Credit where credit’s due – Amazon’s Echo helps me write

I’m not a tech blogger, but a couple pieces of tech did actually change my life

I can and do reserve the right to say what I like about Amazon’s e-book related practices. I’m really not a fan of the way they treat erotica authors or their erotica customers. However, I must give credit where credit’s due: An Amazon product is why I’m getting some writing done now.

One of the issues I had, was that my wife kept yelling for me to come upstairs and do things for her. My baby son is colicky as hell (but otherwise healthy) and massively needy, so basically she spends all her time holding the baby. During my 6 weeks of paternity leave from work, I didn’t get anything written due to her calling me upstairs every 15-30 minutes, all around the clock, to do things for her. And since the baby has to sleep in the bed with her, I couldn’t sleep in or stay in the bedroom because I roll around in my sleep and – well, neither one of us wants a dead baby, so I slept downstairs until very recently.

Anyway, I got a lot of my time back when I ensured she no longer had to use her hands to do everything.

Enter the Amazon Echo

At a work function not too long ago, I got to check out an Amazon Echo. I already knew I liked its audio quality, so it was a decent speaker no matter what – but there were a lot of things she could use it for instead of calling me to do them. Right now, she mostly uses it as an acoustically nice voice-activated speaker (“Alexa, play baby lullabys” is a common phrase from her), and does a wonderful job of handling timers, alarms, and updating Google calendar. It also provides a verbal interface to check the status of Amazon orders, check delivery dates, etc.

I was impressed enough to order a second one for the downstairs room I hang out in mostly, and I personally use it for a writing timer. It’s tough to get time to write these days – the family will interrupt me constantly, and as a workaholic with a corporate job, I never have a shortage of emergencies I “need” to take care of. That’s left my writing career floundering for some time now.

Now I go downstairs with my laptop and say, “Alexa, play angry German music” – which kicks off my appropriately named Pandora channel – and then I’ll follow up with, “Alexa, stop music after one hour”. That’s one hour of writing time, automatically set to cut off at the end so that I can justify truly saving the time for writing.

It may be silly, but this is why Progenitor 3 went from 19.8k words to 20.7k words while also getting the first chapter edited to the point where I felt good enough about it to release it recently. It’s why I also expect that Fallback: Arrival will get published this year.

The next big hands-free baby thing

Another thing I lost a lot of time to, was my wife calling me upstairs to pick up her phone for her. She’s always been a total phone addict – she’s compelled to check every notification when it comes in. So, her mother’s day present from me was a Garmin Vivoactive HR watch. It pairs with Android or iPhone, checks heart rate, and can tell when you’re sleeping or not. The big compelling feature though is that it displays smart phone notifications. So, when her phone starts buzzing, K doesn’t reach for it anymore – she looks at her wrist, and only needs her phone if she wants to respond. This cut out a lot of trips upstairs for me, because trying to bend over while holding a baby isn’t as easy as it sounds for a woman who’s had a c-section. We’ve been impressed enough with it that she bought me one for father’s day.

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