A Marketer’s Dream

Smart Stuff or Clutter?

Google Home vs Amazon Alexa … not quite a review!

I’m a total sucker for a good line of marketing. And, with data collection being what it is these days, I’m like putty in the hands of the big marketers. But I’m happy to be a subject in the marketing wars. It’s like I’m having an out of body experience, watching myself be manipulated.
And that can be fun!

Two of my favorite companies are Google & Amazon. I use their products & services so much that I can hardly remember what life was life before they came to be. I haven’t totally lost it though: sometimes I will drive to the corner store without my GPS app running! And while I certainly make an effort to shop locally, not everything is available locally. So I’m glad to have an online alternative.

I noted, above, that this is not quite a review. It’s not that I can’t do a good review, it’s just that I don’t want to take the time to learn how to use these devices any better than I already do. If it doesn’t all fall into place automatically, I’m not bothered enough to take the time to go learn how to do any more. I got my first Google Home about a year ago. Google’s marketing strategy must have been winning my mind then.

It was great & I expected it to do all those wonderful things without me even thinking about it. But I’m really not doing much with it. It hung out in the living room … where it gave us the time, the weather, & who starred in what movie … but not much else. I started giving the device shopping list items, but then I couldn’t find them on the app. Where were these things hiding? I had the Home app on my phone & I had to do the whole “Hey Google” thing in the middle of the grocery store. I was afraid someone would recognize that I was a total idiot & stopped doing that! Again, no time to play & explore, just forget it for now. The Home device found it’s way to the bathroom, where it provides morning music at shower time. And that’s nice. But I never did get around to hooking up security cams & all the other stuff I dreamed of it doing when I bought it.
One day … soon!

About a month ago, I saw Amazon’s Echo Dot Gen 3 on sale. About half price. Oh well, why not! It started out in the living room, where it gave us the time, weather, & who starred in what movie. And I can add things to the shopping list. But now, I can find the shopping list on the Alexa app on my phone! Woohoo! This one is still in the living room & I subsequently signed up for a free trial of Prime. I’m watching some Amazon programming & it’s pretty good. I’m getting Amazon music, which is also pretty good. Today is the last Amazon Prime Day, by the way. This is like mid-summer Boxing Day sales on Amazon, with special deals for us special Prime members! Being a Prime member in Canada wasn’t a great deal one time. Now it’s got some shows & movies included, along with some music & books. I don’t think it’s the full version of any of those platforms, I’ll learn more when the full trail finishes & I’m back in the cheap seats. But this does add some value to the membership in Canada. The US version is more expensive than the Canadian one, but the US users get a lot more for their buck. Coincidentally (not!), Google offers sales around the same time as Amazon’s Prime Days.

Anyhow, I found myself buying an Amazon 4k TV Fire Stick in the Prime Day sale. Was I manipulated? Again!?!
Who cares … now I’m curious to see how involved I become with the Fire Stick. I already have Roku & Chromecast, so that will be an interesting comparison to make too.

A side-note here: Google & Amazon started playing together about a week ago. So now, we can cast Amazon’s Prime Video through Google’s Chromecast. And YouTube is available on Amazon’s services. Woohoo!
I’m sure it was all very complex but, as an end user & a faithful subject of their marketing plans, I’m just glad they’ve managed to get together on this front. It felt a little like two of my friends were having an unnecessary squabble!

I’m not sure I understand why we can’t change the voices & names on these things. Amazon gives a couple or three options but really, let me call my smart thing whatever I want, you guys. At least then, when I’m in the grocery store, I can pretend I’m having a phone conversation with my buddy, Seamus!

Back to the whole marketing thing … something tells me that Amazon is currently winning the award for control of my brain. And my wallet. The Amazon systems are just making it a little easier for me to be drawn in.
But I am overcome with guilt!
After all, I love Google too. And I really want that Google Home Max. I have nowhere to put it, really. But I want it anyway!

While all this stuff has gotten pretty smart, it’s not like it’s fully interactive AI yet. But maybe that’s a good thing. One day, I’m really going to take the time to learn how to use both products. Properly. And maybe then I’ll do a real review.

Meantime though … I’m enjoying stumbling through this stuff with both Google & Amazon.
What’s your favorite smart assistant?
What are some of your favorite uses for your little digital buddy?
And what’s it doing for you today!?!

Our Menu Options Have Changed

Our Menu Options Have Changed

Ducks Don’t Care!

If you have any influence on your company’s voicemail system, do me a favor & get rid of anything that comes even close to it saying …

“Please listen carefully, as our menu options have changed. Blah, blah, blah. Yada, yada, yah!”

Everyone’s shaggin’ menu system has changed. We don’t give a duck! Stop wasting my friggin’ time telling me about your menu system. I really & truly don’t give a flyin’ duck about your menu options. Just tell me what they are. Without having to listen to your preamble in that pathetic sniveling professional e-voice. As it wastes yet another two minute packet of my time.

And when did the damn thing change anyway? I’ve been calling your bloody company for 5 years now! Does it change every damn week or what? And even when you tell me it changes, why does it always sound the same? If you’re going to drone on about changes, at least entertain me by telling me what the changes are.

Do you think your company is the only dumb company I call? I don’t remember what number I pressed last time, so chances are I’ll have to listen to your stupid menu options anyway. So quit telling me to do that. Cut to the chase. Gimme the options. Now!

You shouldn’t worry so much about the clowns that hit the wrong number. Worry, instead, about the people you are pissing off. Who will then deliberately hit the wrong number, just to piss off someone at your place!

Not that any of it really matters. Since I know I’m probably going to get voicemail anyway!

Samsung S-Pen & Smart Switch

Samsung S-Pen & Smart Switch

My Little Duck.
Drawn with the S-Pen!

Back in the day, I loved my BlackBerry phones. When app development in the Apple & Android universes exploded, I found myself wanting to do things that all those people could do. I learned how to side-load Android apps on my BlackBerry so that I could keep pace. And I loved my BlackBerry keyboard, so I remained faithful.

One of the other big things that my BlackBerry did was sync with my desktop Microsoft Outlook. Until one day it didn’t! They eventually got around to restoring that functionality but meantime, I discovered that Samsung also did that. With Samsung Smart Switch software, not with a 3rd party app. Because Android wasn’t native to BlackBerry then, one or two of my side-loaded apps weren’t working properly. I decided to give Samsung a whirl. I went with a Galaxy Note because of the size of the screen. I like to read on my phone, it’s always with me so I’m never stuck. I managed to get over not having a keyboard. And the Outlook sync thing worked really well. Once or twice, it’s been screwed up by a new revision. But the support folk usually tide me over ’til they get it sorted out.

You might wonder why I’m still using desktop Outlook, but that’s a whole other story. For another day. The reality is that being able to sync to my phone was a big deal & Samsung did it. It also opened up the full native Android universe for me. And it had the S-Pen!

I admit, the S-Pen was a novelty at first. And the early versions really weren’t all that great. But I’m on my 4th Galaxy Note phone now. And with plan renewal coming up, I’m looking forward to No. 5. In addition to the Oulook sync, my loyalty to the Note phones is driven by the S-Pen. I go to meetings without paper. Though some are so not noteworthy, that I just doodle with my S-Pen! I can take sketches at a customer site. Add notes & arrows to pics. It’s just crazy how useful this thing is. For work & play.

But most importantly … I can draw little ducks!

And that is positively cathartic.

Who knows where the tech world will take us next. Now that BlackBerry is running native Android, maybe I should have another look. And I might be overdue to take at look at the Apple stuff again. There are some newer apps out there now for Outlook sync on the Android platform, maybe that opens up other Android phones for consideration.

But for now, I’ll just carry on salivating about my next Note & S-Pen combo!