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Go behind the curtain, see how Amazon's giant robots fulfill orders

The BBC is taking viewers where only employees of the online retail giant are allowed to go. 

The British television network has been permitted to show what high-tech devices help get shoppers their packages quickly and correctly from Amazon. 

Amazon has been rolling out a fleet of robots that do an intricate dance around the warehouses to get millions of items to its customers daily.

Amazon robotsWhen you buy your goods from Amazon, here's what goes on behind the scenes. Meet the online giant's robot army.Posted by BBC Business News on Thursday, August 18, 2016

But the system is actually nothing new. 

>> Read more trending stories  

Amazon has been using the robots, originally developed by Kiva Systems, in the U.S. since 2014, Retuers reported.

The company installed the system before 2014's holiday season to help push more of its stock out the door and into the hands of anxious Christmas shoppers.

It came to be after a shipping nightmare in late 2013. That's when too many packages from Amazon flooded UPS, causing world-wide shipping delays. Amazon ended up having to issue shipping refunds and $20 gift cards in compensation to upset customers, Reuters reported.

The robots proved to be a success, holding at least 50 percent more products than the traditional sorting system, and shortening time for same-day delivery.

So how does it work?

Instead of workers having to walk down long lines of shelving looking for something, the robots bring the items to the works who pick out what they need and put the product in bins, the BBC reported

Move over FaceTime: Google releases video calling app Duo

Move over, FaceTime and Skype. Google has released a one-to-one video calling app called Duo

Unlike Google's video chatting app Hangouts, Duo is for smartphones only and offers simple one-to-one calling rather than video conferencing.  

And it seems Google's key word to describe the app is "simple."

<iframe width="390" height="219" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/8wJUG0wy9ic" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe> The company wrote in a blog post Monday, "Duo takes the complexity out of video calling, so that you can be together in the moment wherever you are." The company said it designed the app, in part, to get rid of the frustration of dropped video calls. It said the app will automatically switch between cellular and Wi-Fi networks and adjust to slower networks without dropping the call.  >> Read more trending stories   One of the app's features, called "Knock Knock," allows users to see what the caller is doing before accepting the call.  Setup is described as simple, too. All you need is your phone number. Like some of Facebook's apps, Google Duo doesn't require a login.  Google Duo works on Android and iOS. 

Setting Up

Google Fiber wants to go completely wireless

Google Fiber was supposed to be a beacon of light in a world full of slow internet speeds, but things aren't going quite like the company planned.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Google's parent company, Alphabet Inc., said digging up streets in areas that need service has been much more costly and time consuming than initially expected.

And that's a problem for a company that wants to bring high-speed internet to the masses.

So here's how the company is fixing it: a completely wire-free connection, which means no more digging up people's yards to lay down fiber-optic cables.

The push toward wireless means that Google is joining the ranks of telecommunications company AT&T, which expects to conduct testing for its wireless connection later this year.

>> Read more trending stories  

In the meantime, Google is asking cities and power companies to build the networks themselves, rather than having to come out and plant the lines.

So far, Google Fiber is available only in six metropolitan areas across the U.S., with plans to bring the service to five more.

Will the next iPhone be waterproof?

Another clue supports rumors that Apple's next iPhone will be waterproof. 

Tucked in with roughly 80 patents recently granted to Apple was one for technology to edit photos taken underwater. 

>> Read more trending stories  

In its patent, Apple said it envisioned the technology being used in its iPhones and iPads.

The patent comes nine months after a different piece of information launched rumors of a waterproof iPhone. Reports indicate that Apple might be looking to ditch the headphone jack, one of the easiest places for water to seep through. 

Some industry observers doubt that waterproofing is the main motivation for getting rid of the headphone jack, though, since Samsung made its phones water-resistant while still keeping the jacks. 

Bloomberg reported earlier this month that removing the jack could make room for a second speaker. Others have argued that because the new headphones would be digital, Apple could also include software to prevent users from listening to illegally downloaded music.  

Apple currently offers no waterproof smartphones. All three of Samsung's leading smartphones are water-resistant. 

Users say Snapchat filter is racist, call it 'yellowface'

Snapchat is in trouble again. And his time, it's over another photo filter that critics are calling racist. The app allows users to warp their faces while taking selfies or photos with friends. Some filters show users spewing rainbows, others change the appearance of their eyes and one can even make users look like a pineapple. >> Read more trending stories But some people weren't OK with all of Snapchat's creative choices. The app released a filter that gave users the appearance of having slanted eyes and enhanced cheeks. Critics on Twitter called the filter a racist caricature of Asian people, dubbing it "yellowface." Related: Snapchat under fire for Bob Marley filter on 4/20 And this is coming from an app that only a few months ago received backlash for a Bob Marley filter that channeled the late musician's dreads and face on the stoner holiday, 4/20. Many said the filter was digital "blackface." And in May, the app was accused of "whitening" users' faces and favoring lighter skin tones. Related: Snapchat under fire for appearing to whitewash in filters On top of that, Snapchat has also been accused of stealing artistic designs. Snapchat responded to critics by saying the filter was inspired by anime and was intended to be fun. But don't expect to see the filter again. <iframe width="390" height="219" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/VX3sIFLXBh4?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe> This video includes clips from Snapchat and images from Twitter and Getty Images. Music provided courtesy of APM Music.  

Frankie Ballard is coming to JD Legends in Franklin

WHEN: Friday, August 12, 2016

TIME: 5:00 PM

WHERE: JD Legends Entertainment Complex - 65 Millard Drive, Franklin, OH 45005

TICKET PRICES: $15.00-$20.00

Get tickets

Olympic gymnast racks up $5,000 phone bill playing 'Pokemon Go'

Japanese Olympic gymnast Kohei Uchimura could really use some gold right now -- not necessarily a gold medal, but just some gold coins to pay off his steep phone bill. 

And he supposedly has "Pokemon Go" to blame.

>> Read more trending stories

While in Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Summer Olympics, Uchimura reportedly racked up a nearly $5,000 phone bill while playing the game, thanks to data overages. 

Uchimura, a six-time world champion, reportedly downloaded the augmented reality game when he flew to Sao Paulo, Brazil, for training, and he instantly got hooked. 

But the odd and possibly amazing part of this story is that Rio de Janeiro doesn't even have "Pokemon Go" right now. 

Olympians have already griped that they're stuck in Rio with no PokeStops to visit or Pokemon to catch. 

Despite pleas from Rio's mayor, Niantic Inc., the company that created "Pokemon Go," has yet to set a release date for the app in Brazil. So we're still not totally sure how Uchimura got on. 

It wasn't all bad news for Uchimura, though. His phone company graciously agreed to reduce his bill to a $30-a-day unlimited plan. Whew. 

<iframe width="390" height="219" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/WoaI7gJN8lg" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Frankie Ballard is coming JD Legends in Franklin

Frankie Ballard's transition from Michigan-based singer/guitar slinger to major-label recording artist was, by most standards, an enviable one. His debut album, Frankie Ballard, produced two Top 30 singles, "Tell Me You Get Lonely" and "A Buncha Girls." He gained national media exposure, appeared on the Grand Ole Opry and played packed arenas opening for Kenny Chesney and on major tours with Taylor Swift and longtime idol Bob Seger.

 

But for Ballard, a music junkie with a restless spirit, there was still too big a gap between that first taste of success and the dreams he'd nurtured working 230 nights a year in crowded clubs back home. Call it a working man's sense of mission, call it a gut check, but Ballard took time out to step back and to reassess where he'd come from and where he was going. 

 

"I was disappointed those two records weren't bigger hits," he says, "and I looked at everything that had gone into them." 

 

What was missing, he realized, was a blue-collar sense of crafting his own product from the bottom up, of putting his stamp on every step of the process. He decided to retool, looking for a like-minded producer. 

 

"I wanted to get somebody that would let me get my hands on the music," he says. "I wanted to let it grow organically, to build tracks an instrument at a time and play a bunch on the record." 

 

His search led him to Marshall Altman, whose work with "bayou soul" singer Marc Broussard he was particularly fond of. 

 

"Marshall and I found a connection," he says. "I quickly realized he was my kind of guy. He loves to work and to experiment. Sometimes we would just mess around with guitar tones, or I'd go, 'Hey, man, I've got this little banjo part in my head' and he'd go, 'Go ahead, man, play it.'" 

 

They would get together for late-night sessions he describes as "freeing. I was making music that was coming from deep within me. If I didn't like something, we'd change it, and if we liked something, we'd chase it and try to get it perfect. It was an unbelievably cool experience." 

 

The first sign of magic from that collaboration is the single "Helluva Life." It's perfect summer uplift, a song about the magic inherent in small moments that can bring joy and perspective to modern lives with more than their share of challenges and big questions. 

 

"It's a song that parallels my journey over the last 18 months," he says. "There is good stuff and bad stuff that happens to us. Nobody's immune to that. Your girlfriend leaves you but your buddies pick you up and take you out on the town and make you feel better, or you lose your job but your brother steps in and helps you find another one. We lean on each other in the good times and the bad times, and sometimes it's hard to see where we're going when we're in the middle of it. I found myself feeling that big time." 

 

In capturing all of that complexity, the song represents the perfect re-emergence for a singer whose journey reflects all of the ups and downs of an entire society facing long-lasting challenges. 

 

"I know this song sure makes me feel connected to so many people struggling in this economy," he says. "There are people who've lost the corner office and people who've lost blue-collar jobs. I hope they see in my story that the music business isn't necessarily limos and private jets. Sometimes it's just busting your butt--at least that's what my journey has been. I want people to go, 'This guy knows where I've been.' 

 

His story is proof that he does. He's a product of Battle Creek, Michigan, a working-class town where he grew up "loving Elvis and Johnny Horton." Sports-obsessed as a kid, he played baseball at Western Michigan University, while he gradually turned a minor interest in music into an obsession. He studied guitarists, including blues greats like Buddy Guy, and locked himself away until he could excel at the instrument. He began playing open mic nights and played drums in a band as well. By the time he was out of college, he was leading his own band, playing 200+ nights a year within a 300-mile radius, and taking once-a-month trips to Nashville to expand his networking opportunities. In 2008, he earned an opening slot with Chesney in Grand Rapids and Detroit. Not long afterward, the songwriting skills he'd been developing earned him a publishing deal with Sony/ATV, as well as a management deal and, finally, a label deal. He moved to Nashville and began recording. 

 

He is presently at work on his second album, and both he and the label are anxious for his fans to hear what he's been working on. 

 

"I knew and the label believed I was making music that mattered," he says. Legendary producer and label executive Scott Hendricks (Trace Adkins, Blake Shelton, Brooks & Dunn) signed on as co-producer. Meanwhile, Ballard is doing what he does best--taking his music to the people. 

 

"My bread and butter is playing live," he says. "The band and I really hammer the road and I don't want to slow down. We keep it lean and mean out there and give everything we've got to put on a heck of a show. On stage, it's all about connection. I've always been a firm believer if people just wanted to listen to music they could easily do it from the comfort of their home or their vehicle, but when they come out they want to see something. They want to experience something. They want to be part of something. That's why I go to shows. And the best is when the connection comes through one of your songs. To watch someone sing your song back at the top of their lungs because they've been through the same thing, well, that means as much to a performer as it does to a fan, and that's what keeps me going." 

 

That connection is still at the heart of what he does. 

 

"There's a line in 'Helluva Life' that goes, 'The bad times make the good times better,' and I really believe that," he says. "That's why I don't resent the tough times I've been through. Maybe I needed to take the long way around and learn some lessons before I was able to handle success. It may just be God's way of helping me cope with what is to come." 

 

And his growing legions of fans are more than ready to take the rest of the journey with him.

  • WHEN: Friday, August 12, 2016 
  • TIME:  5:00 PM
  • WHERE: JD Legends Entertainment Complex - 65 Millard Drive, Franklin, OH 45005
  • TICKET PRICES:  $15.00-$20.00
  • GET TICKETS

Instagram is starting to look more like Snapchat

Instagram's new Stories feature looks like an effort to compete with Snapchat.

Instagram is calling the feature one that lets users "share all the moments of your day, not just the ones you want to keep on your profile."

>> Read more trending stories

The goal of the feature, according to Instagram, is for users to not worry about over-posting and clogging up their followers' feeds.

But Instagram ignores the similarity of Stories with Snapchat: Both allow users to take pictures or video and edit them with drawing and text tools.

What's the most similar between the two is the fact that those photos and videos will disappear after 24 hours and replies or comments to the shared content can be sent by a private message.

This is not the first time Instagram has seemingly followed in the footsteps of another app.

In 2013, Instagram introduced video, allowing users to record 15-second videos with the app's signature filters. The move was an effort to compete with Vine, which is notable for six-second videos.

Both Instagram and Vine have since moved toward longer videos.

It really just comes down to user preference: Instagram Stories or Snapchat?

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