Michael wants to know if he needs the Echo app to use his Alexa. Leo says yes, he does, but he could also just use a computer. He'll just need the Alexa app to set up the Echo. So if he has a computer, that will work. A smartphone is easier, however. He can also set it up with the Amazon Alexa website. Once it's all setup, he won't need it.
Kevin is having trouble with his two Alexa devices. They are intermittently going in and out. Leo says that if it comes back where it left off, that's just buffering of the internet and is a sign that his bandwidth isn't keeping up. If it's dropping out and coming back at a different time, then he's losing packets. Either way, it's an internet issue. It could also be iHeartRadio. It could also be congestion with wireless traffic. Kevin could use a Wi-Fi analyzer to see if someone's Wi-Fi hotspot is getting in the way.
Peter bought a Sonos One speaker with Alexa built in. Alexa doesn't work, though. Leo says that's probably due to Amazon Canada. The Sonos One also has a limited version of Alexa, so Leo has a hunch it's an issue with Sonos. It may also be a region code issue. Peter should try using an American credit card, which could solve the issue. But Leo says it's only a matter of time before that clears up because Echo is going everywhere.
Judy wants to know if her mother, who is in a nursing home, can be wired in to call the nurse outdoors. She can't pull the string to call the nurse. The chatroom says that Amazon has the "Add a motor drapery motor" that could maybe do it. But Leo says that the easiest thing to do would probably be to buy an Echo Dot for the nurse's station. That way her mother can do a "drop-in" with the Echo to call them.
Stephen wants to get a voice operated home device to make phone calls for his mother in law. Leo says that the Amazon Echo only works with other Echo devices. Google Home Assistant, however, can be linked to his phone and can make phone calls by voice. The chatroom says that Echo Connect will work to make phone calls, especially emergency ones. Leo says that these in-home voice assistants are a game changer, especially for older folks. They're also cheap enough now that he can put them in every room.
Leo isn't sure how this will work, but TiVo is now supporting If This Then That, as well as Amazon Echo and others. TiVo also announced it would have a 'Super Bowl Skip' feature that would skip over the actual football game and show the commercials.
Charmaine wants to know if she can plug Amazon Echo into a surge protector. Leo says of course! Charmaine also worries that it's always listening. Leo says it is, but it doesn't actively listen unless she says one of four words: Amazon, Echo, Alexa, or Computer. It's only listening for those words. Once it hears the wake word, then it turns on the microphone and sends her request.
Chuck got an Amazon Echo for Christmas and he's learned that he can control his stereo with it. Leo says that for $99, the Logitech Harmony Hub will not only control his stereo, but also his TV, cable box, and AV receiver, everything. It's designed to work with your smartphone, but it also works with the Echo too.
Dan has an aunt who lives a reclusive life and there are times she can't get up to open her door. Dan is wondering if there's a remote option that will allow her to open the door? Leo says sure, but she will also probably want a camera and monitor so she can see who's at the door before she opens it. That would require Wi-Fi, though. Schlage makes one that opens via Bluetooth. Kwikset was the first company to do this.
Everything we have in our home seems to have a computer built into it these days, and they're networked and connected to the internet. This is called the "Internet of Things." Some devices are more secure than others, and even then, many just don't get updated with security features. Security expert Brian Krebs has an article on the best way to secure your digital "stuff" online. Check it out at krebsonsecurity.com here.