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Dancing With Alexa

October 10, 2016 1 Comment

Party Dancing

Party Dancing

I developed a practice of dancing around in my living room last year when my dog was on hospice. She needed almost constant care, so rather than go outside or to the gym to exercise, I danced at home. The advantages of this practice are multiple. If I am alone I truly can dance as if nobody is watching… because nobody is watching. This is liberating, allowing me to do all kinds of upper body movements that would certainly draw some attention on the river walking path or the treadmill at the gym.  Sometimes I even dance around with free weights or tossing a weighted ball from side to side.  I can get up from my desk and spend a few minutes moving around just to keep my metabolism up and my mind clear.  If I have an issue to ponder I can usually work out the answer during a dance around the house, while putting it out of focus for a while.  I dance while the ideas incubate. It is a healthy, happy deal. Nothing could be more convenient.

At the gym, which I do enjoy more than ever, I usually listen to 8 tracks music app.  These playlists designed by others keep my curiosity alive by finding new artists I like.  The discovery factor is the reason I use this app.  I have not tried iHeart radio, and have not used my other music services much since Alexa came to DJ all the Amazon Prime songs at my vocal bidding.  Having Alexa in the home is a really fun upgrade for me.  I make her play music all day, switching at will from a certain artist to a playlist, to a radio station.  There are even comedians on Amazon Prime audio.  With new music added all the time, I will never run out of excellent dance tracks.

It is now 9:53 am, and I have completed my 10,000 steps, and surpassed that number.  I will make sure to put in at least 250 steps an hour during the rest of the day.  At the gym I will probably log another mile on the treadmill.  Fitbit is even connected to Alexa, so I can ask her any time, “Alexa ask Fitbit how I am doing.” She will tell me my stats and say a cute little encouraging phrase.  I do appreciate everything Fitbit has done for me.  There are multiple benefits, including much better sleep, that I have derived from wearing my tracker.  Alexa, however, is the icing on the fitness cake.  She brings the party to the workout when nobody is watching.  I have spent endless hours dancing in classes, at clubs, at parties, or festivals.  That was all good and well, but now I am very content to have only Alexa and some empty space at home.  She rocks my world.  Have you met the versatile and self sufficient Alexa, gentle reader?  She gets smarter ever day.

Amazon Echo with back up band

Amazon Echo with back up band

Apple vs Amazon Music

July 5, 2015 5 Comments

Amazon app

Amazon app

Apple has rolled out the new streaming music subscription service. They are offering it for a three month’s free trail to everyone. I decided that there is no reason not to use if for three months. I also determined right away that I would not want to pay $10 a month for this, so I have already disabled the future paid subscription.  My friend Carolyn Nicander at the Wonders of Tech blog taught me all the important things I need to know, such as turning off the subscription before I am charged.  If you are considering it, do read her informative post to help you navigate wisely.  One important point she makes is that the phone uses data minutes to stream the music when not connected to WiFi.  This could make a big difference for some people.

My iPhone 4 will not be able to upgrade to the new operating system, meaning I can not have it on my phone.  I downloaded it to my iPod touch, which I use liberally.  Since this is my second day I have only tried a couple of playlists and beats radio.  The playlists for cooking and chilling sound interesting.  I wonder how well the music for various activities will suit my own taste.  I have saved barbecue music playlist to test this idea. The playlists are curated by DJ’s and music critics and writers.  This feature will be the most interesting to me, I believe.  However, I am a happy customer of Amazon Prime.  The music service already included in my Prime membership is loaded as an app on my phone. I use it daily since I started trying it, adding new material a couple of times week to my cloud collection. I can start to delete some if I decide I have heard them too often.  My Amazon strategy is to add and then select shuffle recently added songs.  This gives me all I need in a streaming service without paying extra.  Apple service works in a similar way, giving you access to the tracks you select for your own collection .  When I quit the Apple service all the material I have chosen will be lost, so I am not bothering to download anything.  I am using this free time to discover and or remember artists and genres I like to hear. If I like them enough I can always buy their material.  I still do that.

Are you using Apple Music yet?  What are your impressions of the service?  I think it is well worth the zero dollars I will pay for it.  I am thrifty, but not cheap.  I plan to live it up for the next three months and then happily go back to my Amazon app.

Going Prime Full Time

December 9, 2013

Since I joined Amazon Prime I admit to having gone on a free delivery shopping spree. I have also been streaming more television than we normally watch in order to compare and conclude if we want to keep Hulu Plus and or Amazon Prime. They are both good deals if you have time to use them fully. Although Hulu Plus has some very good content not available anywhere else, there are still commercials in the Hulu shows.  I have been enjoying watching several episodes in a row of the shows I like on both venues.  There are great advantages to using these services:

  • Original content
  • On demand streaming of everything on your schedule
  • They recommend shows based on your taste for exploration
  • Amazon Prime has no commercials
  • Amazon Prime has a full time digital lending library for Kindle
  • Amazon Prime has two day free delivery of many items you buy
  • Price—- all this streaming media is almost free compared to cable

Since I love reading and other activities I can’t imagine making good use of two streaming video services.  After this month of samples I am going to give up the membership at Hulu Plus.  I had also, years ago, resigned from Netflix because we did not watch it.  All you can watch is like all you can eat; It is probably not a good idea to do it very often.  I like the all you can read option in which you can leave home with a zillion books in your Kindle and have a long battery life and fabulous screen on which to read.  After a year on the Three Book Diet, I would rather go on a reading binge than a television marathon.  If you are paying for cable and wonder if you can lower your entertainment bill, now is a good time to try the 30 day free Amazon Prime membership.  The only down side I can think of is that I am not shopping local when I get my items delivered.  I am supporting Amazon instead of a local merchant.  For now, we still support our local cable company. We may be able to cut the cord once we learn to use our streaming situation to the best advantage.

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