Proud Parents

Jackie and Mike Bezos with their son Jeff.

If your adult child asks you to invest in his or her startup, what would you say? If the answer is “yes,” you better be prepared to lose every cent. That was how Jackie and Mike Bezos felt when they invested $245,573 in their son’s new firm in 1995. I don’t know how they came up with that exact figure, but that’s the check they wrote.

The company they invested in was Amazon. The decision turned out to be a good one. The investment was one of the best ever. Financial folks estimate that Jeff Bezos’ parents are now worth around $30 billion, thanks to one IPO and three stock splits.

If the financial experts are correct, Jackie and Mike are richer than Paul Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft. I wonder what they were thinking when Jeff asked if they wanted to put money into his new business?

They have been quoted over the years saying that Jeff was more nervous than they were. He was worried they would be angry with him if they lost their money.

Maybe that’s the reason why Jeff worked so diligently to build one of the most successful companies ever. He wanted his parents to be proud.

Money Is Not Everything

Even though Jeff Bezos is now worth $151.4 billion, it doesn’t mean that he didn’t throw a hissy fit this past Monday when his company’s website went down minutes after Amazon Prime Day 2018 started. I heard he went crazy. This event was in the making for more than a year.

Why didn’t someone predict that such a disaster could happen? I would have easily been the one to question the capacity of the servers. What makes me so insightful? The answer is obvious. Experience.

We had a client who was introducing a free WiFi cell service on a technology called voice over Internet (VoIP). Our PR agency, HWH PR, convinced David Pogue, then a writer for the New York Times, to cover the introduction. Our client, Line2, opened for business the day David ran the story. Seventeen thousand folks read the piece and immediately went to the website to sign up for the service.

It didn’t take long for the entire system to go down. That was a decade ago, and it took over a week to get the website working again. All the orders were gone and we had to start all over. It was a nightmare, but I learned a great lesson. Find out if a server can handle thousands, or millions, of folks accessing a website at the same time. Probably not. Heavy duty backup systems need to be put into place.

I do feel bad for the richest man in the world. I feel worse for the people he blamed. I’m sure it was not a pretty scene. Bezos’ ego was being tested. It wasn’t that he was losing money. It was that his company was out-of-control. For a man who seeks complete perfection, this was a day he never wants to see again.

Facebook Is Not Alone

Image: CFO Innovation

For the last several weeks, I have had to listen to many of my contemporaries talk about the dangers of Facebook. I find it very interesting that most of the comments came from friends who know very little about Facebook, and why it became so important to so many.

While everyone is focused on Facebook, they seem to be ignoring the fact that they too are vulnerable because of their participation on digital media with giants such as Amazon and Google. Both companies are collecting far more information on all of us than Facebook has ever been capable of obtaining.

Think about it.

Amazon and Google know your personal email, home address, credit card information, purchases, websites you have visited, trips you have made, local tracking information, addresses of your friends, your reviews, on and on.

The so-called Facebook backlash is just the beginning of more truths about the digital world. Get ready for it. You are very involved and you better be prepared for all kinds of exposure.

Read about the realities of the digital world in Mashable.

Click here. Facebook isn’t the only one with too much of your data. Just ask Google and Amazon.

My Body In 3D

The thought that someone other than myself has an outline of my body parts is just the incentive I need to go on a drastic diet. I am sure there are other people who feel the same way.  We all have to get use to having merchants who know us up-close and personal. That is the digital future.

Amazon just bought Body Labs. It’s a 3D scanning platform that will measure your size and then create an avatar-like image of your  dimensions. This all fits beautifully with Amazon’s “try before you buy” Prime Wardrobe service. This subscription based program will allow Prime members to order (and try on) from three to 15 items of clothing before they actually buy any of them.    

The whole idea is to cut back on returns. Get the size right that first time. Let me know your thoughts on this.

 

Amazon’s Physical Activity 

The online company that has put so many retailers out of business, is now expanding its operation with many different types of physical locations. 

I used to think that an online business truly meant online. Nope. Amazon now has physical locations in malls, shopping districts, and in industrial complexes.

The many different Amazon businesses  include:

  . Amazon Bookstores 

 . Amazon Instant

· Amazon Lockers

· Amazon Pop-Up

· Amazon Home Services

· Amazon acquired Whole Foods

· Amazon partners with Kohl’s and will start accepting Amazon returns at 82 stores in Chicago and Los Angeles. Ten stores will feature an “Amazon smart home experience.”

Business Insider recently did a great wrap up on all that Amazon has become. You can read it here.

Amazon never ceases to amaze.

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.