Coping: With the Voice-Controlled Home

[Adult language alert!] So, you think this is funny, do yah? A few months back, I posted a rather negative review on the whole notion of the “smart home” as embodied by the app-crazed marketers of the world.

The product involved was TP-Link HS100 Smart Plug (2-Pack), No Hub Required, Wi-Fi, Works with Alexa and Google Assistant, Control Your Devices from anywhere (HS100 KIT) – basically 2 “smart switches” that cost your $45.

As much as I worry about unauthorized access to anything, this may seem a confusing and contradictory move.  But, since the Post Office is dropping scans of everything in my FedFile – that master database on each of us that the Provos and such now track (see Total Information Awareness) that there was relatively little personal risk from riding this new (and odd) wave of tech.

(Continues below)

 

How It Works

This is a hoot:  So you have either an Amazon Dot ($39) or that Google thing (next on my install list if time permits).

Learning the basics of Alexa voice commands is simple:  “Alexa play iHeart Radio WOAI” will bring up Charlie Parker and the morning crew down in San Antonio over breakfast, for example.  The streaming is OK and considering we live out of range of all but local religious and country stations, we get our money’s worth from that.

But that’s ONLY the voice of Amazon.  When you get an Alexa (I have the small “Dot” in my office) there’s half a dozen steps of monkey-motion to dance through, but eventually it works.

Since I also bought one of the All-New Fire HD 10 Tablet with Alexa Hands-Free, 10.1″ 1080p Full HD Display, 64 GB, Marine Blue – with Special Offers ($190) – and I have no idea what the “special offers” are – I now had a way to FINALLY program the “smart switches.”  Birthday gift to me.

If you remember our last go-round:  I could not set-up the “smart switch”p from the Alexa app (voice side) and the PC side didn’t do it either.  I had to download something called TP-Link KASA.  Go figure.

Seemed easy enough.  Well, was it?  Hell no!  It was a major PITA.

The theory is you flash the QR card on the TP-Link set up doc.  No.

Fire 10 HD doesn’t auto-focus that close.  Looks good at arm’s length – sucksabunch up close.  Get the cam close enough to read the QR and everything is fuzzy-out all to shit and it won’t read.

Hmmm…next idea, genius?

Well, I will just flip over to Google Play and download TP-Link Kasa from there, right?

Hell no.

This time the Google software didn’t want to install.  After a one-hour session of joyful longshoreman-talk, I finally get Google Play working.

NO.  No…strike that…

It won’t download the Kasa app I need because my new Kindle 10 is not “linked” to my Google account.  Never did get that to work.  (shit)

Finally gave up on Google and since I don’t like their lefterly politics that much, oh well.

I still had one more option:  I could look (Bing) for the KASA .apk.  Which, if you’ve never tapped your way into this part of the digital asylum, means the ready to install compressed application.

Which eventually I get downloaded (100 MB so there goes part of my resource) and at last…does it load?

NO.

It TRIED to load, but due to the security settings on the Fire 10, here comes three minutes looking for “How safe to use this properly sourced .APK?

Turns out, there is a drop-down on the Kindle settings that let’s you hold off the security gestapo long enough to install the app.

Done?  Well no.

Now I had KASA downloaded.  BUT, it would not let me go search for the damn devices until I first “SET UP AN ACCOUNT.”

Do I need an account to control a “smart switch?” I’m staring at in my hand and there’s a soft voice between my ears saying “What kind of bullshit is tech leading us into?”

FMTT – I set up the stupid account.

But NOW it STILL won’t let me log in without first answering a confirming email.

Ure shitting me right?  I’ve been goring through imap hell this week.  Email working?

NO.  Thinks my verification is a phish.

I had to whitelist the source on my first filtering mail server because I use staged forwarders.  (This means if you send an email to George@ure.net, it  goes through one set of filters and then forwards to the next route here and other filters  are applied and then it forwards to another ISP (more filters) and if everything is working well, all is peace and harmony.

No crap, now spam, no fish.  Until this week when it turned into no mail.

BUT I solved that one.

See: ever since the earth station for Exede/Viasat  changed (part of the time) to Phoenix or out in BFE or wherever (from Virginia) I had been through a different two-hour adventure with some very patient Amazon support folks on THAT adventure.  As it turned out, fixing THAT left me with a recent memory of how to turn off the front-end email server’s forward and use it’s webmail face to get that dam “verification code” from TP-Link,

With me on this so far?  You get a Microsoft gold star if you follow.

OK, I get the KASA app running and it seems to work.  I name one switch “Printer” and the other one “Radio.”  Radio turns on the tube type ham radio gear (from another Echo box in the house) so the tube gear can warm up while I’m having coffee and visiting the throne room on Sunday morning.  Yeah.,..diss is dah digital life, bro.

I get everything working and then come into the office yesterday morning.

“Alexa, turn printer on!”

“OK” and the printer comes on at the other end of the room.

“Alexa: turn printer off.”

Another soft click and she says “OK.”

God this was cool…as the fits of sweating and swearing and tears of the previous day rode into the sunset of memories…

“Alexa: Ham radio on.”

“Getting 103 Rock Station from iHeart Radio…”

WTF floody buck?????   @#$%^&*()_(*&^%!!!  It worked two hours earlier!

Oh, I forgot to mention that the Kindle Fire 10 has Alexa voice built in.  BUT until the software is updated, it will not let me change the wake-up word on the Fire.  (I think Amazon should let us use the word Fire as a wake-up word, but then my sense of humor at the prospect of hearing people in a crowded office yelling “Fire! Fire!” may be different than the sense of human (if any) enjoyed by Amazon’s legal department,

Because of this name-game, whenever I tried to do something on the Dot, both the Dot and the Kindle 10 would answer.  Both being named Alexa.

I was wandering around cursing a blue streak – and I’m convinced it keeps me from stroking out and then the answer came to me:

The Dot now answers to “Computer” for its wake-up call.  And later on this morning I’ll make  a pass at naming the radio power switch something else.

How does “Computer: Tunafish!” sound?  (Turns out this is not a skill yet…by I’m sure I’ll be sued by some IP shysters anyway.  It’s how this sick planet works now.)

I was approaching things like a logical human might — but it’s becoming clear to me that human’s no longer really develop computers.

Like Zeus the Cat, the smart office is now training us.

As the Zeus the Cat explained it:  “See stupid upright ape?  They are able to call it a Smart Home because it’s obviously smarter than you…”

Tunafish, cat?

Write when you get rich.  “Computer Publish!”

George@ure.net

author avatar
George Ure
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/George-Ure/e/B0098M3VY8%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share UrbanSurvival Bio: https://urbansurvival.com/about-george-ure/

27 thoughts on “Coping: With the Voice-Controlled Home”

  1. George

    The American decided to go to the Moon.
    They spent a ton of coin developing a Space Pen. The Russians bought a box of pencils!

    Any questions?

  2. Thank you George, You just hit the nail on the head of why I will NEVER allow any of that crap into my home. I mean seriously how many times will you have to use this crap to make up for the time lost and frustration caused to set this stuff up…………I can just see the guys at The Deep State now Alexa turn Ure off and that would be a reason to swear!

  3. I am shocked George that you are unaware of the incompatibility of Google and Amazon. In order to install Amazon apps on my Android OS (Google) cell phone, I have to override the WARNING, DANGER WILL ROBINSON! crap and force install anyway. Keep this in mind when you work with the Google Home thingy.

    I am amazed that you are willing to put yourself through all this just so you don’t have to cross the room and flip a switch.

  4. Ya know, they make it look so easy on star trek. Computer maximize the dilithim crystals. Lol

    Off topic. So I was surprised on Tuesday. Which doesn’t happen very often. I guess it’s been about 18 months now. My second ex wife boyfriend died in his sleep. He was 63. He wa the guy who put his foot in the door when we were having marriage problems. In which she fild for divorce and ran off with him. He was Multi millionaire. They never got married so she aint getting one red cent. I heard his ex wife (whom he was married to for 30 years and ended up cheating on with my wife)is still in his will is the benificiary of his estate. My second ex wife is 36 years old now.

    About a year ago, I ran into him at a gas station. He was shaking in his boots as I aproached him. I’m not a little dude. Neither was he, but he was clearly out matched. We talked for a couple hours. And I shook his hand instead of socking him. I said a little prayer for his family this morning and my ex wife. Didn’t see that one coming. I’m usually pretty good at seeing the play in my life long before it happens.

    Everybody gotta die.

    Had 4 people say she will come back to me yesterday. It’s in the data. Not sure how I feel about that. I don’t think I can take her back. I’m pretty good just doing me. I like being by myself. I ain’t in no hurry to run out and get me a woman to explain to me the errors of my ways.

    Anyway, I’m omnipotent. Lol

    • Uhem I’m not omnipotent. Lol

      I forgave him and her for me. I don’t like holding on to that sh!t. Resentments are like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies. I ain’t in this life to hold grudges.

      Righteous anger? You bet! But I’m the grander scheme of things. I’m not perfect either.

      Off to grab 18 gears.

      Have a great day.

      • Andy,
        I feel your pain. As a longtime poster here who’s been busy lately I’m getting ready to share too much: As I posted awhile back to troll Jon or whatever his name was: Life is Full of twists & turns. I am the child of an abusive parent who I cannot sever my life from. He remains toxic & controlling to this date. My angel mother died (also abused by him) & Funny thing is I am now responsible for HIS well-being as health & legal Power of Attorney. As a result of growing up in that environment I became a counselor for a bit & then have spent the last # of years involved in their physical illnesses & running Dad’s small business. Now, its just me looking after him. Got him great care, he has recovered just enough to crap all over me at the end here. Unannounced & against medical advice, he got himself released from care about 10 days ago. In a quickie move, TODAY, he is marrying a woman he barely knows who is after his (& thus my deceased Mother’s $$). As Power, I have been unable to stop it; neither have family, his couple friends, nor lawyers. No one approves or is attending including me. So, after my help & instead of my being able to work, there goes what little my Mom wanted. This is only part of what unforeseen storm is swirling in my life. Like you, I have also had some out-of-body experiences & thus believe in God – just not always sure He stull believes in me. So, for all confused folks out there here are 2 of my get-thru-it-songs (now please forget my post, lets get back to economics, & crank these up for a couple minutes):
        Best lines: “My world is a flood. Slowly I have become One with the Mud” & “The World is a Vampire…Sent yo Drain”. Enjoy. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=skC6GysUYMA
        & https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=8-r-V0uK4u0

      • DJ – He sounds like a real SOB. Don’t worry, God will never forsake you as long as you remain positive. I believe in the Even-Steven theory of life. When things go bad, something good will come along to bring you back to even as long as you never give up. For example, when the market went down recently, it then went back up to bring me even. Though that does not compare with your situation, I wish you the best.

      • I feel your pain D.J. I know your struggled. I too grew up like that. I forgave and walked away.

        There is only 3 ways you can deal with someone like that.

        #1. Change yourself.
        #2. Accept the other person.
        #3. Dissolve the relationship.

        You can’t rally change anyone and but you can accept that the other person is just the other person and detach. If you can’t do that. See option 3.

        I know hurt people hurt people.

        Yeah, let’s get back to economics. Sorry George for the derailment of your topic.

        Have a great day a

      • Or, as pappy said “Wimmen’s like cigars – once they go out, they’re never so good…”
        Best dating/redate advise in history and works for both sexes…

      • Lol. Ya. You ever drive a Ferrari? When your out and about next time, see how many Ferraris you see. Sure you are bound to see some vette’s and a few mustang and maybe even a Porsche. Ex wife #2. Is a Ferrari. About as close to a 10 as I have ever seen. I have had a few “porches” but only one Ferrari in my life. Even had some pro basket ball players chasing her few years back. Plus she has at least 140+ IQ. Plus she is super down to earth and actually very cool.

        Still, did me dirtier than any person I have ever met ever.
        And did cost me alot alot alot of money though over and damn near killed me.

        “You got to know when to walk away and know when to run. ”

        It would take a miracle for me to take her back.

        Thanks old dudes for the words of wisdom.

    • I always wondered how woman got the power to see & explain the error of our ways when we never noticed them.

    • Andy… don’t do it.. I don’t care how fine of a Ferrari she is.
      I had one of those.. I felt like the used car lot that everyone kept dropping off the nice Cadillac.
      There is a good reason why Cadillac’s are cheap at the car lots. They are to expensive to maintain. Mine just tore my heart out. If your really interested in driving a fancy car.. then take a rolls for a test drive or another Ferrari. It’s cheaper in the long run and not as heart breaking. I found a good looking dependable chevy that’s been with me thirty years now.

      • Heck ever see the swimsuit edition or the fredricks of Hollywood catalogue.. you can meet them. But.. an old life’s lesson.. that ladies like that are usually aware of the affect they have on old the average man. As long as they think there’s something in it for them then here I am. Usually the books with the best looking covers are more likely shallow without any substance.
        If you take her back your just heading back for the same heartache. It took me seventeen years to realize that. I always thought love and caring could fix it. It can’t..
        Good luck my friend..

  5. The law of diminishing returns is the lense we should use for these ‘must have’ tech gadgets/widgets.
    No cult of progress for me. Loss of data, privacy, and money through MRC in trade for…what? minor convenience? Scratch an old Star Trek itch?

    We’re not going to Mars, either.

  6. George, I know you’re a gadget kind of guy, but are you REALLY sure you want one or two open mics listening to everything said in their range 24/7? I wouldn’t let one in my home, much less sweat over the set-up.

    • Phew.i can’t find the information now but. not to long ago.. china gave a show of what they can do and activating all the camera’s and baby monitors etc. just to show they can. Out televisions,phones etc. TMI… now with that kind of power what kind of information could anyone really gleen from that.
      The list is pretty endless. The same goes for authorities picking random households and searching their trash. After a couple of weeks they know your routine habits even women’s menstrual cycles.. the same goes for google.. have you ever noticed that ads pop up leading you to items you’ve searched before. Do this on mass or community.. a chess play..

  7. Tales like this just confirm why I will never do a ‘smart home’. It was a Sci-Fi fantasy when I was much younger, but with age comes the wisdom of ‘diminishing technical returns’. Egads, George, you are a bear for softWEAR!

  8. I fell into the Alexa trap as well and can confirm your frustration with the Kasa app. I have no probs with andoid but agree there is way too much account set ups and verifying emails going back and forth. If I ever move or shut down my network or something nefarious should happen I doubt I will waste any time rebuilding that stuff. I’ll have a big box of Kasa ephemera for the goodwill. With Alexa in the living room near my favoite chair I enjoy asking her to dial up some old time radio shows. Downside is this tends to attract unnecessary and disruptive conversation when the lovely spouse and our last offspring living with us will just plop down and start being disruptive. One funny thing I found Alexa can do that will change the subject of a conversation quicky is if I lean over Alexa and softly say “Alexa. Make fart sounds” followed by cranking up the volume. Her responses will stop all conversation and the other parties in the room will either bust out laughing or leave sending a disgusted look in my direction. I’ll leave it to you to decide which one does which response. Either way I can return to listening to Gunsmoke, Dick Tracy, or Paladin radio shows uninterrupted.

  9. Dear George,
    Are you ageing your body and diminishing any potential for psyche awareness?? what with the immersion in all the GHz.
    You really don’t need all that geek stuff unless you ‘really need to feel smart’ when you finally get it to work.. the Windowz cult!
    Better you spend your time on restoring vintage like the tube radio stuff.
    Angels Don’t Like Cell Phones, the HF burns their constructs(archetypal life patterns). And then they have to try to repair the bio-damage to their Pet Human.
    We are likely destroying our future of Awareness with this obsession with useless hyper-technology.
    You are fortunate to live in a rural area where there is much less EMF pollution, unless you are on a line of sight between connecting towers.

  10. George,
    Your adventures in home automation remind me of a SF story I read maybe half a century ago. The aliens thought humanity was making too much scientific progress too fast so they set up a huge bunch of of scientific meetings and committees to distract the brains from spending time in the labs. If I recall correctly, it worked.

    Although mastering home automation can give you a sense of accomplishment, is your life really better because of it? Is there something else you could do with your time that would benefit you, family, or the world more? As someone a little older than you, I give the gadgets one shot and if they don’t work out of the box, they go back. Not worth the aggravation. Fixing boats, local politics, travel, and listening to music all give me more jollies per hour than swearing at (and being made to feel stupid by) labor-saving gadgets.

    Like video games, I think home automation is a vast conspiracy to distract people from what is really important in life.

    Every now and then I think of joining the Amish — but too much other baggage with that!

    • See, I look at it differently: While you make some good points, when you have a largish brain there’s not all THAT much that’s challenging. I mean seriously: After mastering sailing, flying, construction, electronics, investing, and so on, what’s left?

      The way I look at home automation is therefore more along the lines of catnip: Keeps me from resting on my laurels.

      As part of this “play” I gain a lot of valuable KNOWLEDGE – which further empowers me when I’m in “the realms” when asleep. When in dream states, I take a LOT of the knowledge from this side of “the veil” and use it for high-adventure on the “other side” where aerodynamics are way different. (Think take offs and landings in a hundred feet or so, for example. And weather that is massively more variable in terms of front-spacing and such, but I digress)

      I figure the older I get the more important frain functioin becomes – and you’ll see what that thought is about in the Coping section tomorrow morning…

      • George,

        I recently went to Antarctica. Some friends said “Wow!” but others said “Why?” I see your points, particularly about keeping the brain challenged, but I choose to fight different battles than wars against Alexa and Siri.

        Speaking about brain health, I don’t remember seeing reference in Urban Survival to what I call “stupid drugs” i.e. drugs with anticholinergic activity that correlate with cognitive decline. All fine and dandy to take supplements and live a healthy lifestyle, but certain drugs are best avoided whenever possible. They include a wide variety of medications for everything from edema to allergies to old man “plumbing problems.”

        A list is at:
        http://www.agingbraincare.org/uploads/products/ACB_scale_-_legal_size.pdf

        Although a Google search of “anticholinergic” and “dementia” will result in many hits, most are dumbed down and don’t include numbers. One that does is this:

        https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/common-anticholinergic-drugs-like-benadryl-linked-increased-dementia-risk-201501287667

        The key sentences:
        “Moreover, dementia risk increased along with the cumulative dose. Taking an anticholinergic for the equivalent of three years or more was associated with a 54% higher dementia risk than taking the same dose for three months or less.”

        Personally, I’ve changed allergy meds and decided to tolerate old man plumbing problems rather than to sacrifice more IQ points than have already fled. Brain aging is affected by both what you do and what you don’t do!

  11. George, sounds like you traded your road issues for electron issues. Try herding chickens or even better, applying their social behavior to predict American political outbursts. Something like chicken run. ?

  12. If you want rabbit holes of home automation I’ll suggest: OpenHAB, USB based ZigBee/Zwave sticks, Raspberry PI 3, and the gold for you Sonoff. The Sonoff’s are programmable and WiFi.

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