What is an Amazon Tap? Over priced Bluetooth speaker?

amazon-tapAround 18 months ago Amazon launched the Echo.  And it is pretty cool…its a wifi information center and bluetooth speaker.  But it was big.  And it needed to be plugged in.  And – it was kind of expensive.  I mean, I was able to get into the beta sale at $99, but it is now $180.  Is it worth it…I think it might be.  We have ours set up in the bathroom – and its a great information center for the family each day as we prepare.

So – in walks Amazon Tap.

Biggest difference…its not voice activated.  Here is Amazon Tap.  You tap it, then speak and let it know what you want to do.  With the right connections, you can do so many cool things:

  • Play songs from Prime music by just saying “Play Bruno Mars from Prime Music”
  • Play music from Pandora “Play Today’s Hits station on Pandora”
  • Order pizza “Ask Domino’s for my Easy Order”
  • Get a ride “Ask Uber for a ride”
  • Get information “What is the weather in Los Angeles”

When connected to Wi-Fi you can access Alexa, which the same cloud-based voice service that the Echo uses.  It is always improving – and getting “smarter”.   All you do is tap the microphone button and make your request.

Use Amazon Tap on your nightstand

Because it has a built in battery, the Amazon Tap has a battery which can play for 9 hours.  And when Amazon Tap’s battery is low Alexa will say “Just so you know, the battery is currently low.”

Also – a great charging cradle is part of the deal too – which makes a super simple to charge without all the hassles of plugs and cords.  Just set it in the cradle and its charging.

amazon-tap-02

Amazon Tap Details:

  • Just tap and ask for music from Prime Music, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn
  • Uses the Alexa Voice Service when connected to Wi-Fi or a mobile hotspot to play music, read the news, provide weather reports, and even order a pizza
  • Streams all your music via Bluetooth from your phone or tablet
  • Delivers crisp sound powered by Dolby, with dual stereo speakers that provide 360º omni-directional audio
  • Provides up to 9 hours of playback
  • Always getting smarter and adding new features and skills
  • Includes Charging Cradle

Amazon Tap Technical Specs:

Size: Amazon Tap: 6.2" x 2.6" x 2.6" (159 mm x 66 mm x 66 mm);
Charging Cradle: 0.6" x 2.6" x 2.6" (15 mm x 66 mm x 66 mm)
Weight: Amazon Tap: 16.6 oz. (470 grams);
Charging Cradle: 3.8 oz. (109 grams)
Battery Life Up to 9 hours of continuous playback. Battery life will vary based on device settings, usage, and environmental factors. Actual results may vary.
Wi-Fi Connectivity Supports public and private Wi-Fi networks or mobile hotspots that use the 802.11b, 802.11g, or 802.11n standard with support for WEP, WPA, and WPA2 security using password authentication
Bluetooth Connectivity Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP) support for audio streaming from your mobile device to Amazon Tap.  Audio/Video Remote Control Profile (AVRCP) for voice control of connected mobile devices. Media control over AVRCP is not supported for Mac OS X devices.
Audio Dual 1.5-inch drivers and dual passive radiators for bass extension
System Requirements Amazon Tap comes ready to connect to your home Wi-Fi. The Alexa App is compatible with Fire OS, Android, and iOS devices and also accessible via your web browser. Certain skills and services may require subscription or other fees. When tethering to a mobile device hotspot, standard data rates may apply.
Warranty and Service 1-year limited warranty and service included. Optional 1-year, 2-year, and 3-year extended warranty available for U.S. customers sold separately. Use of Amazon Tap is subject to the terms found here.Included in the BoxAmazon Tap, Charging Cradle, microUSB cable and adapter, and quick start guide

Use your voice to type your next letter…voice typing

There are a number of commercial applications you can add to your computer to do “speech to text” and control your input.  Most people are familiar with the Dragon product line – these work great.  They have been a fantastic help to people who have trouble typing or just may be slow at the keyboard.

speech-to-textBut, as I was working on a employee review the other day – I was surprised by the little microphone that popped up in my Google doc.  I have to admit – the combination of speech to text and just moving the cursor around where I needed it worked very, very well.

Google introduces Voice Typing

Issac Green said, when they released the new feature – “We launched Voice typing in Docs to help you capture ideas, compose a letter, or even write the next great novel—all without touching your keyboard. Starting today, you can also edit and format your documents with your voice.”.

Here’s a video with more explanation:

Now with more emotions – Facebook is stalking you

 

facebook_reactionsSlate brought up a good point last week when they described Facebook’s new ‘feelings’ – “For years people have clamored for Facebook to add a ‘dislike’ button alongside its iconic like button. That was never going to happen, for reasons I’ve explained. Instead, in October the company began testing a suite of six emoji complements to the like button: ‘love,’ ‘haha,’ ‘wow,’ ‘sad,’ and ‘angry.’

“But, like almost everything Facebook does, there is a double purpose at work here—and that second purpose involves data. Specifically, Facebook is now going to be able to collect, and profit from, a whole lot more of it.” Slate pointed out more importantly.

Facebook is stalking you.

If you’re not aware – Facebook is one of the best, if not the best, at grabbing your personal information and leveraging it to the hilt.  No really – I mean a lot of data.  DaylanDoes.com gives some hints with the post bringing up a ton of stuff.

They point out these “few” items:

Name, City of birth, City of residence, Phone, Email, Current employment, Previous employment, Relationship, Anniversary, Previous relationships, Previous names (aliases), Screen names, Address book, Family members, Birthday, Religious views, Address, Website, Email address(s), Sexual preference, Gender, Languages spoken, Political views, Friends, Books you’ve read, Bands you like, Movies you’ve seen, TV Shows you watch, Video games you play, Food you eat, Your Favorite Athletes, Restaurants you’ve eaten at, Activities you participate in, Websites you visit, Sports teams you support, Your Favorite Sports, Inspirational people, Favorite Clothing brands, Places you’ve visited, Events you’ve attended, Events you plan on attending, Events your friends are attending, Major life events (location, dates, who with), Photos, Pokes, Wall posts, Networks you are a part of

Oh yea – and these…

Videos you’ve watched, Comments you’ve liked, Websites you’ve visited, Articles and websites you’ve commented on, Surveys you’ve filled out, Companies you like, People you’ve been tagged with, People you frequently hang out with, Friends you’ve requested, Friends you denied, Friends you’ve un-friended, How often you are online, Apps you Admin/created, Pages you admin/created, Your current mood, Device you’ve accessed the Internet from, Exact Geo-location (longitude, altitude, latitude, time/date stamp), TV, Film, Concert you are currently watching, Book or publication you are currently reading, Audio you are currently listening too, Drink you are currently drinking, Food you are currently eating, Advertising you interact with, Profiles you interact with most, Locations you access Facebook, Locations you access web properties connected to Facebook, Level of online engagement, When you changed jobs, How long you stayed in a job, Credit card details, IP Address, Apps you’ve downloaded, Games you’ve played, Pages/Businesses you’ve un-liked (when)facebook_ads

Image Source

Check out the “broad” range of options…this gives you a very minute idea of thethings you can drill down into – in fact all the items above can be a factor you can narrow audience with.

 

It gets worse of you use the Facebook App…seriously.  Well – you had to wonder.  Remember how hard Facebook pushes the messenger app.  They won’t even let you “chat” in the regular app, they MAKE you download the messenger app.  Motherboard’s post “Facebook’s Messenger App Is Tracking a Lot More of Your Data Than You Think” title says it all.

messenger-without-facebook“It should come as no surprise that most mobile apps run some sort of analytics on user behavior. But in the case of Facebook, the social network’s Messenger app for iOS apparently tracks quite a bit more than most users likely realize.”

but the best part Facebook is “using some private APIs I didn’t even know were available inside the sandbox to be able to pull out your WiFi SSID (which could be used to snoop on which WiFi networks you’re connected to) and are even tapping the process list for various information on the device”.

I have always wondered why my Facebook app takes forever to initialize, I presume this is exactly why.  If this app is analyzing my connection every time…dang.

Facebook, when the messenger app is installed, essentially has carte blanche to your phone.  “Record audio, and take pictures and videos, at any time: Read that line again….RECORD audio…TAKE pictures….AT ANY TIME!! That means that the folks at Facebook can see through your lens on your phone whenever they want..they can listen to what you’re saying via your microphone if they choose to!”

henrys-hard-orange-six-pack-hi-resWhich is why my friend Brad was at a bar in Michigan recently and the bar tender told him about Henry’s Hard Soda.  Now – it was the first time he had ever heard of – in fact, so much as he wasn’t even aware that alcoholic root beer and sodas were a thing.

Next thing he knows – he is being marketed to via Facebook ads.  Now, there is no way this had another source…it was his only, ever interaction with the stuff.

Here’s the deal – this is not new, nor is it going to get much better.  Is it “right”.  Not sure, but I can tell you its not going away.  And it will not regress…and honestly – what do you expect.  You can’t walk into your favorite restaurant and order food and walk out without paying the bill.  We are paying the bill with our information…and that is how it will be.

 

Cell phone as your “Mothership”

This article I read on theverge.com about how Vizio and Google are reportedly building Chromecast features into TV’s got me thinking about an idea I’ve been noodling on for a while how cell phones are becoming the new wallet, but more importantly – they are really becoming the “mothership” of data for our lives.

DynaTAC8000X

Cell Phones – how far we’ve come.

Who would have thought that the old school cell phone would evolve to what we have today?

We have so much information “in” our cell phones.  We no longer remember anyone’s phone number, we can send small messages back and forth via SMS between phones, we can download an app to track our sleep behaviors, the phones wake us up, “sing” us to sleep and now have the ability to pay for items at the checkout.

Pictures – so many of our life’s memories are captured with pictures and videos stored in the phone.  What about all the places we go, all the geolocation data is in the phone.  When we talk, who we communicate to , what we say.  What about when the phone is off…is it listening?  It certainly could be. (iflscience.com article from Feb ’15)

Phones are our “life line” – people do not do minutes without them.  A recent survey from HuffPost UK stated that 42% would rather forget their anniversary than their phone.

But what else CAN we do with them?

A whole lot really – if you think about the TV from the verge article, there is no reason why the display of your cell phone cannot be transmitted to a different screen based on your proximity to the screen and the activity you need to do.  Pretend you have your phone in your pocket – but you want to surf the web or do a google search.  Walk up to a terminal and it will popup a message “Hello vwtom, would you like to connect?”  If I say yes – it will ask my password and hten I can begin.  That screen is my temparary UI for the time being.  I walk away – go to my office, my screen pops up again,

Great – there are a lot of screens around the “world” and if the right sharing takes place then the new phones could talk with the TV too.  They could transfer their screen to the nearest screen with availability.  Then you could be playing angry birds on the big screen right from your phone.  Pretty cool.

It still takes hard work – even if you are a Millennial

This great article on Medium called “An Open Letter to Millennials Like Talia…” by Stefanie Williams.

The first paragraph says it all “I felt it imperative to address your concerns and above all, your obvious need for financial assistance. It sounds like you’ve hit some real post Haitian earthquake style hard times, so maybe some advice will help while you drink the incredibly expensive bourbon you posted on your Instagram account and eat that bag of rice, which was the only other thing you could afford!”  It only gets better.

Stefanie goes on to explain she was let go from her first “real” job which was an office job in one of the worst time, just after the Lehmann Brothers crash, just prior to the serious economic downturn.  She took a job as a hostess, a low paying entry level job and worked her way up.

“All of this was afforded to me not in the first month I was working at a restaurant, but after I put in the hours, made the sacrifices and sucked up my pride in order to make ends meet and figure out what I wanted to do and how to do it. I gave up holidays with my family in order to work extra shifts and make the good tips. I put up with people making rude comments, assuming I was just a wanna-be actress, assuming I didn’t go to college, all to make money. ”

It is a fantastic article of two key points:

  1. I am as guilty as anyone, we are raising a bunch of kids who think they are owed the “niceties” their parents enjoy.  Why are we doing that?  I drive through the school parking lot and a large percentage of the cars driven by the students are nicer than mine, that would be wonderful if they went out and worked hard to buy it, but all too often parents just give it to them.  Why would you do that?  Worse yet – I am sure a good portion thing that a nice, new car is owed to them.  How did we turn the corner to entitlement with our kids?  What happened to earning things…its no wonder Talia from Stefanie’s article is buying high dollar booze and skipping out on her rent payment – its what she knows.

  2. There is something to be learned from any job you have, had or will have.  Its about how you approach the job which is the difference.  With Stefanie’s openness to learn (and the fact that she needed the money) she learned and grew at each stage of employment.  And even though she had to swallow her pride a couple of times – she came out the victor, and in my opinion a better person.

The biggest question to me is how do you instill this type of work-ethic in people.  I know my dad was a workaholic, and I have those tendencies.  Mine is more of a passion and enjoyment of what I do, I love it so much I don’t ever like to stop – slight difference, as my father needed to do it to pay the bills.

I can see the bad work ethics already in my 3 sons and I need to find a way to squelch it – its not good and I can see the future negative aspects of it already.