The Amazon Echo

echo

I’ve had my Amazon Echo for a couple of months now and it’s pretty great. Alexa (her name, because the Echo responds to calling it (her?) “Alexa”) sits in my kitchen and waits for me to ask her things. I ask her things constantly.

She tells me the weather, plays whatever music I want to hear, looks things up on Wikipedia, plays the news, reads me my Audible books, and sets cooking timers.

Note that none of the above involve directly purchasing stuff from Amazon. Well technically, the Audible books are from Amazon and some of the music is via Amazon Prime, but the Echo doesn’t seem to care if I buy anything or not. It’s almost weirdly un-Amazon in that way. In fact I wish she did let me buy stuff.

She does all those things without me having the think about how to make her do them. I just say, “Alexa, set a timer for 10 minutes” or “Alexa, play some Rage Against the Machine” or “Alexa, read me ‘Ready Player One'” and she just does it, nearly instantaneously. She understands commands from across the room over music already playing . I don’t even need to yell. It’s all quite remarkable.

I have a Sonos system in my house and plenty of decent gear for listening to music, including a turntable and lots of records. I love all that stuff, but I find myself just saying “Alexa, play my Beastie Boys Pandora station” because it’s effortless, and sounds good enough. Much better than having to grab my phone, open the Sonos app, find the music I want, choose the room, and hit play. So yeah, it’s making me a bit lazy.

I thought using Siri on the Apple Watch would be a great way to do many of these things, but Siri doesn’t work well on the Watch. At all. I’m not going to bother grabbing my phone, either. Not anymore.

 

The Amazon Echo

SCOTUS

It’s been a wild week of significant Supreme Court rulings. As a heterosexual white male with company-provided healthcare I don’t have much skin in the game, as it were, but it feels like we’ve moved things in the right direction for the many who do.

Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage.
Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage.
SCOTUS

Oh yeah, there’s still a Tilde.club!

Back in October, 2014 Paul Ford did something amazing and wrote about it: I had a couple drinks and woke up with 1,000 nerds

It was the story of tilde.club.

I love the idea of tilde.club-type sites everywhere. I even ran one for a spell. Mr. Ford was kind enough to provide me with an account on the original server. You can find it at tilde.club/~jbaty. I still update it occasionally. It’s comforting having a statically-served1 “~” account on someone else’s server.

I even pop into the local-only IRC channel. There are a few folks still around, but they’re pretty quiet. Still, it’s nice to know they’re there.


  1. The site is generated using Dave Winer’s Fargo
Oh yeah, there’s still a Tilde.club!

My Current iPhone and Google Photos process

I tossed my tinfoil hat aside the day Google released the new Google Photos. I’ve tried nearly every photo storage/backup/sharing service and Google Photos is by far my new favorite. It combines drop-dead simple backup with some fancy searching and categorizing features. All for free.

I started out by configuring both my Mac and iPhone to send photos to Google. The problem was that I also import my photos from my phone to my Mac so I was getting duplicates of everything. To avoid this, I’ve turned off syncing on my phone. Now my process looks like this…

  1. Take photos on iPhone for a day or so
  2. Plug iPhone into Mac and import via Image Capture (deleting all photos from phone after import)
  3. Edit, tag, and caption every “keeper” using Photo Mechanic
  4. Import into Lightroom

Since the photos in Lightroom are uploaded via Google Photos Backup they eventually end up visible both at photos.google.com and the Google Photos iPhone app. No duplicates. The other benefit is that all of the uploaded images are properly captioned, making the already great search feature even more useful.

 

My Current iPhone and Google Photos process

Danger Mouse is on Netflix. He’s the greatest. He’s fantastic! Wherever there is trouble he’ll be there! http://www.netflix.com/title/70177040 (ht @peterme)

Status

Katie at 17

My dog Katie turned 17 last week. The above video was shot today at my parents’ house. Katie can’t hear and only has one eye but she sure seems happy. I don’t expect her to live forever but she’s well on her way. Every day is a bonus.

Video