Reviews Ep. 2

Trying to stay on the writing train, so I’m releasing another round of reviews. It’ll be a similar format to the first episode; a fairly superficial inspection of something, and my subsequent opinions and impressions.

1. Alcamy

I’m reviewing this because I love the idea of open education; I am awestruck by the prospect of so many things that can be learned with just access to the internet.

The site has a few different taglines, the one I liked the most however was “curating the content of the web for learning.” The product is still in beta mode, so it’s a little rough around the edges, but I like the general premise that it’s an open platform for teaching and learning. Now, I’m sure there’ll be a mismatch of supply and demand across topics, but it’s not clear at this point how the team plans to overcome that challenge.

My kinds of classes!

The picture above features some of the newest classes on the site; I chose to take a look at the chatbot one, as the topic is of particular interest to me (I may take a peek at the blockchain one too). The course is built of different units, each with several components. Most units were under construction and didn’t have any content, but one did (although it was entirely composed of YouTube videos). Now, one could scoff at this, but even if the product is just a support structure built around content served elsewhere on the internet, it could serve a useful purpose as a curriculum builder.

In short, it’s far too early to tell if this site is worth bookmarking (I can’t say I’m optimistic; sorry!), but I did upvote it on Product Hunt and am considering trying to build a course for music production (if that is something you’d be interested in, leave a note).

2. Amazon Cash

I chose this product to review because hey, it’s Amazon, so there must be a good reason why they chose to build it, therefore it’s worth investigating.

The basic premise is simple: bring cash into a participating store, they upload it to your Amazon account. I only have a few points to make about it. First, this would’ve been super useful back when I worked at Coldstone and frequently had wads of singles on-hand. There’s other use cases I can imagine, but people who receive cash as part of their income seems like the main one.

My primary question is how is this money accounted for from a tax perspective? If my job pays me entirely in cash, and I deposit straight to my Amazon account, is that income reported to the government? I technically have to pay taxes on it, but I don’t see how that’s enforceable. I can see tech companies trying to sell new employees on “per diem” payments or something of the sort (to go buy lunch ostensibly) but instead getting deposited daily to Amazon, tax-free. Of course, same could go for anyone receiving cash tips or wages.

Jury is still out on this one; I don’t think it’s something I’ll use much, if at all, but I can see it being vital for some folks (and an interesting tax evasion tactic for others).

3. Lagunitas Davey Murray’s Best Scotch Ale

I chose a beer to review primarily to change things up, but also because it was really good!

I tend to love Lagunitas beers; no matter what the style or time of year, there’s almost always a little sumpin’ sumpin’ in my fridge.

This one was pretty unique, as scotch ale isn’t particularly common. It is, however, quite alcoholic and delicious; this particular incarnation weighs in at 9.5%. My wife described it as “a Lagunitas beer with a scotch ending,” which honestly is quite accurate, so I won’t bother to elaborate. If you don’t understand that description, send a note and I’ll write a review of just Lagunitas beers to give you some context. Or I could write more on beers in general.

Overall, this is my favorite type of beer; high ABV, lots of unique flavors and tastes, and an overall smoothness and drinkability. I give it 5/5 in a rare quantitative rating.

That’s all folks!

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