Google Can’t Seem to Wait to Kill YouTube on Amazon Fire Devices

 YouTube no longer available on Fire TV as Amazon signals lack of deal with Google – 9to5Google

Amazon has gone ahead and disabled the YouTube app ahead of the impending January 1st deadline. The company is readying users for the shut down by directing them to visit the YouTube site directly through either the Silk browser or Firefox.

Not only is Google killing access to YouTube from all of Amazon’s Fire lineup, but they’re jumping the gun to get it off there as fast as possible. Losing YouTube on the Echo Show was one thing, but losing the main video platform most people use (especially young people) on your entire line of streaming devices is rough.

Save $5 at Fandango When You Use Apple Pay

MacRumors reporting:

Apple is offering an Apple Pay promotion this week that discounts Fandango movie tickets by $5 when you make a purchase using either the Fandango app or the Fandango.com website.

This is exactly the sort of thing I was hoping Apple would start doing. Android Pay has done this once or twice in the past, and it’s a good way to get people to set up these phone payment methods on their devices. A certain percentage of people will get a kick out of the experience and use it again (and Apple hopes again and again and again).

Apple did a similar deal with Postmates in November, but movie tickets are a little more mainstream and I’d expect this promotion to get even more buy in.

The Best New Podcasts I Heard in 2017

Below are 7 podcasts that have shot to the top of my podcast priorities in 2017. Not all of them are new shows this year, but in all cases they are shows that I never heard before 2017. Shows like ATP, Cortex, and The Talk Show remained excellent this year, but these are the newcomers that I hope will become old reliable shows in the coming years.

Bring Your Own Device

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Greg Morris and Nathan Shocat team up to talk tech. I had the pleasure of being a guest on their show last month and it was a blast. Also, this show has the most Qualcomm talk you’ll get on any the podcast you’ve ever heard (if you’re into that sort of thing).

Dissect

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I just discovered this show a week ago, but it’s already one of my favorites of the year. This is a serialized podcast that discusses one album, track by track each season. The first season was in 2016 and talked about Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly, and this year was season 2 which talked about my favorite album of all time: Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

Easy Allies Podcast

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The best gaming podcast I listen to these days, The Easy Allies Podcast is full of positive, smart people talking about games. The games media is terrible more often than not, and EZA is a nice reprieve from the “gamer” culture that puts me off so much from a medium I otherwise love.

Vector

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I don’t think this is the best show on the list, but I have to give host Rene Ritchie a special achievement award for sheer mass of content produced. This is a daily show (even on Christmas!) and it’s not just a few minutes each day, it’s a full length show of 45 minutes or more. The show has guests and quality production and it comes…out…every…day.

As of writing this, there have been 46 episodes and the show started on November 14. For comparison, The BirchTree Podcast has 46 episodes and it launched on January 4!

Pod Save America

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Pod Save America is the exact podcast I (and apparently America) needed this year. Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett, Dan Pfeiffer and Tommy Vietor break down the news of the day in entertaining, insightful ways. They’re partisan, sure, but they’re not blowhards by any means.

Lovett or Leave It

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Hosted by Jon Lovett, this live, comedy-politics show has become a Saturday morning staple for me and my wife. The show regularly has fun guests and provides the comedic relief we need at the end of most weeks these days.

Whims That Work

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Drew Coffman and Joe Buhlig have put together one of the more surprising podcasts of the year for me. They talk mostly about productivity and their workflows on iOS and macOS. If you’re reading this blog, there’s a good chance this show is right up your alley.

Settling into your Smart Assistant Groove

When Alexa Becomes Part of the Family – Slate:

“I thought that I would be continuously testing the new features that came out of it, that it would always be a source of something novel,” Primiano said of her Echo. “But in reality what happened was that I settled down upon certain Alexa features that I use with great regularity, and then I really don’t even explore so much of the other stuff that she can do.”

This seems pretty consistent with most people’s experience with the Echo and Google Home. I haven’t installed a new skill on my Echo in almost a year, and it’s partially because 99% of skills seems to be absolute garbage. Outside of smart home stuff, Jeopardy is the only skill I’ve installed and actually found useful. I love having these assistants in the house, but they are absolutely relegated to a few tasks that don’t change that often. I 100% use my Apple Watch for more tasks than my Google Home or Amazon Echo.

My Favorite Albums of 2017

I’m not a music expert, but I do pride myself in having relatively good taste in music. As I get further and further away from my college years, I find it harder and harder to keep branching out to new and exciting music, but I’m doing my best to stay young at heart when it comes to my music taste.

With that in mind, here are my top 10 albums of the year (in no particular order):

The Wild – The Rural Alberta Advantage

There’s just something about this band that clicks with me. This is their 4th full length album, and 2 of their first 3 albums were my favorite of their respective years. I’m not officially ranking my top 10 in 2017, but if I had to there is a good chance this would be the third time they took my top spot. I love the emotion dripping from each song. This is simultaneously the album I bet most people haven’t heard of as well as the album I wish the most people would check out.

Standout tracks: Alright, Toughen Up, Bad Luck Again

American Dream – LCD Soundsystem

How do you come back from a highly publicized hiatus? By releasing an intense, passionate, unpredictable, towering achievement of a record, of course! LCD Soundsystem had 3 incredible albums under their belt and huge expectations around this comeback album, and they absolutely killed it. From the opening track on, LCD Soundsystem delivered an album that is both distinctly them, and unlike the 3 records that they released before. Tracks 5-7 are the best 22 minutes of any album all year. My god!

Standout tracks: how do you sleep?, call the police, oh baby, tonite

DAMN. – Kendrick Lamar

I struggle to effectively vocalize my thoughts on hip-hop, but Kendrick Lamar is an artist who just clicks with me. His last 2 records were stellar, and Damn continues the streak from the most exciting rapper out there today. Lamar addresses more than a few current issues throughout, all with clever wordplay and no shortage of fire when the need arises.

Oh, and the last minute of DNA. absolutely floored me. It was the only time this year a song made me stop in my tracks and literally say “oh my god!” out loud.

Standout tracks: LOVE., DNA., HUMBLE., ELEMENT.

Zombies on Broadway – Andrew McMahon In the Wildreness

Andrew McMahon is doing plenty well for himself, but there’s a good chance you have not hear of him either. He also made what I think is the best mainstream pop album of the year. Zombies on Broadway is a non-stop string of catchy, beautiful songs that will get stuck in your head in no time, and take forever to get out

Standout tracks: Shot out of a Cannon, So Close, Walking In My Sleep

I See You – The xx

I’ve liked The xx since their debut, but I never really thought they put together a great full album. In early 2017 they finally did that, and I See You has been on repeat for me all year long. This is a quiet album, but it sticks with you.

Standout tracks: I Dare You, Replica, A Violent Noise

A Deeper Understanding – The War on Drugs

Just like The xx, this was another band that I’ve had my eyes on, but who has never made a complete album I could get behind. This one from The War on Drugs floored me with some of the best songs I heard all year. If The xx is a little too quiet for you, try these guys out.

Standout tracks: Nothing to Find, Pain, Holding On

Reputation – Taylor Swift

Yes, Taylor Swift. People seemed mixed on this record when it came out in November, and I personally was not a huge fan of the lead single, Look What You Made Me Do, but the rest of this record is catchy as hell. Swift doesn’t have anything particularly profound to say here, but that’s okay, it’s a fun pop record.

Standout tracks: …Ready for It?, Don’t Blame Me, Call It What You Want

Hot Thoughts – Spoon

I love Spoon, and this is one of their better ones. I just love the lead singer’s voice, so basically anything he does has me on board, but this album surprised me more than a few times, and the standout tracks just begged me to crank up the stereo.

Standout tracks: WhisperI’lllistentohearit, Can I Sit Next to You, Shotgun

Life Will See You Now – Jens Lekman

This is by far the most fun album on my list. Leckman has a penchant for humor and he’s in fine form here. Take the song Evening Prayer (the song I’ve had stuck in my head more than anything else this year) which is about someone who laments the struggle of being someone who is trying to figure out how much they can show they care about someone with a tumor:

It’s been a long hard year
For a friend who’s not sure if he’s close enough
To be allowed to care
Or just be there
To include you in his evening prayers

It’s not a comedy album by any means, but it’s fun throughout.

Standout tracks: Evening Prayer, How We Met The Long Version, Postcard #17

Everything Now – Arcade Fire

Here’s another divisive album from the year, but I also really liked the latest from Arcade Fire. This is clearly the worst album from them (my opinion, of course), but it’s still better than what most other bands ever achieve. This is a sort of concept album focused around consumerism. This is a grand, delicious album and I love it.

Standout tracks: Electric Blue, Everything Now, Creature Comfort, We Don’t Deserve Love