HEY BOO BOO

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, […]

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IT’S ON YOUTUBE

Young children love to hear the same story over and over. Our dental hygienist told us what she does to keep from going nuts. She calls that old story up on YouTube. So we searched on “Goodnight Goon,” a Halloween classic. Our dental hygienist had been reading it to her two little boys every day for a year, until finally she called it up on YouTube. This was definitely the right thing to do. Because whatever the story, there’s someone reading it aloud. Be specific in your searches: We searched on “Cat in the Hat read aloud” and there he was. There were several readers and they all showed the pictures in the book; one had half a million views. […]

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SMARTER EVERY DAY

“Smarter Every Day” is a YouTube channel for practical experiments. In one, a guy changed a bicycle’s handlebars  so that steering left made it go right and vice versa. It took him eight months to learn how to ride again. Switching the handlebar directions on a child’s bicycle took the child only two weeks to readjust.  Go to YouTube.com and search on “smarter every day.”

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YOUTUBE TIP

Our friend Frieda wanted us to see a clip from the Jon Stewart show dealing with Iran. We don’t watch Jon Stewart, so we went straight to YouTube and there it was. Frieda was so impressed when we told her about it, she started looking for videos near her home town and found several. So the tip is this: YouTube has practically everything, from old musicals to great documentaries and TV replays. Try it when you’ve missed something and are sorry.

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SHARING VIDEO

Joy’s brother-in-law recently divided a video into three parts to make it easier to email. There’s an easier way. Upload it to YouTube and change the “public” setting to “private” or “unlisted.” If you choose “private,” only those you designate will get an email link to it. If it’s unlisted, it can’t be found with just a search term.

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MUSIC APP

YouTube has a lot of great music and a free app called “MP3 Jam” that makes it all available by category. We clicked “classical” and “Andrea Bocelli” to hear him sing “Con te Partiro.” Choose a selection and click the “play” arrow. Click “download album” to buy it.

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YOUTUBE PRODUCT REVIEWS

Companies have started paying people to write favorable product reviews on Amazon, so it’s hard to trust them. Looking for the “Real Name” icon next to a review is one solution. If someone is using their real name, it’s a little more likely to be accurate, but it’s no guarantee. Some regular reviewers have turned this kind of writing into a business.

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A READER’S WARNING

We recently recommended “Freemake Video Downloader,” a free program from freemake.com that downloads YouTube videos.

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ONLINE TRAINING

YouTube is a great source for free online training, but sometimes it’s not enough.

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SAVING YOUTUBE VIDEOS

We got some criticism when we wrote about the Freemake Video Downloader, a free program that saves YouTube videos to your hard drive. It’s technically illegal to download stuff from YouTube, but if it’s just for your private use, it’s unlikely the techno cops will come knocking at your door. (We downloaded “This is Not Yellow,” from TweetSauce.)

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