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Tech

Useful stuff I do with Amazon Alexa in my house

Most people use Amazon Alexa to listen to music, we use it also to listen to Mantras/Stotrams like Gayatri mantra etc. However, as you read this article you will realize that it can be used for much more useful and potentially life-saving purposes.

Note: if you are concerned about security, just mute it when you don’t want it to listen for the “wake word”. Wake word is the only word it constantly listens for (example, “Alexa”) so it can listen what you subsequently say and process.

Order Uber ride using Alexa, very handy when you are in a rush and don’t have the time open the app and set it up there. Also, this way is much simpler. I have used it few times and it works nicely.

Buy products from Amazon. You can order new stuff and it gives you options. You can re-order existing stuff, super easy. I use this frequently. Great for re-ordering.

Now let’s move to something of great importance at night. Remember going to the toilet in the middle of the night only to realize you are completely out of water and the pump switch is downstairs?
I set up a routine so every night Alexa/Echo starts my pump for 5 minutes (configurable to your needs) starting at 10pm. It ensures I have enough water for mid-night adventures.

Note: You can always stop in the middle, if you want to, by saying, “Alexa, switch pump off”. So have no fear of overflowing.

When we start the pump, sometimes we forget to stop it in time which results in overflowing and wastage. I just say “Alexa, pump” and it runs my pump for exactly 7 minutes (configurable). Again, I use a routine for it.

During night to avoid bumping around in the dark I just say, “Alexa switch light on” and when done, “Alexa, switch light off”. It is much more accurate than the clappers of bygone era. And if I want to do it in silence I can use the app. I can also set the color of the light and how cool it is.
PS. Maybe I will configure it to work with, “Fiat Lux”. What do you say?

Order Dominos pizza (easy to repeat last order). I promise it will make you order more, so don’t blame me if you do.

Ask for recipes. I don’t do it normally but I have done it and it is easy and convenient.

Listen to the latest news, what you listen to is configurable. We listen to Bengali News (subscribe to “Bengali News Kolkata” and “Bengali News India” to get latest updated news in Bengali). Just say, “Alexa, News” to get latest news from your chosen sources.

Better than intercom. I have multiple Alexa Echo Dot devices in house. So I can call any of the room or better yet I just connect automatically by saying, “Alexa, drop in kitchen” to listen to what is going on in the Kitchen and let my thoughts be known too (“I would like egg roll please”), just like intercom but without the hassle of pressing a button or being close to the device.

When you are on the road and want to desperately call home but nobody is picking up the phone. They could be busy watching TV loudly or something more serious. You can just connect to any room in the house directly and start talking. Helped me many times.

Remote work

Inter-Intel Chief from Mandrake Comics as representation of you while you are working remotely like Hojo did.

Having an Echo device in office is very handy. You want to work from home. So you connect with the echo device at work (“Alexa, drop in office”) from your home office. Anyone can come to your office (room) and have a conversation with you as if you are there. You can have a cutout of you in your seat for added realism if you like. Many find it convenient to come to your room and talk instead of picking up the phone and then there would be some who didn’t know that you are working from home. It cannot answer your office phone but then you can forward it as you know.

Connected with an echo device is great for participating in meetings, much cheaper than Polycom Soundstation 2 / conference room speakerphones.

It makes co-working easier when working remotely. Way more convenient and better sound than connecting over mobile speakerphone or headset.

You can broadcast your messages simultaneously to any connected Echo devices simultaneously. Write something and it will read it for you. Useful both in home and office. You can also play some inspirational music across all devices simultaneously if you wish.

Server Monitoring

Server monitoring with Alexa is something I find very useful. I monitor several servers and my routers with Alexa and it sends a notification to Alexa devices when any one goes offline or slower than usual. When I see notification blinking on my nearest device, I check the server to fix it as necessary. In my experience it is better than text/SMS because these days SMS channel is too crowded with SPAM messages and so I rarely monitor it in real-time. This allows me to monitor my servers from home or office with equal ease.

Which Alexa device to use?

You can use any Alexa device for all the tip I mentioned. So choose depending on your budget and needs. I am highlighting just two of them including the ones I use.

I use four Amazon Echo Dot devices which works for me. Compared to Amazon Echo, it has smaller speakers and needs to be connected to power at all times. Echo has better sound too.

Amazon Echo is the bigger better version of Echo Dot (better sound, dynamic bass and more volume) and can run without being connected to power at all times. You can use this too as well as any Amazon Alexa devices for everything I mentioned above.

What’s next?

I have electrically operated doors which I can open from any floor. I want to open it using Alexa, protected with a pass-code.

The Bengali News I mentioned above is a service provided by me. I plan to provide Flash news in all major Indian languages. The backend is done. I just have to create the necessary skills.

In what unique ways do you use Alexa at home?

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