh Leaf at £26,345 ($34,400).

Shinya defended when talking about the E’s design, “We needed to provide buyers with a vehicle that, at a glance, is something different,” he said. “We don’t want you to feel like you just have a different motor, but that you have bought something which is completely new, completely ‘next-generation’.”

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New Medical Bed Inspired By Star Trek Makes X-Rays More Affordable

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Do you know that X-ray scans are not easily available for two-thirds of people on the planet? This is the reality for many according to the World Health Organization It’s because the machines themselves are very expensive. Also, conventional x-ray machines need a lot of energy to function. Millions of dollars are needed to keep patients safe. There are many people who suffer diseases that could have been preventable and treatable if only they were detected earlier. 

One company wants to change that by developing a piece of new medical equipment for early disease detection. Recently, Nanox introduced a new medical bed called Nanox.Arc. It is an X-ray machine that makes you recall the biobed from Star Trek. This new medical equipment is said to be more affordable at just five-digit figures. Nanox is a medical imaging company based in Israel. 

The X-ray machines use analog techniques and bulky, rotating tubes are necessary for it to work. With Nanox, the technology is advanced with its digital system. The components it uses are also much smaller and more cost-efficient. The only moving part of this new machine is the gantry which holds the X-ray ring for scanning various parts of the body. 

The business model that the company employs is also different. They’re not asking customers outright to buy the machines. Instead, Nanox is offering the machines on a “pay-per-scan” basis. The company also offers AI-based cloud services and analysis to hospitals and clinics. This may mean recurring costs but if compared to purchasing the machine, it would be much more affordable. 

Nanox has not yet announced when the new Star Trek-inspired scanner will become available. However, the company hopes to provide about 15,000 units soon. As to how soon that will be, it’s still indefinite for now. 

The company has received extra funding of $26 million from Foxconn which is an electronics company based in Taiwan. Other funds also came from SK Telecom, Fujifilm and a number of private investors.

The funds are said to be used to support further development and commercialization, as well as the deployment of this revolutionary medical equipment. The Nanox System is comprised of the Nanox.Arc and the Nanox.Cloud which is the software that is to be used for providing medical imaging services end-to-end. 

The services that Nanox will be providing include radiologist matching, image repository, offline and online diagnostics annotation and review, billing, reporting, and connectivity to diagnostic assistive AI systems. 

With the Nanox System, there is hope for improvement in the affordability and accessibility of medical services for early detection of diseases. The company envisions deploying the machines worldwide. Nanox plans to collaborate with clinic chains, hospitals, and governments as a way to enter into the global market. 

The goal of the company is clear. It wants to be able to provide everyone with an X-ray scan annually as a way to prevent medical issues. Ideally, the scanner can spot problems like cancer early enough so that people will be able to get effective treatments. 

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