We’re going to talk some more about the digital assistants put out by Amazon and Google. Those would be the Amazon “Echo” and Google “Home.” They are small, relatively cheap (from $50 to $129), and they answer questions and do requests. This is the future. Essentially what we have are two devices that listen to what you have to say — with sometimes less accuracy than you would expect — and then respond. They can play music, occasionally with nonsensical results, and respond to more direct questions, such as “how many calories are there in an apple?” This is all new stuff, the edge of wedge if you will. It’s potentially an encyclopedia on your end table, along with lectures, […]
Our 96-year-old friend Ida uses the free Skype service to have video-chats with her friends in Australia. One day, her account was wiped out. Could this happen to you? (Think of that question as having been asked in scary monster movie title type.) You might think this had something to do with her age, and she must have hit the wrong button or spilled something on the keyboard. But no, we found dozens of similar complaints on the web. One guy wrote: “Where has my account gone? I do business all over Europe and today you just trashed my account with the credit I had as well? You idiots. If somebody within Microsoft made the decision to do this – […]
A reader asked us to find her a blood pressure app for the iPhone. There are several of these for both iPhone and Android. Unlike the kind you see at the doctor’s office, the apps do not use a compression band that temporarily cuts off your circulation. They measure the slight pulsing from placing your finger on the phone. We tried “Finger Blood Pressure! Free” on our Android phone, and compared it with the reading we got on the $35 Omron 3 Series Blood Pressure monitor with a pressure cuff. The Omron is battery operated, so you’re not tethered to the wall plug. Omron said Joy’s systolic pressure was 118, her diastolic reading was 74 and her pulse was 46. […]
“Amazon Instant Video,” for Android phones and tablets, allows you to download a movie for offline viewing, great for when you’re on a plane or train or otherwise out of range of a Wi-Fi signal. Go to Amazon.com/GetAndroidVideo for detailed instructions.
When we briefly mentioned the new $50 Amazon “Kindle Fire” tablet, ours hadn’t arrived yet. Now that we have it, we’re more impressed than we expected. Here are a few things we haven’t seen in other reviews: First off, the full content of the Washington Post is free for the first six months, $4 a month after that. That’s because Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, recently bought the Post, so he can offer any deal he wants. A catchy headline from the newspaper on the main screen of the tablet lures you in. This is totally addictive: Joy hasn’t gone a day yet without reading the Post’s featured story.