Anyone else got an Amazon Echo or Dot?

Discussion in 'computers, web and general tech' started by nuffsaid, Dec 2, 2016.

  1. nuffsaid

    nuffsaid But this goes up to 11

    I got a Dot recently, no point getting the Echo if you have Bluetooth speakers.

    I'm slowly seeing more and more use for it and am more impressed with it after a few weeks. I'd prefer if it had a battery so you could move it around more easily, but I suppose they want you to buy one for every room.

    I use mine largely for -
    A decent radio signal in my kitchen, where I can't pick up a lot of DAB/FM signals.
    Creating shopping lists
    Heating adjustments - hooked it up to my smart thermostat
    Reading Guardian articles to me
    The latest update on train times is great, so much better than faffing with an app when you're just about to dash out the door.

    Sometimes though if I'm just sat in front of the TV it thinks it heard it's name and suddenly answers 'Sorry, I didn't understand that', a bit like Hal. It did that once when my neighbour was over and we were talking and he hadn't seen it...:)
    editor and Badgers like this.
  2. Lazy Llama

    Lazy Llama Suburban robots that monitor reality

    I got a Dot for my birthday.
    Use it for:
    Listening to the radio - have it plugged into the HiFi.
    LIstening to music from Amazon Music (mostly stuff I've bought on CD which they've "AutoRipped")
    Occasional news/weather reports
    Hooked it up to my Harmony Elite remote system so I can control the TV/Amazon TV etc with it. That doesn't currently work as well as I'd hoped.
    Mostly when I ask it something it hasn't clue. I'd say 10% useful answers, if that.

    I've noticed it light up when there's an Amazon ad on the TV and they're demoing Alexa.....
    Badgers likes this.
  3. danny la rouge

    danny la rouge Without music, life would be a mistake.

    What are Amazon Echoes and Dots?
  4. Lazy Llama

    Lazy Llama Suburban robots that monitor reality

    Speech-recognising devices from Amazon, which can interface with various other systems, e.g. Phillips Hue lights, as well as with Amazon.
    They use the Alexa speech-recogntion system. You trigger them by saying "Alexa" followed by your question or request.

    So you say "Alexa, play Miles Davis" and if you have Miles Davis in your Amazon Music library, it'll stream it to your Dot or Echo.
    It can handle to-do lists, questions about the weather and a few other things. You can add "skills" which let it interact with other things.

    The Dot is a short device with a small built in speaker, the Echo is a larger device with a Bluetooth speaker.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2016
    Badgers and danny la rouge like this.
  5. nuffsaid

    nuffsaid But this goes up to 11

    When some breaking news came on the TV about some incident where it was unknown how many fatalaties there were (can't remember what specifically it was), my Dot piped up something like 'If you are in danger call 999, find safety' or some such thing. The odd thing was, I hadn't said 'Alexa' so it must have some hard-coding to recognise a dangerous scenario, or something. I hadn't read that in the instructions so that was a bit of a shock, I hope it doesn't start saying 'No Dave, I don't think you want to do that.....Dave'.
    Sunset Tree, moochedit, Chz and 4 others like this.
  6. sim667

    sim667 Licking windows on the 303 bus.

    I like the idea of it, but unfortunately unless it interfaces with stuff I've already go (elgato avea bulbs, and plex on my my ps4, or my virgin tivo) its really quite useless.

    I can use siri on my iPhone to ask questions, and thats generally pretty good.
    Badgers likes this.
  7. dylanredefined

    dylanredefined Not a house elf a tiger

    From Japan not sure this is better or worse.
  8. bi0boy

    bi0boy Power User

  9. mwgdrwg

    mwgdrwg Be a Pisces. Jam.

    I nearly got one, then came to my senses. Police are already requesting data relating to crimes in the US it seems.

    I doubt a request or warrant will be required in the UK, thanks to the snoopers charter.
  10. Kid_Eternity

    Kid_Eternity "You might be a lord but here comes the king."

    What's the sound quality like on the Echo?

    Badgers likes this.
  11. oneflewover

    oneflewover Following "The Tigers"

    nuffsaid Lazy Llama is it easy to just ask for BBC radio 2? done a few searches and not really clear. Thinking of one for my elderly mother as a present. So do not want many issues.
    Badgers likes this.
  12. Lazy Llama

    Lazy Llama Suburban robots that monitor reality

    Yes just say "Alexa, play Radio 2".
    Badgers and oneflewover like this.
  13. oneflewover

    oneflewover Following "The Tigers"

    Perfect, got a couple of TPLink sockets and she can switch on the outside lamps and standard lamp aswell.
    Lazy Llama likes this.
  14. editor

    editor Forked with electrons

    That's just plain weird.
    dylanredefined likes this.
  15. Supine

    Supine Rough Like Badger

    Enable some controls on purchasing if you get one. A colleague had a house party and a few days later amazon parcels started to arrive, the kids had been asking it for stuff :)
  16. Wolveryeti

    Wolveryeti Young Lethargio

    I find the idea of an always-on mic in my house sending recordings to Amazon creepy. I dont care if its useful.
  17. editor

    editor Forked with electrons

    I see the dot is just £49. So how does it work with Spotify?
  18. farmerbarleymow

    farmerbarleymow Seagull + Chips = Happy Seagull

    Amazon spies that you pay to accommodate in your home, ceaselessly feeding everything back to the mothership so they can build a complete file on you. Amazon will probably start blackmailing people at some point - threatening to release sordid recordings if the person doesn't buy loads of new stuff from them. :hmm:
  19. danny la rouge

    danny la rouge Without music, life would be a mistake.

    Paranoia aside (and I'm not saying they're not spying on us), these gadgets don't sound like they do anything I'd be interested in having done.
    Spymaster likes this.
  20. Lazy Llama

    Lazy Llama Suburban robots that monitor reality

    Mine are used mostly as internet radio boxes. I've got a voice command for turning the TV, amp and DVR on in one action, but I never use it for interacting with the Amazon store stuff.
    You can set Spotify as your default music app and ask it to play something and it'll look on Spotify first. Not got Spotify myself but it works okay with Amazon music.
  21. editor

    editor Forked with electrons

    I'm tempted as it's so bloody cheap.
  22. editor

    editor Forked with electrons

    So I gave it a punt, and I'm pretty impressed. I've got it next to my bed and connected to Spotify and I love turning off the alarm with my voice or asking to sound again in half an hour. Some of the Q&A stuff is fun too. I'd love to get smart lights too but they seem pretty much an indulgence, price-wise.
  23. Idaho

    Idaho blah blah blah

    Ask it "what is love?"

    I got given one the other week. Slightly annoying as 2 months ago I had spent extra cash on an amp with Bluetooth and a dab radio for the kitchen. Both are now obsolete.

    I think the Google home will trounce it when that gets released in the UK (maybe a year?)

    I am testing it out for a blind friend of mine. I don't think the dot is quite ready for solo blind use (by a non technical blind user).
    fuck seals likes this.
  24. oneflewover

    oneflewover Following "The Tigers"

    Set a couple of these TP-Link HS100 Wi-Fi Smart Plug | Maplin up for my Mother (in her 80s with standard light and heating.

    Alexa, switch on heater. Alexa switch on lamp. Alexa play radio2

    She loves it
    editor and Lazy Llama like this.
  25. editor

    editor Forked with electrons

    I bought a mini hi-fi with CD player and DAB radio for the kitchen a while back and now it seems a total waste of money compared to the Echo. Just like I often push the screen when I find myself using a non touchscreen laptop, I've found myself barking commands at non Echo devices because it seems so natural just to ask it to play a song.

    This new Beat The Intro skill has just been released. It look fun.

  26. skyscraper101

    skyscraper101 0891 50 50 50

    Just acquired an echo dot. Enjoying playing around with it, "Alexa set an alarm for 8am" "Play TuneIn Radio" "Whats the score in the Man Utd game?" etc.

    Great fun and very useful.
    editor and Badgers like this.
  27. discobastard

    discobastard Well-Known Member

    You are all crazy. Feeding Amazon all that lifestyle information. Right now might not seem like a big deal but you're actually paying for for the privilege of a listening post in your home.
  28. editor

    editor Forked with electrons

    How do you think they're managing to deal with the terrabytes of data that each home must be generating every week and what do you think they're doing with all this data while presumably circumnavigating privacy/data protection laws?
    skyscraper101 likes this.
  29. skyscraper101

    skyscraper101 0891 50 50 50

    If it learns what kind of music I like, and what kind of radio/books/TV/sport I enjoy, that will just make it more useful anyway.
    editor likes this.
  30. discobastard

    discobastard Well-Known Member

    I imagine as one of the world's biggest providers of cloud data services that it's something that they have already thought about and are working very hard at.

    I imagine there are lots of things going on, as they get to grips with all the data that is coming in and thinking up news ways of dealing with it. I am no expert by any means, but if it was me I'd be looking for meaningful patterns in the data.

    Possibly looking at ways of using clusters and patterns of syllables that can predict certain behaviours or conditions. It already must listen for certain syllables and speech patterns in order to wake up and take orders. It must have a flash memory so it can quickly decide what to do with these patterns - transmit/save/discard etc.

    I imagine when Zuckerberg started Facebook he wasn't thinking "I wonder if I can predict whether members have certain mental health conditions by looking at patterns of words that they use." But they can do that.

    It's not about what they can do today (I suspect that's more about serving you up with better and more targeted suggestions about what you can spend your money on). There's no legal precedent set, but it's a live issue already:

    After pushing back, Amazon hands over Echo data in Arkansas murder case

    Do you know where your Echo data is stored? If it's in the US then obviously you're subject to the US Patriot Act.

    It's a bit disingenuous in the current climate to be asking what they could possibly do that could be harmful to an individual's privacy no?

    And I'm not even that paranoid. And I'm a big Amazon user. But with US and UK Governments slowly and quietly rolling back privacy laws, nobody has ANY idea what they will and won't be doing in five years time (after they've listened to several billion more hours of people talking in their own homes). Oh and all the revelations about organisations that people thought they could trust (Whatsapp?) having backdoors and sharing data that we all thought was safe.

    Never mind privacy in terms of browsing habits and location based stuff, actually getting into people's homes and being able to listen? Wow.
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2017

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