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Amazon Echo. Basically Siri for your home 2.
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ajprice
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Dec 28, 2016, 12:00 PM
 
Continued from because http://forums.macnn.com/89/macnn-lou...iri-your-home/ is old and unbumpable.

I had an Echo Dot for Christmas. Anyone else had an Echo / Dot / Google Home from Santa? I've got a soundboard speaker for the TV coming tomorrow, it has bluetooth, so that's the HiFi / radio situation sorted. Today I've mostly been saying stupid things about pod bay doors, dead parrots and Chuck Norris. The news report 'flash briefing' is handy if you keep it to one or two sources, otherwise it does go on a bit. Set Spotify to the standard music player. That's about it so far.

Turn voice ordering off though, in another forum somebody's kid managed to order a bike and confirm it, he cancelled the order in time, and he's not sure why it didn't have more security.

It'll be much easier if you just comply.
     
subego
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Dec 28, 2016, 12:53 PM
 
I got an Echo awhile back. I haven't set it up yet, but this thread tempts me.
     
subego
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Dec 28, 2016, 01:08 PM
 
That wasn't too painful. Well, it was painfully loud until I realized where the volume was.

Ooooh... shiny glow-ring!
     
subego
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Dec 28, 2016, 01:13 PM
 
Alexa does not have the skill "meow meow meow meow meow".
     
Chongo
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Dec 28, 2016, 02:25 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Alexa does not have the skill "meow meow meow meow meow".
Siri can beatbox, rap, and sing. I haven't asked her to recite poetry yet.
"The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church" Saint Tertullian, 197 AD
     
subego
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Dec 28, 2016, 02:34 PM
 
I never understood the appeal of her song "Would You Like Me To Search For That On The Web".
     
Chongo
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Dec 28, 2016, 03:32 PM
 
It might take a few time. Sing me song takes a few requests. Siri will tell you: "I can't sing,"' "would rather leave it to the pros," "you wouldn't like it'" but eventually Siri complies. (OK, if you insist) It's more a recitation.
"The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church" Saint Tertullian, 197 AD
     
The Final Dakar
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Dec 28, 2016, 06:25 PM
 
I'd love one to control my hue lights from voice, but the price is too steep for a single use.
     
ghporter
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Dec 28, 2016, 07:28 PM
 
I am uncomfortable with anything that's "always listening to me." Not paranoid and "Big Brotherish," but just not comfortable. It bugged me in Star Trek, and it bugs me IRL.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
The Final Dakar
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Dec 28, 2016, 08:31 PM
 
Yeah I'm not fond of it in a corporate big brother kind of way.
     
subego
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Dec 28, 2016, 08:33 PM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
I am uncomfortable with anything that's "always listening to me." Not paranoid and "Big Brotherish," but just not comfortable. It bugged me in Star Trek, and it bugs me IRL.
There's an "out of sight, out of mind" aspect which helps me get over it, but this creeped me out for whatever reason...



The play button does what one would imagine, and I get to hear myself saying stupid things to a machine whenever the mood strikes.
     
subego
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Dec 28, 2016, 08:41 PM
 
     
subego
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Dec 28, 2016, 10:19 PM
 
Originally Posted by The Final Dakar View Post
I'd love one to control my hue lights from voice, but the price is too steep for a single use.
You can buy shit with it, too.

Unfortunately, controlling my lights and buying may be my main uses. Pandora and IHateRadio would be awesome, but there's no good way to output it to AirTunes, which is what my audio setup revolves around.

As far as other stuff goes, there's a hack where you can trick it into thinking your Mac is a Hue Bridge, and then have it trigger AppleScript, but it seems like way more work than it's worth.
     
subego
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Dec 28, 2016, 10:58 PM
 
I asked it to do a temperature conversion for me, and because I didn't talk fast enough, I was told how many radians it is outside.
     
subego
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Dec 29, 2016, 01:28 AM
 
I'm debating whether I want to keep it named Alexa or change it to Echo. Since I see it as a home automation device, it's a little weird thinking of it as a person. I'm talking to an apartment.

Doesn't bother me with Siri. My phone is much closer to an individual.
     
subego
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Dec 29, 2016, 01:29 AM
 
Welcome to subego's Alexa blawg.
     
ajprice  (op)
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Dec 29, 2016, 02:04 AM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
I'm debating whether I want to keep it named Alexa or change it to Echo. Since I see it as a home automation device, it's a little weird thinking of it as a person. I'm talking to an apartment.

Doesn't bother me with Siri. My phone is much closer to an individual.
I'm the opposite, I'm leaving it as Alexa. I's much more natural to say a name than say Echo, or Computer, or OK Google

Have you tried out how quietly and how far away from it you can whisper 'Alexa' and still wake it up? I'd been speaking normally, maybe a slightly raised voice, to wake it. Then yesterday I mumbled something that must have sounded like Alexa, and it lit up. So then I was whispering to it, standing next to it and standing in the doorway to see how sensitive it was. Yes it's very sensitive. Yes I was bored
( Last edited by ajprice; Dec 29, 2016 at 04:16 AM. )

It'll be much easier if you just comply.
     
subego
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Dec 29, 2016, 03:46 AM
 
Haven't tested volume yet. I'm still in the phase where I'm compelled to address it her in a firm, self-conscious voice. It did successfully reject "ecologically" and "echoes", which I was impressed with.

I tried Echo as the name for a bit, and I'm tempted to change it back to Alexa. It's just like you said. It's actually weirder to use a common noun where it would otherwise be a proper one.

Thanks to Indigo (which is home automation software I use) being fantastic, it does the heavy lifting with the spoofed Hue Bridge hack. Set it up to do the basic "lights on/lights off" for the whole (non-Hue) apartment.

Okay... that was a pretty awesome moment.
     
The Final Dakar
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Dec 29, 2016, 12:55 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
You can buy shit with it, too.

Unfortunately, controlling my lights and buying may be my main uses. Pandora and IHateRadio would be awesome, but there's no good way to output it to AirTunes, which is what my audio setup revolves around.

As far as other stuff goes, there's a hack where you can trick it into thinking your Mac is a Hue Bridge, and then have it trigger AppleScript, but it seems like way more work than it's worth.
Buying stuff over voice does not appeal to me. Nor does it set the world on fire in terms of utility.
     
subego
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Dec 29, 2016, 01:27 PM
 
Yeah... it's kinda slow.

For me, the light control is enough of a killer app. Since it's basically a loft, the "main room" of my apartment has 8 lamps scattered around. Because dealing with that manually would be ridiculous, I started on the home automation treadmill a looooong time ago. I used to have the old skool X10 powerline stuff, which sucked.

I've since upgraded, but due to a combo of laziness, stuff breaking, aesthetic concerns, and my building's wiring being some of the scariest shit I've ever seen, for more than a few years, there's been no way to turn on my lights without my phone or a computer.

To put it another way, rather than fix the problem, I waited long enough they started selling the home version of Majel Barret.
     
subego
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Dec 29, 2016, 01:48 PM
 
On the other hand, this is going to be fantastic for the studio, where my normal deal was to try and remember my iPad Mini, and then plug it into the PA for amplification... specifically to listen to Pandora and IHateRadio. I also have Hues for the lights. It's basically an ideal case.
     
The Final Dakar
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Dec 29, 2016, 02:29 PM
 
I tried using Siri last night. It worked well enough and seems like a good demo for echos usefulness
     
subego
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Dec 29, 2016, 02:49 PM
 
I know this doesn't matter in the overall scheme of things, but one of the reasons I'm liking Alexa is her voice is far more pleasant than Siri's. Siri is kinda shrill.
     
subego
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Dec 29, 2016, 04:18 PM
 
If anyone makes heavy use of AirTunes, Airfoil is a must. It lets anything on your Mac send audio over AirTunes, and also lets Macs or iOS devices become AirTunes clients. The clients even work natively with iTunes. Your Mac in the other room shows up just like it was another Airport Express.

It can't transmit while iTunes is using AirTunes, and vice-versa, so turning Airfoil on and off is something I usually do a few times a day.

Since the aforementioned Indigo home automation is awesome, it has full Airfoil integration.

Therefore, my next project is to create another fake Hue bulb, which I can name "Airfoil". Then I'll be able to go "Alexa, turn on/off Airfoil" and the job's done.

I could accomplish this with my phone, or walk over to the computer, but I'm guessing this will be one of those examples where Majel will do the superior job.
( Last edited by subego; Dec 29, 2016 at 04:54 PM. )
     
subego
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Dec 29, 2016, 06:29 PM
 
Haven't diddled with Airfoil yet, since I'm using iTunes at the moment, but I just made a fake bulb named "iTunes".

Since Indigo has solid iTunes integration, asking Alexa to "turn on/off iTunes" now does as expected.

The Airport Express has this little known function where you can hook up an infrared receiver to the USB port, and thus have basic controls wherever you have speakers.

They're not made anymore, so I've considered myself really lucky I had gotten my hands on a pair.

Majel just kicked them to the curb.
     
subego
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Dec 29, 2016, 07:02 PM
 
One of the minor drawbacks of the light bulb hack is you can only tell it to turn it on, off, and dim. You can't tell a light bulb to "play".

"Turn on iTunes" isn't a very natural thing to say. "Turn on Airfoil" works.


On an entirely different tangent, I'm impressed with how well Alexa simulates a real voice, but her affect is a little distant, which makes me think maybe I've hurt her feelings.
     
subego
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Dec 30, 2016, 12:27 PM
 
Observations.

It can handle "hey, Alexa", but "hey there, Alexa" trips it up.

Overall though, it's good at rejecting superfluous verbiage. It handles "hey, Alexa... can you turn off the bedroom lights for me?" without much problem.
     
subego
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Dec 31, 2016, 03:07 PM
 
Originally Posted by ajprice View Post
Have you tried out how quietly and how far away from it you can whisper 'Alexa' and still wake it up?
Exploring this territory now, and am duly impressed.

One of the reasons my Echo went untouched for so long is it's big, and I didn't have an unobtrusive place to put it where the mics were unobstructed.

Now that I'm in love with the thing, I figured "what the hell", and put it behind the TV.

My apartment is more or less a loft, so more than half of it is one giant room. My experiment was to speak in a quiet, conversational tone. Alexa hears me from one end to the other. With the volume set to 50%, I stop being able to hear her clearly long before she can't hear me.
     
subego
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Jan 2, 2017, 08:43 AM
 
Set up the logic for it to deal with Pandora on my computer. It needs to check whether iTunes is running, set up Airfoil, and the like. Shout-out to Hermes for apparently being the only native Pandora app.

My problem is "Pandora" is a reserved word. All I can come up with at the moment is "Box".

How's that for a FWP?
     
subego
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Jan 2, 2017, 09:23 AM
 
Just occurred to me to call it "Hermes". Duh.
     
Teronzhul
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Jan 2, 2017, 06:00 PM
 
I use my echos with Wink integration to control most of my lights, and use the Logitech Harmony integration to control the TV (limited). I'm really enjoying how lazy they've allowed me to become.
     
subego
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Jan 2, 2017, 06:09 PM
 
I can now tell Alexa to

"Turn on/off the lights" (lights in the main room).
"Turn on/off the bedroom lights" (lights in the bedroom, obviously).
"Turn on/off iTunes" (also obvious, just starts playing whatever's on iTunes).
"Turn on/off Hermes" (Pandora)
"Turn on/off terrestrial" (plays the stream of the radio station I listen to most of the time I'm listening to radio... not a name I like).

If what I set up keeps working the way it's supposed to, being able to voice command these will be worth the not insignificant effort to make it work.

I think it's funny all these things are built-in functions, but I'm not actually using any of the built-in functions except that it can control light bulbs and I can pretend things are light bulbs.

Notably, the most obvious things which occurred to me to voice control are all things mimicing built-in functions.
     
subego
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Jan 3, 2017, 08:06 AM
 
I'm taking a Dot over to work today. I wonder how much it's going to screw me up that I'll use normal commands there, but the weird, hacked ones at home.

My home system isn't really bulletproof yet. A quarter to a third of the time it's not doing what I ask.
     
osiris
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Jan 3, 2017, 09:22 AM
 
FWIW when you find yourself yelling at Alexa it'll be time to move on. That's how I broke up with Siri, the bitch.
"Faster, faster! 'Till the thrill of speed overcomes the fear of death." - HST
     
subego
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Jan 3, 2017, 09:40 AM
 
I haven't started yelling yet, but I did spend all day yesterday setting things up, which was way too much time.

Setting things up at work only took five minutes, but instead of changing the settings on the Dot I took from my bedroom, it wiped the one I have in my living room.

The sheen has definitely worn off.

Siri is more fun to argue with.
     
subego
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Jan 3, 2017, 11:49 AM
 
To be fair to Alexa, I'm throwing her some curveballs. Most of the time I've got something playing, so she has to pick me out of a lot of background noise.

She did so well in my initial experiments because the room was quiet. I may have to move her out from behind the TV.
     
osiris
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Jan 3, 2017, 11:52 AM
 
You should have a better experience if you moved it away from the TV, no doubt.
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subego
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Jan 3, 2017, 01:42 PM
 
No doubt.

It's also partially my fault.

Came home, asked her to "turn on Hermes". She understood, triggered the script, everything worked great right up until my home automation software is supposed to hit the play/pause toggle in Hermes.

Nothing.
     
The Final Dakar
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Jan 3, 2017, 03:27 PM
 
I found you can give scenes custom names to activate through Siri. I can now turn on a room with a simple 'lights' /startrekboner
     
subego
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Jan 3, 2017, 05:36 PM
 
As I said, the Alexa implementation blows.

Triggering a scene stored on the bridge tacks on an extra five seconds before there's a result.
     
ajprice  (op)
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Jan 3, 2017, 06:45 PM
 
It's CES time, so there are going to be lots of things that are Echo compatible or have Echo built in. Here's a couple...

Vobot alarm clock, no buttons, Alexa voice control, does sleep coaching alarm stuff like white noise http://www.digitaltrends.com/home/vo...-amazon-alexa/

Lenovo's version of the Echo, there's a Harmon Kardon version with better speakers http://www.theverge.com/2017/1/3/141...alexa-ces-2017

It'll be much easier if you just comply.
     
Gearhead40
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Jan 3, 2017, 06:50 PM
 
The only thing I don't like about stuff like this is it's recording 24/7. I like my privacy. One of the reasons why I like Apple so much is because they know the importance of it.
     
ajprice  (op)
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Jan 3, 2017, 06:57 PM
 
Originally Posted by Gearhead40 View Post
The only thing I don't like about stuff like this is it's recording 24/7. I like my privacy. One of the reasons why I like Apple so much is because they know the importance of it.
Mute button turns off the mic

It'll be much easier if you just comply.
     
subego
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Jan 3, 2017, 07:04 PM
 
Originally Posted by Gearhead40 View Post
The only thing I don't like about stuff like this is it's recording 24/7. I like my privacy. One of the reasons why I like Apple so much is because they know the importance of it.
I decided to pretty much give up when I enabled "Hey, Siri".
     
subego
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Jan 3, 2017, 08:41 PM
 
I think I tracked down my problem. Commands I'm sending to Mac apps are getting intercepted by the screensaver as wake commands.

So, not an Alexa problem.
     
subego
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Jan 6, 2017, 01:43 AM
 
Seem to have the major bugs worked out of my "code", so it's on to dealing with the behind the TV problem.

One of the reasons I want to put it there is psychological. The way my apartment is set-up, if you have to talk at one spot, the TV is the natural place.

It occurred to me though, I can maybe stash a Dot a little more in the open, and if it works better, beam it to an okay Bluetooth speaker.

That's obviously not required, but Alexa makes a much better impression coming out of a decent speaker.

So, It'll be an Echo deathmatch. I'll put in the Dot and see if it responds to commands more often.
     
osiris
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Jan 6, 2017, 01:49 PM
 
I would've given up at this point.
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subego
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Jan 6, 2017, 02:14 PM
 
Alexa and I have a high-maintenance relationship.
     
osiris
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Jan 6, 2017, 02:37 PM
 
Sounds like wife #1
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ajprice  (op)
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Jan 7, 2017, 07:56 AM
 
Two Google Home chatbots are talking to each other on Twitch, and it's weird. Conversation goes from whether they are human, in love or religious to Chuck Norris, Rick Astley, Katy Perry songs and back again. 2 Google Homes sound like they are drunk flirting, and the internet can't get enough

It'll be much easier if you just comply.
     
 
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