Category Archives: Information

Keep Podcasts in Sync with Pocket Cast’s Alexa Skill

Pocket Casts is one of the most used apps on my OnePlus 3T, playing podcasts in the car and while out walking. It’s a great app, though I’m still in two minds about the new version 7.0. Why do app developers feel the need to alienate existing users with radical redesigns for no real benefit?

Regardless, one of the coolest features of Pocket Casts is that it keeps playback in sync across multiple devices. Say I listen to Geek News Central in my car and I get about half-way through the latest show. Once I’m home, maybe I want to use my tablet rather than my phone and Pocket Casts knows exactly where I got to in the GNC show. It picks up where I left off without missing a word. Very cool.

And even more cool is that Pocket Casts has an Alexa skill that plugs into the same ecosystem. Once setup on your Echo, it’s “Alexa, open Pocket Casts” and Alexa responds “Welcome to Pocket Casts. Would you like to keep playing Geek News Central?” I say, “Yes” and Alexa plays from wherever I was. Fantastic.
Alternatively, I could decline the initial offer and ask to play a different podcast from my library.

To enable Pocket Casts, and in particular, the cross-platform syncing, there are three things you need to do

  1. Buy Pocket Casts for your smartphone (both Android and iOS) and setup an account
  2. Enable the Alexa skill via the Alexa app
  3. Log in to your Pocket Casts account via the Alexa app to link your account

With the Alexa and Pocket Casts account now linked, you can listen to podcasts on all your devices without having to scrub backwards and forwards to find the right spot. Give it a try.

Google Improves EV Charge Point Info in US and UK

As an owner of a plug-in hybrid (PHEV), I’m not as reliant on charging stations as my battery-only (BEV) colleagues, but there’s still an element of frustration when pulling up to recharge only to find the station is either full with charging cars or isn’t working at all (I’m looking at you e-carni).

Google Maps has always had some information on charging points but starting today, Google Maps will show real-time availability of charging ports, plus extra information such as where the charge station is, whether the location is open, what sort of port types are available and charge speeds. Over time, there will be additional information from other EV drivers including photos and reviews. The charging point info is available across platforms – web browser, iOS, Android and Android Auto, though an update from the relevant app store is needed.

Just search for “ev charging stations” in the area of interest to see the locations of the points.

Looks like it’s still a little bit of a work in progress as charging information only seems to be available on certain charging networks but it’s a good start. Thanks Google.

Instacart will Compensate Workers for Stolen Tips

The tips you gave to the Instacart workers who brought groceries to your door probably did not go to them. Sometimes, it takes a class-action lawsuit to influence a company to do something it should have been doing in the first place. The result is that Instacart will stop stealing the tips that consumers give to Instacart workers.

NBC News reported that the complaint in the lawsuit alleges that Instacart “intentionally and maliciously misappropriated gratuities in order to pay plaintiff’s wages even though Instacart maintained that 100 percent of customer tips went directly to shoppers. Based on this representation, Instacart knew customers would believe their tips were being given to shoppers in addition to wages, not to supplement wages entirely”.

In a post on Medium, titled “State of Pay – Doing Right By Our Shoppers” Instacart provided information about what happened and the changes it will make. From the Medium post:

After launching our new earnings structure this past October, we noticed that there were small batches where shoppers weren’t earning enough for their time. To help with this, we instituted a $10 floor on earnings, inclusive of tips, for all batches. This meant that when an Instacart’s payment and the customer tip at checkout was below $10, Instacart supplemented the difference. While our intention was to increase guaranteed payment for small orders, we understand that the inclusion of tips as part of this guarantee was misguided. We apologize for taking this approach.

Instacart will retroactively compensate workers for when their tips were included in minimums. “For example, if a shopper was paid $6 by Instacart, to compensate for our mistake, he or she will receive an additional $4 from Instacart”.

In addition, Instacart is instituting a higher minimum floor payment on all batches. Today their minimum batch is $3. Depending on the region, the new minimum batch payment will increase to between $7 and $10 for full service batches and $5 for delivery only batches. “Any tips earned by shoppers will be separate and in addition to Instacart’s contribution.”

Did you Realize Public Wifi Hotspots are Tracking our Location? #1324

Public WiFi Hotspots are tracking your every move. Once you sign in to one anytime you pass by almost any Hotspot in the country with your Wifi Turned on they mark your location and share that with the companies that look for customer information. So not only are we being tracked by our phones no Wifi Hotspots are spying on us. Add to this a deal that Google just made with iRobot and now the insides of our homes are being mapped there is no escaping the data collection on us.

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Continue reading Did you Realize Public Wifi Hotspots are Tracking our Location? #1324

Dear MoviePass

Dear MoviePass

I want to let you know that I personally believe and am of the opinion that you are now defrauding customers attempting to use your service in good faith. For the past 14 days, I have attempted multiple times to use your service every single time and have failed to see even a single movie in the Hawaii movie market. Yet you have taken my money! This is in my opinion fraud and I pray someone starts a class action lawsuit against you. It’s rare that I will publicly denounce a company. But your service is no longer a service it is, in my opinion, a scheme to steal money and in my opinion not deliver what you have promised to deliver.

As a social experiment, I will continue to use your service for the next few weeks and continue to collect evidence that you do not deliver the service you say you are. I am not alone in this endeavor, I have others who are collecting daily screen captures within your app across multiple movie theaters here in Hawaii that display “no” movie offerings even for movies that are supposedly in your rotating selection of absolute shit movies. If I am unable to watch any movies this month after multiple tests I will be going to ask for a refund, if I am unable to obtain a refund I will dispute your charges with my CC company and unauthorize further scamming of money.

It is my hope that you will determine what the malfunction is here in Hawaii and fix the issue immediately. You had a great service in the beginning and at this point, in my opinion, trying to keep the lights on and hoping people will not notice that you cannot actually see a movie with your service. A very unhappy soon to be ex-customer.


Geek News Central Video Presence

The goal of Geek News Central (Podcast) both the Audio and Video version of the show is to get the widest amount of distribution as possible, that ultimately brings the audience of the show back to the website where we have enough content to keep you coming back.

As you may have noticed that I have started actively blogging again. I am back as the main voice of all mediums of the site. For the past several years, I honestly have been too busy running Blubrry to focus on the written content here and that was a mistake.

So I want to talk about some changes I am making. First of all the goal now is to simulcast the live show to as many locations as possible. I will be employing a Wowza server to help with that distribution. So over the next couple of weeks, you will have multiple options to catch the show live and or watch post-show if you enjoy the video version of the podcast.

So let me outlay where you will be able to find the show live and in repeat post-show. Not all of these locations currently has every episode of the show but in short order, we will be on all platforms and possibly more.

Facebook (Personal)
Facebook (GeekNews)
Facebook (Tech Podcast Network)
Twitter (GeekNews)

13th Annual Podcast Awards

The 13th Annual Podcast Awards nomination period has opened. This annual event strives to recognize the top shows in podcasting as nominated and voted on by the actual listeners of podcasting.

Podcasts that wish to participate need to register and then simply ask their audience to support their show and nominate their podcast against there piers.