Engadget looked at AIs for a week and it was great

There is no doubt about it: AI and digital assistants are a big trend right now (and possibly, the wave of the future). In any given week, look on any tech-related site and you are almost guaranteed to find at least one article on Amazon’s Alexa, the Google Home or the next upcoming new digital assistant for your phone.

This week, Engadet decided to take an in-depth look at five of the best-known assistants: Cortana, Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant and Bixby. Each reporter was asked to live with the assistant for one week and write about their experiences. Here are the results:

The accounts of the experiences are humorous and engaging. They are also extremely familiar to anyone who has gone through the frustrating getting-to-know-you period with a new AI system. I have used four out of the five (Bixby will have to wait until Samsung decides to roll it out to S7 Edge owners like me). Depending on whether you are team PC or team Mac or iPhone or Android, your experience with each will probably vary, a fact noted in several of the articles.

If you are a music fan, what music streaming service you subscribe to will also make a huge difference. The Google Home provided a totally different experience during my YouTube Red trial than when I went back to my free Google Music account. The same was true for the Amazon Echo with and without Prime Music or an Amazon Music subscription.

All in all, this series was one of my favorite reads this week. What do you think?

Daily Links and Deals: iPhone Bug Can Force Phones to Repeatedly Call 911

daily_links_1Daily Links for Thursday, November 10,  2016:

The best messaging apps with end-to-end encryption (Greenbot.com) Privacy concerns seem to be exploding since Tuesday. Even Whats App is rolling out two-factor authentication.

Facebook buys black market passwords to keep your account safe (CNET) I get the idea here, but the thought of Facebook tracking down my other info on the internet kind of creeps me out.

You can now send people money on PayPal by shouting at Siri (The Verge) Wow, sending money keeps getting easier and easier….

iPhone Bug Can Force Phones to Repeatedly Call 911 (Gizmodo) And Apple really, really needs to patch this.

Deals of the Day:

Amazon’s selection of Kindle Daily Deals includes Flight Behavior: A Novel by Barbara Kingsolver.

In Today’s Deals, save up to 40% on select Ravensburger and Wonder Forge games. Also, Mad Men: The Complete Collection [Blu-ray + Digital HD].

Amazon also has a great selection of Certified Refurbished devices available. These come with a full one-year warranty. You can find deals on Paperwhites ($80), a Kindle Voyage ($120) and the Amazon Echo ($120) here.

The Barnes and Noble Nook Daily Find is Sprinkles!: Recipes and Ideas for Rainbowlicious Desserts by Jackie Alpers.        The Romance Daily Find is Don’t Die, My Love by Lurlene McDaniel.

Barnes and Noble also has a selection of NOOK Books Under $2.99.

Kobo’s Daily Deal is Think Like a Freak: The Authors of Freakonomics Offer to Retrain Your Brain by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner. The Extra Daily Deal is I Wish (I Wish Book 1) by Elizabeth Langston.

You can buy 2, get 1 free and save on Fern Michaels’ holiday romance titles until November 30.

There is also a selection of Great Reads Under $5 and Bargain Reads in Fiction, in Mystery and other genres. The Kobo Aura One (and the Aura Edition 2 e-readers are now available for order at the Kobo store. (The Aura One is still out of stock.)

iTunes’ Weekly Bestsellers Under $4 includes The Mud Sisters by Edie Claire.

Google Books has a selection of Start a New Mystery titles, a first in series sale.

(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: Just how digital are you?

daily_links_1Today.a look at a survey that looks at global digital use, not just in terms of how much tech a country has, but in terms of how they can use it to improve their digital lives. Also, A look at how iPhone users use Siri, the history of the icon software program Print Shop, and a new e-museum coming online from Washington, DC. In deals, an auto vacuum and $50 off the Fire HD 10.

Daily Links for Tuesday, June 7, 2016:

Study: Most iPhone owners are too embarrassed to use Siri in public (The Next Web) Ulike us Android folks, LOL. And my husband has gotten used to me holding up my finger as a pause sign while I ask Alexa and the Amazon Echo a question.

Inbox by Gmail adds rich text formatting on the web (9 to 5 Google) The apps have had this for a while but it is finally on the web version!

The Print Shop: Why the Dot-Matrix Printer Icon Faded From View (Motherboard)  Very cool history of the Print Shop, For its time, the program was really revolutionary.

DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities Launches New “eMuseum” (DC.gov) A lot of DC local artists and public art works are on display in this e-collection.

Just how digital are you? (The Next Web) Where does your country stand in offering you the opportunity to use technology to improve your life?

Deals of the Day:

Amazon’s selection of Kindle Daily Deals includes Flowertown by S.G. Redling for $1.99.

In Today’s Deals, the Black & Decker PAV1200W 12-Volt Cyclonic-Action Automotive Pivoting-Nose Handheld Vacuum Cleaner (I bought one of these).

Amazon is featuring some pre-owned Kindle e-readers and used Fire Tablets in its Today’s Deals section. Please check descriptions carefully and note that these are NOT refurbished, but simply used Kindles without a warranty. Buyer beware.

You can still get $50 off the Fire HD 10 tablet. The 16GB version is only $179.99. It is also available in both 32GB and 64GB models, all for $50 off.

The Barnes and Noble Nook Daily Find is When Mockingbirds Sing by Billy Coffey for $1.99. The Romance Daily Find is Hidden Heat: A Brothers of Mayhem Novel by Carla Swafford for 99 cents.

Kobo’s Daily Deal is The Miniaturist A Novel by Jessie Burton for $1.99. The Extra Daily Deal is Callaways Boxed Set – Books 1-3 by Barbara Freethy for $3.99.

iTunes’ Weekly Bestsellers Under $4 includes Downtown Owl by Chuck Klosterman 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.

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: Fans to Amazon: Either Leave “Perfect” Kindle Alone or Make It an iPad

daily_links_1In today’s links, fan reactions to the upcoming new Kindle, a library program that lends musical instruments, phone upgrade fees and more. In deals, you can find savings on SanDisk memory products and oodles of Kindle sales still going on.

Daily Links for day, April 1, 2016:

Fans to Amazon: Either Leave “Perfect” Kindle Alone or Make It an iPad (Inverse) A look at the various reactions and speculations about the upcoming new Kindle.

Toronto Public Library creates city’s 1st musical instrument lending program (CBC News)  This is a wonderful idea for a program! Here’s to a library of things!

Hyperlinking to unlawfully published copyright images is still legal, says top European judge (PC World) And sanity prevails…. Making linking illegal would be insane.

AT&T charging $20 upgrade fee even when you bring your own phone (Ars Technica) Um… This is just a tad bit greedy, don’t you think?

Call Sweden’s national number and talk to a random Swede now (Engadget) I am checking my Skype credits right now. I want to talk Nanne Grönvall songs. Who knows the words to  Håll om mig?

Cookie Monster Bemoans Lack of Apple Watch in Commercial ‘Outtakes’ (ReCode) These outtakes are better than the original commercial! 

Deals of the Day:

Amazon’s selection of Kindle Daily Deals includes Bird Box: A Novel by Josh Malerman for $1.99.

In Today’s Deals, there’s a Yamaha TSR-5790BL 7.2-Channel AV Receiver w/4K Ultra HD and Bluetooth offered via Woot. Also featured is a promotion on SanDisk memory cards, sticks and drives. 

There are still plenty of Kindle and Fire deals as well: You can still save on the Fire HD 6, pre-owned Fire tablets,  15% off Fire TV models, and the great  Kindle Deals for customers with Amazon Prime. The 16 GB version on the 7″ Fire is $59.99! (That up $5 from yesterday, but still less than the original price of $69.99.)

The Barnes and Noble Nook Daily Find is Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day by Leanne Brown for $1.99. (A note about this book: This is a cookbook geared towards people on tight budgets, particularly those on SNAP/Food Stamp benefits, where one is expected to eat on $4 a day. For every copy purchased, a copy is given to someone in need. She also offers a shorter, free PDF version on her website for those who need it. You’ll also find recipes and more information about the Good and Cheap project.)  The Romance Daily Find is Married ’til Monday (Chapel Springs Series #4) by Denise Hunter for $1.99.

Kobo’s Daily Deal is Born of Shadows – The League (Book #5) by Sherrilyn Kenyon for $2.99.

In case you  missed it, Kobo is running several promotions. Through April 11, get 3 ebooks for the price of 2 (terms and conditions apply). You can get free shipping on any Kobo e-reader through April 13, 2016. And, until April 18, select Romantic Times winners & nominees are on sale for under $3.

iTunes’ Weekly Bestsellers Under $4 includes Lady Macbeth by Susan Fraser King for $1.99. This is an interesting take on Lady Macbeth’s side of the story.

(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.