Archive for the ‘Round-ups’ Category

Round up #166: YouTube, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon device deals

December 6, 2017

Round up #166: YouTube, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon device deals

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

There are still great deals for the holidays at Amazon

I’m quite impressed with the deals this year at Amazon! It doesn’t feel like there is as much luck to it…while the “competition” is fun, it’s also good not to feel like you have to keep hovering over that Buy button. 😉

We are in Day 4 of

Amazon’s 12 Days of Deals (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

They do theme it (today is “For busy little elves of all ages”), but there are always deals in many categories. At time of writing, there are 167 pages of deals.

For Amazon devices, they are doing some interesting things with refurbs (you can get an Echo “tower”, the big tall one, for $69.99, which they say is 58% off). They are also doing bundles: today, you could do a basic Kindle and a Fire 7 for just $94.99! You can get a Fire TV Stick and an Echo Dot for $59.98 (33% off).

You can sort the deals, not only by price high to low or low to high, but by discount. The highest discount I’m seeing right now? 95%…

Toodle-loo, YouTube

Well, I’ll miss ya, YouTube.

It’s not that YouTube is going out of business, but Google is currently blocking YouTube viewing on the

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

(by the way, I was just speaking with someone at work yesterday, and we agree: the Show is our favorite Alexa device at this point), which they’ve done before. When I tried it just now, I got a message saying that YouTube was not available on that device…even though the Amazon piece of it seemed to launch.

While I did sometimes use the Show to watch YouTube, that’s still probably not that big a market for YouTube.

More important for me, and probably for many people, is that YouTube will not be available on the

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

starting January 1st, 2018.

That means, pretty much, that I’ll never watch YouTube again…at least while this situation persists.

A Fire TV and a Fire TV Stick are our sources of TV…we have one in the family room, one in the bedroom, and that’s it.

I was watching YouTube quite often in the bedroom (getting ready in the morning), but that will be done.

Oh, wait! I need to rethink this a bit…there are (at this point) some YouTube videos I really want to watch. There are some great creators whose work is available on YouTube. For that matter, one of our dogs has a video on YouTube (“Treadmill, Elf!” at YouTube). I will still have a place I might watch YouTube: in virtual reality on my Samsung Gear. I usually watch Netflix or Hulu (I’m partway through season six catching up on The Walking Dead, for example), but if I heard about a YouTube video I really wanted to see, I could see it there. Random discovery, though? Done.

So, there’s a question here: will people not buy a Fire TV device because it doesn’t have YouTube, or will they stop watching YouTube because it isn’t on Fire TV?

The answer is probably neither.

People will watch YouTube on phones and tablets (hm…will YouTube continue to work on Fire tablets? Stopping that would be hard…the Fire TV needs an app, a tablet doesn’t), and they’ll still buy the relatively inexpensive Fire TVs.

That’s my opinion…here’s another take on it:

The Verge article by Chris Welch

Amazon is also “delisting” new Nest thermostats from Google, and they stopped carrying the Chromecast some time ago.

As some of my readers can guess from how I felt about brick-and-mortar bookstores (I’m a former manager of one) not carrying Amazon published books, I don’t think it’s a good play (on either of their parts). It’s worse on Google’s part, I think…they are choosing not to let their product be available to people, as opposed to Amazon making someone else’s product not available, but it all results in diminishing your customers’ (or potential customers’) experiences.

Barnes & Noble announces financials…and the stock market responds

According to this

Money.CNN.com graph

Barnes & Noble is down almost 14% in the past five days.

Not coincidentally, that’s since they released their second quarter financial results:

press release

Comparable store sales are down (which they blame in part on no Harry Potter book this year), but perhaps more troubling for their strategy is that non-book categories were also down.

Is this stock market drop a short-term response to a bad quarter because there wasn’t a Potter book?

Um…the stock is down more than 40% year to date, so that’s a no.

Alexa lists have really improved

We use the Alexa lists, and I was very pleased to see really significant improvements to them recently. In one case, they did what I asked (but I’m not saying they did it because I asked it). It’s a simple thing, but they moved the button that deletes all of your completed items. It used to be in the same place as the button that took you to your completed items (so you could, with one tap, put them on the active list again)…therefore, if you tapped twice because you didn’t think it responded the first time, you could accidentally wipe out your history (we did it a couple of times). The new arrangement is much better.

The other thing is that you can create your own lists! We used to just have a shopping list and a to-do list, but I added a separate pharmacy/vet(erinarian) list. My Significant Other really likes having an empty list, and when I put on there a pet med we didn’t need for a month, that wasn’t happening.

The other list we are using right now is a list of “giftees” for the holiday. While we don’t record in it what we got for whom (we do that in a Google doc), it lets us know for whom we still need to shop.

“How’s the book coming, Bufo?”

I am still working on “Because of the Kindle”, and I do intend to finish it…but I’m not quite sure when. I originally wanted it out by the 10th anniversary of the Kindle (back in November), and then I was thinking by December 25th, but it honestly will probably be into next year. It’s just a much bigger project than I originally envisioned…and I started doing some daily things which really take up some time.

I have the Bookish Birthdays, and it can take a half an hour easily to do one. Once I’ve been doing it for a year, that won’t be true, though. 😉 I do get positive response to them.

The other public one is “On this date in geeky history”. That’s tied into  The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip. It definitely is building that, which is good, but again, that takes some serious time.

I also have something I’m currently doing just for work (although I do it on my own time), and that may eventually become public, but that takes some time, too.

I totally understand how those have started taking up my time: I teach time management, I’ve taught project management, and I’ve completed my work for a certification as an “Associate Improvement Adviser”. I can objectively say I’m good at it: I can see the results I get when I train other people in it, and measurement is part of all this. However, it reminds me of a quote which is in my book

The Mind Boggles: A Unique Book of Quotations (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

“Another romantic lunacy. We assume that a personality problem can be liquidated merely through an understanding of it–as though a man could lift a ,mountain once he admitted it was heavy.”
–Dr. Charles “Doc Bedside” Bedecker
Chthon
written by Piers Anthony

🙂

I’m not saying that this a problem. I suppose that’s one of the advantages of not having a traditional publisher: I’m not being pressured to meet a deadline, and therefore put out an dramatically incomplete work.

My apologies to those of you have wonderfully contributed thoughts for the book that it isn’t out as soon as you thought…and that does mean there is still time to share your thoughts with me for possible publication.

The book is in my plans, though!

Would you watch a video on Amazon for a discount?

This

Quartz article by Helen and Dave Edwards

talks about a new patent by Amazon.

The basic idea is that you get to an Amazon product page, and if you watch an advertising video, you get a discount on it.

I think that makes a lot of sense.

People do a form of that now with

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

One way you can do a giveaway is to have people watch a video (or at least part of it) before they can enter. I’ve done that one myself, so I can tell you for sure that people do it.

Of course, based on an earlier story in this round up, it might not be a YouTube video… 😉

 

I finally did it…

I’ve never cracked a smartphone screen before, but I finally did it with my Galaxy S7 Edge. We were at the dog park, I was wearing gloves, and I dropped it…face down on to rocks. I can still use it, but I do have hairline cracks when I’m watching VR. We’ll need to replace my SO’s phone soon, due to a life change, but we will instead be replacing two phones. 🙂 Fortunately, there are two for one deals around. It’s also possible I’ll try to replace the screen myself…there are kits for about $40, and while I’m better with software than hardware, I can do some of that. Just don’t ask me to put oil in your car…I literally put washer fluid in the oil once.

What do you think? What is Barnes & Noble’s future? Does the YouTube thing matter to you? How long will it last? Can Amazon develop an alternative to YouTube…or would it be more like Amazon’s traditional publishing, where it has a market niche, but doesn’t threaten the tradpubs (traditional publishers)…or do you think Amazon publishing does threaten them? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.


You can be part of my next book, Because of the Kindle!


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 Amazon 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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Round up #165: Sonny Bono, Amazon-Whole Foods gadget bargains

November 10, 2017

Round up #165: Sonny Bono, Amazon-Whole Foods gadget bargains

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

These may be particularly short this time. 🙂 I’m really on a deadline to get my next book, Because of the Kindle, done in time to have it in the USA Kindle store for the tenth anniversary of the Kindle (November 19th). I’ll really do the bulk of the remaining work the next three days (I’m off on Monday, since I’m working Saturday the 18th). You can still send me your thoughts about what has happened (to you and the world) Because of the Kindle), and possibly have them included at first  publication (I may add more if I update the book). You’ll retain all rights to what you write (and I’ll be able to publish it in ILMK-related publications for no compensation). I’ll link to details at the bottom of the post.

Amazon’s Best Books of 2017 (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I really appreciated that Amazon sent me an individual alert to their “Best Books of 2017”! I always find lists like these (there s more than one) fascinating, and I’m looking forward to a chance to look it more thoroughly.

Archive.org adds books published from 1923-1941 in major move

Somehow, I had missed this a month ago. 😦 Thanks to Open Culture for posting about it, and then it showed up in my Flipboard read.

In this Archive.org

blog post by Brewster Kahle

they publicized the “Sonny Bono Memorial Collection”. There is a lot more to this story than I can cover right now, but essentially, this non-profit (and a truly significant site on the web) has begun making digitally available books which weren’t before (for free to the public). They are leveraging a particular part of copyright law in what feels like a new way. They plan to automate this scanning process in some way, which may result in thousands (perhaps tens of thousands) of books to be available.

Definitely more on this story later.

HDXter damaged

I’ve had my Kindle Fire HDX for more than four years, and I may have gotten more use out of it than out of any of my other devices in the electronic era.

Unfortunately, I dropped it, and it fell out of the original Amazon Origami cover, hitting concrete from a height of more than a meter.

I thought it was okay…but it seems to me like the power button may be broken. I haven’t been able to turn it off since! The Origami cover won’t put it to sleep…and neither will using the button outside of the cover.

That means I may need to replace it during the holiday season…my SO also doesn’t like the recent Fire I bought for my SO’s use, so we’ll have to figure out how we do this.

One possibility? We’ll buy one at Whole Foods. 🙂 There is a lot of information out there about Black Friday sales (again, I’ll post more on this), but at least some Whole Foods are going to carry Amazon devices at a discount (that’s not to say the discount won’t be available online, too). This

The Verge post by Shannon Liao

lists some prices…and they are good!

Have thoughts on these stories? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

Also, I’d love to include more people in Because of the Kindle, if you are interested!


You can be part of my next book, Because of the Kindle!


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 Amazon 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 #164: taking names, tax bill

October 4, 2017

Round up #164: taking names, tax bill

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

“With tax, that comes to…$294 million”

I’ve written a lot about the issue of sales tax collection and Amazon in the USA. That eventually got settled (Amazon is now collecting sales tax in every state that has it).

However, Amazon is an international company, and they haven’t been without tax issues in other parts of the world.

As noted in this

recode post by Jason Del Rey and Tony Romm

and other sources, the European Union (EU) basically just said that Amazon owes about $294 million in “back taxes”.

Now, this one is a little weird and Amazon is looking at its options.

The EU isn’t saying that Amazon did something wrong…it’s saying that Luxembourg gave Amazon an illegal deal, from which the e-tailer benefited. This is roughly parallel to Amazon having bought illegal goods, and then they found the owner and they had to give them back.

This does happen with Kindle owners, and it’s one reason I’ve cautioned people against buying used Kindles in most cases. I have said that if you were buying a Kindle at, say, a garage sale, the seller should be able to turn it on for you and show that it can go to the Kindle store.

If they can’t do that, it may have been reported lost or stolen. If you buy it, first, you likely would not be able to register it. Second, if there is a police report, you might be required to surrender it with no compensation to you.

While about $300 million is a lot of money to most of us, it’s not a big problem for Amazon. Operating income in the second quarter of 2017 was $628 million, so this is less than half that. To be clear, that’s income, not profit…but Amazon isn’t a profit machine anyway. They reportedly spent $13.7 billion on Whole Foods, so this is less than 3%.

My guess is that they probably will end up paying the money eventually, but it’s not a big deal. Amazon has already gotten a market advantage out of the deal, and this doesn’t make that go away…

“Next stop…Amazon, Georgia!”

Amazon has a much publicized search going on for the site of its second headquarters. There is a lot of bidding going on, a lot of offers being made.

One city in Georgia, according to this

The Verge article by Shannon Liao

and other sources, has offered to rename itself “Amazon” if they get it.

There are certainly cities and towns named after businesses around the world. They’ve been named after a lot of things…Tarzana, California is named after the character Tarzan (author Edgar Rice Burroughs ((at AmazonSmile*)) used to own the property).

Then, of course, there is Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, which renamed itself after the popular game show because the host said that they would broadcast the 10th anniversary show from the first town which did so.

It will be interesting to see how this “competition” ends…

51 Science Fiction and Fantasy Books to Choose From in October

One interesting thing about flipping articles into my

ILMK magazine at Flipboard

is that I can see how many times something gets “reflipped”. That gives me some gauge of interest, although creatives (which I consider Flipboarders to be) aren’t necessarily the same as consumers.

People do tend to reflip interesting lists of books (putting a number in the title seems to help).

I thought this one:

Here Are 51 New Science Fiction and Fantasy Books to Choose From in October by Cheryl Eddy in io9

was quite good, and it did get reflips.

It gives you a sense of the books…and this is a broad category, which can contain comedies, dramas, military-themed fiction, light fantasy…I would guess that small “f” fantasy (including science fiction) covers all of the themes that mainstream fiction does.

What do you think? Would you like an Amazon headquarters to come to your town? What would be the risks and benefits? What would you think of a town named Amazon? I have to say, I wouldn’t immediately assume it was because of the e-tailer…what if it was named “Amazon.com”? Is this different from naming a stadium? The New Mexico town outlasted the radio show…could that happen here? Is Amazon in any real trouble with the EU tax bill? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

My current Amazon giveaway:

Beyond Curie: Four women in physics and their remarkable discoveries 1903 to 1963 (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Giveaway:

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/b139e577ee333624

  • Winner:Randomly selected after Giveaway has ended, up to 1 winners.
    Requirements for participation:
  • Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
  • 18+ years of age (or legal age)
  • Follow Scott Calvin on Amazon
Start:Sep 25, 2017 5:46 AM PDT
End:Oct 25, 2017 11:59 PM PDT

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 Amazon 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 #163: books on Fire TV (but no YouTube on Echo Show), Fall’s biggest books

September 27, 2017

Round up #163: books on Fire TV (but no YouTube on Echo Show), Fall’s biggest books

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

“Currently, Google is not supporting YouTube on Echo Show”

This is a big deal, and is hopefully temporary!

Thanks to Richard Lawler and Engadget for

this story

which I then confirmed myself.

The headline on this one is a quotation from our

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

I had said, “Alexa, play a YouTube video”.

The Show usually includes YouTube videos in its “display roulette” (the statements which appear every few seconds on the screen when you have asked it to do something). Do I watch those? Sure, I have: a dog with a fidget spinner on its nose? Yes, please. 😉

However, a bigger deal is probably recipes. I’ve read that one of the main places that people use Echo Shows is in the kitchen, and I assume that’s for something like, “Alexa, show me a how to souffle video”.

Google and Amazon do get along sometimes. 😉 The thing that’s a bit scary in this case is that the issue may be over ads. Google’s business is largely based on advertising, and we aren’t seeing those sorts of ads on the Echo Show. If it’s a choice of ads versus no YouTube videos, I’ll go with no YouTube videos on the Show. Not that I generally object to ads (I have them on all my Amazon devices when available…I’m willing to have advertisers subsidize my purchase price, and I sometimes like the ads)…but on the Show in particular, time matters to me. Every video I’ve watched on there has been short…probably shorter than most YouTube ads.

Could Amazon ever replace YouTube with their own source? It would be hard, because so many people are invested in YouTube as creators. They might have to build a tool which imports the videos, then set up a structure which pays them more money…and convince them that Amazon was going to invest in market share building. Possible, but I think unlikely…even though Amazon does some things with video now.

Stephen “King Midas”

This year, it’s good to be the King…Stephen King (at AmazonSmile*), that is, and that’s likely to continue for the next couple of years at a minimum. 😉

With movies, TV shows, and books, it can be amazing to think back to the beginning, when it was all happening in one person’s mind, with no guarantee that it would be commercially successful (just like most authors).

Here are some of the 2017 and beyond Stephen King happenings (there are a bunch of shorts listed at IMDb for 2017, but I’m not sure what the distribution is on this):

  • The Dark Tower movie (while the budget was a relatively modest $60m, it has only had a domestic gross of about $50m which is about half of the total…it can be considered to have underperformed expectations)
  • The Mist (TV series)
  • It movie (blowing away expectations…with a low budget of $35m, it has a domestic gross of about $268m at time of writing…and is close to half a billion worldwide. Halloween box office should be great for it, with a possible wider re-release at that time)
  • Netflix has an adaptation of 1922 which is getting good buzz
  • Netflix also has Gerald’s Game
  • Audience has a Mr. Mercedes TV series
  • Book: The Eyes of the Dragon (December 19, 2017)
  • Book: Revival (November 28, 2017)
  • Book (with Richard Chizmar): Gwendy’s Button Box (May 16, 2017)
  • Book (with Owen King): Sleeping Beauties (September 26, 2017)

Beyond 2017:

  • Castle Rock TV series (2018)
  • It: Chapter 2 (2019)
  • CUJO (Canine Unit Joint Operations)
  • The Gingerbread Girl
  • The Talisman
  • Another version of The Stand
  • Apt Pupil
  • The Man Who Loved Flowers

Again, that’s just part of what Stephen King has happening.

It all began with words.

Audible books on Fire TV

Alexa on the

Amazon Fire TV 2nd generation (at AmazonSmile*)

(a device which is likely to get a major refresh soon) can both read your Audible audiobooks and do text-to-speech on your Kindle books.

For audiobooks, try

  • Read [title]
  • Play the book [title]
  • Play the audiobook [title]
  • Resume my book
  • Go forward/back
  • Pause

For Kindle books (where the publisher has not chosen to block text-to-speech access), try

  • Read [title]
  • Read my Kindle book
  • Pause
  • Resume my book
  • Go forward/back

I’m not sure what happens if a book has both an audiobook you own and TTS…I assume it will ask you which you want.

I think some people might have wondered why the recent update I covered in

Big software update on my Fire TV stick this morning

included a screen reader function: this is part of why.

If you don’t have a speech-enabled remote, you can use the free Fire TV app on your phone to talk to Alexa.

Oh, you can also now use Alexa while streaming Amazon Music. Once they get us those rumored Amazon auggies (augmented/virtual reality hardware…that’s my term for them, but I’m hoping it catches on), we will have Alexa everywhere. 🙂

Barnes & Noble lists “This Fall’s Biggest Books”

This Fall’s Biggest Books

from Barnes & Noble is likely to be pretty close to the bestsellers. As a former retail manager (bookstore, gamestore), I can tell you that a large part of your survival depends on your ability to predict what will sell well. You aren’t always right (I overbought a Suzanne Somers book, because the actor was local)…but you’d better be right most of the time.

For the most part, these will be the mainstream, “People Magazine books”…

Have any thoughts on these stories you’d care to share with me and my readers? You can do so by commenting on this post.

My current Amazon giveaway:

Beyond Curie: Four women in physics and their remarkable discoveries 1903 to 1963 (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Giveaway:

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/b139e577ee333624

  • Winner:Randomly selected after Giveaway has ended, up to 1 winners.
    Requirements for participation:
  • Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
  • 18+ years of age (or legal age)
  • Follow Scott Calvin on Amazon

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 Amazon 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.

 

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! :) 

Round up #160: Alexa expands, AWF Lockers arrive

August 30, 2017

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.

Round up #159: Brian Aldiss, Amazon device sale

August 23, 2017

Round up #159: Brian Aldiss, Amazon device sale

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

I was lucky to get this shot yesterday: it was overcast where I was in the San Francisco Bay Area, and the sun was only visible for about five seconds when I took it (just in the right place at the right time):

Scre

I zoomed in on it on my phone, and then did a screenshot, which is why it’s a bit fuzzy. I tweeted this, approximately: “That’s no moon, that’s a space sta– never mind, it is the moon.” 😉

Brian Aldiss has reportedly died

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

was literally a Science Fiction Grand Master (that’s an actual title bestowed by the SFWA…Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) and an inductee into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame.

Aldiss was not really an author who mainstream readers were going to embrace…quite simply, the work was often imaginative, even weird. That didn’t stop it from being adapted into movies a number of times, but a moviegoer who only sees a few movies a year wasn’t likely to see Roger Corman’s Frankenstein Unbound or Brothers of the Head (conjoined twin rockstars…but much more than that), although many saw Steven Spielberg’s A.I., based on an Aldiss short story.

I’d say that the Helliconia series is probably the best known now.

Oh, and Aldiss was also a successful anthologist.

Definitely one that we geeks claimed as our own.

I just checked, and fortunately

Frankenstein Unbound (at AmazonSmile*)

is available as part of

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

at no additional cost to members.

If you are a KU member and want to try Aldiss, I’d start there. It’s actually the first thing that comes to mind for Aldiss for me, and it’s probably not what you expect.

Happy birthday, Ray Bradbury!

Today (August 22nd locally as I write this) is

Ray Bradbury‘s

birthday.

There was a time when Bradbury was one of the ABC’s of science fiction: Asimov, Bradbury, Clarke.

They were quite different, though.

Isaac Asimov was the polymath, the one who knew everything about everything. It was widely thought that Asimov had written a book (often one of the best on the topic) in every major section of the Dewey Decimal system, but I believe it turned out there was one missing. I think of Asimov (who I saw in person once, but didn’t know personally) as big-hearted and jovial.

Arthur C. Clarke was the scientist. Clarke was rational, even when writing later on in life about “oddball” topics. Clarke was quiet and wry, not like the larger than life Asimov.

Bradbury, though…Bradbury was the poet. Not that Bradbury only wrote poetry or that the other two didn’t write any, but even when writing prose, it was usually poetic. The Martian Chronicles, for example, is hardly hard science fiction like Andy Weir’s The Martian. Bradbury was the one of the three who got the most mainstream respect (including a special Pulitzer citation), and I sometimes doubted that the “science fiction author” label actually belonged there. A great writer and a geeky writer, certainly, but even Fahrenheit 451 is much more about people and society than a projection of technological and scientific trends. I’m not diminishing Bradbury, of course (or saying that science fiction writers can’t be great)…it was just interesting to me that the author seen as one of the best science fiction writers by the mainstream wasn’t typical of the traditional and narrow definition of the genre.

Amazon devices sale

Amazon’s

Back to School Sale (at AmazonSmile*)

includes significant discounts on Amazon Kindles, Fire Tablets, and especially on Echoes.

One of the biggest discounts is on the

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

which is an absolutely giant 44% off, making “The Tower” only $99.99! That’s in either black or white.

I’ve seen it reported that this goes until September 4th, but I’m not seeing that on the product page. I do think it’s about time for an Echo “refresh”, a new model, so this could be designed to sell down existing stock.

Two other Echo devices are also on sale:

Each of the

Kindle EBRs (E-Book Readers) (at AmazonSmile*)

except for the top of the line Oasis is $20 off.

As far as the

Fire Tablets (at AmazonSmile*)

go, the Fire 7 is $39.99 ($10 off), the Fire HD 8 is $59.99 ($20 off), the Fire 7 Kids Edition is $20 off ($79.99), and the Fire 8 HD Kids Edition is $99.99 ($30 off).

Not on sale? The Fire TV family…because, you know, students never watch TV. 😉

The blossoming of quality TV often has its roots in books

Game of Thrones, The Handmaid’s Tale, Thirteen Reasons Why, American Gods, Big Little Lies…the buzziest TV series nowadays are often (but not always) based on books.

Streaming television, which allows binge-watching, may be enabling this. Books are long and complicated, and it’s tough to adapt them to a movie (which is only a few hours long at most generally). Even a series of movies may find it a challenge. Even a short streaming series season is usually at least eight episodes of an hour each.

Another factor is that streaming television isn’t as restricted as broadcast television in terms of content…it is regulated differently. Netflix and HBO can have more nudity, violence, and “obscene language” than ABC or CBS, which gives it the flexibility to more closely capture some novels.

I think it also helps that the deep pockets and Emmy recognition of Amazon and others has drawn more movie stars to the small (in some cases, very small, as in SmartPhones) screen. Movie stars and creators, because of the freedom and resources.

That, in turn, helps attract more money.

Movies based on books are still part of the cinema landscape, of course, but The Dark Tower wasn’t exactly a blockbuster…and we’ll see how It does. I watched an “experience” of a preview for It in virtual reality yesterday. It had some scares and was creepy, but Tim Curry (full disclosure: I’m a big fan of Tim’s) was creepier. 🙂

We’ll see how it goes…


Bonus: want to see one of our dogs do something cute and smart? “Treadmill, Elf!” at YouTube

My current Amazon Giveaway:

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*)

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! 🙂 

 

 

Round up #158: bye-bye unlimited storage plan, brick-and-mortar Amazon

June 9, 2017

Round up #158: bye-bye unlimited storage plan, brick-and-mortar Amazon

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

Brick-and-mortar Amazon stores

A reader sent me a link to this

The Shatzkin Files: First impressions of an Amazon bookstore

article by Mike Shatzkin.

It’s a knowledgeable piece about one of Amazon’s brick-and-mortar bookstores. This one is in New York: I’m anxiously awaiting the opening of one very near me…and I’ve been hoping to get to talk to the manager before the official opening (I’m a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager myself).

I thought this was a really interesting observation in the article:

““Page Turners” is a section of “books Kindle readers finish in 3 days or less”. The only other brick-and-mortar retailer that could even entertain presenting something like this is Barnes & Noble.”

Amazon has the data to do that…although they do it with books without actual pages (Kindle books). With a paperbook, they can’ tell how quickly you read it, of course. For awhile, people called the equivalent of “page turners” “button mashers”, but now, your device may not even have a visible button. 🙂

Clearly, people are intrigued with Amazon opening physical stores. Here is another article, this one from

The Motley Fool

which has not been particularly high on Amazon.

They are giving you three reasons why Amazon might open a physical bookstore like this…this was my thought on that getting close to two years ago:

Who would be foolish enough to open a new brick-and-mortar bookstore in the Age of Amazon? How about…

These are not normal bookstores…they don’t have to survive by selling the books in the store. They can use the store to get you to buy the books online, and that works.

Here’s the

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

My sibling’s first murder mystery was featured in the Seattle store:

One Murder More (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I wonder if it is in all of them?

Writers answer…

I thought this

Salon article by Teddy Wayne

was a lot of fun! These were creative questions asked of several authors (more than one answers the same question). I particularly like this one: “Without summarizing it in any way, what would you say your book is about?”

At some point, at least a decade ago, movie and book reviews often became summaries, rather than what I consider to be reviews. I’ve gotten to be pretty good at skimming over the summary parts…it doesn’t mean you can’t say anything about the plot or the characters or the situation, but please don’t take away the joy of discovery for me. 🙂 I know not everyone agrees with that, but I like that Wayne made that restriction.

“Yesterdata…all my files were at Amazon…now it looks like that my plan is gone…oh, I believe, in yesterdata”

According to this

TechCrunch article by Natasha Lomas

Amazon is sunsetting its unlimited Amazon Cloud Drive plan. You should read it, because there is a lot to it…but here’s one key short excerpt:

“Current Amazon Drive customers who have the old unlimited storage plan will keep it through its expiration date. After which, those with auto-renew turned on — and less than 1TB of data stored — will be automatically renewed into the 1TB plan/$60pa.

While those with auto-renew turned off, or who have more than 1TB stored, will have to visit the Manage Storage page to opt in to one of the new limited storage plans.”
Now, I don’t think that many people have more than a terabyte of data, but some of my readers may. The unlimited plan has only been around for a couple of years, and they didn’t say you’d have it forever, but some people will be disappointed.
Prime members will continue to have unlimited photo storage.
SOCIAL ACTIVISM THROUGH BOOKS

I liked the concept of this

BOOKRIOT article by Cecelia Lyra

The author sets it up as a game:

“…it’s time to play Match Three Modern-day Issues with a Favorite Work of Fiction.”

I wouldn’t have picked the same books, but that’s how these things go. 🙂

For example, one problem listed is human over-population. First, I question whether this is really particularly a current issue. Birthrates are way down in some countries…Japan is one which has been concerned that their Millenials aren’t having children at the same rate as their parents. You end up with an upside down economic pyramid. Who supports seniors when there aren’t young working people?

Second, how could you not name

Make Room! Make Room! (RosettaBooks into Film) (at AmazonSmile*) by Harry Harrison

in this category? It’s the basis for Soylent Green, and it’s all about human overpopulation.

As I said, I like the idea of matching up current issues with classic books…it can show a continuity of concern which can be reassuring . Mine just would have been different, and there’s nothing wrong with that. 🙂

What do you think? What older book would you recommend people read to relate it to a modern issue? Have you been to an Amazon bookstore…and if not, would you want to go? What question would you ask authors? Do you have a terabyte of data at Amazon? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.


My current Amazon Giveaway

Amazon Giveaway for And Then There Were None!

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/3e6a60b4814649a3

Winner:Randomly selected after Giveaway has ended, up to 1 winner.
Requirements for participation:
Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
Follow @TMCGTT on twitter
18+ years of age (or legal age)

Start:May 12, 2017 6:24 PM PDT
End:Jun 11, 2017 11:59 PM PDT

===

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 Amazon 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! :) 

Round up #157: Subscribe with Amazon, Echo Look, declining e-book sales?

April 30, 2017

Round up #157: Subscribe with Amazon, Echo Look, declining e-book sales?

Oh, clever, clever Amazon!

Some people are afraid of artificial intelligence, and what it will be able to do in the future. Even famous, tech-savvy people have expressed concerns.

I write about robots in one of my other blogs,

The Measured Circle

I define them there this way:

robot is something created by humans (directly or indirectly) that performs tasks (autonomously or not) done by humans (or, more broadly, by other animals…a robot dog, for example, would perform work done by living dogs, including providing companionship). 

The word may conjure up an image of a mechanical man, perhaps clunky and made of metal. The way we use the term at The Measured Circle, it would include software performing human tasks, and non-anthropomorphic devices like an answering machine or a calculator.

On the Robot Beat presents news about our creations that are, even in small ways, replacing us.


Artificial intelligence is definitely part of that…eventually, of course, it will be finding new areas, not replacing what we’ve been doing, but complementing our abilities.

The advances are happening quickly. It includes the way Virtual/Augmented/Mixed/Merged (VAMM) Reality works, and it includes self-driving cars. By the way, I have sent notes to newspeople who used to use the term “driverless cars”. That is really a misrepresentation, and is certainly scary. A self-driving car has a driver…it’s just not a human driver. No one would want a car that had nothing driving it at all! I’ve been noticing that I’m hearing “driverless cars” less lately, which I think is a good thing.

There is, though, a big barrier to artificially intelligent robots helping us (even more than they do now) in our daily lives.

It’s not technological: those issues are being solved.

It’s social.

Humans have to accept these AIbots.

Now, I’m used to dealing with that in my “day job”. I’m a trainer, and I train medical people on their software (I do more, but that’s the really relevant point right now).

The hardest part is to get people to want to use it.

I’ve always defined training based on that: changing behavior. Education is part of it (you can’t do something if you don’t know how to do it), but training is much more merely giving people facts.

I remember somebody wondering why I was tired at the end of teaching an eight hour class. “All you do is talk,” they said.

I said, “Here’s what I want you to do. I want you to find ten people…just the next ten people you see. I want you to get them all on the next bus which is coming. Some of them don’t want to get on that bus, and some of them don’t want to get on a bus at all. That’s what I do all day: get people on the next bus that’s coming.” 🙂

Amazon has the same problem. They are building some great buses…hey, some of them may even fly! However, the average person may not want to get on a flying bus that pilots itself. 😉

The

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

was a great success, but there was a lot of…discomfort from some folks about having it in the house. They didn’t like a device which could listen to them, and which communicated with Amazon in the cloud. When our adult child visited, we unplugged the Echo.

Listening is one thing, but one rapidly expanding area is computers sensing the world.

That used to be one of the big  labor divisions between humans and computers. Computers couldn’t see (or hear/smell/taste/touch) the world, so that was sometimes our role…data entry into an Excel spreadsheet, for example.

Alexa (the “parse-onality” of the Echo) can already hear us.

Can you imagine how creeped out some people would be if Alexa could see us?

The idea of a computer eye watching you in your home is classic science fiction dystopia stuff.

No question that Amazon would like their AIbots to be able to see you in your house…and eventually, to smell/taste/touch, too.

It can be done…our phones see us often, and some of have computers that do, as well (that’s how facial recognition works, for one thing, but when a phone’s camera autofocuses, it is using a type of vision).

How are they going to get customers to accept an “all-seeing eye” in their homes? How can they not be reminded of HAL 9000…or Sauron? 😉

You make the eye seem innocuous, even silly. You market it to people who are the most comfortable with their tech looking at them.

In short, you have it take selfies. 😉

That’s exactly how Amazon is introducing the

Echo Look

Amazon calls the Echo Look a “Hand-Free Camera and Style Assistant”.

See? It’s just a camera. It’s just an assistant. Nothing to worry about here, folks.

I don’t believe that Amazon has spent all this time and money building a device with depth-sensing cameras and clearly some AI just to have it tell you which is the better outfit of two you already own. Oh, sure, it does what a regular Echo does, too, but so do so many other things now.

They make the point that it’s going to keep learning.

Absolutely.

Let me speculate

It will eventually recognize you…won’t that be nice?

Third parties will develop skills. It could recognize when someone comes in the house it doesn’t know…and take a picture and send it to you. It could yell at the dog  (by name) when it tries to get on the table.

It could inventory items in your home…you know, for insurance purposes.

When you’ve gone shopping and come home, it could say, “Hey, did you have any luck? Show me what you got!”

Robots are rapidly learning to understand our expressions. I fully expect that the Echo Look (or its descendants) will know if you are happy or sad or angry.

Let me be clear: I’m not afraid of this. I want my robots to fully understand me. I’m looking forward to computers that seemingly know what I’m thinking and feeling, and know when to help me and when not to help me.

I get, though, why that makes people uneasy…and based on the introduction of the Echo Look, Amazon does, too.

One more thing: this roll-out is like the Echo was originally: it’s only for

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

and you have to request an invitation. It will be $199.99…once available.

Maybe Amazon should hire Gloria Gaynor to sing the jingle, “I Will Subscribe” 😉

Subscriptions are already a big part of the Amazon retail model.

We have many in my family, from books with Kindle Unlimited to movies and music through Amazon Prime, magazines and blogs, to everything from dog food to floss through Amazon’s Subscribe & Save programs.

Now, Amazon is opening up offering subscriptions to other people:

https://www.subscribewithamazon.com/

I suspect this may lead to some really bizarre things that no one actually uses…and that should be fun! “It’s the Snail of the Month club!” “Subscribe to Random Word!” “Unlimited Vowels (up to six at a time)”. “One American Coin Each Month…only $49.99!” 😉

More seriously, this and Echo Look show how Amazon innovates…oh, and I suspect there may be some sort of VAMM subscriptions, too. 🙂

Um…CNN? E-books are real books

Sigh.

I’ve always had a problem with people referring to physical books as “real books” versus e-books. The book is what the writer writes (and the editor edits), not the container in which it is purchased.

This

CNN post by Ivana Kottasova

has this provocative title: “Real books are back. E-book sales plunge nearly 20%”.

Really? How did you measure the sales, since so many of them now are done by individuals, often through Amazon (but not always), which doesn’t report sales numbers?

Oh, I see…the publishers’ associations (in the UK, literally the “Publishers Association”, in the USA, the Association of American Publishers). I’ve published books in the Kindle store…and the AAP doesn’t know about my sales. 😉

Another argument in the article is that the sales of EBR (E-Book Readers) are down…again, Amazon doesn’t report those numbers precisely, but even so, e-books are not just read on EBRs. They are read on tablets, on phones, even on laptops and desktops. I’d want data to show that, if, in fact, EBR sales are down, that means e-book purchases are down.

My intuition (and I don’t have the data) is that more e-books are being read than were being read three years ago…counting free ones, of course.

I do have to say, though…decent clickbait headline. 😉 It made me want to read the article…

Gosh, that all sounded too negative for me! I’m going to recommend you read the article…maybe you’ll find it more convincing than I did.

Update: here’s another article, which I think may have a more…informed perspective:

Publishers Weekly article by Jim Milliot: “With E-books Down, E-tailers Are Still Far From Out”

Perhaps read them both, and then you can decide.

If you have an opinion on it, feel free to let me and my readers know what you think about that, or Echo Look, or Subscribe with Amazon, by commenting on this post.

LAST HOURS TO ENTER

I recently concluded a giveaway for

One Murder More (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

by my sibling, Kris Calvin

and there were ten winners. I’m doing a new one for the same book:

1 winner

Requirements for participation:

  • Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
  • 18+ years of age (or legal age)
  • Follow Kris Calvin on Amazon (you’ll be notified when future books are added to Amazon…I think that’s the only contact you get, although I’m not positive)

Giveaway: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/c2fb235f3cf97ced 

Start:Apr 24, 2017 6:06 AM PDT
End:Apr 29, 2017 11:59 PM PD

Cryptozoology A To Z: The Encyclopedia of Loch Monsters, Sasquatch, Chupacabras, and Other Authentic Mysteries of Nature by Loren Coleman (at AmazonSmile*)

Note: this is the paperback. For some reason, I couldn’t make the Kindle book for this one public (like I could with Kris’ book). I really wanted this one to be public, because the whole goal is to promote Loren Coleman’s medical expense fund GoFundMe campaign. I’ve never met Loren personally, and we have no shared business interests, although we have had some correspondence. I’ve read Loren’s books for decades, and admire how the cryptozoologist/Fortean helps others, including being the Director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Maine (although in so many smaller ways, too). It’s sad to me that someone who has done so much is having trouble dealing with medical expense (due to multiple operations). That doesn’t stop Loren from going to the Bigfoot festival in Willow Creek, California tomorrow, but for people who have enjoyed and benefited from Loren’s work, the medical expenses fund is an opportunity to do a thank you. Literally over 300 people have entered in about a day, and they’ve all tweeted (as a requirement to entry) a link to the fund’s page. I do not ask people to endorse the fund or to ask other people to contribute (or for them to contribute themselves)…I’m just hoping to raise the profile so people who might want to contribute and don’t know about it get the word.

  • Winner:Randomly selected after Giveaway has ended, up to 1 winners.
  • Requirements for participation:
    • Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
    • 18+ years of age (or legal age)
    • Tweet a message

Giveaway: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/303e4f5c496116a2

Start:Apr 27, 2017 9:45 AM PDT
End:May 4, 2017 11:59 PM PDT

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

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

 * I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon 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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