Saturday Daily Deals: A Desperate Fortune

desparate_fortuneDeals of the Day for Saturday, August 27, 2016: 

Amazon’s selection of Kindle Daily Deals includes A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley.

In Today’s Deals, a Kwikset 99130-002 SmartCode 913 UL Electronic Deadbolt lock. Also, you can also still get $15 off the regular price of the Amazon Tap and the Certified Refurbished Amazon Echo for $150.

The Barnes and Noble Nook Daily Find is Half a King by Joe Abercrombie. The Romance Daily Find is Girls’ Poker Night: A Novel of High Stakes by Jill A. Davis.

Kobo’s Daily Deal is The Firm A Novel by John Grisham. The Extra Daily Deal is 300 Days of Sun A Novel by Deborah Lawrenson.

Also, until August 29, 2016, there’s a Back to School Sale: books $4.99 or less. There is also a  selection of Great Reads Under $5 and Bargain Reads in Fiction, in Mystery and other genres.

iTunes’ Weekly Bestsellers Under $4 includes The Headmaster’s Wife by Thomas Christopher Greene.

Google Books has a selection of Science Fiction & Fantasy reads.

(A note on Daily Deals: All prices current at the time of posting and subject to change. Most items marked Daily Deals are good for only the day posted.

Many large promotions have discount pricing that is set by the publisher. This usually means that titles can be found at a discount price across most platforms (with iTunes sometimes being the exception). If you have a favorite retailer you like to patronize, check the title on that website. There is a good chance that they will be matching the sale price.)


Daily Links are interesting links I discover as I go about my online day. The frequency and number of links posted depend upon the daily news. I also post other, different links of interest on Twitter, Facebook, and on the Google Plus eBook Evangelist Page.

Daily Links and Deals: Who will get your iTunes when you die?

daily_links_1Most of us invest a lot of money in our digital music and book collections, but what happens to them when we die? Also, a look at what we read in preparation for going back to school, a deal that will bring Netflix to your hotel room and ideas for reusing an old tablet. In deals, an unlocked phone from Nextbit, savings on PC accessories and deals on Kindles, Fires and Alexa-enabled devices.

Daily Links for Thursday, August 18, 2016:

What the US is reading in nervous preparation for the first day of school (Quartz) An interesting look at back to school prep through the eyes of Amazon’s bestseller list.

Netflix strikes a deal with Enseo to offer its service in hotels (Engadget) Providing this is secure, this would be absolutely fantastic for travelers!

How to reuse an old tablet (PC Advisor) Here are some great ideas to get more use of some of your old tech.

Who will get your iTunes when you die? (Market Watch) This is an issue that we will see coming up more and more. Now we have to think of “Digital Estate Planning” for the hereafter.

Deals of the Day:

Amazon’s selection of Kindle Daily Deals includes Amazing Spider-Man Masterworks Vol. 1 (Marvel Masterworks) by Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby.

In Today’s Deals, a Nextbit Robin Factory Unlocked Phone – Midnight (U.S. Warranty). Also, savings on select PC components and accessories.

For a limited time, get $15 off the regular price of the Amazon Tap and the Certified Refurbished Amazon Echo for $150. You can also get $20 off the basic Kindle and the Kindle Paperwhite.  You can also find savings on the Fire HDX 8.9 Tablet (Wi-Fi and 4G LTE) and the Fire Kids Edition Tablet.

The Barnes and Noble Nook Daily Find has three books by paranormal expert Teresa Cheung. The Romance Daily Find is Getting Over Mr. Right: A Novel by Chrissie Manby.

Kobo’s Daily Deal is Rise the Dark by Michael Koryta. The Extra Daily Deal is The Elfrida Goto Trilogy (Sol System Renegades Books 1-3) by Felix R. Savage.

iTunes’ Weekly Bestsellers Under $4 includes The Pact by Jodi Picoult.

Google Books has a selection of Topsellers Under $10.

(A note on Daily Deals: All prices current at the time of posting and subject to change. Most items marked Daily Deals are good for only the day posted.

Many large promotions have discount pricing that is set by the publisher. This usually means that titles can be found at a discount price across most platforms (with iTunes sometimes being the exception). If you have a favorite retailer you like to patronize, check the title on that website. There is a good chance that they will be matching the sale price.)


Daily Links are interesting links I discover as I go about my online

Sunday Daily Deals: Amazon Tap, Kindle, Paperwhite deals

tap_chargeDeals of the Day for Sunday, August 12, 2016:

Amazon’s selection of Kindle Daily Deals includes over 20 top-rated Kindle books priced at up to 75% off.

In Today’s Deals, save up to 45% on Osprey Backpacks. Also, for today only, get $15 off the regular price of the Amazon Tap.

You can also get $20 off the basic Kindle and Kindle Paperwhite for a limited time.

The Barnes and Noble Nook Daily Find features the Travel Guide eBook Sale. The Romance Daily Find is for a selection of Romance Favorites, including books by Nora Roberts, Robyn Carr and more.

Kobo’s Daily Deal is The Good Luck of Right Now A Novel by Matthew Quick. The Extra Daily Deal is Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner.

iTunes’ Weekly Bestsellers Under $4 includes The Garden of Letters by Alyson Richman.

Google Books has a selection of Topsellers Under $10.

(A note on Daily Deals: All prices current at the time of posting and subject to change. Most items marked Daily Deals are good for only the day posted.

Many large promotions have discount pricing that is set by the publisher. This usually means that titles can be found at a discount price across most platforms (with iTunes sometimes being the exception). If you have a favorite retailer you like to patronize, check the title on that website. There is a good chance that they will be matching the sale price.)


Daily Links are interesting links I discover as I go about my online day. The frequency and number of links posted depend upon the daily news. I also post other, different links of interest on Twitter, Facebook, and on the Google Plus eBook Evangelist Page.

Sunday Daily Deals: Amazon Tap, Fire TV and Tablets on Sale

TapToday, lots of books and devices on sale; Get 20$ off the Amazon Tap and various model Fire Tablets. You can also get $15 the Fire TV  and several bundles.

Deals of the Day for Sunday, June 12, 2016:

Amazon’s selection of Kindle Daily Deals includes a selection of over 15 popular books for 2.99 each.

In Today’s Deals, there are so many goodies today. You can find a Goal Zero 23000 Yeti 400 Solar Generator and 40% off Vanguard 10×42 Sprit ED Binoculars.

Amazon is having a huge sale on devices! For a limited time, here’s what you can find:

The Barnes and Noble Nook Daily Find is Canyon Sacrifice by Scott Graham for $1.99.The Romance Daily Find is Ignite: The Wildwood Series by Karen Erickson for 99 cents.

Kobo’s Daily Deal is Deja Dead:  A Temperance Brennan Novel by Kathy Reichs for $1.99.

iTunes’ Weekly Bestsellers Under $4 includes Evidence of the Afterlife: The Science of Near-death Experiences by Jeffrey Long for $1.99.

Google has a selection of Hot Deals This Week.

(A note on Daily Deals: All prices current at the time of posting and subject to change. Most items marked Daily Deals are good for only the day posted.

Many large promotions have discount pricing that is set by the publisher. This usually means that titles can be found at a discount price across most platforms (with iTunes sometimes being the exception). If you have a favorite retailer you like to patronize, check the title on that website. There is a good chance that they will be matching the sale price.)


Daily Links are interesting links I discover as I go about my online day. The frequency and number of links posted depend upon the daily news. I also post other, different links of interest on Twitter, Facebook, and on the Google Plus eBook Evangelist Page.

Friday Echo: Jeff Bezos talks Alexa

alexa_webNews:

At Recode’s Code Conference 2016, Jeff Bezos has been talking about the AI, the Echo and Alexa:  Bezos acknowledged that the Echo team is comprised of over a thousand people and has been working on the project for over four years. Here’s

He goes on to say that:

“I think there are going to be a bunch of artificially intelligent agents in the world,” Bezos said. “There are going to be specialties, and you may not ask the same AI for everything. I bet the average household will use a number of these, but to me that’s a very exciting seed that we’ve planted. I love working on stuff like that, and the team is brilliant.” (Quoted in Venture Beat)

The idea of of multiple AI interfaces in a home is interesting. I use Google and Siri along with the Amazon Echo and the Tap – I just use them for different things. That may be the true wave of the future. For more, here is the video of Walt Moss berg’s interview with the Amazon CEO:

The phone versus the Echo – or is it: While Jeff Bezos noted at Code Conference 2016 that “voice interfaces won’t replace phones altogether” he did note that AI  as a field of interest is growing. However, in her annual Internet trends report, venture capitalist Mary Meeker points out that the Amazon Echo sales are growing just as iPhone sales are starting to fall. While our phone are always with us, as more and more Alexa enabled devices become integrated into more devices like the Triby and the new Pebble Core, part of the functions of our phones may be incorporated into other AI-enabled devices. Jefff Bezos thinks that Alexa has the potential to become the fourth pillar of Amazon, although some people think it needs to get better at search first.

More Home versus Echo: There has still been a lot of interest in the idea that Google Home will be competing with Alexa and the Amazon Echo. While we will have to wait and see on that front as the Home doesn’t actually exist as a finished product as yet, we are learning  more about the Home. Not surprisingly, the Home seems to be based on the existing Chromecast and not on Android. That probably means a cloud-based solution much like Google search. Given the price of the current Coogle Chromecast and Google audio what, that probably means that the Home will come in much cheaper than the Amazon Echo, depending on speaker quality.

Echo on the Web: Yes and No – This week, there was a big deal made out of the fact that there was an Echo Sim site up on the web at https://echosim.io/. The truth is, that is a test site for developing Alexa skills. It is not intended as a “try-before-you-buy” site to see how the Echo works. Trust me, if they  worked as slow and as badly as that site does, I would have sent both the Echo and the Tap back in a heartbeat. Fortunately, the real devices are a lot better!

However, did you know that you can actually control your Amazon Echo or Amazon Tap from your web browser instead of your app? After you have your device set up and connected, log in to your Amazon account. Then go to http://alexa.amazon.com/ in your browser. There, you will see the Alexa App info on your computer monitor. You can access also your info there, including your shopping and todo lists. Trust me, it is a lot easier to search through skills on the computer with a keyboard and mouse than it is trying to pinch and tap on the tiny screen,m especially now that Alexa has over 1,000 skills. (Found via How-to Geek)

Need more help with Alexa on your Echo or your Tap? Here’s the help page.

Friday Echo: Amazon Echo now available as a refurb

echo_pixEcho News:

Amazon Echo now available as a refurb – If you have been sitting on the fence about buying an Echo, you may have noticed that they tend to sell out quite frequently. Amazon now sells the Echo as a refurbished unit. These are certified refurbished units, which means that Amazon has refurbished, tested, and certified them to look and work like new.  They come with the same 1-year warranty as a new Echo. My only concern about the unit is the price. Personally, I don’t think the price is reduced enough from the new item price to reflect the refurbished status. But it is an option if they are sold out and you have to have one right now…. You can find the link to the refub model on the Amazon Echo page, right under the description.

Apple is opening Siri to developers and smart speakers:  Just ahead of what are rumored to be some Siri-themed announcements at the upcoming World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC), there’s news that  Apple will open Siri to developers and launch Amazon Echo-like smart speaker, report says (Mashable). There has been very little integration between Siri and other third-party apps, unfortunately. It is good news that Apple is going to be opening this up more, especially for iPhone and iPad users. One can’t help but wonder if, given the way that Alexa is always adding more skills and functions, Apple may find that they are too late entering into the game to compete with Amazon and Google on the smart speaker front. IMHO, out of all of the digital assistants, Alexa and Google have the most life-like and natural sounding voices, so it will be interesting to see what happens as the competition opens up.

Echo and Home are endpoints, not the endgame (Recode) It was big news last week that Google was going to have a device that would compete with the Echo. Google is releasing a bit more info about the assistant behind the device (and, yes, please note the small “a” in the word!). According to this article, Google intends for the assistant to be an integrated part of a group of services, not just the Home. Google intends to integrate the assistant with its Allo messaging app for starters, even before the Home shows up on your, … um, doorstep.

According to this article, Alexa, too,  is going to be branching out. She’s already expanded her family into the Dot and the Amazon Tap. She is a part of the Fire TV system and, if the rumors are true, there will be a Fire tablet with Alexa features on the horizon soon. With Apple also entering the smart speaker game, that going to mean a lot of choices for the consumer.

The article brings up the topic of meeting the needs of individual users and how much users hate the concept of switching profiles. It will be interesting to see how all of our digital assistants solve that issue.  I have to bounce back and forth between profiles often. The Amazon Prime account (and therefore Prime Music) is in my husband’s name. All of my ebooks and my audiobooks from Audible are in my account, so naturally, I do a lot of switching back and forth. Integrating the two is one of the key features of how well these devices blend into our lives in the future.

Amazon Tap on the Go: Last weekend, I went out of town and decided to take my Amazon Tap with me. Beside the use of the wake word to activate, one of the big differences between the Echo and the Tap is that the Tap is designed to be portable. I brought one of my Fire HD 6 tablets with so I had the Alexa app for set up – on the Fire I can switch between mine and my husband’s accounts because of family sharing.  I knew that I would have to use the app to set up the Tap when I got there, but I had no idea what I was in for.

After this weekend, I have to say that using the device on hotel WiFi was a less than optimal experience. Like many public connections, the WiFi kept disconnecting and requiring me to login again. Every time the WiFi disconnected, so did the Fire tablet. That meant my Alexa app was offline and Alexa gets a little bit less reliable. By Saturday night, the Tap wouldn’t even set an alarm for Sunday morning without me running set up through the app again. I know the Fire tablets are a little touchy about the WiFi settings because mine disconnects every time I restart my router. So I think the problem was the tablet, not the Tap, but it was still frustrating. I plan to be doing some further testing with it on public WiFi over the next few weeks.

If you have traveled with your Tap, please leave me a comment and let me know what your experience was.

Echo How-to Books: I have started reading some of the how-to books available on the Echo and the Tap. Most of these are available to read for free as part of the Kindle Unlimited program. Over this past week, I read Amazon Echo: The 2016 User Guide And Manual: Get The Best Out Of Amazon Echo by Martin Butler.  This book is really, really basic. It is less than a hundred pages and the first third of it is dedicated to describing the Echo and what it is. For anything too involved, the author relies on sending you to the Echo help page for further assistance. There is very little here that you cannot get by simply reading the device product and help pages yourself.  I would give this one a pass. 😦

Things to try:  In honor of the 2016 Scripps National Spelling Bee that took place yesterday (May 26th) on ESPN, Alexa has a few new tricks. Ask Alexa: “Give me a Spelling Bee word.”

Also, say “Good Morning” to Alexa and see what happens. Every day, she helps you celebrate something new. For National Fan Fiction day, she confessed to me that she had “recently been busted for reading sci-fi fan fiction.”  There’s a different answer every day.

Need more help with Alexa on your Echo or your Tap? Here’s the help page.

The Friday Echo: Alexa Can Now Track Your Amazon Packages!

echoI recently bought both the Amazon Echo and the Amazon Tap. We’ve actually been having a lot of fun with them around here. 🙂 I will be writing reviews on the products over the next few weeks (I’ve had the Tap longer and wanted to be able to fairly compare it with the Echo before I reviewed.)

One of the things I have discovered is that there is a bit of a learning curve to using Alexa. Not for her, but for the humans trying to learn to use her. Alexa is all about phraseology and keywords, I have found. (It is a bit different than Siri or OK, Google (Google Now) because Alexa does different things.) So, I am currently working on learning how to work with both the Echo and the Tap. As I learn what the two can do, I will be sharing news articles, tips and so on in a new column, The Friday Echo. Bet you can’t guess what day it will be posted on! 🙂

Alexa Can Now Track Your Amazon Packages! (Love My Echo) This is an incredibly nifty new feature for Alexa. She can now tell you when your next Amazon package will arrive. She only seems to be able to handle one package at a time, so I wouldn’t be giving here order numbers just yet, but this is a promising integration with Amazon’s system that personally, I would like to see more of.

This battery makes the Amazon Echo portable (The Verge) Okay. So a company made a battery stand for the Echo so that you can then move it around the house. That’s like basically turning it into an Amazon Tap without the button right? Well, not exactly. The Echo can only connect your home network. The Tap is designed to connect to other networks and hotspots.  While I can see the allure of moving Alexa around the house (sometimes I want her in the kitchen), this is a unusual solution, especially as Amazon already solved the problem with the Tap. Note that the Verge’s article employs humor and a hint of sarcasm.

Report: Google has an Amazon Echo competitor coming named ‘Chirp’ (The Next Web) The Echo has proved to be pretty popular and Amazon has sold out of them several times. Now Google wants one, too. It’s not clear if that desire to create a home device comes from is the number of Echo and Tap units sold or the data that is being collected from the device’s use. But seriously, “Chirp”? It needs a better name than that to compete with the likes of Alexa, Siri and Cortana. Okay, Google?

One year after Alexa: Amazon’s Echo has found a small but smart niche (Ars Technica) This article is an interesting case study in what it is like to like to use the Amazon Echo and Alexa. I found the pros and cons pretty much consistent with my experience of using the Echo and the Tap. And check out the video! It gives you a nice real world run through of the Echo’s features, although it doesn’t give you Alexa’s “I wasn’t able to understand the question I heard” response.

Echo Guides: There are quite a few guides written for the Amazon Echo. Not surprisingly, many of the guides written for the devices are available in Kindle Unlimited. I have started reading through them so I can make some recommendations for good basic beginner’s guides. Stay tuned.

Just for Fun: Ask Alexa what zodiac sign she is.

Daily Links and Deals: Evolving Technologies Change the Nature of Internet Use

daily_links_1Today, stories on how new technology affects how we use the internet, changes in Journalism, and a new smart toy for your pets lets you play with your cat or dog from anywhere. In deals, an offer from Verizon and sale pricing on the Amazon Echo and the Amazon Tap Alexa-enabled devices.

Daily Links for Tuesday, April 19, 2016:

Track all your partner’s infidelities with this smart mattress (Engadget) Is it just me or is this taking “connectedness” too far?

Key Ring Chronicles: Library Card (McSweeney’s) Um, that doesn’t happen with ebooks….

Verizon Wireless Android Users Can Get 2GB Free for Using Android Pay! (Gear Diary) This is a limited time offer good through mid-June.

Journalism isn’t dying. But it’s changing WAY faster than most people understand (Washington Post) Until we understand those changes, a clear direction for journalism is not going to present itself.

Play with your pets from anywhere with PlayDate’s smart ball (Engadget) This sounds like it would be a great for pet owners, although it is a little pricey.

The New York Public Library Digitizes Centuries-Old Hebrew Manuscripts (NYPL) Fascinating collection of late medieval and early modern manuscripts, including a couple on Kaballah.

Evolving Technologies Change the Nature of Internet Use (NTIA) A report from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration looks at how we interact online with new tech.

Deals of the Day:

Amazon’s selection of Kindle Daily Deals includes The Mandel Files, Volume 1: Mindstar Rising & A Quantum Murder (Greg Mandel) by Peter F. Hamilton for $1.99.

In Today’s Deals, Amazon is offering 15% off the Amazon Echo and the Amazon Tap.  Also a deal on the Sons of Anarchy: The Complete series on either Blu-ray or DVD.

Amazon is still offering savings on the Fire HD 6, and deals on pre-owned Fire tablets. I am also still seeing the option for 5 payments of $58 for the Kindle Oasis pre-order.

The Barnes and Noble Nook Daily Find is Bone Dust White by Karin Salvalaggio for $2.99. The Romance Daily Find is Chasing Jillian (Love and Football Series #5) for 99 cents.

Kobo’s Daily Deal is Spring Fever by Mary Kay Andrews for $2.99.

iTunes’ Weekly Bestsellers Under $4 includes The Invention of Everything Else by Samantha Hunt for $2.99.

(A note on Daily Deals: All prices current at the time of posting and subject to change. Most items marked Daily Deals are good for only the day posted.

Many large promotions have discount pricing that is set by the publisher. This usually means that titles can be found at a discount price across most platforms (with iTunes sometimes being the exception). If you have a favorite retailer you like to patronize, check the title on that website. There is a good chance that they will be matching the sale price.)


Daily Links are interesting links I discover as I go about my online day. The frequency and number of links posted depend upon the daily news. I also post other, different links of interest on Twitter, Facebook, and on the Google Plus eBook Evangelist Page.

Amazon announces new Echo devices: The Tap and Echo Dot

echo_dotToday, Amazon announced two additions to the Amazon Echo family:  The Amazon Tap and the Echo Dot.

The Amazon Tap is a smaller, portable device that is similar to the Echo, but with some big differences. The Tap is considered to be an Alexa enabled device. Alexa devices are always on. With the Tap, you must turn the device on to access the Alexa features. This feature is a bonus if you are someone (like me) that has privacy concerns and does not want an always on device.

It is smaller that the Echo (6.2 inches to the Echo’s 9 inch height). Unlike the Echo, the Tap can connect to wi-fi hot spots using the Alexa app. While the original Echo was designed to be used at home, the lack of wi-fi connectivity for the had been a problem for some users trying to use it while traveling. Like the Echo, the Tap requires the Alexa app for settings and connecting to the Internet or wi-fi networks.

Since it is designed to be portable, the Amazon Tap comes with a specially designed charging cradle and retails for $129.99. The device will ship March 31, 2016. The optional sling is $19.99.  You can find out more information or order the Tap here.

The Echo Dot is currently available in limited quantities and is only being offered to Amazon Prime members. The item also can only be ordered through Alexa Voice Shopping. It can only be ordered through the Echo or the Amazon Fire TV.

The dot is a small (1.5″ x 3.3″ x 3.3″) device that can be connected to other speakers, making its most obvious purpose the ability to add voice controls to “dumb” speakers . It is only being offered to to those already using the Alexa system, although it seems to have many of the same capabilities (playing music, controlling smart lights, etc.). It does have a small built in speakers. It is bluetooth capable, although not with systems which require a pin for pairing. Like the Echo, this device is must be plugged in and is designed for use with a home wi-fi system. The device retails for $89.99. You can read more about it here.

I am seriously thinking about giving the Tap a try. I did notice in the video on Amazon that everyone seems to be picking the Tap up and using it like a microphone, while people always seem to talk to the Echo from across the room. I wonder if there is a difference in the microphone technology between the two devices?

How about you? Do either of these look interesting? If you have an Echo and would like to share any thoughts, I’d love to hear what you think. 🙂