Saturday, May 30, 2020

Amazon Smart Home

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I have several smart speakers in my home. Most of them are Alexa, and I also have a few Google speakers. This post is about using smart home devices, which I control only with Alexa, and so this post is about Alexa. (I mostly restrict my use of my Google speakers to asking for the news and weather, and they also broaden my choices in music so that I'm not stuck only with Amazon's free music choices.)

All Things Amazon and Alexa

I have several smarthome plugs and other smarthome devices, all different brands because I buy whatever's cheapest:

  1. Amazon   (plug)
  2. Amazon   (Echo Button)
  3. Gosund    (plug)
  4. Phillips    (Hue Bridge)
  5. Wemo      (plug)
The name of the OEM app on my phone that controls each:

  1. Amazon plug......................Amazon Alexa app
  2. Amazon Echo Button.........Amazon Alexa app
  3. Gosund plug.......................Smart Life app* (see below)
  4. Phillips Hue Bridge............Hue app
  5. Wemo plug.........................Wemo app
The name of the app that does all the good stuff, like controlling groups and routines:
  • Alexa app (yup that's all)
And who do I give voice instructions to? Alexa speaker devices:
  • Echo Show (I have one of these, and it's in the kitchen)
  • Echo Dot (I have two of these)
  • Echo (I have one of these)
Some general notes including what to do when things go wrong:
  1. When a plug shows solid red, it's working. Blue means that it's not working.
  2. If you don't know what's wrong, go back to the OEM app first, and verify that the device is recognized
  3. If Alexa can't find your device any more, unplug the device for at least ten seconds. Then press the reset button and hold it down while plugging it back in and keep holding it until it is blinking blue alternating with red. Then tell Amazon to find the device. You will then have to add it back to devices, routines, and groups.
  4. When using your phone to re-connect a device, your phone should be connected by 2.4GHz connection for most of them. However, I have an Amazon plug which connects by 5 GHz, so be sure your phone is connected by 5 GHz in that case.
  5. When you're done, you can reconnect the wifi on your phone however you want.
  6. If you get a new phone, and you don't add back the manufacturer app to your new phone, everything should still work, until something goes wrong again. Then add back the app if needed.
  7. The Amazon Echo Button is not a toggle button. You cannot use it, for example, to turn on and off a light switch. Instead, it kicks off one routine only (one routine, however, can do many things.) I have an Echo Button that I press in the morning which kicks off a routine to turn off the whitenoise machine, start my coffee, play morning music on my kitchen Echo Show, and turn on a few powerstrips that need to be on during the day. 

*Note about the Gosund devices -- there's also a Gosund app but it's buggy. Smart Life is a third party app for Gosund devices that works better. I never use the Gosund app, and I consider Smart Life to be the Gosund OEM app.


Friday, May 29, 2020

My Asus Zenbook forgot it has bluetooth

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One day my bluetooth disappeared. When I tried the run the troubleshoot, the resulting message was that this device doesn't have bluetooth. Not true!

I found the download here. This worked.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

It got harder to install Office 2010

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I've moved around a 3 computer license for Office 2010 Home many many times. I know the routine. I have to put in the product code, but then it tells me I have it on too many computers, so I have to click the radio button for making a phone call.

But today when I went through the routine, the message said that phone calls were no longer available. I was stuck.

So I googled the exact message it threw, and lo and behold, I found a search hit with the phone number. I called that number, and that triggered a similar process as the old kind (many sets of six numbers) but it required me to do it by phone, rather than web.

It worked.

For U.S.A., the phone number was 866-421-7141

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Sideload Google Play on Fire Tablet HD 8 7th Generation

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Beware. Some instructions are just sales ads disguised as instructions.

But I found this easy set of instructions from Laptop Magazine.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Solved! Epson WF-2660 printing uniformely faded printouts

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The difference is whether I print from the cloud or the network. From the cloud, it's faded. 

From the network, it's not.

In the print dialogue, change the quality back to "standard" and it should stay that way.

It appears that the default got changed to draft.

This was hard to find in the print dialogue. Look closely.

Solved! Network Drive has a red x after boot

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It's been a problem since the beginning of time. All it takes is clicking on the drive to fix the problem. However, I have a scheduled app that runs on a schedule. It fails if I don't explicitly open that folder. That's kinda a pain.

The Solution

  1. Check what speed your network adapter is connecting at. You can find this in Network and Sharing Center. Or find instructions here. Mine is 1.0 Gbps
  2. Go to control panel - network and sharing center
  3. Change adapter settings
  4. Right-click the correct adapter and click properties
  5. Click Configure
  6. Go to Advanced tab
  7. Scroll down to Speed & Duplex and set this manually to whatever you are currently connected at. I set mine to 1.0 Gbps
  8. Click OK, then OK and reboot, and see that there's no red X.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Solved! Echo Show wouldn't stop playing music when asked

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In my situation I discovered this:

Me: Alexa, play Enya on Amazon Music
Alexa: plays the music
Me: Alexa, stop the music
Alexa: Keeps playing

Me: Alexa, play Enya on Pandora
Alexa: plays the music
Me: Alexa, stop the music
Alexa: Stops