We Decided To Name Her Alexa

We have a new arrival in the Sarah Staar household and her name is Alexa. I’ve been telling Dave for the last month that on 28 September things were going to change!

At 3:30 PM yesterday afternoon the postman knocked on the door and handed me a parcel.

I opened the box and unpacked Alexa…

Alexa is Amazon’s latest product it’s an artificial intelligence product called Echo.  You plug it in and then it responds to voice commands and can do various different things for you, oh yes and it also replies back…

You can ask it simple things like,

“Alexa, What’s the weather like tomorrow”

“Alexa, How many teaspoons are in a tablespoon”

“Alexa, How do you spell…..”

“Alexa, What’s the traffic like outside”

“Alexa, What’s on my calendar tomorrow”

“Alexa, What’s 10,000 ÷ 30”

You can also give it commands like,

“Alexa, Add newsletter to my to-do list”

“Alexa, Add bread to my shopping list”

“Alexa, Play me some jazz music”

“Alexa, Dim the lights”

“Alexa,Tell me a joke”

“Alexa, Wake me up at 9 AM”

“Alexa, Add call Mum to my to-do list”

 

This sort of reminds of when I was an eight year old child and had just watched the film “2001 a Space Odyssey”. I remember wishing I had an artificial intelligence device like HAL the computer on the spacecraft.

So when I heard that Amazon was releasing an artificial intelligence device called Echo I had to order one.

Okay so it’s not perfect, There are lots of commands it doesn’t understand such as complex questions. I guess it is going to start learning and get better over time.

I have a very strong feeling this is the start of something revolutionary in everybody’s life.

While very much a first stage product, you can still see the potential here.

I do have one thing that worries me slightly..

 

I’m currently watching 2 TV shows at the moment, Battlestar Galactica this is a tv show where artificial intelligence and robots have taken over a world.

And Persons of Interest, a TV series where one Artificial Intelligence is fighting another Artificial Intelligence via human proxies for control of the US…

And of course HAL goes sort of insane in 2001

Dave teases me about what will happen when all the Alexas link together.

He keeps referencing Skynet (from the Terminator movies) and Transcendence.

I did ask Alexa this morning if she intends to take over the world and kill all humans, she kind of skated around the subject and didn’t give me a straight answer!

Films:

 

Casino Jack

casino-jack

 

I saw quite an interesting film last night called Casino Jack. An amazing performance from Kevin Spacey. This film is a true story about Powerful Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

It’s a story about corruption, power and money. The film kind of reminded me of Wolf of Wall Street. It’s a real eye-opener to how the American political system works…

 

Its also a great story about what happens when people lose grip with reality…

 

 

 

 

London Lunch

I just got an email from Martin Avis to tell me that there is still a couple of places left for tomorrow’s London lunch. I’ll be there so if you want to meet up book your place below.

 

London lunch 🙂

 

Have a wonderful day whatever you’re doing,

 

Sarah Staar

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Sarah Staar IM Newsletter – 43.5 Million Users Details Were Stolen

I dropped by my mum’s house last week and she was in the middle of a major reorganisation of her office.

She had neatly divided up everything she did not want anymore into three separate piles.

Pile 1 – Recycling

Pile 2 – The charity shop

Pile 3 – Rubbish,  trash

However there was a fourth pile, mainly made up of old computers and electronic equipment. Mum wanted me to go through these items before they were thrown out.

Included in the pile was very old Samsung netbook,  and a 10 year old desktop computer.

Both of them  were actually working.

I realised that we couldn’t just simply take them down to the recycling centre and throw them in the garbage, because both of these computers contained personal information..

Who knows what might happen to a laptop computer and the data on the hard drive if it was just thrown into a recycling skip??

I guess you have three options here.

Throw the computer away in the recycling skip and hope for the best.

Use specialist software, or if you know what you’re doing use a command prompt, to manually delete all the data on your hard drive.

Remove the hard drive,  and put a  hammer and chisel through the hard drive.

I ended up going for option number 3….

I have since found out that recycling centres run by local councils sell all electronic equipment that gets put in the recycling bins to China and India…   I guess they just sell it by the ton for scrap.

Not sure I want my hard drive full of personal data ending up in China or India….

We all have old laptop computers, mobile phones that stopped working or become obsolete and I reckon it’s worth thinking carefully about how we dispose of these items…

Right now more and more people use their mobile phone as a means of doing just about everything.

Thing is if it gets hacked or your details get revealed you can be in deep trouble.

As in Identity Theft….

Which leads me to….

The importance of using good passwords

You may not have heard the news about the hacking of Last FM

Last FM is a music streaming service like Spotify

It now turns out that 4 years ago, in 2012, the database was hacked and 43.5  million users details were stolen.

The thing is that people tend to use the same password over and over again.

Okay so the data that was stolen included email addresses and passwords.

So for 4 years hackers have probably been able to get into 43.5 million email accounts.

And if they have been able to get into those email accounts, then they have probably been able to get into other accounts that those victims have.

okay , so what do you think is the most popular password ?

123456

And the next ?

Password

The hackers have just started to sell the information on the black market.

God knows what they have been doing with it for the last 4 years !!

Cloning people’s online identities probably…..

How can you avoid this ?

3 simple rules to follow

1.Always use very secure passwords,  with upper and lower case letters numbers and symbols.

2.Never use the same password on more than one website.

3.Use password management software to simplify the whole process.

Now if you want to know more about setting up and managing passwords that is one of the things i go into in detail in my course “Get Organised – Like A Staar “

 

If you haven’t checked out this course yet you can do so by clicking the link below.

Get Organised – Like A Staar 🙂

This Weeks Movies

Come hell or high water

 

David I went out to see a movie last night in Chichester “Hell Or High Water”. It was well shot and well scripted film a little bit slow at times but worth seeing.  I think it was definitely a case of the movie trailer was better than the film..

 

 

 

 

You know what really annoys me…    People who switch on their mobile phone and start sending text messages and looking at Facebook in a cinema!!

I find it incredibly weird but there seems to be a huge number of people who can’t last two hours without looking at their phone!!

Last time I went to the cinema with Dave to see Independence Day: Resurgence I actually went up to somebody and ask them to turn their phone off because it was distracting me.  Luckily for me he politely said yes and put it away..

Those of you in the know,  I used a classic  Robert Cialdini technique,  I said “because”…

Read the book “Influence…”

Have a great day whatever you’re doing,

all the best,

 

Sarah Staar

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Another Rant – Big Gap In The Market

Last week I watched a documentary on Netflix “The Human Experiment “ all about the dangers of chemicals in everyday products.

The claim was that cancer rates are going up and especially amongst the under 40’s, a group that 20 years ago had very low cancer rates.

Organic shampooAfter watching this documentary it has made me a lot more aware of the ingredients that are in everyday products, such as shampoo.

Things like….

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate/Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS) A surfactant found in many cleaning products. …

I thought, well, as soon as my shampoo has run out I’ll make sure that I purchase some sort of organic shampoo.  surely there must be a whole section in the supermarket for natural shampoos like this….   Or so I thought…

 

 

Today I went to my local supermarket, Sainsbury’s. I must have spent 15 minutes looking at all of the different shampoo bottles and not one of them claimed to be a natural product or organic !!

And the list of chemicals in them was as long as my arm…

So I ended up not buying anything at all…

It seems strange that there are all sorts of  food products claiming to be organic but nobody has come up with a range of household cleaners, shampoos, and soaps that are organic…

There seems to be a big gap in the market here…

Like for…

A line of products,

or even an app that would tell you if a product was safe or not…

I guess I’m going to have to go online and find something.

Why are these manufacturers so unconcerned about the potential damage caused by low level carcinogens ?

And we have it better in Europe than in the USA, because we have stricter rules over here !

Okay, rant over….

Transcribing audio 

 For the last two weeks I’ve been writing a book all about how I got started online, the changes that have taken place, and about the psychology of Internet marketing.

I’m about halfway through the book now and I have to say I  and really enjoying writing this book.

It’s sort of like a “brain dump” of all the stuff I know and have picked up over the last 15 or so years.

This will be a physical book which I’ll probably sell on Amazon.

If you’re interested in a copy reply to this email.

In my last email I explained how I was writing this book by dictating it into my phone and then getting the audio files transcribed.

I had a lot of people asking me which transcription service I’m using. The company I use is Speechpad.com

Speechpad is a really easy to use service, you simply upload an audio file and they charge $1 per minute to transcribed the audio.

They also have an Express 24 hours service for an extra fee.

Getting audio transcribed is one of the quickest ways to create large amount of content.

(Hint !)

So if you hate writing, or find it difficult like I do,  transcribed audio can be a very fast way to create content for your blog, or even an eBook.

Movies

10 Cloverfield Lane

I won’t say too much about this film because I don’t want to spoil it for you.This is a film about a lady who is abducted and held against her will by a Survivalist type in his Underground shelter.

However all is not what it seems…  I have to say I was expecting a standard thriller, however, the film ended up being something very different, a real surprise….. you have to see this film….

I’m off to the beach now to write the next chapter of my book,

 

all the best,

Sarah Staar

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