Amazon Echo And Dot In Ecuador

In my last post I mentioned that I acquired an Amazon Echo and Dot Smart Speaker. I have installed the two devices and what follows are the benefits and one challenge that has developed in the last several days.

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 times
  • News Updates
  • Calendar and todo lists
  • Manage our Capital One Account including making payments
  • Listen to Podcasts
  • Movia Trivia

The Dot which is the smaller and less expensiveversion of the Echo is paired with a 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.

So far the one challenge that the app requires a zip code so you can’t get traffic or listings of restaurants.

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Amazon Echo – Alexa, Play My Favorite Music

Thanks to my mother-in-law, Sharon and I are now the proud owners of an Amazon Echo. Ok, hands up CTL subscribers how many of you have no idea what an Echo is.

Amazon Echo is a smart speaker connected via wifi to The Internet. It can do the following very well:

  • Play your music or music form Pandora and other apps.
  • Give you weather forecasts from any place in the world
  • Updated news headlines
  • Voice access to Wikipedia and Bing
  • Spanish Dictionary
  • Timers, Alarms, calendar events, todos
  • Most importantly the Echo through the Alexa app begins to learn your routines

The Echo has over 3000 developers that have skills that can be loaded into the Amazon Clouds. Here are some examples

  • NPR news updates
  • Jeopardy TV game
  • Capital one Credit Accounts
  • Airport Info
  • The Economist
  • The Wall St. Journal
  • Interactive Games

My 98 year old mother-in-law is facing some memory challenges. She lives alone but my brother-in-law is just a block away. She often forgets what day it is and has reminders to take medication as well as important phone number.s

In my next post I will explain in detail how I’m using echo in Cuenca.

Alexa, tell me how to play better poker please.

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Friends In Foreign Places

Yesterday Sharon and I had the privilege of attending the launch party of the Kindle Anthology – Friends In Foreign Places. All the proceeds for this book go to the Ecuador Earthquake Relief Fund.  Sharon and I have stories in the 5 volume anthology.

  • Sharon: “I Never Met A Stranger”
  • Lenny: “My Teacher, My Friend”

So for $5.99 you get to help the Earthquake victims and read 36 great short stories. Such a deal.

Here is the link to purchase the book.

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Photos – Backup

This is a popular topic for CTL subscribers since the majority of photos are now taken with a smartphone. Most smartphone have 16-32gb of storage and you can easily fill up most of that storage if you are regularly snapping photos. I use 3 redundant services.

  • Google Photos -High quality unlimited storage – free –  When Android 7 is released – unlimited storage
  • Amazon Photos – orignial quality – unlimited storage  $99 per year with other services
  • Flickr $24 per year for the pro version.

The real question is which service to you feel most comfortable. Google Photos is my first choice since it has the easiest photo editing element.  Good article below.

The best way to back up your Android Photos

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Watching TV in Cuenca 2016

Last year at this time I wrote on article on this subject. So what has changed in a year? There are now 4 main legal streaming boxes:

  • Apple TV – Now in its 4th edition with voice control
  • Roku – Now in its 4th edition also with voice control
  • Amazon Fire TV – Now in its second edition with Alexa voice control
  • Android TV – The Google version with limited apps

There is a 5th alternative and its called KODI . First let me say that I don’t object to the non legal status of KODI since I often purchase bootleg DVD’s in Cuenca. Let me also state that I have limited knowledge of KODI. I do know in Cuenca there are KODI groups and some individuals that will handle the installation and support.  There are some safety concerns using KODI and this article does a good job of explaining it

The following are some paid subscriptions that are available to stream on the above boxes.

  • Netflix – Note the North American version is not longer available
  • Amazon Prime – No available on Apple TV
  • HBO Now
  • STARZ
  • Showtime
  • HULU

There is also DirecTV. 5 years ago I tried the service for 6 months. My experience was that it was expensive $40 + per month was limited in the quality of English programming.

My costs:

  • Puntonet 50 mb fiber optic service $60 per month +
  • Amazon Prime – $8 per month *
  • HBO – $15 per month
  • Strong VPN  $7 per month*

Note: * denotes other uses besides watching TV

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Ask Alexa Anything

Alexa is Amazon’s answer to Siri the voice command assistant for your digitally connected devices. I have Alexa running on my Nexus Smartphone and recently they added the capability to my Amazon Fire TV. So now I can use my remote or smartphone and say the following to the TV and have the answers, video, music etc. displayed on my big screen HDTV. You can also use Alexa on iPads and iPhones.

  • Play a song in my Amazon Library
  • Launch a movie from Netflix
  • What’s on my calendar or to do list
  • Play a favorite music or news station from any radio station in the world
  • Read the next chapter from my Kindle book
  • What’s my flash briefing from NPR News
  • Re-order physical products you previously purchased on the Amazon website.
  • Ask Alexa to find and read information from Wikipedia
  • Tell me a joke – What do you call a Grizzly with no teeth (Ans. a gummy bear)
  • Alexa Skills -turn on skills that allow your device to tell you about upcoming concerts in your city or play math games with you.

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You have 10 seconds to find a photo of your dog on a beach in 2008

Can you do it? If you have your Smartphone and your Flickr app than you probably can accomplish that request.  I average about 200 photos shot on my smartphone a month. Now that I have no limits on storage I sometimes edit a photo and keep 5 versions of that photo.

Google will soon announce that you will have unlimited free storage ( in your original format ) for all your photos and videos. Amazon Prime Photo already offers unlimited storage for your photos.

I’m old enough to remember shooting photos on a film camera. Storing the prints in a shoebox and then never able to retrieve a photo that was more than 3 years old.

Run, don’t walk and get one of the 3 unlimited photo storage program/apps.

  • Flickr – 1 tb (500,000 photos) free
  • Google Photos – unlimited storage free
  • Amazon Prime Photos – unlimited storage ( $99 per year but includes other valuable services)

Oregon Flowers 2001

Oregon Flowers 2007

Cockatoo 2003

Cockatoo 2003

Sherwood Oregon 2006

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Olivia at Rockaway Beach 2004

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