6/23/17 Alexa Fast Tips Friday

Welcome to LME’s 6/23/17 Alexa Fast Tips Friday. You may have heard some of these before, but I hope you learn at least one new thing here each week.

Please note: not being in the UK myself I can’t test any of these tips for UK Alexa users. If the functionality isn’t there yet, it should be coming to you soon.


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1. Noisy environment? Try voice training with all the noisy stuff turned on to improve Alexa’s comprehension.
I caught this one on an Alexa device user discussion board. If your Alexa device is in an area where there’s often a lot of noise, such as a kitchen, turn on all the noisy stuff (e.g., start the dishwasher, microwave some water, turn on the coffee maker, et cetera) and then crack open the Alexa app to do some Alexa voice training (Settings tab > Voice Training). Alexa will “learn” to tune out all that background noise.


2. Ask Alexa for a tip.
Say the wake word followed by, “Tell me a tip,” to get an Easter egg style tip from Alexa. So far I haven’t learned anything new with this, but the customized messages are fun.


3. You don’t have to buy an Echo Show to enjoy the benefits of smart camera integration.
Today Amazon announced a special developer skill kit enhancement for hooking into smart video cameras, and of course this is intended to dovetail with the upcoming release of the Echo Show. But if you don’t have a Show, you can still access the audio feed from your Ring, Arlo, Nest, August, EZViz, Vivint, Amcrest, Logitech, and IC Realtime smart cameras via an Echo or Dot. Click here to read Engadget’s coverage.


4. Experiment to find new Things to Ask Alexa.
I’ve discovered many of the Things To Ask Alexa I share here on the site through trial and error. If you know of a quote Easter egg related to a certain movie, book or video game, try out some other quotes from the same source to see if Alexa catches them. For example, most people know about the Princess Bride Easter egg, “My name is Inigo Montoya,” but there’s a whole raft of Princess Bride Easter eggs. Hint: try feeding Alexa some of Inigo’s lines from the rhyming scene in the boat with Fezzik. There are also lots of well-known Star Wars and Star Trek quote Easter eggs, but I doubt I’ve found them all.

Once you know of a certain type of Easter egg, try something similar. For example, when someone told me about the “If a tree falls in a forest…” Easter egg that I shared last week, I figured Alexa must have some more thought experiment -type Easter eggs so I started trying them out. I already knew about “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin,” but I got, “What is the sound of one hand clapping,” with a guess.


5. Lists can now be printed.
People have been asking for this for a LONG time, and it’s finally available. In the Lists tab of the Alexa app, you’ll now find a Print link at the upper right hand corner, which means you can now print your Alexa Shopping and To Do List.


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