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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How Will Our Lives Change In 20 Years

I am usually very skeptical when I read the following words “must read article”.  I started reading this with the expectation that I would be done in less than a minute. Double yowza – there are some great predictions. The following are the ones I found fascinating.

  • Software will disrupt most traditional industries in the next 5-10 years.
  • Autonomous cars: In 2018 the first self driving cars will appear for the public. Around 2020, the complete industry will start to be disrupted. You don’t want to own a car anymore. You will call a car with your phone, it will show up at your location and drive you to your destination. You will not need to park it, you only pay for the driven distance and can be productive while driving. Our kids will never get a driver’s licence and will never own a car.
  • Last year, more solar energy was installed worldwide than fossil. Energy companies are desperately trying to limit access to the grid to prevent competition from home solar installations, but that can’t last. Technology will take care of that strategy.
  • Health:  The Tricorder X price will be announced this year. There are companies who will build a medical device (called the “Tricorder” from Star Trek) that works with your phone, which takes your retina scan, your blood sample and you breath into it.
  • It then analyses 54 biomarkers that will identify nearly any disease. It will be cheap, so in a few years everyone on this planet will have access to world class medical analysis, nearly for free. Goodbye, medical establishment.
  • If it doesn’t work with your phone, forget the idea. And any idea designed for success in the 20th century is doomed to failure in the 21st century.

Read the full article. I would love to get your feedback.

The Cost Of Hard Disk Storage – Less Than 2 cents a Gigabyte

I purchased my first computer 37 years ago. I sold my Honda Motorcycle and used the profit to buy an Apple II Computer with an RF modulator to connect to my TV and the computer had two floppy disk drives with a grand total of storage of 1/4 of a megabyte or 1/4000th of a gigabyte. My first hard drive was a 10 mb hard disk purchased for what seemed like a King’s Ransom.

Today I saw a 2 Terabyte hard disk selling on Amazon for $70.  My guess is that we will see hard disk storage below one cent in less than 2 years. For me it’s not an issue. My Macbook Pro has 256 gb solid state drive. After 5 years I still have half the drive free because all my photos and videos are stored in the cloud.

What is your prediction of disk storage?

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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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

sherwood fall 206

Olivia at Rockaway Beach 2004

Minolta DSC

Get 2 GB Free Cloud Storage – Today 2/9/16 Only

It seems I always need more storage with several email accounts and a huge photo and video collection. Google is offering 2 gb of free storage by doing a routine security check on your google account settings. The check takes about 2 minutes to complete and is actually very helpful.  I found that several apps and games had access to my Google setting. I quickly eliminated those privileges.

Security Check

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