• #G7 : une gestion policière dans le sillage de la crise des Gilets Jaunes ?

    C’est ce que confirme notre échange à #Biarritz avec le ministre de l’Intérieur Christophe #Castaner, en visite sous haute sécurité pour préparer le sommet des 24, 25 et 26 août 2019. 

    #Politique #Social #abertzale #ETA #G20 #Hambourg #Irun #Macron #Pays_Basque #Seattle

  • Boeing’s 737 Max Software Outsourced to $9-an-Hour Engineers - Bloomberg

    In offices across from Seattle’s Boeing Field, recent college graduates employed by the Indian software developer HCL Technologies Ltd. occupied several rows of desks, said Mark Rabin, a former Boeing software engineer who worked in a flight-test group that supported the Max.

    The coders from HCL were typically designing to specifications set by Boeing. Still, “it was controversial because it was far less efficient than Boeing engineers just writing the code,” Rabin said. Frequently, he recalled, “it took many rounds going back and forth because the code was not done correctly.”

    Boeing’s cultivation of Indian companies appeared to pay other dividends. In recent years, it has won several orders for Indian military and commercial aircraft, such as a $22 billion one in January 2017 to supply SpiceJet Ltd. That order included 100 737-Max 8 jets and represented Boeing’s largest order ever from an Indian airline, a coup in a country dominated by Airbus.

    Based on resumes posted on social media, HCL engineers helped develop and test the Max’s flight-display software, while employees from another Indian company, Cyient Ltd., handled software for flight-test equipment.

    C’est beau comme tout la langue de bois des public relations :

    Boeing said the company did not rely on engineers from HCL and Cyient for the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, which has been linked to the Lion Air crash last October and the Ethiopian Airlines disaster in March. The Chicago-based planemaker also said it didn’t rely on either firm for another software issue disclosed after the crashes: a cockpit warning light that wasn’t working for most buyers.

    “Boeing has many decades of experience working with supplier/partners around the world,” a company spokesman said. “Our primary focus is on always ensuring that our products and services are safe, of the highest quality and comply with all applicable regulations.”

    In a statement, HCL said it “has a strong and long-standing business relationship with The Boeing Company, and we take pride in the work we do for all our customers. However, HCL does not comment on specific work we do for our customers. HCL is not associated with any ongoing issues with 737 Max.”

    Starting with the 787 Dreamliner, launched in 2004, it sought to increase profits by instead providing high-level specifications and then asking suppliers to design more parts themselves. The thinking was “they’re the experts, you see, and they will take care of all of this stuff for us,” said Frank McCormick, a former Boeing flight-controls software engineer who later worked as a consultant to regulators and manufacturers. “This was just nonsense.”

    Sales are another reason to send the work overseas. In exchange for an $11 billion order in 2005 from Air India, Boeing promised to invest $1.7 billion in Indian companies. That was a boon for HCL and other software developers from India, such as Cyient, whose engineers were widely used in computer-services industries but not yet prominent in aerospace.

    La sous-traitance logicielle peut-elle suivre les modèles de la sous-traitance de l’industrie ?

    HCL, once known as Hindustan Computers, was founded in 1976 by billionaire Shiv Nadar and now has more than $8.6 billion in annual sales. With 18,000 employees in the U.S. and 15,000 in Europe, HCL is a global company and has deep expertise in computing, said Sukamal Banerjee, a vice president. It has won business from Boeing on that basis, not on price, he said: “We came from a strong R&D background.”

    Still, for the 787, HCL gave Boeing a remarkable price – free, according to Sam Swaro, an associate vice president who pitched HCL’s services at a San Diego conference sponsored by Avionics International magazine in June. He said the company took no up-front payments on the 787 and only started collecting payments based on sales years later, an “innovative business model” he offered to extend to others in the industry.

    The 787 entered service three years late and billions of dollars over budget in 2011, in part because of confusion introduced by the outsourcing strategy. Under Dennis Muilenburg, a longtime Boeing engineer who became chief executive in 2015, the company has said that it planned to bring more work back in-house for its newest planes.

    #Boeing #Sous-traitance #Capitalisme #Sécurité #Logiciel

  • Boeing’s 737 Max Software Outsourced to $9-an-Hour Engineers - Bloomberg

    The cockpit of a grounded 737 Max 8 aircraft.
    Photographer: Dimas Ardian/Bloomberg

    • Planemaker and suppliers used lower-paid temporary workers
    • Engineers feared the practice meant code wasn’t done right

    It remains the mystery at the heart of Boeing Co.’s 737 Max crisis: how a company renowned for meticulous design made seemingly basic software mistakes leading to a pair of deadly crashes. Longtime Boeing engineers say the effort was complicated by a push to outsource work to lower-paid contractors.

    The Max software — plagued by issues that could keep the planes grounded months longer after U.S. regulators this week revealed a new flaw — was developed at a time Boeing was laying off experienced engineers and pressing suppliers to cut costs.

    Increasingly, the iconic American planemaker and its subcontractors have relied on temporary workers making as little as $9 an hour to develop and test software, often from countries lacking a deep background in aerospace — notably India.

    In offices across from Seattle’s Boeing Field, recent college graduates employed by the Indian software developer HCL Technologies Ltd. occupied several rows of desks, said Mark Rabin, a former Boeing software engineer who worked in a flight-test group that supported the Max.
    In one post, an HCL employee summarized his duties with a reference to the now-infamous model, which started flight tests in January 2016: “Provided quick workaround to resolve production issue which resulted in not delaying flight test of 737-Max (delay in each flight test will cost very big amount for Boeing).

  • Megan Rapinoe, la footballeuse qui dit « fuck you » à Trump

    Dans un monde du foot où l’engagement politique d’un joueur ou d’une joueuse relève de la rareté, Megan Rapinoe dénote : l’hymne américain, elle l’a boycotté pour la toute première fois en posant un genou à terre il y a un peu plus de deux ans, lors d’un match disputé entre son équipe de Seattle et Chicago. Un geste de soutien au joueur de foot américain Colin Kaepernick, le premier athlète à s’être agenouillé de la sorte afin de protester contre les violences policières commises contre les Noirs américains.

  • Boeing obligé de garer ses avions 737 MAX cloués au sol sur le parking de ses employés - Sputnik France

    En raison du manque de place dans les aéroports, des avions Boeing 737 MAX immobilisés au sol se retrouvent sur le parking du personnel de l’avionneur, informe la chaîne de télévision King-TV à Seattle. Selon un porte-parole de la compagnie, cela entre dans leur projet de gestion des stocks.

    Certains avions Boeing 737 MAX cloués au sol après le crash de deux appareils en octobre 2018 et en mars 2019 sont actuellement garés sur les places des employés du parking de la compagnie, rapporte la chaîne de télévision King-TV à Seattle.

  • Titre pompeux à clics et timming au cordeau alors que tombent les BB sous l’action conjointe de la police prédictive et de l’extrême-droite délatoire : L’article à lire pour comprendre ce qu’est vraiment un #black_bloc :
    Avec cette très belle définition du politologue Francis Dupuis-Déri :
    "une sorte d’énorme drapeau noir, tissé d’êtres humains" qui m’a remis l’hymne black-bloc en tête :

    Gros souci cependant sur le raccourci fait au sujet de l’hôpital #Necker :

    « La tradition, chez les participants au black bloc, c’est ’on attaque le matériel, on ne fait pas de victimes’ », explique Sylvain Boulouque, historien spécialiste de l’anarchisme. Pourtant, deux épisodes récents semblent déroger à cette règle : les vitres brisées de l’hôpital Necker pour enfants pendant les manifestations contre la loi Travail à Paris et l’incendie d’une banque située dans un immeuble d’habitation, le 16 mars dernier, toujours à Paris. « C’est quelque chose que l’on ne voyait pas avant, remarque l’historien. Peut-être le fait de jeunes manifestants encore peu aguerris aux pratiques du black bloc. Cela montre en tout cas que le mouvement n’est pas uniforme. »

    On le savait, malgré les efforts de décryptage et de recontextualisation, et malgré les excuses du Black Bloc, la dictature de l’émotion à écrit l’Histoire ; pourtant il y a eut de nombreux debunkages de cette distortion de la réalité manipulée :

    A part ça l’historique est plutôt bon (sauf que le cortège de tête existe avant les manifs « Loi Travaille ») et je découvre une vidéo d’archive de Seattle que je ne connaissais pas :

    Un autre article super intéressant le complète : Pourquoi « gilets jaunes » et black blocs ont fini par faire cause commune avec un petit passage qui fait chaud au coeur sur la tendance locale de l’Educ Pop par le fait ?

    A Nantes, j’ai même vu des black blocs calmer des « gilets jaunes » qui cassaient, en leur expliquant que, s’ils agissaient de la sorte, ils allaient se faire arrêter.

    Concernant ce dont je parle en intro, l’info est dans cet article à la plume assez dégueulasse, entre sensationalisme et amusement, en tout cas aucunement en phase avec la gravité de ce que cela dit : des jeunes qui se battent contre la montée en puissance de l’extrême-droite et qui sefont balancer par celle-ci appuyée avec zèle par la police ravie de re-coffrer une « figure » au passage et d’aller informer les médias :
    Il y a eut aussi des arrestations « préventives » ce matin à Paris, désolée l’info n’est que sur twitter pour le moment :

    Paris #GiletsJaunes #Acte23 #ActeXXIII a Gare du Nord. 5 interpellations par la BAC au premier étage d’un bar. Il ne se passait rien. Incompréhensible.

  • Founder Interviews: Jim Rose of CircleCI

    Six-time founder and CircleCI CEO Jim Rose is on a mission to give everyone the ability to build and deliver software at the speed of imagination.Davis Baer: What’s your background, and what are you working on?Jim Rose: I’m originally from Wisconsin and went to Duke for undergrad. After I graduated, I spent some time in China as an analyst working on the copy machine supply chain. There are lots of stories there, but we’ll save those for another time. After a while I came back to the States and spent some time working in Seattle, and then for WPP. It was just at the start of the first tech boom, and I started a company called MobShop. We wanted to give consumers the ability to get discounts when they bought goods at volume — this was way before Groupon, who had a similar idea and ended up (...)

    #davis-baer #founder-interview #founder-stories #founder-advice #founders

  • Generating PDFs in #javascript for fun and profit!

    Up until recently, creating complex or elegant PDFs in Javascript has been challenging.Here I’m going to show you step-by-step the path of least resistance to beautiful PDFs. Spoiler: recently made possible by #docx to #pdf conversion in Javascript :-)What follows is some of what I will cover in my upcoming talk at PDF Association conference in Seattle in June.From 1000 feet, here are your three main alternatives:The first is to create the PDF directly, using pdfkit, jsPDF, or the higher level pdfmake. Pdfkit is like iText in the Java world. Pdfmake, based on pdfkit, has its own format for representing rich text; it converts this to PDF.The second is to create HTML, then convert that to PDF. These days probably using puppeteer.The third is to create a docx, then convert that to PDF.Put (...)

    #pdf-converter #nodejs

  • Confronting racism is not about the needs and feelings of white people

    Too often whites at discussions on race decide for themselves what will be discussed, what they will hear, what they will learn. And it is their space. All spaces are.

    I was leaving a corporate office building after a full day of leading workshops on how to talk about race thoughtfully and deliberately. The audience for each session had been similar to the dozens I had faced before. There was an overrepresentation of employees of color, an underrepresentation of white employees. The participants of color tended to make eye contact with me and nod – I even heard a few “Amens” – but were never the first to raise their hands with questions or comments. Meanwhile, there was always a white man eager to share his thoughts on race. In these sessions I typically rely on silent feedback from participants of color to make sure I am on the right track, while trying to moderate the loud centering of whiteness.

    In the hallway an Asian American woman locked eyes with me and mouthed: “Thank you.” A black man squeezed my shoulder and muttered: “Girl, if you only knew.” A black woman stopped me, looked around cautiously to make sure no one was within earshot, and then said: “You spoke the truth. I wish I could have shared my story so you’d know how true. But this was not the place.”

    This was not the place. Despite the care I take in these sessions to center people of color, to keep them safe, this still was not the place. Once again, what might have been a discussion about the real, quantifiable harm being done to people of color had been subsumed by a discussion about the feelings of white people, the expectations of white people, the needs of white people.

    As I stood there, gazing off into the memory of hundreds of stifled conversations about race, I was brought to attention by a white woman. She was not nervously looking around to see who might be listening. She didn’t ask if I had time to talk, though I was standing at the door.

    “Your session was really nice,” she started. “You said a lot of good things that will be useful to a lot of people.”

    She paused briefly: “But the thing is, nothing you talked about today is going to help me make more black friends.”

    I was reminded of one of the very first panels on race I had participated in. A black man in Seattle had been pepper-sprayed by a security guard for doing nothing more than walking through a shopping center. It had been caught on camera. A group of black writers and activists, myself included, were onstage in front of a majority-white Seattle audience, talking about the incident. Fellow panelist Charles Mudede, a brilliant writer, film-maker and economic theorist, addressed the economic mechanisms at work: this security guard had been told that his job was to protect his employers’ ability to make a profit. He had been told that his job was to keep customers who had money to spend happy and safe. And every day he was fed cultural messages about who had money and who didn’t. Who was violent and who wasn’t. Charles argued that the security guard had been doing his job. In a white supremacist capitalist system, this is what doing your job looked like.

    Well, at least he was trying to argue that point. Because halfway through, a white woman stood up and interrupted him.

    “Look, I’m sure you know a lot about all this stuff,” she said, hands on hips. “But I didn’t come here for an economics lesson. I came here because I feel bad about what happened to this man and I want to know what to do.”

    That room, apparently, wasn’t the place either. According to this woman, this talk was not, or should not have been, about the feelings of the man who was pepper-sprayed, or those of the broader black community, which had just been delivered even more evidence of how unsafe we are in our own city. She felt bad and wanted to stop feeling bad. And she expected us to provide that to her.

    At a university last month, where I was discussing the whitewashing of publishing and the need for more unfiltered narratives by people of color, a white man insisted that there was no way we were going to be understood by white people if we couldn’t make ourselves more accessible. When I asked him if all of the elements of white culture that people of color have to familiarize themselves with just to get through the day are ever modified to suit us, he shrugged and looked down at his notebook. At a workshop I led last week a white woman wondered if perhaps people of color in America are too sensitive about race. How was she going to be able to learn if we were always getting so upset at her questions?

    I’ve experienced similar interruptions and dismissals more times than I can count. Even when my name is on the poster, none of these places seem like the right places in which to talk about what I and so many people of color need to talk about. So often the white attendees have decided for themselves what will be discussed, what they will hear, what they will learn. And it is their space. All spaces are.

    One day, in frustration, I posted this social media status:

    “If your anti-racism work prioritizes the ‘growth’ and ‘enlightenment’ of white America over the safety, dignity and humanity of people of color – it’s not anti-racism work. It’s white supremacy.”

    One of the very first responses I received from a white commenter was: “OK, but isn’t it better than nothing?”

    Is it? Is a little erasure better than a lot of erasure? Is a little white supremacy leaked into our anti-racism work better than no anti-racism work at all? Every time I stand in front of an audience to address racial oppression in America, I know that I am facing a lot of white people who are in the room to feel less bad about racial discrimination and violence in the news, to score points, to let everyone know that they are not like the others, to make black friends. I know that I am speaking to a lot of white people who are certain they are not the problem because they are there.

    Just once I want to speak to a room of white people who know they are there because they are the problem. Who know they are there to begin the work of seeing where they have been complicit and harmful so that they can start doing better. Because white supremacy is their construct, a construct they have benefited from, and deconstructing white supremacy is their duty.

    Myself and many of the attendees of color often leave these talks feeling tired and disheartened, but I still show up and speak. I show up in the hopes that maybe, possibly, this talk will be the one that finally breaks through, or will bring me a step closer to the one that will. I show up and speak for people of color who can’t speak freely, so that they might feel seen and heard. I speak because there are people of color in the room who need to hear that they shouldn’t have to carry the burden of racial oppression, while those who benefit from that same oppression expect anti-racism efforts to meet their needs first. After my most recent talk, a black woman slipped me a note in which she had written that she would never be able to speak openly about the ways that racism was impacting her life, not without risking reprisals from white peers. “I will heal at home in silence,” she concluded.

    Is it better than nothing? Or is the fact that in 2019 I still have to ask myself that question every day most harmful of all?
    #racisme #inégalité #subalternité #silence #pouvoir #trauma #traumatisme #safe_place #porte-parole #espace_public #parole_publique #témoignage #liberté_d'expression #Noirs #Blancs #USA #Etats-Unis

  • A Resolution for 2019: Finding the Inner You

    A Resolution for 2019: Finding the Inner You — Event by Advancing Women in ProductCredits: #awip Team, Hanh Bui (Program Lead for December), Esha Joshi (Post-event Blogger)Advancing Women in Product (AWIP) finished on a high note in 2018: in addition to adding three national and international chapters (San Francisco, Seattle, and Paris) and growing by 4,000 members worldwide, they held an end of year party centered around empowering a group of beautiful and bold ladies to bring their most confident selves to work, and life. Members of the AWIP community came together at Ted Baker San Francisco on December 6th, 2018 and welcomed two fierce ladies who wholeheartedly support AWIP’s mission of empowering more women in tech leadership roles: Betty Hsu, professional presence coach, and Elisa (...)

    #2019-resolution #women-in-product #awip-partnership #confidence

  • Boeing 737Max, l’enchaînement des modifications marginales aboutit à une catastrophe (deux catastrophes ?) Sous la pression de la réduction des coûts, un bricolo dans le logiciel de contrôle de vol a été introduit et de ne pas en informer les pilotes (il aurait fallu les faire repasser au simulateur de vol pour les habiliter au nouveau système…)

    After a Lion Air 737 Max Crashed in October, Questions About the Plane Arose - The New York Times

    Boeing’s 737 Max is the latest version of a plane that first went into service half a century ago.
    Credit : Matt Mcknight/Reuters

    But Boeing’s engineers had a problem. Because the new engines for the Max were larger than those on the older version, they needed to be mounted higher and farther forward on the wings to provide adequate ground clearance.

    Early analysis revealed that the bigger engines, mounted differently than on the previous version of the 737, would have a destabilizing effect on the airplane, especially at lower speeds during high-banked, tight-turn maneuvers, Mr. Ludtke said.

    The concern was that an increased risk of the nose being pushed up at low airspeeds could cause the plane to get closer to the angle at which it stalls, or loses lift, Mr. Ludtke said.

    After weighing many possibilities, Mr. Ludtke said, Boeing decided to add a new program — what engineers described as essentially some lines of code — to the aircraft’s existing flight control system to counter the destabilizing pitching forces from the new engines.

    That program was M.C.A.S.
    The F.A.A. would also determine what kind of training would be required for pilots on specific design changes to the Max compared with the previous version. Some changes would require training short of simulator time, such as computer-based instruction.

    I would think this is one of those systems that the pilots should know it’s onboard and when it’s activated,” said Chuck Horning, the department chairman for aviation maintenance science at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

    That was not the choice that Boeing — or regulators — would make.

    The F.A.A. Sides With Boeing
    Ultimately, the F.A.A. determined that there were not enough differences between the 737 Max and the prior iteration to require pilots to go through simulator training.

    While the agency did require pilots to be given less onerous training or information on a variety of other changes between the two versions of the plane, M.C.A.S. was not among those items either.
    At least as far as pilots knew, M.C.A.S. did not exist, even though it would play a key role in controlling the plane under certain circumstances.

    Boeing did not hide the modified system. It was documented in maintenance manuals for the plane, and airlines were informed about it during detailed briefings on differences between the Max and earlier versions of the 737.

    But the F.A.A.’s determination that the system did not have to be flagged for pilots gave pause to some other regulators.

    Across the Atlantic, the European Aviation Safety Agency, the European Union’s equivalent of the F.A.A., had qualms, according to a pilot familiar with the European regulator’s certification process.

    At first, the agency was inclined to rule that M.C.A.S. needed to be included in the flight operations manual for the Max, which in turn would have required that pilots be made aware of the new system through a classroom or computer course, the pilot said. But ultimately, he said, the agency did not consider the issue important enough to hold its ground, and eventually it went along with Boeing and the F.A.A.

    • Après avoir tergiversé devant l’énormité de l’enjeu, la FAA a suspendu les vols et Boeing annonce cesser les livraisons. Deux par jour ! comme le dit l’article, il va falloir pousser les murs à Renton…

      Boeing gèle les livraisons des B 737 MAX : près de 2 avions par jour sont concernés !

      Crédits : © POOL New / Reuters

      Boeing annoncé la suspension des livraisons de ses avions moyen-courriers 737 MAX, qui ont été interdits provisoirement de vol dans le monde après deux accidents récents d’appareils de ce type, l’un d’Ethiopian Airlines, l’autre de Lion Air. Mais l’avionneur continue la production en espérant implémenter la solution à ses problèmes une fois qu’elle sera validée.

      Ce jeudi, en début de soirée en France, au lendemain de l’immobilisation totale de la flotte de B 737 MAX qui a suivi l’accident d’Ethiopian Airlines le 10 mars dernier dans des circonstances similaires à celles observées lors du crash de Lion Air en octobre, Boeing a annoncé la suspension des livraisons de ses appareils moyen-courriers.

      « Nous suspendons la livraison des 737 MAX jusqu’à ce que nous trouvions une solution », a déclaré à l’AFP un porte-parole, ajoutant que l’avionneur américain poursuivait en revanche leur production en écartant l’éventualité de réduire les cadences.

      Il va falloir trouver de la place. Boeing construit 52 B737 MAX par mois, quasiment deux par jour.

      « Nous sommes en train d’évaluer nos capacités », c’est-à-dire de savoir où les avions sortis des chaînes d’assemblage vont être stockés, a-t-il admis.

      Boeing entend donc continuer à assembler les avions et introduire la solution à ses problèmes une fois que ces derniers auront été clairement identifiés et que la façon de les résoudre validée.

    • Ça ne s’arrange pas pour Boeing et la FAA qui a délégué une grande partie de la certification de la nouvelle version à …Boeing.

      Flawed analysis, failed oversight: How Boeing, FAA certified the suspect 737 MAX flight control system | The Seattle Times

      A worker is seen inside a Boeing 737 MAX 9 at the Renton plant. The circular sensor seen at bottom right measures the plane’s angle of attack, the angle between the airflow and the wing. This sensor on 737 MAX planes is under scrutiny as a possible cause of two recent fatal crashes.
      Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times

      Federal Aviation Administration managers pushed its engineers to delegate wide responsibility for assessing the safety of the 737 MAX to Boeing itself. But safety engineers familiar with the documents shared details that show the analysis included crucial flaws.

      As Boeing hustled in 2015 to catch up to Airbus and certify its new 737 MAX, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) managers pushed the agency’s safety engineers to delegate safety assessments to Boeing itself, and to speedily approve the resulting analysis.

      But the original safety analysis that Boeing delivered to the FAA for a new flight control system on the MAX — a report used to certify the plane as safe to fly — had several crucial flaws.

      That flight control system, called MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System), is now under scrutiny after two crashes of the jet in less than five months resulted in Wednesday’s FAA order to ground the plane.

      Current and former engineers directly involved with the evaluations or familiar with the document shared details of Boeing’s “System Safety Analysis” of MCAS, which The Seattle Times confirmed.

      The safety analysis:
      • Understated the power of the new flight control system, which was designed to swivel the horizontal tail to push the nose of the plane down to avert a stall. When the planes later entered service, MCAS was capable of moving the tail more than four times farther than was stated in the initial safety analysis document.
      • Failed to account for how the system could reset itself each time a pilot responded, thereby missing the potential impact of the system repeatedly pushing the airplane’s nose downward.
      • Assessed a failure of the system as one level below “catastrophic.” But even that “hazardous” danger level should have precluded activation of the system based on input from a single sensor — and yet that’s how it was designed.

      The people who spoke to The Seattle Times and shared details of the safety analysis all spoke on condition of anonymity to protect their jobs at the FAA and other aviation organizations.

      Both Boeing and the FAA were informed of the specifics of this story and were asked for responses 11 days ago, before the second crash of a 737 MAX last Sunday.
      Delegated to Boeing
      The FAA, citing lack of funding and resources, has over the years delegated increasing authority to Boeing to take on more of the work of certifying the safety of its own airplanes.

      Early on in certification of the 737 MAX, the FAA safety engineering team divided up the technical assessments that would be delegated to Boeing versus those they considered more critical and would be retained within the FAA.

      But several FAA technical experts said in interviews that as certification proceeded, managers prodded them to speed the process. Development of the MAX was lagging nine months behind the rival Airbus A320neo. Time was of the essence for Boeing.

      A former FAA safety engineer who was directly involved in certifying the MAX said that halfway through the certification process, “we were asked by management to re-evaluate what would be delegated. Management thought we had retained too much at the FAA.

      There was constant pressure to re-evaluate our initial decisions,” the former engineer said. “And even after we had reassessed it … there was continued discussion by management about delegating even more items down to the Boeing Company.

      Even the work that was retained, such as reviewing technical documents provided by Boeing, was sometimes curtailed.
      Inaccurate limit
      In this atmosphere, the System Safety Analysis on MCAS, just one piece of the mountain of documents needed for certification, was delegated to Boeing.

      The original Boeing document provided to the FAA included a description specifying a limit to how much the system could move the horizontal tail — a limit of 0.6 degrees, out of a physical maximum of just less than 5 degrees of nose-down movement.

      That limit was later increased after flight tests showed that a more powerful movement of the tail was required to avert a high-speed stall, when the plane is in danger of losing lift and spiraling down.
      After the Lion Air Flight 610 crash, Boeing for the first time provided to airlines details about MCAS. Boeing’s bulletin to the airlines stated that the limit of MCAS’s command was 2.5 degrees.

      That number was new to FAA engineers who had seen 0.6 degrees in the safety assessment.
      System failed on a single sensor
      The bottom line of Boeing’s System Safety Analysis with regard to MCAS was that, in normal flight, an activation of MCAS to the maximum assumed authority of 0.6 degrees was classified as only a “major failure,” meaning that it could cause physical distress to people on the plane, but not death.

      In the case of an extreme maneuver, specifically when the plane is in a banked descending spiral, an activation of MCAS was classified as a “hazardous failure,” meaning that it could cause serious or fatal injuries to a small number of passengers. That’s still one level below a “catastrophic failure,” which represents the loss of the plane with multiple fatalities.
      Boeing’s System Safety Analysis assessment that the MCAS failure would be “hazardous” troubles former flight controls engineer Lemme because the system is triggered by the reading from a single angle-of-attack sensor.

      A hazardous failure mode depending on a single sensor, I don’t think passes muster,” said Lemme.

      Like all 737s, the MAX actually has two of the sensors, one on each side of the fuselage near the cockpit. But the MCAS was designed to take a reading from only one of them.

      Lemme said Boeing could have designed the system to compare the readings from the two vanes, which would have indicated if one of them was way off.

      Alternatively, the system could have been designed to check that the angle-of-attack reading was accurate while the plane was taxiing on the ground before takeoff, when the angle of attack should read zero.

      They could have designed a two-channel system. Or they could have tested the value of angle of attack on the ground,” said Lemme. “I don’t know why they didn’t.

      The black box data provided in the preliminary investigation report shows that readings from the two sensors differed by some 20 degrees not only throughout the flight but also while the airplane taxied on the ground before takeoff.

      No training, no information
      After the Lion Air crash, 737 MAX pilots around the world were notified about the existence of MCAS and what to do if the system is triggered inappropriately.

    • VF

      Crashs de 737 MAX : la justice américaine se saisit du dossier

      Les Boeing 737 Max sont collés au sol à Phoenix, dans l’Arizona (Etats-Unis).
      Matt York / AP

      La justice américaine a décidé de faire la lumière sur les relations entre Boeing et les autorités fédérales chargées de certifier ses appareils 737 MAX, à la suite de deux accidents qui ont fait 346 morts à moins de cinq mois d’intervalle.
      Le 11 mars, soit au lendemain de la tragédie du vol d’Ethiopian Airlines, la justice a assigné au moins une personne impliquée dans le développement du programme 737 MAX à fournir des documents, incluant des lettres, des courriels ou d’autres messages, révèle le Wall Street Journal lundi 18 mars, qui cite des sources proches du dossier.
      L’affaire « prend un tour entièrement nouveau avec l’enquête criminelle », a réagi Scott Hamilton, expert aéronautique chez Leeham Company. « Contrairement à la France, où les enquêtes criminelles sont habituelles quand il y a un accident d’avion, c’est très, très rare aux Etats-Unis », souligne-t-il, se souvenant d’un seul précédent, celui de ValuJet. Le 11 mai 1996, l’accident d’un DC-9 de cette compagnie en Floride avait fait 110 morts.

      Parallèlement, le département américain des transports mène une enquête sur le processus d’approbation par le régulateur du transport aérien (FAA) des 737 MAX, a également dévoilé le WSJ dimanche. Il se penche en particulier sur le système de stabilisation de l’avion destiné à éviter le décrochage, dit « MCAS » (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System).
      Des documents disponibles sur le site de la FAA montrent que le 737 MAX a été certifié comme une variante du 737 NG, son prédécesseur. Autrement dit, il n’a pas été inspecté dans son intégralité, la FAA estimant qu’il n’était pas nécessaire d’examiner certains systèmes. Cela n’est pas inhabituel dans l’aéronautique s’agissant d’un avion qui n’est pas entièrement nouveau.

      Plus gênant, selon des sources concordantes, le régulateur, confronté à des coupes budgétaires et manquant d’expertise, a délégué à des employés de Boeing la certification du MCAS. Or ce système a, lui, été spécialement conçu pour le 737 MAX, afin de compenser le fait que ce nouvel aéronef dispose de moteurs plus lourds que ceux équipant le 737 NG et qu’il présentait, de ce fait, un risque plus élevé de décrochage.

      Note que l’explication fournie est au minimum rapide, voire carrément fausse (cf. supra, la modification des moteurs (plus gros) a surtout entrainé un changement de leur position – surélévation et déplacement vers l’avant - ce qui modifie fortement le centrage de l’avion)

      Et la Chambre s’y mettrait aussi…

      Peter DeFazio, le président de la commission parlementaire des transports à la Chambre des représentants, envisage, lui, de lancer une enquête sur la certification du 737 MAX, selon des sources parlementaires, ajoutant que des auditions publiques de responsables de la FAA ne sont pas exclues.

    • Washington lance un audit sur la certification du Boeing 737 MAX

      [La] secrétaire américaine aux Transports, Elaine Chao, a annoncé mardi qu’elle avait demandé à ses services de vérifier la procédure de certification du Boeing 737 MAX par l’aviation civile américaine. Par ailleurs, un nouveau patron a été nommé à la tête de la FAA, la direction de l’aviation civile américaine. Boeing a également [re]manié l’équipe dirigeante de l’ingénierie.

      Confirmant des informations de presse, le ministère américain des Transports (DoT) a indiqué mardi avoir lancé un audit sur le processus de certification du Boeing 737 MAX 8 par la Federal Administration Agency (FAA), la direction générale de l’aviation civile américaine, après les accidents de Lion Air fin octobre 2018 et d’Ethiopian Airlines le 10 mars denier, faisant au total 346 morts. Dans les deux cas, le 737MAX, un avion mis en service en mai 2017, était flambant neuf. Dans les deux cas, ils se sont écrasés peu après le décollage après avoir connu des montées et des descentes irrégulières lors de la phase de montée.
      Par ailleurs, Donald Trump a annoncé mardi son intention de nommer Steve Dickson, un ancien pilote de chasse et pilote de ligne, à la tête de la FAA. Steve Dickson doit être nommé comme administrateur de la FAA pour une période de cinq ans et comme président du Comité des services du trafic aérien au département du Transport. Steve Dickson, qui a pris récemment sa retraite, a une longue expérience du transport aérien puisqu’il était responsable de la sécurité et des services opérationnels au sein de la compagnie américaine Delta Airlines. Il était en outre instructeur. En tant que pilote de ligne, il a l’expérience des avions moyen-courriers : Airbus A320, Boeing 727, 737, 757. Steve Dickson était également, au début de sa carrière, pilote sur l’avion de combat F-15.

      La division d’aviation commerciale de Boeing a selon Reuters remanié l’équipe dirigeante de l’ingénierie. John Hamilton, qui occupait les fonctions de vice-président et d’ingénieur en chef, va se concentrer uniquement sur le rôle d’ingénieur en chef, a déclaré le PDG de la division d’aviation commerciale, Kevin McAllister, dans un email envoyé aux employés. Lynne Hopper, jusque-là en charge de l’unité test et évaluation, est nommée vice-présidente de l’ingénierie, a-t-il ajouté.

      La réorganisation va permettre à Hamilton de « focaliser toute son attention sur les enquêtes en cours sur l’accident », écrit McAllister, soulignant que des changements étaient nécessaires alors que l’avionneur américain « dédie des ressources supplémentaires » à ces enquêtes.

    • Boeing a le droit de faire voler ses 737 MAX (pour les stocker ailleurs qu’à Seattle)

      Malgré l’interdiction des vols des 737 MAX la direction de l’aviation civile américaine a autorisé à Boeing à les faire [voler] pour parquer quelque part les avions assemblés qui ne pourront plus être stockés sur le site de production de Seattle, faute de place.

      Les Boeing 737 MAX peuvent reprendre les airs sans attendre les conclusions de l’enquête de l’accident d’un appareil de ce type d’Ethiopian Airlines, faisant 157 victimes à bord le 10 mars. Mais sans passagers à bord. Si les vols reprennent effectivement, ce sera uniquement pour aller parquer quelque part les appareils qui sortent de la chaîne d’assemblage et qui ne pourront plus être stockés sur le site de production de Renton, près de Seattle. Si Boeing a interrompu les livraisons, l’avionneur a maintenu la production dans le but d’introduite la solution à ses problèmes sur tous les avions stockés et livrer rapidement ces derniers.

      Selon les autorités américaines, de telles dispositions ont été accordées à Boeing par la Federal Administration Agency (FAA), la direction générale de l’aviation civile, lorsque cette dernière a interdit les vols des 737 MAX la semaine dernière. « La FAA a décidé d’interdire les opérations, mais n’a pas retiré le certificat de navigabilité de l’avion qui aurait décrété que l’avion n’était pas en mesure de voler », a expliqué surpris à La Tribune, un expert européen des questions de sécurité. En attendant, si Boeing décidait de faire voler ses avions pour aller les parquer ailleurs qu’à Renton, la décision pourrait en surprendre plus d’un. Comment pourrait-on autoriser un avion cloué au sol pour des raisons de sécurité reprendre les airs avec des pilotes à bord ?

      Avec une cadence de production de 52 appareils par mois, l’avionneur est confronté au défi du stockage de ces avions qu’il ne peut pas livrer aux compagnies aériennes. Selon nos informations, Boeing a des solutions pour absorber deux mois de production, soit plus de 100 appareils.

      (note, les chapeaux des articles sont rédigés au lance-pierre, il y manque des mots ou des bouts de mots…)

  • From Employee to Bootstrapper

    How I Prepared my Finances Before BootstrappingEarlier this month I left my cushy developer job at Amazon to #work for myself. I am 35, living in Seattle with my wife and two small kids, ages 2 and 4. I’m starting this quest for an independent #lifestyle with no #business and household income yet, and my target is to cover my family’s expenses from my new work before I run out of savings.SavingsDue to extraordinary luck and being in the right place at the right time, I managed to save a good amount of money in the last 5 years. My net worth was negative in 2013, but it now stands at around $1.4M, with $1M in liquid assets and the rest in home equity. That entire $1M, minus a small amount, is at stake in this venture. In fact, I’ve already mentally written it all off.On my savings balance I’ve (...)

    #investing #insurance


    Feed it the opening line of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four – “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen” – and the system recognises the vaguely futuristic tone and the novelistic style, and continues with:

    “I was in my car on my way to a new job in Seattle. I put the gas in, put the key in, and then I let it run. I just imagined what the day would be like. A hundred years from now. In 2045, I was a teacher in some school in a poor part of rural China. I started with Chinese history and history of science.”

    Évidemment sur le sujet, mon niveau de méfiance est à son plus haut réglage possible, il n’empêche, c’est assez glaçant quand on y pense ces histoires d’intelligence artificielle qui écrivent leurs propres fictions. J’avais noté un de mes rêves sur un sujet voisin, miracle de la recherche argumentaire en informatique, je viens de le retrouver en un très bref instant :

    Nouveau fichier. Nouveau projet. Titre du projet : Films. Diverses informations de fi-chier, taille de l’image, format de compression, format de compression du son, extension de fichier, emplacement de l’espace-disque nécessaire au calcul d’export du montage final, emplacement de sauvegarde, quelques métadonnées et, in fine, synopsis du film : une personne écrit un film en utilisant les fonctionnalités, désormais universellement accessibles, de construction d’un film, de son récit et de ses images et du son au travers d’un logiciel qui permet, depuis quelques temps, de créer, plan par plan, le film en question ― le logiciel a connu de nombreuses versions antérieures, peu connues du grand public, et qui, au contraire, servaient beaucoup dans l’industrie cinématographique, notamment les films d’animation, mais aussi les films dans lesquels les images de synthèse ont la part belle, et puis cet éditeur du monde libre a produit une première version préhensible par les utilisateurs et utilisatrices lambda, immédiatement copiée et dupliquée par des sociétés propriétaires qui l’exploitent et la verrouillent dorénavant pour les sociétés de production et, pour le grand public, dans une version légère à la qualité de production d’images légèrement moindre, qui ne permet pas, surtout pas, la projection sur des écrans de cinéma, des écrans de grande taille. La nature du projet de film qui commence sous nos yeux est évidemment récursive, la narratrice par la voix et du regard se décrit elle-même dans son atelier en train de créer son film, au travers duquel elle tente d’anticiper un monde où de telles possibilités cinématographiques seront bientôt automatisées et il suffira, à peu de choses près, de donner quelques indications générales d’ambiance et de scénario au programme, logiciel, qui, après une première passe à mouliner, proposera une ma-quette un peu dégrossie qu’il sera ensuite loisible d’affiner, ou pas ― rapidement les éditeurs de ce type de logiciels vont se rendre compte que l’essentiel de la communauté des users se contente du premier jet et des réglages par défaut, et seuls quelques cinéphiles, généralement nés à la fin du XXème siècle, s’évertuent à explorer, malgré tout, tels des professionnels finale-ment, les possibilités d’affiner à la fois le montage, l’éclairage, les scènes, les plans, le jeu des acteurs et des actrices ― avant qu’une nouvelle génération de programmes ne permette, tout simplement, de charger un script ― même une ébauche, mal dégauchie et au niveau de langage hésitant ― et de laisser assez de temps au programme pour le mettre en scène, le filmer et le monter et de laisser tellement peu aux éventuelles corrections et ajouts plus humains. Naturellement tout un chacun devenant cinéaste, cela débouche sur une société de fictions qui seront de plus en plus fréquemment générées en Intelligence Artificielle et les derniers êtres humains ― on ne remplace désormais qu’occasionnellement les humanoïdes ― ne serviront plus qu’à regarder de telles fictions, et à répondre à des questionnaires de satisfaction ― sur une échelle de un à dix, avez-vous trouvé les personnages de notre film attachants ? vous ont-ils paru crédibles ? avez-vous aimé la résolution de l’intrigue ? que pensez-vous des décors et de la qualité des images ? ― de telle sorte que, sans cesse, le scénario d’une telle fin de l’humanité ― incroyable à quel point sont nombreuses les fictions et les récits qui mettent en jeu une manière de fin de l’humanité, et la disparition progressive des fictions, qui, au contraire, anticipent la fin du monde ―, au profit de son extension, l’Intelligence Artificielle, soit « humainement » ― dit-on, « entre guillemets », dans le milieu de la programmation ― perfectionné. Dans ce film le ou la scénariste tentera quelques subversions de fonctionnement dans ces programmes cinématographiques comme le chargement de toutes sortes de textes qui ne sont pas stricto sensu des scripts, certes des romans fameux, Madame Bovary ― et en la matière le plus rudimentaire des programmes ne pourrait pas faire pire que Chabrol ―, mais aussi les Saisons de Maurice Pons, mais parfois, aussi, des essais philosophiques ― le Gai-savoir de Nietzsche et la Mort de Vladimir Jankélévitch ― et de la poésie ― Le Spleen de Paris mais aussi des films-éclairs, tant ils sont courts, d’après des haïkus ―, créneau de création qui sera très à la mode, surtout les films-éclairs, un temps, dans le monde de l’art contemporain, désormais seulement virtuel ― démarche artistique qui sera cependant rapidement jugée non autorisée et non con-forme, d’autant que la simplicité, en apparences seulement, des haïkus avait tendance à faire bugger le programme. Tout notre film montre la construction du récit depuis l’atelier de cette narratrice dont on finit par se demander, à la fin, s’il ne s’agit pas, évidemment, d’un rêve. [C’est quand même hyper pratique quand mon inconscient fait tout le boulot et qu’il n’y a plus qu’à prendre en notes ses constructions !][En revanche, au train où vont les choses dans le monde de l’édition, il n’est pas impossible que ce qui paraît comme un scénario de science-fiction crédible ― en tant que science-fiction ( en 2017 ― fin 2017), et qui sera publié je ne sais quand donc, dans les années 20 ? ne devienne en fait une sorte de Steampunk des années 10, comme on dit désormais dans les années 30 et qu’on commençait déjà à dire à la fin des an-nées 20.][Les folles années 20.]

  • Despite Challenges, USCGC Polar Star Arrives in Antarctica – gCaptain

    The Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star breaks ice in McMurdo Sound near Antarctica on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018.
    U.S. Coast Guard Photo

    The 150 crewmembers of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star have arrived in Antarctica along with a resupply vessel as part of Operation Deep Freeze, the annual mission to resupply U.S. interests in Antarctica.

    The icebreaker’s arrival comes after the crew experienced multiple mechanical issues, including ship-wide power outages, and against the backdrop of the partial government shutdown that has left Coast Guard servicemembers without pay.

    Homeported in Seattle, the 42-year-old Coast Guard cutter is the United States’ only operational heavy icebreaker.
    The ship also experienced a leak from the shaft that drives the ship’s propeller, which halted icebreaking operations so divers could repair the seal around the shaft. A hyperbaric chamber on loan from the U.S. Navy aboard the ship allows Coast Guard divers to make external emergency repairs and inspections of the ship’s hull.

    Colmatage de fuites sur la ligne d’arbre d’hélice…

    Protecting national interests in the Polar regions is essential to ensure the Coast Guard’s national defense strategy and search and rescue capabilities are ready for action, but in order to do so, the icebreaker fleet requires modernization,” the Coast Guard said in a press release.

    If a catastrophic event were to happen, such as getting stuck in the ice, the Coast Guard would left without a self-rescue capability. By contrast, Russia currently operates more than 40 icebreakers, including several of which are nuclear powered, the Coast Guard noted.

    While we focus our efforts on creating a peaceful and collaborative environment in the Arctic, we’re also responding to the impacts of increased competition in this strategically important region,” said Adm. Karl Schultz, commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard. “Our continued presence will enable us to reinforce positive opportunities and mitigate negative consequences today and tomorrow.

    Présence #arctique de plus en plus symbolique,… s’il y a un pépin en Arctique maintenant, il n’y a plus qu’à attendre que le Polar Star revienne du pôle sud, en espérant que ses moteurs et auxiliaires tiennent le coup, mieux que pour le voyage aller, p. ex. !

  • The story of Seattle’s rise to global rock supremacy in the late ’80s and early ’90s begins with Green River. Made up of Jeff Ament (bass), Mark Arm (guitar/vocals), Bruce Fairweather (guitar), Stone Gossard (guitar), and Alex Shumway (drums), the quintet put out three 12”s and a 7” single during its brief existence. Green River’s influence on Seattle’s music scene spread far and wide thanks to the members’ dispersion into bands including Pearl Jam, Mudhoney, and Love Battery, as well as the punk-glam-sludge-rock songs they left behind.
    #grunge #sub_pop #punk #bandcamp #Seattle

  • I graduated #coding bootcamp. Now what? ️

    Bradley Serlis was working in human resources at various tech companies in the Bay Area. He always felt like an outsider. The companies he worked for made really cool products, but he was so far removed from actually building those, he may as well have been working somewhere else. He longed to get closer to the product, to build something himself, and to feel like he was really part of the team.His girlfriend got an awesome job offer in Seattle, and she took it. This put Bradley at a crossroad. He was going to be moving, and he’d need to find a new job in Seattle.Rather than let his misgivings about his current line of work continue to gnaw at him, Bradley decided to take a leap. He would step outside his comfort zone in HR and change careers. He wanted to be a web developer. Seattle, (...)

    #codingbootcamp #software-development #freelancing #web-development

  • Des femmes médecins privées de leur titre | ARIANE LACOURSIÈRE | Santé

    Incroyable ! Deux doctorats et elle est « mademoiselle » alors que lui est « docteur ».
    – La Dre Jenny Hobbs, de Seattle, sur Twitter mercredi

  • L’irrésistible ascension d’Amazon

    Géant devenu incontrôlable du commerce en ligne, Amazon a transformé en moins d’un quart de siècle la société. Fondée à l’aube de l’explosion des affaires sur Internet par Jeff Bezos, – lui-même grandi dans l’ombre de David Elliott Shaw, un génie de la finance et de l’informatique –, l’entreprise commence modestement dans un pavillon des faubourgs de Seattle : l’aube d’un rêve américain. Car la petite plate-forme de vente en ligne ne tarde pas à être capitalisée par des investisseurs auxquels le très pressé (...)

    #Amazon #domination #bénéfices #travail #marketing

  • Des BD, des bd, encore des bd

    Comme il est question de bd aujourd’hui sur seenthis, pourriez-vous me recommander des albums ou auteurices que vous estimez. J’en ai lu quelques une bien-sûr mais ma culture bd est très très limitée et comme la médiathèque de chez moi est bien fournie, je devrais pouvoir y trouver des petits trésors. Merci.

  • Vers des machines capables de comprendre le sens commun ?

    En août 2018, des chercheurs de l’Institut Allen pour l’intelligence artificielle, un laboratoire basé à Seattle, ont dévoilé un test de compréhension pour ordinateurs (.pdf). Ce test vise à examiner si les machines sont capables de compléter des affirmations très simples depuis un QCM, comme : « Sur scène, une femme prend (...)

    #A_lire_ailleurs #Recherches #IA #intelligence_artificielle

  • Cheap Words | The New Yorker

    Amazon is a global superstore, like Walmart. It’s also a hardware manufacturer, like Apple, and a utility, like Con Edison, and a video distributor, like Netflix, and a book publisher, like Random House, and a production studio, like Paramount, and a literary magazine, like The Paris Review, and a grocery deliverer, like FreshDirect, and someday it might be a package service, like U.P.S. Its founder and chief executive, Jeff Bezos, also owns a major newspaper, the Washington Post. All these streams and tributaries make Amazon something radically new in the history of American business.

    Recently, Amazon even started creating its own “content”—publishing books. The results have been decidedly mixed. A monopoly is dangerous because it concentrates so much economic power, but in the book business the prospect of a single owner of both the means of production and the modes of distribution is especially worrisome: it would give Amazon more control over the exchange of ideas than any company in U.S. history. Even in the iPhone age, books remain central to American intellectual life, and perhaps to democracy. And so the big question is not just whether Amazon is bad for the book industry; it’s whether Amazon is bad for books.

    According to Marcus, Amazon executives considered publishing people “antediluvian losers with rotary phones and inventory systems designed in 1968 and warehouses full of crap.” Publishers kept no data on customers, making their bets on books a matter of instinct rather than metrics. They were full of inefficiences, starting with overpriced Manhattan offices. There was “a general feeling that the New York publishing business was just this cloistered, Gilded Age antique just barely getting by in a sort of Colonial Williamsburg of commerce, but when Amazon waded into this they would show publishing how it was done.”

    During the 1999 holiday season, Amazon tried publishing books, leasing the rights to a defunct imprint called Weathervane and putting out a few titles. “These were not incipient best-sellers,” Marcus writes. “They were creatures from the black lagoon of the remainder table”—Christmas recipes and the like, selected with no apparent thought. Employees with publishing experience, like Fried, were not consulted. Weathervane fell into an oblivion so complete that there’s no trace of it on the Internet. (Representatives at the company today claim never to have heard of it.) Nobody at Amazon seemed to absorb any lessons from the failure. A decade later, the company would try again.

    Around this time, a group called the “personalization team,” or P13N, started to replace editorial suggestions for readers with algorithms that used customers’ history to make recommendations for future purchases. At Amazon, “personalization” meant data analytics and statistical probability. Author interviews became less frequent, and in-house essays were subsumed by customer reviews, which cost the company nothing. Tim Appelo, the entertainment editor at the time, said, “You could be the Platonic ideal of the reviewer, and you would not beat even those rather crude early algorithms.” Amazon’s departments competed with one another almost as fiercely as they did with other companies. According to Brad Stone, a trash-talking sign was hung on a wall in the P13N office: “people forget that john henry died in the end.” Machines defeated human beings.

    In December, 1999, at the height of the dot-com mania, Time named Bezos its Person of the Year. “Amazon isn’t about technology or even commerce,” the breathless cover article announced. “Amazon is, like every other site on the Web, a content play.” Yet this was the moment, Marcus said, when “content” people were “on the way out.” Although the writers and the editors made the site more interesting, and easier to navigate, they didn’t bring more customers.

    The fact that Amazon once devoted significant space on its site to editorial judgments—to thinking and writing—would be an obscure footnote if not for certain turns in the company’s more recent history. According to one insider, around 2008—when the company was selling far more than books, and was making twenty billion dollars a year in revenue, more than the combined sales of all other American bookstores—Amazon began thinking of content as central to its business. Authors started to be considered among the company’s most important customers. By then, Amazon had lost much of the market in selling music and videos to Apple and Netflix, and its relations with publishers were deteriorating. These difficulties offended Bezos’s ideal of “seamless” commerce. “The company despises friction in the marketplace,” the Amazon insider said. “It’s easier for us to sell books and make books happen if we do it our way and not deal with others. It’s a tech-industry thing: ‘We think we can do it better.’ ” If you could control the content, you controlled everything.

    Many publishers had come to regard Amazon as a heavy in khakis and oxford shirts. In its drive for profitability, Amazon did not raise retail prices; it simply squeezed its suppliers harder, much as Walmart had done with manufacturers. Amazon demanded ever-larger co-op fees and better shipping terms; publishers knew that they would stop being favored by the site’s recommendation algorithms if they didn’t comply. Eventually, they all did. (Few customers realize that the results generated by Amazon’s search engine are partly determined by promotional fees.)

    In late 2007, at a press conference in New York, Bezos unveiled the Kindle, a simple, lightweight device that—in a crucial improvement over previous e-readers—could store as many as two hundred books, downloaded from Amazon’s 3G network. Bezos announced that the price of best-sellers and new titles would be nine-ninety-nine, regardless of length or quality—a figure that Bezos, inspired by Apple’s sale of songs on iTunes for ninety-nine cents, basically pulled out of thin air. Amazon had carefully concealed the number from publishers. “We didn’t want to let that cat out of the bag,” Steele said.

    The price was below wholesale in some cases, and so low that it represented a serious threat to the market in twenty-six-dollar hardcovers. Bookstores that depended on hardcover sales—from Barnes & Noble and Borders (which liquidated its business in 2011) to Rainy Day Books in Kansas City—glimpsed their possible doom. If reading went entirely digital, what purpose would they serve? The next year, 2008, which brought the financial crisis, was disastrous for bookstores and publishers alike, with widespread layoffs.

    By 2010, Amazon controlled ninety per cent of the market in digital books—a dominance that almost no company, in any industry, could claim. Its prohibitively low prices warded off competition.

    Publishers looked around for a competitor to Amazon, and they found one in Apple, which was getting ready to introduce the iPad, and the iBooks Store. Apple wanted a deal with each of the Big Six houses (Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin, Random House, and Simon & Schuster) that would allow the publishers to set the retail price of titles on iBooks, with Apple taking a thirty-per-cent commission on each sale. This was known as the “agency model,” and, in some ways, it offered the publishers a worse deal than selling wholesale to Amazon. But it gave publishers control over pricing and a way to challenge Amazon’s grip on the market. Apple’s terms included the provision that it could match the price of any rival, which induced the publishers to impose the agency model on all digital retailers, including Amazon.

    Five of the Big Six went along with Apple. (Random House was the holdout.) Most of the executives let Amazon know of the change by phone or e-mail, but John Sargent flew out to Seattle to meet with four Amazon executives, including Russ Grandinetti, the vice-president of Kindle content. In an e-mail to a friend, Sargent wrote, “Am on my way out to Seattle to get my ass kicked by Amazon.”

    Sargent’s gesture didn’t seem to matter much to the Amazon executives, who were used to imposing their own terms. Seated at a table in a small conference room, Sargent said that Macmillan wanted to switch to the agency model for e-books, and that if Amazon refused Macmillan would withhold digital editions until seven months after print publication. The discussion was angry and brief. After twenty minutes, Grandinetti escorted Sargent out of the building. The next day, Amazon removed the buy buttons from Macmillan’s print and digital titles on its site, only to restore them a week later, under heavy criticism. Amazon unwillingly accepted the agency model, and within a couple of months e-books were selling for as much as fourteen dollars and ninety-nine cents.

    Amazon filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. In April, 2012, the Justice Department sued Apple and the five publishers for conspiring to raise prices and restrain competition. Eventually, all the publishers settled with the government. (Macmillan was the last, after Sargent learned that potential damages could far exceed the equity value of the company.) Macmillan was obliged to pay twenty million dollars, and Penguin seventy-five million—enormous sums in a business that has always struggled to maintain respectable profit margins.

    Apple fought the charges, and the case went to trial last June. Grandinetti, Sargent, and others testified in the federal courthouse in lower Manhattan. As proof of collusion, the government presented evidence of e-mails, phone calls, and dinners among the Big Six publishers during their negotiations with Apple. Sargent and other executives acknowledged that they wanted higher prices for e-books, but they argued that the evidence showed them only to be competitors in an incestuous business, not conspirators. On July 10th, Judge Denise Cote ruled in the government’s favor.

    Apple, facing up to eight hundred and forty million dollars in damages, has appealed. As Apple and the publishers see it, the ruling ignored the context of the case: when the key events occurred, Amazon effectively had a monopoly in digital books and was selling them so cheaply that it resembled predatory pricing—a barrier to entry for potential competitors. Since then, Amazon’s share of the e-book market has dropped, levelling off at about sixty-five per cent, with the rest going largely to Apple and to Barnes & Noble, which sells the Nook e-reader. In other words, before the feds stepped in, the agency model introduced competition to the market. But the court’s decision reflected a trend in legal thinking among liberals and conservatives alike, going back to the seventies, that looks at antitrust cases from the perspective of consumers, not producers: what matters is lowering prices, even if that goal comes at the expense of competition.

    With Amazon’s patented 1-Click shopping, which already knows your address and credit-card information, there’s just you and the buy button; transactions are as quick and thoughtless as scratching an itch. “It’s sort of a masturbatory culture,” the marketing executive said. If you pay seventy-nine dollars annually to become an Amazon Prime member, a box with the Amazon smile appears at your door two days after you click, with free shipping. Amazon’s next frontier is same-day delivery: first in certain American cities, then throughout the U.S., then the world. In December, the company patented “anticipatory shipping,” which will use your shopping data to put items that you don’t yet know you want to buy, but will soon enough, on a truck or in a warehouse near you.

    Amazon employs or subcontracts tens of thousands of warehouse workers, with seasonal variation, often building its fulfillment centers in areas with high unemployment and low wages. Accounts from inside the centers describe the work of picking, boxing, and shipping books and dog food and beard trimmers as a high-tech version of the dehumanized factory floor satirized in Chaplin’s “Modern Times.” Pickers holding computerized handsets are perpetually timed and measured as they fast-walk up to eleven miles per shift around a million-square-foot warehouse, expected to collect orders in as little as thirty-three seconds. After watching footage taken by an undercover BBC reporter, a stress expert said, “The evidence shows increased risk of mental illness and physical illness.” The company says that its warehouse jobs are “similar to jobs in many other industries.”

    When I spoke with Grandinetti, he expressed sympathy for publishers faced with upheaval. “The move to people reading digitally and buying books digitally is the single biggest change that any of us in the book business will experience in our time,” he said. “Because the change is particularly big in size, and because we happen to be a leader in making it, a lot of that fear gets projected onto us.” Bezos also argues that Amazon’s role is simply to usher in inevitable change. After giving “60 Minutes” a first glimpse of Amazon drone delivery, Bezos told Charlie Rose, “Amazon is not happening to bookselling. The future is happening to bookselling.”

    In Grandinetti’s view, the Kindle “has helped the book business make a more orderly transition to a mixed print and digital world than perhaps any other medium.” Compared with people who work in music, movies, and newspapers, he said, authors are well positioned to thrive. The old print world of scarcity—with a limited number of publishers and editors selecting which manuscripts to publish, and a limited number of bookstores selecting which titles to carry—is yielding to a world of digital abundance. Grandinetti told me that, in these new circumstances, a publisher’s job “is to build a megaphone.”

    After the Kindle came out, the company established Amazon Publishing, which is now a profitable empire of digital works: in addition to Kindle Singles, it has mystery, thriller, romance, and Christian lines; it publishes translations and reprints; it has a self-service fan-fiction platform; and it offers an extremely popular self-publishing platform. Authors become Amazon partners, earning up to seventy per cent in royalties, as opposed to the fifteen per cent that authors typically make on hardcovers. Bezos touts the biggest successes, such as Theresa Ragan, whose self-published thrillers and romances have been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times. But one survey found that half of all self-published authors make less than five hundred dollars a year.

    Every year, Fine distributes grants of twenty-five thousand dollars, on average, to dozens of hard-up literary organizations. Beneficiaries include the pen American Center, the Loft Literary Center, in Minneapolis, and the magazine Poets & Writers. “For Amazon, it’s the cost of doing business, like criminal penalties for banks,” the arts manager said, suggesting that the money keeps potential critics quiet. Like liberal Democrats taking Wall Street campaign contributions, the nonprofits don’t advertise the grants. When the Best Translated Book Award received money from Amazon, Dennis Johnson, of Melville House, which had received the prize that year, announced that his firm would no longer compete for it. “Every translator in America wrote me saying I was a son of a bitch,” Johnson said. A few nonprofit heads privately told him, “I wanted to speak out, but I might have taken four thousand dollars from them, too.” A year later, at the Associated Writing Programs conference, Fine shook Johnson’s hand, saying, “I just wanted to thank you—that was the best publicity we could have had.” (Fine denies this.)

    By producing its own original work, Amazon can sell more devices and sign up more Prime members—a major source of revenue. While the company was building the Kindle, it started a digital store for streaming music and videos, and, around the same time it launched Amazon Publishing, it created Amazon Studios.

    The division pursued an unusual way of producing television series, using its strength in data collection. Amazon invited writers to submit scripts on its Web site—“an open platform for content creators,” as Bill Carr, the vice-president for digital music and video, put it. Five thousand scripts poured in, and Amazon chose to develop fourteen into pilots. Last spring, Amazon put the pilots on its site, where customers could review them and answer a detailed questionnaire. (“Please rate the following aspects of this show: The humor, the characters . . . ”) More than a million customers watched. Engineers also developed software, called Amazon Storyteller, which scriptwriters can use to create a “storyboard animatic”—a cartoon rendition of a script’s plot—allowing pilots to be visualized without the expense of filming. The difficulty, according to Carr, is to “get the right feedback and the right data, and, of the many, many data points that I can collect from customers, which ones can tell you, ‘This is the one’?”

    Bezos applying his “take no prisoners” pragmatism to the Post: “There are conflicts of interest with Amazon’s many contracts with the government, and he’s got so many policy issues going, like sales tax.” One ex-employee who worked closely with Bezos warned, “At Amazon, drawing a distinction between content people and business people is a foreign concept.”

    Perhaps buying the Post was meant to be a good civic deed. Bezos has a family foundation, but he has hardly involved himself in philanthropy. In 2010, Charlie Rose asked him what he thought of Bill Gates’s challenge to other billionaires to give away most of their wealth. Bezos didn’t answer. Instead, he launched into a monologue on the virtue of markets in solving social problems, and somehow ended up touting the Kindle.

    Bezos bought a newspaper for much the same reason that he has invested money in a project for commercial space travel: the intellectual challenge. With the Post, the challenge is to turn around a money-losing enterprise in a damaged industry, and perhaps to show a way for newspapers to thrive again.

    Lately, digital titles have levelled off at about thirty per cent of book sales. Whatever the temporary fluctuations in publishers’ profits, the long-term outlook is discouraging. This is partly because Americans don’t read as many books as they used to—they are too busy doing other things with their devices—but also because of the relentless downward pressure on prices that Amazon enforces. The digital market is awash with millions of barely edited titles, most of it dreck, while readers are being conditioned to think that books are worth as little as a sandwich. “Amazon has successfully fostered the idea that a book is a thing of minimal value,” Johnson said. “It’s a widget.”

    There are two ways to think about this. Amazon believes that its approach encourages ever more people to tell their stories to ever more people, and turns writers into entrepreneurs; the price per unit might be cheap, but the higher number of units sold, and the accompanying royalties, will make authors wealthier. Jane Friedman, of Open Road, is unfazed by the prospect that Amazon might destroy the old model of publishing. “They are practicing the American Dream—competition is good!” she told me. Publishers, meanwhile, “have been banks for authors. Advances have been very high.” In Friedman’s view, selling digital books at low prices will democratize reading: “What do you want as an author—to sell books to as few people as possible for as much as possible, or for as little as possible to as many readers as possible?”

    The answer seems self-evident, but there is a more skeptical view. Several editors, agents, and authors told me that the money for serious fiction and nonfiction has eroded dramatically in recent years; advances on mid-list titles—books that are expected to sell modestly but whose quality gives them a strong chance of enduring—have declined by a quarter.


  • United Nations considers a test ban on evolution-warping gene drives - MIT Technology Review

    he billionaire Bill Gates wants to end malaria, and so he’s particularly “energized” about gene drives, a technology that could wipe out the mosquitoes that spread the disease.
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    Gates calls the new approach a “breakthrough,” but some environmental groups say gene drives are too dangerous to ever use.

    Now the sides are headed for a showdown.

    In a letter circulated today, scientists funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and others are raising the alarm over what they say is an attempt to use a United Nations biodiversity meeting this week in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, to introduce a global ban on field tests of the technology.

    At issue is a draft resolution by diplomats updating the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, which—if adopted—would call on governments to “refrain from” any release of organisms containing engineered gene drives, even as part of experiments.

    The proposal for a global gene-drive moratorium has been pushed by environmental groups that are also opposed to genetically modified soybeans and corn. They have likened the gene-drive technique to the atom bomb.

    In response, the Gates Foundation, based in Seattle, has been funding a counter-campaign, hiring public relations agencies to preempt restrictive legislation and to distribute today’s letter. Many of its signatories are directly funded by the foundation.

    “This is a lobbying game on both sides, to put it bluntly,” says Todd Kuiken, who studies gene-drive policy at North Carolina State University. (He says he was asked to sign the Gates letter but declined because he is a technical advisor to the UN.)

    It’s the ability of a gene drive to spread on its own in the wild that accounts for both the technology’s promise and its peril. Scientists already take elaborate precautions against accidental release of gene-drive mosquitoes from their labs.

    Burt says for now the biggest unknown is whether the technology will work at all. “The risk we are trying to deal with is that it doesn’t work, that it falls over when we release it, or resistance develops very quickly,” he says.

    That means both opponents and supporters of gene drives may be overestimating how soon one could be ready.

    “The member states are hearing and thinking that these are sitting in the lab ready to be released, and that is not the case,” says Kuiken. “Nothing I have seen suggested these things are literally ready to go out the door tomorrow. We could have better decisions if everyone knew they could take a breath.”

    #Gene_drive #Hubris #Bill_Gates #Malaria

  • Les Gafa dans la ville : un quartier de Berlin repousse Google

    L’alliance inattendue entre les riverains anticapitalistes et de jeunes expats hacktivistes dessine le nouveau combat des années à venir contre l’irruption des géants du Web dans la ville.

    Il y a toujours de bonnes raisons de détester son voisin. A fortiori quand il s’appelle Google. Depuis deux ans, des affiches « Google ist kein guter Nachbar ! » (Google n’est pas un bon voisin), s’affichaient partout sur les murs du quartier berlinois de Kreuzberg. Après une longue et intense mobilisation, les riverains viennent d’obtenir une éclatante victoire qui résonne dans le monde entier : la société renonce à installer comme prévu un « Google campus » au bord du canal de Kreuzberg. Oui, un petit quartier peut à lui seul repousser un géant du Web.

    Au nom de quoi Google ne ferait-il pas un bon voisin ? Après tout, Google est propre, poli, pas trop bruyant et paye sans doute sa tournée à la fête des voisins. Le maire de Berlin, d’ailleurs, se montrait ravi de l’investissement de Google. La capitale allemande se targue d’être une nouvelle capitale européenne des start-up, une « Silicon Allee » capable de rivaliser avec Paris ou Londres, avec son vivier de jeunes créatifs venus du monde entier. Dans ce contexte, l’argent de Google est toujours le bienvenu et la ville cherche maintenant un nouveau quartier pour installer ce campus Google. Un élu du quartier voisin de Lichtenberg propose de loger Google (sans ironie aucune)… dans l’ancien QG de la Stasi. Un haut lieu du traitement des données personnelles.

    Le vrai problème c’était Kreuzberg, et sa sociologie si particulière. Ce quartier est toujours présenté comme le foyer historique de la contre-culture et de l’anticapitalisme berlinois. C’est oublier que depuis une dizaine d’années, le quartier s’est profondément gentrifié et internationalisé, devenu l’épicentre du Berlin hipster. L’arrivée de Google, dans des locaux de 3 000 mètres carrés, n’aurait pas fondamentalement changé la donne. Au début de l’année, Factory, un immense incubateur à start-up de 150 000 mètres carrés, a ouvert ses portes quelques centaines de mètres plus loin. Un projet financé en partie par… Google. Mais le combat contre le campus est devenu hautement symbolique en coalisant les deux populations très différentes qui peuplent maintenant le quartier : les anars allemands et la jeune génération d’expats. Pour les premiers, se battre contre Google est le prolongement naturel des combats contre la gentrification. Pour les seconds – qui sont ironiquement une force majeure de gentrification de quartier –, ce n’est pas tant une question de voisinage que de combat global contre Google.

    Le site Fuck off Google, porte-étendard de la lutte, a été monté par un hacktiviste français, ancien de la Quadrature du Net. Arrivé il y a deux ans, il se fait appeler Sergey Schmidt, en référence aux noms des deux fondateurs du moteur de recherche. Dans une interview donnée à Exberliner, il raconte qu’au départ, il n’osait pas aller aux « cafés anti-Google » dans une petite librairie anarchiste… parce qu’il ne parle pas assez bien allemand. Plus que la gentrification, Sergey Schmidt dénonce une entreprise qui pratique l’évasion fiscale et la collecte massive de données et veut imposer « un futur dystopique dans laquelle la fusion entre les humains et les ordinateurs est vendue comme inévitable ». Dans les réunions de quartiers, l’activiste français haranguait les riverains : « Ce n’est pas une gentrification normale. Ceux qui veulent transformer Kreuzberg en Silicon Valley ont une idéologie derrière ».

    L’alliance hétéroclite des anars berlinois et des hacktivistes expats préfigure ce qui sera un des grands combats des années à venir : la lutte contre l’invasion pernicieuse des Gafa dans les villes. « Quatre entreprises états-uniennes (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon), opérant partout dans le monde et disposant de moyens financiers colossaux sont en train d’investir nos quartiers. Après avoir complètement restructuré des filières entières – l’économie numérique, l’informatique, la musique, le livre, l’alimentaire – leur prochain terrain de jeu est déjà choisi : la ville », dénonce l’adjoint au maire de Paris Ian Brossat, dans son livre Airbnb, la ville uberisée. A Paris, l’élu communiste ne lutte pas (encore ?) contre Google mais contre Airbnb, qu’il accuse de vider les quartiers de ses habitants et de promouvoir une ville-Potemkine, un Disneyland pour visiteurs étrangers.

    Les théories quelque peu paranos qu’on pouvait entendre aux réunions anti-Google à Kreuzberg – « Cela commence avec un campus et ça se termine avec Google, propriétaire de tout le quartier, qui récolte les données des habitants » – ne sont plus si dystopiques que cela. A Toronto, une filiale de Google, Sidewalk Labs, a récupéré une vaste friche industrielle de 325 hectares, pour y développer un projet test de smart city, un SimCity géant où Google pourra construire des logements, des bureaux, des parcs et surtout placer des milliers de capteurs pour recueillir des données. Toronto pose le problème de l’irruption sans élection d’un acteur majeur qui pourrait prendre à terme le pouvoir sur la ville. A Seattle, Amazon a pris possession d’une partie du centre-ville pour construire son siège social. Avec de véritables ambitions urbanistes : « Nous ne bâtissons pas un campus, mais un quartier. » Le mot « campus » lui-même, qui a sans doute agité le chiffon rouge pour les activistes de Kreuzberg, est un terme utilisé par tous les géants du Web américains pour désigner leurs sièges sociaux et bien signifier leur intervention sur la ville.

    Le projet de campus berlinois était bien plus modeste mais a fini par prendre une grande importance symbolique. Chaque victoire d’un quartier, d’un voisinage contre un géant du Web va maintenant s’inscrire dans ce combat pour la suprématie sur les villes du futur. Google n’est définitivement pas un voisin ordinaire. Peut-être qu’il paye sa bouteille à la fête des voisins, mais il souhaiterait surtout payer le wi-fi à tout le monde. Et siphonner au passage les données.

    Vincent Glad

    #Google #Gafa #gentrification #fuck_off_google #dégooglelisons #Berlin