Hello Alexa!

Finally — my Amazon Echo arrived today! I ordered it months ago, and was originally told it would be delivered in late June or early July, but last week I got an email saying it would arrive on June 16th.

Amazon Echo - aka Alexa

Amazon Echo – aka Alexa

So far, so good — does what it says on the tin. Not the most exciting product to watch in action (but cool circle-y lights!), but I think it will be handy for quick bits of information and maybe some streaming music.

It’s not (yet?) as powerful as Google Now, which is perfect for calling up info on something I’m watching on TV, but it looks like there’s some nifty If This Then That recipes that might enhance its capabilities.

Hey, for $just 99, it’s already paid for itself in novelty alone.

Here’s a short video of Alexa in action — telling me the weather, playing a tune, setting an alarm, etc:

Big Red + Turbo!

I have been a faithful Verizon (Big Red!) customer since 2002, and absolutely love upgrading to a new phone. I’ve been through Audiovox, LG, Motorola (Droid X), Nokia, Blackberry (!), LG, and my most recent, the beloved Samsung Galaxy SIII.

I was pretty excited about the Droid Turbo and the HTC One M8 (and now M9) and S5 when they were released, but I kept resisting the upgrade because my SIII was so damn good. But last weekend, at the urging of my lovely wife on the occasion of our wedding anniversary, I finally took the plunge and got the Droid Turbo.

WOW. I absolutely love it — it’s simply amazing.

All that talk about the great battery life is no joke. Photo and video quality is excellent. The only downside that I have experienced so far is that there doesn’t seem to be a way to set the default photo size to make smaller pix, but now that big bandwidth and WiFi are pretty much everywhere, it’s not that big of a deal. The speech recognition of Moto (and Google, duh) is quite handy – and remarkable. And the extra 1/5th or so of an inch of screen size makes a HUGE difference in my texting accuracy!

So now I’m back in the Droid/Motorola camp, and happy as can be.

Bonus: when we went to the VZW store (the official one on 10th Avenue South near Walgreens), I was absolutely blown away by the awesome customer service. The sales rep, Trace, was simply delightful — when I asked her how long she had been with VZW, I expected her to say years and years, because she was SO knowledgeable about the products, plans, and accessories — but was amazed when she said she had only been with VZW since October. And Destiny, the gal who did the transfer from my SIII to the Turbo, definitely earned her nickname as the “Guru” of device transfers. She, too, was delightful to work with. In fact, my wife and I had so much fun during our 90 minutes in the store, it honestly felt more like a party. There was music, lots of jokes, some dancing, and even a celebrity impression!

In addition to getting a couple of spiffy cases and a wireless Qi charger, I just *had* to buy a “selfie stick.” Gave it a test-run at work on Thursday — here’s me checking in with my buddy Mike in the weather center at work.

Bottom line: Droid Turbo FTW! And if you want great customer service, go say hi to Trace and Destiny!

UPDATE: Quick video from atop airport hill!

“Choose Great Falls”

It’s cool to see a new website promoting Great Falls has launched — ChooseGreatFalls.com, aimed at promoting jobs in Great Falls — but a little disappointing to see that the GFDA used a Helena-based company to create the site.

Not to take away from Edge Marketing or our capital city – they look pretty legit and their work looks good…and going with a Helena company is better than an out-of-state one, right?



KDS Internet

Anyone have experience (good or bad) with Konceptio Data Service, aka KDS? It’s an ISP here in town that caters to folks not just in city limits, but also the “outskirts.”

Living in rural Montana has its benefits. Fresh air, the breathtaking view of the Missouri river, safe and serene, ample space. Who wouldn’t want that? Yet there is a glaring downside. The major internet providers forgo these areas, simply because of the lower population. That is where KDS comes in.

Their plans look pretty reasonable, and I’m wondering if KDS would be a better backup to have ready instead of BridgeMaxx.

Hamster IV

Had to visit Malmstrom today to get a new ID card, and noticed that the digital fingerprint scanner thingie has a really interesting name: HAMSTER IV.

Seriously. HAMSTER IV. I suppose it’s called a HAMSTER because…um…the word MOUSE is already taken in computer jargon?

Despite the cute name, this non-fuzzy critter boasts some impressive specs:

– FBI Certified “PIV Single Finger Capture Device”
– GSA APL listed and FIPS 201 / PIV compliant
– STQC Biometric Device Certification for UID Applications
– High-performance, maintenance-free optical fingerprint sensor
– Sensor resistant to scratches, impact, vibration and electrostatic shock
– Auto-On™ (Automatic Finger Placement Detection)*
– Smart Capture™ (Self-Adjusting Fingerprint Brightness)

Don’t you just want to add some whiskers and maybe a golden (or black and white!) coat to this thing?