Archive for February, 2016

Just published! The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip

February 29, 2016

Just published! The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip

We are very excited to announce the publication today (Leap Day) of a new project,

The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip

at The History Project!

You’ll be able to learn about (and in many cases, read/watch/listen to) geek friendly content.

To introduce it, I’m going to do what I call a “splinterview”: I’m going to interview myself about the project. As with all of my splinterviews, I haven’t thought about what I’m going to say ahead of time, and won’t substantively edit it afterwards (if I catch typos, I’ll correct those…just like I would with an interview with someone else).

Let’s get started!

Q. Your new project, The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip was published. What is it? A book, a blog…?

A. Well, it’s something different. It’s really more of a timeline, but much more interactive than that usually means.

Q. What do you mean by interactive?

A. When people use it, they’ll often be able to click on a link to watch a movie or TV show, read a book, listen to a radio show, that sort of thing.

Q. Will they pay for that?

A. Not me [laughs]. In many cases, I’m linking to public domain sources where there is no charge at all, but it’s possible they’ll see ads there. In others, I may link to a place that helps them find something where they might be paying. For example, for in-copyright movies & TV shows, I typically link to JustWatch.com, which is a search engine for streaming services. It might show them that they can watch the movie at Amazon Prime or Netflix or Hulu, for example. The user may be paying a monthly fee for that, but they won’t pay more for watching this specific movie.

Q. What about books? Are you only linking to subscription services there?

A. I generally link to Goodreads, which does have links where you can buy books. I’m not opposed to people buying things, even if that has become increasingly unpopular. What I don’t want to do is only link people to a single place to buy something. I don’t want it to feel like an ad, like I’m trying to sell them something.

Q. So, you aren’t making money on the Geek Time Trip?

A. Not directly. I did get permission from The History Project to link to my The Measured Circle blog, for example. It’s possible somebody will go from TMCGTT to The Measured Circle, and then do something there which might result in me getting some money.

Q. TMCGTT?

A. The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip.

Q. You mentioned getting permission from The History Project. Describe your relationship with them, and what they are.

A. Well, “getting permission” sounds too strong, really. I think everybody has that permission [to link to their websites]…I just asked them and they let me know it was okay. I’m not really connected with them, I’ve just had some correspondence with them as a user. What happened was that I’d heard about them…they’ve gotten some mainstream publicity. I think I first saw it in a Flipboard story. Anyway, I made a timeline for a relative as a birthday present. They happened to contact me for user feedback, and I said quite a bit [laughs]. I had a couple of conversations with them, mostly by e-mail. While they do seem like a startup, although a solid one, it seemed like a good place to do something public, and that they would (knock wood) be around for a while.

Q. What makes them seem like a startup?

A. Oh, there are some interface things, for example, that I expect to mature over time. I also see them making incremental improvements. I can feel the energy, enthusiasm, and commitment that can go with being a startup.

Q. Why do you think they’ll be a lasting company?

A. I mentioned the mainstream publicity…Forbes, CNN, to name two. I can tell that they know what they are doing from the website. Getting that coverage and having something that works technically is a good combination…it suggests both funding and some expertise, and at least some popular resonance for the idea.

Q. That’s probably enough background; let’s talk about what people will see when they go to The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip.

A. Sorry, one more thing first. There was a hiccup early on…I asked a question through the website, and didn’t get an answer. I’m big on Customer Service, and that made me hesitant even to do the birthday present. I could see that some big people were using it, like Jewel, so I decided to go ahead. When I brought that up in my user feedback, which I think was just a random thing, I got a personal and very strong and satisfying response. They apologized, and explained what happened, and made it right. Nobody gets everything right all the time…what matters is how you deal with your errors.

Q. And you were satisfied?

A. Yes.

Q. Okay. So, what will be the experience for someone going to the Geek Time Trip?

A. It’s a timeline, first. They’ll see events on a chronological line.

Q. What sort of events?

A. Oh, when an actor or author is born, when a movie was released, when a book was published…something specific that happened. They can then click on that event, and that’s where I would say this starts getting really useful and fun. Visitors will find links to the content, but also to references…Wikia entries, YouTube and Google news searches, lots of things.

Q. Wikipedia?

A. Wikia…although I did Wikipedia sometimes, too. Wikia is really a fan-based site, with many wikis for different  properties.

Q. Were you always able to find links to the content?

A. No. I link when I can, but I don’t want to exclude something just because I can’t link to an online option.

Q. How do you choose what to put into The Geek Time Trip?

A. In this early stage, it’s a bit random. I could literally list thousands of items I’d like to have in TMCGTT offhand,with no research. I think that having the content is a good thing, one of the attractions. So, I’ve been going through some sites that have content, getting things there, and then rotating in other things I want to mention.

Q. Do you mind saying what sites?

A. Not at all! I name them in TMCGTT. I want them to get credit for the hard work they’ve done, and I want to drive people to the sites. For example, I use The Digital Comic Museum. That’s a great site! You can read or download public domain comics there, often obscure.

Q. How do you know they are public domain, not in copyright?

A. That’s a great question! I can’t know for sure…in many cases, it’s hard to research a copyright. What I do is get a sense of whether or not I think the site make a good faith effort to protect people’s rights. I do know something about copyright, as a layperson. I write about it fairly often in my most popular blog, I Love My Kindle.  I care a lot about copyright, so I’ll do what I can to get that right.

Q. How long does it take you to create an entry?

A. That’s one of the things. It takes a few minutes, I’d say. I do some research, put in the links…I’ll look for an unusual site. I would have loved to have thousands of entries on go live day, but there just wasn’t time.

Q. You are busy, right? Two blogs, books, and you have a full time job?

A. Three blogs, actually, but who’s counting? [laughs]

Q. I Love My Kindle, The Measured Circle, and?

A. 221B Blog Street. That doesn’t take me much time, though…I just republish the original public domain Sherlock Holmes material, either a chapter or a short story a day, in order. I just like having serialized literature available, which is the way many things we now consider classics were published…and Holmes is great!

Q. How do you have time to add another big project like The Geek Time Trip? Won’t your other projects suffer?

A. I can’t say there will be absolutely no impact, but things have changed. I haven’t really worked intently on a book for some time…ILMK takes up the vast majority of my writing time and energy, and that will continue to be the case. In the past couple of years, I’ve had another change which is helping…I only sleep about four and a half to five and half hours a night. That was a weird big change: I went suddenly from going to sleep by nine and waking up at five, which is eight hours, to waking up between 1:30 and 2:30 AM.

Q. That’s very early!

A. Yes, and somehow, it takes me six hours to get ready for work in the morning! [laughs] Not really, but I do exercise and get writing done. My baseline for exercise is ninety minutes a day, although I generally do more.

Q. Aren’t people supposed to get eight hours sleep?

A. I’ve actually checked with my doctor on it…twice. My doctor thinks it is okay…different people need different amounts of sleep. I don’t fall asleep during the day, and in my job, if I had cognitive decline, I’d know it.

Q. What is your job?

A. I’m a trainer. I work with medical people, so I’m pretty in tune with what’s risky behavior. I wouldn’t mind getting more sleep, but I don’t miss it and seem to be doing fine.

Q. Let’s get back to the Time Trip. When you pick events, what kind of impact do you want them to have on people?

A. I want different reactions. I want to waken lost memories…have somebody say, “I remember that!” I want people to be surprised when they encounter something they had no idea existed…and to hopefully enjoy it, of course. I’d also like it to be useful…I can see someone looking something up on it, and returning to the same event to check the Google news search link.

Q. How often will you add things?

A. I figure I’ll add a few things a week, and then have some binges sometimes where I do more.

Q. Do you have any help?

A. I wouldn’t mind that in the future. Right now, the moderation tools at The History Project aren’t robust enough for me to just open it up to everybody. I need to be able to review something, to make sure it isn’t just advertising, wildly inaccurate, or inconsistent with what else is there. Some of what I’m doing could be done pretty easily, at least basically adding an event…those public domain comics at DCM  don’t take a whole lot of decision making, outside of picking the comics. For now, it’s going to be just me. That doesn’t mean I don’t want suggestions or corrections, though! I’ve set up a page where people can comment to do just that, The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip. Even at go live, I had Samurai Pizza Cats, which was suggested to me by someone in the family.

Q. How will you measure the success of The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip?

A. If I have fun doing it and have the time, I’ll probably keep it going. I’d be encouraged if I hear from people that they like it. I would love for it to get mentioned in more mainstream sources…I’ve been a subscriber to Entertainment Weekly for many years, and appearing there would be fun. Getting mentioned in The Mary Sue would also be a measure of success for me. If it brings more people to my other works, great. The main thing, though, is people getting something out of it…that’s what makes me the happiest.

Q. Anything else you want to say?

A. Just that I’ve been having fun with it! There has definitely been some trial and error, and I found some techniques and style which helped. I’ve done a little bit of writing in it, but I’ve been keeping my opinions out of the entries. I just hope it’s a trip people find worth taking.

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the  The Measured Circle 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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2016 BOPMadness (Bufo’s Oscar Prediction Madness) predictions! (updated wih results)

February 28, 2016

2016 BOPMadness (Bufo’s Oscar Prediction Madness) predictions! (updated wih results)

It’s almost time for the Oscars!

Thanks to everyone who made predictions in our annual BOPMadness!

Here are our group predictions, a couacple of hours before the first envelope is opened on stage:

Adapted Screenplay: WINNER: The Big Short (5 points…predicted)

Adapted Screenplay

Animated Short: WINNER: Bear Story (3 points)

Animated Short

Animated Feature: WINNER: Inside Out (5 points…predicted)

Animated Feature

Best Picture: WINNER: Spotlight (8 points)

Best Picture

Cinematography: WINNER: The Revenant (5 points…predicted)

Cinematography

Costume: WINNER: Mad Max: Fury Road (5 points…predicted)

Costume

Director: Alejande Gonzalez: WINNER: The Revenant (5 points…predicted)

Director

Documentary Feature: WINNER: Amy (5 points…predicted)

Documentary Feature

Documentary Short: WINNER: A Girl in the River (4.5 points…tie prediction)

Documentary Short

Film Editing: WINNER: Mad Max: Fury Road (4 points)

Film Editing

Foreign Language Film: WINNER: Son of Saul (5 points…predicted)

Foreign Language Film

Hair and Makeup: WINNER: Mad Max: Fury Road (3 points…predicted)

Hair and Makeup

Lead Actor: WINNER: Leonardo DiCaprio (5 points…predicted)

Lead Actor

Lead Actress: WINNER: Brie Larson (5 points…predicted)

Lead Actress

Live Action Short: WINNER: Stutterer (3 points)

Live Action Short

Original Screenplay: WINNER: Spotlight (5 points…predicted)

Original Screenplay

Production Design: WINNER: Mad Max: Fury Road (5 points…predicted)

Production Design

Score: WINNER: The Hateful Eight (5 points…predicted)

Score

Song

Song

Sound Editing: WINNER: Mad Max: Fury Road (5 points…predicted)

Sound Editing

Sound Mixing: Mad Max: Fury Road (5 points…predicted)

Sound Mixing

Supporting Actor: WINNER: Mark Rylance (4 points)

Supporting Actor

Supporting Actress: WINNER: Alicia Vikander (5 points…predicted)

Supporting Actress

Visual Effects: WINNER: Ex Machina (1 point)

Visual Effects

We’ll check back with winners…enjoy the show, and good luck!

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the  The Measured Circle 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.

2016 BOPMadness (Bufo’s Oscar Prediction Madness)

February 17, 2016

2016 BOPMadness (Bufo’s Oscar Prediction Madness)

For more than twenty years, I’ve been doing an Oscar prediction contest.

Important note: there is no fee to play the  game, and we only play for that most valuable of human possessions…bragging rights. 

We do ours a bit differently than most. You rank every nominee, and then you get the number of points you assigned to the winner.

For example, there are five nominees for Actor in a Leading Role. You would assign the one you thought the Academy was most likely to pick (not necessarily the one you thought most deserved it) with a 5. Your second most likely would be a 4, and so on.

As we did last year, we are using SurveyMonkey, rather than Excel.

That means you can play anonymously, if you prefer…we also think many people may find it easier.

There are three surveys (we are currently limited to no more than ten questions per survey):

Big Six and Screenwriting:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/JFPH3V7

Design and Appearance:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CNKKMZ5

Whole Movies and Music

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/JQKBKT8

If you would like to be recognized as a winner of the Big Six (the acting awards, Best Picture, and Best Director), the Incredibly Difficult Maven Section (everything else), and/or Overall, you’ll have the opportunity at the site to enter your name (that will not be public). If you’d like to receive future communications about BOPMadness, you can also enter your e-mail address there (again, that will not be public).

If you have any questions, you can comment on this post. If you’d like your comment to remain private, please let me know in the comment.

We will post the group predictions here before the Oscar ceremony on Sunday, February 28th.

The more people who play, the more accurate we tend to be…feel free to share this with anyone you think would like to participate.

See you in the movies!

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the  The Measured Circle 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.

Deadpool’s ROI is already 233%, beating all Marvel movies except…

February 14, 2016

Deadpool’s ROI is already 233%, beating all Marvel movies except…

Ryan Reynold’s R-rated Marvel superhero movie, Deadpool, has gotten off to a terrific start!

BoxOfficeMojo reports a weekend estimate (not counting Monday) of $135m dogro (domestic gross).

That’s really high, but it’s even more impressive when you consider that it was a relatively low budgeted movie for this genre, at $58m.

There were a lot of risks with it: the R-rating, Ryan Reynolds (who had had a disappointing starring role as DC’s Green Lantern before), the fact that it was in February, the lack of name recognition for the character (outside of the geek  community), the fact that this a 20th Century Fox movie (not a Disney Marvel movie), the weather back East…

This, though, is showing that Reynolds’ (who is also a producer) really hard work promoting the movie, as well as a solid marketing campaign, has paid off.

$135m is 233% of $58m (earning Deadpool The Measured Circle Award of “Money”)…and it’s just getting started.

Let’s compare that to other Marvel superhero movies.

Movie Budget Dogro Return
Spider-Man 139 409 294.24%
Marvel’s The Avengers 220 623 283.18%
Deadpool 58 135 232.76%
Iron Man 140 318 227.14%
X-Men 75 157 209.33%
Iron Man 3 200 409 204.50%
Guardians of the Galaxy 170 333 195.88%
X2: X-Men United 110 215 195.45%
Spider-Man 2 200 374 187.00%
Avengers: Age of Ultron 250 459 183.60%
Iron Man 2 200 312 156.00%
Captain America: The Winter Soldier 170 260 152.94%
Ant-Man 130 180 138.46%
Spider-Man 3 258 337 130.62%
Captain America: The First Avenger 140 176 125.71%
Thor: The Dark World 170 206 121.18%
Thor 150 181 120.67%
X-Men Origins: Wolverine 150 180 120.00%
X-Men: Days of Future Past 200 234 117.00%
The Amazing Spider-Man 230 262 113.91%
X-Men: The Last Stand 210 234 111.43%
The Wolverine 120 132 110.00%
X-Men: First Class 160 146 91.25%
The Incredible Hulk 150 134 89.33%
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 255 202 79.22%

That’s right…you would have gotten a better return on your investment on Deadpool than on any other Marvel movies except Spider-Man and The Avengers…and at a much smaller initial investment.

This is based on BoxOfficeMojo’s reported production budget versus their reported domestic gross (dogro). There are other expenses (including the marketing budget) and other income (including international gross), but this lets us do a consistent comparison (the other data is harder to get).

The odds are good that Deadpool will be the best ROI Marvel movie…by Tuesday. Not the highest grossing, or with the biggest profit, but big congratulations to Ryan Reynolds, Fox, and the rest of the team!

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard 

 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the  The Measured Circle 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.

Netpop is conducting a survey about the Echo with a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift certificate

February 13, 2016

Netpop is conducting a survey about the Echo with a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift certificate

Netpop (which the Better Business Bureau gives an A+, has zero complaints with them, and has been on their list since 2012…BBB on Netpop) sent me a survey to share with you about the

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

They said:

Share your opinions about the Echo and be entered to win one of ten $50 Amazon Gift Certificates. Don’t delay, it’ll take less than 10 minutes – https://surveys2.netpop.com/survey/ntp/ntp16002?co=4&wave=1

NetPop Research, a market research firm based in San Francisco, is conducting the study.

I did go to take the survey, but they required disclosure of gender…so I did not complete the survey. cUpdate: they changed it, so I did! See below.**

I don’t think that should generally be a required question on surveys…I don’t mind them asking, but I think you should have the option to skip it if you want.

Well, if you do take the survey (which is perfectly fine with me), that gives you one less “competitor” for the gift certificates. 😉

** Update: I was very impressed that Netpop updated the survey to allow gender disclosure (and some other demographic questions) to be optional! I sent them the link to this post, and they got back to me right away…and within, oh, half a day they had made the change! There is an example of a company being responsive to a concern expressed by a member of the public.

I have now completed the survey, and I thought it was well-designed. There were good places where you could enter narratives (free text “in your own words”) about what you liked, didn’t like, and so on. I assume this is actually being done by Amazon, and may have an impact on the development of the Echo and the Alexa Voice Service in the future. With the changes that they made, I can recommend to you that you do the survey.

If you win one of the $50 Amazon gift certificates, I’d appreciate you letting me know by commenting on this post. I’ll let you know if I win, too. 😉

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard 

* 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! :) 

For more information on the Echo and Alexa, see The Measured Circle’s Echo Central.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the  The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Amazon Echo/Alexa Round up #5: Fire (TV) 1!, hundreds of Skills

February 4, 2016

Amazon Echo/Alexa Round up #5: Fire (TV) 1!, hundreds of Skills

The Measure Circle’s Amazon Echo/Alexa Round ups are short pieces about the Amazon Echo (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) and Amazon’s Alexa Voice Service which may or may not be expanded later. For more information on the Echo and Alexa, see The Measured Circle’s Echo Central.

Hundreds of Skills

To paraphrase Apple, “There’s a Skill for that.” 😉

There is no question that the success of the iPhone (and by extension, other SmartPhones) hasn’t come just from what Apple has produced itself, but by the apps produced by other people and available for the phone.

The

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

has an equivalent to those apps, called “Alexa Skills” (Alexa is the software, the Echo is the hardware).

These are developed by individuals and organizations (some very big organizations…Disney has one) that you can choose to enable or not by going to your Alexa app and doing

Home – Menu (three horizontal lines) – Skills

While the Apple Appstore has more than a million apps (and Google Play more than that), it’s exciting to see that we can now officially say that there are hundreds of Alexa Skills!

Well, 213 at time of writing, but that is still hundreds. 🙂

Just like with apps, some of the Skills are pretty silly, but there are some practical ones as well…

A practical Alexa Skill:  MyMessages

One of the knocks I’ll see on the Echo/Alexa online is that it is just a toy, that it doesn’t really do anything useful.

You know, like when television was first introduced, or some of us had Commodore PET home computers. 😉

The MyMessages Alexa Skill from Rain Labs is an actual utility (in other words, it’s useful, not just entertaining).

It’s a pretty simple idea.

You speak a message to your Echo (or your Amazon Fire TV ((at AmazonSmile*)) or the Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote ((at AmazonSmile*))…I’ve tested it with the AFTV and the Echo). It can then be played back later by you or by someone else.

This could be convenient: you suddenly have to go somewhere, so as you are tying your shoes, you say, “Alexa, open MyMessages and send message, ‘Had to go to the store'”. Someone else in your family walks in and says, “Alexa, ask MyMessages to play MyMessages,” and hears (in Alexa’s voice), “Had to go to the store”.

Another scenario: you see an episode of a late night talk show on Fire TV that you think someone else in your family would like. using your voice remote, you leave a message to “Check out Carpool Karaoke on the Late Late Show”). They play the messages and get your tip.

One more: “I fed the dogs.” As long as the dogs don’t figure out how to tell the Skill to delete the messages, you are good. 😉

This works…and it means not leaving notes on the refrigerator or a whiteboard. 🙂

Naturally, like most things, it could be improved.

One glitch I’ve found is that my Fire TV seems to often miss most of the message I’ve made. For example, “I’m going to finish watching American Idol over the weekend” became just, “I’m going to finish”.

It tends to explain how you do things…a lot. It would be nice if we could switch it to a “lower coaching” mode once you learn the relatively simple things to say.

It would also be nice if there was some indicator to tell you there was a new message. Since your Echo is always plugged into power, maybe the light ring could flash. I can understand why Amazon might not want Skills messing with the display, though.

The biggest upgrade to me would be to have this appear as a card in the Skill in the Alexa app, or ideally, send a text or an e-mail (although those abilities are undoubtedly coming in other Skills or as features). The card would work because my Significant Other could see my messages in the Alexa app on their phone. Which brings up another practical use we’ve found for the Echo recently…

Using the Shopping List with two or more people

The Shopping List is a feature of Alexa, rather than a Skill.

What’s the difference?

Features come from Amazon, Skills are from third parties.

You don’t have to activate features…everybody has them all the time.

I had been adding things to my Shopping List, but not very much and wasn’t using it very often…I can usually remember what I want to buy.

However, I was frequently texting with my Significant Other what (and how many) we needed of something when one or the other of us was going to the store.

Well, we then installed the Alexa app on my SO’s phone.

That works great!

Either one of us can add something by saying, “Alexa, add carrots to my Shopping List”, and the other one can see it.

It’s also something you can manage pretty well without using Alexa at all…which can be convenient!

Alexa app – Menu – Shopping List

You can enter items directly here, indicate they are done, delete them…and, importantly, recover ones you’ve previously said were completed.

The latter makes it easy to add your regular items.

You can also edit them each time (tap on the item, then tap on the pencil), which lets you change the quantities or indicate when you need it.

This is a very practical use.

Of course, just like with MyMessages, it could be improved. 🙂

I’d like to be able to check off or delete items using Alexa.

It would be a lot easier to have a separate field to indicate quantities.

If we could sort or search the items, that would make it much simpler to find items, especially when we were restoring them.

Oh, and a field to indicate (and group) where you buy it would multiply its usefulness.

This is something that we would use even without Alexa being involved at all…but we’d like it better if we could use Alexa with it from more places…

The expansion of Alexa

Alexa is becoming accessible from more and more places. That’s a good thing, since I now find myself wanting to ask “the air” questions all over the place…at work, in a store, at the dog park… 😉

Fortunately, we’ll soon have more options:

  • Alexa is coming to the first generation Fire TVs and Fire TV Sticks (the latter is also getting Bluetooth access for headphones)
  • Ford is going to integrate Alexa into their in-car SYNC system…which should enable you to open the garage door and turn on the family room lights from the car…or perhaps start the car and get the heater going from your home. Obviously, being able to check the Shopping List would also be cool. No timeline yet
  • There are rumors of an “Echo, Jr.” or something like that which would be able to be battery operated. That would give us more home use flexibility

Spotify Premium coming to Alexa

In this

press release

Amazon announced that Alexa is going to work with Spotify Premium. This is yet another example of a major brand adopting Alexa…it is becoming part of the mainstream.

There are now three Alexa wake words

Alexa only starts paying attention to what you are saying when you address it (although some people suspect otherwise…).

Since the beginning, you’ve been able to address it as “Alexa” or “Amazon”, but they recently added the ability to call it, “Echo”.

I don’t think what they chose as the third word matters so much as the fact that there are three. For people with multiple Echos in their home, its easy for them to get confused. If you give each one a separate wake word, that really ameliorates that issue.

You can choose your wake word in the app

Home – Menu – Settings – Tap your device name

Alexa goes to the movies

This feature is something we are already using quite a bit.

You can ask Alexa what movies are playing, or what time a particular movie is playing.

You can also be more general: “Alexa, what science fiction movies are playing?”

One nice piece of this is that a “card” with the answer will show up in your app.

At this point, it can’t search by an actor or director, but I’m sure that will come.

This is powered by IMDb, the most useful movie/TV website in my opinion…which is owned by Amazon.

There will be many more features in the future…

This is the dawning of the age of Alexa. 😉

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard 

* 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  The Measured Circle 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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