Barbs Connected World

Surface Pro (2017)

For me, this is a dream machine

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Multi Factor Authentication App Backup and Usage Strategies
Change Your Hue Light
Colors with Alexa
Microsoft Authenticator
2 Factor Authentication

Microsoft Authenticator helps keep me safe. The baddies are out there, and I know my logins are protected. Easy to setup and a real pleasure to use!

Turn on your lights when Dona Sarkar tweets a new #flight for Insiders
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Installing Windows Insider Builds on a Low Capacity Tablet

 

There has been a lot of misinformation in the Insider’s Forum (from customers) about the necessary free space to install an Insider’s Build. I decided to take my only low memory device, an ASUS Vivo Tab 8 M81C-B1-MSBK Signature Edition Tablet that I purchased from the Microsoft Store, and test this out for myself. The device is 32GB to start with and was VERY full. A little over 4GB free space was available. Nevertheless, I was able to install an Insiders Build from a mounted ISO and subsequently download and install the latest Fast Ring Insider’s Build from Windows Update.

Here’s how I did all of this:

I used the following procedure to install 14372 from an ISO image. This is the process that should work for folks upgrading from 10586.xxx 1511 to the official release of the Windows Anniversary Update (with a few changes on where and how to get the ISO) with minimal free space.

The first problem is that the default Downloads folder was on C:\ and only a bit over 4GB of free space was available, so I needed to move Downloads to my 128GB microSD card. I wanted to move this at the System level as opposed to just specifying a different folder. The ISO for 32 bit Windows is 3GB+ and to say the least, with only 4+ free, I needed to download to a drive other than C:\.

4 gigs free

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Alexa, Sonos, Smart Things, Harmony, Oh My

So I wasn’t invited to the Logitech Harmony Ultimate Alexa beta and I have some concerns about how Sonos activities are going to be handled with respect to Alexa’s voice recognition.

It isn’t exactly transparent how to add/configure the Harmony->Sonos->Smart Things->Alexa routines to start Playlists or Stations from your Sonos favorites after you’ve done an initial setup. You have to roll up your sleeves and get a little dirty.

When you edit your Sonos favorites in any official Sonos App (add/remove, etc.) the Harmony App/Remote doesn’t necessarily reread the Sonos lists. To get a revised Sonos Favorites list to refresh for Harmony, you need to START a Sonos favorite, hit the star key on the bottom of the app, then scroll and hit REFRESH. Then you can edit that activity and select a new channel or add Activities and specify a Sonos favorite from the refreshed, up to date list.

Below is a screen shot of the first “page” of (scrollable) activities. The naming convention is something I’m working on, and I’ll explain a little further along in this post. Ideally, I should be able to use the same Activity Name across the board, but this turns out to be problematic and confusing.

harmony

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Alexa, turn on my home theater–AnyMote Awesomeness

Heaven forbid that I should have to lift a handheld remote in my very Smart Home. I got to thinking that with everything I’ve voice enabled here, I had not done anything with my home theater equipment. I’ve got a bunch of stuff downstairs in the Living Room and a bunch of stuff in the Master Bedroom. I’ve already got a Harmony Ultimate Hub/Remote in the Bedroom and an old and dying Harmony 1100 in the Living Room that I’m replacing with AnyMote Home.

I decided it was time to experiment with Alexa voice control. The TLDR; version of this post is that AnyMote, which takes concentration and time to set up (and is pretty geeky when it comes to advanced functions), coupled with the Alexa AnyMote skill is awesome.

Here’s a quick list of what my two Home Theater’s include for major components:

Living Room Bedroom
Samsung LN52B750 TV

Sony STR-DA4ES Receiver

Samsung BD-F5900 BD Player

Comcast DCX 3400 DVR

Apple TV

Amazon Fire TV

WD Live Hub

Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter

5.1 Surround Speakers

Old Yamaha Receiver

Old LT-P326W Samsung TV

Comcast DCX 3400 DVR

Samsung BD-5900 BD Player

5.1 Surround Speakers

anymoteHarmony 1100 harmony hub

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Taking Alexa with me everywhere using Lexi

 

Just yesterday I was away from home and thinking I needed to add a few things to my Alexa powered shopping list and wishing there was an easy way to do this without typing into the Alexa App on my iPhone or using a web browser on my tablet. And I’ve often cursed out Siri for not turning on lights when I’ve summoned her to action this  from a distance using HomeKit via my Apple TV.

Today I discovered Lexi –a $5 iOS app that changed everything. Press and hold the button, watch the animation, add items to my shopping list, turn lights on or off. This is Alexa “on the road”, giving me control of my Connected Home when I’m miles away from home.

lexi

If you are on the fence about buying an Amazon Echo, you can use this App to try out many of the features of Alexa, as this app will handle shopping lists, queries and many of the Alexa Skills. (But not Amazon Music). And I truly think every home should be Alexa powered.

The open Alexa ecosystem (and it really is an ecosystem) makes the Amazon Echo a really compelling Smart Home controller and virtual assistant. I’m continually amazed and pleased by how developers, like the Lexi team, are extending the Alexa experience and making my life so easy (and fun).

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