Maybe Don’t Buy An Amazon Echo Right Away

Posted March 28, 2017 By Mom
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I’m about the last person you’d expect to discourage you from buying any Alexa device, but if you haven’t got one already, as this cross post from my Love My Echo site says: maybe don’t buy an Amazon Echo right away.

 

Shut Up And Take My Money

 

Something’s Coming…
I recently shared reports from reputable tech outlets about Amazon’s plans to release one or more new Alexa devices this year.

The same reports say Amazon plans to roll out some significant new Alexa voice service functionality, like hands-free voice calling and inter-connectivity between Alexa devices that would allow them to work as an intercom system on a shared network. New Alexa device hardware will bring upgrades and differences as well. One rumored feature is an integrated touchscreen, another is upgraded speakers. It’s possible the new Alexa functions will be released to both new and existing Alexa devices via a software update, but it’s also possible the new features will be dependent on the new hardware, or a new version of firmware that’s not compatible with existing devices.

If you’ve been thinking about buying a Dot, Echo or Tap but the reported software or hardware changes pique your interest, you might want to hold off on that purchase until the new line is released. Consumers who buy a tech device a week or a month before the latest version is released are usually pretty angry about missing the upgrade boat. Amazon hasn’t announced a release date for any of the new stuff, but since multiple outlets report the new hardware has been in beta test since early March it’s likely that release will happen by summer.

The new hardware may come with all of the new features Amazon’s been cooking up, or with a partial upgrade to be followed by a software update a few weeks later.

 

Echo Dot

 

U.S. Dot Shoppers and Bargain Hunters, It’s Your Time To Shine
Amazon’s got some great Dot deals going for its US customers right now. As of this writing, Amazon US customers can take advantage of an interest-free installment plan on the purchase of a single Dot ($10 per month for 5 months), or take $20 off when they buy three Dots in a single order and use the discount code DOT3PACK at checkout.

Amazon’s also currently offering its US customers an interest-free installment plan on the Echo: $36 a month for five months.

 

What About The UK?
I have no insider knowledge, I can only guess at why the same deals aren’t being offered overseas.

Often these types of special deals signal a desire on Amazon’s part to clear out existing inventory to make room for the new models, and given past history it may be that new versions won’t be released in the UK at the same time as they are in the U.S. If that’s so, then there’s less urgency to clear out stock on hand in the UK. It’s also possible that Echo and Dot have been selling so briskly in the UK that there’s no surplus of inventory to clear.

But again, I don’t work for, and can’t speak for Amazon.

 

If you’re already champing at the bit to get at those new Alexa features and the new hardware, avoid disappointment by delaying your purchase a little while longer. But if you’re happy with the existing hardware and feature set, be alert for special offers on Alexa devices.

 

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It’s never a bad idea to keep a spare Amazon Echo and Fire TV Power Adapter (UK visitors – click here) on hand. Currently priced at $19.99 and rated 4.5/5 stars.

Echo and Fire Power Adapter

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3/27/17 Movie Monday: New Releases

Posted March 26, 2017 By Mom
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Welcome to DMM’s 3/27/17 Movie Monday, where I’ll help you tackle movie night with brief reviews of movies and videos you may have missed. This week, I’m sharing my take on two recent releases.

 

Waiting For New Star Wars

 

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Cover

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (PG-13) – currently only available for purchase, not rental.
From Lucasfilm comes an epic adventure – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. In a time of conflict, a group of unlikely heroes band together on a mission to steal the plans to the Death Star, the Empire’s ultimate weapon of destruction.

In the first Star Wars movie ever released, A New Hope, Princess Leia hid the plans to the Death Star in R2D2, and the rebellion used them to destroy the Death Star. This movie tells the backstory of how the plans were stolen. It’s big and noisy, and all the critics who described it as first and foremost a war movie weren’t wrong. At times I found it hard to follow and repetitive. Even so, I felt like it had more heart and emotional resonance than the last release in the franchise, The Force Awakens. Definitely a must-see for Star Wars completists (who, let’s face it, have surely already seen this one in the theater), probably a good pick for fans of war movies and sci fi epics, but maybe miss-able for everyone else.

 

The Edge of Seventeen

The Edge of Seventeen (R)
An honest and hilarious coming-of-age comedy about an awkward teen (Hailee Steinfeld) tackling the challenges of high school without her best friend.

An updated, frank and hilarious take on the same type of teen story that gave us the John Hughes canon. Nadine is the put-upon heroine, an awkward outcast with a lot of smarts, a golden boy big brother and literally just one friend to her name. She and her bestie were always there for each other from second to tenth grade, but things start to unravel in their Junior year of high school. Now Nadine must face the usual landmines of crushes, embarrassing text exchanges, and boys you like but don’t like-like on her own—and she’s not handling any of it very well. Stars Hailee Steinfeld, who my teen daughter tells me is better known as a pop star, but who is also obviously a talented actress. Co-stars Woody Harrelson in a low-key role as a cranky, no-nonsense, yet ultimately supportive and caring teacher and Kyra Sedgwick as the single mom who’s wound a little too tight.

This is a great one for parents and their teen daughters to watch together, but be warned: Nadine and her school mates indulge in some typically age-inappropriate behaviors, and the movie’s R rating is due primarily to strong language.

 

      

3/24/17 Freebie Friday: Two Audiobooks

Posted March 24, 2017 By Mom
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Welcome To Digital Media Mom’s 3/24/17 Freebie Friday
Today I’ve got a modern nonfiction classic and a brand new pre-order short story from Isabel Allende in her native Spanish, both free as of this writing.

First up, it’s FREE: The Future of a Radical Price, Unabridged Audible Edition. This book was published in 2009, and even if you read it around that time it’s fascinating to hear it again. Which businesses have embraced Anderson’s thesis, which have not, and how are all of them doing? Currently rated 4/5 stars.

 

The New York Times best-selling author heralds the future of business in Free. In his revolutionary best seller, The Long Tail, Chris Anderson demonstrated how the online marketplace creates niche markets, allowing products and consumers to connect in a way that has never been possible before. Now, in Free, he makes the compelling case that, in many instances, businesses can profit more from giving things away than they can by charging for them.

Far more than a promotional gimmick, Free is a business strategy that may well be essential to a company’s survival. The costs associated with the growing online economy are trending toward zero at an incredible rate. Never in the course of human history have the primary inputs to an industrial economy fallen in price so fast and for so long.

Just think that in 1961 a single transistor cost $10; now Intel’s latest chip has two billion transistors and sells for $300 (or 0.000015 cents per transistor – effectively too cheap to price). The traditional economics of scarcity just don’t apply to bandwidth, processing power, and hard-drive storage. Yet this is just one engine behind the new Free, a reality that goes beyond a marketing gimmick or a cross-subsidy.

Anderson also points to the growth of the reputation economy; explains different models for unleashing the power of Free; and shows how to compete when your competitors are giving away what you’re trying to sell.

In Free, Chris Anderson explores this radical idea for the new global economy and demonstrates how this revolutionary price can be harnessed for the benefit of consumers and businesses alike.

 


 

Today’s second pick is La Ninfa De Porcelana / The Porcelain Nymph (in Spanish). Pre-order, release date 4/6/17.

 

Este es el audiolibro del cuento reproducido en el libro de colorear para adultos La ninfa de porcelana de Isabel Allende narrado por ella misma. Un verdadero regalo para sus lectores que recomendamos escuchar mientras se le da color a la historia.

“Don Cornelio siempre ha ocupado un lugar distinguido en mi corazón. Cuando lo conocí era un caballero miope, vestido con un traje gris con catorce bolsillos. Vivía en una pensión de mi barrio y nosotros, sus vecinos, ajustábamos los relojes cuando él pasaba por la mañana. Jamás se adelantaba ni atrasaba. Salía a las ocho y tres minutos en punto, echaba a andar hacia la esquina midiendo los pasos, y tomaba el autobús a su trabajo.” Bienvenidos a la historia de un hombre gris, cuya vida da un maravilloso vuelco un día de otoño: ha conocido a alguien. Pero no es un alguien cualquiera. Es una ninfa llamada Fantasía, que parece decidida a dar color a su vida.Disfruta del audiolibro de esta mágica nueva aventura de Isabel Allende al tiempo que coloreas tú también el universo de don Cornelio. Siguiendo sus pasos, no solo verás con otros ojos el mundo que nos rodea, sino que podrás dar rienda suelta a tu imaginación y liberar al artista que llevas dentro.

Las regalías de la autora correspondientes a esta obra se destinan íntegramente a la Fundación Isabel Allende (isabelallendefoundation.org), cuya misión es ayudar a mujeres y niñas de alto riesgo.

Please note: This audiobook is in Spanish.

 

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The Bose SoundLink Color Bluetooth speaker II is a great choice from an award-winning brand in consumer audio. This speaker is a much more affordable and colorful entry into the Bose audio family. Currently (as of 3/24/17) rated 4.5/5 stars and priced at $129.

Advertisements make it possible for Digital Media Mom to bring you great content for free, so thanks for your support.

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Windows Doesn’t Detect My Phone: Help!

Posted March 20, 2017 By Mom
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Transferring files from your phone to your computer is supposed to be as easy as connecting it via USB. Windows wakes up, adds the phone to your Windows File Manager, and you’re off to the races. But as I myself had to ask twice this very month, “What if Windows doesn’t detect my phone?” Today I’ve got the solutions for this frustrating problem.

 

Cell Frustration

 

There are two surefire fixes for this: if one doesn’t work, the other most definitely will—assuming there’s nothing wrong with your computer, USB cable or computer, of course. Let’s start with the simpler of the two.

 

Connect your phone to your computer using the USB cable that came with the phone.

For some reason that I haven’t bothered to thoroughly research, the cable that came with your phone may be special. This was the case with my daughter’s Samsung phone. Until we dug around in our cabinets, drawers and closets to find the original cable that came in the box with her phone, Windows stubbornly refused to detect the phone. Once we connected with that cable, Windows instantly detected it. Go figure. If you no longer have or can’t find the original cable, move on to solution #2:

 

Go to the phone manufacturer’s website, download and install the drivers for the phone on your computer.

This is the solution that worked for my LG phone after using the cable that came with the phone made no difference for me.

All the major brand phone manufacturer websites (Samsung, LG, HTC, etc.) will have a Support link, and under that link you’ll find an option for Drivers, or Downloads, or Software. Select that option, enter your phone’s model in the provided look-up box, and you’re good to go. The download package will be tiny. Once it’s downloaded, double-click the downloaded file to launch it. Installation should only take a minute or two.

When installation is complete, reconnect your phone and watch the Windows desktop for the little pop-window that says your device is detected and asks you to choose what to do when it’s connected. Click on that pop-up and make your selection. Windows should remember your choice every time the phone is connected in the future.

 

One More Possibility…
One other, less likely possibility is that you’ve got a bad USB cable. It’s easy to find out: just try a different one.

 

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With the Try Amazon Music Unlimited: 30-Day Free Trial offer (Amazon UK customers click here), it’s easy to try Amazon Music Unlimited and see how it stacks up against competitors like Pandora and Spotify before you commit to an ongoing subscription. At $9.99/mo for a single membership, $14.99 for a household membership, $79/yr or $7.99/mo for Prime members and $3.99/mo for a single-device Alexa subscription, and with tens of millions of tracks available, AMU may be exactly the music streaming service you’re looking for.

Amazon Music Unlimited Free Trial

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3/20/17 Movie Monday: Demons and Angels

Posted March 19, 2017 By Mom
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Welcome to DMM’s 3/20/17 Movie Monday, where I’ll help you tackle movie night with brief reviews of movies and videos you may have missed that are worth the rental or purchase. This week, it’s all about movies that pit angels against demons.

 

Guardian Angel

 

I’m a sucker for this genre, and it’s one that many filmmakers seem fascinated by, too. Many of the modern interpretations explore the notion of angels not as loving, watchful caretakers, but as the footsoldiers of God. Here are a few of the most well-reviewed examples of the form.

 

Legion (R)
At a remote desert truck stop, the fate of the world will be decided. Evil’s armies are amassing. Armed and united by the Archangel Michael, a group of strangers become unwitting soldiers on the frontlines of the Apocalypse. Their mission: protect a waitress and her sacred unborn child from the relentless, bloody siege of the demonic legion.

Stars the excellent Paul Bettany, with a supporting cast that includes Dennis Quaid, Tyrese Gibson and Charles S. Dutton. The premise is that God has decided that man has become too wicked to be worthy of redemption, so He’s sent the archangel Gabriel and his army of angels to exterminate humanity from the face of the Earth. The archangel Michael believes God should have pity, and that an as-yet unborn child in a dusty desert town holds the key to man’s salvation. Michael descends to take up arms with the inhabitants of the town.

 

Constantine (R)
Based on the ground-breaking DC/Vertigo comic book “Hellblazer,” Keanu Reeves plays John Constantine, a modern-day mystic on a personal quest to send demons hiding on Earth back to Hell.

A very noir take on the genre. John Constantine is human, but he moves among both angels and demons. Constantine believes he’s already damned, but hopes he can earn his get-out-of-Hell ticket by exorcising demons from the innocent. This movie has been praised for its special effects, and in particular for its frighteningly believable depiction of Hell. The stellar supporting cast includes Rachel Weisz, Tilda Swinton, Shia LeBeouf, Djimon Hounsou, Peter Stormare and Gavin Rossdale.

 

The Prophecy (R)
The angel Gabriel comes to Earth to collect a soul which will end the stalemated war in Heaven, and only a former priest and a little girl can stop him.

The premise is that the soul of the most evil, ruthless and bloodthirsty man to ever live is trapped within the body of a little girl. Archangel Gabriel has designs on that soul, as he’s trying to win an angelic civil war and needs a general to lead the charge. Lesser angel Simon hopes to save the girl and her town, but he’s going to need help from the townsfolk and a priest who’s lost his faith. What a cast in this one! In addition to Christoper Walken as Gabriel, there’s Virginia Madsen, Eric Stoltz as the angel Simon, Viggo Mortensen as Lucifer, Amanda Plummer and Adam Goldberg.