Round up #160: Alexa expands, AWF Lockers arrive

Round up #160: Alexa expands, AWF Lockers arrive

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

Amazon Lockers arrive at Whole Foods

That didn’t take long!

On the second day of business for Amazon Whole Foods (they don’t call it that…I just like the initialism of AWF), there was an Amazon Locker bank in one near my work. That doesn’t mean they are everywhere yet, but this is a great development.

We use Amazon Lockers quite often. It’s a safe place for us to have packages sent: we have actually had Amazon packages stolen from our doorstep (it’s a problem in the neighborhood), so we normally have them sent to my Significant Other’s work. However, that often adds an extra day to us getting it (it goes to central receiving first), and, well, there are some things you may not want to open at work.

Now that we have two locations (one at Safeway, walking distance from home), one near where we work (I work different places, but this is one of the places I go the most), we can have holiday packages sent to the two different ones. My SO’s packages could go near work, mine could go near home, or vice versa.

Amazon Lockers are also great when you do returns! I definitely see this being valuable for offices in the area.

They are simple to use. Go to your account at Amazon, then to Your Addresses. Add a new address, and you’ll see a link for the lockers. You can search by address, zip code, landmark, or name. I saw the name at the Whole Foods, so it was very easy. Interestingly, when I put in the name of the one I wanted, it also showed me two in Australia…it’s international!

Then, when ordering, we just select that as an address. If it’s too big or can’t be sent there for some other reason, it will let us know.

They send you a code and a scan image when it arrives, then you have three days to get it.

Oh, and as I predicted: it’s not a neon orange. 🙂 While I have some color vision deficiency, it looks to me like a muted green…in the picture in this post, it looks browner than it actually is to me.

Alexa everywhere

While we aren’t seeing that much innovation in Amazon hardware lately (not like we did when Kindles were first released), they are greatly expanding their software and partnerships.

As Toni Reid, Vice President, Amazon Alexa said in this

press release

they’ve added dozens of features recently.

That press release was about being able to send music to specific Alexa devices…even to multiple devices at the same time (by naming a group, like “downstairs”). This really enhances what you can do with it, and should allow for “surround sound” type effects.

Eventually, this could be combined with the ability of the

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

to know when you are there (it sleeps when there isn’t activity in the room, wakes up when you are there) to have the music “follow you”. You could be listening to a podcast like Len Edgerly’s

The Kindle Chronicles

in the upstairs bedroom, have it pause (automatically…no intervention on your part) as you stepped out of the room, and then resume again when you got to the downstairs family room.

I think we’ll get more of that sort of awareness from other Alexa devices eventually…that’s one major area of development in technology right now, better world sensing.

After that press release, there was already another major announcement in this

press release

Amazon and Alexa are partnering with Microsoft and Cortana so you can invoke the other one’s digital assistant on their devices. When this is done, you will have the ability to call up Alexa on Windows 10 devices, and Cortana on your

Echo family (at AmazonSmile*)

devices.

This might get me to use Cortana more. 🙂

I compared the four major digital assistants at the time in this post:

Alexa now does follow on questions!

I like Cortana, but it just hasn’t been as convenient for me to use.

Now, ideally, Cortana and Alexa would share information and their strengths, but I don’t see that happening. If Cortana knows that so-and-so is your Significant Other, I don’t expect it to tell Alexa that. 🙂

The way Alexa is improving its reach, I’m expecting that eventually, when I buy a new pair of shoes, it will say “You haven’t paid for these shoes yet,” in Alexa’s voice, instead of just old-fashioned squeaking. 😉

I don’t think we are done with hardware innovation at Amazon by any means, even though they’ve been doing partnering in that area (like in phones) in addition to Amazon branded devices.

We should get some very interesting announcements this month on hardware…at least, that’s my guess. 🙂 The original

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

which I call the tower, has been on a 44% off sale…and is now indefinitely sold out. I do think there is a pretty good chance that means we get a new model announcement soon.

I also think we could see a VAM (Virtual/Augmented/Mixed/Merged reality) device from Amazon this year, although my “official prediction” has only been for a big move, which could be only software/services. I’m feeling the lack of Prime Video in VR currently. I’ve started watching the latest iteration of The Tick (my favorite previous one was the cartoon version…I didn’t enjoy the 2001 Patrick Warburton version as much…I think Warburton’s dry humor may not have been enthusiastic enough). I would watch it at work when I workout at lunch if it was available…which means I won’t watch as much of it as quickly.

Hmm…running out of time this morning (I wrote more on these topics than I expected, so a few headlines):

What do you think? Have you seen Amazon Lockers at your AWF? Have you seen Amazon devices for sale there (I haven’t yet, but I’ve had people mention it)? What hardware innovations would you like to see in Amazon’s next announcement? What software? Will you switch between two digital assistants on one device? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

My  current Amazon Giveaways:

We Can Do It! giveaway

That’s for a chance to win my sibling’s book:

We Can Do It!: A Problem Solving Graphic Novel Guide for General Physics (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

The Collected I Love My Kindle Blog Volume 1 (at AmazonSmile*)

That collects the first 101 posts in this blog. I didn’t stop at 100 because I wanted to include all of my Sherlock Holmes story

A Kindle Abandoned

That’s a random giveaway, and will end in eight days. I do ask that you watch a twenty second video of one of our dogs when you enter…you know, we’re hoping it goes viral. 😉 Ideally, it would show up on the  Echo Show (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)…that would be so cool!

Here is the link:

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/de03be17bb4d0ecb

and the details:

Start:Aug 28, 2017 4:42 AM PDT
End:Sep 5, 2017 11:59 PM PDT

Winner:Randomly selected after Giveaway has ended, up to 8 winners.
Requirements for participation:
Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
Watch a YouTube video
18+ years of age (or legal age)

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!

*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 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.

14 Responses to “Round up #160: Alexa expands, AWF Lockers arrive”

  1. Phink Says:

    There are some great things about living in a small town in NE Arkansas such as low property tax. I pay $295 a year taxes on my 1,200 square foot home. There are advantages but also disadvantages such as I will probably see my first Amazon locker someday while traveling and the same with an Amazon store or delivery. We will be one of the last to get anything “new fangled” as we like to say here. I have no idea where I’d charge an electric car away from home for instance. I have considered buying one but it’d be too hard to charge away from the house.
    I’d like to give the locker a try but I’d have to go on vacation somewhere to do so LOL.

    • Lady Galaxy Says:

      I suppose there either is or eventually will be an app for locating recharging stations. The local “upscale” grocery has several parking spaces with outlets for recharging electric cars. Since I don’t have one, I haven’t checked to see if there’s some sort of meter or if it’s a perk of some sort.

      • Phink Says:

        I have never seen a public charging station within 100 miles of my home. Even the big city of Jonesboro which is about 25 miles away and a population of 68,000 does not have one. Well, I’ve never seen one there. I bet you are right about the app and if I ever get close to getting one I’ll have to investigate further.

        I love the idea of battery powered vehicles but the technology is just not there yet on affordable used ones. The Nissan Leaf is a very nice vehicle and I’ve researched it a lot but with a range of about 100 miles with the heater off even driving to Jonesboro in winter could be a problem. I’m waiting on a 250 mile range vehicle that cost what a Leaf cost used. Just think, no gas, no oil, no antifreeze to worry about, no transmission to service, and very little maintenance which is the main reason I love our battery powered push mower.

        A few weeks ago we were in front of a Tesla. I slowed down forcing it to pass us in order to look at the side. It got in front and I told my wife “look at that incredible tail pipe!” She said “I don’t see a tail pipe.” I responded “exactly.” You see, there is no need for a tail pipe.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Phink!

      I’m away from my resources, but checked Plugshare.com… they show two EV charging stations in Jonesboro. 🙂

  2. Lady Galaxy Says:

    I’m reading a cozy mystery book, Purrfect Heat (The Mysteries of Max Book 4) by Nic Saint, in which two of the characters are attempting to use Alexa as their alibi for a time when a murder was committed. Either the characters or the author don’t quite understand exactly what the Echo does or doesn’t do. They seem to think that it records everything said in the house and sends it to the cloud. I haven’t read far enough to find out how that plot point works out. Of course, since the book involves cats who can “talk” with their person there’s a lot of suspension of disbelief involved. I know, it’s brain candy, but this brain has read “MOBY DICK” and all of Shakespeare’s plays, even the ones most people have never heard of like “Troilus and Cressida” and “Coriolanus” ! That alone should cut me some slack;)

    • Phink Says:

      Lady Galaxy, I have never read Shakespeare. In part because I’m afraid the dialogue of the time would really throw me off and make it hard to read. I am currently watching Romeo and Juliet on Netflix however and decided last night I might need to read one of his plays. Which one would you recommend?

      • Lady Galaxy Says:

        The more you read of the plays, the more you become accustomed to the language. I always reminded my students that Shakespeare was popular in his day and had to write to please the audience in the pit who would gladly throw disgusting things at the stage if they did not like the play. I imagine that if Shakespeare were alive today, he’d be head writer for the most popular TV dramas and comedies with an occasional historical documentary thrown in for good measure.
        My favorite play is “Macbeth.” Or as folks in the theater say, “The Scottish play.” It opens with witches. It is the shortest of the plays but so full of ambition and guilt and bloody symbolism. It contains some of my favorite quotes such as the infamous, “Double, double, toil and trouble, fires burn and cauldrons bubble,” as well as “Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow creeps in this petty pace from day to day to the last syllable of recorded time. And all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle. Life is but a walking shadow. A poor player that struts and frets his hour on the stage and then is heard no more. ‘Tis a tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing.” Of all the analytical papers I had to write in college that almost destroyed my love of literature, my favorite was the one where I explored all the bloody symbolism. My least favorite was “The Affects of Platonism on Shelly’s Alastor.” That’s the one that almost broke the spine!
        “Romeo and Juliet” used to be my favorite until I started teaching 9th grade. Every year, for 13 years, I had from 3-4 classes of 9th grade English and Romeo and Juliet was part of the curriculum. So I’ve probably read along with, listened to the recordings of and watched the abridged Franco Z. movie at least 50 times. When people asked me why I moved from teaching HS to be a Title I Reading specialist for K-6 my answer was because I couldn’t bear to watch Juliet and Romeo die one more time! Of course, now that I’ve been away from the HS for 23 years, I’m at the point where if I surf into the Franco Z. movie on TV, I’ll continue watching even though I can quote along with all the characters!

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Phink!

        First, I’d recommend a book entitled

        Shakespeare’s Bawdy

        It explains the slang, and especially (but not exclusively), the “naughty bits”.

        Second, I’d consider taking a Shakespeare analysis class…I found that fascinating, and can give you some real insights! That’s a commitment, though.:)

        I would perhaps start with A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It’s pretty accessible: you’ll follow the plot with ease. I have appeared in the play myself. As Lady Galaxy pointed out, one of the really amazing things about Shakespeare was the diversity of styles and genres. I’ve had to update what I used to say, but if Shakespeare were alive today, the Bard would be writing both Game of Thrones and Two Broke Girls. 😉

        Shakespeare wrote in different styles for different situations. The Scottish Play is a good suggestion, but realize that it is a dark play, sort of psychological horror. Midsummer is light and frothy, more of a high-concept comedy. The Scottish Play is Ryan Murphy; Midsummer is Jerry Lewis. (I’ll just duck now from the things being hurled at me for those comparisons!).

        If you like history generally, Henry IV, Part 2 is good (even though this one isn’t exactly solid history). You don’t need to have read Part 1 first. Falstaff is a big, funny character and basically was popular enough from 1 that 2 was written to focus on Sir John…almost a spin-off in modern parlance. Is it the best Shakespeare play? No…it seems a bit like it was rushed into print, like some other sequels. However, even if the entire play isn’t as successful or strongly plotted as Part 1, I would say it’s more fun. 🙂

      • Lady Galaxy Says:

        I agree that “Midsummer Night’s Dream” is probably the most entertaining of the comedies. It’s also the most “distinctive”. For some reason, the comedies mostly tend to run together in my head, probably because I took that course during the summer which meant I was required to read two plays per week! “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is the only one that stands out in my memory.

        Lot’s of allusions to Shakespeare throughout the Trek franchise. The Star Trek: Next Gen episode, “Time’s Arrow,” had the crew of the Enterprise D pose as an acting troop planning a performance of “Midsummer Night’s Dream” as their cover story when they went back in time to San Francisco to discover how Data’s head ended up buried there.

        And of course, none of his plays were written to be read. The best way to experience them is to see them “acted out” either on stage or on “film,” or whatever format in the rapidly evolving way of storing performances works on our rapidly becoming obsolete devices;)

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Lady!

        Well, for many of Shakespeare’s comedies, there is definitely a style (hidden identities is part of it, and witty banter), as there is with Tyler Perry, Woody Allen, or James Burrows. Midsummer does have those elements, but puts it into a different context.

        Star Trek: The Original Series also had The Conscience of the King, which featured a troupe of Shakespearean actors on the Enterprise…

      • Phink Says:

        I sure do appreciate yall’s time and effort helping me with this. I actually seen one of his plays I’m guessing 6 or 7 years ago. I don’t remember the name but it was about a shipwreck. My wife had to keep whispering to me what was going on. I know that sounds silly but the language you know.

        That play was so incredible at Arkansas State University because we were literally 4 feet from the stage. It was a very small room that only held a few hundred.

        I discovered reading at 27 and discovered the theatre at 39, I had never seen a play, outside school my entire life. At 39 after losing my leg I enrolled in a community college and my Fine Arts: Theatre instructor forced us to see one play that year and write about it. I see him every once in a while and thank him every time because just like reading I had no idea the wonders I was denying myself. I love watching thespians live on stage now. I chose a dinner theatre in little Pocahotas Arkansas called the Imperial Dinner theatre. Good food, amateurs who don’t get paid but love their craft, and great atmosphere. Plus, only $25 a person including your meal.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Phink!

        You’re welcome! It’s fun to do. 🙂

        The one with the shipwreck is The Tempest. I do think the language is tougher in that one than in some others: it’s more metaphorical than many of the others.

        I think one of the best “you didn’t know that was Shakespeare” movies is based on The Tempest: Forbidden Planet. Star Trek owes some stylistically to it, and Robbie the Robot is still a great creation (and went on to appear in some other things, even though Robbie was built for Forbidden Planet). I saw a version of The Tempest done with Balinese shadow puppets (and humans) and using gamelan, a type of Balinese music. Really interesting!

        Sounds like a great theatre experience! I was a professional actor, and I really like seeing amateurs…even (perhaps especially) high school. 🙂

        Oh, and if it makes you feel better, my Significant Other really can’t understand British accents! I find that funny myself, but it does affect what we watch.

      • Lady Galaxy Says:

        I was lucky enough to live close to one of the cities that was part of a summer stock theater company known as the Kenley Players run by the late, great John Kenley. He hired the actors of then current popular TV shows to come star in productions of plays and musicals. I got to see Richard Chamberlain (Dr. Kildare) in “Private Lives.” That was my consolation prize for not being allowed to use my standing room only tickets for the Beatles concert on the same day because my Dad was afraid I’d be crushed in the crowd. I also saw Noel Harrison (The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.) in “Where’s Charlie” (“I’m from Brazil, where the nuts come from.”),and Robert Horton (Wagon Train) as Curley in “Oklahoma.” The guy had a great singing voice.

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