Crunchy Thoughts

The thoughts are crunchier here.

access denied; an end-user’s lament

In the Harry Potter books there is a potion called Amortentia. A complicated potion, it smells different to each individual according to what attracts them. Were I to magically be transported to Hogwarts and come upon Amortentia, I always imagine it would smell like Steven after he’s mowed the lawn, old books, and the computer room from elementary school.

Oh, how I loved our weekly visit to the computer room. The lab was decked with an array of Apple IIe systems, external floppy disk drives, and a dot matrix printer. Our goal was to type out our weekly spelling words, and if, IF, we got that finished in time, we could play some Oregon Trail.

As I got older, the computer systems got better — in middle school, there was one with a color screen! — and by high school I became well-versed in Windows 3.1 via my dad’s office. Then things began to fly.

Bam! Windows 95.

Bam! Pentium processors!

Bam! Internet!!

Bam! Broadband connection!!!

And as I soaked in the technology I mused, “Boy, I hope these things have a bit more control over them once I’ve got my own kids to deal with.” There was no such thing as restricted access in 2000.

Now I do have my own kids to deal with. Thankfully the parental controls have come along well and there is not much issue with that . . . it’s other restrictions that make me want to pull my hair out and write a blog post.

Steven and I have been mainly Apple people since circa 2004. “Oh-ho!” I hear you chortle. I hear you, Jason; I know it’s you. “Apple must be giving her fits!” But it’s not Apple; not just them, anyway. Apple gets a lot of things right, but Steven and I are customers of other companies too, believe it or not. So when our Apple Music didn’t play well with our Amazon Echo we got earlier this year — Apple doesn’t like to work on non-Apple things — we switched to Amazon’s Music system. Same music, same price, why not?

And it’s been fine.

But as the kids have gotten older, they want their music, too. That took a while to finagle because their very out-of-date 1st generation iPads did not work with Amazon Music, so updates were in order. Part of Lydia’s birthday was receiving Steven’s older phone, so now she has her music. We updated Sam’s seven-year-old iPad with Steven’s five-year-old iPad — the kids were using it all the time anyway.

Here is where it moves from hardware to software territory. Amazon, like a lot of content providers, have ways to let you share your media with others in your family, but Amazon has an odd way of going about it. Sometimes it is like their family-centric account connections were created by an alien race who has observed humans for about six weeks. You want to share your Prime account with other members of your household? Great! You can build your Amazon Household with two Adult accounts and up to four Kid accounts; share all the things!

Except!

You can’t share Amazon Music with a Kids account. Why? Beats me! Maybe they’re afraid of bad words . . . even though they can run across the same thing or worse through Amazon Prime Video. But nevertheless . . . no Amazon Music with Kids accounts.

The best solution for this is to make your kids their very own bonafide Amazon Account that you can then share your Amazon Music subscription. Just teach the kids to avoid anything marked [Explicit].

But!

In order to do this you also have to share your credit card access and purchaseability with that account. But that’s kinda okay, because there’s other ways to lock that down, at least on the iPad. And so we did.

And that worked for a while, but remember the upgrade from the seven-year-old iPad to the five-year-old one? Well, to put it in Sam’s words, “Man, this thing lags like crazy!”

Well, Apple’s biggest drawback is their prices. They are a proud people. So we figured if we would have to upgrade the five-year-old iPad, let’s get an Amazon Fire instead; it’s the economical thing to do. And it’s Amazon! With Amazon Music! And Amazon Prime Video! It should all work together seamlessly because it’s all the same thing!

But wait!

The Amazon Fire comes in, I get it all set up and I’m immediately dealt with some frustrating choices. If we go with the Kid route and set up the device as a Kid’s device, there is no Amazon Music. So that choice is out. Sam has gotta have his music.

Okay, next choice: set up the device under Sam’s Amazon account and lock it all down, parental-wise. There are still a couple of frustrating options. First, doing this means there is no access to Amazon Prime because Sam’s account is an Adult account (in order to access Amazon Music) and our Amazon Household already has two Amazon Adults (me and Steven). Secondly, if we use the Parental Controls to prevent Sam buying all the Godzilla movies at twenty bucks a pop, we lose the Alexa system. This isn’t the absolute end of the world, but I was pleased with the idea of Sam having his very own Alexa that could answer all his complicated math questions.

So here is what I am looking at:

Kid Account = Prime Videos but not Amazon Music

Adult Account = Amazon Music but no Prime Videos

Parental Controls = no Alexa

This is all with the same Amazon services! I’m not even trying to bring in Apple Music, Spotify, Netflix or Disney into it!

But the Kindle Fire kinda smells like that elementary school computer room, so at least I have that going for me.

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