Alexa Cast | An Unofficial Journey of an Amazon Echo User

David Jackson

Follow the journey of using the Amazon Echo and get power tips and get more out of your Amazon Echo

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Prime Day 50% off of Echo Shows
Prime Day 50% off of Echo ShowsPrime Day Deal Kicking Off EarlyAmazon Release a Ton of New Features and Products
Amazon Announced some new products and new features. New HardWare Echo Show 10 Third Generation: The screen now swivels and follows you. 13-megapixel camera.Brushless motor - silent Check it out on Amazon New Fire Stick Latest release of our best-selling streaming device - 50% more powerful than previous gen for fast streaming in Full HD. Includes Alexa Voice Remote with power and volume buttons.Less clutter, more control - Alexa Voice Remote lets you use your voice to search and launch shows across apps. Plus, control power and volume on your TV and soundbar with a single remote.Home theater audio with Dolby Atmos - Feel scenes come to life with immersive Dolby Atmos audio on select titles with compatible home audio systems.Tens of thousands of channels, Alexa skills, and apps - Including Netflix, YouTube, Prime Video, Disney+, Apple TV, and HBO. Subscription fees may apply.500,000+ movies and TV episodes - With thousands included in your Prime membership.Live TV - Watch your favorite live TV, news, and sports with subscriptions to SLING TV, YouTube TV, and others.Free TV - Access over 20,000 free movies and TV shows from apps like IMDb TV, Tubi, Pluto TV and more Check out the new Fire Stick TV Echo Dot Fourth Generation The new spherical version has a better speaker, an optional clock, and a kids version. Check out the Echo Dot on Amazon   Luna Amazon's cloud gaming service where it's easy to play great games on devices you already own. More information New Amazon Alexa/Echo Features Group Calling - makes it easier to call a group (family, friends). Alexa call (name of group) Zoom Meetings and Amazon Chime - Just say, “Alexa, join my Zoom meeting,” or “Alexa, start my Chime meeting,” to join a video meeting on select Echo Show devices. Video Effects - Cause you need bubbles in your 10 AM meeting... Care Hub - Stay in touch with aging family members so they can say Alexa, call for help and have it come to you. Gaurd Plus - Play dog or siren sounds if someone breaks in. Subscribe and have Alexa call for help. Increased Privacy - Alexa, delete everything I've said. Food Planning - Plan meals for the week by adding items to your Whole Foods Market or Amazon Fresh cart, and once your delivery arrives, ask, “Alexa, what's for dinner” to see personalized recipes based on what you just had delivered. Sound Detectors - Example: create a Routine that turns the light on in the bedroom to help you wake up when Alexa detects the sound of a baby crying, or one that turns on white noise when your partner starts to snore at night. Netflix- Coming soon Music Sharing - Alexa, share this song with (name). They can listen through the Alexa App Reading Sidekick - Let Alexa teach your kids to read. Alexa Profile For Kids - She switches to recognizes and switches to "kid mode" when she detects a child on all devices.
Sep 25 2020
17 mins
Echo Show 8 Reviewed
Originally I thought I was going to be able to take this Echo with a screen and watch YouTube, Apple+ Amazon Prime, and all the other video items I do on a Fire TV stick. While you can it's not as easy.    The video on the Echo Show is more for video calls. They do make it easy for the Food channel (which is great if you have the unit in the kitchen). It also has what appears to be a Hulu app. If you want YouTube you have to open a browser (so again, not as easy as a Fire TV system).    I do like it when I ask to see my calendar it puts it up on the screen. This is the same with my grocery list, flash briefing items, and more. I purchased this for the kitchen but it ended up in my bedroom. At first, I thought I was going to have to manually turn the brightness down, but it turns out if you turn the lights off in your room, the Echo Show can figure this out and it dims automatically, and makes the clock much bigger.    There are other things you can have scroll on the screen. I have uploaded some photographs to my Amazon account and these can be rotated throughout the screen. If you had someone in a nursing home, you could set this up to share images on their screen (assuming you are controlling their account).    I also was amazed at the sound quality of the speakers in the Echo Show 8. It has some bottom-end for such little speakers and it has some volume. All in all, I'm happy with it, and already thinking of getting another one.    Originally I was going to get an Echo Spot, but for just a little more money the Echo Show is a much better deal I feel.    If you like the show tell a friend or consider donating to support the show.
Jul 29 2020
8 mins
Global RemindersFitbit Versa 2 Now Alexa EnabledAlex Now Remembers
May 14 2018
5 mins
Announce that Dinner is Ready - IHome iAVS16 Product Review
Comments? 888-563-3228 Alexa just rolled out the ability to use all the Amazon Devices as a one-way intercom. Simply Say Alex Announce that dinner is ready and she will announce it on any Amazon Device. iHome iAVS16 SMart Alarm Clock with Alexa Enabled Today I'm reviewing the iHome Smart Alarm Clock the iAVS16 https://youtu.be/QrwihUQSx6w I found the iHome Smart Alarm clock (with Alexa) at Best Buy (FYI it's $25 cheaper at Amazon) and it sounded pretty darn good. Then I found out it was Alexa Enabled and it had my attention, throw in that is has a built-in phone charger and I was sold. And as they say, "But wait there is more" the iHome app really takes advantage of your Spotify and other services integration. I can finally do what I've been trying to do and that is wake up to a Spotify playlist. For me, this was super cool. Other features as this unit is more than likely going to end up in a Bedroom is there is a light bar that you can set up. There are even smart buttons you can program. That's right you can press one button on the alarm clock and it will play your best Barry White playlist and set the mood with the proper lighting. Oh yea. Setup Is Easy You download a free app, connect the app to your wifi. Then you fire up the clock and the app connects the clock to your wi-fi and you're ready to roll. Likewise, you connect your music services to the iHome app and now you can program your music services to buttons on the top of the unit. Not So Great Surprises You can also program it to control smart devices*, but there is an asterisk there. Those devices have to be using Smart Outlets from iHome. There was one other pet peeve. On their website, it states the display is dimmable. It took me a while, but I figured out that the Snooze button is What Does it Sound Like? If you use to have a dot it's 8 million times better. You can adjust the bass and treble from the app, and I didn't know just how much bass I had until I went downstairs and heard all the bass pumping upstairs. If you're worried it won' t wake you?  Then you would have to be deaf. It will blast you out of the room. Want a warning shot? There is even an option to having soft soothing sounds play before the actual alarm. There is a Difference Between an Amazon Device and an Alexa Enabled Device While the iHome iAVS16 Smart Alarm Clock does everything I want it to do, when I went to try the "Announce" feature it stated that this feature was not available on this unit yet. I've never heard of this, but apparently, there is a difference between an actual Amazon Dot/echo/show and something that is Alexa enabled. Conclusion I've been wanting to wake to a Spotify playlist since music came to Alexa. While you can set music on an alarm in the Alex app, it wouldn't connect to a Spotify playlist and this does. The sound is great, and I have the bonus of a phone charger all in one. I don't have to ask Alexa what the temperature is outside or what alarm is set as they are both on the front of the display. You can buy it at Amazon.com (currently $125)   Watch the video at https://youtu.be/QrwihUQSx6w Thanks To Everyone Who Has Been Shopping At Amazon Through Our Affiliate Banners We appreciate it Amazon.com (aff link)
Apr 11 2018
10 mins
Stream Sports on TuneIn for $2.99 a Month
Alex is Getting Brief Mode is Coming This is an experimental feature not available everywhere. Settings > Alexa Voice Response (at the very bottom) Alexa Can Fart On Command Just say, "Alexa Fart." Yep, this should be a big hit with the kids. Taking Another Look At Alexa Routines Launch the Amazon Alexa app on your phone, tap the hamburger and select Routines.Routines can be triggered by a phrase, or set to turn on at a specific time (repeat options for multiple days are available). Then you put in what you want her to do (so it's a big if this then that statementFor me I say, "Alexa, kill the lights," and all of my smart lights go out and she tells me the weather (as I plan on using this when I get ready to leave). I did find I couldn't use it with things that she already had built in. For example, "Alexa, I'm outa here" already had a built-in response.  There are other ways I could do this. I could assign the lights to a room and ask her to turn of a room or scene. You can also have her tell you the traffic and news.  Alexa Owners Get a Discount on TuneIn Live Alexa customers in the U.S. TuneIn Live, as the premium live audio subscription is called, will offer play-by-play calls from thousands of live sporting events, plus access to premium news stations, talk shows and other content. The subscription content comes from TuneIn partners like MLB, NBA, NHL, and the NFL, as well as news stations like CNBC, MSNBC, Al Jazeera, Newsy, and others. he broader TuneIn service also pulls in content from over 120,000 owned and operated as well as partner radio stations, and 5.7 million on-demand programs The skill can be enabled on Alexa device with the command, “Alexa, open TuneIn Live.” TuneIn Live is available as of today, Major League Baseball’s 2018 Opening Day. This isn't the first time there has been a discount applied to Alexa users. The Amazon Music Unlimited Echo Plan lets Amazon Echo owners access all the benefits from Amazon’s on-demand music service on a single Echo device for $3.99 per month, instead of $7.99 per month for Prime members, or $9.99 per month for non-Prime members. When you open the skill, try asking Alexa: - Play the Yankees game - What games are on? - Listen to the Golden State Warriors - Turn on MSNBC Speaking of Discounts, there is a discounted version of Prime  Amazon announced this morning it will offer a low-cost version of its Prime membership program to qualifying recipients of Medicaid. The program will bring the cost of Prime down from the usual $10.99 per month to about half that, at $5.99 per month, while still offering the full range of Prime perks, including free, two-day shipping on millions of products, Prime Video, Prime Music, Prime Photos, Prime Reading, Prime Now, Audible Channels, and more. The new program is an expansion on Amazon’s discounted Prime service for customers on government assistance, launched in June 2017. For the same price of $5.99 per month, Amazon offers Prime memberships to any U.S. customer with a valid EBT card – the card that’s used to disburse funds for assistance programs like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and Women, Infants, and Children Nutrition Program (WIC).
Apr 4 2018
13 mins
Listening to Podcasts on Alexa With William NuttControl Your TV With AlexaAlexa is Now a Clock Radio
Amazon Music News: Goodbye Music Storage - Hello Hits By Location - Waking Up to Music Amazon quietly announced this week it’s retiring its Amazon Music Storage subscription plans, with plans to completely disallow playing or downloading songs from the service starting in January 2019. So in the past, you could upload your entire music catalog into Amazon and have it available to play (and for Alexa). There’s a long grace period before access to your music is permanently disabled, however. The tracks you’ve already uploaded to Amazon Music will still be available until January 2019. The shutdown affects both the free storage plan, which allowed for 250 songs to be stored in the cloud, as well the paid plan – originally $25 per year – which offered cloud storage for up to 250,000 songs. MP3 files you purchased from Amazon will stay available. If you are an Amazon Music Unlimited or  Prime Music customers you can now ask Alexa to "Play the top songs in (your city" or the "hits in (your city).  Another feature is "Play More Like This." So you could say, "Alexa, play songs similar to Billy Joel" or "Play songs like Piano Man." We all know about settings alarms with Alexa, now you can have the alarm be music. The new musical alarm feature supports Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora, TuneIn, SiriusXM and iHeartRadio. Users can, through voice commands, set daily alarms for a specific song, playlist, or radio station. You could say, "Alexa wame me up at 7:30 AM to Good Morning Good Morning by The Beatles. On Amazon Music, users are supposed to be able to ask Alexa to set a musical alarm based on just a couple lyrics. Here is the example from Amazon: “Alexa, set an alarm at 7 a.m. to the song that goes ‘I'm a cowboy, on a steel horse I ride.'” I personally can get the lyric thing to work. Amazon Unlimited Music is (currently) .99 for three months then $7.99. If you have Amazon Prime you have access to 2 million Songs. Amazon Echo Buttons Get a Game The Amazon button got lost in the shuffle of all the different devices being launched at the same time earlier this year. The buttons pair to an Echo device via bluetooth, serving as gameshow buzzers. Trivial Pursuit Tap is one of the first third-party applications to take advantage of the little plastic discs, turning the smart home speaker into a makeshift, at-home, Alexa-based gameshow. Users can connect up to four of the Buttons at once, assigning different colors to each player. I think this is one of those things that once you see it in action, it could become very popular. A package of 2 buttons goes for $20 FireFox Comes to Fire TV I haven't tried this yet, but Amazon announce that firefox will now be available on which allows you to search the web (including YouTube) Full Story Things To Try With Alexa Alexa, open Fireplace Sounds." Alexa, sing a Christmas rap Alexa, sing a Christmas carol Alexa, read “The Night Before Christmas Alexa, play Christmas Sounds. Alexa, tell me a holiday limerick Alexa, tell me a football joke
Dec 22 2017
10 mins
Checking Your Orders Without Outing Santa Claus
Support the show by going to www.alexacast.com Being Careful Checking Your Orders with Alexa Currently, when I ask Alexa for an update on my orders she tells me when an item should arrive including the item's name. This may not be a good thing as at times Alexa needs to whisper sometimes (and she hasn't been programmed for that). You can go into your app and turn of the ability for her to announce the name. Go to: Settings > Notifications >Shopping Notifications (from there you can set product names on/off News: Alexa is headed for the workplace.  The WSJ reports that Alexa for Business will also give enterprise users the opportunity to build apps and skills for calendar management, meeting room scheduling and ordering supplies. The introduction of Alexa for Business also presents an opportunity to let users access business information on their phones or outside of the building using the Alexa app on their phone. In the future, you may be able to schedule a virtual meeting with the sales team that is delivered to everyone's device. You could drop into your manager's office (or vice versa). Full Story Alexa Control Hulu, NBC, Bravo on Fire TV This feature lets you ask Alexa to “watch,” “play,” “pause,” “rewind,” “fast forward,” and more. It can also take you to an individual show, network, or specific genre of programming. Before, Alexa could control Amazon’s own video content in this fashion. But now the same voice commands work with third-party apps like Hulu, NBC, Bravo, and others that quietly launched voice support last week, including Showtime, Sony PlayStation Vue, and CBS All Access. Showtime Anytime will add the functionality soon, Amazon says. Echo Dot and FireStick Best Selling Item on Amazon Echo Dot and Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote were not only the best-selling Amazon devices during this sales holiday, but they were also the best-selling products from any manufacturer in any category on Amazon. It is estimated that there were millions of Alexa Devices sold over the holiday weekend. Alexa will be arriving in Australia and New Zealand at some unspecified point in early 2018. Full Story
Dec 3 2017
9 mins
Black Friday Alexa Deals End on 11/27/17 at MidnightAlexa and ThanksgivingBest Buy Deals of the Day on AlexaMusic Groups and Alexa Routines Test Drive
Oct 31 2017
9 mins
Amazon Alexa Now Has Custom Lists and Recognizes Different VoicesThe Amazon Echo Family GrowsAlexa (and the Tic) Make Housework Fun