Alexa leaks your private wishlists

by @edent | , , , | 8 comments | Read ~3,888 times.

People who access your list will see your recipient name. If you have an Alexa-enabled device, Alexa may alert you when there is a deal for items in your list. Notification Preferences.

This morning, my wife noticed that Alexa was insistently flashing its little blue lights. "Alexa... Notifications?" "You have one notification. An item on your wishlist has dropped in price. The … is now only £…" And that's how my wife found out what I planned to get her for her birthday! What happened to cause…

Synthetic Poetry

by @edent | , , ,

A robot taxi driver.

I've been experimenting with Amazon's Polly service. It's their fancy text-to-sort-of-human-style-speech system. Think "Alexa" but with a variety of voices, genders, and accents. Here's "Brian" - their English, male, received pronunciation voice - reading John Betjeman's poem "Slough": The pronunciation of all the words is incredibly lifelike. If you heard it on the radio, it…

Bug report: 4K iPlayer on the Amazon Fire Stick

by @edent | , , , , | 2 comments | Read ~803 times.

BBC video with debug information on it.

Technology never works right. And video technology never works right even harder. The Amazon 4K Fire Stick is a pretty cool bit of kit. It's an Android device which can push 4K HDR video with surround sound to your TV. But, like any technology, it's buggy. Here's the bug report I've tried to send to…

Amazon Prime Video's weird Unicode problems

by @edent | , , | 1 comment | Read ~268 times.

Description with an error in it.

It's 2019 and high-tech devices are still plagued by text encoding bugs. I recently bought the new 4K Amazon Fire Stick. It's a little Android dongle which plays videos. It's neat - but quite often displays weird text errors. Take the kids' TV show House of Anubis, the Fire displays the description like this: Looking…

Solar Battery and Alexa - in 30 lines of code

by @edent | , , , , , , | Read ~177 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.…

Alexa - what bin day is it?

by @edent | , , , , , | 5 comments | Read ~1,159 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…

UK Flood Forecast on Amazon Alexa

by @edent | , , | Read ~244 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…

Amazon Alexa and Solar Panels

by @edent | , , , , | 5 comments | Read ~11,834 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…

Anatomy of an Amazon Phishing Attack

by @edent | , , , | 3 comments | Read ~296 times.

Phishing is the devious practice of tricking users into giving away their usernames and passwords to fraudulent sites. It is big business, and the best defence against it is constant vigilance. I'm going to walk you, step-by-step, through a scam that targetted me today. Along the way we'll see how to avoid falling prey to…

Some thoughts on Amazon's 2FA

by @edent | , , , | 2 comments | Read ~528 times.

Amazon now let you secure your account with Two-Factor-Authentication (2FA). This means you can log on with a one-time password which changes every minute. For some reason, Amazon call it Two-Step-Verification (2SV) - but it is exactly the same as all the other 2FA solutions. The Process There's no direct link to 2FA settings. So…