Tech Tuesdays – New Tech Toy
This holiday I bought myself an Amazon Echo Dot, the voice-activate cloud-connected personal assistant/speaker. My main purpose was to be able to listen to music in the study without having to connect my phone. Since I already had a Bluetooth speaker, I decided on the Dot which has a smaller footprint than the Echo. Right out of the box I was able to pair it to my speaker. After downloading the app to my phone, I was able to connect Alexa to my Amazon Music and Pandora apps. I later learned that it will play iHeart and TuneIn stations without signing in to those apps.
From that app I also configured my favorite sports teams, setup which news briefings I wanted to hear and defined my home address and work address so Alexa could provide traffic updates for my morning commute. After a brief voice training session, Alexa was ready to take my commands, the first of which was, “Alexa, Play Jeff Bradshaw station on Pandora” to which she responded, “Getting your Jeff Bradshaw station from Pandora” and then proceeded to play it. While reading in the study, I have asked Alexa for the weather forecast, what time Rogue One was playing at the theater and when my Eagles play again.
One of the best features Alexa has is the ability to view the history of the commands you send to it. In history, you also have the chance to tell Alexa if she did “what you wanted” or not. This surely helps to fine-tune the system.
Once I became comfortable with Alexa, I enabled Amazon purchasing. This can be tricky because Alexa will not distinguish between voices so anyone within range can place an order, however, I have setup a four digit confirmation code which only I know. I may share it with my wife this month.
The last cool thing I did with Alexa was connect it to my WeMo switches that power a few lights in my home. I gained plenty of cool points when we had friends over and I said to Alexa, “Alexa, turn the living room light on” and with a simple “OK”, she responded on cue.
I really enjoy my Amazon Echo Dot and look forward to expanding its features. My daughter gave me a book entitled, “The 189 Funniest Things to Ask Alexa!” I can’t wait to hear her responses. Until then, I will continue to use my go-to line after a hard day of work, “Alexa, Play Cranes in the Sky by Solange”