Month: May 2018

Tip: Verifying the Echo Device Has the Latest Firmware Installed

It happens quite often where someone talks online about a nifty new Alexa capability they discovered and then several readers respond that they don’t have that same feature. This is usually due to a couple things. The feature isn’t available to the geographical region. Amazon usually rolls out features to the U.S. first and then begins delivering to other countries/regions later on. Amazon is just starting to roll out the feature and the update hasn’t reached the particular devices yet. Amazon fans out the updates to ensure full coverage but also to minimize Internet bandwidth usage. More often, though, is that the devices simply haven’t updated to the latest firmware.   Forcing a firmware update for an Echo device is pretty simple. You simply pull the power pl...

Tip: Configuring Quiet Mode for Nighttime Hours for Alexa

Most devices these days have the ability to set “Quiet Mode.” This puts the device into a mode that won’t shutter a person awake with loud noises from alerts. For smartphones, it quiets text messages and other notifications. Echo devices do not have a “Quiet Mode”, though its possible Amazon is working on bringing this feature someday. However, using Routines, you can configure your own quiet hours. Do this… 1. In the Alexa mobile app (Routines are not supported in the web app yet), go to Routines. 2. Add a schedule (time and repeat) for the routine that matches your bed time. 3. Add the Action of adjusting the Volume. 4. Assign the Routine to the specific Echo device. Keep in mind, you’ll need to create a Routine for each Echo device for which you...

Tip: Alexa Will Now Tell You Her Volume Level

It may seem like something that should have always existed, but unfortunately, Alexa could not tell you what volume level the Echo device was set at. This lack of capability has caused moments of hilarity but also moments of sheer terror and soiled britches. Imagine asking Alexa a question and having her voice her response at volume 10 in a small, echo-ey room. Or, issuing a command and thinking that the device is either turned off or not working because the last person that used it set the volume too low to hear. Amazon has now rolled out the simple feature of being able to ask Alexa the device’s volume level. Ask… “Alexa, what’s the volume?“ She responds… “This device is at volume 5“ This may sound like a simple feature, but its useful and ...

Tip: Using Alexa to Tell if there’s a Power Outage or the Internet is Offline at Home

The Spring and Summer months can bring powerful storms, which ultimately can lead to power outages or downed ISP data lines. Did you know that Alexa can let you know if there’s a power outage at home, or that the Internet is down or offline remotely? Using the Alexa app, go into Settings – Alexa Devices. Now look to see if those devices are listed as online or offline. Of course, an offline device could also mean that Amazon’s services are down or someone turned the Alexa-enabled device off, but connected with raging storms in the area, there’s a good chance its weather related. It doesn’t take a master sleuth to add two and two together. You’ll at least know what to expect when you arrive back home and be prepared for what you might need to do, like pic...

Tip: See Where Your Company’s Office 365 Data is Stored by Geography

Depending on your company’s geographical location, there will be certain data rules that must be observed based on residency requirements and regulations. Microsoft supplies a web-based tool to allow you to determine where you company’s data might exist. Link: Where is your data located?   Looking for an awesome, no-nonsense technical conference for IT Pros, Developers, and DevOps? IT/Dev Connections kicks off in Dallas, Texas in 2018!

Toshiba’s Alexa-enabled Fire TV Edition Now Available for Pre-order

Announced late last year, Toshiba is the next manufacturer to take on Amazon’s Fire TV system with Alexa capability. Today, through Amazon, Best Buy is beginning to take pre-orders for all models (43-inches, 50-inches, 55-inches). Deets: Toshiba 4K UHD Smart TV – Fire TV Edition delivers true-to-life 4K Ultra HD picture quality with over 8 million pixels for stunning clarity, deep contrast, and vivid colors. With the Fire TV experience built-in, enjoy tens of thousands of channels, apps, and Alexa skills, including Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, HBO, SHOWTIME, STARZ, and more. Fire TV Edition seamlessly integrates live over-the-air TV and streaming channels on a unified home screen (HD antenna required). Easily control your TV with the included Voice Remote with Alexa—plus, launch apps,...

Microsoft Hosting the Windows Server Summit on June 26, 2018

To help celebrate 25 years of Windows Server and the launch of Windows Server 2019 later this year, Microsoft is hosting a Windows Server Summit virtual event. The virtual event is a half-day gathering, bringing information, presentations, and Q&A covering Microsoft’s hybrid server approach. Go here to read more and “save the date”: Windows Server Summit     Looking for an awesome, no-nonsense technical conference for IT Pros, Developers, and DevOps? IT/Dev Connections kicks off in Dallas, Texas in 2018!

Tip: Listen to What Alexa Has Recorded

After the last week of hubbub around the story where Alexa forwarded recorded conversations to a contact, many are wondering exactly what Alexa might have recorded of their own conversations. Amazon provides the ability for customers to listen and review the recordings. To locate them, either in the Alexa mobile app or on the web, go to… Settings – History Here you’ll find the log that Alexa keeps, which includes recorded commands. You can sift through the list, select an item, and listen to the recording. Looking for an awesome, no-nonsense technical conference for IT Pros, Developers, and DevOps? IT/Dev Connections kicks off in Dallas, Texas in 2018!

Tip: Dictation Everywhere in Windows 10 April 2018 Update

Microsoft has improved the dictation capabilities of Windows in the latest feature update. While running Windows 10 April 2018 Update (1803) or better and a PC with a microphone, and in any app or text field, press the Windows key + H on the keyboard. This brings up the dictation bar at the top of the screen and you can just begin talking. When done, simply close the dictation bar with your mouse or tap of the finger, or say: “Stop Dictating”   Looking for an awesome, no-nonsense technical conference for IT Pros, Developers, and DevOps? IT/Dev Connections kicks off in Dallas, Texas in 2018!

The Resurrection of the myITforum Email Lists

For those in the  know, the company that owns myITforum had a severe outage in February, in which a lot of data had to reconstructed. myITforum was included in this outage. Most the site came back in the short term, but we’ve been working to put back together other areas of the site. One of the more treasured areas of myITforum is the email discussion lists that have been maintained for close to 20 years. These lists have provided literally tens of thousands with technical solutions 24×7, but also helped build strong community and friendships that have transcended the online world. This has shown itself in conferences like the Microsoft Management Summit (which has been merged into Ignite) and IT/Dev Connections. Our technical teams have promised to continue sorting out the emai...

Alexa Skill of the Week: CubeSolver

Each week, we take a look at new and important Alexa skills you might want to consider enabling for your Alexa device. Amazon continues to improve Alexa with its own updates, but skills are software components that allow Alexa users to extend functionality across all Alexa-enabled devices in use for very specific functions. This week’s skill: CubeSolver Description: This skill will tell you how to solve any 3×3 Cube in as few a moves as possible, normally just 20. Real world use: Growing up I had memorized all the moves to solve the Rubik’s Cube. I could impress my friends and family by solving the puzzle box in less than 30 seconds. Yeah, I was cool – or at least I thought I was. These days, I can’t remember those steps – and quite honestly seems a waste of my time to go back and mem...

Amazon Rolls Out Always-listening Alexa in Mobile Music App Update

Amazon today is rolling out an update to its Music app on mobile devices. The update brings always-on Alexa capability to the app. The app has to be running for Alexa to hear commands, but the capability works extremely well. The feature is boasted as a way to use voice commands to find and play music and use music controls, but amazingly, the feature also works with other Alexa commands. Users can utilize Alexa in the Music app for everything an Amazon Echo speaker can do, except Calling and Messaging. The feature can be turned on and off in the app’s Settings. Amazon Music for iOS Amazon Music for Android Looking for an awesome, no-nonsense technical conference for IT Pros, Developers, and DevOps? IT/Dev Connections kicks off in Dallas, Texas in 2018!

  • 1
  • 2
  • 7