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.”.

 

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?

why_amazon_is_the_world_s_most_innovative_company_of_2017___fast_company___business___innovation

 

One Heck Of A Paradigm Shift – Amazon Go

A paradigm shift is defined as a fundamental change in approach or underlying assumptions. Standing in line at a supermarket cashier to pay is the way all of us understand and have practiced for years. For me its over 50 years of shopping and standing in line.

My conservative estimate is that I have spent 10 days of my life standing in line to pay. Amazon Go is going to change that paradigm at least for Supermarkets.

What do you think of this new paradigm?

 

Nexus 6 Smartphone 64 gb On Sale

Very limited sale on the Nexus 6 Smartphone 64 gb. It’s selling for $299. I purchased mine on sale 3 months ago for $399 and I thought I got a deal because the original price was $699. Run, don’t walk to Amazon.com

Best smartphone I have owned. The only down side is that it is a phablet. 6 inch phone and on the heavy side. I love the camera and speed.

sm and me

 

Google Photos

Google Photos recently updated its desktop,Android and IOS app.  Google Photos is easier to use, has more capabilities and offers almost unlimited storage via Google Drive. A slight advantage over the IOS(Apple) app where you pay for storage over 5gb on iCloud. By no means is Google Photos a professional editor but for the casual Smartphone user this is a pleasant addition. The desktop version allow you to upload photos from your hard drives and sd cards.

I have two other redundant but very useful backup services. When I take a photo on my smartphone it automatically backs up to Flickr and Amazon Photos. 

Google_Photos_-_All_your_photos_organized_and_easy_to_find

 

What Electronics Should You Bring To Ecuador ( Part 6 )

It’s now a year since I wrote Part 5 and my wife and I have lived in Ecuador for 3.5 years.  This post is largely subjective based on my usage and mistakes in Cuenca.

This advice is meant for those on a limited budget and not bringing a container to Ecuador. I am going to start with the most important device and work by way down to the small items that you can’t find or that are expensive in Ecuador.

Smartphone: Invest in an unlocked Nexus 6 or iPhone 6+. These are relatively large phones sometimes called Phablets but they will be your best techonology friend in Ecuador. I also suggest you buy a data plan. In Cuneca I pay $32 a month for minutes and data and never run out of either one.  Below are some uses other than voice and texting.

  • Maps and directions
  • Photo and video ( I haven’t used my expensive Canon in 4 months)
  • Easy Taxi – requesting taxis at night and in bad weather
  • Learning Spanish (Translate, SpanishDict, Duolingo)
  • Music listening ( Amazon complete music library)
  • Netflix (watching movies)
  • Playing Bridge

Tablet: I have the iPad Mini w/ retina screen but I can highly recommend the Nexus 7. I recommend the larger tablets ( The iPad Air is an excellent choice) if you are not going to bring your computer.  I’m sticking to my recommendation of not bringing a computer if you don’t need it for business or serious photo/video editing. A large tablet with a bluetooth keyboard will be powerful and very portable.

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
  • Roku 3
  • Amazon Fire TV

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 ) wirellessly to your TV. Important note ***. To fully utilize these services you need to purchase a VPN (virtual private network) Router. I use the Sabai Cisco router because of the excellent technical support. I go to great lengths to describe the challenges of watching TV/Movies in Ecuador. I recommend using the search facility on this blog and typing in “VPN” and you will see several posts with recommendations.

Google just came out with their own streaming box called Nexus Player but I haven’t seen enough reviews to recommend buying that device.

Miscellaneous recommendations:

  • Netflix subscription- $9 per month – Invaluable
  • Amazon Prime subscription $8.25 per month – (Music, Movies, Books, Unlimited Photo Storage(
  • Bluetooth keyboard for your tablet or smarthone
  • Thumb drives (32 gb) for transferring information or bring data to be printed
  • VPN subscription  – I use Strong VPN and it’s about $8 a month
  • Skype subscription – Free Video Calls to other Skype users.
  • MagicJack – Practically free phone calls to any cell or landline in the U.S.

Some of the subscribers of this blog have great success with Ooma. It’s  worth a look for cheap and dependable calls back to the U.S.

Again this are my recommendations based on my experience. I haven’t used my DVD player in 2 months and my camera in 4 months.  Save the room in your suitcases for good sheets and towels  🙂

 

streaming_media_boxes_-_Google_Search Phablet_-_Google_Search ipad_-_Google_Search