Amazon Echo Show – Thumbs Up

June 30, 2017

I pre-ordered the original Echo (Alexa) before it came out in 2014 (put it under the Christmas tree as a surprise), so of course I pre-ordered the new version with a touch screen, the Echo Show. It arrived two days ago.

All the video call and drop-in stuff is dependent on people close to you also owning one, so while cool (and creepy) I’m not sure we’ll use that. I debated buying one for my wife’s sister who we often FaceTime with. We’ll see.

But who cares? It’s Alexa with a better speaker, YouTube search, music lyrics on screen (I like that a lot more than I thought) and your calendar right on screen.

I’m quite happy with it.


We’re Here, We’re Queer, Shop Walmart

June 27, 2017

Here’s a surprising sponsorship fact. Despite having no actual stores in New York City, Walmart was a leading sponsor of last weekend’s NYC Gay Pride Parade. For those that want to support (or boycott) such corporate sponsors, T-Mobile leads the list. Facebook, Netflix and Lyft are the leading tech companies. And apparently the LBGT crowd drinks bad beer like everyone else because Bud Light is right up there.


Extra Toasty

June 23, 2017

Today SpaceX took a rocket booster they’ve used previously and used it again to launch a Bulgarian satellite. Despite being an extra fast re-entry, they stick the landing (though commentators do note that it was tilting a tiny bit and a few feet off center).

This is becoming routine, but it’s important to note that not only can no one else on the planet do this, no one else even attempts it. Elon Musk does use a highly technical term to describe the booster after landing…

First and Best Customer

June 20, 2017

This is an excellent article discussing Amazon’s strategy with the Whole Foods purchase and why most people aren’t looking at it the right way.

The Amazon fulfillment centers for product distribution and AWS for cloud computing are large scale projects. They have huge initial costs but benefit tremendously from scale. One reason they succeeded is that Amazon itself was the “first and best customer” of those services, guaranteeing large scale.

Amazon is building out a delivery network with itself as the first-and-best customer; in the long run it seems obvious said logistics services will be exposed as a platform.

This, though, is what was missing from Amazon’s grocery efforts: there was no first-and-best customer. Absent that, and given all the limitations of groceries, AmazonFresh was doomed to be eternally sub-scale.

That’s where Whole Foods makes sense. If Amazon wants to build Amazon Grocery Services, they need a first and best customer. You don’t normally think of an acquisition in terms of buying your customer, but that’s what just happened.



Urban Recycling

June 19, 2017

My oldest daughter just finished 8th grade at Brooklyn Friends School. She’s been there since pre-K and one thing I found interesting was that in Lower School (K-4) they have woodworking class. And it’s for real woodworking. They have very young kids using very sharp tools, including power versions, and no one gets hurt (at least to my knowledge). Both my daughters loved woodworking and neither are particularly into that sort of thing, so the teacher must be doing something right.

One year (3rd grade?) the project was to build a chair with whatever creative thing you wanted to add to it, so my daughter build a bench like chair with a cow head that swiveled. Imagine a very sturdy small bench with a carved cow head, painted white with black spots. And it was really sturdy. Pretty good for a 3rd grader.

We have a regular homeless person on our block. An older Asian woman who is clearly not all there, but crazy in a mostly harmless sort of way. She camps out in front of the Belarusian Autocephalous Orthodox Church on the corner (doesn’t everyone have one of those?). She does some clean up and other stuff for the church and the church clearly looks out for her as do the other local businesses and most folks. Crazy but our crazy. Welcome to Brooklyn.

My daughter is leaving for sleep-away camp for four weeks. I know people do this all the time at earlier ages and for longer, but this is a big deal for us. Four weeks without her will be really strange. While she’s out we want to paint her room. We want to push all the furniture to the middle of the room and throw a big drop cloth over it. But it’s not that big a room, so we needed her to get rid of a bunch of old stuff.

She did great and threw out a ton of stuff. The cow bench got pitched.

In Brooklyn garbage goes out front. We are in a large building with 58 units, so it’s a bunch of garbage. It goes out in the evening and is picked up early in the morning.

Our homeless lady now has the cow bench.

The swivel head is gone, but without that it’s basically a very sturdy small bench. Ideal for her during the day. It’s just hard not to chuckle as I walk past.

Urban recycling.

Bike Share Around The World

June 11, 2017

Not sure why, but I find this fascinating. Real time map of bike share activity around the world.