Daily Links and Deals: Why does using a period in a text message make you sound insincere or angry?

daily_links_1Today, a look at what people read into using a period in a text message. Also, the Library of Congress has been hacked, perusing 50 years of Star Trek lawsuits and a librarian hands out books at the RNC convention. Today’s deals feature up to 50 off on Logitech PC accessories and a refurbished Vizio soundbar.

Daily Links for Tuesday, July 19, 2016:

Library of Congress wracked by DNS attack (FCW)  The website seems to be still intermittently down.

Why does using a period in a text message make you sound insincere or angry? (The Conversation) Grammar versus the norm and what it says about you. I wonder how long before using punctuation in texts becomes a tell-tale sign of your age, like using two spaces after a period does now….

The Pleads Of The Many: 50 Years of Star Trek Lawsuits (Trademark and Copyright Law) An interesting piece on Star Trek lawsuit history.

This Librarian Handing Out Books At The RNC Wants To “Make America Read Again” (Bustle) I have got to admit that this is an interesting approach to getting people to read.

Deals of the Day: 

Amazon’s selection of Kindle Daily Deals includes Drinking Closer to Home: A Novel by Jessica Anya Blau.

In Today’s Deals, get up to 50% off select Logitech PC accessories, including mice and keyboards. Also, a Vizio refurbished 38″ soundbar and MEE audio M7P Secure-Fit Sports In-Ear Headphones with Mic, Remote, and Universal Volume Control.

The Barnes and Noble Nook Daily Find includes a number of travel guides in the “Rough Guides” series. The Romance Daily Find is Test Drive by Marie Harte.

Kobo’s Daily Deal is Duke of My Heart: A Season for Scandal (Book 1) by Kelly Bowen. The Extra Daily Deal is The Bookseller A Novel by Cynthia Swanson.

iTunes’ Weekly Bestsellers Under $4 includes The Empty Chair by Jeffery Deaver.

If you enjoy YA books, Google Books has a collection of Teen Reads Under $5.

(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: Google Takes on the Amazon Echo

fire_TVThere were two big Alexa stories this week: An update to the Alexa features on the Fire TVs and news about Google’s new Echo competitor.

New Alexa features coming to the Fire TV

On Tuesday, Amazon announced new Alexa features for the Fire TV boxes and sticks.  integrated voice search across 59 content partners including Hulu, Showtime, Starz, HBO Go and more. According to Amazon, these new features will be automatically rolled out in over-the-air software updates in the coming weeks.

The new abilities include:

  • Launch apps using Alexa–Say “Open HBO Now” or “Launch Hulu” into the Fire TV Voice Remote to instantly open the app
  • Play Amazon Video and Add-On Subscription content from Starz, Showtime, and more using Alexa–Say “Play Interstellar,” or “Watch Veep” and get even easier access to your favorite TV shows and movies
  • Find local movie show times via Alexa–Ask “What movies are playing nearby?” or “Where is The Jungle Book playing?” to find out what movies are playing in theatres near you or specific movie times
  • YouTube 4K Ultra HD–Access YouTube’s full 4K library via the YouTube.com app on Amazon Fire TV when connected to a UHD-compatible TV
  • Search for local businesses and restaurants using Alexa–Ask “What Mexican restaurants are nearby?” to find restaurants around you or ask “What time does the nearest bank close?” to get convenient information on businesses nearby
  • Access Kindle e-books via Alexa–Say “Read The Nightingale” to listen to text-to-speech enabled books from your Kindle library through Amazon Fire TV

Some of the features (the local businesses info and the ability to read Kindle ebooks via the Fire TV)  were already available in last month’s update. Note that these features and the upcoming ones are only available on the latest generation Fire TV boxes and sticks running at least OS 5.

Alexa works a bit differently on the Fire TV than she does on the Amazon Echo or the Amazon Tap. You can find more help on using Alexa on your Fire TV here.

Google takes on the Amazon Echo

Last week we heard the news that Google was going to release a competitor to the Echo code-named “Chirp”. This week, we heard that the device is going to be called Google Home. There’s been a lot of talk about the name (yeah, lame) and how it looks (yeah, it does kind of look like an air freshener) and how it is designed to compete with the Amazon Echo. The Home will do many of the same things as the Echo, such as answering questions, providing the weather forecast, etc. Unlike the Echo, the Home uses the Cast standard and can broadcast to other speakers and your Chromecast. And, you can customize the colors. There are two areas where it doesn’t have some of the features Alexa has: Home will not have multi-account support, at least at the beginning. The Amazon Echo and Amazon Tap both have support for Household Accounts. Also unlike the Amazon Echo’s Skills , Google has not make Home’s API public yet, meaning that there won’t be any third-party applications, at least not for a while.

There’s no date announced for the Home yet. If you are interested, you can sign up at Home.Google.com and you’ll be notified when the device becomes available.


Alexa already has some abilities that you can customize. One of these is the custom news update called a Flash Briefing. Using the Alexa App, you can customize the sources from which  Alexa draws the news. This section is continuing to expand and you can choose from detailed news sources, headlines only and sports news. That way, you get just the amount of news you are looking for.

The Flash Briefing is a standard feature on the Amazon Echo and Amazon Tap. But what if you want something else. That where Skills come in. Skills are developed for Alexa by third parties which you can install add specific abilities to your Alexa. You can install a Skill via your Alexa app.  When you want to use it, you simply tell Alexa to ope it, then tell her what to do.

Since my husband is a musician, we installed a Skill called Metronome. We say “Open, Metronome” and Alexa asks how many beats per minute we want her to play. While most people wouldn’t need a metronome skill on their Echo, for us, it definitely has a place. 🙂 Each Skill also has its own specific help section.

There are already a large number of Skills available. They run the gamut from Buddha Quotes to children’s apps. New skills are constantly being developed for the system. You can also write reviews for the the Skills you use.

Need more info or help with Skills. You can find help here.

Just for Fun:

Jeff Bezos has admitted to being heavily influenced by Star Trek.  If you are a fan of the franchise as well, say one of the following to Alexa: “Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.” or “Coffee, Black.”

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

CBS All Access Video Review (Updated)

CBS_blogI signed up for the CBS  All Access video service when they were running a promotion for a month-long free trial (no longer available). The service runs $5.99 a month. I tested the service on my Roku box, my Samsung Galaxy Note 8 tablet (Android) and my iPad Mini first generation (IOS).

Sign Up: 

Sign up was super easy. I just had to create an account, enter billing and credit card info and I was good to go.  I didn’t need to wait for a confirmation email to use the service.


CBS has a lot of long-running shows and  most of that content is available on the service.  NCIS and its spin-offs. Criminal Minds. MacGyver.  CSI and spin-offs. All 175 episodes of Family Ties. All 264 episodes of Frazier.  All of the Star Trek series are available on demand. The content also includes current shows and the option to watch live TV.

The few shows that were missing seemed to be tied in to current licensing deals. When I started my free trial, there were only clips  from the series EXTANT – no full episodes -Amazon had exclusive streaming rights to the show.  When season two of the show started, the season one episodes finally appeared on  ALL Access.  There are no season two episodes because Amazon still has exclusive rights to those.

CBS’ Elementary is another strange situation. Right now, seasons one through three are streaming exclusively on Hulu Plus.  CBS All Access is only showing episodes from season three on demand.  Hulu Plus’ original announcement seemed to indicate that its agreement for Elementary only covered past episodes, not the current ones.

Most new episodes appear the day after the show airs on television. The Kindle version of the app lists an 8 day delay for episodes in HD.

The Experience:

I tried the CBS app on three different devices. The experience was slightly different on each one of them, but the two things in common across all three platforms were the excessive adds and the video glitches and quality problems.

The advertisements on this service are, quite simply, awful.  There are tons of ads and they played before, during and after the show episodes. The sound volume of the ads was extremely loud compared to the video volume. The ad choices seemed especially irritating. The fact that they were played repeatedly through out an episode only increased my annoyance. The series of Jack Link’s Jerky commercials featuring the abuse and bullying of Sasquatch stood out as being particularly noxious.

On the Roku, ads played an average of every eight minutes.  The cutting process was really awkward. After the commercials, the show would replay the last few seconds before the break and playback would repeatedly stall and need to reload. I have DSL, and the app did not handle a slow connection well; at times the quality was very poor and the audio would be slightly out of sync.  This was especially noticeable compared to Netflix, Amazon and Hulu which seem to do a better job of balancing slower connections.

Viewing on the Android app showed most of the same problems with ads and audio sync issues as the Roku. For the most part, the video quality was somewhat better on the Android than the Roku box.

The picture quality on the iPad Mini was the best out of the three devices, although the audio sync problems were still there.The IOS app had full page ads built into the app that were really disruptive.

Both the Android and IOS app still showed a large number of commercials, but they seemed to be less frequent at the beginning  and more frequent towards the end of the episode.

All three platforms had closed captions, although the settings were a little more difficult to figure out on the Roku app as they worked a little differently than I was used to on Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. On the IOS app, I could turn on captions from within the app for streaming, but the app defaulted to the main IOS setting when watching live TV.

I live right outside of Chicago and had no problems with the app recognizing and streaming my local CBS station live. The commercial ads shown during the live didn’t seem the same ones I saw on the on demand side of the app. There were a lot of very short commercials but I didn’t see anything I recognized as strictly local to Chicago.

With a price tag of $5.99 a month, the advertisements and the poor video quality on the Roku box were deal breakers for me, especially after trying Hulu ad-free.  I canceled the service near the end of the trial.


Canceling the service was very easy. I simply clicked a link on my account page to cancel, although a toll-free number is also listed on the cancellation page. I was asked to give a reason for canceling (it was optional) and given an opportunity to  provide feedback (also optional). I received an immediate email verifying my billing cancellation. I was also informed that I still had access to the content until my trial period actually ended.

Today, CBS Studios announced a new Star Trek series to air in 2017. According to the announcement in Mediaite:

Unlike previous series, only the first episode will air on television. The new series will be the first exclusive series for CBS’s “All Access” online streaming service, which currently costs $5.99 per month.

I am a die-hard Trekkie, but unless this service gets significantly better,  I will be waiting on the new series until it is out on DVD. I don’t get making the show exclusive to All Access unless they are just trying to boost the adoption of the app.

So, how about you? Have you tried the service? How do you feel about CBS making it exclusive?

UPDATE: In today’s earnings call, CBS CEO Les Moonves is hinting at the possibility of an ad-free service for a higher price:

“How about $9.99 with no ads? It’s very possible,” he says although he adds that “it’s still very early.”

It is good that CBS is looking at a version without ads, but $9.99 for one network’s offerings seems a bit steep compared to Netflix, Amazon and Hulu Plus.