As promised in my last article in this series, here is the next installment of my Amazon Echo / Amazon Alexa tips to help you get the most out of your device(s). Nightlight skill, radio, remembering things and a few others in this article!
There is the 2nd in a series of tips, and I will try an publish up to 4 per month (but at least 2) from now on, until I run out of steam. Some of the articles may also refer to YouTube videos on my channel, so don't forget to subscribe to that too. You can find the subscribe button under my logo on this page, why not check us out on Facebook too.
Tip 5 - Nightlight Skill
You've probably notices that your echo device has a coloured light ring which is used to signify various things. When you say the wake work (usually Alexa) the ring will light up a blue colour while she is listening and processing your command. White when you adjust volume. Orange when in setup mode. Flashing orange when you have messages. Red when you've press the button to prevent your device from listening. I've also seen purple as well but not sure what status that is for. Wouldn't it be nice if you could control that? Well, whilst I was looking for how to do that I came across the nightlight skill which might be a useful one for you to see your way in the middle of the night if you need to visit the loo, and perhaps don't want to turn main lights on.
If you've read my first article you should already know how to add and enable a new skill - if not, head on over to https://all-tech-plus.com/amazon-alexa-tip-series-5-tips-article-1 and see tip number 4. Simply search for nightlight within the app. You can find out more about the skill at this link: https://smile.amazon.co.uk/labworks-io-ltd-Night-Light/dp/B0764GDTVG
Once the skill is enabled, you can say things like:
- Alexa, open night light. [on it's own it will only light briefly]
- Alexa, open night light for 10 minutes.
Though you should be able to whisper the command to your Alexa, I found that she doesn't always hear 'for 10 minutes' unless I say a little louder.
Tip 6 - Listening to the radio
There are many, many radio stations that also broadcast over the Internet and make themselves available via. a site called tunein.com, your Alexa can play any of these radio stations, all you need to know is the station name. If when you try this you can't get the correct station (you might find there are may with the same or similar names) I recommend you go to the website and search for your station - one station I quite like is Los Cuarenta which is one of our popular Spanish stations, but because my Echo is setup for English, I usually have to say 'los forty' to get the right station.
- Alexa, play los forty on tune in
- Alexa, play BBC Radio 2 on tune in
- Alexa, play BBS Radio Leeds on tune in
- Alexa, pause
- Alexa, stop
- Alexa, resume
- Alexa, tune in [will play the last station you listened to!]
Searching for Radio Leeds @ Tunein.com
Tip 7 - Remember 'Me' Skill
How often have you said to yourself, or had someone else say 'it's in a safe place' - if only we could remember where that safe place is! Well, now you'll never forget, providing you have your echo device or Alexa app to hand. Search for the skill using the keyword 'remember'. There will be more than one match, the one your after is actually called remember me skill by Danny Buckley (https://alexa.amazon.co.uk/spa/index.html#skills/dp/B0824BNF9X) - I have tried some similar skills but this one is pretty good. It's a bit long winded to tell it what to do but once you've got the hang of it, you'll be ok. Enable the skill first of all, then try some of the following:
- Alexa, ask remember me to remember where I put my passport with the answer in the small safe.
- Alexa, ask remember me to remember where I put my money with the answer under the mattress.
- Alexa, ask remember me do you know where I put my money?
- Alexa open remember me [wait, she'll then ask what you want to do - you can say help if you wish, but I'm going to say remember]
- remember [wait, she'll ask you what to remember]
- my doctors appointment [wait again]
- Friday 26th December
The skill also has a companion website, so you can link Alexa to it and lookup online what your 'remembers' were if you forget [recommended]! The website is http://www.myremember.co.uk - signup with your e-mail address but remember to use a different password. Once you've signed up, you'll get a code sent to your e-mail to verify that it is actually you signing up, then you'll be able to login. Once you've logged in, it will say you have no reminders, that's because you now have to link it to the Alexa skill on your device.
- Alexa, open remember me [wait until she's finished talking then say]
- link remember me account [be ready with pen and paper to make a note of that code]
- You will need to click on account.
- Enter the code you made a note of and click the link button!
I couldn't find a voice command to delete or update a reminder so you'll have to use the website for that. I had an issue when trying to record a date as the answer, the skill only heard the month (tried it twice) - you can always edit the response on the site. If you get an error when accessing the website make sure it is entered as http://www.myremember.co.uk and not https:// the secure site doesn't seem to be working right now.
You will only see a list of your reminders once you've linked your online account to Alexa, and of course have set some reminders. If you haven't linked yet, click on where it says account and enter the code in the box that you will be shown - you have to ask Alexa to link - see instructions adjacent.
Tip 8 - Using your Calendar
If you have an Google e-mail account, hotmail, or an apple id account, you will also have a calendar which you can use to note certain events, for example birthdays, appointments and so on. Personally I use my Google account to manage my calendar because it is available on my phone, tablet, and desktop computer - I can make changes to my calendar on any of those devices and the changes are shown everywhere. It is possible to link your Alexa, so you can record things directly by voice into your calendar. Before you can use it, you'll need to link up your calendar.
Fortunately this is quite easy, open the Alexa app on your phone or mobile device, click the three lines (top left), find and click on settings, scroll down, until you see the word Calendar, then of course click on that.
You have the choice of which calendar to connect - if you use an Android phone you'll probably want to link to your Google Calendar (the same calendar you can access on your phone using the, er, calendar app!), or if your are a hotmail user and you use the hotmail calendar you can link that one, and of course calendar on your apple device (iphone, ipad etc). Most likely you're either going to be Google or Apple.
- Click on the plus sign next to the calendar of choice
- Follow the on screen prompts to authorise Alexa to access your calendar - you'll probably have to provide your google username (email), hotmail or apple ID and of course the password.
- Once you've done this, you'll may be asked to review what permissions you are giving to Alexa - if you want to use the feature you'll have to authorise.
- You should see a confirmation message.
Here are some of the voice commands you could try:
- Alexa, add the 28th of July to my calendar [follow the further voice prompts - sure, for what time] - 10am [and whats the name of the event] - Marks Birthday [I'll schedule...ok?] - Yes
- Alexa, add event [what day and time] - tomorrow [for what time] all day [whats the name of the event] christmas day [I'll schedule...ok?] - Yes
- Alexa, what's in my diary tomorrow?
- Alexa, what's in my diary for Thursday?
- Alexa, when is my next event?
- Alexa, schedule a meeting [follow the voice prompts]
- Alexa, move 'meeting with new client' [alexa will prompt you for a new date and time for the item you already scheduled]
Tip 9 - Ask a question, any question
Seems like this should probably have been one of the first tips, you've probably discovered by now that you can ask Alexa almost any question, here are some of my favourites:
- Alexa, how many euros do I get for a pound?
- Alexa, what are the latest movies?
- Alexa, tell me about the movie black christmas?
- Alexa, what films are on tv tonight?
- Alexa, what's on BBC 1 this evening?
- Alexa, did Everton win? [she'll tell you the result of their last match]
- Alexa, when do Huddersfield Giants play next?
- Alexa, how many pounds in 1 kilogram?
- Alexa, what happened on this day in history?
What questions do you like to ask, drop me a line, let me know and I'll add them here for others to try.
Tip 10 - Set a PIN code on Amazon Purchases
This might be a prudent thing to do! You can order products from Amazon using your Alexa device, but just to make sure you don't do this by accident, set a PIN code that you'll have to confirm before a purchase can be made. This is also important, if perhaps you have kids that might use your device, or of course so you don't order anything in error.
To set the PIN go into the settings on the Alexa App, find Voice Purchasing, and turn on Voice Code (you can also turn off voice purchasing in the same screen if you wish). Enter a 4 digit code (I recommend you don't use either your bank card pin or your year or date of birth - if you're looking for something fairly memorable, try the first 4 or last 4 digits of your phone number for example.
I hope you've enjoyed these tips. If you have please share them with your friends. If you would like me to help you setup and get the best out of your Alexa, drop me a line. Don't forget to signup for my newsletter on the homepage to get notified of new things from All Tech Plus, and The Shirt Shed!
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