Tag Archives: Amazon

Its My Birthday… Again

In just a few hours its my birthday, I’m assured its time I lied about my age. I’m going with that I’m 3869 years old, and changing my name to Methstevelah, Methuselah’s cooler brother.

Spirytus 96% Polish Vodka

Spirytus 96% Polish Vodka

Last year I bought my self a new Synology NAS Unit, this year I bought myself an Amazon Echo which I mentioned wanting to learn to code in C#. I have found Javascript maybe a better option rather than C#, but I’m still exploring.

I have worked on many JavaScript applications, so I have a basic understanding, as for Node.JS I have no idea, so maybe order a book or two for my birthday. 

I have wrote my first Skill and won a Echo Dot, and working on my second skill which is domainer related and once its more complete I’ll post more about it.

My sister got me the bottle of Polish Rectified Spirytus at 96% Alcohol by Volume, which is my 4th Strongest Alcohol in my bar. 

1, Denatured Alcohol at 100%
2, Spirytus 96%
3, Knockeen Hills Poteen at 90%.
4, Hapsburg Premium Absinthe 89.9%.
5, Balkan Vodka at 88%.

The denatured alcohol was acquired for a science project, such a hassle, its not really drinking, but given its pure alcohol I listed it.

Diet Death

Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo

I have just ruined my work out today by polishing off a pack of Sainsburys sugar ring doughnuts, but as my friend Saskia says Birthday Cake or Doughnuts in my case have no calories, so my hour on the cross trainer today is still valid 😛

A year on I have actually had the first part of my shoulder surgery, the left shoulder is done and and I’m well into rehab. I’m just starting to warm up my shoulder in the gym with some light machine work. Irony is when I say I’m doing light work, everyone is like should you be lifting that much ? My light seems to be most peoples heavy.

New Skillset

Sadly my new skillset isn’t going off this year as the training courses in both near by colleges who offer the course are full. Upside I’m £6,000 a year better off, which is what the course would cost, plus books and whatever else I would need.

College is bloody expensive.

A Manchester Based Photographer and Website Developer with interests in Strongman, Fitness and Geekery.

Amazon’s Alexa coming to Android Devices

Starting this week Amazon will be rolling out Alexa to Android users who have the Amazon Shopping App installed. It has been available on Apple devices for sometime (apparently). I have been waiting for this, but I thought Google maybe be digging in its heels and would never allow it.

While I’m happy this sort of automation control is coming, I’m equally somewhat disappointed. I was hoping Alexa would come to Amazon Music. Instead it seems its a limited version of the Echo’s Alexa, you can get sports results, weather, ask questions about people and places, get information about your flash briefing and appointments etc.

It would also appear you can install “Amazon Skills” which extend functionality, which means your mobile phone or android device will become a sort of “Echo Phone”. A few places have suggested you will gain some degree of control over your IoT/Smart Home devices so you can use your phone to turn off Echo compatible devices.

Music and Video Control

I haven’t found any mention of Amazon Music or Prime Video controls which would be excellent. I primarily listen to music and watch prime video whilst I’m in the gym. The ability simply say “Alexa, Play my Lifting Heavy playlist” or “Alexa, Play my CardiNO playlist” or skip that slow track when you’re half way through a sprint or run would be amazing. 

Equally being able control volume, and change tracks without having to physically touch your phone means you won’t miss a beat while working out. The implications for personal trainers who use bluetooth speakers are huge, they could tell Alexa to load the certain Circuits or change to a faster track, to start and stop timers an more. 

Even though I can’t find evidence of music and video control, that doesn’t mean its not there, and if it isn’t I’ll be the first to rave at Amazon to get it sorted, fitness is a huge market and an excellent penetration point. If they haven’t gone there, then frankly heads needs to roll. 

Its one of the major functions I miss of having a Samsung, the Air Gestures, so you can wave your hand left and right to change music track and up and down to alter the volume. Given the number of phones which have Proximity Sensors it amazing how few companies actually use them. Alexa could be a massive overhaul and improvement to this, lets hope its coming.

I also anticipate that Amazon may produce their own version of an Android Laucher, like N Launcher or Nova Launcher so they can convert nearly any phone into an Echo Compatible device, that seems to be where I think they are going. 

Given that Alexa can work out which speaker you are nearest too and deliver information to that speaker, its aware of where you are, moving this feature into your phone could be interesting. My friend regularly uses an Echo Dot at house parties and tells me he uses the Alexa Remote to control the device since it often can’t detect his voice over the noise, so having your phone able to fill this role would be cool. 

A Manchester Based Photographer and Website Developer with interests in Strongman, Fitness and Geekery.

Reuse Amazon Prime Day 2017 Boxes

I don’t know about every one else but I had a heap of boxes from Amazon, including a somewhat surreal incident where Amazon delivered a Russian Doll inspired series of boxes. I always reused the Amazon Packing Paper, often as note paper, or lining paper for paining / spraying and sometimes even as packing paper again, I just roll it up, rubber band it and its there when I need it. I also reuse the boxes but can’t reuse the packets sadly.  

Amazon Prime Day Packing Paper Rolls

Amazon Prime Day Packing Paper Rolls

This prime day Amazon gave me a Russian Doll Box. The largest Box had 2 x 6ft SyncWire MicroUSB, 100ft / 30m Expanding Hose Pipe, 2 hair conditioner products and 1 slightly smaller box. Inside the slightly smaller box was 1 case of Reflex Nutrition Protein Coffee, Perspi-Guard 50ml, Beard Oil, and other toiletries. Inside the larger of the 2 smaller boxes was 2 more cases of Reflex Nutrition Protein Coffee, in the smallest box was an Amazon Echo Dot, Amazon Fire Stick and a few small items. I kind of wish I had taken photo’s of it as it were truly surreal. The Amazon Echo was in separate box on top of the other boxes. 

Amazon Packing Paper

I reuse this stuff for all sorts. Mostly I use it for notes and masking paper. If I’m drawing, painting, spraying or anything like that, I use this to mask off areas. Like I’m going to do some swirl marks on he car, so I purchased some Hycote Clear Lacquer also from Amazon Prime Day. I’ll use the packing paper with low-tac tape to protect area’s around where I’m working.

I also use it when doing messy tasks or when my sisters kids are over being messy. It can just go directly into the Burnable Skip at the Recycling Facility or if not too messy into the Local Authority Paper Recycling bin. 

I have also used it as wrapping paper for posting packages, and reused as packing paper for padding too, going full cycle. 

Amazon Boxes

Amazon Prime Day Packing

Amazon Prime Day Packing

I reuse the smaller A4 Paper size boxes for home storage. The biggest boxes I use for Charity Donations, whenever Amazon send me the large boxes (Approx 20″ x 30″), I have a sort out and fill it with Charity Shop items. 

My purchase of an Amazon Echo means my old small bluetooth speakers are no longer required and only worth £10 on ebay, but I can Gift Aid them to the local Animal Rescue Charity. The FireStick means I can donate my old NowTV box which I paid £20 for with 6 month entertainment pass, but is now only used for BBC iPlayer and 4-On-Demand, that can go to the Charity Shop too. 

Its well worth donating your old items which are often replaced by Amazon orders to Charity, use the Amazon Boxes as the Impetus to have a sort out. Everyone has a cupboard or drawer or something which needs sorting out, the Amazon Box is your proverbial kick in the ass to get around to it. 

Failing that, the Amazon Boxes work well for packing and storing your goods, or shipping gifts to friends and family or back to the seller from other places (as if you shop anywhere else). 

Charity Shop Bound

I am visiting the Charity Shop on Monday with a Pressure Cooker, Now TV box, Bluetooth Speakers, while I was sorting the Pressure Cooker out, I decided to get shut of a load of plates which were bought for a family event but not used in years. This lead to more kitchen sorting out and now I have filled the medium and large Amazon boxes.

After the Charity Shop, its on to the recycling facility to get rid of 3 bags of rubbish, then I have to get to cleaning and touching paint up which all this sorting revealed.  

Now its your turn to make use of those boxes rather than just flatten them and recycle them. 

A Manchester Based Photographer and Website Developer with interests in Strongman, Fitness and Geekery.

Coding Amazon Echo Skills for Alexa with C#

Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo

I was reading this months CODE Magazine and there is an article about coding new Skills for Amazon Echo and Echo Dot to extend Alexa’s functionality. When you think about how you could extend Alexa to fit into your life, it could be well worth adding C# into your life. Amazon Echo is currently on offer for Mothers Day, with a £15 discount, maybe the time to get one. 

Lets say you want to check if a domain is registered, you could say “Alexa ask NominetTool if steven.uk is registered ?” or Alexa ask NominetTool who steven.uk is Registered to ?”. I guess depending on how accurate Alexa turns out to be, you could even try “Alexa ask NominetTool to Register steven.co.uk”.

I don’t have an Echo or Echo Dot, nor do I code in C# but this article does make it seem like a fun reason to learn. Its been maybe 10 yrs or more since I last opened VC++, and probably longer than that since I last wrote any reasonable amount of code. Looking at C# it doesn’t look that difficult once the new syntax makes sense. If I can pick up a cheap Echo or Echo Dot, I may just delve in to this. 

Looking at the code sample they provided…

It looks quite simple to program, I guess you would use a PHP or C# web interface to execute the Recipes section, or in the example I gave to handle the domain name queries. Port the Whois Family Parser over to C# and you would be able to ask questions about whois result. 

Exciting times ahead. 

A Manchester Based Photographer and Website Developer with interests in Strongman, Fitness and Geekery.

Clarksons The Grand Tour Knocks Game of Thrones Off The Piracy Throne

The Grand Tour

The Grand Tour

A while ago it were all over the papers that Game of Thrones were destroying piracy records around the planet, almost like some kind of parady of a greed wedding smashing records.

Today its been revealed a mere 4 episodes into the first season that The Grand Tour has Duped The Iron Islands, The Mother of Dragons, The Lannisters and everyone else, not to The Iron Throne, but to The Piracy Throne.

The Amazon Original “hit” complete with a £160,00,000 budget has been slammed by critics and reporters as tired and more of the same but a bigger budget. The statistics show with 18,000,000 illegal downloads, over the first 3 episodes, which covers a total of 15% of the illegal entire downloads (tracked) in that period, or about £3,000,000 of membership fee’s for Amazon down the pan.

I suspect Amazon will go out of their way to try and convert these pirates with some killer sign up offers. We recently saw them offer a discounted prime membership, now would be a fantastic time to offer existing members the chance to extend and perhaps invite friends and family for a discount.  

I’ve been unable to find official Amazon figures for downloads and watches or however they track them, but Amazon have stated its broken all premier records globally for any other Amazon show. Looks like Clarkson is earning his £10,000,000 pay for the show and proving its a winner.

Top Gear vs The Grand Tour

Top Gear with Chris Evans and Co, premier drew in a little shy of 6,400,000 viewers, then by the 3rd episode, it were down to 2,400,00 and averaged about 2,300,000 for the remaining episodes. 

The Grand Tour with Clarkson, we only have Piracy Figures not actual paying viewings. Premier Episode 7,900,000, 3rd Episode 4,600,000, if the numbers continue to tumble it maybe a similar story. However these are pirate / illegal viewers. Amazon Prime members get free access as part of their prime membership, so my guess is the paying numbers will drop a little but not much as many will series watch like I did as my own time. 

On a side note, what the crocodile hat is that on Hammonds face, as the owner of a beard, I’m offended. 

A Manchester Based Photographer and Website Developer with interests in Strongman, Fitness and Geekery.