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    Fun With Amazon Echo

    Amazon Echo can be described a few ways. It looks like a black Pringles can. It is, essentially, a talking robot that can actually do useful things for you – albeit only with sound. Technically, it is a hands-free speaker that you control with your voice. “She” speaks to you in reply with the robot voice of “Alexa” – the Amazon.com voice service.

    Echo connects to the Alexa Voice Service via your WiFi internet connection. It can play music, read the news, give you the current weather and forecast, and tell you when the next train is due in the Village. She can answer general information questions too; like “what day of the week does Christmas fall on?” or “how do you spell ‘village?’” All you have to do is ask.

    Lights and thermostats too. Alexa connects to the IoT – the Internet of Things – and coordinates with just about every household control hub on the market. We can dim and brighten the kitchen lights with a voice command to Alexa.

    And timers! It’s so easy to say, “Alexa, set a timer for 15 minutes.” She does it and announces when the time is up.

    Pardon me if I say, “she” instead of it. It is easy to get into the habit of thinking of Alexa that way.

    Setting up an Echo is easy to do (though I’d be delighted to help, of course).

    You start by placing your Echo in some convenient, central location. Ours is in the kitchen. (Amazon recommends at least eight inches from any walls and windows for best results, but you can experiment.) It will need to be plugged in for power.

    Next, sign in to your Amazon Alexa account. It’s free, and it does not require Amazon Prime. The easiest way is with the Alexa app for your smartphone or tablet (Android or Apple), but you can also do it through your WiFi connected computer on the Web at https://alexa.amazon.com.

    Now, turn on Echo. Plug the included power adapter into Echo and then into a wall outlet. The light ring on Echo turns blue, and then orange. When the light turns orange, Echo will say “Hello”.

    Finally, connect Echo to your Wi-Fi network. The app or website will guide you through simple instructions to connect Echo to the network. You’ll need to enter your WiFi network security password.

    If your Echo doesn't connect to your Wi-Fi network right away, just unplug it and then plug it back into a power outlet to restart it.

    In a minute or less it will be ready to go. Now you can talk to your Echo!

    To get started, say the "wake word" (which is “Alexa” by default) and then speak naturally to Alexa.
    “Alexa, what is the weather?”
    “Alexa, play some thanksgiving music.”
    “Alexa, do you like me?”

    Echo and Alexa really are pretty amazing and fun. When I have breakfast, I say “Alexa, play Pandora” and she starts playing my current favorite music, until I say, “Alexa, stop.” Obedience!
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