Alexa REALLY DID Lose Her Voice… Briefly

You mean the Super Bowl ad is real? Wow.

Alexa briefly lost its voice amid widespread Amazon Web Services outage

The Verge – By: Chris Welch – “Amazon’s digital assistant Alexa went quiet Friday in an unintended, real world reproduction of the company’s Super Bowl ad. A regional outage impacting Amazon’s servers led to Alexa becoming unresponsive on Echo products and other devices that support the assistant. I tried a simple weather inquiry on the Echo Dot in my living room, and the signature blue ring stayed lit up for about 15 seconds without any answer. A tone eventually sounded, and Alexa said it had lost connection. Subsequent attempts also failed, producing a red ring accompanied by Alexa asking me to try again later.

By mid-afternoon, Alexa had returned to normal and was responding to voice commands again. The issue was likely tied to troubles today with Amazon Web Services. Slack and other applications that depend on AWS as a backbone experienced downtime earlier in the day.”

Amazon to Stop Selling Nest

Nest DoorbellThese “product wars” are getting silly!

Amazon to stop sales of all Nest products as battle with Google intensifies

AppleInsider – By: – “Citing sources familiar with the matter, Business Insider reports Amazon informed Nest in a conference call late last year that it would not sell the firm’s newest products, which includes devices like the Nest Cam IQ and forthcoming Hello video-enabled doorbell.

Amazon said the decision came ‘from the top’ and had nothing to do with Nest’s product quality, leading some Nest employees to speculate it was Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos who made the call, the report said.

In response, Nest has resolved to discontinue dealings with Amazon, meaning currently available items like the Nest Security Camera and third-generation Nest Learning Thermostat will disappear from Amazon’s digital shelves once existing stock runs dry. A source said Nest wants to present customers its entire lineup or nothing at all, the report said.

The move comes as Amazon looks to leverage its prominent market position to push into the connected home space. Riding on a wave of success from its Alexa virtual assistant ecosystem, the e-commerce titan recently purchased connected doorbell and security device manufacturer Ring.

Ring’s Video Doorbell and outdoor Floodlight Cam both compete against products from Nest, though Amazon’s decision does not smack of anticompetitive behavior. The online retailer currently sells a number of similar devices from various manufacturers.

It is Amazon’s ongoing battle with Google that might be to blame. Google this month announced plans to absorb Nest into its Google Home division, a strategy it says will ‘supercharge’ Nest’s mission to create a more ‘thoughtful’ home.

‘By working together, we’ll continue to combine hardware, software and services to create a home that’s safer, friendlier to the environment, smarter and even helps you save money — built with Google’s artificial intelligence and the Assistant at the core,’ Google SVP of Hardware Rick Osterloh said in a blog post.

Amazon’s Alexa and Echo series of speakers is challenged by Google Assistant and Google Home, which multiplied last year with the release of Google Home Mini and Google Home Max.

In line with its recent decision to ban new Nest products from its site, Amazon does not carry Google’s Home line, Chromecast hardware or Pixel smartphone. Likewise, Google in December blocked YouTube compatibility with Amazon’s FireTV platform and Echo Show device.

Amazon is in a precarious position as it both courts and competes with major tech companies. The firm had a similar tiff with Apple.

In 2015, Amazon yanked Apple TV from availability, saying the device was removed because it did not ‘interact well’ with Amazon Prime Video. At the time, the company refused to develop a Prime Video channel for Apple TV, assumedly due to Apple’s mandated 30 percent cut of content sales.

Most recently, however, Amazon reinstated sales of Apple TV in December and released a Prime Video app for tvOS.

Today’s report suggests the same thawing of relations could happen with Google, as Amazon plans to reboot Chromecast sales in the near future. Whether the olive branch is enough to get YouTube working on FireTV — and ultimately Nest products back on Amazon shelves — remains to be seen.”

Rumor: New Macbook Air?

This is a “maybe”… but it would be a smart upgrade.

Apple is reportedly planning to release a cheaper MacBook Air later this year

The Verge – By: Andrew Liptak – “Apple hasn’t done much with its ultra-thin MacBook Air in recent years, opting to slim down some of its other offerings instead. But the computer is reasonably popular, and according to Apple analyst KGI Securities (via 9to5Mac), the company is reportedly planning to release a cheaper model at some point in the second quarter of 2018.

According to 9to5Mac, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo expects that Apple will release a 13-inch MacBook Air ‘with a lower price tag,’ later this year, and that the lower price could help boost Apple’s laptop sales.

While the line celebrates its tenth year in 2018, the line has largely only received incremental updates, the last of which came last summer, when Apple updated it with a faster 1.8GHz Intel processor. Apple currently sells the MacBook Air for $999.

The report also says that Apple will likely refresh its AirPods, and that the HomePod has been met with ‘mediocre’ demand.”

Amazon Pays a Billion for Ring

Ring Video DoorbellI saw Ring debut on “Shark Tank” – Boy! They really missed this one! Fox Business Channel reports that Amazon will pay one BILLION for the company!

Amazon is buying smart doorbell maker Ring

TechCrunch – By: Greg Kumparak – “With Nest’s first smart video doorbell right around the corner, Amazon is busy buying up the competition.

After acquiring Blink just two months ago, Amazon is now acquiring Ring, makers of the self-titled Ring doorbell (plus a bunch of other security gear, like solar security cameras, floodlight cams and an in-home alarm system).

GeekWire broke the rumor this afternoon, and we’ve just received independent confirmation.

Details on the deal are still pretty light; the financial terms of the deal, for example, haven’t trickled out just yet. Update: Reuters is reporting, via tweet, that the sale price was more than $1 billion. The company had raised around $209 million to date, according to Crunchbase.

This acquisition makes plenty of sense. Amazon has already built a few connected cameras of its own — but hardware is, as they say, hard, and that’s not going to change. With nearly a dozen solid products to its name, the Ring team has proven themselves more than capable of building hardware (and I’m sure its array of patents doesn’t hurt, either.) With Amazon, Google, Apple et al. all duking it out for physical space in and around your home, someone was going to make a big offer — and I’d be surprised if Amazon was the only bidder in the mix. Plus, who on earth is responsible for more doorbell presses than Amazon?

(Fun bit of trivia: Ring debuted to the world on Shark Tank back in 2013, then known as ‘DoorBot.’ They wanted $700,000 for 10 percent of the company, but no one took the deal.)

Dr. Bill.TV #432 – Video – “The Story Time Edition!”

Samsung 30TB SSD, Intel’s Spectre fix, YouTube questions, Angry Birds Champions, Sling TV 47% growth, Intel, AMD face lawsuits, Harley’s ‘Project Livewire’ update, GWotW: Font Squirrel Matcherator, Dropbox IPO, Google and languages, Black Panther movie

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TechPodcasts Network

International Association of Internet Broadcasters

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Dr. Bill Bailey.NET

https://www.fontsquirrel.com/matcherator


Start the Video Netcast in the Blubrry Video Player above by
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Dr. Bill.TV #432 – Audio – “The Story Time Edition!”

Samsung 30TB SSD, Intel’s Spectre fix, YouTube questions, Angry Birds Champions, Sling TV 47% growth, Intel, AMD face lawsuits, Harley’s ‘Project Livewire’ update, GWotW: Font Squirrel Matcherator, Dropbox IPO, Google and languages, Black Panther movie

Links that pertain to this Netcast:

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Start the Video Netcast in the Blubrry Video Player above by
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The Black Panther Movie: A Non-Spoiler-ly Review

Black PantherThe Black Panther movie was awesome! Here is my non-spoiler-ly review. First, you HAVE to see this movie! Second, this movie does more to advance the African-American heritage than any movie has in a LONG time! The good guy in this movie is a GOOD guy! He is thoughtful, strong, honorable, wise… he thinks deeply, he cares deeply. He honors his father, even when he discovers his father is only human and not perfect. He honors tradition… and he is… dare I say it… truly patriotic! He shows that patriotism can be a strength, not a weakness, or a flaw.

The movie unflinchingly shows negative historical events… mistakes of the past, both of people, of cultures, and of countries, WITHOUT leaving it that those mistakes, issues, and problems are insurmountable. You can rise above them, you CAN win over your baser nature!

African culture is shown in a POSITIVE, strong light, but other races are not diminished to do so, rather, the movie shows that ANY culture can rise and overcome, if strong core values are maintained.

“Wakanda,” in the movie, as a nation, is the most technically advanced nation on the planet, but for all their superior engineering, riches, and culture, they end up HELPING the world… not “rubbing the nose” of the world’s other nations in it! They don’t have to scream “we are awesome!” They simply ARE awesome! The very last scene demonstrates this… I won’t give it away. But a gentle smile says it all!

Go see this movie… and celebrate African heritage with our brethren of African origin. This is how art can influence culture positively!

Google Assistant Will Identify Languages

Google Home MiniThis is pretty cool!

Google Assistant will soon detect what language you’re speaking in

The Verge – By: Jacob Kastrenakes – “Google Assistant is getting some important language upgrades this year. By the end of 2018, Google says it’ll be able to understand and speak 30 languages, enough to cover 95 percent of Android users. And sometime later this year, the Assistant won’t be limited to speaking one language at a time. It’ll automatically detect your language each time you speak and respond in kind. So if you’re multilingual, you’ll no longer have to pick only a single language to use with the Assistant.

The Assistant launched widely this time last year, but it was only available in one language — English — at the time. It now supports eight languages — French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, and Brazilian Portuguese — so Google has 22 more to add over the next 10 months. Nick Fox, product lead for Assistant, says the company doesn’t plan to stop at 30. But 30 offers enough coverage that the team feels comfortable saying Assistant has ‘really gone global at that point.’

Among the new languages will be Danish, Dutch, Hindi, Indonesian, Norwegian, Swedish, and Thai. They’ll be added ‘in the next few months.’

Being able to switch between languages on the fly is a big improvement, too. Previously, you had to completely change Android’s language settings in order to change what language the Assistant was in, which essentially meant you were stuck speaking only one language since switching was a hassle. One thing the Assistant still can’t do, though, is decipher multiple languages in the same sentence; it’s still one language at a time. The multilingual feature will be limited to English, French, and German at launch but is supposed to expand to more languages ‘over time.’

Expanding to 30 languages also helps the Assistant catch up to the one area it really lagged behind Siri. Apple’s voice assistant currently supports 20 languages, several of which are in a number of different dialects (there are nine for English, for example). Siri also works in Cantonese and Mandarin, major languages Google has yet to add.

In addition to the new language features, Google is also announcing the launch of routines and some new integrations for Assistant. It’s going to begin working with Android hardware manufacturers to integrate Assistant with their devices, so it’ll be able to launch specific camera features, for instance. Google’s going to start working with phone carriers so that the Assistant can be used to check your current data usage and other plan details.”

Dropbox Has an IPO!

DropboxThis actually makes me want to get in on the Stock Market! I am a big Dropbox fan!

The Dropbox IPO filing is here

TechCrunch – By: Katie Roof – “It’s official, the Dropbox IPO filing is here.

Going public is a huge milestone for Dropbox and has been one of the most anticipated tech IPOs for several years now. The cloud storage company has been around since 2007 and has raised more than $600 million in funding.

We knew that it had already filed confidentially, but the company has now unveiled its filing, meaning the actual IPO is likely very soon, probably late March.

The company says it will be targeting a $500 million fundraise, but this number is usually just a placeholder.

The filing shows that Dropbox had $1.1 billion in revenue last year. This compares to $845 million in revenue the year before and $604 million for 2015.

The company is not yet profitable, having lost nearly $112 million last year. This shows significantly improved margins when compared to losses of $210 million for 2016 and $326 million for 2015.

Dropbox has been cash flow positive since 2016.

Dropbox, which has a freemium model, says it has 11 million paying users, just a small fraction of the more than 500 million registered users who use its cloud services for free.

Its average revenue per paying user is $111.91.

The big question is whether the company will achieve the $10 billion valuation it raised in the private markets. Part of its success will be measured relative to Box, which went public in 2015 and will be considered a comparable.

The prospectus warns of the competitive landscape.

‘The market for content collaboration platforms is competitive and rapidly changing. Certain features of our platform compete in the cloud storage market with products offered by Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft, and in the content collaboration market with products offered by Atlassian, Google, and Microsoft. We compete with Box on a more limited basis in the cloud storage market for deployments by large enterprises.’

Box CEO Aaron Levie chatted with us on our ‘Equity’ podcast, sharing his immediate reaction to competitor Dropbox’s filing.

With the filing we see that the largest shareholder is Sequoia Capital, which owned 23.2 percent of the overall shares outstanding. This is a large stake. Accel owned 5 percent overall.

Founder and CEO Drew Houston owned 25.3 percent of the company.

The company is listing on the Nasdaq, under the ticker ‘DBX.’

Others vying to go public soon will keep an eye on the performance of Dropbox. Investors place weight on the ‘IPO window,’ and view recent debuts as a test for appetite for tech listings.

Spotify is gearing up to go public around the same time, but will be shunning the traditional IPO process by listing without doing a fundraise.”

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