S History and Corporate Culture

Overview of Amazon.com’s History and Workplace Culture

Find tips for applying for jobs with the online retailer

Amazon.com is a Fortune 500 e-commerce company based in Seattle, Washington, and has the distinction of being one of the first large companies to sell goods over the internet. In 1994, Jeff Bezos founded Amazon, which launched the following year. If you’re of a particular age, you likely remember that Amazon started out as an online bookstore and then quickly diversified by adding other items, including DVDs, music, video games, electronics, and clothing.

In 1999, just five years after he started Amazon, Jeff Bezos was named Time magazine’s «Person of the Year.» He received the honor largely because of the company’s success in popularizing online shopping.

Corporate Culture

Amazon.com considers itself a completely customer-centric company, believing that if it doesn’t listen to customers, it will fail. Amazon has stated that it wants to take advantage of any opportunity that presents itself to the company during a time of unprecedented technological revolution.

According to Amazon’s website, Bezos sketched on a napkin a small graphic illustrating the company’s culture. It shows how growth leads to lower costs, which leads to lower prices, which leads to better selection—and everything points to a better customer experience.

Interviews

Amazon describes its interview process as «peculiar,» but it does offer an online guide to help job candidates through the process. Two key elements that are a part of the process are discussions about failures and a writing sample.

Review the FAQ page on Amazon’s job site to find out all of the relevant details about how to apply for opportunities with the online retailer.

Failures are important to explore, according to Amazon’s jobs site, because many successful projects are built from previous failures. Those doing interviews at Amazon want to hear candidates talk about some of their own failures and how they did or could turn them into something positive.

The writing sample is important because Amazon emphasizes what it calls narrative memos as opposed to presentations through PowerPoint or other similar programs. Employees should be able to explain through engaging prose what a proposal entails and how it should be executed.

Amazon closed out 2018 with more than 600,000 employees worldwide, according to its website. It is known for its technical innovations and boasts that its engineers handle complex challenges in large-scale computing. Software development engineers, technical program managers, test engineers and user interface experts work in small teams throughout the company to build an e-commerce platform that’s used by customers, sellers, merchants and external developers.

www.thebalancecareers.com

What’s The Best Way To Keep Mosquitoes From Biting?

Don’t get bitten by mosquitoes.

That’s the advice offered to the public in virtually every article on the rapidly spreading, mosquito-borne Zika virus.

There’s no arguing with the advice. Zika, once considered a relatively mild flu-like illness, has now been linked to a surge in severe birth defects in Brazil and possibly to cases of paralysis.

But anyone who is a mosquito magnet must be asking: Can humans really keep the bloodsucking bugs at bay?

To find out how people can best protect themselves. NPR talked with researchers, many of whom spend lots of time in mosquito-infested jungles, marshes and tropical areas.

Which repellents work best to stop mosquitoes from biting?

«DEET» is the immediate one-word answer from Dr. William Reisen, professor emeritus at the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California, Davis and editor of the Journal of Medical Entomology.

«DEET is the standard,» agrees Dr. Mustapha Debboun, director of the mosquito control division of Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services in Houston. «All the repellents being tested are tested to see if they beat DEET.»

DEET is shorthand for the chemical name N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide. It’s the active ingredient in many insect repellents, which don’t kill mosquitoes but keep them away.

Dr. Dan Strickman agrees that DEET is tried and true. Strickman is with the Global Health Program at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (which is a funder of NPR) and author of Prevention of Bug Bites, Stings, and Disease.

DEET appeared on store shelves in 1957. There was some early concern about its safety — speculation that it was linked to neurological problems. But recent reviews, for example a study published in June 2014 in the journal Parasites and Vectors, says, «Animal testing, observational studies and intervention trials have found no evidence of severe adverse events associated with recommended DEET use.»

Other repellents work to prevent mosquitoes from biting as well.

But DEET isn’t the only weapon. Products containing the active ingredients picaridin and IR 3535 are as effective, says Strickman. And repellents with any of those active ingredients are recommended as safe and effective by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . They are widely available around the world.

Actually, Strickman gives the edge to picardin.

«Picaridin is a little more effective than DEET and seems to keep mosquitoes at a greater distance,» he says. When people use DEET, mosquitoes may land on them but not bite. When they use a product containing picaridin, mosquitoes are less likely to even land. Repellents with IR 3535 are slightly less effective, Strickman says, but they don’t have the strong smell of other products.

Then there is oil of lemon eucalyptus, or PMD, a natural oil extracted from the leaves and twigs of the lemon-scented gum eucalyptus plant, also recommended by the CDC. PMD is the ingredient in the oil that makes it repellent to insects. When researchers from New Mexico State University tested a variety of commercial products for their ability to repel mosquitoes, they found that a product containing lemon eucalyptus oil was about as effective and as long lasting as products containing DEET. «For some people, there’s a stigma to using chemicals on their skin. They prefer a more natural product,» says Stacey Rodriguez, an author of the study published on Oct. 5, 2015, in the Journal of Insect Science .

Not all products deliver what they promise. «We tested a vitamin B1 skin patch,» says Dr. Immo Hansen, professor at the Institute of Applied Biosciences at New Mexico State University and also an author of the study comparing repellents. «We didn’t find any evidence that it has any effect on mosquitoes.»

See also:  Preventing Fleas

One surprising finding was that a perfume, Victoria’s Secret Bombshell, was a pretty good repellent. Hansen and Rodriguez said they added it to the products they tested as a positive control, believing its floral scent would attract mosquitoes. It turned out bugs hated the smell. But in addition to the problem that few people would want to douse all their exposed skin in perfume, there is another impediment to researching many cosmetics: The ingredients are secret. «It’s probably composed of dozens of secret ingredients, and maybe one or two of them are repellents,» says Rodriguez. «We don’t know what the active agent is.»

How often should you reapply a repellent?

Generally, it’s a good bet to follow the manufacturer’s instructions, experts said. People who will be outside for an hour or two hour should be protected with, say, a product that contains a lower concentration of DEET (about 10 percent — identified on the label). Those who will be out in the woods, or jungle or marshland, should use a higher concentration of 20 to 25 percent, and refresh every four hours or so, says Dr. Jorge Rey, interim director of the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory in Vero Beach. «The higher the concentration, the longer it lasts,» says Rey.

And again, follow manufacturer’s directions on the amount used. «A lot of people think that if a little is good, a lot is better,» says Reisen. «You don’t have to take a bath in the stuff.»

What kind of clothing helps protect against bites?

When Rey goes on research trips to highly infested areas, like the Florida Everglades, he suits up. «We wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts,» he says. «If it’s particularly bad, we use hats with nets coming down over the face. And we depend on repellent on exposed areas.» That could mean hands, neck and face. But don’t spray the face, experts say. To avoid irritating the eyes, put the repellent on hands and rub it on the face.

And don’t forget the feet. Mosquitoes have quirky olfactory preferences. Many of them, especially the Aedes variety that transmits the Zika virus, love the smell of feet.

«Wearing sandals isn’t a good idea,» says Rodriguez. Shoes and socks are called for, and tucking pants into socks or shoes helps keep mosquitoes from getting inside clothing. She wears long pants when outdoors in mosquito territory — and definitely not yoga pants. «Spandex is very mosquito friendly. They bite through it. I wear baggier pants and long sleeved shirts, doused in DEET.»

Reisen adds high-topped boots and often work gloves to the mosquito prevention outfit. «Since I’m bald as a cucumber, I also wear a hat. I wear glasses, so more and more of me is getting covered.»

Strickman lived in Thailand for a while, and he would start his day armed with a spray bottle of repellent. «I’d spray my socks, the lower part of my trousers and the upper part of my shoes,» he says. «The mosquito that transmits Zika has a strong tendency to bite parts of the body that are near the ground.»

What else can reduce the risk of mosquito bites?

Mosquitoes can bite at any time of day, but the one that transmits Zika prefers midmorning and early evening, says Strickman. If possible, stay indoors in screened-in or air-conditioned buildings during those times.

Since these particular mosquitoes breed in standing water in containers like plant pots, old tires, buckets and trash cans, people should rid their immediate area of things that can collect water. «Swimming pools, unless they’re abandoned, are OK,» says Rey. The chemicals used to keep pools safe for swimming also keep mosquitoes away. It takes some close looking to find every possible breeding ground for mosquitoes. «I’ve seen some developing in a film of water next to a sink, or in the bottom of a glass people use to brush their teeth,» says Strickman. Cleaning up all those areas of standing water can greatly reduce the number of mosquitoes. «It’s up to individuals to make their own backyards safe,» says Rey. And their front yards and as much of their surrounding environment as possible.

The more people do that kind of basic cleanup, the fewer mosquitoes there will be. «It may not be perfect, but you’ll lower the number of mosquitoes tremendously,» says Strickman.

Can you get to zero bites?

«There’s no way you’re going to prevent all the mosquitoes from biting, but you can reduce your chances of getting bitten,» says Rodriguez.

And Rey is deeply concerned about Zika because of all that science doesn’t yet know about the virus. So he stresses how important it is to use the preventive efforts we have available.

«Your chances of getting infected with some mosquito-borne illness are never zero,» he says. «You don’t change your lifestyle. But you take precautions.»

For continuing coverage of Zika virus, check out our Zika Virus: What Happened When timeline.

Clarification Jan. 30, 2016

An earlier version of this post had the headline «DEET-Containing Sprays Have Stronger Repellent Effects» for the chart. The headline has been changed to account for the effectiveness of one of the non-DEET repellents.

www.npr.org

A Guide To Mosquito Repellents, From DEET To . Gin And Tonic?

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2016 and has been updated.

People do the darnedest things in hopes of avoiding mosquito bites. They burn cow dung, coconut shells or coffee. They drink gin and tonic. They eat bananas. They spray themselves with mouthwash or slather themselves in clove/alcohol solution. And they rub themselves with Bounce. «You know, those heavily perfumed sheets you put in your dryer,» says Dr. Immo Hansen, professor at the Institute of Applied Biosciences at New Mexico State University.

None of those techniques have been tested to see if they actually keep mosquitoes away. But that doesn’t stop people from trying them, according to a study that will be published this summer by Hansen and colleague, Stacey Rodriguez, lab manager at the Hansen Lab at NMSU, which studies ways to prevent mosquito-borne diseases. They and colleagues asked 5,000 people what they did to protect themselves against mosquitoes. Most used conventional mosquito repellents.

Then researchers asked about their traditional home remedies. That’s when the cow dung and dryer sheets came out. In interviews, Hansen and Rodriguez shared some of the responses they received. Their paper has been published in the peer-reviewed journal PeerJ.

Beyond folklore and traditional remedies, there are proven ways to protect against mosquitoes and the diseases they carry. NPR talked with researchers, many of whom spend lots of time in mosquito-infested jungles, marshes and tropical areas.

Which repellents work best to stop mosquitoes from biting?

Products containing DEET have been shown both safe and effective. DEET is shorthand for the chemical N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide, the active ingredient in many insect repellents. A 2015 article in the Journal of Insect Science examined the effectiveness of various commercial insect sprays, and products containing DEET proved effective and relatively long lasting. Rodriguez and Hansen were authors of the 2015 study, and replicated the results in a 2017 article in the same journal.

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DEET appeared on store shelves in 1957. There was some early concern about its safety — speculation that it was linked to neurological problems. But recent reviews, for example a study published in June 2014 in the journal Parasites and Vectors, says, «Animal testing, observational studies and intervention trials have found no evidence of severe adverse events associated with recommended DEET use.»

DEET isn’t the only weapon. Products containing the active ingredients picaridin and IR 3535 are as effective, says Dr. Dan Strickman, with the Global Health Program at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (which is a funder of NPR) and author of Prevention of Bug Bites, Stings, and Disease.

Repellents with any of those active ingredients are recommended as safe and effective by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They are widely available around the world.

Actually, Strickman gives the edge to picardin.

«Picaridin is a little more effective than DEET and seems to keep mosquitoes at a greater distance,» he says. When people use DEET, mosquitoes may land on them but not bite. When they use a product containing picaridin, mosquitoes are less likely to even land. Repellents with IR 3535 are slightly less effective, Strickman says, but they don’t have the strong smell of other products.

Then there is oil of lemon eucalyptus, or PMD, a natural oil extracted from the leaves and twigs of the lemon-scented gum eucalyptus plant, also recommended by the CDC. PMD is the ingredient in the oil that makes it repellent to insects. NMSU researchers found that a product containing oil of lemon eucalyptus was about as effective and as long lasting as products containing DEET. «For some people, there’s a stigma to using chemicals on their skin. They prefer a more natural product,» says Rodriguez.

One surprising finding in 2015 was that a perfume, Victoria’s Secret Bombshell, was a pretty good repellent. Hansen and Rodriguez said they added it to the products they tested as a positive control, believing its floral scent would attract mosquitoes. It turned out bugs hated the smell.

Their more recent 2017 study also held a surprise. A product called Off Clip-On attaches to clothing and contains a cartridge containing the area repellent, metofluthrin, also recommended by the CDC. The wearable device is designed for someone sitting in one place, like a parent watching a softball game. The person switches on a small battery-operated fan that blows a small fog of repellent into the air immediately surrounding the clip-on wearer. «It actually worked like a charm,» says Hansen. It was about as effective as DEET or oil of lemon eucalyptus at keeping the bugs away, he says.

Are there products that just don’t work?

Not all products deliver what they promise. The 2015 study found vitamin B1 skin patches to be ineffective at repelling mosquitoes. The 2017 study added citronella candles to the list of products that don’t keep mosquitoes away.

So-called bug-repellent wristbands and bracelets fail to repel mosquitoes, according to the recent study. These products contain a variety of oils including citronella and lemongrass.

«I’ve had mosquitoes land right on the bracelet that I was testing,» says Rodriguez. «They market [the wristbands and bracelets] as protecting you against Zika [a virus spread by mosquitoes that, in pregnant women, can result in serious birth defects], but they’re completely ineffective.»

Ultrasonic devices, using tones people can’t hear but marketers claim mosquitoes hate, don’t work, either. «The sonic device we tested had no effect,» says Hansen. «We’ve tested others before, too. None of them work. There’s no scientific evidence that mosquitoes are repelled by sound.

How often should you reapply a repellent?

Generally, it’s a good bet to follow the manufacturer’s instructions, experts said. People who will be outside for an hour or two should be protected with, say, a product that contains a lower concentration of DEET (about 10 percent — identified on the label). Those who will be out in the woods, or jungle or marshland, should use a higher concentration of 20 to 25 percent, and refresh every four hours or so, says Dr. Jorge Rey, interim director of the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory in Vero Beach. «The higher the concentration, the longer it lasts,» says Rey.

And again, follow manufacturer’s directions on the amount used. «A lot of people think that if a little is good, a lot is better,» says Dr. William Reisen, professor emeritus at the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California, Davis. «You don’t have to take a bath in the stuff.»

What kind of clothing helps protect against bites?

When Rey goes on research trips to highly infested areas, like the Florida Everglades, he suits up. «We wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts,» he says. «If it’s particularly bad, we use hats with nets coming down over the face. And we depend on repellent on exposed areas.» That could mean hands, neck and face. But don’t spray the face, experts say. To avoid irritating the eyes, put the repellent on hands and rub it on the face.

And don’t forget the feet. Mosquitoes have quirky olfactory preferences. Many of them, especially the Aedes variety that transmits the Zika virus, love the smell of feet.

«Wearing sandals isn’t a good idea,» says Rodriguez. Shoes and socks are called for, and tucking pants into socks or shoes helps keep mosquitoes from getting inside clothing. She wears long pants when outdoors in mosquito territory — and definitely not yoga pants. «Spandex is very mosquito friendly. They bite through it. I wear baggier pants and long sleeved shirts, doused in DEET.»

What else can reduce the risk of mosquito bites?

Mosquitoes can bite at any time of day, but the Aedes aegypti species that transmits Zika prefers midmorning and early evening, says Strickman. If possible, stay indoors in screened-in or air-conditioned buildings during those times.

Since these particular mosquitoes breed in standing water in containers like plant pots, old tires, buckets and trash cans, people should rid their immediate area of things that can collect water. «Swimming pools, unless they’re abandoned, are OK,» says Rey. The chemicals used to keep pools safe for swimming also keep mosquitoes away. It takes some close looking to find every possible breeding ground for mosquitoes. «I’ve seen some developing in a film of water next to a sink, or in the bottom of a glass people use to brush their teeth,» says Strickman. Cleaning up areas of standing water can greatly reduce the number of mosquitoes.

See also:  Midge, Catseye Pest Control

The more people do that kind of basic cleanup, the fewer mosquitoes there will be. «It may not be perfect, but you’ll lower the number of mosquitoes tremendously,» says Strickman.

What’s on the horizon to help people avoid mosquito bites and the diseases they bring?

Hansen says his lab is working on a technique in which male mosquitoes are sterilized with radiation, then released into the environment. They mate with females who lay eggs, but the eggs never hatch. The technique would target specific species, like the Aedes aegypti that transmit Zika, dengue fever and other diseases.

And a team of scientists in Massachusetts is working on a mosquito repellent that will stay on the skin and remain effective for hours or even days, says Dr. Abraar Karan, physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He is one of the creators of Hour72+, which he says cannot penetrate the skin and enter the blood stream — and only wears off through natural skin shedding.

Hour72+ won the Dubilier $75,000 Grand Prize in this year’s annual Harvard Business School’s New Venture Competition. Karan plans to further test the prototype, which is not on the market, to see how long it remains effective.

www.npr.org

Medical Alert System Discounts for AARP Members

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) has aimed to empower elderly individuals with valuable information and benefits since its founding in 1958. Some 38 million individuals over age 50 have joined the AARP. It’s also considered one of the most influential lobby groups in the United States, which has been a leader in fighting for the rights of the elderly.

AARP does not endorse any particular provider , but for several years now it has strongly recommended the use of medical alert systems as invaluable products. The organization leaves the choice of device to the senior ‘s particular needs , and we find that many medical alert system providers will give discounts to AARP members – so as always it pays to ask, and to shop around .

Here are several well k nown medical alert systems that may offer discounts to senior organization members , and which we have reviewed on their merits .

With nearly seven decades of experience, Bay Alarm Medical offers several types of medical alert systems including in the home, on the go, and on the road car options. Fully based in the USA, the company provides 24/7 monitoring and provides service assistance in 170 languages.

Bay Alarm Medical utilizes both landline medical alert systems as well as wireless solutions based on AT&T’s 4G LTE network. The systems feature superior battery life, automatic fall detection technology, and a range of life-saving accessories that include lock boxes, emergency wall buttons, and a vial of life.

A risk-free 30-day trial, offered to new buyers, allows customers to test drive the system. Bay Alarm Medical also provides a voluntary discount on their medical alert systems for AARP members. The video below also gives a good overview of their medical alert systems and their key features.

MobileHelp has provided emergency monitoring service for over 25 years and offers support for 240 languages. Their medical alert systems are also designed for in-home and mobile use, and offer medication reminders and activity tracking features. Two waterproof help buttons are provided, and an automatic fall detection device can be paired with any system.

MobileHelp also offers a Samsung-powered smartwatch with all of the benefits of a mobile emergency alert device. Their devices are considered best-in-class GPS mobile devices. A free lockbox is provided with every order regardless of service plan, which is an advantage over other systems. A premium connect plan, or quarterly, annual, and semi-annual payment options offer discounts on service fees. However, their website does not mention whether or not discounts are offered to AARP members.

#3. Medical Alert by Connect America

If you’re looking for reliable and simple in-home system at an affordable rate, look no further than medicalalert.com. Their in-home systems are easy to install and use. The alert buttons are light and have a long lasting battery. Automatic fall detection can be had for an additional $10 per month.

With all of Medical Alert’s products, a simple push of a button connects you instantly to a trained operator who assesses your situation and immediately sends the help you need. So whether you’ve suffered a serious injury or just want to notify a caretaker of your whereabouts, help is standing by.

LifeStation has been around since 1977 and is an industry leader in response times. Their products include in-home systems or mobile systems, with or without an automatic fall detection option. A waterproof pendant is provided and has a range of 500 feet from system’s base. Available accessories include lockboxes, extra assistance buttons to place around the home, and a low-cost additional user button.

There are no contracts for LifeStation systems. Although discounts for AARP members is not mentioned on their website, LifeStation service fees can be discounted with quarterly or annual plans. The company also has a 30-day trial period which is refundable if a user is unsatisfied.

New for 2019: GetSafe

New for 2019, GetSafe is separating itself from the competition by being the first company to offer a full non-wearable medical alert experience. Instead of the traditional way having to wear a button around your neck or wrist, GetSafe has cleverly packaged its offerings to utilize both manual and voice activated wall-mounted buttons.

For anyone that’s had to deal with mom and dad simply refusing to adopt a medical alert system due to the stigma of having one, we think GetSafe has a solution for you.

Life Alert

You can’t talk about the medical alert systems without mentioning “Life Alert”, the well-known company that ran the infamous (and still running to this day), “Help I’ve Fallen & Can’t Get Up”, commercials all throughout the 80’s and 90’s. Their campaigns were so popular that the Life Alert brand is used to describe the entire industry, much like Kleenex and Chapstick.

Pricing for Life Alert starts at $49.95/mo which also requires a 3-year contract. The contract can be canceled in the event of a death or nursing home admission but for that amount of money and commitment, we’d recommend going with the above life alert alternatives.

AARP Member Discounts

Medical alert system discounts are just one of the many advantages of being an AARP member, even though the discounts don’t come from AARP itself. As the leading trusted resource for seniors, it’s worth taking advantage of the discounts and recommendations made possible by being an AARP member – especially when it comes to medical alert systems.

If you aren’t sure whether a medical alert provider offers an AARP discount, call them and ask!

How To Choose The Right Medical Alert System

Read our ratings of the best medical alert systems for 2020. Our recommendations are based off of hours of real-world testing and evaluation.

www.medicalalertbuyersguide.org

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