Today, Wednesday, 10 May 2017, I happen to see Amazon’s ad for the new Echo Show.  It really looks like something from a science fiction movie…except it isn’t.  If you watch the video, you’ll see what I mean.

Note that this will actually become available on 28 Jun 2017 for $229.  It’s actually not bad considering the original echo was introduced at a price of $199–no video, just audio.

I was really tempted to buy one, but I thought…”Do I really need one?”  I suppose right now I don’t, but maybe this will go on sale come black Friday in November.

If you buy one, please share with a comment below.  Let us know what you think.

Traditional Radio

Traditional Radio (credit: zirconicusso from www.freedigitalphotos.net)

During the 70s, 80s, and even 90s, FM and AM radios were prevalent.  People used them regularly to listen to music.  There were many type of radio stations–with each station specializing on a genre of music.  People used to turn to radio stations for their preferred music.  If you were within reception range of  your type of music, you are in luck.    This means you can listen to music you like.  However, if you only had a couple of radio stations within reach, more likely than not, it  wasn’t your type of music, and probably had to purchase a few albums or CDs to listen to your favorites.

I was one of the lucky ones, but I was at the mercy of the radio station’s programming.

Fast forward to 2012.  Today people listen to their music everywhere!  Thanks to a development called MP3 player which were later popularized by Apple through their line of iPod devices.  Of course this is still not the same.  You still had to purchase music, thought not as expensive as before.

I too own an iPod player–specifically an iPod Nano.  I use it to listen to podcasts and music during my long runs.  That’s not quite the same radio experience though where everyone in the room can hear the type of music they enjoy from various artists they like without first purchasing the music.

Just last year, I realized what had replaced the radio in my life–Internet radio, specifically through services like Pandora.com.  What makes this experience similar to a radio is the emergence of tablet computers.  I know you can do this through laptops, but that seems overkill.  With tablet computers, you can play the type of music you like simply by having an account with Pandora.com and entering the name of the artist or song you like.  From there, Pandora does the rest.  You can even  fine tune it to the point where you click the thumbs up or thumbs down button in Pandora to help it determine your music preferences.

I started using my tablet computer like a radio last year just after Thanksgiving.  We used to tune into a radio station which played Christmas music from the day after Thanksgiving, all the way to Christmas.  They played it 24×7.  A few months earlier my wife bought me a tablet computer, and I decided to use Pandora.com to play the music she liked to hear.  From that point on, we were hooked.

Today and on most weekends, I use my tablet computer to play a certain kind of music that everyone in the family likes.  I leave it on during lunch while everyone enjoys their meal.  The beauty of using the tablet computer as a radio is its battery life.  My tablet can run for over 8 hours without a recharge!  It is certainly better than a laptop computer.

Bottom line is that the traditional radio is obsolete, especially for playing music in the house.  In my house, the radio has transformed into Internet radio on a tablet computer.

 

 

 

Happy Valentine’s Day to my better half!!!

Thanks to the power of Animoto.com, I was able to create the above online animated greeting for that very special someone…my wife.

Once in a while, I come up with ideas about what to post here. Today, I wanted to share some interesting photos I’ve taken over time. The one below was taken back on 12 Jan 2010. My family and I were just coming back from a shore visit on Catalina Island. I shot this with a Nikon D5000 camera.

Paradise at sea (by Forlanda)

Paradise at sea (by Forlanda)

There is a site called animoto.com which allows anyone ot take a set of pictures and turn them into a dazzling collage of images that has life  Below is a sample of what you can do with it if you use the free version:

Create your own video slideshow at animoto.com.

Have you ever wished you can save some of those YouTube videos for later viewing?  This is especially true if you plan on going somewhere with your laptop with no Internet access.

If your answer is yes, then read on…

There is a file conversion site–zamzar.com–that can actually convert YouTube video postings to any video format your computer can play.  All you need to do is open your browser to http://www.zamzar.com.  There make sure to do the following:

  1. In step 1, click the URL link so that you can provide the URL of the YouTube video you wish to get.
  2. In step 2, specify the video format your computer can play.  For windows computers, specifying “wmv”  should guarantee that your Media Player can play the resulting video file.
  3. In step 3, you will need to specify you e-mail address.  This is where Zamzar.com will send a download link for the converty video.
  4. In step 4, you just need to click the CONVERT button, and you are done.
  5. Now all you have to do is wait for an e-mail from Zamzar.com
  6. When you get the e-mail, you will find a download link for the YouTube video.  Click the link and download the video.  You can now play the video on your computer whether you have Internet access or not!

If you have several YouTube videos you wish to save for later viewing, repeat the above steps for each and everyone of them.

Have fun!

Warning:  Some videos are copyrighted.  Be careful not to contribute to such illegal activities.

Zamzar.com is relatively new to the scene; they’ve been in the public eye since around the second half of 2007.

What is Zamzar.com?  Their company mission says it all:

To provide high quality file conversion for as many file formats as possible.

The interesting thing is that they are able to provide file conversion services without having to install any application on your computer.  All you basically need to do is specify the source file, select the destination format, and provide an email address so that they can email you a download link for the converted file.

Their main strength is the wide range of files they can convert.  It is pretty comprehensive!  That is why I mention that their service is the “mother of all online file conversion” services. You can convert video, image, audio, and CAD files just to name a few of the major ones.

On top of that, you can even take a Youtube or some other online video content provided you have the video URL, and download a copy of it to your computer!

There is a limit of 100MB for the free account.  You don’t even have to register to get the conversion services.   However, if 100MB is too small for you, you can purchase their service for a price.  Go to their pricing page for the latest pricing information.

For the free service, you get no online storage and you only get 5 concurrent file conversions at a time.  As for support, response time is only best effort.

Bottom line though, even the free version is a great deal since most people will only want to convert some files once in a while.