All of my Alexa enabled devices are configured with the correct geo location, but I’ve had doubts for some time as to the accuracy of weather forecasts. We have a winter storm heading this way, I’ve got email alerts from Accuweather, FEMA is sending notices, but Alexa thinks the weather will be fine.
Microsoft just announced that Cortana now works with IFTTT. Cortana has had an appalling lack of third party skills (still does) but at least IFTTT offers some hope to folks who have services and devices that are not natively supported by Cortana but which have IFTTT support.
One of the neat things Cortana and IFTTT can do is post to Facebook, Twitter, etc. I can be working in the kitchen and ask Cortana/Invoke to TWEET or post to Facebook.
I’m sharing the recipes for these for others to play with below.
Microsoft’s latest addition to the Surface Pro family is the Surface Pro LTE. If you are a road warrior, this is THE Surface SKU to get. While it may not be an “always connected PC” (ACPC) officially, it sure seems so to me. It’s being offered to Business customers only, in the Microsoft Store online, and through partners. Note that if you aren’t a business, you will have to jump through some hoops to register to your personal Microsoft Account, but this can be done.
Microsoft offers downloadable recovery images for all their Surface SKU’s, and while the Surface Pro LTE has been in sale and shipping since early December, it isn’t listed in the dropdown to register a new device (as of 1/25/2018):
You actually can download the BMR recovery image today, using a strange work around.
1. Don’t try to Select a Surface product
2. Type in the Serial number for you Surface Pro LTE. You can’t paste it in, for some reason that does not work.
3. Select Download recovery image
Currently, you will see it appear to offer Surface Pro M1796 which is NOT the Pro LTE. Take the leap of faith and ignore this. You will see that the file that downloads is, in fact, the Pro LTE recovery image.
4. Select Continue
I’ve been bugging Microsoft daily on getting the web site fixed so that this isn’t such a crazy undertaking. You’d think it would be easy to fix, but I guess not..
(And yes, you CAN and should create a recovery image from the bits already on your Surface Pro LTE but if disaster strikes and that image is corrupt and you need one, you can get it from Microsoft).
It’s not my fault that I’m very, very particular about how my music sounds. My dad was an audiophile who originally owned a record store and moved on to own radio stations. He’d build speakers for our home from scratch, going to Acoustic Research in Cambridge, MA for the very best parts. And then fishing through walls and floors to wire for whole home audio. These were large, stage/concert quality speakers and wow, it was magnificent even though I wasn’t allowed to play rock and roll or folk music. When I started equipping my own home for music, many, many years later, I started with some Bose bookshelf speakers in one room and then a 5.1 system of speakers from Cambridge Soundworks through a home receiver/home theater setup. But still only in one room/one floor And then, along came Sonos with whole home audio. I listened to Sonos Play 5’s in a showroom and was hooked. And of course everything was going digital and online streaming services were just starting up and I signed up for Pandora. I ripped my existing CD collection to digital and starting working on doing the same with my dad’s vast collection of vinyl. With Sonos Play 5’s paired up on 2 floors, I had whole home audio (the master bedroom shares air space with my loft home office and a cathedral ceiling covers both).
I’d been thinking about getting a pair of Play 1’s for the bedroom for a while and didn’t pull the trigger as I started hearing the rumors of an Alexa powered Sonos speaker. I’d been using an Echo Dot in the master bedroom, sometimes connect to a Bose Soundlink Mini II (which I mostly use outside on my deck in the summer). So, I when launch day arrived, I grabbed two white Sonos Ones.
I’d already enabled the Sonos skill in the Alexa app and linked my Sonos account, so setting up the new speakers was pretty fast and easy. Got them tuned with True Play. And they sound amazing. Alexa somehow sounded happier on Sonos One than on the Echo Dot
And then the first test, “Alexa, play Adele in the Bedroom”. Oh yeah, shuffling Alexa from Prime Music (where I have some playlists) and oh yeah, what great sound. A stereo pair really fills the room and while some complain about not having thumping base, for me, the balance is perfect. My music taste is pretty eclectic and ranges from Opera to Rock, to Blues, to Folk, to Jazz and to Classical.
There is one negative about Sonos that I feel important to call out. Since Sonos still (obstructively) relies on the dangerous SMB1 protocol for streaming from local Windows computers to Sonos speakers, I’ve moved to a DLNA based Twonky Server on NAS for streaming my huge collection of ripped music. Sonos really should be ashamed of themselves for not addressing this.
Alexa, What Can You do on Sonos One?
There are only a few Alexa skills that I’ve found that don’t work on Sonos One. You can’t make and receive calls (but for my usage, being able to make and receive calls on Sonos is not something I need, and I do have an Echo Show in the kitchen). On the other hand, I do like to call up my Flash Briefing when I get up and currently when I ask Alexa for my flash briefing on Sonos One, there is silence. I’ve been told this is a known limitation and being looked into. An Internet search turned up this Sonos thread on non working skills where after reading through all the posts, i
t seems that only Sleep Sounds is called out by name as not working along with the Flash Briefing. I’m not concerned about the sleep sounds skill since as an Amazon Prime subscriber there are plenty of Sleep Sound playlists that work just fine if I ask Alexa to “play a sleep sounds playlist in the bedroom”. Edit: Working as of November 30! But all the other Alexa skills that I currently use are working and I’m a very happy camper. Compared to using an Echo Dot and a connected speaker, well, for me there is no comparison. Sonos One rocks.