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Can Amazon deliver? Firm announces plan to slash shipment carbon footprint

With Amazon delivering packages to millions of customers around the world every day, the company knows it needs to do more to cut its carbon footprint if it’s to deliver on its commitment to sustainability.

Complementing current efforts such as frustration-free packaging, solar and wind farm construction, and investments in recycling programs, the ecommerce behemoth this week unveiled Shipment Zero, an initiative aimed at further enhancing its green credentials.

Outlining the plan in a blog post, Dave Clark, the company’s senior vice president of world operations, said that with improvements in electric vehicles, aviation bio fuels, reusable packaging, and renewable energy, the company can now see a path to net zero carbon shipments to customers.

The first step, Clark said, is to make 50 percent of all Amazon shipments to customers carbon-free by 2030.

The executive admitted that it “won’t be easy to achieve this goal,” but added that “it’s worth being focused and stubborn on this vision” as it’s “committed to seeing it through.”

It may seem like a bold proposition for a company that can still send out small items in oversized boxes packed with plastic SealedAir bags, but presumably Shipment Zero will work to bring such practices to an end.

To enable everyone to keep tabs on its progress toward its latest green goal, Amazon plans to share details of its company-wide carbon footprint later this year. Clark said the data will be taken from an advanced and recently developed scientific model capable of accurately mapping Amazon’s carbon footprint, which will also help it to identify ways to reduce carbon use in its operations. He said the company currently has more than 200 scientists, engineers, and product designers focused on finding new ways to leverage the company’s scale for the good of customers and the planet.

Amazon’s efforts to be kinder to the environment will of course be welcomed by those concerned about the longevity of the planet, but there are clearly challenges along the way. Earlier this month, for example, a report from Greenpeace accused the company of significantly expanding its Amazon Web Services data centers in Virginia without adding any supply of renewable energy, meaning it’s having to use more so-called “dirty” electricity than it otherwise might have done. The company responded by saying it’s committed to its goal of running its global operation using 100 percent renewable energy, and accused Greenpeace of using inaccurate data in its report.

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Marriott asking guests for data to see if they were victims of the Starwood hack

Marriott is now offering an easy way to confirm if your personal details were stolen in the massive Starwood hack that was revealed by the hotel giant in November 2018.

Guests who suspect their data may have been involved are being asked to fill out an online form, which will allow the company to make an accurate check. But the company is unable to say how long it will take to respond, saying only that it will reply “as soon as reasonably practicable and consistent with applicable law.”

Yes, it is rather ironic that you have to submit personal data to find out if your personal data was stolen. But if you feel you can still trust the company to handle your data in a secure manner, then the process has the potential to offer peace of mind about whether or not your details were caught up in the hack.

The damaging security breach, which was first reported in November last year, affected accounts that had used Starwood’s guest reservation database between 2014 and September 10, 2018.

The hack shocked many not only for its size, but also for the wide variety of data taken. The initial announcement suggested as many as 500 million guests were involved, with lifted information including a combination of name, address, date of birth, gender, phone number, email address, passport number, Starwood Preferred Guest account information, arrival and departure information, reservation date, and encrypted payment card numbers.

Having now removed duplicate records, Marriott announced in recent days that it’s been able to identify “approximately 383 million records as the upper boundary for the total number of guest records that were involved in the incident.”

It added that this doesn’t necessarily mean that 383 million unique guests were involved, “as in many instances, there appear to be multiple records for the same guest.”

What it can now say, with a fair degree of certainty, is that the stolen records included around 8.6 million unique payment card numbers, all of which were encrypted. Some 5.25 million unique unencrypted passport numbers and approximately 20.3 million encrypted passport numbers were also nabbed in the breach.

For the latest information on the hack, visit Marriott’s special webpage. Mention of the online form can be found at the top of the FAQs, under the question: “Was my information involved in the incident?”

Marriott acquired Starwood in September 2016 in a deal worth around $13.6 billion. Starwood brands include the likes of Le Meridien, Sheraton, St. Regis, Westin, and W Hotels, among others.

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Marriott wants guests’ data so it can tell them if their data was stolen

Marriott is now offering an easy way to confirm whether or not your personal details were stolen in the massive Starwood hack that was revealed by the hotel giant in November, 2018.

Guests who suspect their data may have been involved are asked to fill out an online form, which will allow the company to make an accurate check. But it’s unable to say how long it’ll take to respond, saying only that it will reply “as soon as reasonably practicable and consistent with applicable law.”

Yes, it is rather ironic that you have to submit personal data to find out if your personal data was stolen. But if you can still trust the company to handle your data in a secure manner, then the process has the potential to offer peace of mind about whether or not your details were caught up in the hack.

The damaging security breach, which was first reported in November last year, affected accounts that had used Starwood’s guest reservation database between 2014 and September 10, 2018.

The hack shocked many not only for its size, but also for the wide variety of data taken. The initial announcement suggested as many as 500 million guests were involved, with lifted information including a combination of name, address, date of birth, gender, phone number, email address, passport number, Starwood Preferred Guest account information, arrival and departure information, reservation date, and encrypted payment card numbers.

Having now removed duplicate records, Marriott announced in recent days that it’s been able to identify “approximately 383 million records as the upper boundary for the total number of guest records that were involved in the incident.”

It added that this doesn’t necessarily mean that 383 million unique guests were involved, “as in many instances, there appear to be multiple records for the same guest.”

What it can now say, with a fair degree of certainty, is that the stolen records included around 8.6 million unique payment card numbers, all of which were encrypted. Some 5.25 million unique unencrypted passport numbers and approximately 20.3 million encrypted passport numbers were also nabbed in the breach.

For the latest information on the hack, visit Marriott’s special webpage. Mention of the online form can be found at the top of the FAQs, under the question: “Was my information involved in the incident?”

Marriott acquired Starwood in September 2016 in a deal worth around $13.6 billion. Starwood brands include the likes of Le Meridien, Sheraton, St. Regis, Westin, and W Hotels, among others.

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Alita: Battle Angel’s big opening weekend leads weak holiday box office

Robert Rodriguez and James Cameron’s sci-fi action film Alita: Battle Angel is a project nearly two decades in the making, but its debut suggests that it was worth the wait.

The film outperformed box office pundits’ expectations with $27.8 million over the first three days of the four-day holiday weekend in the U.S., and is expected to earn $33 million across all four days and $41 million for its first five days after premiering a day early last week. That’s well above the $30 million initially predicted for the film in its first five days, and with $130.8 million worldwide already, Alita is on a good pace so far.

The film’s box-office success was matched with better-than-expected reviews, too. Alita currently has a 60-percent approval score on review aggregator RottenTomatoes, with an abundance of praise heaped upon the film for its impressive visual effects. Still, even with its good start, the film will have a tough time covering its hefty $170 million production price tag.

# Title  Weekend    U.S. Total 
1. Alita: Battle Angel $27.8M $36.5M
2. The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part  $21.2M $62.6M
3. Isn’t It Romantic $14.2M $20.4M
4. What Men Want $10.9M $36.1M
5. Happy Death Day 2U $9.8M $13.5M
6. Cold Pursuit  $6M $21.1M
7. The Upside  $5.5M $94.1M
8. Glass $3.8M $104.4M
9. The Prodigy  $3.1M $11M
10. Green Book  $2.7M $65.7M

Overall, the Presidents’ Day weekend wasn’t a big one at the box office this year, with three-day ticket sales ahead of the holiday at the lowest point they’ve been for that span since 2004. Even with a big Monday movie drive, Presidents Day weekend 2019 isn’t going to be one that studios will want to remember.

Alita was joined in the weekend’s top ten films by two more new releases, including the appropriately titled romantic comedy Isn’t It Romantic, which debuted in third place, and horror sequel Happy Death Day 2U, which settled for fifth place.

Of the other two new releases, Isn’t It Romantic had an opening weekend that was slightly better than expected, likely due to some good scheduling for Valentine’s Day audiences, while Happy Death Day 2U fell short of early estimates. Both films earned positive reviews, with 69-percent positive reviews for Isn’t It Romantic and 67-percent positive reviews for Happy Death Day 2U.

Also of note was M. Night Shyamalan’s Glass crossing the $100 million mark domestically, and the continued success of Aquaman, which moved past Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice in domestic ticket sales to become the second highest-grossing film in the DC Extended Universe after Wonder Woman. The film is already the highest-grossing film in Warner Bros. Pictures superhero cinematic universe worldwide, but it’s now creeping up on the domestic records set by Wonder Woman, too.

Premiering this upcoming week will be the animated sequel How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, which is likely to win the weekend and dominate the box office at the tail end of what is a week-long vacation for many schools around the U.S. The third film in the popular How to Train Your Dragon franchise, The Hidden World is a major release for Universal Pictures and DreamWorks Animation. That’s the only major release over the weekend, so most of this week’s top ten could end up in similar spots next week.

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Samsung will stop releasing new Blu-ray players in the U.S.

samsung ultra hd blu-ray ces 2016
Rich Shibley/Digital Trends

Samsung will exit the U.S. Blu-ray player market — and has abandoned plans to introduce a new high-end 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray model that was originally meant for release later this year.

“Samsung will no longer introduce new Blu-ray or 4K Blu-ray player models in the U.S. market,” a Samsung spokesperson confirmed to Digital Trends. The statement implies that the company might continue to offer the devices in overseas markets like Europe, or even in neighboring markets like Canada and Mexico.

The move to stop making 4K Blu-ray players was originally reported by Forbes, with Samsung later confirming it will stop releasing all new Blu-ray players stateside. This comes shortly after Chinese maker Oppo Digital decided to do the same thing last year. The news is a little worrying for what it might say about the state of the still-young 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc market.

Normally, seeing a major brand like Samsung abandon an entire market would be a sure sign that the category was in trouble. After all, if Samsung can’t make money in a consumer tech area like home theater — which it has been dominating along with LG for years — how healthy could that market be? Yet, while regular Blu-ray may be growing stale, stats for 4K Blu-ray tell the opposite story: Sales of Ultra HD Blu-ray discs are on the rise, and support for the format from major Hollywood studios hasn’t ebbed at all, even though not every new movie is released as an Ultra HD Blu-ray.

Sales of 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs “soared 68 percent” in the third quarter of 2018, from the same quarter in 2017, according to a report by Variety, which cited these numbers from DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group. The report goes on to cite other positive-sounding stats, like this one: “4K UHD discs already account for almost one in 10 new release discs sold in the U.S,” according to Eddie Cunningham, president of Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, and: “[UHD] Product sales are up 87 percent in comparison to the first three quarters of last year,” said Bob Buchi, president, worldwide, Paramount Home Media Distribution.

So why would Oppo and Samsung see this as a market they can’t compete in? Perhaps the answer lies in the sales numbers for 4K UHD Blu-ray players. Despite being the first company to sell a player for the format, Samsung may have encountered an unexpected amount of competition from Sony, LG, and Panasonic. These companies top our list of recommended 4K UHD Blu-ray players.

It’s also possible that Microsoft’s Xbox One consoles have put more pressure on the dedicated player market than previously thought. DEG claims that 2.3 million Ultra HD Blu-ray playback devices were sold in the first nine months of 2018, but this number includes both dedicated players and game consoles. Given that NPD video game analyst Mat Piscatella claims that 2018 was phenomenal for the Xbox One X in particular, it could simply be that Samsung got squeezed out.

One can’t help but wonder what this may mean for the larger physical media space as a whole. Predictions of the death of physical media have been almost as common as predictions of the death of email, and so far both have proven wrong. Even the now-ancient DVD format continues to enjoy a large share of disc sales at nearly 58 percent.

That stat notwithstanding, it’s hard to ignore the growing amount of streaming media that is not only showing up in 4K, but also in HDR, which is fast becoming a bigger draw for people who have bought new TVs in the last three years. Sony has even claimed that the reason neither the PS4 or PS4 Pro can play 4K Ultra HD discs is that streaming media was seen as the preferred way of watching these kinds of movies. Needless to say, that hardly explains the company’s ongoing dedicated player production.

If physical 4K UHD Blu-ray discs did end up on the extinct list, it could be a dark time for A/V enthusiasts. Despite growing support for 4K, HDR, and even advanced surround formats like Dolby Atmos on streaming services, bandwidth will continue to remain an issue, which means both video and audio will remain compressed. Formats like Dolby TrueHD, with their lossless, 24-bit depth and up to 192kHz sample rates may take years to arrive — if they ever do.

Updated after confirmation from Samsung that it will no longer release new Blu-ray or 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray players in the U.S.

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