Monday, February 26, 2018

Dear ZD-Net and others News sources that use Slideshows to present stories.

I refuse to read, follow, or look at any of your slideshows.

They are nothing but a vehicle for advertising dollars and are a waste of my time. Pages do not load waiting on ad's, material is drawn out to get more pages, and are generally a total waste of time. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

A.I. and China Versus the U.S.

In this morning's New York Times, under Technology, there is an article: As China Marches Forward on A.I., the White House Is Silent. I have wondered why there has been nothing from this Whitehouse on A.I., or for that matter, any of our members of congress, on the subject of A.I.

My age old line is: "All of Washington is nothing but artificial intelligence", but that's another issue. I am aware that most in our Government, except the military, are A.I. challenged. It would appear that some in our government think Twitter is the way to go, reminding me of the story that Nero fiddled while Rome burned.

The U.S. is falling behind, as we have in the past, to what is going on in the world in Technology. It took Sputnik in October of 1957 that woke up our Government to what was happening on the Space Front.

This time it could be radically different. China is headed out in front, however, this just might be one race where winner takes all.

But, alas, our people in Washington, it would appear, are more concerned about building a wall than building a future for our country. Hmmm....perhaps we should think about building a dome.

'via Blog this'

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Amazon's Jeff Bezos: Lessons in Management at I.A. Gala 2017

This is a MUST watch for both learning about Amazon as well as learning about management and planning. GREAT video.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

3 Years with Alexa and Now Everywhere in Our Home -

For Christmas this year I received an Amazon Echo Spot and it is delightful. This was an
Echo Spot
addition to all our other Echo products that we now have in every room.

We purchased the first Amazon Echo while the system was in Beta, and received it in January of 2015. We had a good time with it and here we are, 3 years later, with the addition of 4 Echo Dots, 1 Tap, 2 Echo Spots, 1 Fire Stick, and 1 Dash. We are a home full of Echo devices - and it has been a learning experience and it has been fun. We try different things and when they don't work we try something else. Sometimes we even read the Help Files - which are informative.

We tend to use these devices as digital assistants and do not play games very much. We do ask questions and have been known to get answers to crossword puzzles (it works) as well as answers to questions of the moment. Perhaps our Google usage is going down.

I am learning to talk to devices which I have not always been ready to do. I see all these people talking to Siri, Google, or Cortana and I was not impressed but Alexa? Yes, I can talk to Alexa. I even say "Alexa, thank you".

We turn on and off the lights by just saying "Alexa turn on the ________ room lights" - or turn them off the same way. So we do this just walking into the room or if we are in the room we do not have to get up and turn on the lights we just talk to Alexa. One example is we use cooking timers a lot while cooking. We have a light over the sink which we turn on right in the middle of doing something and not wanting to dry our hands and go find the light switch - "Alexa turn on the kitchen light".

As of yesterday my wife, who ordered her own Echo Spot, moved the old clock radio away from her side of the bed and there sits her nice new Echo Spot, The Spot now fulfills all the needs of an Alarm Clock with radio. She can wake and see the time, the weather, and hear her favorite radio station in the morning for news and traffic - no buttons to push. The calendar rolls by as well as other notifications - some of which you can control.

If she likes she can keep up the steam of information in the kitchen with Alexa. Actually, with
Echo Dot
the weather the way it has been, this is a great way to move from room to room and not lose touch.

We can play Amazon Prime Music all over the condo with good sound. We have Echo Dot connected; 1) to a ___ speaker in the living room, 2) to a stereo system in the basement, 3) and to a small wired speaker in the office. The original Echo speaker in the kitchen and the two new Echo Spots have good sound all by themselves.

We can make phone calls and for those with the Echo Show or Echo Spot we can see them in a nice clear picture. We also use it at home to Drop In with another room - no more yelling (my hearing is going anyway and this is easier).

Purchasing via any Echo device is easy; however, I do have one recommendation - use a Pin Code to complete the purchase. This will keep mischievous friends and errant youngsters from purchasing items you weren't aware of. I know about that, we've learned a thing or two.

You can set up lighting controls for when you are away and can control with the app on your phone - well actually it is all controlled from your phone or the internet. Yes you do have a connection via Amazon's Personal Echo web page.

Setting up lighting controls, alarms, shopping lists, and getting favorite radio stations and music everywhere - what else could anyone want.

Well maybe an Amazon Show. I'm working on that. 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Phone Break

Yesterday, for the first time, I drove away from the house and realized that I did not have my phone. Instead of turning around and going back to get it I decided to just continue my day.

You know, not a bad day.

I have had some sort of portable phone for over 25 years. Prior to the portable phone it was a pager. The first phone (a bag phone) I was able to acquire was so that my family could get a hold of me at any time, and this has always remained the prime purpose.  In the early days we kept the number to ourselves, today I give the number out to friends as well as business associates.

I will admit there was the 'Technology' angle that may have pushed the initial acquisition of a portable phone. I did lease (to someone else) the early car phones during the 1980's and was fascinated when the first person showed up with a portable phone in a briefcase. I think the cost was in the $3,000 + area and this was 1984 (the real 1984).

Today the Cell Phone, as it was first called and now the Smartphone, is our only phone. Land Lines are going away at a very high rate of speed. According to Forbes in February of this year (2017) "Some observers have predicted that the majority of homes on the U.S. could be without a landline as early as this year!" Well it is the end of the year and as of this year ours is gone - we are FREE, no more wires. Well, we do have electricity.

Between Verizon and Google Voice we have a better setup than ever before. I really like using Google Voice as I get a text message and an email when I miss a call, I really do not have to call an answering machine.

All in all, yesterday being phoneless was very pleasant.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention that my wife had her phone with her - of course just in case the kids called, we wouldn't think of checking Facebook. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Alexa and Cortana - Why not?

Amazon Echo
Having been one of the early adopters of Alexa I can see why the connection between Alexa
and Cortana will work. It is my feeling that they actually can enhance one another, and, like it was reported, each one does something different that can enhance the knowledge of the user.

Up front it takes a great deal of intricate technology to make either do the things they do. I consider both to have "Personal" benefits with different parts of the conversation. Now Cortana could connect to Alexa to purchase groceries and or needed tech products outside of the Microsoft Store. On the other hand Alexa could connect with Cortana for questions revolving around you work environment; email, calendar, contacts, who is running the office pool.

It would be great if they, Amazon, Microsoft, Google, & Apple, all worked together for the benefit of those of us using Personal Assistants. Most likely this  won't happen due to profit motives and Wall St. as well as fear someone will get ahead of the other.

I guess today it is not To Do or Not To Do, it is To Fear or To Create Fear. 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Amazon and Customer Service

I have written before about Amazon and their Customer Service however this morning I read an article from Knowledge@Wharton that may say it even better; "Why Amazon Is Leaving Legacy Retailers In The Dust". There is a podcast there as well to listen to.

While the article states that "..Amazon's stock has increased by more than 400% in the last five years", there is one point I believe is a major stumbling block for a great number of publicly held major retailers of today.
"While the company's chief executive officer, Jeff Bezos, was criticized years ago for plowing profits back into the digital platform, that strategy has given the company the ability to sell virtually anything that can be shipped anywhere."
Besides Jeff Bezos belief in Amazon, what it does and how it operates, he has also held a vision statement that today says "To be Earth's most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online. Source is the Panmore Institute. To me the "Customer-Centric" part of that statement says it all.

I would loved to have shopped with John Wanamaker at Wanamakers, or Montgomery Ward, Richard Sears, Stanly Marcus, Rowland Macy, and Richard Sears. I did work for Lazarus at the old John C. Shillito stores. I have left out a number of the great retailers whose stores have now lost their way. I will continue to shop with Jeff Bezos and Amazon.