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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Amazon Echo Setup Enhancing Alexa

Virtual Assistants

It isn't Big Brother that's watching you, but it just may be Big Sister. Our lives got more natural when we were introduced to digital assistants by the good folks at Amazon, Google, Apple and Microsoft. Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant and a host other female voices answer our questions on nearly everything, even silly or tricky ones. The latter get appropriately correct responses, none of them X-rated, despite the question.

Image Source: PCMag.com

Amazon Echo Smart Speakers

Amazon's new Echo Smart Speakers are your link to Alexa, that beautiful assistant who will answer every request (well, most of them anyway). These smart speakers work with the app you have downloaded into your smartphone: Android, iOS, Amazon Fire or other.

Amazon Alexa Setup

The helpful assistant will manage more than just playing music or answering your questions. Alexa will also control your empowered home devices like thermostat, lighting or appliances.

Brief Setup Instructions

  • Take the Echo out of the box, remove all wrappings.
  • Connect the power supply.
  • Echo will boot and instruct you on app setup.
  • Install the app on your phone from the app store. (Download Alexa for iOS or Download Alexa for Android)
  • Connect the smartphone to the Echo network.
  • Turn on the app and select Set Up to connect your new Echo.
  • At the prompt, sign in with Amazon username and password
  • Select the wi-fi connection and enter your password.
  • Alexa is now in control!
  • Sign into Amazon. If you have no account, set one up.
  • Go to your phone Settings menu and look for the Echo in Wi-Fi networks. It will appear as Echo-2JZ or a similar ID. No password is required to connect.
  • Go back to the Alexa app and choose Settings. Select New Device.
  • At the prompt select your wi-fi network, enter the password and Echo will connect. The phone will connect automatically.
  • Default wake-up word is "Alexa." You may change this in Settings in the Alexa app.
  • Begin, "Alexa, what is the weather?" or anything else, since this is a wake-up.
  • Set up your location in the Alexa app by swiping right to show map, tap Settings, tap Echo and then set the location and correct time.

Set up your location in the Alexa app by swiping right to show map, tap Settings, tap Echo and then set the location and correct time.

In the main menu, there are a "things to try" that you should review. Remember, when giving instructions to Alexa, be specific about what device you want to address: "Alexa, turn on the living room lights." not, "Turn on the lights."

Amazon has loaded Alexa with a lot of fun responses to silly questions (even the most mature of us will attempt to flummox Alexa with foolishness). Just ask some of the following:
  • Alexa, tell me some amazon echo tips
  • Alexa, where is Siri?
  • Alexa, what do you smoke?
  • Alexa, tell me a joke.
  • Alexa, why did the chicken cross the road?
  • Alexa, how do I get rid of a dead body?
  • Alexa, where are my keys (ask this twice)?
  • Alexa, will you marry me?
  • Alexa, what are you wearing?
  • Alexa, how old are you?
  • Alexa, where do you live?
  • Alexa, give me a kiss.
  • Alexa, tell me a secret.
  • Alexa, do aliens exist?
  • Alexa, get me a beer.
  • Alexa, are you a robot?
  • Alexa, what are the three laws of robotics?
  • Alexa, thank you.
  • Alexa, I want the truth.
  • Alexa, which came first; the chicken or the egg?
  • Alexa, what's the magic word?
  • Alexa, sing me a song.
  • Alexa, is there life on Mars?
  • Alexa, is there a Santa Claus?
  • Alexa, what is the meaning of life?

And from Star Wars fans:
  • Alexa, who is the best Jedi?
  • Alexa, can you talk like Yoda?
  • Alexa, do you like Star Wars?
  • Alexa, aren't you a little tall for a stormtrooper?
  • Alexa, what's the Jedi Code?
  • Alexa, I am your father.
  • Alexa, tell me a Princess Leia quote.
  • Alexa, may the Force be with you.
  • Alexa, May the fourth be with you.
  • Alexa, When is Star Wars Day?
  • Alexa, In what order should I watch Star Wars?
  • Alexa, who is Luke's father?
  • Alexa, tell me a Star Wars joke.

Right now, if you ask Alexa for a "story with a fairytale ending," you will hear a poem about Prince Harry and Meghan's wedding (May 19, 2018).

Pricing on the Amazon Echo 2 varies, with one major retailer showing one at $179.99 and another at $221.99. Amazon has the best price at $99.99 with no delivery costs so you might want to buy Amazon Echo.

Enabling Additional Alexa Skills

Swipe right in the app to see the menu. Tap on Skills to see an app store where you can browse the menu and select the apps you want to try. The Skills have user reviews to aid with your selection. The Skills apps are free of charge, so select all you want, and later you may disable those you won't use.

Some Notes on Alexa's Peculiarities

Alexa can only handle one command at a time, so don't try multiple ones in the same action request. For multiple requests, ask each one when the previous request is completed.

With multiple Echos, when you utter a request, the nearest one will respond. If two are equidistant, both may respond, and you will then have to tell one to stop.  Sort of like if you have two or more wives or husbands.

The most popular Bluetooth tracker is Tile, but Alexa doesn't work with Tile. She does work with TrackR so you can link your account and Alexa will find any device you have Tile attached to.


Bottom Line

Amazon has programmed a lot of features into Alexa.  The Echo is a great way to access those features, but a visit to Amazon's site where an extensive list is available would be smart. The managing of your smart home devices is helpful and can be done remotely. Amazon's pricing for Echo is so reasonable, shopping anywhere else is probably a waste of time. Try this and see how good and perfect it is. Perhaps you will have the best life on it.                                                                                   

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