So I have been using my Amazon Echo for over two weeks now. It took some getting used to with how to phrase your question or request allowing Alexa to understand you, but I am sold. I use this piece of tech more and more each day.
The first couple of days I just used it to listen to music and I have to say the quality that comes out of it makes my ears hum with pleasure. As I started to explore I was pleasantly surprised to find some really cool things I can do with it. I have listed below some of the commands I use on a daily basis with my Echo.
Listen to my Spotify account. I love spotify and the music sounds great coming out of my Echo! You can also listen to your Amazon Prime Music, Pandora, iHeartRadio, and Tunein music as well as listen to your Audible and Amazon Kindle books!
To do list… If I have some tasks that I need to do and want list to show up on my phone in the Alexa app, all I have to do is ask “Alexa add “X” to my to do list” and it is done!
Shopping list… Just like the “To Do” list I can ask Alexa to add “X” to my shopping list and it shows up on my phone in the Alexa app.
Alarms… You can set up multiple alarms just by asking “Alexa set an alarm for “X:XXam” and your Echo will set an alarm! (A side note: as it stand the alarm is only good one time and you have to turn it back on each night. I would like to see the ability to set an alarm and repeat it on certain days.)
Timers… I have to say that this is one of my most favorite abilities of the Echo. I can start cooking something come up stairs and ask Alexa to start a timer for “X” minutes.
Weather… All you have to do is ask. For local you just have to ask “Alexa what is my local weather?” and she will give your current and nighttime weather. You can also ask Echo what the weather is in another city and it will answer with the weather for that city.
News… You can setup “Flash Briefings” and what you ask your Echo for the news it will play you the recorded news. I have NPR as my briefing and is pretty good at giving me the highlights of what is going on.
Control Wifi enabled household appliances, thermostats and lights. At this time I do not have any of these but hope to try it out in the near future. You can check them out here!
To find your history of what you have asked your Echo all you have to do is open up the Alexa app and you are greeted with it. If you want to manage any of the lists, alarms, or timers just click on the menu icon on the upper right hand corner and it will open up a menu giving you the option to view or edit anything you wish on your Echo. This where you can connect your music and book accounts as well as changing your settings for the Echo.
If you do find it difficult to see what you want on your phone there is an option to allow you to access that same page from a web browser. As long as your Echo is connected to your network via your WiFi you can open the following address in your browser giving you an easier way to access the site. alexa.amazon.com
Combined with the Alexa App for my Android phone the device is very powerful indeed.
So as you can see it is more than just a speaker it actually has kept me from burning my dinner, over sleeping, and forgetting things at the grocery store!
Setting up the Amazon Echo was super easy…. I mean a monkey could do it…. well maybe not that easy. First thing you have to do is to plug the Echo into a wall with the included power adapter. Once you do the light ring on the Echo will turn blue, and then Orange where you will here Alexa’s voice for the first time greeting you. This is where the fun begins….
Next you need to download the free Alexa app for your chosen device. To download the Alexa app, go to the app store on your mobile device and search for “Alexa app,”.
You can also go to https://alexa.amazon.com from Safari, Chrome, Firefox, or Internet Explorer (10 or higher) on your Wi-Fi enabled computer. Your device operating system will need to be Fire OS 2.0 or higher, Android 4.0 or higher, iOS 7.0 or higher.
Once you have the application installed it is time to connect your device to it. This is easy just open the Alexa app and then follow the instruction. The first thing it will do is connect your Echo to your local Wi-Fi. Once that is done it is time to start speaking to Alexa. The Alexa app has a nifty little setup process called “Voice Training” that gives you 25 statements to read to Echo to allow it to learn you speech patterns and help Alexa understand you better.
That is it… Alexa is ready to listen to your request. Just say for instance “Alexa play “Bring Back the 80’s from Spotify.” and she will respond with a confirmation and then start your request. I know do not judge me I still love to listen to “Karma Chameleon”!
Next time we will delve into my first couple of days of using the Echo!
I have been looking the Amazon Echo ($179.00) for sometime. I have gone back and forth on just how useful this tool would be in my household. I decided to take the plunge…. Today it arrived in all its glory!
When I opened the box I was greeted by the attractive packing. As you can guess it did not take long for me to bust out this puppy so I could take it for a test drive.
As I started to manhandle the box the first thing I noticed was the weight. I mean this thing weighs in at 4 pounds! This guy is a sturdy piece of equipment and the weight shows it.
As I opened the inner box I found the Echo loving tucked into a cozy little nook. I gently pulled it out and set it aside so I could remove the other contents. Which included the power supply, setup instruction, & a quick start guide.
As many know I am a bit of a freak when it comes to my electronics and with the money spent on this device I decided to purchase a Fintie Protective Case for Echo ($17.99). It snapped on very easy and is wraps the Echo tightly. Not only does it have a strap to slip your hand through and secure it from being dropped it has a separate bottom cover to protect the Echo from being set down into something less than desirable. There are so many color choices that anyone can find something that tickles the fancy. I chose purple because, well it is my favorite color and I am a Baltimore Raven’s fan!
There are two minor things I questioned….
The weight of the Echo makes it hard to take with you, whether it be the office or someplace else.
There is no battery. The Echo has to be plugged in all the time for it to work. (I did some research and found this nifty solution by Echo Battery Boot that tackles this deficiency. They are running special pricing ($69.99 12-14hr, 59.99 9-10hr, 49.99 6-7hr.) for those that pre-order. I think you should really consider doing so if you want your Echo to be portable.)
Tomorrow I will go over the setup and my first day using it.
As most of you know Apple announced not one, not two, but three new iterations of their flagship product the iPhone Tuesday September 9th. These with be the iPhone 5S, iPhone 6 ($199 – $399), and iPhone 6 Plus($299 – $499).
No do not get me wrong I love my nerdy devices just like the rest of you, but I just do not understand why everyone goes nuts every year over what appears to me to be the same product in a different shell. I know, I know there are differences and I am sure some of you iPhyles will know just what they are. But lets be honest are they important to to warrant your blind faith to wait in lines for hours for a piece of equipment? I mean the first 6 months they are working out all the bugs, leaving you for the next 6 months chomping at the bit for their next big release announcement. I just do not get it… I am afraid I never will…
What I thought was the highlight of Apples announcements was the Apple Watch ($349)! I mean look at how sweet looking they actually are! I just not sure it will be able to revive the need to wear a watch. I guess time will tell!
I will an eye on the developments of this cool device. I mean lets be honest the Dick Tracy cosplayers will finally be able to complete there costumes with a watch that can actually do the job and even more!
As some of you know I am part of a awesome group of people called the “Guardians of the Community”. We offer our first-aid, first response, and safety expertise to different local festivals. One of our pieces of gear is a nite-ize arm band that illuminates red. This allows us to be seen at night and designates us as a Guardian. So earlier in the year I saw a kick-starter for the something similar in belt form and thought how awesome that would be to use at festivals. They called it Halo Belt 2.0 and marketed for use as a safety piece of equipment for bikers, joggers, or anybody else that would be out at night and needs to be visible. So today I went to the mailbox and what was waiting for me? My red Halo Belt!
One of the cool things about this belt is that it is chargeable through a Micro USB connection (cable included). I am impressed on how sturdy the construction of this 2″ wide 3M reflective adjustable elastic belt is. The illumination strip is 16″ long which comes in 3 different colors red, blue, & green and can either flash or stay solid. It is weather proof and fits up to a 46″ waist. Right out of the box it is bright and consistent along its length.
I was barking mad when I went to their site to find that they are now making dog collars as well to keep your canine companion visible when you decided to walk them at night!
So if you are out prowling at night and want to be seen I recommend looking into getting one of these. I hope you will check it out!
I have used music in the background of my gaming sessions to give them some ambiance. During a Pathfinder panel at GenCon last year I heard about a piece of software that had promise it was called Syrinscape. This piece of software allows you purchase different sound sets that you can use to set the mood of an encounter. For instance they have a “Dragon Battle”, “Bugbear Battle”, “Witchworld”, and “Brindol Town”. There are many more to choose from (23 to be exact) and more coming out each month!
How does the software work? Well as you can see above, it is like a soundboard. Choosing a sound set displays what scenarios are available to you. When you choose a scenario like the “Busy Market Day” it will begin to play, melding all the tracks together continuously. You can set the volume or turn off and on any of the tracks giving you control of what is playing. A feature I like is when you turn it off or pause the scenarios does not abruptly stop but tapers off . Another feature is you can also choose to use sound bytes to play during the playback. These are located at the top of the sound board (see above). Brindol Town includes a roster’s crow, a cow’s moo, and a horses snort. Also at the bottom you will find other sound bytes, like a Lightning spell or a fireball spell. You get the picture.
So when I opened Syrinscape today to see what was new I noticed something that made be giggle with glee! They are now offering sound sets for Pathfinder’s – Rise of the Runelords adventure path! The first bundle is out and has been made for the Burnt Offerings adventure. I love this so much and cannot wait to run the adventure path with a new group of players so I can use them! To see it in action and hear what the “Glassworks” sound set is all about you can go to their YouTube page!
In closing this is a great piece of software that delivers. If there was one thing I would change it would be the ability to make my own sound set. But these guys have that down to a science!
I was contemplating what I should write as my first “official” blog and after thinking about it I figured running a blog is a pretty nerdy thing to do so why not write about that!
When I decided to start this blog I had no idea on how much work it was going to be. Now do not get me wrong I am committed to the success of talkingnerdy.org. I was just under some silly misconceptions on what it takes to get one up and running and recognized. How much work you ask? Well it all depends on what it is you wish to use it for. If you are using it as a journal or diary then there is very little to be done past setting up a account on your blogging platform of choice and sending a link to everyone you wish to share it with.
However if you strive to fulfill your narcissistic desires of conquering the world then there is much much more to consider, create, and implement.
Decide what it is you wish to blog about. Flora and fauna of Azeroth is a good topic.
Research the many blogging platforms. You can find a good guide at lifehacker.com.
Find a place to host your creation. (some platforms offer free hosting)
Register a domain name or create an alias that conveys your blogging concept. For example azerothlife.org has a good ring to it.
Create artwork to make your blog look pretty. I mean who wouldn’t like a picture of a murloc?
Setup a presence on social media sites. Don’t forget to post that murloc banner on your Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ account!
Have a road-map of topics you wish to blog about in advance. I would suggest having at least 2 weeks worth of blog topics. Anybody up for a 14 part expose on murloc husbandry?
Train a couple of pets… ahem… I mean recruit a couple friends to contribute so you do not have to do all the work yourself.
Annoy your friends and family with frequent posts about the blog to feed you ever growing ego.
As you can see there is a lot of work that goes into a successful blog and I hope Talking Nerdy finds just a little bit of success.
Until next time Nerds! For the Horde!
Richard Keen, Jr.