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Alexa

Alexa Tip: Keeping Tabs on New Skills

According to Amazon stats, there are roughly 1,000 new Alexa skills created every 7 days. That’s quite a huge chunk. And, like every other app store on the planet there are good skills and junk skills – including at least 50 fart sound skills. So, how does one stay informed of both the best skills and the newest skills? Jump out to the unofficial Alexa Skills Store (http://www.alexaskillstore.com/) and sign up for the weekly “Best New Skills” newsletter. And, while you’re there, bookmark the site as it does a much better than job organizing skills than Amazon’s own skill store. The site is new and there’s some pieces that need work, but its already more valuable locating new skills. Looking for an awesome, no-nonsense technical conference for IT Pr...

12 Hours of Free Beginning to Advanced Alexa Developer Lessons

“A Cloud Guru” is offering an introduction course for Alexa and an advanced skills kit course for Alexa. Beginning Alexa (5 hours, 12 lessons): https://acloud.guru/learn/intro-alexa-free Advanced Alexa Skills Kit (7 hours, 18 lessons): https://acloud.guru/learn/aws-advanced-alexa-skills-kit-free You’ll need to sign-up for a free “A Cloud Guru” account to gain access. Looking for an awesome, no-nonsense technical conference for IT Pros, Developers, and DevOps? IT/Dev Connections kicks off in San Francisco in 2017!

Amazon Launches an Alexa Skills Hackathon

Build a new voice-activated Alexa skill that makes life more enjoyable, organized, and / or convenient. To be eligible for prizes, skills must have passed certification by June 13, 2017, and be available in the Alexa Skills Store. This hackathon is open to: Individuals, and teams of individuals, who have reached the age of majority in their eligible jurisdiction of residence at the time of entry; and Organizations that, at the time of entry, have been duly organized or incorporated and validly exist, and employ 50 or fewer people Sign-up: Amazon Alexa Skills Challenge Looking for an awesome, no-nonsense technical conference for IT Pros, Developers, and DevOps? IT/Dev Connections kicks off in San Francisco in 2017!

Alexa Voice Support with the TP-Link Smart Plug Mini

I have several Alexa-enabled home automation products on the way to begin a slow, methodical project to test, review, and report for DIY’ers. One of the first items to show, provides one of the simplest, cheapest, and quickest ways to get started with home automation. The TP-Link Smart Plug Mini is a simple, Wi-Fi capable plug that plugs into any standard electrical outlet. The plug connects directly to your home Wi-Fi network where Alexa can find it and doesn’t require a master “hub” to work – which also means you’re not stuck with a single hub ecosystem and the costs that go along with that. Additionally, once linked to Alexa, these devices can be grouped by room, location, or any other preference. For example: “Alexa, turn off the lights in the ...

Alexa Devices and Amazon Chime Could Someday Power Your Concalls

Just a day after Amazon launched its Skype competitor, Chime (see our growing Chime coverage HERE), the Wall Street Journal is reporting that both Google and Amazon may be working on delivering VOIP capabilities for their voice AI devices. Some sites have gone as far as to read that maybe Google and Amazon will launch their own phones services for the devices, but that’s really not a sound read. More likely is that both will give their devices the ability to send and receive voice to used essentially as speakerphones. Amazon originally faltered on its attempts to lure the public into using its own handsets, but with the consumer world going crazy over Alexa devices and the timely unveil of its Chime service, it seems only a very short stretch to make the capability available quickly....

Alexa Tip: Voice Commands to Work with Your Calendar

Amazon recently added the ability to link your Alexa account with Outlook.com calendars after offering only Google calendar access for the longest time. Read about how to connect Alexa to Outlook.com here: Configuring Alexa to Use Outlook Calendars The connection to Outlook.com has been a sought after, much-requested capability that Amazon has supplied. Many of you have been waiting for this feature, and so have held off using the calendar function of Alexa. So, what voice commands are available? Here’s the bulk of what you can do with the Alexa connection to both Outlook.com and Google calendar: Find out about your next event(s) “When is my next event?” “What’s on my calendar?” Find out about an event at a specific time or on a specific day “What’...

How Ford is Integrating Alexa into ALL of Its Cars

The implementation of Alexa into Ford’s automobile lineup should prove both interesting and valuable – if it works. Implementation is always the issue – even for great ideas. Ford used Microsoft’s Sync product in its vehicles, and the idea was promising, but the automaker ended up botching the implementation. If the company is successful, here’s a sampling of what to expect: Looking for an awesome, no-nonsense technical conference for IT Pros, Developers, and DevOps? IT/Dev Connections kicks off in San Francisco in 2017!

Alexa FAQ: Pairing a Bluetooth Speaker with Echo

Amazon is continually improving the Alexa experience – particularly for its own devices. The company recently enabled voice-activation for its Tap device, finally brought Outlook.com calendar integration, and now has also silently given its flagship device, the Amazon Echo, the ability to connect with Bluetooth speakers. The Echo already comes with a speaker that provides immersive 360 degree sound, a 2.5 inch woofer, and 2.0 inch tweeter for deep bass, crisp high notes. But for those where this configuration is still not enough, or want to fill an even larger room with music, Amazon is making the Echo an even more valuable choice. The Echo is available from Amazon for $179: Amazon Echo Looking for an awesome, no-nonsense technical conference for IT Pros, Developers, and DevOps? IT/D...

Configuring Alexa to Use Outlook and Office 365 Calendars

A recent update for Alexa has added the built-in ability to connect Alexa with Outlook.com or Office 365 – giving users the ability to use the Outlook.com or Office 365 calendar for making appointments and listening to upcoming tasks. Prior to the update, only Google calendars were available. Here’s how to quickly set this up: In the Alexa app or on the web (http://alexa.amazon.com), open the Settings menu. Go to Calendar. Locate the Microsoft area and tap or click to initiate the process of linking your Outlook.com or Office 365 account to Alexa services. Once the linking is complete, you’ll see the various calendars hosted by Outlook.com or Office 365 and be able to choose them. You’ll also now see how many Outlook.com or Office 365 calendars are in use, be able to choose between the dif...

Alexa FAQ: Number of Working Alexa Accounts

Alexa offers the ability to assign different accounts to Alexa devices, allowing family members to switch between those accounts using voice. This offers a certain level of customization, allowing different family members to have their own shopping lists or music playlists. However, there is a limit to the number of accounts that can be added to a single Alexa account. Currently the max number of accounts is 2 and they both have to be part of the same Amazon Prime membership. Looking for an awesome, no-nonsense technical conference for IT Pros, Developers, and DevOps? IT/Dev Connections kicks off in San Francisco in 2017!

Does the Recent Alexa Tap Voice Activation Update Make it an Echo Replacement?

We’re a Dot, Echo, Tap family – meaning we own all three devices. Obviously, the biggest difference between the Dot and the Echo and Tap is the speaker. The Dot has a minimal speaker which is great for voice interaction, but not great for playing music in a large room. However, you can pair it with a Bluetooth speaker or connect to the audio port. The Echo is the monster in the room, providing a 2.5 inch woofer and 2.0 inch tweeter for deep bass, crisp high notes, and very ample sound levels. The Tap, while it provides a great speaker all its own (dual 1.5 inch drivers and dual passive radiators for bass extension), was not originally released as a voice-activated device like the other two. The Tap matched its name – you had to “tap” a button to make Alexa listen to you. A recent firmware ...

Cortana Asks, Alexa Answers

Cortana asks Alexa questions and Alexa provides the conversational output. Looking for an awesome, no-nonsense technical conference for IT Pros, Developers, and DevOps? IT/Dev Connections kicks off in San Francisco in 2017!