Tourist’s Guide to Seattle

Paul Allen’s Vulcan, Inc. and Jeff Bezos’s Amazon are competing to impose their own redevelopment visions on Seattle. Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, got started first with his very own, taxpayer funded football stadium south of downtown and his in-progress makeover of south Lake Union on the northern edge of downtown. Bezos is coming on strong, with his new Amazon headquarters taking over central downtown… unless the city tries to levy a new tax; then he’s outta there.

Seattle still has a few quirky attractions that residents are proud to show off to visitors. They demonstrate how hip and creative they are, and are serious evidence that they do not take themselves too seriously.

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Alexa, Can You Hear Me?

Do you have a gnawing feeling that Amazon does not have enough of your personal information? That you are sometimes in a dead zone where Amazon – or Google or Facebook – is not tracking you? Not to worry: the on-line behemoth is moving toward their goal of recording everything you say or do. The latest step: “Alexa for Hospitality.” Now they can monitor you not only in your home, but also while you’re in a hotel room with the door locked and bolted.

Of course, Amazon’s monitoring device is asleep until you awaken it with “Alexa.” The cynical among us ask how Alexa knows you want it if it’s not listening. Amazon assures us that it is not keeping any information that you don’t want it to have. And if you can’t trust Amazon…

Oops-

Amazon’s Echo device recorded a Portland family’s private conversation and then sent the recording to an acquaintance in Seattle.

Amazon Effect – Part 1

The city of San Francisco is about to put into effect a 14% increase in garbage-collection fees. The reason: the Internet. Well, not exactly the Internet itself, but on-line shopping and its attendant packaging.

As so-called brick-and-mortar stores lose business to Internet merchants, the increase in the waste & recycle stream is increasing proportionately. Cardboard, cellophane, polystyrene, clamshell containers, plastic shipping pillows are overwhelming recycling centers. San Francisco has banned plastic bags and foam trays, but the prohibitions don’t affect merchandise shipped from outside the city. (“The City” if you’re a SF resident.) The high-tech pedometer encased in its own packaging on the store shelf, is put inside more packaging to be shipped to you.

Recology, the company contracted to handle San Francisco’s waste – 625 tons of recycling per day – says it needs the increase to keep up with the volume and complexity of materials to be recycled. That reverse-osmosis-purified drinking water comes with three types of plastic: one for the bottle, another for the cap, and yes, a third for the label.

The Internet of Wh-a-a-a-t?

Remember the year 2000? I do. We expended time and effort to reassure business partners that we had made preparations to prevent all our systems from crashing at one second past midnight on New Year’s Eve 1999. We even had high-tech shorthand: Y2K. (Y2K – get it?) Today, we would expect a logo and theme music as well. All because the tech-wizards in whose genius we relied, didn’t know the year 2000 was coming. Guess what? They’re back. The subsequent tech generation is unleashing the Internet of Things. Be afraid. Be very afraid. Continue reading “The Internet of Wh-a-a-a-t?”