Big software update on my Fire TV stick this morning

September 21, 2017

Big software update on my Fire TV stick this morning

Our

Fire TV Stick (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*),

but not our regular

Amazon Fire TV 2nd generation (at AmazonSmile*),

was updated with some great new features this morning!

Update: I forced the system update on our Fire TV tonight, by going to Settings -Device-About-Check for System Update (or Install System Update). It took perhaps ten minutes. This version of the software is 5.2.6.0.

My favorite thing was being able to go into Settings and Accessibility and enabling a screen magnifier. While the controls have a noticeable learning curve, it is wonderful to be able to zoom in on images on the screen.

Here’s what it said was new:

  • Prime Members can watch Thursday Night Football live
  • Enter words and phrases into the system keyboard by speaking them…may make passwords a lot easier, for one thing. I haven’t tried that at time of writing
  • During set-up, it’s possible to “bulk select” from a set of 24 apps
  • Screen magnifier is what I mentioned above…I also think the screen reader capability was new. Why would you use a screen reader on a TV? You can do a lot of things with a Fire TV which are designed to be heard, including music, podcasts, and reading Kindle books. Navigating to those would be hard for someone with a visual challenge

I may add to this post later…I think it’s very interesting that this update, when a new model is almost certainly in the wings…and on the Fire TV comparison chart, it lists being able to do 4K, which I think is a leak for that next model. 🙂 We’ll see soon, I’m sure…

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amaz on site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.
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Happy bookish birthdays (September 21) to…

September 21, 2017

Happy bookish birthdays (September 21) to…

First time I’m trying this…let me know if you like it. 🙂

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amaz on site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

Round up #162: Amazon’s auggies, should Amazon buy Toys “R” Us?

September 21, 2017

Round up #162: Amazon’s auggies, should Amazon buy Toys “R” Us?

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

Should Amazon buy Toys R Us?

This is just speculation on my part, just kicking around an idea and I’m interested in your thoughts on it.

Toys R Us recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. They expect to keep their approximately 1,600 stores open through the holidays (that includes their Babies “R” Us stores).

Bankruptcy certainly doesn’t mean you are going out of business…necessarily. It appears they are massively in debt (I’m seeing five billion dollar figures).

Many articles cite Amazon as a major reason for their troubles…that got me thinking. Should Amazon just buy Toys “R” Us?

They recently bought Whole Foods, and that was expensive, of course. I’ve been saying that I think one of the reasons is for the physical locations…that they may start using them as staging areas for non-Whole Foods sorts of items (like expensive gadgets at the holidays) so they can deliver them more quickly.

Toys “R” Us would give them something like four times the number of locations as Whole Foods did…and in different sorts of neighborhoods. As a former brick-and-mortar retail manager (bookstore, gamestore…), I’ve felt like, certainly in the past decade (TRU is something like seventy years old), the big toy chain has managed their stock pretty well. They move a lot of things on and off the shelves, and even on Black Friday, you don’t tend to see empty shelves or boxes on the floor. My guess is that it would be a good base for an “express fulfillment center”.

Amazon already does a lot with toys (putting out a high-profile list each holiday season, for example), and TRU is a nostalgia brand which did adapt as times changed. It’s famous for easy returns (that was part of their success), and even carries books. 🙂

Amazon could make the Toys “R” Us stores function somewhat like their Amazon Books stores: intentionally set up to be “showrooms”. Customers could interact with toys and electronics, and then (most of the time) order them online from Amazon for quick delivery. There would be some stock on hand for “store to trunk” purchasing, but that wouldn’t be the focus.

It feels to me like a good match, but I don’t know the economics of the possible deal…

News on Amazon auggies supposedly leaks

I’ve been waiting for this!

Regular readers have probably been a bit bored 😉 by my speculating that Amazon was going to get into VAM (Virtual/Augmented/Mixed/Merged Reality) in a significant way this year. I’ve been careful not to limit that to any sort of idea of Amazon creating VAM hardware. I would count it as a “hit” if they just added a Prime Video app to the Samsung Gear/Oculus store. (I’m in VAM pretty often, and the main thing I do there is watch Hulu or Netflix…that’s where I think the real disruption is right away, with expensive big screen TVs).

However, Augmented Reality (much more than Virtual Reality…with AR, you still see the world around you with overlays…with VR, your reality is “replaced”) is, I believe, about to become a common part of many people’s lives. “Ambient computing” is another revolution people cite, but the two can merge. “Ambient computing” means computing which is always available…you don’t say, “Now I will turn on or log on to a computer”, you just ask a question or interact in some other way.

That’s how the

Echo family (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

works, for the most part.

You just ask a question to “the air”, and get an answer.

The just announced

Fire HD 10″ with hands-free Alexa (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

will be a tablet with hands-free Alexa as an option.

Augmented Reality Ambient Computing (ARAC…I just made that up) would be a game changer.

There needs to be a breakthrough in wearability, but basically, it would be able to put images into what you see, and you would be able to interact with it easily.

An initial level would be it overlaying items of your choice, things which wouldn’t interact with the environment, but I think we are past that.

When I use my auggies (that’s my term for VAM enabling hardware) now, it already interacts with the environment. Using an AR app called

StickAR

I can virtually put mustaches, glasses, or full faces on actual people in real time, that will move with their heads.

ACAR would mean that I could ask for something whenever I wanted. For example, as a vegetarian, I could be in a grocery store (maybe an Amazon-owned Whole Foods) and ask it to show me which products on the shelf are vegetarian. Green lines might “appear” around the foods that fit my request.

The next level would be for the artificial intelligence to come more into play, so that it already knew I was a vegetarian and put those green lines on for me (even if I hadn’t thought to ask for them)…but that’s getting ahead of the game.

This widely-cited

Financial Times article by Tim Bradshaw and Leslie Hook

says that Amazon is working on “smart glasses” that would be Alexa-enabled.

The idea, at least, would be to be able to interact with Alexa any time, anywhere.

The article suggests Amazon might have something innovative: bone conduction audio.

What’s that?

Rather than sticking headphones into or over your ears, you “hear” the audio through soundwaves traveling through your bones. Personally, I have a “thing” about having my ears touched…it really creeps me out! I do use earbuds, but I’m always aware of them.

Having a bone conduction device would mean that you could hear what was going on around you easily when you weren’t invoking Alexa…and still hear when you were.

You could do the conduction with a glasses type device…the stems of the glasses would do the conduction.

However, this could be a lot more than that…the lenses (if there are any) could be used to display information to you, as I suggested with the green lines.

There are a lot of interesting rumors out there: a Google Home Echo Dot type device, an Amazon homecam, and we know that there will be standalone auggies (no phone, no computer tether) this year (at least, they are scheduled to be released).

It’s going to be an interesting holiday season! I would bet on more Amazon hardware announcements soon (Fire TV, maybe Kindle EBRs) and service announcemnts…I’m thinking with the next week. However, November 20th is the 10th anniversary of the Kindle…I’m going to put together something for that (and invite you to contribute), so they might tie something really innovative into that anniversary (like the auggies).

Happy birthday…

I’ve been tweeting out “On this date in geeky history” on  my @TMCGTT account, and today (September 20) is George R.R. Martin’s birthday! George R.R. Martin born at TMCGTT.

It’s also the birthday of

Upton Sinclair (at AmazonSmile*)

who I will eventually get into TMCGTT…like many authors who are best known for works which might be assigned in school, Sinclair also write geeky works (including the Gnomobile).

What do you think? Should Amazon buy Toys “R” Us? Would you be interested in Amazon’s auggies…or anybody’s? What would they have to do before you would be willing to try them? Is it your birthday? 🙂 Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amaz on site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

New Amazon device announcements!

September 19, 2017

New Amazon device announcements!

Well, it’s always nice to get one right! 🙂

I said last week:

“We’ve had strong rumors about new Fire TV devices: my guess is we will have the announcement by Tuesday (which is a traditional book announcement day)…”

Here is that Tuesday, and there are announcements!

Okay, okay…they haven’t announced the new Fire TVs at the time I write this, but they did announce in this

press release

they did announce a new

Fire HD 10″ with hands-free Alexa (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

and the day’s not through yet. 😉

I haven’t had time to look at this much yet, but I will later (it’s available for pre-order, releasing October 11). The hands-free Alexa part is new: you can turn on a mode when it is on wi-fi that will let you address it like an Echo (but presumably, it won’t hear you as well, since it won’t have those far-field microphones).

One thing I checked right away was to see if it will have Alexa calling and the drop-in feature like the

Echo Show (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

which would have solved an issue for me when that device wonderfully enabled a sibling to “attend” another sibling’s wedding.

How the Echo Show kept our family together at a wedding

Interestingly, they talk about how it is great for Skype calls! My guess is that they will enable Alexa calling on it (it’s wi-fi isn’t different from the Echo being able to do calls) before the end of the year.

I have to run, but I can’t go without mentioning the price, which is only $149.99!

Also, there is this:

“Fire HD 10 also includes For You, a new personalized page on the tablet home screen that makes it easy for customers to quickly get back to reading, watching, playing or listening—and to quickly find what’s next. For You learns what a customer loves to do on the tablet, and then presents personalized recommendations across a variety of entertainment categories like books, videos, songs, and apps to help customers get the most out of their tablet. Customers can also quickly access family photos from Prime Photos and see their local weather right from the For You home screen. The new For You page is also now available for customers on previous generation Fire tablets.”

I think we could still get those Fire TV announcements today…or there may be announcements over the next few days, we’ll see.

If you have comments (some of my readers have really insightful comments when new models are released), feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amaz on site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

A great weekend for 1980s geeks!

September 18, 2017

A great weekend for 1980s geeks!

I’m a proud geek, and I use the term frequently (especially on my The Measured Circle blog). I define the term differently from many people (even other people who define it positively), and I know these definitions can be emotionally charged.

I think most people would agree, though, that two mid-1980s novels belong in the category of science fiction/fantasy:

It dropped a remarkably low 51% in domestic box office from its first week to its second. That’s for a major movie in wide release, and especially for something which can be considered a horror movie…they tend to have a big opening then drop a lot. This weekend’s dogro (domestic gross) was about $60 million, quadrupling its nearest competitor.

The Handmaid’s Tale [AWARD SHOW SPOILER ALERT] won Outstanding Drama Series at the 69th annual Emmys last night.

Respect and remuneration…

Gee, and it only took the mainstream thirty years to catch up to us. 😉

Just kidding: It was a big (in both senses…I used to jokingly tell people who asked me what I thought of it that “…the first 800 pages were great”) bestseller when it was released, and actually both of these are (dum dum DAH) remakes, with a previous miniseries for It and a theatrical movie for A Handmaid’s Tale.

Is this just a chronological coincidence?

Arguably, there are some situational similarities between the 1980s and today, but these two books are different enough that it’s hard to say that they are both reflecting the same geopolitical conditions.

I think one thing may be that evolving from the more intellect-based 1950s works, and into the more id-based 1970s, the 1980s geeky works may have had portrayals of human characters that were more similar to those in traditional mainstream literature. I’ll just toss that out there as a hypothesis, though, and let commenters disprove it. 🙂

Thirty years was also considered a “generation” for some time. Does it seem likely, though, that thirty year olds are getting their fifteen year-olds to watch these two works? That seems a bit unlikely to me (they don’t seem like works which would be promoted by parents to teenagers, for the most part). Could people affected by the books when they were younger now be in decision-making positions? That seems more likely.

Does this mean we’ll see a wave of movies/TV shows based on 1980s geek-friendly literature?

I don’t think so…there will be some, but I don’t think studios are going to start particularly looking at that decade’s literature for inspiration.

We recently had an Ender’s Game movie (which perhaps underperformed). The Mists of Avalon seems ripe for a new version. The Clan of the Cave Bear? Maybe Neuromancer?

What do you think? Are there science fiction/fantasy books from the 1980s you think would succeed (either gross/ratings or awards) as adaptations now? Were eighties works more traditional in their characterizations than previous decades? Speaking of adaptations, Amazon is reportedly looking for their own Game of Thrones zeitgeisty series…I’ve suggested Elric After Game of Thrones, I would suggest they adapt…, although that might be too similar: what would you suggest? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

Oh, one more thing: I wanted to note how the publishers are approaching these two books:

  • The Handmaid’s Tale is published in e-book by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. It’s priced at $9.99 in Kindle format, and is also available at no additional cost to members of Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*). It’s listed as #10 most read book in Amazon Charts. It’s ranked #16 paid in the USA Kindle store
  • It is published by Scribner (parent company: Simon & Schuster). It’s priced at $11.99, and isn’t part of KU. It’s listed as the 2nd most read book in Amazon Charts (which can show when people are re-reading a book). It’s ranked #17 paid in the USA Kindle store

These two aren’t getting different results, even though one is in KU and one isn’t.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amaz on site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 
** A Kindle/Fire with text-to-speech can read any text downloaded to it…unless that access is blocked by the publisher inserting code into the file to prevent it. That’s why you can have the device read personal documents to you (I’ve done that). I believe that this sort of access blocking disproportionately disadvantages the disabled, although I also believe it is legal (provided that there is at least one accessible version of each e-book available, however, that one can require a certification of disability). For that reason, I don’t deliberately link to books which block TTS access here (although it may happen accidentally, particularly if the access is blocked after I’ve linked it). I do believe this is a personal decision, and there  are legitimate arguments for purchasing those books
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

Today’s KDD: “30+ gripping real stories on Kindle, starting at $1.99”

September 17, 2017

Today’s KDD: “30+ gripping real stories on Kindle, starting at $1.99”

Today’s

Kindle Daily Deal (at AmazonSmile…benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

is one that my Significant Other wouldn’t consider…but I would. 😉

It’s non-fiction, and for whatever reason, my SO just isn’t interested in non-fiction.

We don’t always like the same things, and that’s fine. 🙂 I’m more likely to like what my SO likes than vice versa, in part because I just have eclectic tastes. I always say that one hallmark of being a geek (and I’m a proud geek) is having a low threshold of entertainment.

That’s not to suggest that today’s set requires the same sort of taste as actually enjoying Plan Nine from Outer Space or watching the same episode of Star Trek for the twentieth time! There are some very popular, mainstream titles in this set…you just have to be willing to read non-fiction. 🙂

Remember that you can buy these at the reduced prices (they aren’t all $1.99, by the way) and either delay the delivery for the appropriate gift-giving occasion, or even print them out so you can wrap them and give them whenever you want. Check the price before you click/tap/eye gaze that Buy button: the prices may not apply in your country, and you may see this after the sale has ended.

Titles include:

  • The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone | 4.5 stars out of 5 | 1,143 customer reviews | $2.99
  • Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance | Amazon Charts: #18 most read (interesting that they list that here)
  • Bossypants by Tina Fey | 4,627 reviews
  • Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?: And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White House by Alyssa Mastromonaco
  • Lost in Shangri-La: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II by Mitchell Zuckoff
  • The Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize and Cultivate The Three Essential Virtues by Patrick M. Lencioni (I thought Lencioni’s The Five Dysfunctions of a Team was quite good)
  • The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House by Kate Andersen Brower
  • The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations (J-B Leadership Challenge: Kouzes/Posner) by James M. Kouzes, Barry Z. Posner
  • The Rainbow Comes and Goes: A Mother and Son on Life, Love, and Loss by Anderson Cooper, Gloria Vanderbilt
  • The Home That Was Our Country: A Memoir of Syria by Alia Malek
  • Moving Mountains: Praying with Passion, Confidence, and Authority by John Eldredge
  • The Traveler’s Gift: Seven Decisions that Determine Personal Success by Andy Andrews
  • The Phenomenon: Pressure, the Yips, and the Pitch that Changed My Life by Rick Ankiel
  • The Power of Positive Leadership: How and Why Positive Leaders Transform Teams and Organizations and Change the World by Jon Gordon
  • Only Love Today: Reminders to Breathe More, Stress Less, and Choose Love by Rachel Macy Stafford
  • Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras, Ella Morton (this is a really interesting website…I frequently flip articles into The Measured Circle Flipboard magazine. They have an immersive Virtual Reality app, but I haven’t been able to get it to install on my Galaxy S7…it’s quite large)
  • Democracy: Stories from the Long Road to Freedom by Condoleezza Rice
  • The Origins of Totalitarianism (Harvest Book, Hb244) by Hannah Arendt
  • Real Food/Fake Food: Why You Don’t Know What You’re Eating and What You Can Do About It by Larry Olmsted (Author)
  • Safe People: How to Find Relationships That Are Good for You and Avoid Those That Aren’t by Henry Cloud, John Townsend
  • Modern Monopolies: What It Takes to Dominate the 21st Century Economy by Alex Moazed, Nicholas L. Johnson
  • Think Like a Freak: The Authors of Freakonomics Offer to Retrain Your Brain by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner
  • The Noticer: Sometimes, all a person needs is a little perspective by Andy Andrews
  • Finding Me: A Decade of Darkness, a Life Reclaimed: A Memoir of the Cleveland Kidnappings by Michelle Knight, Michelle Burford
  • Captivating Revised and Updated: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul by John Eldredge, Stasi Eldredge
  • Writer, Sailor, Soldier, Spy: Ernest Hemingway’s Secret Adventures, 1935-1961 by Nicholas Reynolds
  • Cyber War: The Next Threat to National Security and What to Do About It by Richard A. Clarke, Robert Knake
  • This Kind of War: The Classic Military History of the Korean War 50th Anniversary Edition, by T. R. Fehrenbach
  • All the Lives I Want: Essays About My Best Friends Who Happen to Be Famous Strangers by Alana Massey
  • How to Shoot Video That Doesn’t Suck: Advice to Make Any Amateur Look Like a Pro 1st Edition, by Steve Stockman
  • Resilience: Hard-Won Wisdom for Living a Better Life by Eric Greitens

Enjoy!

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amaz on site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

 

Amazon device announcement imminent?

September 15, 2017

Amazon device announcement imminent?

You know how, just before a tsunami, all of the water may leave the beach, before it comes crashing back with a fury?

The same sort of thing may be happening right now with Amazon devices. 🙂

Well, at least with the

Amazon Fire TV 2nd generation (at AmazonSmile*)

Without my link, you’d have a tough time even finding it. It’s not on the

Fire TV family (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

page any more. When you find it, it says they don’t know when or if it will be back in stock.

I would bet it won’t be. 🙂

We’ve had strong rumors about new Fire TV devices: my guess is we will have the announcement by Tuesday (which is a traditional book announcement day), although it could happen Friday. It might also just appear in the store at midnight middle of the night Thursday with an announcement to follow Friday. The Fire TV has been a very popular item, and no reason to suppose it’s not a big part of the devices strategy. The “missing model” has 4.3 stars out of 5, with a remarkable 34,645 customer reviews. For comparison, the Kindle Voyage has about a third that many reviews (12,998).

The Apple TV was recently refreshed, and streamers are big. We may get a higher end version which includes Alexa with far field microphones, and maybe a refreshing of the inexpensive Fire TV Stick (which wouldn’t have those microphones, I would think).

As to other devices:

  • The entry level Kindle is in stock
  • All versions of the Paperwhite seem to be in stock. One interesting note: they have Kindle Unlimited for three months as an add-on for $1.99
  • The Voyage with both 3G and wi-fi and no special offers is out of stock, expected back October 18th
  • Most of the Kindle Oasis versions are out of stock: only the black version is available (the merlot and walnut are out of stock) and the Wi-Fi only is out of stock
  • The black Amazon Echo tower (my name for the original) is out of stock, expected back September 21st
  • The Echo Dot, Amazon Tap, and Echo Show are in stock. The Echo Look is still by invitation only
  • The Amazon Fire tablets appear to be in stock

My feeling?

At least two new Fire TV family members…one with Alexa, one Stick. The Oasis won’t be announced as gone, but is dwindling. They might keep one version. The Tap is probably fading out. This is likely to be the last big hardware announcement of the year…so auggies (VAM…virtual/augmented/merged/mixed reality headset/glasses) is a possible category. That last one could wait for software announcements…those could come later in the year. Oh, and Amazon could always surprise us with something new, like they did with the wand and the dash buttons.

I’d be surprised if we don’t get an announcement in the next few days, but what do you think? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

Bonus deal: I know this will likely be too late in the day for some of you, but

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (at AmazonSmile*)

is $2.99 today…at least in the USA.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amaz on site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

 

How the Echo Show kept our family together at a wedding

September 13, 2017

How the Echo Show kept our family together at a wedding

When I first got the

Echo Show (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I wrote my

Echo Show: first impressions

Part of what I said was:

“There’s no question that when you set it up, it’s a cool…thing. 🙂 I say that, because it isn’t really obvious what it is at first. It’s sort of like the first Kindle back in 2007, or I suppose a television set in 1948. It does something for sure, and it’s clear that something is futuristic and pretty unprecedented…but just how you’ll use it, and how it will fit into your life, is a bit of a mystery. You have no doubt that it will fit into it, even become important…but for now, the right reaction seems to be a half smile and bemusement.”

I now know the answer to the question.

One of my siblings just got married in New York. Most of my family lives on the other coast, and my Significant Other and I made the trip there. Our now adult kid also met us in New York.

Another of my siblings, though, has a physical condition which prevented making that cross-country trip.

We both have Echo Shows. It occurred to me that I could simply pack our Echo Show in our checked suitcase, and then set it up to allow “attendance” from California.

I had the original box in which it came (doesn’t everybody?) ;), so I was confident in packing it (I also wrapped it in clothes…I had some bubble wrap (again, doesn’t everybody?), but that seemed less practical (and I was a bit concerned it might interfere with their security checks).

Initially, I thought we might use it at more than one event…the family dinner, the rehearsal dinner, the reception, and a brunch.

It turned out not to be practical to take it to the events at restaurants. I could have provided it a wi-fi hotspot from my Samsung Galaxy S7, but plugging it into electricity would have been a challenge. I had even considered bringing a portable  power supply, but another issue would have been getting it from place to place. We didn’t rent a car: we used Lyft most of the time (and subway/trains part of the time). This was our first experience with Lyft, by the way, and it worked really well (although it could be expensive: a $50 trip for two of us. It becomes cheaper with more people, obviously).

The Echo Show isn’t a big item, but it does have some weight to it, it is deep, and with me only having one hand free (I walk with a cane) and needing to grip railings sometimes (I will say, I was surprised at how difficult it was to get around in New York subway stations…there often weren’t elevators nearby, or working escalators) it just would have been too hard.

At the reception, however, it was perfect.

The wedding and reception were at a working farm (which is set up for the public to visit). There was a reception hall. I explained to the very helpful host there what we were doing. There was an issue at first: apparently, the people with the sound system had blown a fuse, so the first five or six electrical outlets we tried didn’t work.

We did find one actually in the reception hall near a window. I could plug it in and put the device on the windowsill. I also did tip it forward: in a future generation, I would love to see a screen you could tilt on the Show. The angle that it is at now (I’m guessing maybe 30 degrees) is great if you are standing above it looking down…for example, if you were cooking in the kitchen and watching a “how to” video on YouTube. The camera ends up pointing too far up if you are trying to have a conversation with the person…they tend to see the ceiling. When I had it set up in the window sill (which was somewhat above waist height for an average person), my remote sibling couldn’t see the tables in the room until I leaned it against the window. This sill was deep enough that it sat fairly securely, but I would have been happier to just tilt the camera or screen.

I was part of the wedding party, so I couldn’t livestream the ceremony itself (the ceremony was great,with a reading from Hitchhiker’s Guide!). With the effective “far field” microphones, my remote sibling was able to hear the ceremony from inside the building!

Before the ceremony, I had introduced a number of people. I thought that might be awkward, but people embraced the idea right away. They did tend to speak more loudly than necessary…like early users of the telephone or cellphone, perhaps. They were very friendly, and the tech worked just fine. Oh, I forgot to mention…the host did need to give me the wi-fi password, and I did need to sign into my Amazon account, but those were both easy.

During the reception, it was just as I had hoped. People walked up and chatted. I glanced over at one point, and the people at the nearest table (we didn’t know them) were holding up the wedding program for my sib to see. I did turn up the volume when it got loud, so people could hear better.

My sib commented on dancing along to a particular song, and enjoying “being there”.

The cat watched part of the wedding, too. 🙂

When my remote sibling had to get up, they just put a physical sign on the chair that said, “Be back soon”.

All in all, it was a big success.

This is what we want our technology to do: to improve our lives, to bring us closer together, to give us opportunities we wouldn’t have had otherwise.

It should be simple. It should work. It should be a benefit.

At the wedding, the

Echo Show (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

did all of those things.

A few last thoughts:

  • I do wish we had taken advantage of the discount and bought two Echo Shows at the same time (that discount is still available…it’s basically a two pack). I would have given one to our parents to use
  • I was thinking about how the venue could buy one. The one big hurdle to that is that you have to be on someone’s contact list and they have to have opted into it. That could still be done: the guest would log into their own Amazon account, just like I did. The other person would need to be set up as a contact. I do wish Amazon would make that easier, so we could call anyone with the Alexa app or a Show) and they could opt in that one time
  • There is a hypothetical risk that someone could simply end the videocall and then use the Echo Show to order things. You can stop the ordering, but it would be interesting to be able to lock the videocall into being all that’s on the screen without entering a code
  • Could you have done the same thing with an iPad or other tablet? I suppose that’s possible…but the microphone tech on the Echo Show makes a big difference. There was also the simplicity…plug it into the outlet, put in the wi-fi password, my password, and make the call. I have used Facetime some, but I just don’t know how it would compare

Thank you, Amazon, for helping who we are, both alone and together, transcend what limitations the physical world can place on us.

What do you think? Do you have questions about our experience? Have you done remote presence another way which worked well? I would have considered a remote presence robot, but those are very expensive…and would have been impractical for it to move around in a dancing crowd…and do you think that might have been creepier? Feel free to let me and my readers know your opinions by commenting on this post.

Bonus story: I like to include a book-related story, and this is a page on Amazon I hadn’t noticed before:

Price Drops on Recommended Books (at AmazonSmile*)

This one was really interesting! I don’t know if I’m only seeing books which are recommended for me…I don’t think so, but I have eclectic enough buying habits that it isn’t obvious. I might have bought many of the books I was shown, but there weren’t any shown which would match with say, the recommendations I get based on my wish list(s). There were books by Robyn Carr, Nelson DeMille, Nora Roberts, and Loren D. Estleman, among others. There were about fifty titles. The discounts looked like they went from about 20% to about 75% off…significant. I won’t tell you that they are bestsellers from the Big 5 publishers, but there are well-known authors from major publishers (Silhouette, Open Road). I think it’s worth checking…

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amaz on site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Round up #161: Harry Potter in Motion, 105 years of Tarzan

September 10, 2017

Round up #161: Harry Potter in Motion, 105 years of Tarzan

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

It’s a hit!

The latest version of Stephen King’s novel, It

official site

has set a number of records at the box office (just to point this part out: it looks like it will, by itself, be about 75% of the box office of the top twelve this past weekend, according to this

BoxOfficeMojo story

Stephen King is having a good year. 😉

That’s despite The Dark Tower adaptation underperforming many people’s expectations.

On paper (you remember paper, right?) 😉 that didn’t seem likely. It’s a very long book…shouldn’t it do better as a premium cable series? There already was a memorable visible medium version, with one of my favorite actors, Tim Curry. So, this is a remake. The book came out more than thirty years ago…so it was published before most of the most frequent moviegoers (age 25-39…I think that’s the right group) were reading books.

Still, it succeeded…and well! We have to yet see if it has legs (if it will maintain box office). A B+ on Cinemascore, and an 86% “tomatometer” and 89% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, it will likely maintain some momentum. Those aren’t top of the scale, but are quite good.

There should be a bandwagon effect, and assuming it can stay in the theatres through Halloween, it will get a boost then.

Bottom line: books still make great movies. 🙂

Oh, and they are talking about a sequel…would that mean a new book from Stephen King? Perhaps not…

Happy birthday, Tarzan!

Speaking of books which have been box office gold (and dross…there have been a lot of Tarzan movies), September 10th is 105 years since Tarzan was first published (according to ERBzine). It was an important book and series in literature…one which is sometimes now not included in school libraries and curricula because of concerns about insensitivity.

A crushing loss…Terry Pratchett’s unpublished works steamrolled

I don’t even crack the spines of mass market paperbacks when I read them, and seeing old books “repurposed” into art or furniture makes me cringe.

So, it wasn’t easy for me to read that, as reported in this

Scroll.in article by Claire Squires

and many other sources, that a hard drive belonging to the recently deceased science fiction author Terry Pratchett ( at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*), which may continue something like ten unpublished novel, was literally crushed by a steamroller.

That would be horrible…but it was carrying out the author’s wishes.

While I lament the loss of any literature to the world, I do also believe it is up to the author. We’ve had those discussions on this blog about copyright and public domain. Do books belong, in some way, to the society in which they were created, or do they belong to the creator?

If you believe the former, then would you have thought it was appropriate for the government to seize the hard drive? Do you secretly hope that other copies of the manuscripts exist…and that they are eventually published, presumably contrary to the author’s wishes? Maybe when they would have fallen into public domain?

I think it’s a bit of a tough one…

Harry Potter and the Kindle in Motion edition

Just a quick note on this one…

What would make you buy a new edition of Harry Potter?

Well, this one

Harry Potter Kindle in Motion (at AmazonSmile*)

is different…and is Harry Potteresque. 🙂

It has pictures in it…which move.

I’ve read a Kindle in Motion book (partially), and it’s…and it’s an interesting gimmick. 🙂 It can be an enhancement, but honestly, I also find it a bit creepy when the ads on my Kindle Fire start moving. However, if the appropriate things in a Harry Potter book moved, that could be cool!

What do you think? Feel free to let me and my readers know your opinion on any stories in this post (or other e-book/Amazon stories) by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amaz on site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

Traveling with Amazon gadgets

September 9, 2017

Traveling with Amazon gadgets

I’ve recently (or currently…or will do in the future and have time tripped there and back again..I like to keep this mysterious, and thieves, it doesn’t mean our house is empty) 😉 traveled with some Amazon gadgets.

I’ve got…let’s see: three Amazon gadgets with me (and my Significant Other has one more). I normally use more than that at home, but you know, I travel light. 😉

I didn’t bring a Kindle EBR (E-Book Reader), although I typically use two in a day (a Voyage in bed, and a Paperwhite). I did bring my now discontinued Kindle Fire HDX tablet. I’ve been using that a lot. I’ve never flown on JetBlue before, and that was a really good experience! They had a 120v plug at each seat, which meant I could plug in my laptop and use the USB to charge our phones and tablets, so that was nice.

They also had good video options. Even though the movies are edited for airplanes, I decided to watch the recent Man from U.N.C.L.E. remake.

SPOILER ALERT

I have to say, rarely has an adaptation more misunderstood the source material, in my opinion (the Matthew Broderick Godzilla is another contender). I watched the original series, and I have rewatched several episodes recently. The camaraderie between the Russian Illya Kuryakin and the American Napoleon Solo was part of it (and shocking for the time…in Cold War America, a Russian spy was a teen idol), but there was something else important and really missed in this one: Illya and Napoleon were ordinary people doing a job…not Supermen nor Ivan Dragos. The movie completely subverts that, with Illya in particular being practically inhumanly powerful.

END SPOILER ALERT

I did particularly like the Man from U.N.C.L.E. novels, by the way. 🙂

I also read on my KFHDX on the plane: both a book and a magazine (using the Zinio app).

At the hotel, I use the KFHDX the way I do at home: it’s my nightstand clock, and I also use it for my morning Flipboard read.

We have our

Echo Show (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

with us, but it had a specific purpose on the trip. One sibling couldn’t make the trip due to medical issues. The Echo Show will be a way for that person to remotely attend events. They can see what’s happening, and other people can walk up and talk to the device. I don’t have the Show turned on in the family room…our now adult kid will be with us for one night, and doesn’t like the “Always Listening capability.

The Amazon gadget which is surprisingly effective? A

Fire TV Stick (at AmazonSmile*)

This inexpensive, small (about the size of a finger) device means we can watch the same show in the hotel that we normally watch at home.

I just put it into the hotel TV’s HDMI slot, plugged it into a power outlet, and connected it to the hotel wi-fi.

That’s it…ready to go!

I’m also using my Samsung Gallery S7 and a laptop.

Amazon gadgets are part of 0ur vacation…like they are when we are not on vacation. 😉

Do you have a good Amagadget on the road story? Feel free to tell me and myr eaders by commenting on this post (that goes for questions, too).

 

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amaz on site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

 

 

 


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