More good news for Alexa users in the UK

There is a huge discrepancy between the huge list of Alexa “skills” available in the US, and those available to us using Alexa on the other side of the pond. In encouraging news this week, Amazon looks set to automatically create UK instances of existing US only skills.

Amazon have emailed developers (yes, I registered as a US developer early on) to say that the migration will begin on Feb 16th. Developers can opt out, but unless their skill only makes sense in the US, I don’t see why they would.

As you’d expect, Amazon have a comprehensive FAQ on all this.

 

Alexa and Harmony

I’m not sure when this Alexa skill appeared in the U.K., but it is now possible to directly control a Logitech Harmony Hub from Alexa.

This means (since I have the computer wake word enabled) I can say:

Computer, tell Harmony to turn on Plex.

So now we can turn on the living room lights and choose the media while walking into the room. It also allows voice control of pausing – something I’ve already used once tonight when getting up to answer the front door.

Computer, tell Harmony to pause.

And, at the end of the evening:

Computer, tell Harmony to turn off.

I would prefer a more elegant – or just shorter – construction for these commands, but this is a good start.

One downside: all the Dots end up controlling just one Harmony Hub, so I can’t differentiate between devices in the living room and the cinema room. I hope this is on Logitech’s roadmap.

They do still need to fix the recognition of “computer” for Lindsay though!

Exciting Alexa news

As of the latest update you can use a new wake word to get Alexa’s attention:

Computer, turn on the living room.

Finally!

One step closer to having the Enterprise D’s ship computer. Someone get Bezos to licence Majel Barret-Roddenberry’s voice asap!

Update after a few hours with this enabled: Rather hilariously – to me anyway – Alexa responds perfectly to me when I say “computer” but only works for Lindsay if she drops a couple of octaves and does her best Picard impression. Is this a more general problem with higher register voices?

Stylish Patent Diagram Prints

These prints look genuinely great. Carefully chosen and laid out prints of notable patent diagrams. I’ve ordered an Atari one since the 2600 console and related devices are largely responsible for my fascination with technology. A fascination that started in the early 80s, and hasn’t quit yet.

Budget SAN

This is the Netgear SC101, a budget (60 quid) SAN device. It takes two hard drives which it presents as storage to any client on the network running the Netgear software. Out of the box you can allocate storage to multiple drive letters, or even set up a pair of mirrored disks to protect your data.

What you can’t do, however, is create a spanned drive set – using all the space on both disks as one big volume.

Well, not without a bit of hacking anyway…

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