I should point out that I knew next to nothing about the Echo when I pre-ordered it. I knew next to nothing about it when it arrived. I figured I’d take the approach of someone that just got this thing as a gift or something.
Amazon Echo Unboxing
I unbox the Echo and spend some time setting it up. It did not go well.
Then I attempted to interact with Alexa. I suppose I’m just accustomed to Google, because I can ask it a variety of free-form questions and most of the time it comes up with the correct answer. Alexa seems to be far more finicky about phrasing and command syntax. Which is just what you want from a user-friendly tube that ominously glows at you from the center of your living room.
Then the Rest of the Review
I just don’t get the Echo. Fine, it can play music and it can control all of your lights a limited number of brands of lights.
For home automation though, I’d want something more discrete. Something integrated into the house, not an obvious cylinder that I have to explain to everyone.
For listening to music I’m fine with a Bluetooth speaker.
If I have extemporaneous questions for the internet I can always ask the Google that’s in my very pocket (or glued to my hand).
I am Hopeful
Amazon does publish an API for Alexa. After making the video I signed up for their developer program. It’s been about a week, and I still haven’t heard back.
However, I’m hoping that the community will come up with some killer apps, and that home automation compatibility will increase.
But in the meanwhile of my daily life, Alexa remains a novelty. My living room and my workstation in my basement already have better speakers than the Echo’s. So she doesn’t do me much good for music, and she still can’t answer questions better than my phone.
Yes, FedEx again I’m waiting on yet another delivery from FedEx, and this time it’s arriving via their SmartPost service. And so I’m writing yet another tirade about their incomprehensibly incompetent approach to package delivery. As far as I understand, their “Smart”Post service works like this: The merchant from whom I ordered gives the package to FedEx and pays them. FedEx then brings the package to a post office near to the recipient, and lets the good ol’ USPS handle the “last mile” of delivery. I fail to understand the point of this service. I mean I get that it saves FedEx the cost of bringing a truck to my house because the mailman is stopping at my house anyway. … Continue reading
Logging into Verizon.com I log into Verizon’s Small Business portal once a month to pay my bills. Generally speaking, their site is atrocious. It’s clearly the product of committee thinking and their fractured corporate structure. They recently implemented a redesign of the login portion, and somehow they resurrected good ol’ Frank Kafka and put him on the committee. I may have buried the lede of this story. So unless you just enjoy reading my rants, skip right to it. The initial login screen As with many banking and commerce websites, Verizon has implemented a separate page for your username which precedes the password entry page. This is good security practice and so I have no problem with it in general. … Continue reading
The Rejected Review I know that I tend to be harsh in my criticisms, but this is the most recent review that I tried to post to Home Depot’s site regarding their HDX 150-Watt Incandescent Clamp Light CE-300PDQ: Very rarely do I wish I could give a product a negative number of stars, but this is one of them. I know that for under ten bucks I shouldn’t expect an extremely high-quality, durable item. I know that at this price the light could fall apart completely after a bit of use and it wouldn’t be a huge deal. But what it absolutely shouldn’t do is cause a fire, which is what TWO out of the SIX of these I own … Continue reading
Newegg was, and still is, the best online retailer of computer components in the US. I stand behind that statement. But they’re trying to be Amazon, and they’re not doing a very good job of it. The Good Just like Amazon, Newegg allows other merchants to list items for sale on their website. They take a cut of 8-15 percent of item sales and intermediate disputes between customers and third-party sellers. But here’s the thing: I always shopped on Newegg because I liked Newegg. Especially when they opened their distribution center in Edison, NJ and my ground shipments started arriving in under 24 hours. I also liked the responsiveness of their customer service and the clarity of their search results. … Continue reading
What, another rant? Yup! This is my style of catharsis, with the usual vain hope that Deluxe Corp. will read it in full. TL;DR I’m long-winded. I know that. Here’s a synopsis: Deluxe’s Chase-branded website is old, slow, and painful to use. The website doesn’t send out emails. No order confirmations, no shipment confirmations. Nothing. They also don’t provide any order tracking when logged in via Chase’s site. They screwed up my order and I never received it. It’s been a month. Their “newer” website’s feedback form is a Kafkaesque nightmare, and they don’t respond to customer inquiries. They don’t tell you how many checks you’re getting in an order (“a box”), so you can’t effectively comparison shop. I’m pretty … Continue reading
I want to briefly describe a recent encounter I had with Cisco’s WebEx support. I do this only because this sort of script-based customer service is, while efficient when training new reps, grossly wasteful in situations not covered by the script. And by wasteful, I mean it pointlessly uses up hours of the customer’s time. So here’s the deal: After months and months of WebEx working flawlessly, the client application started crashing during the meeting setup process. This occurred on all of our users’ workstations. I knew that between the time it had been working and the time it stopped working I had pushed out no Windows updates and I made no changes to the network (firewalls, IP ranges, NATting, … Continue reading
Never a good experience It seems like every single FedEx delivery I receive has something wrong with it. I haven’t ranted about this in a few years, so let’s look at this week’s experience. But first I’d like to say that my local FedEx delivery guy is top notch. He’s friendly, and I’ve seen him loading and unloading his truck outside our building and he doesn’t violently throw packages about. Check this out… So…? That looks pretty normal. They delivered a package from Texas to New York via ground in 4 days. Pretty good, actually. Well that’s what the tracking screen looks like now that the package has been delivered. But while it was in transit I wanted to do … Continue reading
I recently obtained a Netgear LG6100D LTE Gateway from Sprint as a backup for my hard internet connections. The device seemed perfect on paper: Cellular connectivity for the home or business network! I’ve used some bad consumer routers in my day, but this is one of the worst I’ve encountered. Or maybe it’s that it looked so promising at first and then let me down so hard. Update (2014-08-26): I found that you can access the native Netgear web GUI. It has a heck of a lot more features, and solves many of the complaints I have with the “correct” way of configuring this device. Upon logging in the user interface is clean, fairly informative, and I noticed that the … Continue reading
I don’t usually post hotel reviews, but when I do… I’m not sure how much MGM paid for the ARIA’s Five Diamond award from AAA, but I’m sure it must have been a lot. Note to lawyers: My previous statement was intended as hyperbole, and not as an accusation of bribery on the part of MGM. That’s how poor the service is at this hotel: They’ve left me with the impression that they’d sooner sue me to take this review down rather than improve the overall customer experience. If I could sum up the attitude of the hotel staff in one word it would be uncaring. I stayed at the ARIA for 4 nights encompassing 3 different hotel rooms. I … Continue reading
I'm a computer guy with a new house and a love of DIY projects. I like ranting, and long drives on your lawn.
I don't post everything I do, but when I do, I post it here. Maybe.