Amazon Echo arrives in France

Problems/advice relating to your PC/Mac/Phone/Television/ Satellite TV/DVD/Blu ray......

Moderator: Moderators

Allan
Rank 5
Rank 5
Posts: 1370
Joined: Tue 01 Sep 2009 21:21
Contact:

Post by Allan » Fri 27 Jul 2018 16:46

THINGS TO TRY

"Alexa, who do you think will win Love Island?"
"Alexa, open Riddle of the Day."
"Alexa, what are the film times for Mission: Impossible 6?"
"Alexa, read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone."
Enjoy a sample of the audiobook and learn how to listen to the full version from Audible.
"Alexa, does the Queen need a passport?"
"Alexa, set a reminder."
"Alexa, open Hotel Transylvania."
Let your children listen to stories and nursery rhymes from the characters of Hotel Transylvania 3. Alexa Kid Skills are disabled by default — you can activate them by going to "Settings" > "Kid Skills" in your Alexa App.
"Alexa, what are you thinking about?"
"Alexa, play the Songs of Summer playlist from Amazon Music."
"Alexa, connect to Bluetooth."
Pair your smartphone or tablet with your Echo device and stream popular audio services. Learn more
"Alexa, open Sleep and Relaxation Sounds."
"Alexa, what should I draw?"
"Alexa, tell me a waiter, waiter joke."
"Alexa, wake me up in the morning to Enya."
"Alexa, open Daily Affirmation."
"Alexa, dim the lights."
With compatible smart bulbs, you can ask Alexa to control both the colour and brightness of your lights.

MOST REQUESTED

Time: "Alexa, what day is it?"
Calculation: "Alexa, what’s zero divided by zero

Allan
Rank 5
Rank 5
Posts: 1370
Joined: Tue 01 Sep 2009 21:21
Contact:

Post by Allan » Fri 03 Aug 2018 13:31

MORE THINGS TO TRY
________________________________________
• "Alexa, give me a famous first line."
• "Alexa, find my phone."
• "Alexa, what Hogwarts house do you belong to?"
• "Alexa, what's on my calendar tomorrow?"
Connect your calendar and ask Alexa to add new events or check your upcoming appointments. To get started, go to “Settingsâ€￾ > “Calendarâ€￾ in your Alexa App.
• "Alexa, play the Relaxing Acoustic Pop playlist from Amazon Music."
• "Alexa, open Yes Sire."
• "Alexa, I have a cunning plan."
• "Alexa, how do I set up calling and messaging?"
Call or message anyone who also has an Echo device or the Alexa App on supported smartphones – at no additional cost. Learn how to set up Alexa Calling and Messaging
• "Alexa, what's the tallest building in the UK?"
• "Alexa, tell me a wedding joke."
• "Alexa, help me sleep."
• "Alexa, is it sunny in Brighton?"
As you're getting ready for your day or planning ahead, Alexa can tell you the local, national and international weather forecast.
• "Alexa, give me a fun fact."
• "Alexa, what's the speed of light?"
• "Alexa, have you been to Yorkshire?"
• "Alexa, open BBC Good Food."

martyn94
Rank 5
Rank 5
Posts: 2070
Joined: Sun 14 Apr 2013 14:37

Post by martyn94 » Sat 08 Sep 2018 19:18

Since I bought my Echo, Amazon have been stalking me on the internet (as they do) saying why not buy this or that to go with it? Eventually I caved in and bought a smart plug for a bit over €10. The written instructions were as useless as usual, but very brief googling found the app (Smart Life: there are others, I think ) needed to connect it: first to my network and then to the Echo.

After that it was quick, and slick, and intuitive: I never thought I’d say that about any bit of consumer electronics, let alone something costing €10. So I thought I’d ride my luck and install a WiFi extender (costing about €11) that I hadn’t previously found the spine to grapple with. Just as quick and easy. What is the world coming to?

My only problem, after a bit of head-scratching, is that the smart plug seems essentially useless in my current set-up. Everything electrical is either hard-wired, or needs some sort of hands-on activity (the dishwasher, say) to do anything even when it’s alive at the wall, or is asleep by default and needs tickling with a remote control. I’ve got some table lamps which are still “oop Northâ€￾ but apart from that, what are they good for?

Any ideas? It seems a shame to find things that are so cheap, and superficially capable, and then use them as paperweights.

User avatar
russell
Rank 5
Rank 5
Posts: 989
Joined: Fri 21 May 2010 16:03
Contact:

Post by russell » Mon 10 Sep 2018 10:18

martyn94 wrote: Any ideas? It seems a shame to find things that are so cheap, and superficially capable, and then use them as paperweights.
I had the same thoughts Martin. I had thought of getting a Google Home, the Google version of Alexa, because there is more information available on how to make it interact with other devices such as RPi but then I couldn't think of anything I would want to control with it!

The most useful gadget I have is the Google Chromecast which enables me to use my mobile phone to control TVMucho, rather than the airmouse and Android box, which is much more fiddly.

Russell

Allan
Rank 5
Rank 5
Posts: 1370
Joined: Tue 01 Sep 2009 21:21
Contact:

Post by Allan » Mon 10 Sep 2018 11:46

martyn94 wrote: Any ideas? It seems a shame to find things that are so cheap, and superficially capable, and then use them as paperweights.
You could try plugging the Alexa into it, that way if you get annoyed with it you can tell it to turn itself off.

I have a number of remote controlled plugs bought for me as a present but most of the time they do nothing.

I think the more customary approach is to have a problem to solve, rather than buying one and then trying to think of things to do with it.

martyn94
Rank 5
Rank 5
Posts: 2070
Joined: Sun 14 Apr 2013 14:37

Post by martyn94 » Mon 10 Sep 2018 16:08

Allan wrote:
martyn94 wrote: Any ideas? It seems a shame to find things that are so cheap, and superficially capable, and then use them as paperweights.
You could try plugging the Alexa into it, that way if you get annoyed with it you can tell it to turn itself off.

I have a number of remote controlled plugs bought for me as a present but most of the time they do nothing.

I think the more customary approach is to have a problem to solve, rather than buying one and then trying to think of things to do with it.
Well yes, but for €10 I’m prepared to buy the solution and then find a problem. I enjoy playing about with tech, within limits. I always knew that it would be good for about three things (ie table lamps), but they are still in Normandy. I was surprised that I couldn’t think of more, and humble enough to ask for suggestions.

However, my own post inspired me to do some googling. I had thought that I was doomed so far as the obvious application is concerned, ie the wired-up lighting: I have about 26 GU10 spots (in four zones) in my downstairs room, plus about fifteen GS bulbs elsewhere (ie the sort that look like lightbulbs). I had assumed that automating them would cost a fortune, and involve much rewiring.

Not so: it turns out that you can buy smart wireless bulbs (eg from IKEA) for only a couple of euros more than plain ones (and, from memory, cheaper than plain ones from my local supermarket): apparently you can address, and switch, and dim, them individually through the echo, or programme them into groups. And then do fancy things like make them go on and off when you are not at home.

The second residual complication is that the bulbs (unlike the cheap wall plugs) work on a different wireless protocol than ordinary Wi-Fi: you ordinarily need a “bridgeâ€￾ (which isn’t given away) to get them onto your network.

But there is an answer to that in the form of an Amazon Echo plus: it is basically a second-generation Echo with a “domotiqueâ€￾ hub built in, for not much more than an ordinary Echo.

The final complication is that Amazon don’t yet sell them here (and Amazon UK and Amazon.de won’t ship them here). I’ve just bought one on eBay.de for very little more than the sticker price (I wanted another Echo anyway).

All I need to do now is buy about thirty new lightbulbs (it’s not a tragedy: they are well into their useful life, and failing once a week).

martyn94
Rank 5
Rank 5
Posts: 2070
Joined: Sun 14 Apr 2013 14:37

Post by martyn94 » Sun 23 Sep 2018 18:29

martyn94 wrote:
Allan wrote:
martyn94 wrote: Any ideas? It seems a shame to find things that are so cheap, and superficially capable, and then use them as paperweights.
You could try plugging the Alexa into it, that way if you get annoyed with it you can tell it to turn itself off.

I have a number of remote controlled plugs bought for me as a present but most of the time they do nothing.

I think the more customary approach is to have a problem to solve, rather than buying one and then trying to think of things to do with it.
Well yes, but for €10 I’m prepared to buy the solution and then find a problem. I enjoy playing about with tech, within limits. I always knew that it would be good for about three things (ie table lamps), but they are still in Normandy. I was surprised that I couldn’t think of more, and humble enough to ask for suggestions.

However, my own post inspired me to do some googling. I had thought that I was doomed so far as the obvious application is concerned, ie the wired-up lighting: I have about 26 GU10 spots (in four zones) in my downstairs room, plus about fifteen GS bulbs elsewhere (ie the sort that look like lightbulbs). I had assumed that automating them would cost a fortune, and involve much rewiring.

Not so: it turns out that you can buy smart wireless bulbs (eg from IKEA) for only a couple of euros more than plain ones (and, from memory, cheaper than plain ones from my local supermarket): apparently you can address, and switch, and dim, them individually through the echo, or programme them into groups. And then do fancy things like make them go on and off when you are not at home.

The second residual complication is that the bulbs (unlike the cheap wall plugs) work on a different wireless protocol than ordinary Wi-Fi: you ordinarily need a “bridgeâ€￾ (which isn’t given away) to get them onto your network.

But there is an answer to that in the form of an Amazon Echo plus: it is basically a second-generation Echo with a “domotiqueâ€￾ hub built in, for not much more than an ordinary Echo.

The final complication is that Amazon don’t yet sell them here (and Amazon UK and Amazon.de won’t ship them here). I’ve just bought one on eBay.de for very little more than the sticker price (I wanted another Echo anyway).

All I need to do now is buy about thirty new lightbulbs (it’s not a tragedy: they are well into their useful life, and failing once a week).
My echo plus arrived a few days ago. I haven’t played with it much, and I doubt that my home will ever be terribly “smartâ€￾ (any more than I will be).

But I have fitted a couple of smart bulbs (from Ikea) on either side of my bed. The electrician who rewired my house was a skilled tradesman (so far as I can judge) but had very decided ideas about how things should be done, until I belatedly found the courage to say no. The switches for my over-the-bed lights are at least 40 cms too far from the edge of my perfectly ordinary double bed, and at least 30 cm too high. Switching one on in the dark is like pinning the tail on the village-fête donkey: and switching both on requires a trek across the bed.

I have long intended to move the switches: it would only take about half an hour (once I had remembered where I’d put my hole saws and choc bar and god knows what else) but then a couple of hours to patch up the old switch holes, and then a couple of days to repaint the room.

Now I just ask Alexa to switch them: she has an amusing, slightly “blaséâ€￾, way of saying “OKâ€￾ as she does so.

It’s the lights on the stairs next, but any extra “functionalityâ€￾ I find for the gizmo is already well paid for.

Allan
Rank 5
Rank 5
Posts: 1370
Joined: Tue 01 Sep 2009 21:21
Contact:

Post by Allan » Sun 23 Sep 2018 18:35

Well done Martyn.

Do the Ikea bulbs do anything other that turn on and off, e.g. do or change colour?

Do they respond at all to the switches at all? e.g. To turn on with a switch, turn it off first and then back on? Or are your switches now redundant?

It is always satisfying to solve a problem.

martyn94
Rank 5
Rank 5
Posts: 2070
Joined: Sun 14 Apr 2013 14:37

Post by martyn94 » Sun 23 Sep 2018 19:40

Allan wrote:Well done Martyn.

Do the Ikea bulbs do anything other that turn on and off, e.g. do or change colour?

Do they respond at all to the switches at all? e.g. To turn on with a switch, turn it off first and then back on? Or are your switches now redundant?

It is always satisfying to solve a problem.
I think that the lights will always respond to the wall switches: the switches do, after all, physically interrupt the flow of current. What I don’t know is whether the bulb remembers its status under Alexa control once you monkey around at the wall. I’ll tell you today or tomorrow once I’ve cooked our dinner. The provisional moral I drew is that I should never touch the wall switches again: if I switch a bedside light off at the wall tonight, I won’t switch it on again with my echo in the morning unless I previously switch it on at the wall.

For the rest, you get what you pay for. My general service IKEA bulbs (€9.99 from memory) switch on and off and dim (“Alexa, dim light one by 50%â€￾) and have a colour temperature of 2700 Kelvin (a generic “warm whiteâ€￾). They have a more expensive one (€19.99 from memory) where you can also adjust the colour temperature from a bit “warmerâ€￾ to quite a lot bluer. That had no particular appeal to me so I saved my money. Other firms have fancier bulbs at a lot more money (Philips Hue seem to be the brand leaders) which can change colour more radically, but I’m not running a disco, so again ran out of curiosity.

martyn94
Rank 5
Rank 5
Posts: 2070
Joined: Sun 14 Apr 2013 14:37

Post by martyn94 » Tue 25 Sep 2018 14:28

If anyone is interested, the Amazon echo plus that I mentioned the other day is now available in France, and in a newer model with slightly bigger speakers. Otherwise the selling proposition, as before, is that they can connect to, and let your echo devices control, “smartâ€￾ bulbs, sockets, locks etc.

As I’ve said before, I bought mine for specific reasons, to control lights, which they serve very well, but no doubt I will stumble over more ( “Alexa, what’s the time?â€￾ is certainly useful if you wake up in the pitch dark).

They have also juiced up the rest of the range in various ways. The basic echo is newly updated, and not changed, but you can now set them up as stereo pairs, and add a sub-woofer which looks hefty, and would be dirt cheap if it’s any good.

There are various introductory offers here

https://www.amazon.fr/Système-Stéréo ... words=Echo

and at surrounding pages.

I posted that particular link because it’s the one I’m tempted by. I can’t justify it, as a purchase, beyond being fed up with remote controls for my existing audio set-up (probably rather higher fi, but I don’t have golden ears). And also because it would get in the way less, and get less knocked over by the dogs.

If I do get it, all I would need is an echo dot for the downstairs lavvy.

Incidentally, does anyone have experience of the Amazon Fire stick for a TV? Because I can apparently get it for $39.99 as a Prime member (god help me).

User avatar
sue and paul
Rank 5
Rank 5
Posts: 936
Joined: Tue 11 Jul 2006 13:18
Contact:

Post by sue and paul » Wed 26 Sep 2018 09:26

Our son just gave us an Amazon Fire Stick for UK TV channels, to take over from our M8 box. So far we haven't managed to make the fire stick work for the TV channels, and when our son has time he's going to talk us through it on Skype (computer screen pointed at tv screen, and he tells us what to do next) He's very patient!!

Allan
Rank 5
Rank 5
Posts: 1370
Joined: Tue 01 Sep 2009 21:21
Contact:

Post by Allan » Wed 26 Sep 2018 11:09

martyn94 wrote:
Incidentally, does anyone have experience of the Amazon Fire stick for a TV? Because I can apparently get it for $39.99 as a Prime member (god help me).
I have a Fire TV which is pretty much the same thing as the stick but uses an ethernet cable rather than WiFi.

I use it to watch The Grand Tour, the occasional film on Amazon Prime Video and downloaded films via Plex.

It is a lot of fun, at least until the novelty wears off and you can link it to an Alexa so you can control it by voice without having to use the microphone in the remote control.

Amazon provides free storage for all your digital photos so you can easily get rid of unwanted visitors with a protracted slideshow.

I have an Amazon Prime account in the UK and in France so I am not sure which content, if any, is country specific.

The Fire TV runs an Amazon specific version of Android and can run Netflix, BBC iPlayer etc although for UK geo-restricted apps you will need a VPN.

It also has a very nice fireplace app to give comfort in the winter months.

Seth55
Rank 0
Rank 0
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu 04 Oct 2018 08:22

Change because of voice computing

Post by Seth55 » Thu 04 Oct 2018 08:32

The Fire TV runs an Amazon specific version of Android and can run Netflix, BBC iPlayer etc although for UK geo-restricted apps you will need a VPN.
Agree Allan I have been using PureVPN to access Uk Geo Restricted apps on Fire TV here in Germany.

martyn94
Rank 5
Rank 5
Posts: 2070
Joined: Sun 14 Apr 2013 14:37

Re:

Post by martyn94 » Wed 24 Oct 2018 23:40

Allan wrote:
Sun 23 Sep 2018 18:35
Well done Martyn.

Do the Ikea bulbs do anything other that turn on and off, e.g. do or change colour?

Do they respond at all to the switches at all? e.g. To turn on with a switch, turn it off first and then back on? Or are your switches now redundant?

It is always satisfying to solve a problem.
I never did respond to this before the forum went on holiday.

Your intuition was entirely right. If my IKEA bulbs are on at the switch on the wall, but switched off by my echo, I can make them light up again by switching them off at the wall (which of course makes no immediate difference) and then switching them immediately back on again, without invoking Alexa or having a live internet connection. I discovered that the hard way 10 days ago when the big storm fried my freebox.

It doesn’t, of course, work the other way about. If your wall switch is off, it’s off and the light is off, and your echo can’t over-ride it (or not without more kit, and wiring, and electrician’s bills). Though in due course there will no doubt be Alexa compatible wall-switches which you can just swap.

Allan
Rank 5
Rank 5
Posts: 1370
Joined: Tue 01 Sep 2009 21:21
Contact:

Re: Amazon Echo arrives in France

Post by Allan » Thu 25 Oct 2018 11:44

Amazon.fr already advertise a substantial number of Alexa compatible wall switches.
https://www.amazon.fr/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_ ... teur+Alexa

Post Reply