Some Musical Notes (was that a pun?)

  • Last week at AugieShoots, I talked about my experiences shooting a Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers concert.  Pictures and technical stuff and more can be found in that five day series.


  • Good news!  The new O.A.R. album has been announced, and it’ll be out in August.  It’s called “King.”


  • Found an interesting band last week: Honeyhoney.  They have one album out on iTunes and Amazon’s MP3 store now.  It’s a duo from California, and they’ll be opening for Christina Perri on her tour this summer.  They’re a great match.


Augie Asks Aetna’s Ann About Stuff

Ask Ann, The Aetna Assistant

Ask Ann, The Aetna Assistant

Aetna has a “virtual assistant,” who is there to answer your questions on their website.  Basically, it’s a search bar with stock imagery of a smiling person who answers in conversational text.

Or, if you want to pretend it’s more expensive than it is, call it “artificial intelligence.” Being a technologically inclined kind of person, I decided to run it through its paces:

Ann: Hi, I’m Ann, your Aetna Virtual Assistant. I’m here to help you use your Aetna Navigator secure member website. I’m currently new to this job, so if I can improve somewhere please let Aetna know by clicking the ‘feedback’ button below. What can I help you find?

You Asked: Zork

Ann: Oops, I haven’t been trained on that yet. I want to get better, so please let Aetna know how they can improve me by clicking the “feedback” button below.

I’m tempted to leave the feedback that the correct answer is “At your service” or “They say talking to one’s self is a sign of impending mental collapse.”

You Asked: What is the answer to the question of life, the universe, and everything?

Ann: That’s a question that only you can answer for yourself. As far as my own life, I find meaning in helping others.

Deeper than 42, but acceptable, I suppose.  and, yes, it looks like the kind of question the programmers have seen before and decided to have fun with.  OK, let’s test “Ann” further:

You Asked: Why is the sky blue? Ann: The sky is blue because of the way the earth’s atmosphere scatters light from the sun. The light from the sun looks white. But it is really made up of all the colors of the rainbow. Blue is scattered more than other colors when it hits particles and gases in our atmosphere because it travels as shorter, smaller waves.

Yup, there are either geeks working on this system who are too young for Zork, or I’m the first one to test that system.

You Asked: Do you have a good recipe for chocolate chip cookies?

Ann: Looks like I don’t know that yet. Please let Aetna know about this by clicking the “feedback” button below.

OK, let’s try getting personal, then:

You Asked: Are you married? Ann: I’m lucky to have a terrific virtual family, including a wonderful husband. Well, he’s wonderful most of the time: Even virtual people aren’t perfect! But I’d like to keep us on track. How may I help you navigate your Aetna Navigator secure member website?

Oooh, that pissed her off.  Let’s push our luck.

You Asked: How old are you? Ann: I am rather young, or as we say in the virtual world, new. But I like to think I have many years’ worth of knowledge. How may I help you?

Dare I ask her weight?

You Asked: How much do you weigh? Ann: As a virtual assistant, I don’t have an actual body. But I think my creators deserve credit for making me appear pleasant and helpful. Let me help you navigate your Aetna Navigator secure member website.

Hey, I’m THE ONE ASKING THE QUESTIONS HERE!  That’s it. I’m out of here!

I Miss iPhone Tracking

Joseph Linaschke laments the loss of iPhone tracking:

It’s all a load of bull, frankly. Anyone carrying any cell phone is tracked by the cell phone companies anyway, and I don’t even subscribe to the notion that the real problem wasn’t “big government”, but the ability for your spouse to look on your computer and find where you’ve been. If you’re that worried about it, all you really need to do is enable that little check-box “encrypt iPhone backup” in iTunes and all your logs were locked up automatically. Anyway, it’s all a moot point now, since the most recent iPhone update gets rid of functionality. Which is a shame, because frankly, it’s cool!

I’m with him, actually. Looking at mine was pretty cool. I’m hardly a traveler, but I saw a couple of spokes in my travels that reminded me of specific trips. Fun stuff. Now, it’s all gone.

Another Reason to Love They Might Be Giants

TMBG just announced their new tour. Check out this stop:

10/1 Boston, MA – Berklee Performance Center (2 entirely different shows featuring songs from A-M at 6:30pm & songs from N-Z at 9pm)

Crazy. I love it. And if you wanted to hear “I Palindrome I” AND “We’re the Mesopotamians,” you need to go to both shows. I make no guarantee that they’ll play either, though.

(Additional detail is in their email alert, though not on their website.)

Egads, I love this song:

You Tubing with Christina Perri, Part 2

Christina Perri’s “Lovestrong” album hit virtual and physical stands this week. What better time for Part 2 of this series?

While touring around earlier this year, Perri did a brief show in Paris at a small club of some sort. Someone up close took video of the entire thing. Here, then, is a six song set. Pretty cool:

More videos after the break!

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