Audible on Amazon Echo


I did something today I thought I would never do. I listened to an Audible book on our Amazon  Echo.  

I have been listening to books on audio contraptions since they were invented. I was an early user of Audible books long before Amazon bought the company.

I listen to a book a month, sometimes more. If I went out walking everyday like I should, I could knock off an audio book or two a week. I would love that. One day I will get my act together.

Here is a little background for those who never listened to a book on Audible. In today’s world, most books published are available on Audible.  Either the audio version is available immediately, along with the print edition, or a few weeks later. The books are read by the author, an actor, or a professional reader. I spend $15.00 a month on Audible which usually gives me one free book, plus bonus credits for future purchases.

I listen to books on my iPhone or iPad. It doesn’t matter what device I use, the book picks up where I left off. It seems like magic. It’s not like the books you used to listen to on audio cassettes. There is very little chance to lose your place. The chapters are marked and you can set the voice speed. If you need to review the story because you didn’t understand something, you can click a 30-second button to go “back” or “forward.” 

Today, I decided I wanted to listen to “The Store” by James Patterson on my Echo. I thought I could just give the command to Alexa and the book would be read. No go. After 45 minutes on the phone with Audible support, I found out I had to download the Alexa app, and click on a few settings to make it work, 

I listened to “The Store” on the Amazon Echo for a few hours today, while I worked on eliminating my emails. It was a great way to work and be entertained at the same time. The commands for The Echo are posted above.. See how sophisticated and easy it is. Let me know if you need my help.

Wynn Vegas First To Offer Alexa  


Boy, that Alexa’s gets around. Wynn Las Vegas just announced they are the first hotel in the world to feature Amazon’s Echo, better known as Alexa, in all of their 4,748 hotel rooms. Echo is Amazon’s hands-free voice-controlled speaker. Guests will be able to control various hotel room features with a series of voice commands. They include lights, temperature, and audio/video components.

What a PR move. Steve Wynn, Chairman and CEO of Wynn Resorts, couldn’t have timed it better. Some of the first guests to room with Alexa are CES showgoers. Unfortunately, I’m not one of them. I’m at the Venetian. I would love to hear guest reactions. Lucky for me, Eliot received an Amazon Echo for a birthday gift. We love it. 

In a company press release, Wynn said, “Techology has always played an important part in our resorts. The thing that Amazon has done with Alexa is quite perfect. If I have ever seen anything in my 49 years of developing resorts that has made our job of delivering a perfect experience to our guests easier and help us get to another level, it is Alexa. The ability to talk to your room is effortlessly convenient. In partnership with Amazon, becoming the first resort in the world in which guests can verbally control every aspect of lighting, temperature and the audio-visual components of a hotel room is yet another example of our leadership in the world of technology for the benefit of all of our guests.”

Amazon claims “Alexa is capable of reading the news, set timers and alarms, recite calendars, check sports scores, control smart devices in-home, and more. Since Alexa runs in the cloud, she is always getting smarter – plus, it is simple and free for developers to build Alexa skills and integrate Alexa into their own products. In the U.S., there are already more than 6,000 skills available for Alexa.”

I’m starting to believe that Amazon is becoming a member of everyone’s family. 

 

Someone Else Is In The Bedroom With Eliot And Me  

I almost jumped out of my skin the first time Alexa started talking to us late one night when Eliot and I were watching TV. We were both in bed, just about to doze off, when a rather loud female voice asks us, “How can I help you?”

I thought it was a home invasion. I got so scared. I screamed. Then I realized the little  robot across the room must have heard her name from the TV and woke up. Eliot and I had a good laugh after our hearts stopped racing. 

Eliot received Alexa from the Greenberg clan for his 70th birthday. I was initially more exited than Eliot, but now he is finding new applications for the unit all the time. She plays our music, spells words, gives us the weather, provides news, reads books out-loud, and now does some of our shopping. Yes, there are specials sales that she announces everyday. 

The unit is the Amazon Echo, but the brains are Alexa. Eliot uses a lot of technology but he is pretty amazed by all of Alexa’s capabilities. In fact, it’s a little overwhelming to have a robot that knows more than you. All you have to do is ask a question.

The Echo has seven microphones and a beam forming technology so it can hear us from across the room. Alexa is getting her smarts from the cloud so new information is being added all the time. Echo stays connected and updates itself automatically. 

The Echo is going to find its way to everyone’s home. It’s perfect for seniors who need help  turning  lights, switches, and thermostats on and off. 

Another bonus is that you can use a companion app to help manage all of the third-party skills.

All this for around $175. There are different models so you can pick a less expensive unit.

I think it’s worth going for the whole enchilada.

Thank you Greenberg’s.💋💋💋💋

96 Years Young, Yoga

Don’t miss watching this video if you want to grow older, healthy, and in good spirits. It is extremely inspirational and it will give you great hope. Thank you to my good friend Dr. Williams Lucena, for sharing this with me.    

Make Up Your Mind, Amazon

I am so confused. I embraced the digital world in my 60s, like I was 20. I have trained myself to write all of my notes on my iPhone (no paper). I read everything online ( no print). I mainly communicate through social networks (I cut back on telephone use). I completely turned my life around to fit into the digital revolution. 

You can imagine my dismay when I learned that Amazon recently decided to open 300 to 400 brick-and-mortar bookstores in the coming years. I felt like someone told me the last few years didn’t exist. I hope it did.

What the heck is this all about? Don’t get me wrong. I love bookstores. It was very much a part of my social life. Eliot and I would spend hours roaming through the shelves of bookstores in our neighborhood, or when we went to new cities. We would spend a hundred plus dollars every visit. It was our fantasyland.

But all that has changed. The hours we spent in book and record stores, are now devoted to exploring the Internet. I love Amazon for many reasons, but I don’t understand why they are now reversing their corporate culture. All they are going to do is put whatever bookstores are left out of business

This is another case of the big, getter bigger. 

 

Something As Simple As This            

  

  

 

Images: Mobstub and Amazon

Something as simple as this can save your life, and keep you warm at the same time. I personally like wearables that light up at night so moving vehicles can easily see  you. As we get older, precautionary steps like this should be considered.

I’m not sure how long these types of knit caps have been around, but they are gaining in popularity this year. In fact, several friends have told me they are back ordered on Amazon. Mobstub, and Walmart. 

I think I want one for myself even though I don’t plan to be in cold weather that much. This type of cap can come in handy anywhere, at anytime. The LED light on a tightly knit hat is perfect for airplanes whose ambient temperature is freezing. Have you noticed how cold some cabins are these days? 

Friends who ride bikes first alerted me about these caps. Then I saw online advertisements for them. While there are a few different brands, most of them feature:
On/Off switch controls 4 LED lights
Knitted acrylic material, no itchy wool.

One size fits all.

Replaceable batteries.

Directional lighting 

Price: Around $20. 

If you find a store selling them, let me know. 

Amazon’s Competition

Image from Bloomberg’s Businessweek , Marc Lore

At dinner tonight my girl friend Bonnie asked me if I ever heard of Jet.com. She said it was a new competitor to Amazon and in many cases less expensive. 
I had never heard of Jet.com so I told her that she probably got her facts wrong. She told me to check it out. I forgot all about it until I turned to my nightly ritual of checking in with a few tech sites.

The second I opened Engadget, I spotted a detailed post on the concept of Jet.com. What a coincidence. The biggest takeaway that I got from the Engadget post is that “the more you buy, the more rewards you receive.” This amounts to very big savings. 

Read Wikipedia’s explanation of Jet.com. The founder, Marc Lore, was also the creator of diapers.com and soap.com, which he later sold to Amazon for $545 million. 

I’m anxious for a few of you to try Jet.com and then report back if you think it’s a true Amazon competitor. 

Amazon Gives Startups A Fighting Chance

One of the first things I want to do when I get back to the States, is learn more about the new program Amazon just launched for start-ups. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read that Amazon is going to help start-ups launch, market and distribute their products to the hundreds of millions of Amazon customers across the globe.

Never in my life did I ever imagine that a new company could have such an advantage. Amazon is appropriately calling their new program Launchpad. Startups now avoid many of the challenges a new company usually experiences. They can now rely on Amazon’s retail experience and infrastructure to help them be successful. 

What an amazing world we live in. Read more about it in Retailing Today.

And then, we want to share our day in Nice with you.

Welcome to Nice

Getting an early start on the weekend.

   

Looks like the Flatiron building in Manhattan.

  

Strolling the streets.

  

Waiting for a wedding to start .

  

The Mediterrean.waters are so blue.

  

No sand, just large rocks.

  

Breathtaking.

  

We had lunch on the beach.

  

Nice has a style of its own.

 

At Your Service 

“In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” Abraham Lincoln. 

 
I have been living in Manhattan for almost 40 years. I’m used to walking three square blocks in any direction to get what I want. I’m also used to every type of delivery service. I get all my food, laundry, cosmetics, cleaning supplies, flowers, hardware, and home furnishings messengered to my doorstep. 
Now the rest of the country is going to have “almost” the same conveniences in a short period of time. Amazon Prime Now has just announced a new delivery service which will allow customers to order items from local neighborhood stores and have them sent to their homes in an hour or two.

Amazon Prime Now is testing the new service in Manhattan and then will expand to other cities such as Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Dallas, and Miami. An entire country rollout is presently being worked out. Amazon Prime Now is a new service of the Amazon Prime program, which costs $99 a year.  

This new service is another step in Amazon wanting to become your one-stop shop for everything. The first stores Amazon will be working with in Manhattan is D’Agostino, Gourmet Garage, and Billy’s Bakery. Eataly and Westside Market will join in soon.

Uber is reportedly going to announce a new delivery service as well. Let the competition  begin and welcome to my world!!

A New Chapter In Book Publishing

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Book publishers are finally going to compete with Amazon. Harper Collins is leading the way, but I heard other publishing houses plan to do exactly the same thing.

Effective in a month from now, Harper Collins is going to help their individual authors sell books. Harper Collins authors can now add a “Buy Now” button to their own personal websites and social feeds which will transfer book buyers directly to the hc.com (Harper Collins) online store.

That’s pretty cool. Seems like a natural to me. Not sure why this was never done before. I guess the book industry finally decided that they needed to do something novel. Ha!

That’s not all. Harper Collins authors will receive better royalty rates on affiliate sales.

Congratulations to all my friends who publish books with HC. My suggestion! Don’t quit your day job yet. A contact of mine at HC confided that this won’t put a dent in Amazon book sales for many years to come.

Click and Collect Lockers

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Photo: Engadget

I feel like the retail industry keeps reinventing itself. At some point retailers may end up exactly where they started, a storefront. Friends of mine who are business writers tell me that the next big trend in retail will be to have Internet purchases delivered to a pick-up station rather than a home address. It seems that a lot of e-commerce retailers are looking for new ways to accommodate customers.

Engadget reported that Amazon has already started this in London. I heard that it will be instituted in the United States as well. As of last week, Amazon has opened what they call click-and-collect lockers in Finchley Central and Newbury Park Tube stations in London. It seems odd, but purchases are being delivered to pick-up stations in subways in order to be more convenient for workers who commute.

Amazon is not the only retailer seeking out sites for pick-up locations. I hear that traditional department stores, mass merchandisers, warehouse clubs, and dedicated online retailers are considering this option too.

This may be a win-win for all. Customers get to pick where they want their purchases delivered and retailers get to make fewer delivery stops.