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State Dept. Cancels $16.5M Kindle Contract

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the no-ereading-for-you dept.

Government 117

itwbennett writes "The U.S. Department of State will be canceling a $16.5 million Amazon order that included 2,500 Kindle Touch e-readers, 50 pieces of content, and 'required provision of a secure, centrally managed content distribution and management platform.' The department said that it will be re-examining its requirements for the program. Those requirements had called for a single-function device with text-to-speech, a 'battery life of no less than about 8 hours of continuous reading or approximately 7.5 hours of video playback,' and free Wi-Fi. The Kindle was the only project that met that original set of requirements."

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sucks to be Amazon (4, Interesting)

TheRealQuestor (1750940) | more than 2 years ago | (#41045049)

wonder who they ticked off this time

Re:sucks to be Amazon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41045975)

I hear Google figured out how to get and change government contracts.

Re:sucks to be Amazon (4, Interesting)

Cute Fuzzy Bunny (2234232) | more than 2 years ago | (#41046775)

wonder who they ticked off this time

Eh, someone up the food chain realized that they weren't buying ipads, and those are what the cool kids have. Cue the story about them opening a contract with apple to do the same exact thing, only for double or triple the cost.

They're doing that here in California. Our state budget left the rails and took out every major city, and we're letting go of teachers left and right. But we found money to buy 5 ipads for every classroom from one of those buckets where the money can only be spent one way. No integration, no IT strategy...just 5 paperweights with a quiz on them about a book, and you have to transcribe the results from the ipad to a piece of paper when you're done, as there is no rollup.

I just want to know what person sits in what office in the state organization that agreeably says "Oh, you want to donate money to our schools? Yeah, well those ipads would be pretty much useless...feel like funding something critical thats being cut or how about we buy cheaper tablets, get 20 per class instead of 5, and get someone to do a nice integration job with our curriculum?

We missed a prime opportunity last year when HP (a california company) decided to get out of the touchpad business and sold tens of thousands of them for below cost. Someone from the state should have gotten them to donate them, make more so every kid could have one, and build the software and support infrastructure with that. Replace all textbooks and teaching materials with the pad. Give HP tax credits so its worth it for them to take it on. Hell, it took the NFL no time at all to switch from playbooks and lots of pieces of paper to a tablet solution. If they can do it, I'm pretty sure HP and the state of california could have done it.

Re:sucks to be Amazon (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 2 years ago | (#41048659)

Idk how it can be double or triple the cost. At $16,500,000 for 2500 kindle(assuming that's correct), it's already at $6,600 per kindle. If the majority of the costs are just side costs, then iPads will just raise it marginally.

Re:sucks to be Amazon (1)

tyrione (134248) | more than 2 years ago | (#41050789)

Idk how it can be double or triple the cost. At $16,500,000 for 2500 kindle(assuming that's correct), it's already at $6,600 per kindle. If the majority of the costs are just side costs, then iPads will just raise it marginally.

Who said the original poster was mathematically competent?

Re:sucks to be Amazon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41052641)

"7.5 hours of video playback" was a requirement.. thats not happening on a kindle touch.. no matter how you slice it the device is incapable of providing the service..

Someone flubbed the order process is all, they intended to buy Fires and ordered touches ..

As far as your rhetoric on the touchpads.. buying a defunct tablet with no ecosystem for education is just as bad as the ancient 8/16 bit pc's that still live in the majority of america's classrooms 25 years after they where bought/donated..

The costs where also not in any way close to reality.. 16.5 million order @ 99 per kindle 5 content pieces at 20$ each (though they are more likely highly specific texts from a specific provider of said texts that have some form of military relevance and could be up to to 1000$ each if not more)

so lets remath it at 99$ + 5000$ each x 2500 units = roughly 13 million dollars.. more in line and it gives the extra room for the amazon cloud content hosting portion of the contract..

all looks peachy until you realize that the kindle touch is not gonna work for what they need it to do, because it cannot and will not display video.. so we have to move to the kindle fire..

And its 500,000$ more but still well within the allotted budget..

Nothing to see here folks, move along

Re:sucks to be Amazon (-1, Offtopic)

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Spec'd the Kindle (5, Insightful)

tomhath (637240) | more than 2 years ago | (#41045059)

So the requirements were for a Kindle and only a Kindle? Nice try by someone ready to retire and move to private industry.

Re:Spec'd the Kindle (2, Interesting)

kenh (9056) | more than 2 years ago | (#41045099)

Seriously, on the "back" of a contract for 2,500 Kindles? What kind of "payoff" do you think they'd get for negotiating a 2-3,000 piece contract for an item the gov't would by at or below retail?

I think their real goal was to try and avoid the political stigma of a set of requirements that would lead them to buying a couple thousand iPads (while being good/great devices have so many additional uses that their purchase could easily be attacked politically)...

Re:Spec'd the Kindle (3, Insightful)

tomhath (637240) | more than 2 years ago | (#41046839)

The goal is lock-in. First purchase is a balancing act, small enough to get through without too much attention, but big enough that any follow-on has to be for the same equipment. Typically the follow-ons are worth several times the initial contract, and are negotiated separately.

Re:Spec'd the Kindle (4, Informative)

MonsterTrimble (1205334) | more than 2 years ago | (#41045139)

Actually, I see this all the time in the public sector and have done it on countless occasions myself.

The reason Amazon is the only one which meets the specs is because the specs were chosen so only Amazon could meet them. It's how you can exclude a vendor (or vendors) you have no desire of even giving the opportunity to win the quote. This can be because of past history with the company's sales team, poor delivery, poor service, poor quality, and so on. While in a strict lower cost item sense it's bad, it is often not the case when you consider all the other factors. Extra time spent caused by poor quality or poor delivery can often cost far more than the additional money spent on a product which has very good quality and is delivered on time.

Re:Spec'd the Kindle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41045379)

Or maybe it would be better to spec delivery time, up-time, warranty, service levels, and any other desired characteristics with appropriate withholding of a portion of payment and penalties for failing to deliver.

But that would involve somebody in procurement dept. actually doing their job. Apparently that's asking too much these days.

Re:Spec'd the Kindle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41045691)

And then you're screwed because they don't care. Punishments only work with people who care about the consequences. Too often that isn't the case.

I'd rather the procurement department prevent the problem than spend the effort fiuhxing it. Unfortunately with all the accountability and "fairness" required of the government, we can't just let somebody decide, but we have to have some tenditious justification of it.

Re:Spec'd the Kindle (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41046117)

Not to mention that you still have the burden of actually measuring and proving how they failed to deliver. Often you're far too resource constrained to even begin to go through that process and generally there is little reward.

You have to make decisions similar to how you would in the private sector. You buy from sources you trust. You seek to maximize value. While it may not seem ethical that you fake requirements in order to get that accomplished, I can see the argument that it would not be ethical to do otherwise.

Re:Spec'd the Kindle (2)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 2 years ago | (#41048361)

The private sector fakes requirements as well. I've seen a private business put out an RFP that I could tell was written for a specific model of Cisco router. It was an attempt to shop price from a bottom racing hardware market, after the consulting company already built the soution design. They should have just put out an RFP for what they wanted, but they requested the whole design again, for the free doubling of work in order to verify the consultant's work and ensure installation services...

Re:Spec'd the Kindle (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 2 years ago | (#41048131)

The procurement department is completely isolated from all other departments. If they pick the worst possible bidder, there's no effect on them. So the procurement department takes no effort to select the "best" just the one that meets some criteria that are poorly selected, often by the procurement department itself.

Re:Spec'd the Kindle (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 2 years ago | (#41046061)

I'll assume you're being honest and weren't motivated by bribery or the desire to get a cushy job with your vendor on. Because both motives are pretty common reasons for using the spec to exclude competitors.

In any case, here's hoping you don't get audited. Bidding procedures exist for a reason, and people who circumvent them can get in a lot of trouble.

Re:Spec'd the Kindle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41046849)

A lot of times (possibly most of the times) the Government is so fed up with the process selecting a vendor whose only interest is in getting a fat Government contract, not in meeting the requirements, that the RFPs have to be very defensively written. Between small business rules circumventing "best value", a contracting process that takes forever, a funding process that ensures funds are only available during a narrow window, and companies everyone knows can't meet the requirements but will protest if they don't get a contract, it's nearly impossible to accomplish anything. And don't forget the big contractors that have been robbing the Government blind for decades. More trouble there.

Cronyism is likely a very small percentage of the problem.

Re:Spec'd the Kindle (2)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#41047791)

Exactly, no different than in the private sector where all it takes is getting burnt once and good luck ever getting another contract. I know several businesses where Dell could offer them hookers and blow and Dells for 10% of cost and they won't allow a single one in because they were treated like shit by Dell during the whole bad cap deal a decade ago. No matter how big of a price difference there is there will NEVER be a Dell computer in their business PERIOD, all because they fucked them over 10 years ago.

I do have to wonder with the way they just up and canceled like that if some middle management PHB screamed because he wouldn't be getting an iPad. I swear some of those PHB types are worse than little kids when it comes to having the latest toys. I can just picture one going "Waaah, that isn't an iPad, its crap!" and throwing a royal hissy fit.

Re:Spec'd the Kindle (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 2 years ago | (#41054151)

It's how you can exclude a vendor (or vendors) you have no desire of even giving the opportunity to win the quote. This can be because of past history with the company's sales team, poor delivery, poor service, poor quality, and so on.

In other words words, the devil you know.

I've been on the other side of that equation, both as a winner and a loser. MOST often I found this vendor-slanted specification phenomenon was the result of the procurement rules UNDER-weighting confidence in the vendor. That's because we don't trust the judgment of government worker bees. A CEO can make a deal with a handshake on the golf course. Because CEOs are supposed to be geniuses, we trust his gut instinct. We think government workers are idiots, so we don't allow them to make gut decisions. Instead, we expect them to develop procurement criteria that reliably and objectively predict the future.

Procurement decisions tend to work by assigning point scores to various areas. There may be minimum scores in certain areas (vendor capacity) , but then each score area is added up linearly: Ax + By + ..., etc. The problem is that value doesn't add linearly this way. Take, for example, tablets in the classroom. Batteries that don't last long enough to complete an assignment are a deal-breaker. No problem, you set a minimum score for battery life. Battery life that's longer than a school day adds no real utility. No problem, you set a maximum score for battery life.

But here's the tough part: battery life doesn't really measure anything useful in itself. Suppose two tablets, A & B, are identical in every way, but A is lighter and has a longer battery life. So A wins on specs, right? Maybe, maybe not. You're buying a tool, not a toy. So you decide to run pilot projects using A and B, and find that kids using A consistently report battery problems, kids using B never do. So B wins the empirical battery test, right? Wrong. What's happening is that the kids with sleek, lightweight A use their tablets so much they run the batteries down. The kids with clunky B don't use their tablets much. So A wins on usability, right? No. It turns out that the kids using A get slightly worse results than B, because they're goofing off on the tablet when they should be doing something else. The kids with B use their tablets when they *need* them, but no more. Going by *outcome*, B has enough battery life to get the job done and A does not, *even though A has a longer battery life*.

Granted, this is hypothetical, but reality is very much like this: so complicated it makes a reliable a priori test of optimality impossible. Sometimes you're better off going with what you think has the highest chance of succeeding, rather than what looks "best" on paper.

Most government workers are honest -- at least as honest as they can be and still get their jobs done. One of the ways they are less than perfectly honest is that they game the procurement system in order to ensure a satisfactory outcome.

Re:Spec'd the Kindle (5, Informative)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#41045177)

That is common. We go by the joke we called a fare bidding process. Everyone denies it but this is how it works.
The Government finds a vendor they want to use. Once they find the vendor they like, they often get the resumes of the people who will be working, or the product specifications, then they use that to make their bid. Because the Bid has a detail on what they want, it is hard for a competitor to compete with the bid, because every product and service is a little different. Even though they may be able to help solve the same problems.

If you look at lot of these bids, you see things like
Web Site Development
Required Sills:
HTML 10+ years
JavaScript 8+ years
Photoshop 6+ years
ASP.NET 9+ years
FORTRAN 77 4+ years
C++ 12+ years
MUMPS 3+ years

You see bids like that you know they have already picked someone they want to use. The Job doesn't even require FORTRAN or MUMPS or C++ however they may have some in house applications that still run these systems so they add it in their bids, but they have already picked who they want and they know that they have those skills, and they also have similar systems on their side (To show that they have a need for such technology).

They did all the paper work correctly and there isn't any sign of corruption. However they found a way to bypass the fair and competitive bidding process.

Re:Spec'd the Kindle (1)

KPU (118762) | more than 2 years ago | (#41045397)

Why would somebody with 12+ years of C++ experience be doing web site development?

Re:Spec'd the Kindle (1)

Read Acted (2691917) | more than 2 years ago | (#41045621)

They were obviously driven insane and are now recovering slowly.

Re:Spec'd the Kindle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41045679)

The same reason I switched after 15+ years of C/C++ ... more jobs and better pay.

Re:Spec'd the Kindle (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#41046263)

Why would somebody with 12+ years of C++ experience be doing web site development?

because the company needs it? besides plenty of operations that interface with users through website need c++ somewhere in the backend..

Re:Spec'd the Kindle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41048407)

WT

Re:Spec'd the Kindle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41053193)

Because dealing with the differences between browsers is less maddening than dealing with the differences between C++ environments.

Re:Spec'd the Kindle (2)

dpilot (134227) | more than 2 years ago | (#41045861)

There is perpetual complaint about "government messing around with business," but clearly not enough complaint about "business messing around with government." I would also argue that the ramifications of the latter are far worse than the former. Think for a moment about the "military-industrial complex" and the number of complex defense contracts that are apparently largely a mechanism to get fat sucking off of the government (and taxpayer) teat. The place where it gets really bad is when we don't get the weapons system that we might actually need - even at the vastly inflated price.

Re:Spec'd the Kindle (1, Insightful)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 2 years ago | (#41049131)

I would also argue that the ramifications of the latter are far worse than the former.

I would argue that they are almost the same thing... a corporation is just an extension of government. It gets it's charter from the government, and it can only exist because of government. The government can make almost completely arbitrary rules to regulate the corporation, and in fact the very laws that create the corporation are themselves a form of regulation.

Then the corporation uses a portion of it's revenue to lobby the government. This is similar to the way that government-funded and government-mandated public unions use a portion of their revenue to lobby the government. In my opinion we need to cut off this kind of feedback cycle... it leads to exactly the kind of problems that you describe.

Re:Spec'd the Kindle (2)

dpilot (134227) | more than 2 years ago | (#41049969)

How do you suggest breaking the cycle then? IMHO if the founding fathers had seen what corporations would become, they would have done a specific delineation of rights in the Constitution. Perhaps it would be as some sort of "collections of peoples", actually rather similar to a church, when you think about it. As it is, corporations are getting everything but the vote, less of the liabilities, and the recent and not-so-recent "personhood" rulings form the Supremes indeed make mere people second-class citizens.

Again, as you say, a corporation only exists because it gets its charter from the government. What piece of legal fiction would you use to give a corporation existence? Or would you go back to partnerships, abandon the limited-liability nature of corporations, and recognize them only as the people running the show? (That may not be a bad idea, now that I think about it.)

Re:Spec'd the Kindle (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 2 years ago | (#41048413)

How does the government put together complex bids? They hire a consultant. Often it's unethical consultants driving work to friends. You don't think that the procurement department actually writes the RFPs themselves, do you?

Re:Spec'd the Kindle (2)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 2 years ago | (#41049307)

This happened to me. Came across what would be a perfect job upgrade for me on the USAGov job website. Long list of requirements, but I had all the right experience. By application ended up being 12 pages long. Sent it in, a couple of weeks later I got a personal letter from the hiring manager/department head saying who they picked including a brief bio of him. Same skill set, but worked in that department at a lower grade. I essentially got a freaking apology letter from them for wasting my time. Never saw that before.

Re:Spec'd the Kindle (2)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 2 years ago | (#41045233)

That's how government contracts work. Also, this is how government job positions work. You write the requirements to match exactly the single person you want and only that person.

Re:Spec'd the Kindle (1)

jftitan (736933) | more than 2 years ago | (#41047279)

With my previous experience, THIS is exactly what pisses me off about Government contracting.

    I applied for specific positions before whereas I was over qualified for the job listed. First interview, I nail it, with comments like, you are just too qualified for the position, however your the best candidate I've interviewed. With comments like that, I constantly fall into the trap of the followup comment. "However, government requires me to interview two other candidates for the position." This is the kicker right there. The interviewer can just say anything at this point about my qualifications and even on the basis, that I'm more qualified than the person they already have in mind. But the last comment is what gives them the escape clause of why they didn't hire me on the spot.

    I never got offended over not being the pick of a job listing, knowing the overwhelming support I received in the interview process. No what pisses me off, is finding out the person they DID hire, happens to be incompetent and lied through their teeth in order to qualfy for the postion.

    My first experience at being told the lie 'You are the best candidate I've have come across, and I definitely like you as choice..." Only to discover later on, I was passed over, was at a private company named Affiliated Computer Services. I had worked for the company as a data entry person for 12 months, during that time I also assisted the Local Administrator of the building. When the Admin was up for promotion, he gave me three months notice before the company even knew he was accepting the promotion. So I was prepared for the advancement. With two extra months of lead time, I was also able to befriend the management, and ensure I was the 'go to' guy for IT needs when the Admin wasn't around. I even saved the weekend once by stopping the MSBlaster32.worm from spreading at our building because i had read up on the issue weeks beforehand. When it happened, the Admin was away, and the building supervisor literally yanked me away from my data entry computer to see what was happening, and let me guide the process to prevent it from spreading like worm did with ALL the other ACS buildings. As in, our building was the only building of the ACS corporation, that did not go down. I received recommendations, etc for a job well done when no one else could figure out WTF happened.

  Come day of my interview, the office manager explains the promotion process, and tells me I'll be waiting for a response within 1 week of my interview. A week goes by, and I'm told of the 4 candidates, I was the promoted winner. (You'd think that would be cause for celebration), 6 weeks later I'm still waiting on HR to finalize my promotion, only to find the manager walking a 'new guy' around my server room. (Which was a BIG NO), when it comes to people who are NOT the IT Admin straff are not allowed into those rooms. Not even the manager was specifically allowed to go into the server rooms without a admin escorting. Low and behold, the reason why HR never finalized my paperwork, was because a second ACS building was being shut down. The tech they brought in to take my promoted postion was with the company for 2 more years than me.

    From that day forward it was downhill from there.

  Later on I find out, they never intended on me to become Admin, they just allowed me to fill the gap until they closed down the second ACS building then to transfer the admin (who failed at his job multiple times) to manage. I quicky left the company because of the ethical delimas. Along with 1 year later the ACS building I worked at was closed down.

    The best week ever when I heard the news.

Re:Spec'd the Kindle (2)

jbengt (874751) | more than 2 years ago | (#41047999)

So the requirements were for a Kindle and only a Kindle?

That's how government contracts work.

In my experience (construction) government bids do not work that way. In fact, the contract documemts I have made for various federal, state, and local governments were typically required to explicitly list at least three manufacturers for each product. (The hard part that sometimes gets overlooked is that companies are so busy buying each other, merging, and selling off parts, that three different brands that were made by three different companies yesterday may very well be all under one corporation today.)

Re:Spec'd the Kindle (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 2 years ago | (#41054457)

You are missing the point. You list THREE manufacturers for each product, but you write the requirements that match the one you want and ONLY the one you want.

Hell, I've gotten two jobs because they wanted me and wrote the reqs based off of my resume.

Re:Spec'd the Kindle (3)

deKernel (65640) | more than 2 years ago | (#41045351)

Guessing you didn't read the article. No device other than the Kindle met the requirements AND the requrements were quite sane.

Re:Spec'd the Kindle (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#41045663)

The only thing really "Kindle specific" was the free WiFi.

Everything else is stuff that your book reading spouse might be interested in, especially the part about idle time.

Re:Spec'd the Kindle (3, Interesting)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 2 years ago | (#41046657)

Oddly, The Kindle doesn't meet the requirements, either. The Kindle and Kindle Touch don't do video, and the Kindle Fire doesn't do 3G...

Also, the requirements are not specific to Amazon - B&N has devices which match the requirements as fully as Amazon does, including the 3G download requirement. If they wanted to force Amazon to be the only supplier, they would've had to require that the device allow web browsing over the 3G link.

Re:Spec'd the Kindle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41051309)

The requirements say nothing about 3G.

Re:Spec'd the Kindle (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 2 years ago | (#41053067)

Looks like we're going to have to FOIA the actual request, then, as whoever was interviewed was clearly confused about what WiFi is:

The Kindle also scored over some other e-readers on the market as the competitors could not provide the text-to-speech requirement, the long-lasting battery life and the free Wi-Fi with a global network that was required, the note said. The J&A had stated that "costs associated with downloading content either via 3G or Wi-Fi must be not separately priced."

Re:Spec'd the Kindle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41046021)

why not, works for microsoft?

Re:Spec'd the Kindle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41046047)

I have been on the other end of it. A federal sales team comes to me with a list of requirements and for me to help them create a bid on it. Sometimes I see that its clearly explicitly designed for a notable competitor and wonder why the sales team even bothers doing the work...

Harrow! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41045069)

Obviously the contract was written *for* the Kindle. This kind of contract shouldn't have been in place to begin with.

Re:Harrow! (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#41045193)

What world do you live in? Stuff like this happens all the time.

Let's cheer for No-bid contracts (2)

Banichi (1255242) | more than 2 years ago | (#41045073)

Is a Raytheon tablet in the works?

Re:Let's cheer for No-bid contracts (4, Funny)

sizzzzlerz (714878) | more than 2 years ago | (#41045559)

Yeah. I'll be battle-hardened to withstand 20G shock, survive submersion in seawater to 500 feet depth, be rad-hard, and have full-up mil spec documentation. It's yours for $127,343.36 per copy. Do you need the HumVee mounting kit as well?

Re:Let's cheer for No-bid contracts (1)

rwv (1636355) | more than 2 years ago | (#41046419)

yours for $127,343.36 per copy

I know it's tongue-in-cheek, but a device with the 4 features you listed will end up costing far more than $100k/each. But given the features listed... the only application that comes to mind is exploring lakes/oceans on a celestial body that isn't Earth.... which would be awesomely remarkable.

Re:Let's cheer for No-bid contracts (1)

sizzzzlerz (714878) | more than 2 years ago | (#41047299)

Oh, the miracles of buying in quantity!

Re:Let's cheer for No-bid contracts (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 2 years ago | (#41048489)

An iPad in a Ziplock would be cheaper and better. The first 50,000 died after 5 minutes? Replace them, still cheaper than one that does it all. But government never seems to even consider adapting commodity requirements and changing process, even if 1/10th the cost.

Re:Let's cheer for No-bid contracts (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41051177)

Pinned down by unknown hostiles? Incoming mortar fire? Team communications gear down? No problem, have IT send you another one; you aren't going anywhere for a while.

Government waste. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41045081)

Good, but this doesn't go far enough. ALL government spending is waste and should be cut. The government only exists to protect private property rights and NOTHING ELSE.

Romney/Ryan 2012. Take back America.

Re:Government waste. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41045097)

You are right!

We should cut out the middle men, quit taking money from the rich just to give to the rich. We could save so much money by just letting the rich keep the money!

Fuck Romney, Fuck Obama. Jill Stein for Pres.

Re:Government waste. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41046617)

I agree that you're correct. The government only exists to protect private property rights, mainly for our corporate persons. We should elect Romney/Ryan 2012 so we can more efficiently and quickly allow the government to permit those corporate persons to get all private property and scourge the earth in the process.

Re:Government waste. (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#41048383)

"Romney/Ryan 2012. Take back America."

"The government only exists to protect private property rights and NOTHING ELSE."

Those are mutually exclusive. Please choose one.

That can't be... (4, Funny)

kenh (9056) | more than 2 years ago | (#41045085)

A federal procurement contract with a set of requirements that can only be satisfied by one vendor?

Unheard of!

that doesn't seem like a bad deal (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#41045135)

Unless they're considering the need for such devices entirely, I'm not seeing how an alternate vendor is going to come in much lower than that. The Kindle is pretty reasonably priced as far as hand-held reading devices go, probably even moreso in a bulk purchase.

Re:that doesn't seem like a bad deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41045257)

Wanna bet on apple nudging its way in as usual?

Re:that doesn't seem like a bad deal (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41046151)

Couldn't the google 7 inch thing or MS and surface could it?

Wanna bet you're a moron?

Re:that doesn't seem like a bad deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41045407)

After signing the contract they probably got the runaround from Amazon over a bunch of issues, large and small, until someone at State said "You know what? This isn't working out. Let's move on."

Re:that doesn't seem like a bad deal (2)

fast turtle (1118037) | more than 2 years ago | (#41045903)

want to bet that the new MS Surface tablet is going to meet the specs? Not only that but it runs Windows, Outlook and connects to the exchange server while being compatible with all of the existing MS infrastructure the dept has.

Re:that doesn't seem like a bad deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41046045)

want to bet that the new MS Surface tablet is going to meet the specs?

A Windows device with 8 hours of battery life? I suppose it could happen. If they put wheels on the battery pack then it might even be relatively portable.

What's not to love (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41045159)

What's not to love about free Wi-Fi?

Kindle touch video? (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | more than 2 years ago | (#41045301)

Does the Kindle Touch play video out of the box?

Re:Kindle touch video? (3, Insightful)

Shoten (260439) | more than 2 years ago | (#41045335)

It said "or," as in "8 hours of continuous reading or approximately 7.5 hours of video playback."

I suspect that the challenge here had to do with procurement rules. It's against the rules to design an RFP or RFQ in such a way that only one vendor can fulfill the requirements. It sometimes happens that the requirements are immutable and the RFP ends up being built that way, but that has to be proven, and I find it difficult to imagine that the Kindle is such a totally mind-blowing device that a Nook, for example, couldn't actually meet their needs as well. (I own a Kindle, and love it, mind you...it's just that the Kindle hasn't been the unapproachable paramount that the iPad is in the tablet market, in my opinion.) So I think someone had a predilection for Kindles, wrote the spec that way, and is now getting bitten by that no-no.

One one thousandth of a penny wise, pound foolish. (3, Insightful)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 2 years ago | (#41045333)

> canceling a $16.5 million Amazon order

Yey! The government just reduced its spending by .00037% this year!

It still continues to borrow 9/10ths of a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier every day.

Re:One one thousandth of a penny wise, pound fooli (1)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 2 years ago | (#41046563)

They already allocated the money to the department. They'll just have a bigger holiday party this year.

Reconsidered (4, Funny)

guttentag (313541) | more than 2 years ago | (#41045345)

The state department realized it was going to cost a lot more than originally expected since they'll have to pay sales tax by the time the shipment is ready.

Re:Reconsidered (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41047275)

Except for the fact that I don't think the US Federal Government has to pay sales tax... :-)

Security (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41045399)

Maybe, just maybe, someone came off a lunch break and pointed out the content they envisioned putting on them was sensitive and maybe encryption needed to be in the specs.......well, maybe not....ha!

Kindle this, biiiaaatttchhh! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41045455)

Nobody Seems To Notice and Nobody Seems To Care - Government & Stealth Malware

In Response To Slashdot Article: Former Pentagon Analyst: China Has Backdoors To 80% of Telecoms 87

How many rootkits does the US[2] use officially or unofficially?

How much of the free but proprietary software in the US spies on you?

Which software would that be?

Visit any of the top freeware sites in the US, count the number of thousands or millions of downloads of free but proprietary software, much of it works, again on a proprietary Operating System, with files stored or in transit.

How many free but proprietary programs have you downloaded and scanned entire hard drives, flash drives, and other media? Do you realize you are giving these types of proprietary programs complete access to all of your computer's files on the basis of faith alone?

If you are an atheist, the comparison is that you believe in code you cannot see to detect and contain malware on the basis of faith! So you do believe in something invisible to you, don't you?

I'm now going to touch on a subject most anti-malware, commercial or free, developers will DELETE on most of their forums or mailing lists:

APT malware infecting and remaining in BIOS, on PCI and AGP devices, in firmware, your router (many routers are forced to place backdoors in their firmware for their government) your NIC, and many other devices.

Where are the commercial or free anti-malware organizations and individual's products which hash and compare in the cloud and scan for malware for these vectors? If you post on mailing lists or forums of most anti-malware organizations about this threat, one of the following actions will apply: your post will be deleted and/or moved to a hard to find or 'deleted/junk posts' forum section, someone or a team of individuals will mock you in various forms 'tin foil hat', 'conspiracy nut', and my favorite, 'where is the proof of these infections?' One only needs to search Google for these threats and they will open your malware world view to a much larger arena of malware on devices not scanned/supported by the scanners from these freeware sites. This point assumed you're using the proprietary Microsoft Windows OS. Now, let's move on to Linux.

The rootkit scanners for Linux are few and poor. If you're lucky, you'll know how to use chkrootkit (but you can use strings and other tools for analysis) and show the strings of binaries on your installation, but the results are dependent on your capability of deciphering the output and performing further analysis with various tools or in an environment such as Remnux Linux. None of these free scanners scan the earlier mentioned areas of your PC, either! Nor do they detect many of the hundreds of trojans and rootkits easily available on popular websites and the dark/deep web.

Compromised defenders of Linux will look down their nose at you (unless they are into reverse engineering malware/bad binaries, Google for this and Linux and begin a valuable education!) and respond with a similar tone, if they don't call you a noob or point to verifying/downloading packages in a signed repo/original/secure source or checking hashes, they will jump to conspiracy type labels, ignore you, lock and/or shuffle the thread, or otherwise lead you astray from learning how to examine bad binaries. The world of Linux is funny in this way, and I've been a part of it for many years. The majority of Linux users, like the Windows users, will go out of their way to lead you and say anything other than pointing you to information readily available on detailed binary file analysis.

Don't let them get you down, the information is plenty and out there, some from some well known publishers of Linux/Unix books. Search, learn, and share the information on detecting and picking through bad binaries. But this still will not touch the void of the APT malware described above which will survive any wipe of r/w media. I'm convinced, on both *nix and Windows, these pieces of APT malware are government in origin. Maybe not from the US, but most of the 'curious' malware I've come across in poisoned binaries, were written by someone with a good knowledge in English, some, I found, functioned similar to the now well known Flame malware. From my experience, either many forum/mailing list mods and malware developers/defenders are 'on the take', compromised themselves, and/or working for a government entity.

Search enough, and you'll arrive at some lone individuals who cry out their system is compromised and nothing in their attempts can shake it of some 'strange infection'. These posts receive the same behavior as I said above, but often they are lone posts which receive no answer at all, AT ALL! While other posts are quickly and kindly replied to and the 'strange infection' posts are left to age and end up in a lost pile of old threads.

If you're persistent, the usual challenge is to, "prove it or STFU" and if the thread is not attacked or locked/shuffled and you're lucky to reference some actual data, they will usually attack or ridicule you and further drive the discussion away from actual proof of APT infections.

The market is ripe for an ambitious company or individual to begin demanding companies and organizations who release firmware and design hardware to release signed and hashed packages and pour this information into the cloud, so everyone's BIOS is checked, all firmware on routers, NICs, and other devices are checked, and malware identified and knowledge reported and shared openly.

But even this will do nothing to stop backdoored firmware (often on commercial routers and other networked devices of real importance for government use - which again opens the possibility of hackers discovering these backdoors) people continue to use instead of refusing to buy hardware with proprietary firmware/software.

Many people will say, "the only safe computer is the one disconnected from any network, wireless, wired, LAN, internet, intranet" but I have seen and you can search yourself for and read about satellite, RF, temperature, TEMPEST (is it illegal in your part of the world to SHIELD your system against some of these APT attacks, especially TEMPEST? And no, it's not simply a CRT issue), power line and many other attacks which can and do strike computers which have no active network connection, some which have never had any network connection. Some individuals have complained they receive APT attacks throughout their disconnected systems and they are ridiculed and labeled as a nutter. The information exists, some people have gone so far as to scream from the rooftops online about it, but they are nutters who must have some serious problems and this technology with our systems could not be possible.

I believe most modern computer hardware is more powerful than many of us imagine, and a lot of these systems swept from above via satellite and other attacks. Some exploits take advantage of packet radio and some of your proprietary hardware. Some exploits piggyback and unless you really know what you're doing, and even then... you won't notice it.

Back to the Windows users, a lot of them will dismiss any strange activity to, "that's just Windows!" and ignore it or format again and again only to see the same APT infected activity continue. Using older versions of sysinternals, I've observed very bizarre behavior on a few non networked systems, a mysterious chat program running which doesn't exist on the system, all communication methods monitored (bluetooth, your hard/software modems, and more), disk mirroring software running[1], scans running on different but specific file types, command line versions of popular Windows freeware installed on the system rather than the use of the graphical component, and more.

[1] In one anonymous post on pastebin, claiming to be from an intel org, it blasted the group Anonymous, with a bunch of threats and information, including that their systems are all mirrored in some remote location anyway.

[2] Or other government, US used in this case due to the article source and speculation vs. China. This is not to defend China, which is one messed up hell hole on several levels and we all need to push for human rights and freedom for China's people. For other, freer countries, however, the concentration camps exist but you wouldn't notice them, they originate from media, mostly your TV, and you don't even know it. As George Carlin railed about "Our Owners", "nobody seems to notice and nobody seems to care".

[3] http://www.stallman.org/ [stallman.org]

Try this yourself on a wide variety of internet forums and mailing lists, push for malware scanners to scan more than files, but firmware/BIOS. See what happens, I can guarantee it won't be pleasant, especially with APT cases.

So scan away, or blissfully ignore it, but we need more people like RMS[3] in the world. Such individuals tend to be eccentric but their words ring true and clear about electronics and freedom.

I believe we're mostly pwned, whether we would like to admit it or not, blind and pwned, yet fiercely holding to misinformation, often due to lack of self discovery and education, and "nobody seems to notice and nobody seems to care".

##

Schneier has covered it before: power line fluctuations (differences on the wire in keys pressed).

There's thermal attacks against cpus and temp, also:

ENF (google it)

A treat (ENF Collector in Java):

sourceforge dot net fwdslash projects fwdslash nfienfcollector

No single antimalware scanner exists which offers the ability to scan (mostly proprietary) firmware on AGP/PCI devices (sound cards, graphics cards, usb novelty devices excluding thumb drives), BIOS/CMOS.

If you boot into ultimate boot cd you can use an archane text interface to dump BIOS/CMOS and examine/checksum.

The real attacks which survive disk formats and wipes target your PCI devices and any firmware which may be altered/overwritten with something special. It is not enough to scan your hard drive(s) and thumb drives, the real dangers with teeth infect your hardware devices.

When is the last time you:

Audited your sound card for malware?
Audited your graphics card for malware?
Audited your network card for malware?

Google for:

* AGP and PCI rootkit(s)
* Network card rootkit(s)
* BIOS/CMOS rootkit(s)

Our modern PC hardware is capable of much more than many can imagine.

Do you:

* Know your router's firmware may easily be replaced on a hacker's whim?
* Shield all cables against leakage and attacks
* Still use an old CRT monitor and beg for TEMPEST attacks?
* Use TEMPEST resistant fonts in all of your applications including your OS?
* Know whether or not your wired keyboard has keypresses encrypted as they pass to your PC from the keyboard?
* Use your PC on the grid and expose yourself to possible keypress attacks?
* Know your network card is VERY exploitable when plugged into the net and attacked by a hard core blackhat or any vicious geek with the know how?
* Search out informative papers on these subjects and educate your friends and family about these attacks?
* Contact antimalware companies and urge them to protect against many or all these attacks?

Do you trust your neighbors? Are they all really stupid when it comes to computing or is there a geek or two without a conscience looking to exploit these areas?

The overlooked threat are the potential civilian rogues stationed around you, especially in large apartment blocks who feed on unsecured wifi to do their dirty work.

With the recent news of Russian spies, whether or not this news was real or a psyop, educate yourself on the present threats which all antimalware scanners fail to protect against and remove any smug mask you may wear, be it Linux or OpenBSD, or the proprietary Windows and Mac OS you feel are properly secured and not vulnerable to any outside attacks because you either don't need an antivirus scanner (all are inept to serious attacks) or use one or several (many being proprietary mystery machines sending data to and from your machine for many reasons, one is to share your information with a group or set database to help aid in threats), the threats often come in mysterious ways.

Maybe the ancients had it right: stone tablets and their own unique language(s) rooted in symbolism.

#

I'm more concerned about new rootkits which target PCI devices, such as the graphics card and the optical drives, also, BIOS. Where are the malware scanners which scan PCI devices and BIOS for mismatches? All firmware, BIOS and on PCI devices should be checksummed and saved to match with others in the cloud, and archived when the computer is first used, backing up signed firmware.

When do you recall seeing signed router firmware upgrades with any type of checksum to check against? Same for PCI devices and optical drives and BIOS.

Some have begun with BIOS security:

http://www.biosbits.org/ [biosbits.org]

Some BIOS has write protection in its configuration, a lot of newer computers don't.

#

"Disconnect your PC from the internet and don't add anything you didn't create yourself. It worked for the NOC list machine in Mission Impossible"

The room/structure was likely heavily shielded, whereas most civvies don't shield their house and computer rooms. There is more than meets the eye to modern hardware.

Google:

subversion hack:
tagmeme(dot)com/subhack/

network card rootkits and trojans
pci rootkits
packet radio
xmit "fm fingerprinting" software
"specific emitter identification"
forums(dot)qrz(dot)com

how many malware scanners scan bios/cmos and pci/agp cards for malware? zero, even the rootkit scanners. have you checksummed/dumped your bios/cmos and firmware for all your pci/agp devices and usb devices, esp vanity usb devices in and outside the realm of common usb devices (thumbdrives, external hdds, printers),

Unless your computer room is shielded properly, the computers may still be attacked and used, I've personally inspected computers with no network connection running mysterious code in the background which task manager for windows and the eqiv for *nix does not find, and this didn't find it all.

Inspect your windows boot partition in *nix with hexdump and look for proxy packages mentioned along with command line burning programs and other oddities. Computers are more vulnerable than most would expect.

You can bet all of the malware scanners today, unless they are developed by some lone indy coder in a remote country, employ whitelisting of certain malware and none of them scan HARDWARE devices apart from the common usb devices.

Your network cards, sound cards, cd/dvd drives, graphics cards, all are capable of carrying malware to survive disk formatting/wiping.

Boot from a Linux live cd and use hexdump to examine your windows (and *nix) boot sectors to potentially discover interesting modifications by an unknown party.

#
eof

$6600 per Kindle! (5, Insightful)

rollingcalf (605357) | more than 2 years ago | (#41045601)

$16.5 million divided by 2500 = $6600.

Even though that includes some content and services on top of the Kindle itself, I don't see how it reaches $6600 per unit without most of it being waste and kickbacks.

Re:$6600 per Kindle! (4, Funny)

aardvarkjoe (156801) | more than 2 years ago | (#41045633)

$16.5 million divided by 2500 = $6600.

Even though that includes some content and services on top of the Kindle itself, I don't see how it reaches $6600 per unit without most of it being waste and kickbacks.

Maybe they forgot to select the "free super saver shipping" option.

Re:$6600 per Kindle! (1)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 2 years ago | (#41047949)

Shoulda had prime....

Re:$6600 per Kindle! (4, Funny)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#41045893)

Yeah. You'd think that this was a contract to procure hammers or toilet seats or something like that.

Re:$6600 per Kindle! (1)

gaelfx (1111115) | more than 2 years ago | (#41045919)

Well, it's about $100 bucks for the Kindle, but then you have to realize, they were planning to use Oracle's Linux on the devices.

Re:$6600 per Kindle! (2)

Nanoda (591299) | more than 2 years ago | (#41046185)

Having dealt with selling a government some hardware and services, I can understand charging way more. They don't just call up and order what's on the shelf like your other customers. They want studies and paperwork and certifications and documents and reviews and more paperwork and certificates and contracts and guarantees and the whole process takes a year for what takes your other customers a week.

Seriously, I'm all for accountability in government, but this is the kind of stuff you get for it.

Re:$6600 per Kindle! (2)

rwv (1636355) | more than 2 years ago | (#41046689)

All kidding aside... they are *probably* trying to go paperless. Laptops/desktops allow a paperless office (e-mail, databases of information), but when you're reading and reviewing documents printed pages were king right up until the Kindle Touch. I'm actually surprised it just says Touch and not DX since the bigger size is supposed to be better for displaying graphs/charts/tables. But for reviewing and commenting on straight-text the Touch is a phenomenal platform.

Now... I can't guess what the savings is for switching top paper-users to e-Ink, but I can imagine 100 pages/day * 5 * 50 = 25,000 pages/year. Assuming a cost $0.01 for each page, toner, and maintaining the printer... $250 per person per year. This could very well be off by an order of magnitude in either direction, but without having the data for office product costs in the State Department it's okay to make WAGs.

If they are in an exploratory phase.... $6,600 per person is justified if they've got plans to roll it out to an extra 20,000 if the "pilot program" is successful for a more reasonable market rate (call it $500 per device... and $10M order). In this case, the $16.5 M + $10 M e-Ink project pays for itself in less than 4.5 years (assuming paper use drops precipitously).

Though after throwing around this speculation, it'd be nice if TFS gave more insight into the actual goals of the Contract that's in question. I could easily be completely wrong. Sometimes government wonks - as with business wonks - just want shiny new toys paid for with the shareholders (taxpayers) dime.

Re:$6600 per Kindle! (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 2 years ago | (#41046831)

If you read the procurement doc, it requires that the contractor provide 3G services to the devices globally, forever.

That's not cheap.

Re:$6600 per Kindle! (1)

jpapon (1877296) | more than 2 years ago | (#41047177)

Depends on what they mean by "3G services". If all they can download are ebooks from Amazon, then it's not expensive at all. In fact, if they have to purchase those ebooks, it's basically free for Amazon.

If it's 3G services that they can use as a general data connection, then yeah, that could be pricey. Of course, Amazon already has those 3G contracts with providers all over the globe, so there may not actually be any additional cost to Amazon.

Re:$6600 per Kindle! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41052339)

You missed "50 pieces of content". You know how much "content" costs these days. Well, let's put it this way - if you have to ask, you can't afford it.

captcha = "monarchy" - that's spooky

you FAIL it!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41045735)

Whole has lost GraNdsta8ders, the

I guess nobody here read the procurement doc (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41045867)

Go read it.. SAQMMA12R0272 at fedbizopps.gov some highlights:
"The US Department of State intends to award an indefinite-delivery indefinite-quantity commercial items contract on or about June 19, 2012, on a sole source basis to Amazon Digital Services, Inc. of Seattle WA for the commercial supplies and services described below. The anticipated value is $16,500,000 over the life of the contract, which shall be one base year plus 4 option years."

"The Contractor shall provide 3G services globally. The Contractor is responsible for all costs associated with 3G services globally (i.e., downloading content and access to the Internet Browser)." {Better make sure it works in Ulan Bator}
"The Contractor will supply content to the device delivered under this contract, but shall also support the delivery of content to the following other devices currently utilized by the Department of State: Apple iOS, Android, Amazon Kindle, RIM Blackberry, PC, and MAC"
"The Contractor shall provide a dedicated 24/7 help desk to support inquires from the Department of State and its partners in countries specified in Attachment A."
-------------------
it's not 16M for 2500 kindles.. it's for a package of services, secure distribution channels, etc., The "initial delivery" is for 2500 readers, with options for a lot more, within the 16M total. And a starting batch of 50 documents, which Amazon would have to convert. 1 initial year plus 4 option years, too.

They wanted a locked down platform which could NOT be used as a general purpose computer or have user installed software (knocking out the iPad, jailbroken or not)

Re:I guess nobody here read the procurement doc (3, Insightful)

kcitren (72383) | more than 2 years ago | (#41047053)

Also, the system is not tied to the Kindle. It needs to be able to push content to iPhones / iPads, Android devices, Blackberries, Windows and Apple PCs over a global 3g network. Hell, the global 3G network is going to cost more than 16M over the life of the contract. According to Amazons 3g coverage maps, they've got the North America, most of Europe covered (except for Belarus), India, Japan, Australia, and a few spots in South America, the Middle East, China, and SE asia.

iPad Mini (1)

jsepeta (412566) | more than 2 years ago | (#41046039)

They must have gotten wind of the iPad Mini, and are backing out of the contract so they can use IOS devices.

Reason for order cancellation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41046327)

Could not get free shipping without subscribing to Amazon Prime.

Kindle Touch plays back video? (1)

DJRikki (646184) | more than 2 years ago | (#41046443)

Hadnt noticed that before!

Verizon is in. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41046557)

The others are on the way out or relegated to the back burner.

Nothing sneaky here. (3, Interesting)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | more than 2 years ago | (#41046751)

Nothing sneaky here with Amazon being the only e-reader selected. From the actual article, the iPad was/is not classified as an e-reader, but is a tablet/computer and the bid was for e-readers. The nook is not mentioned, but the requirement for text to speech would have eliminated it at the time the specs were created. Most other ereaders at the time didn't support that, either.

Now some may want to arugue that it was intentional to only allow the kindle, but a much more likely scenario is that the device selected needs to accomodate people with visual impairment.

Nothing sneaky here with Amazon being the sole provider. On the otherhand, it if they end up buy 2,500 Windows Surface RT at twice the price, then, that should really be looked into. Because, like the iPad, it's not an ereader, either.

How can they "cancel" a contract? (1)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 2 years ago | (#41047757)

I thought a contract's supposed to be an agreement to exchange value. Once you make the contract, you have to follow through on it.

For normal people, it's hard to think that you could just cancel a contract.

Don't like your car payments? I "canceled" the car loan.

So how is it that large organizations can just cancel contracts whenever they want.

Can't Amazon sue for specific performance?

Or, it wasn't a contract to begin with, and they were only thinking about it.

Re:How can they "cancel" a contract? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41048725)

I thought a contract's supposed to be an agreement to exchange value. Once you make the contract, you have to follow through on it.

Well, if you are smart, you have a clause in the contract that says you can "cancel" it under certain conditions. They probably have that in all contracts.

So should you.

Re:How can they "cancel" a contract? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41048999)

For normal people, it's hard to think that you could just cancel a contract.

Don't like your car payments? I "canceled" the car loan.

Bwa-ha-ha!!!!! But if you're the bank: "I have altered the deal. Pray that I do not alter it further."

Re:How can they "cancel" a contract? (1)

Kittenman (971447) | more than 2 years ago | (#41049333)

Back-out clauses, I suspect. I've bought a house or two and these were in there. "Subject to finance" or "Subject to engineering report". Maybe the ones here were a cooling-down period, or some such.

Big companies can do this 'cause they have their own lawyers. I 'bought' a house once and my lawyer added in some clauses he recommended to the sale contract. As it turned out, just as well - the company posted me out of town for about a year. I used one of the clauses to get out of the house sale. Felt bad about the vendors, but that's life. People have done it to me.

Surface & iPad (1)

lilfields (961485) | more than 2 years ago | (#41047977)

Pretty sure that State Department knows that Microsoft is releasing a Surface tablet soon with more power than the Kindle and that Apple is rumored to be launching a 7" tablet by years end. Both of those would be competitive to the Kindle FIRE price points, and let's not forget about Nexus...but my guess is that either Microsoft or Apple will land the contract (betting on Microsoft more than Apple.)

iPad Mini (1)

garglebutt (766885) | more than 2 years ago | (#41049375)

Another confirmation that iPad Mini is about to come out?

7.5 hours of video? (1)

macshome (818789) | more than 2 years ago | (#41049709)

So how were they planning on playing video on a Kindle touch?

Follow the money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41050851)

How much money did Hillary Clinton, et al., make from shorting Amazon stock?

Text-to-speech-to-RUN (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 2 years ago | (#41051157)

Think of all the years of expert US anthropologists going out and collecting data, the low cpu designs, the decades of text to voice patents, the extra long battery life....
Just so some other part of the US gov can have a box to broadcast:
Don't run! We are your friends!
We come in peace! We come in peace!

Bad Amazon (1)

AlleyTrotte (1842702) | more than 2 years ago | (#41054299)

What did Amazon say about Obama? Someone did not like it.
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