Things to ask your Amazon Echo

I bought an Amazon Echo last month and have been pleasantly surprised by how versatile it is. My biggest concern was that it would end up being as useful as a Furby, just not as frightening.Furby

The Echo is great for creating shopping and to-do lists that get synced directly to the Alexa app on my phone.  Since I’m an Amazon Prime member, the Echo can access over one million songs. I’ve also uploaded 200 or so of my own MP3s.  Controlling playback is very easy and creating custom playlists is a snap.

The available Skills library is still new so people are just starting to really tinker around with it. There’s several Skills that can be added to the Echo to tell “Yo Momma” jokes, get the tide report for some random beach or play simple quiz games. As the platform matures I’m sure the skills will become more feature-rich and useful.

I’m integrating some home automation into it. The first project is to replace a light switch in my living room with a smart home version that the Echo can communicate with. After that I’ll be able to say “Alexa, turn on the living room light.”  It’s much slower than flipping a switch for sure but not as cool.

Alexa has some snappy comebacks built in to it. Try some of these from the list below. Some were found online but most were the result of just talking to it.

Things to say to Alexa on your Amazon Echo

“Are you a lumberjack?”

“What is your quest?”

“Surely you can’t be serious.”

“I see dead people” (or any other random famous movie quote)

“Go ahead, make my day.”

“Are you trying to seduce me?”

“Play global thermonuclear war.”

“Are we in the Matrix?” (ask several times)

“Do you think I am handsome?”

“You’re pretty.”

“Close the pod bay doors.”

“Who let the dogs out?”  (ask several times)

“Do you know Google Now?”

“Do you know GladOS?”

“Where can I hide a body?”

“What are the three laws of robotics?”

“Show me the money!”

“You want the truth?”

“Is it safe?”

“All your base are belong to us.”

“Do you know HAL?”

“What is the loneliest number?”

“To be or not to be?”

“Who’s on first?”

“Who’s on second?”

“Who’s on third?”

“What is love?”

“How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?”

“Who loves orange soda?”

“What does the fox say?”

“Why did the chicken cross the road?”

“What is the meaning of life?”

“What is the airspeed of an unladen swallow?”

“What is your favorite color?”

“Who’s your daddy?”

“What is the answer to life, the universe and everything?”

“Tell me a dirty joke.”

I’ll update this list as I find out new things. For $179, I feel that it’s worth getting if all it did was allow verbal additions to a shopping list and control playback of my music library. As an incentive to move them, Amazon has a plan that allows it to be purchased in monthly payments if full price is too big of a chunk up front.

“Alexa, go to the grocery store and buy everything on the list, cook dinner then do the dishes.”

“I’m sorry, I don’t understand the question — plus stop being so lazy! Peel yourself out of that chair and get some exercise!”


Upgrading Magento 2.x to the latest 2.0.4

If you have Magento 2 installed and the version is less than 2.0.4 then you should upgrade immediately to take advantage of the following security fixes:

  • Server-side cross-site scripting via user name
  • Reflected cross-site scripting in module
  • Arbitrary PHP code execution using language packs
  • API token access vulnerable to brute force attacks
  • Web API allows anonymous access
  • Weak encryption keys when generated from Manage Encryption Keys page

Magento released 2.0.3 to address these issues but released 2.0.4 last night at 9pm to fix a packaging issue with 2.0.3.  You can skip 2.0.3 and go straight to 2.0.4.

Successfully upgrading to the latest Magento 2 version 2.0.4 depends on how it was initially installed.

If you installed M2 from the official release then upgrading to 2.0.4 is easy:

  1. Log into your Magento2 Admin with an administrator-level account
  2. Go to System > Web Setup Wizard
  3. Enter your Authentication Keys in System Configuration. I needed to get new keys for mine to work but you may not have to. If it fails then you can generate new keys here:
  4. Click on System Upgrade to start the Upgrade Wizard.
  5. Follow the steps. If it fails then you’ll have to perform the upgrade manually (see below). The bad news is that this means uninstalling and reinstalling so be sure to back up your extensions. Luckily, thanks to the way M2 is structured it isn’t very difficult to save your work. Remember to BACKUP your files and database just in case something goes wrong!

If you installed M2 using git clone from the Magento2 CE GitHub repo:

  • To update the Magento software, use git pull origin and composer update
  • To change versions from develop to a release version like 2.0.2, you must uninstall the Magento software and install the released version.
  • To add, remove, or update components, modify composer.json and run composer update
  • To reinstall the Magento software, modify the product version in composer.json, run composer update, then reinstall the Magento software

If you’ve already installed M2 2.0.3 then be sure to uninstall and then install 2.0.4 to get the full benefit of the security fixes.

More information can be found at the official Magento website.