Amazon Echo – Smart Home – TP-Link LB120 Smart LED Wi-Fi Light Bulb

Reasons I chose this bulb are it is made by the same company as the Smart Plug and it has the facility to change the white balance from around 2500 k to 6500 k which allows me to create lighting for indoor photography.

Setup was easy and mostly the same as the Smart Plug.

Although there are a number of manual settings from the Kasa App, I have initially set this bulb to it’s Circadian function which follows the time of day in your location to automatically adjust the brightness.

Unlike the Smart Plug, I have left this switched on since installation, no problems so far.

I still have a number of functions and modes to explore and will do this in time.

Positives are easy setup, nice and bright and of course cost effective.

Brian Collins

Amazon Echo – Smart Home – TP-Link HS100 Wi-Fi Smart Plug

After a couple of weeks, I have finally decided which of the (confusing) number of Smart Home systems to try out.

For my first foray into Amazon Echo Smart Home compatible devices, I have ordered the TP-Link HS100 Wi-Fi Smart Plug and the TP-Link LB120 Smart LED Wi-Fi Light Bulb.

I’ve received the Smart Plug and set it up to run the right side of my living room which has a number of devices (7) connected to 2 power extensions.

I deliberately chose this socket as it was one that I would normally switch off before going to bed and does not have any devices that need to be left on when I am not using them.

Setup was straightforward with the first three steps being printed on the box, download the app (Kasa) which is free, plug the smart Wi-Fi plug into a socket, switch it on and configure it through the app.

Once you have a connection to your Wi-Fi (there are lights to guide you), you can then enable the appropriate skill in your Amazon Echo, there is a page pointed to on the TP-Link website that covers this.

Although there a number of steps you need to work through, I found them all to work first time.

There were two Smart Plugs to choose from, the only difference I could see is the other one monitored how much electricity was used through it, as I have a Smart Meter, I am able to do this anyway.

Until I have more confidence, I still switch off at the socket before going to bed.

No overheating or problems so far.

The main reasons I went for the TP-Link system is that each device connects directly to your Wi-Fi rather though another hub.

Another reason is coming from a successful PC networking manufacturer.

Looking forward to trying out the light bulb next week.

Brian Collins

Amazon Echo – Audible Books – First Impressions

Today, I signed up for my three month trial membership to Audible to see (or rather hear) if it was suitable for me.

Although it can be listened through Amazon Echo, you can also listen to your books on PC/Mac, Tablet or Phone.

My impressions are based on purchasing two books – Alien and X-Files, I had to cancel Alien in order to get my monthly 1 credit back to then purchase X-Files.

Maybe it’s just me not having read books for a number of years and then mostly the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, I didn’t really get into them beyond the first few minutes.

I really like the idea, X-Files being narrated by David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson – helped back up the experience from the TV Series.

I can see lots of possibilities for this and I will try again.

I guess I have just gotten a little lazy by watching TV and Movies.

I remember my youth in being totally captivated with a book and using my own imagination to create the magic in my mind.

As I have three months, I will try again, maybe with a book recommendation.

Really like the fact that it like being in a book shop, where you read the first few pages to see if you like it (not sure if that’s frowned upon by Book Shop Owners).

Brian Collins

Amazon Fire TV Stick – First Impressions

Up ’till now, I have viewed my Amazon Prime Membership movies and box sets through my Xbox One and have been doing so for a year or two.

Having bought an Amazon Fire TV Stick (with Alexa Voice Remote), I find myself using this instead, the interface works for me and using voice control is a big time saver.

Setting up was very easy, connecting to my BT Hub, registering the voice remote with the TV stick and connecting with my Prime Membership Account.

Once up and running, it is easy to use and I have not noticed any problems so far with buffering.

Brian Collins

Amazon Echo – First Impressions

This week, I took advantage of my Amazon Prime Membership and bought two items I had been thinking about picking up for some time.

After setting up my Amazon Echo (£70 discount on Prime Members Day) – which was fairly easy once I got it talking to my BT wi-fi hub and I’m loving it.

I find myself wondering how I managed without it.

The first and most obvious thing is linking it with my Amazon account to play music, with over 1 million songs available, I found myself enjoying tracks I hadn’t listened to for years.

The single speaker pedestal  is great for what it is with good high, medium and low end and can easily be linked to a Bluetooth stereo, headphones or speaker system.

Today, I used the lists function to compile a shopping list for a visual reminder of what I needed to order from my online supermarket for delivery, loaded the list in one tab and the online supermarket in another tab.

I was able to check off each item as I ordered it and you can also print your list or send to OneNote or to disk for email forwarding or further processing.

Using reminders and alarms is a breeze too.

I am looking forward to listening to an Audible book next and really look forward to using Smart Home Automation when I’ve decided which system to use.

What I like best is the pure simplicity of talking to Alexa from anywhere in the room and the fact that I am understood after slight frustrations with other voice systems such as Siri and Cortana, Amazon seem to have got it right with Alexa being cloud based.

I also picked up an Amazon Fire TV Stick for a discount which I will talk about in another post.

Brian Collins

Leaked News – Random Thoughts

Leaked news is always leaked for a reason.

Usually these reasons are self-serving and invariably either incomplete or just plain wrong.

There is something to be said for forcing a reaction, but really can you trust it, mostly this news is released by one organisation and cannot be independently checked.

Brian Collins

Fake News – Random Thoughts

Fake News, despite all the fuss, is not a recent phenomenon.

In my day, it was more commonly known as propaganda.

For as long as I can remember, reporting of fake or false news has been popular, including gain for political reasons, to make money or sway popular opinion.

Many years ago, I was taught in school to question everything and not believe anything without a balanced view (a number of sources).

Do your research on the subjects that matter to you.

Brian Collins

News – Random Thoughts

Reporting the news has changed a lot over the many years that I have watched/listened.

Whatever happened to reporting the facts without embellishing them or inserting a bias which could be political, monitory or personal agenda?

I know that listening to just the facts can be difficult to do without any sensationalism however this is necessary to get the real story (which hopefully has been confirmed from more than 1 source).

Brian Collins

Cyber Security – Random Thoughts

Once again, the country has been attacked by cyber criminals.

This type of attack is known as ransom-ware, which encrypts the files on your device and charges a ransom to obtain a key to unlock the files.

Do you need to pay?

No, if your files are not particularly important to you (documents, apps, photos, etc.), you can in most cases re-install your system software to the state it was initially supplied to you.

If this is not viable and you have backups of your files, then you need to identify your last ransom-ware free set and do a full restore of all files and programs (possibly after reformatting your system).

Once you have your data back again, be sure to get all the latest updates for your system software and install a good anti-virus software.

I personally use McAfee, for all my devices but have also used Norton in the past.

Brian Collins