End Of The Year Musings – 2017

Here I am sitting in front of my computer on the 3rd rainy afternoon in a row. No complaints about the rain since the river was at an all time low just a week ago.

The following are six major themes in tech and in my life in 2017

  • Voice – Our household now has an Amazon Echo and 3 Dots. The primary use is for music. Other uses include timers and research. For example last night while watching a movie it  was as simple as saying, “Alexa, what is the capitol of North Dakato (BTW, it’s Bismarck)
  • Photo Editing-  I now shoot 100% of my photos on my Nexus 6 and only use 3 editing tools (Google photos, Prisma, Snapseed) Prisma now has HD printing and creates framable art.

  • Food Delivery – Cuenca now has several food apps. The one that is primarily used is Megabite. Its a pleasure when you are tired to go to the app and have your favorite cuisine delivered by motorcycle in 15 minutes.
  • Smartphones – The major flagship phones (i.e. Samsung, Apple) are now $1000 fully loaded. I decided to hold on to my Nexus 6 for another year because it has a great camera and a superb screen.
  • Streaming TV in Cuenca – We still have our older versions of Fire TV, Roku and Apple TV. We mostly watch Netflix and seem to be watching more series on Netflix.
  • The Cloud – My computer is the only Apple Device I have left. I use Google, Amazon and Flickr to back up my photos and other media.
  • Fish Monger- As I am writing this post I can hear my wife on a Skype call with a friend saying the following” Lenny is no longer my 5 letter help word in tech”. All he cares about is selling his fish”. Not totally accurate but pretty darn close.  The fish business has taken off in 2017 and I look forward to supplying Cuenca with the best Salmon in Ecuador.

Happy New Year to all my friends and subscribers who read this blog.

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Alexa Just Got Smarter

It’s been 8 months that I have been sharing my office with Alexa and her two smart speakers, the Echo and the Dot. For the most part I have been very satisfied with the products.  You can see one of my early reviews here 

I sometimes have to repeat requests but for the most part I am very satisfied and use the devices for

  • Listening to my Amazon music collection
  • Finding the correct spelling of words
  • News briefings
  • Manage our Capital One Account including making payments
  • Timers
  • Reminders

The last two I use several times a day and the Alexa app lacked the functionality of telling me what timer was going off and to name my reminders. That changed in the current update and now I can say ” Alexa, remind me in two days at 9:00 am to pay the electric bill.”.

 

5 Year Anniversary

Thank you Cuenca Tech Life subscribers for challenging me to keep this blog an interesting time in my life and perhaps providing you with some interesting tech observations and predictions.

So what has changed since last year:

  • Only an educated guess but I think Cuenca now has about 7K expats
  • Smartphones continues to be the number one subject followed by photos
  • Fiber Optic is now cheaper than ever 50 mps for $60
  • The Tranvia is now 85% complete only a 23% increase since last year and predicted to open in Oct 2017 almost 2 years behind schedule
  • Ecuador will elect a new president today
  • I now am officially  a Fish Monger and you can see more of my product offering at this link
  • Google and Amazon introduced their new smart speakers (Google Home and Echo) and I predict they will be the next paradigm shift in technology. There are more than 13 million of these products in homes as of this writing.

The three most viewed posts are as follows:

Thank you again for viewing Cuenca Tech Life.

 

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The World’s Most Innovative Companies (2017)

Pop quiz CTL. How many did you get in the top 10. This is the list that Fast Company announces each year.  Drum Roll please. The Number One company is Amazon. Would you believe 42 million prime users?  A superb article about Amazon and more specifically Jeff Bezos is here

Here were some interesting additions to the list

  • Go Fund Me
  • Casper
  • Mail Chimp
  • Chobani

Which companies did you find interesting?

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The 7 Best Things You Can Do With An Amazon Echo

This past Saturday my wife and I entertained several South Americans. For once we were the minority at the dinner table. Quite frankly it made me speak more Spanish, which I should be doing more of. Several of our guests tried to use our Echo with limited success. I don’t think it was there accent but rather the syntax in asking questions. Overall it was pretty frustrating for them.

Totally reliable voice recognition is still a ways off. My experience with the Amazon Echo continues to be pleasant and more productive. Below is a link for Echo users

 

7 Best Uses Of The Amazon Echo

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What Electronics Should You Bring To Ecuador ?(Part 8)

My wife and I have been living here almost 6 years and two things all expats can agree on.

  1. Electronics are  25% – 30 % more expensive in Ecuador. Even more if you lived in a state with no sales tax.
  2. This is a subjective matter. Some of us are geeks and need the latest and greatest. Others, especially on a retirement budget need the basics.

I have added some new items and subtracted some others. As always I encourage your feedback.

Computer: When we first moved here I rented space in another person’s container and brought down a desktop computer with a 24″ monitor and and oversized keyboard. I sold that computer in less than a year and that is why I am recommending a laptop or notebook computer.

  • I have a Macbook Air – Moderately priced and extremely simple to use
  • Chrome book -Inexpensive and uses mostly cloud storage
  • Microsoft Surface Pro – combines a tablet and computer and an affordable price

Tablet: When we first moved I owned an iPad . I have since sold the iPad and  my tablet of choice is an 8 inch Fire Tablet from Amazon priced at $59

Smartphone: Personally, this is my most used piece of electronics. I now own the Google Nexus 6. I have a $32 a month data plan that gives me the convenience of being connected all day but also the ability to connect via magic jack to my business contacts and family back in The States. I also use my Smartphone for:

  • Maps and Navigation
  • Free Worldwide texting via What’s Ap
  • Photos- I sold my DSLR and now use my Smartphone as my only camera
  • 4K Video
  • Podcasts – PBS, NPR and tech shows
  • HBO, Netflix
  • Social Media
  • Audio Recording
  • Skyping and Magic Jack
  • Remote Controls For TV

I highly recommend the Google Nexus but would also highly recommend the iPhone

Streaming Boxes: These hockey puck  devices will be your night time companions if you enjoy watching movies and TV series. You can’t go wrong with the ones below:

  • Apple TV Version 3 – $150 *** I have sold the Apple TV since I find the Roku and Amazon TV take care of all my needs ***
  • Roku 4 – $130
  • Amazon Fire TV $100;

Basically you can watch TV series and movies with these devices connected to your TV. They also have the added advantage of wirelessly connecting some of your devices ( computer, iphone tablet ) wirelessly  to your TV. Important note ***. To fully utilize these services you need to purchase a  IP address Blocker so you can connect to these services from Ecuador.  .

All three device have voice search and the Roku and Amazon devices have lower priced stick versions that have less power but basically give you the same services.

Printer: This is second  year I am not recommending a printer. Unless you are using the printer for business then it’s easier and cheaper to put your document on a thumb drive and bring it to and easily available copy shop.

Camera: This is the second year  I am recommending using a Smartphone instead of a point and shoot camera.

Miscellaneous recommendations:

  • Netflix subscription- $9 per month – Invaluable
  • Amazon Prime subscription $8.35 per month – (Music, Movies, Books, Unlimited Photo Storage)
  • Bluetooth keyboard for your tablet or smarthone
  • Thumb drives (32 gb) for transferring information or bringing data to be printed
  • IP Blocker   – I use Block US for about $60 per year
  • Skype subscription – Free Video Calls to other Skype users.
  • MagicJack – Practically free phone calls to any cell or landline in the U.S.
  • Wifi Extender – Invaluable for folks living in a house made of Adobe Walls or condo dwellers 30 or more feet from wifi router.

Amazon Echo, Dot or the Google Home Smart Speaker

These gadgets are cloud based devices that will be the next paradigm shift. The Amazon platform has a two year head start. But,essentially both devices accomplish the same goals.

I installed the Echo in the living room next to the T.V. The Echo will pick up our voices from the living room, hall, kitchen, dining room and sun room. So far we have used the Echo to:

  • listen to our (separate) Amazon Prime Music collections
  • Kitchen timers
  • News Updates from local and International sources
  • Calendar and todo lists
  • Manage our Capital One Account including making payments
  • Listen to Podcasts
  • Movia Trivia
  • Control the lights in our house.

The Dot which is the smaller and less expensive version of the Echo is paired with a bluetooth Speaker and is upstairs in Sharon’s Office. She mainly uses the Dot to listen to her music but she likes the “Good Morning Command” which is has an interesting fact of a synopsis of some famous person’s life usually when it is their birthday.

Ok, do you need all these devices. Of course not. But, I think these devices make life much more enjoyable in Ecuador.

My three favorite devices are:

  • Google Nexus Smartphone
  • Amazon Dot
  • Roku Streaming Device

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New Year 2017 – Things That Will Disappear

Feliz Año Nuevo a todos. Last year I wrote a post about disappearing technology. In this post I would like to expand on this theme with some more observations.

  • I don’t use any CD’s anymore – My data backups are totally in the cloud
  • Last year I purchased approximately 20 DVD’s. This year it will be half as much since most of my movie watching is Netflix, HBO, Amazon Prime.
  • Last year I had 5 remotes for TV and streaming video box watching and now I have none because of the Harmony Hub
  • Last year I used my iPad every day and now I sold it and primarily use my Google Nexus Smartphone
  • Finally I used to use my smartphone and computer for all my searches and now 50% of the searches and all of my music playing are accomplished using Echo, my smart speaker and the Alexa App.

What is disappearing in your life?

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