Amazons DC lobbying efforts have increased sharply says report

first_img Share your voice Jeff Bezos’ Amazon has sharply increased lobbying efforts in recent years.  Leonard Ortiz via Getty Images Jeff Bezos keeps a close eye on Washington. Amazon lobbied more government entities and attempted to influence more issues in 2018 than any other tech company except Alphabet’s Google, according to a Bloomberg report Thursday. The e-commerce giant in 2018 spent over $14 million, a company record, on a variety of issues, mostly in areas like taxes and information technology. Amazon also tried to influence issues such as defense, consumer product safety, immigration and government issues, according to federal records collected by Open Secrets, a bipartisan research organization. Google, Facebook and Amazon together spent more than $65 million last year to influence Capitol Hill. Since 2014, Amazon’s spending has nearly tripled, according to federal records. Google spent over $21 million on lobbying last year. On top of lobbying, the Seattle-based company is trying to persuade federal agencies to use its cloud computing services, according to Bloomberg. Amazon also reportedly wants to support a planned, government-wide e-commerce site for official purchases of everything from office supplies to furniture, which is said to be a $50 billion market. Amazon didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Amazon’s presence in DC will likely grow as the company moves forward with its HQ2 plans in Arlington, Virginia, a 25,000-employee site that’ll be right next door. We’ll see how that affects tensions between Bezos and President Donald Trump, who’s widely seen as targeting Amazon because the CEO also owns The Washington Post. Trump has criticized the newspaper’s coverage of him.  Politics Tech Industry 0 Amazon Tags Post a commentlast_img read more

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EA wont hold a traditional E3 press conference focusing on streams instead

first_img Electronic Arts (EA) EA is trying to change the game. Getty Images Electronic Arts is rethinking the way it’ll make big announcements when the E3 video game conference rolls around this summer. Typically, game developers like EA, Microsoft and Sony hold splashy press conferences in the days before the start of E3, the world’s largest video game expo. Increasingly, companies have been getting kiddish. Nintendo stopped holding a traditional press conference in 2013; then this year Sony said it wouldn’t hold one either. Now EA says it’s going to change the format of its big game announcements.In the run-up to E3, the company will still be holding its EA Play fan festival, which has taken place in Los Angeles since 2016. But instead of a traditional press conference to kick off the event, as it’s done before, the company plans to make announcements during a series of livestreams, it said in a Thursday blog post.”This year you’ll see less talk and more play, with an event entirely focused on the heartbeat of EA Play: Our player communities and the games they love,” the company wrote. 17 Photos The change underscores how EA is attempting to find new ways to market to fans rather than relying on traditional press and advertising. One example came last month, when EA surprised the game world with the sudden release of Apex Legends, its newest competitor to Epic’s Fortnite last-man-standing game. Typically, EA holds a big event and spends untold millions on print, digital and TV advertising for its big game releases. Apex Legends by comparison didn’t have any prerelease marketing beforehand, but it became a sudden breakout hit anyway. EA was praised for refinements it brought to the “battle royale” genre, as it’s known, such as an emphasis on competing in teams instead of playing alone. The game also offered a new way of communicating with other players, which cut down on potential harassment.So far, Apex Legends has notched 50 million players in its first month.It’s a big change from EA’s more traditional press conference last year. During that event, the company said it planned to compete with Fortnite by offering its own take on a battle royale mode in its Battlefield 5 World War II-themed shooting game. Other companies, like Activision, also revealed plans for competing with Fortnite, which ultimately were well-received but didn’t put much of a dent in Fortnite’s popularity. EA also used its event to build hype for its Anthem online multiplayer shooting game, which was released in February to mixed reviews. Players in the game take control of people who use Iron Man-like suits, called javelines, to fly around and fight evil. The game’s been beset with criticism and serious bugs in the weeks following its February launch. Other announcements last year included an apology for the loot box debacle the company faced with its Star Wars: Battlefront 2 game. The company also announced a new mobile Command and Conquer: Rivals, which was criticized by some fans of the series who’d hoped for a more complex entry.This year, we already know that one of EA’s big hitters, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, will be unveiled at a Star Wars Celebration in Chicago next month, so we’ll probably see more of that at its event.  Tags The 17 most anticipated video games of 2019 0 Now playing: Watch this:center_img Share your voice How is Apex Legends different from Fortnite and PUBG? Video Games Gaming 2:42 Post a comment CNET will be at E3 along with our sister sites GameSpot and Giant Bomb when press events begin June 8. Originally published March 8, 3:18 a.m. PT. Updates, 8:36 a.m.: Adds details throughout; 10:11 a.m.: Includes more detail about other press conferences.last_img read more

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Nvidia GeForce Now beta has 1 million gamers on waiting list

first_img Nvidia Nvidia’s GeForce Now (GFN), which has been in beta on the PC and Mac, is one of the most eagerly awaited of the cloud-gaming services; moreso than even Google’s Project Stream, because we’ve experienced it firsthand for over a year.  Today, the CEO delivered some interesting updates about the status at his keynote for the company’s Graphics Technology Conference, notably that it currently has 300,000 users and that there are a million more waiting to be accepted into the beta program.If you’re already in the program, take heart: the company also announced its data center strategy, which includes RTX servers. Those are destined to replace the Tesla P40-based systems currently powering GeForce Now, which should deliver better performance — higher frame rates! 4K! — as well as better scalability.It also announced a software developer’s kit for GFN which will enable single sign-on, as well as provide developers with the ability to streamline launchers and installs on the platform. Plus, it’s working on wireless cloud-based VR with HTC and 5G infrastructure.But the company’s expansion plans, via its GeForce Now Alliance partnerships, sounds like more than just growing internationally beyond the 15 data centers currently in North America and western Europe. (The first partners are Softbank and LG Uplus for rollouts in Japan and Korea in 2019.)The way CEO Jensen Huang was talking, it sounded like the company is more interested in enabling and hosting the architecture that will enable other companies to deliver their own, custom GeForce Now-type options. In other words, you’d subscribe via your internet or cell service provider rather than through Nvidia. That would explain why it hasn’t already launched, as well.Just a thought. 13 Photos 5:27 0 Google, your next gaming destination? Now playing: Watch this:center_img Share your voice Apple’s iPad family welcomes back refreshed iPad Air,… Gaming Tech Industry Internet Services Tags Post a commentlast_img read more

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EA Access gaming service adds PlayStation support

first_img Share your voice Culture Tech Industry Gaming Post a comment 0 Tags EA Access launched in 2014, nearly a year after Andrew Wilson was named the company’s new CEO. Josh Miller/CNET Electronic Arts is hoping to level up with PlayStation gamers. The gaming giant, known for games like the Madden NFL and FIFA sports titles, as well as the adventure epic Anthem, said Tuesday it plans to expand its $4.99 per month EA Access program to PlayStation users in July. The move, which it telegraphed in February, has been long coming. The subscription service, which offers more than 50 games such as the latest entries for each of its NHL, NBA, NFL and FIFA sports titles, first launched in 2014 for the Xbox, and then in 2016 for the PC. It didn’t launch for the PlayStation, however, in part because the company didn’t believe it brought “the kind of value PlayStation customers have come to expect.”  “As we continue to invest in digital and subscription services, bringing our games to even more people across both consoles is an exciting opportunity,” Matt Bilbey, EA’s head of strategic growth, said in a statement. “Our goal is to give players more choice to try and play our games wherever and however they choose.” EA isn’t the only company offering gaming subscription services. Both Microsoft and Sony have their own programs as well. Microsoft’s $9.99 per month Xbox Game Pass offers access to more than 100 games, including the world building title Minecraft and the epic action series Gears of War. Sony, meanwhile, offers PlayStation Plus, a $59.99 per year service (which works out to $5 per month) that gives access to a rotating list of games each month. To make its service more enticing, EA’s expanded its service last year with a more expensive “premiere” version, offering access to the company’s latest games and a wider backlog of titles for $15 per month. It also offered gamers a chance to play its much-hyped Anthem adventure epic a week before its full release. The company declined to say how many people have subscribed to its service. Electronic Arts (EA) Microsoft Sonylast_img read more

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The free Dragon Quest XI demo on Nintendo Switch is pretty darn

first_img Video Games 29 Photos First published at 3:52 a.m. PT.Updated at 4:20 a.m. PT: Adds more detail. The 29 best games on the Nintendo Switch You can explore Dragon Quest XI’s world for 10 hours for free. Square Enix If you’re looking for a chunk of free RPG adventuring this weekend, Nintendo’s got you sorted. You can download a free demo of Dragon Quest 11 S: Echoes of an Elusive Age from the Switch Eshop, and it’s longer than some full gaming experiences at around 10 hours.You’ll definitely know whether or not it’s for you after that long and you can carry your progress over to the full game when it comes out Sept. 27.  Tags 2 Share your voice Dragon Quest 11 came out on PS4 and PC last year, but the Switch version will be enhanced with extra story content, a fancy orchestral soundtrack and other cool stuff. Nintendo build up a little hype by adding the game’s Hero to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s roster of fighters last month.If you’re still not sure, Nintendo posted a 35-minute gameplay showcase video featuring series creator Yuji Horii and producer Hokuto Okamoto.  Comments Nintendolast_img read more

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Two Charter Amendments on Muni Ballot

first_imgTwo charter amendments will be on the April 1 municipal ballot.Right now only sworn police officers are allowed to issue parking tickets. The situation stems from something called the parking fairy wars. Yes, you heard that right – the parking fairy wars.Download AudioImage from Google Street View.Anchorage Police Chief Mark Mew says more than a dozen years ago the Anchorage Parking Authority subcontracted parking to a private security company.“They subcontracted to a private security company to actually write the parking citations and those folks were very aggressive – extremely aggressive – and the public revolted, actually,” Mew said. “And the fairies were two sisters. They dressed in pink tutus and they would come downtown and they would plug the meters for people to make a statement and thwart the efforts of the parking authority.”The public was so fed up that they changed the charter, which is like the Constitution of Anchorage, in order to stop a private company from every being able to ticket again. They passed a ballot measure in 1997 requiring that only sworn police officers could issue parking tickets. Then, recently, the Alaska Police Standards Council changed the definition of sworn police officers saying community service officers could not be included.Mew says it is impractical for sworn officers to be responsible for issuing parking tickets and the Aunicipality just wants to keep the systems they’ve been using.“It asks the voters to allow CSO’s to continue writing tickets even thought they are not sworn officers from the standpoint of the Alaska Police Standards Council,” Mew said.If the amendment is not approved the Municipality will be required to pay sworn police officers to write parking tickets, something Mew says he does not have enough officers to do and will cost the Municipality significantly more.The other charter amendment on the April 1 Municipal ballot brings the charter into the 21st century by making language gender neutral; for example replacing the title Assemblyman with Assembly member.Patrick Flynn who represents Downtown Anchorage helped write that amendment.last_img read more

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Rethinking The Asphalt Parking Spot

first_imgImagine a parking spot. Typically a slab of asphalt waiting for the next vehicle to roll on by. Now imagine that spot transformed into a green oasis among the urban jungle for an entire day. That’s what happened recently when the national event, Parking Day, came to Anchorage. The event was hosted by the Anchorage park Foundation, the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation, and Anchorage Downtown Partnership. Download Audio:Add some marshmellows, coffee and some tunes and you get an asphalt makeover. Photo by Ashley Snyder/APRN.Instead of cars, parking spaces all over town were occupied by tents, turf, volunteers, and booths offering a variety of activities for people passing by to participate in. Smoke rolled out from the fire pits and barbeques, music floated down the sidewalks, and the green of plants and trees strategically placed in each location added some color to the otherwise gray backdrop.Beth Nordlund, executive director of the Anchorage Park Foundation, led the effort to bring the project to Anchorage.“I don’t know when parking day was originated, but we have someone who used to live in New York City and has seen it really done up and wanted to see if we could be the most northern site in the country for parking day, and I think we are. We’ve been thinking about it and dreaming about it for a few years and this year someone decided to make it happen.”Companies from around Anchorage set up and sponsored the parking lots. SPAWN Ideas and Snow Goose Cafe teamed up to provide hotdogs and live music. Intrinsic Landscapes built a 20 foot long wooden structure with stairs and benches for people to relax and enjoy. Some, like Anna Brawley, an associate with Agnew Beck Consulting, took a warm camp-style approach on the damp and slightly chilly day.“You guys want a s’more? Yeah, we thought we’d have a real homey camping set up. We have a fire pit and a tent if it starts raining again and just kind of inviting people in from the street.”Many people walking by couldn’t help but stop and see what was going on. As the rain lightened up and lunch time rolled around more people ventured outside to the booths. Groups stopped by to grab a snack and others huddled under the tents close to the fire pits to warm up. Bree Kessler, who visited all of the booths downtown, enjoyed the change in scenery.“I thought it was a really great way for people to think about how might we use parking spaces in a different way.”While the parking spots are now back to serving their original purpose, the idea that a dull space can be temporarily transformed into something exciting, could stick around for a while. In Anchorage, I’m Ashley Snyder.last_img read more

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Walker To Begin Reviewing Candidates For National Guard Post

first_imgSince the election, new Gov. Bill Walker has been piecing together his cabinet. But a few positions still remain in question. Key among these is the job of National Guard adjutant general, who also serves as commissioner of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.Download AudioWalker’s Republican predecessor Sean Parnell was in the process of finding a new adjutant general at the time of the election. Parnell had asked then-adjutant general Thomas Katkus to resign in September, because of a devastating federal report on sexual assault and favoritism in the Guard. Second-in-command Mike Bridges was promoted to the position in an acting role. Bridges remains in the position today, but Walker says he will be reviewing candidates for the job next week and that a decision should be made shortly after.“It’s in the works,” says Walker. “We expect that probably in the next 30 days.”Walker says he plans to meet with the investigating team from the National Guard Bureau on Monday. He says they will start by looking at the applicant pool collected by Parnell before he considers soliciting additional names.“Well, we want to see first what the group was that was brought to us,” says Walker. “We haven’t gone through that yet, and also the process that was used. We want to make sure that it was broad enough to include Alaskans as well.”Walker has also kept Parnell’s education commissioner, Mike Hanley, and his environmental conservation commissioner, Larry Hartig, in acting roles. At a press availability on Tuesday, Walker said he was “seriously considering keeping both of them” in permanent roles.last_img read more

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As Work Continues On Spending Plan Walker To Revive State Of The

first_imgIt’s been almost a decade since a governor has delivered a State of the Budget address. With Alaska now in deficit-spending mode, Gov. Bill Walker plans to bring the speech back. APRN’s Alexandra Gutierrez reports.Download AudioThe last State of the Budget address was delivered by Gov. Frank Murkowski in 2006. That year, Alaska was looking at a billion-dollar surplus, and lawmakers needed to decide what to do with the extra revenue. There was a chance to buy a stake in Trans-Alaska oil Pipeline, and put money toward a natural gas project. Jim Clark was the governor’s chief of staff then, and he says their office was in an exceptional situation.“We wanted to talk about that because we were closing in on a deal with the producers,” says Clark.Now, the State of the Budget speech is being revived under a different sort of exceptional situation. Oil is less than half the value it was a year ago, and the state is looking at a multi-billion-dollar budget shortfall as a result.“This kind of year is far worse than our administration had it,” says Clark.The State of the Budget address can be delivered separately from the State of the State, but it is not done very often. It’s logistically more challenging, because it means getting the Legislature in one room on two nights, back to back. It also means hoping the public turns on the radio or television to hear speeches two nights in a row. In the past 15 years, it’s only been done once.Grace Jang, a spokesperson for Gov. Walker, says the current budget realities make two speeches — one this coming Wednesday and one on Thursday — necessary. “The state is facing an unprecedented fiscal challenge, and the governor wants to make sure that there’s enough time to address what’s coming and to communicate to Alaskans just how dire the situation is,” says Jang.Jang won’t use the term “crisis” — the administration is trying to avoid panic language — but she says the State of the Budget address isn’t making a comeback just because the administration thought it was a nice tradition.“Is it going to happen again? Is there going to be another State of the Budget speech in coming years? Hard to say,” says Jang.Right now, Walker has currently offered the Legislature a placeholder budget. He submitted a version drafted by his predecessor, without changes and without endorsement, in December to meet a deadline. But he’s advised the Legislature that he will offer a seriously revised budget sometime before the drop-dead date of February 18. Walker has also asked his commissioners to look at how their agencies would manage cuts of up to 8 percent. House Speaker Mike Chenault says legislative leadership is still waiting for that information.“We have no idea right now. The administration hasn’t told us that they’re going to provide us with anything dealing with the budget yet,” says the Nikiski Republican.His office had questions about Walker’s request to give a State of the Budget address without actually having provided the Legislature a budget with which to work. The Speaker also requested that the Legislature’s research staff produce a timeline of when the governor has provided separate speeches to find out how unusual the request was.Chenault says the Legislature plans to start work on the budget shortly after they gavel in, adding that he would like direction on the governor’s budget sooner rather than later.“We’ll wait to hear both the speeches and hopefully hear from the governor on which direction he would like to go,” says Chenault.According to budget director Pat Pitney, the administration is not planning to have a finalized document ready by the State of the Budget address, but will have established target spending levels for each state agency.last_img read more

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