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Thread: Amazon Echo/Alexa ported to audio system

  1. #1
    Senior Member SEAWOLF97's Avatar
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    Amazon Echo/Alexa ported to audio system

    .
    So last week I acquired an Amazon Echo Dot (2nd gen.). There are a couple of flavors of Echo's (echo is the hardware terminal) and Alexa is the AI assistant/guide. They all have the same function, except the higher models have better speakers (if you want to listen "stand alone").

    https://www.amazon.com/Amazon-Echo-A...ode=9818047011

    I'm new to digital assistant's , so if you all know already ... then don't bother to read farther.

    Coming from an IT background, I'd call it basically a display-less, voice i/o terminal. It's just a link to it's home server , with very little processing power on it's own.

    It is NOT mobile like Siri , but can control the "smart home" ... gets access to your wireless router. Only physical connections are power and a 3.5mm (mini audio) jack.

    So been having lots of fun learning it. Configured it to play Pandora. The sound quality from the jack to my amp to the 120Ti's is outstanding. Getting away from streaming through my old laptop eases up on the CPU usage and SQ is comparable to the laptop outputting optical to an external 24/192 dac.

    There are also many free apps (Amazon calls them "skills") that you can download. It currently works in English, Japanese, German and Spanish. When I ask for a Viet translation, it replies "Havn't learned that language yet", if it's servers don't know ... it contacts Microsoft's server and then sends me an instant message with the answer.

    Can be configured to interface with your car, thermostat, roomba ,etc,etc.

    Can be moderated from iPhone, Android, pads or PC/Mac. It's communicates with the user via colored animated leds. Very intuitive. 7 mics and you can wake it from across a room w/o raising your voice.

    The Alexa service is FREE once you have the ECHO hardware. The lowest price model of the ECHO line is the Dot, which (I think) was initially $100 , then dropped to 50, now that the gen3 version is coming next week, they've dropped the gen2 to $30 shipped. An absolutely incredible deal. These would make great Xmas presents for that tinkerer who has home wi-fi. (and time to burn)

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...d_i=9818047011


    Echo Dot is a voice-controlled speaker that uses Alexa to play music, control smart home devices, make calls, answer questions, set timers and alarms, and more
    Play music from Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, and SiriusXM
    Call or message family and friends hands-free, or drop in from the Alexa App to your Echo device
    Controls lights, locks, thermostats, and more with compatible connected devices
    Use the built-in speaker, or for bigger sound, connect to speakers through Bluetooth or audio cable
    50,000+ skills, including Jeopardy!, Lyft, Audible, and Domino's. Always getting smarter and adding new features
    Hears you from across the room with 7 far-field microphones for hands-free control, even in noisy environments or while playing music
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    “If you think that’s the dumbest thing you’ve ever heard,
    just wait a couple minutes!”

  2. #2
    Senior Member brutal's Avatar
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    Check out Stringify and IFTTT for more automation controls and programming sequences.

    I use it with Wink, Alexa, and Blue Iris video (DVR) on my home server. Also works with Smarthings.

    P.S. Make sure you disable "Allow Drop In" under the messaging profile settings. Otherwise contacts that have Alexa can just drop in and listen/talk (unless you want that).


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    Administrator Mr. Widget's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brutal View Post

    P.S. Make sure you disable "Allow Drop In" under the messaging profile settings. Otherwise contacts that have Alexa can just drop in and listen/talk (unless you want that).
    Make sure you physically disconnect it’s power when you don’t feel like “sharing”.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Widget View Post
    Make sure you physically disconnect it’s power when you don’t feel like “sharing”.


    Widget
    😀 Seriously, what good can possibly come from this? (Assuming no disability)

    First there were children, so Dad didn't have to get up and change the channel on the television or get a beer. Then remote controls came along, which solved the first problem, but can Alexa get you a beer?

    Is it really any better to yell across the room "Alexa, set the air conditioning to 80" on your way out the door to work, and when you get home the house is freezing because it set the temperature to 18, rather than just setting the thermostat ourselves?

    "Alexa, get off my lawn! "

    Sorry Seawolf, not flaming you, just what I see as a odd cultural moment. 😀

  5. #5
    Senior Member SEAWOLF97's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brutal View Post
    P.S. Make sure you disable "Allow Drop In" under the messaging profile settings. Otherwise contacts that have Alexa can just drop in and listen/talk (unless you want that).
    good idea,thx

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Widget View Post
    Make sure you physically disconnect it’s power when you don’t feel like “sharing”.
    Widget
    it does have a "mic shut off" button that turns the whole thing red. I've tried to wake it in that state. no go.

    Quote Originally Posted by rusty jefferson View Post
    😀 Seriously, what good can possibly come from this? (Assuming no disability)

    First there were children, so Dad didn't have to get up and change the channel on the television or get a beer. Then remote controls came along, which solved the first problem, but can Alexa get you a beer?

    Is it really any better to yell across the room "Alexa, set the air conditioning to 80" on your way out the door to work, and when you get home the house is freezing because it set the temperature to 18, rather than just setting the thermostat ourselves?

    "Alexa, get off my lawn! "

    Sorry Seawolf, not flaming you, just what I see as a odd cultural moment. 😀
    A week ago I could have written the same post.

    I don't have anything for it to automate. Not gonna buy any gadgets either. I'm using it more
    for it's Siri side, plus it really streams Pandora very well. It's really fun to interact with, tho I
    may get bored over time
    “If you think that’s the dumbest thing you’ve ever heard,
    just wait a couple minutes!”

  6. #6
    Administrator Mr. Widget's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SEAWOLF97 View Post
    it does have a "mic shut off" button that turns the whole thing red. I've tried to wake it in that state. no go.
    I know. We have our Dot in our conference room in red mode too.

    That said, do you really believe that those devices are not or will not be hacked? Voice control is the direction that the industry is headed in… I just think that they need to spend more time doing the unglamorous back end security stuff first.


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    Well said. The cynic in me says it may not be responding, but it's still listening. 😉

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    Senior Member SEAWOLF97's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Widget View Post
    I know. We have our Dot in our conference room in red mode too.

    That said, do you really believe that those devices are not or will not be hacked? Widget
    no doubt. but there is really nothing that would be very interesting if someone could listen in.

    Quote Originally Posted by rusty jefferson View Post
    Well said. The cynic in me says it may not be responding, but it's still listening. ��
    I've configed it so that followup Q's can be asked w/o re-awaking it. The wife doesn't quite know that, and in the app you can go into history and find text of all interactions. It picks up even her sniffles & burps.
    “If you think that’s the dumbest thing you’ve ever heard,
    just wait a couple minutes!”

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    Quote Originally Posted by SEAWOLF97 View Post
    .


    It is NOT mobile like Siri , but can control the "smart home" ...
    Probably is, as it is network device. I use Google and Smart things and Google has a assistant app for the phone that works well. I got our first Google device as a present, otherwise I probably would have gone with Alexa.

    The real magic is in the integration to a house hub like Smart Things. I found that after awhile the gee-whiz aspect wears off and you end up just using a few of the features that really help you. My favorite are shades opening and closing at sunrise/sunset, background lighting programming, and outside lights on upon arrival after dusk. We also have a single command to check and lock all exterior door locks.

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    Senior Member SEAWOLF97's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DES-1 View Post
    The real magic is in the integration to a house hub like Smart Things. I found that after awhile the gee-whiz aspect wears off and you end up just using a few of the features that really help you. My favorite are shades opening and closing at sunrise/sunset, background lighting programming, and outside lights on upon arrival after dusk. We also have a single command to check and lock all exterior door locks.
    Was trying to remember where I'd seen this integration before ..52 years ago. 1966.

    Star Trek -

    I renamed Alexa to "computer" and can recreate Kirk (to a very, very limited extent)

    coincidentally , a friend just sent me a Norwegian video of a guy whose home is totally setup for voice command , even the front door. he goes to the dentist, has Novocaine shot and comes home in the rain and now none of his automation works .. he is stranded in the front yard getting soaked , while his neighbor who still uses a key has no problem getting inside her home.
    “If you think that’s the dumbest thing you’ve ever heard,
    just wait a couple minutes!”

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    Anyone remember the X10 home control stuff? Used to be sold at Radio Shack. Looks like a version of it is still on the market. Hopefully the newer home control modules Smart things, GE, et al don't suffer the same short lifespans as some of that earlier stuff. Power surges and lightning strikes can also be module killers and even the whole-house protection gadgets don't always work.

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    Senior Member Ducatista47's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DES-1 View Post
    Power surges and lightning strikes can also be module killers and even the whole-house protection gadgets don't always work.
    Delta lightning arrestors and surge capacitors. Inexpensive, reliable, reusable. I install the arrestor outside the box in case it blows out from an over 50000 amp strike. The surge capacitor works whenever there is current and is fine in the box.

    http://deltala.com/surge-capacitors.php

    http://deltala.com/download/PutInBox.pdf
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    Heather [Senorita member] hjames's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DES-1 View Post
    Anyone remember the X10 home control stuff? Used to be sold at Radio Shack. Looks like a version of it is still on the market. Hopefully the newer home control modules Smart things, GE, et al don't suffer the same short lifespans as some of that earlier stuff. Power surges and lightning strikes can also be module killers and even the whole-house protection gadgets don't always work.
    I have about a dozen X10 controls around the house. I use some software called xTension that runs on the mac platform. Been doing it for maybe 16 years now.

    I have scripts set that turn on lights just before sunset, turn off front porch lights at Sunrise + 30 minutes.
    I used to have one on my old coffee maker that would turn it on 20 minutes before I woke, so hot coffee awaited me if I set it all up the night before.
    I know folks with them connected to their thermostat for heating and AC control, run their outdoor sprinkler systems with them and all of that -
    but I just use mine for light control. I don't want that much of my home accessible from the computer, or anyone who can access my computer from wherever.

    X10 has been fading away for years - but I bought a bunch of modules at closeout and can still play -
    plus, there are other technologies the xTension system has been expanded to run with ...

    I did have a simple Alexa script tied to the Xtension server -
    but I find the 8 button remotes more handy when I want to override the programmed settings.
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    Senior Member SEAWOLF97's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Widget View Post
    I know. We have our Dot in our conference room in red mode too.

    That said, do you really believe that those devices are not or will not be hacked? Voice control is the direction that the industry is headed in… I just think that they need to spend more time doing the unglamorous back end security stuff first.


    Widget
    Quote Originally Posted by rusty jefferson View Post
    Well said. The cynic in me says it may not be responding, but it's still listening. 😉
    Don’t Freak Out About That Amazon Alexa Eavesdropping Situation
    https://www.wired.com/story/the-alex...ing-situation/

    Let's all chill out about this whole 'Alexa is spying on you' thing
    https://mashable.com/2018/05/25/amaz.../#zQvkmnn9hOqg

    6 ways to keep Alexa from eavesdropping on you
    https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/...you/645504002/
    “If you think that’s the dumbest thing you’ve ever heard,
    just wait a couple minutes!”

  15. #15
    Administrator Mr. Widget's Avatar
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    I wasn't suggesting Amazon is spying on you when you turn it off, I'm suggesting others may be using it to monitor your on-line banking etc. by using it as a weak point in your home network. Many of the low cost IOT appliances are famously easy to turn into data gleaning bots.

    I've heard that even Mark Zuck has tape over the camera on his computer. While many don't value privacy, personally I would hate to find my 401K balance sitting at $0 due to a hack. If someone gets your PW the fault is yours and no one will give you your money back.

    Sorry for the OT rant.


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