Smart devices update

Posted in Amazon, Apple, Hardware, Internet, Smart Tech on February 2nd, 2021 by michael

My smart devices situation has gotten out of control.

I guess the first thing I need is an inventory, so here goes:



  • Front hallway – Echo dot
  • Joanne’s office (and guest room) – Echo dot
  • Lab (my office) – Echo show 1st gen
  • Lab – Sonos (microphone turned off)
  • Garage – Echo dot
  • Kitchen – Echo show 2nd gen
  • Living room – Echo show 5
  • Living room TV – Echo cube
  • Bar – Echo
  • Bar – Fire Cube (microphone turned off)
  • Laundry room – Echo dot
  • Thermostat – Ecobee (microphone turned off)
  • Bedroom – my nightstand – Echo spot
  • Bedroom – Joanne’s nightstand – Echo show 5
  • Master bathroom counter – Echo dot (no camera on this one)
  • Back patio – Echo dot

(We also have an Amazon Auto that neither of us likes, so it’s on my workbench right now)



  • The lab – HomePod Mini



  • Our bedroom TV – Fire Stick
  • The living room TV – Fire Cube & Apple TV
  • The bar TV – Fire Cube
  • The lab TV – Fire Stick & Apple TV
  • Joanne’s office TV – Fire Stick

(Note that all of the TVs are also Smart TVs, but I don’t use them as such)



  • Front hallway ceiling lights
  • Lab ceiling lights
  • Garage overhead lights
  • Kitchen ceiling lights
  • Kitchen island lights
  • Dining room ceiling lights
  • Game room ceiling lights
  • Bar ceiling lights
  • Master bedroom ceiling lights



  • Office table light
  • Office desk light
  • Lab desk light
  • Lab floor light
  • Lab tree lights
  • Living room table light
  • Living room floor light
  • Living room tree lights
  • Bedroom floor light
  • Bedroom table light – my nightstand
  • Bedroom table light – Joanne’s nightstand
  • Bedroom tree lights
  • Hallway china cabinet lights

(Every year, we add a whole bunch more plugs for all our Christmas trees, village, and indoor and outdoor lights)



  • Lab – Larry – MacBook Pro 16″
  • Lab – Moe – Mac Mini – Intel
  • Lab – Curly – iMac 5K 27″
  • Lab – Bob – Mac Mini – prototype Apple silicon
  • Kitchen – Groucho – MacBook Pro 15″
  • Garage – Chico – MacBook Pro 13″
  • Lab – Joe – Dell 14″ laptop
  • Lab – Brutus – Homebuilt PC desktop
  • Office – Unnamed 1 – Joanne’s Dell 14″ laptop
  • Lab storage – Unnamed 2 – Asus Chromebook
  • Lab storage – Unnamed 3 – Joanne’s Asus Chromebook
  • Lab – Shemp – Raspberry Pi 4 8GB
  • Lab – Junior – Raspberry Pi 4 4GB
  • Lab – Octo – Raspberry Pi 3B+
  • Lab – Peewee – Raspberry Pi 3B+
  • Lab – Nano – Raspberry Pi Zero W



  • Lab – Echo glow
  • Kitchen – Echo wall clock
  • Garage – MyQ garage door opener
  • Everywhere – Our smart alarm system
  • Front hallway – Roombie the Roomba
  • Lab – Monoprice Maker Select V2 3d printer (connected to the net via Octo the Raspberry Pi)
  • Garage – Chip, my Tesla Model 3


I suspect there’s more smart stuff I haven’t thought of yet. If something comes to mind, I’ll add it in the appropriate place above.



It appears that I left out my smart cameras. There are five of them. I think I’ll leave their locations out, other than the one mounted to my 3D printer, providing time lapse video of all my prints. Fun!



Having all this smart stuff has a few downsides.

  • The obvious security risks of having all those connected devices
  • Maintaining everything and keeping it all working
  • Spending WAY too much money buying new stuff


But it has a whole lot of upsides.

  • We can turn lights on and off in every room of the house just by speaking
  • We can control many things in our home remotely
  • We can create fun routines that run either on voice command, at a certain time every day, or when other events trigger them
  • Our home feels like we’re living in the 21st century


Anyway, while I admit my automation is out of control, I don’t care. I love my life. Would you do anything differently?

Alexa works on iOS! Mostly.

Posted in Amazon, Apple, Internet, Problems, Software on April 24th, 2017 by michael

I was delighted to learn today that Alexa is finally ready for iOS! And it seems to work great, except for one glaring problem – one of my very favorite Alexa apps: Jeopardy.

Like many people, I’m a big fan of the Jeopardy television show. I’ve loved it since the Art Fleming days, when little-boy me ran home from school for lunch and watching Jeopardy with my mother. They may not have any more-loyal fans than me.

So I was delighted to learn┬átoday that Alexa was now working on iOS, within the Amazon app. I tried it out first by asking for a joke. No problem! Immediately, I asked it for today’s Jeopardy clues, since I’m out of town and don’t have access to my beloved Echos.

That’s when I discovered the problem: Jeopardy hangs the app very frequently when it’s waiting for a user response. Maybe they forgot to test that functionality. The only recourse seems to be to close and reopen the app, at which time it allows you to either start over or resume from where you left off.

But there was a bug with that too. One of the several times it hung, I closed and reopened the app and asked it to play another joke, just to be sure it was still working. Jeopardy had apparently not really closed that time (although it seemed to do so every other time I went through the close/open cycle) and interpreted my joke request as an answer.

I lost credit for my correct answer! Noooooo!

Anyway, please fix the iOS app to allow Jeopardy to work properly, Amazon. In the meantime, it works fine on my Amazon Fire tablet. So that’s plan B until they fix the iOS implementation.