Amazon Alexa Echo Wall Clock Review

Alexa Echo Wall Clock

It has one job and it's not great at it.

I've been itching to replace my kitchen clock. I stupidly bought a self-setting atomic clock and the instructions said (this was a few years ago so I'm paraphrasing) 'Install as high up as possible on a southern facing exterior wall - ignoring these instructions may interfere with reception of the time signal.' Of course when used in my kitchen it has no idea what the time is. Due to the fancy mechanism it's extremely painful to set the time manually - you push a tiny button and try to stay awake while the hands move round and ultimately overshoot. Repeat.

It really should be illegal to sell things that tell you the time without some self-setting mechanism that works. Would it be hard to encode this in the electricity mains supply for instance? Or acquire via wifi or bluetooth? Every time I get in my car it connects to my phone but the car clock is clearly some cheap crystal that drifts daily and has no idea about daylight savings.

So the Echo Wall Clock is appealing because it should keep the right time without effort in addition to it's main role - visualizing Alexa timers. It's a stripped down implementation of the smart Glance clock but $170 cheaper at $30. It looks like most of those savings went to finding the cheapest possible plastic body. The Echo Clock also skips a face plate, which is a risk as if you touch the hands it will die.

Pairing is easy (via bluetooth) and it does manage to keep the right time. It's a decent if unattractive clock.

The timer function has taken the easy way out. If you set a five minute timer it lights up the minute marks from 12 up and then counts down. On a clock that knows what the current time is. This means that if you want to figure out when something is ready you're going to have to think. You need to look at the lit segments to see how long is left on the timer, and then add this on to the current position of the minute hand. I don't think anyone is buying a $30 timer visualizer to do minute-math. It would be a much better device if it just added the timer onto the current location of the minute hand, which is so obvious that this is what I expected to happen the first time I used it.

Overall it's cheap, cheap looking and flawed. But still a huge improvement on my kitchen's atomic age.

(Related: Windows 11 Broken Notifications; The Secret Diary of a Xamarin Android Developer, Aged 48 1/3; Chromecast won't connect to wifi - finally found the fix)

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I just want to get rid of Windows 10 Notifications with one click

Updated on Tuesday, August 24, 2021

I just want to get rid of Windows 10 Notifications with one click

910 days ago I vented my frustration at Windows 10 notifications.

Well someone in Redmond must be listening. They 'fixed' it.

The problem was that dismissing a notification did not actually get rid of it. Clicking the little x in the corner just sent it to the Action Center where you could enjoy reading it and dismissing it again.

Like some kind of cargo cult Toyota, Microsoft asked the one why, and changed the little x to an arrow. Now it's more obvious that you're just shuffling the notification around the desktop. Ticket closed. But I still have to handle every fucking notification twice.

Which makes the announcement of the April 2018 Update especially ironic:

"With this update, available as a free download today, you get new experiences that help minimize distractions and make the most of every moment by saving you time. Our hope is that you’ll have more time to do what matters most to you whether that’s to create, play, work, or simply do what you love."

I'm guessing they're all on Macs?

(Related: Windows 11 Broken Notifications; Got It; The Secret Diary of a Xamarin Android Developer, Aged 48 1/3)

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I'm not afraid of Google

Updated on Monday, August 16, 2021

A Project Fi display ad on an article about Google's insane targeting prowess

At BGR Chris Smith writes about Google's prodigious data collection:

"But that doesn’t change the fact that Google collects an incredible amount of data about you, especially from that device you use most, your Android phone"

And so I was amused as a Google Fi subscriber on a Pixel XL running Google Chrome and signed into my Google Account that the ad in the middle of the article was for Project Fi. If Google can't help paying BGR under these set of circumstances then we're some way off from the adtech singularity.

(Related: Android: Insane Contacts Storage; Leaving the Nest; Google I/O 2016)

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News: Facebook defends its simple 2 question survey on the trustworthiness of news publishers

Updated on Friday, May 22, 2020

Banner Chat

Chat Notifications and Chat Banner Notifications in Skype

I'm hoping that a chat banner notification is for really great chats only and not some subtle distinction between chat notification types that I can't figure out even after some moderate to heavy googling. If anyone knows seriously please tell me.

(Related: Fight Facebook with Email; Get ITHCWY By Email; Please fix phone spam Google!)

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Nonfiction

Important to you

Updated on Saturday, May 23, 2020

Important to you

Facebook, I spotted a typo. I think you might have meant to say important to us.

(Related: I didn't think I'd ever fall for fake news on Facebook; Got It; ITHCWY Redesign)

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HOWTO: Fix Twitter

Updated on Sunday, August 8, 2021

HOWTO: Fix Twitter

Wired (and everyone else) is reporting that Twitter is finally testing longer tweets. Maybe 280 characters! I had a better fix six years ago:

ITHCWY: Twitter: Put some status in status updates: Give me an extra character for every year that I’ve been with… http://goo.gl/fb/gCEpT

— Robert Ellison (@abfo) July 8, 2011

(Related: Twitter: Put some status in status updates; The Trust Project, Fake News and a Partial Facebook Uninstall; Updates were installed...)

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Why Microsoft is Likely Doomed Based on one Email Folder

Updated on Thursday, August 5, 2021

Close up of the useless Junk folder in Microsoft Outlook

When you get a piece of spam in Outlook you move it to Junk or block the sender. And then, even if that junk mail is marked as read, the Junk folder has a BOLD MESSAGE COUNT. It's the only folder that does this. I cannot do any other work while I have a bold message count and so I have to switch to the Junk folder and delete the message to get rid of it.

Regular email: read, file, done.

Junk email: recognize as spam, click block sender, confirm that I really want to block the sender, switch to Junk folder, mark as read, delete.

Something is really wrong with this workflow. It's a lens through which you can view the ultimate demise of the company. Sure, Office isn't going away soon and Azure is growing like crazy and SQL Server runs on Linux. But somewhere in Redmond 5,000 people designed a Junk email folder that is the MOST IMPORTANT folder in Outlook. The rest were presumably too busy making Windows Update worse to stop this.

My Google experience is that I really don't get much spam. The spam that I do get is hidden from me unless I actually need to rifle through it for some reason. On the occasion I actually get legitimate junk I just flag it as such and never have to touch it or it's ilk again.

(Related: Skype for Android - Getting Closer; I just want to get rid of Windows 10 Notifications with one click; Catfood Software Support)

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If You Give a Browser a Cookie

Updated on Monday, August 23, 2021

If You Give a Browser a Cookie

If you give a browser a cookie, it’s going to ask for local storage.

When you give it the local storage, it’ll probably ask you for a list of system fonts. When it’s finished, it’ll ask you for your screen resolution.

Then it’ll want to look to see if Flash cookies are supported. It’ll probably create a local shared object.

When it’s finished with the local shared object it’ll want more things to hash. It will hash your timezone and language. It might get carried away and hash every supported plugin. It may even end up hashing the platform and user agent.

When it’s done it’ll probably want to check out your WebGL. You’ll have to tell it your WebGL vendor and renderer. It’ll probably ask you to open a HTML5 canvas.

When it looks at the HTML5 canvas, it’ll get so excited it’ll want to draw it’s own hidden image. Then it’ll want to hash the image as well.

Looking at the image will remind it that it should store the hash somewhere. So it’ll ask for local storage.

And chances are if it asks you for local storage, it’s going to want a cookie to go with it.

(With apologies to Laura Numeroff, and you may be a snowflake yourself. Learn more about browser fingerprinting.)

(Related: Export Google Fit Daily Steps, Weight and Distance to a Google Sheet; Do you want me to use Edge, Microsoft?; Got It)

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I Thought He Came With You is Robert Ellison's blog.

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