Quick and Dirty Self-Hosted Alexa Skills (2019)

by @edent | # # # # # # | 1 comment | Read ~159 times.

I hate creating Alexa skills. What should be a 3-click process inevitably ends up requiring trips to multiple websites, to set up weird parameters, and reading outdated tutorials for obsolete libraries. So this is how to create a self-hosted Skill, using PHP. It runs on your own server and doesn't require any interaction. The Skill…

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Alexa Skills - get custom slot names using Flask-Ask

by @edent | # # # # # | Read ~182 times.
Alexa Skills Page.

Amazon encourages developers to use Flask-Ask - the handy Python library for working with Alexa. Sadly, the project has been abandoned. They no longer take pull requests, you can't raise bugs against it, and the documentation is incomplete. So this is how I solved an annoying problem - how to get the name of a…

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Building an Alexa-Powered Electric Blanket

by @edent | # # # # | 6 comments | Read ~4,496 times.

One evening, my wife turned to me in bed and said, "Winter is coming..." Well, what she actually said was "Get your frozen feet away from me, you cold-blooded monster!" The only way to save our marriage? HOOK OUR BED UP TO THE INTERNET! I couldn't find an electric blanket with IoT connectivity - so…

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Knowledge Illusions

by @edent | # # # | 2 comments | Read ~287 times.
Screenshot of the Alexa app. She thinks Tim Roth played Doctor Who.

Optical Illusions trick your brain into seeing something that isn't there. Whether it is spirals which don't exist, movements which don't occur, or faces in curved lines - our optic centres are trivially easy to fool. Humans are not alone in this cognitive deficiency. Other animals are also conned into believing something which isn't true.…

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Solar Battery and Alexa - in 30 lines of code

by @edent | # # # # # # # | Read ~128 times.
A list of phrases used to activate the device

Amazon Alexa is a fun little bit of kit. But it can be tricky getting it to work with all your smart devices. Not every company has an Alexa skill - just like not every company has an app. Using Flask-Ask it is possible to bring Alexa smarts to a range of previously mute devices.…

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Alexa - what bin day is it?

by @edent | # # # # # # | 5 comments | Read ~870 times.
A row of recycling bins.

Bin day is the most magical time of the week! Children of all ages cry "Which bins is it?! Oh! Which bins?" Is today recycling day? Or green waste day? Or humble landfill day? Should my food caddy go out? Gosh! Who can keep track? I mean, obviously I could look at my calendar. Or…

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UK Flood Forecast on Amazon Alexa

by @edent | # # # | Read ~229 times.

You can now get the UK's flood forecast as part of your Flash Briefing on Amazon's Alexa. I've tried previously to create an interactive Alexa skill - it did not go well. This time, I thought I'd create an easier skill - a Flash Briefing. You ask Alexa for your daily news report and it…

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Alexa powered smarthome control for Sonoff

by @edent | # # # # # # # # | 3 comments | Read ~6,566 times.

I've been sent a couple of Sonoff smarthome gadgets. You can read my review of the S20 WiFi plug socket and the POW in line power controller. Here's a video of me controlling them from my Amazon Alexa: The latency seems a little slow - hard to tell if that's Amazon only relying on US…

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Amazon Alexa and Solar Panels

by @edent | # # # # # | 5 comments | Read ~11,579 times.

I can now query my solar panels via my Alexa Amazon Dot Echo thingie (why so many names?). I flatter myself as a reasonably competent techie and programmer, but fuck me AWS Lambdas and Alexa skills are a right pile of shite! Sorry if that sounds a bit harsh, but they're a pain in the…

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