Todoist is Now Integrated with Alexa

alexa-todoist-dialogueTodoist has announced that is is now integrated with Alexa. The new integration will enable Alexa to help you add and remember your Todoist tasks from any room in your house without you having to reach for your phone.

Alexa, as you may know, is the smart voice service that powers Amazon’s hands-free voice-controlled Echo and Echo Dot devices. It does not appear that Todoist has any plans to integrate with Siri or Cortana. There is potential that this could change in the future.

It is now possible to tell Alexia to add tasks to your to-do list. Todoist gives an example. Say something like “Alexa, add pick up the kids to my to-do list”. That task will be automatically added to your Todoist inbox with today’s due date. You can also have Alexa add reoccurring tasks to your to-do list. Those tasks will automatically appear on your to-do list each month.

You can tell Alexa what items to add to your shopping list, and those items will automatically appear on a shopping list in Todoist. Another thing you can do is say: “Alexa, what’s on my to-do list?” Alexa will respond by telling you what tasks are on your to-do list.

Todoist says that the first thing you need to do is to enable Todoist in the Alexa app available on iOS, Android, and Fire tablets. Next, link your Todoist account. Your Alexa To-do and Shopping lists will be automatically synced with your Todoist.

  • All the Todoist tasks you have due today will be added to your Alexa To-do list each morning.
  • All the tasks on your Alexa To-do list will be added to your Todoist inbox with today’s due date.
  • All the tasks in your Todoist “Alexa Shopping List” project will automatically be added to your Alexa Shopping list, and vice versa.
  • Any tasks you edit, complete, or delete in Todoist will be automatically updated on your Alexa To-do list, and vice versa.

Right now, Todoist is doing a giveaway of one Amazon Echo and two Amazon Echo Dots. For full details, check out the Todoist announcement.

Pokémon GO Update Includes Catch Bonus

pokemon-catch-bonusNiantic has updated Pokémon GO to version 0.41.2 for Android and version 1.11.2 for iOS. It added a catch bonus, updated Gym training, and improved the egg and incubator screens.

The catch bonus makes those medals you have been earning into something useful. You can get a catch bonus when you earn medals based on catching certain types of Pokémon (such as Kindler, Psychic, Gardener, and others). The new bonuses will give you a better chance of capturing Pokémon with a related type.

The example Niantic gives is about the Kindler Medal. Reach a higher tier for the Kindler Medal, and your bonus to catch Fire-type Pokémon such as Charmander, Vulpix, and Ponyta increases.

Personally, I am looking forward to the catch bonus. I’m starting to get frustrated by how often the Pokémon I catch escape from the PokéBall and make me use more PokéBall to try and capture them. My hope is that the catch bonus will prevent the problem of running out of PokéBalls because I had to spend so many on each Pokémon.

Niantic says Pidgey is both Normal and Flying type. Catching Pidgeys will get you closer to the next tier on both of those Medals.

The change to Gym training is for players of all levels. You can now bring six Pokémon to battle at a friendly Gym (instead of being limited to bringing one Pokémon at a time. The CP of the Pokémon you are training against might be temporarily adjusted lower during your training session to match your Pokémon’s capabilities.

The egg and incubator screens will now periodically update the distance walked without the player having to close and reopen the screen. I noticed that the number of kilometers you need to walk to hatch an egg has stayed the same – but the number of kilometers that you have already walked are now blue (instead of black).  That makes it easier for me to differentiate between the two numbers.

Google Adds a Fact Check Label

google-news-fact-check-labelWhen you look at Google News, you might see articles that are tagged with terms like “Highly cited” or “Trending”, or “Opinion”. Google has now added “Fact check” to that list of tags. Google is doing this “to shine a light on its efforts to divine fact from fiction, wisdom from spin.”

Google points out that “fact checking has come into its own”. It explains a little bit about this new tag.

Today, we’re adding another new tag, “Fact check”, to help readers find fact checking in large news stories. You’ll see the tagged articles in the expanded story box on, and in the Google News & Weather iOS and Android apps, starting with the U.S. and the U.K.

Google News has criteria in place that they will use to determine whether an article might contain fact checks. They are using the ClaimReview markup. Google News will also “look for sites that follow the commonly accepted criteria for fact checks”.

Google Support has more information about what determines whether or not the “Fact check” label will be applied to an article. There are criteria that Google considers to be characteristics of fact-checking sites:

  • Discrete claims and checks must be easily identified in the body of fact-check articles. Readers should be able to understand what was checked, and what conclusions were reached.
  • Analysis must be transparent about sources and methods, with citations and references to primary sources.
  • The organization must be nonpartisan, with transparent funding and affiliations. It should examine a range of claims in its topic area, instead of targeting a single person or entity.
  • Article titles must indicate that a claim is being reviewed, state the conclusions reached, or simply frame that the article’s contents consist of fact-checking.

GNC #1153 Samsung

I am sure heads are rolling at Samsung. The Korean culture is such that this failure of the Galaxy Note 7 is going to have an devastating impact on Samsung and the mobile team for a very long time. I take a hard look at just what we are losing by this non-stop race to a thinner phone. Plus a whole stack of news that going to make you say hmmmm..

Long time supporters of the show. I hope you will follow my instructions given tonight on how you can support the show with your social skills.

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Ding Smart Doorbell Hits Kickstarter

Ding LogoEarlier in the year I interviewed Avril at The Gadget Show as part of the British Inventors’ Project. She was showing off Ding, a prototype smart doorbell, and I’m pleased to say that Ding is now live on Kickstarter. Way to go!

Ding ButtonDing comes in three parts, the Ding Button, the Ding Chime and the Ding app (for iOS and Android). Much like any doorbell, pressing the Ding Button rings the Ding Chime via DECT, and if home, the owner can open the door to the visitor.

But unlike most doorbells, the Ding Chime in turn communicates via wifi to the Ding app, allowing the homeowner to then chat with the caller at the door, whether simply out in the garden or miles away at work

I like Ding because it’s beautifully designed and looks great. I like Ding because it takes a problem and extends it just enough to solve the problem. There’s no video camera requiring bandwidth or online remote controlled lock, so it’s relatively inexpensive, works with ADSL and security isn’t a big concern. If someone steals the Button, all they have is half a doorbell.
Ding Chime

Launched today, Ding can be backed at a couple of price points, starting at GB£92 for a charcoal Ding, rising to GB£106 for a teal, salmon or cobalt one. Delivery is expected in August 2017 with delivery worldwide.

There’s plenty of info on the Ding Kickstarter page and even more at Ding Products, including some very cool clocks.

Good luck, DIng!


Amazon Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote Review

Amazon Fire TVWhen it comes to media streaming via hardware, it’s a four way fight for your eyeballs between Roku, Apple TV, Amazon’s Fire TV and Google’s Chromecast. The most recent entrant, Amazon and the Fire TV, came to the UK in October 2014 and I reviewed one of the boxes back in January 2015. Over eighteen months later, Amazon’s Instant Video and Fire TV are more well known, with a large element of this courtesy of Jeremy Clarkson and the ex-Top Gear crew. To see what’s changed since then, Amazon kindly sent me a the updated Amazon Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote. Let’s take a look.

Fire TV Stick Box  Fire TV Stick in Box

The Fire TV stick comes in the usual flip open box used by Amazon for its electronics. Inside the box, there’s the Fire TV stick itself, the Voice Remote with batteries, USB power supply with cable, an HDMI gender changer and some slim instructions. As it’s generally expected that the Fire TV will connect straight into an HDMI socket, there’s no HDMI cable. There’s an unboxing video below if you’re interested.

Before getting started, my tip of the day would be to plug the microUSB end of the power cable into the Fire TV stick BEFORE you push the Fire TV into a spare HDMI socket. This saves too much faffing around the back (or side) of the TV and alerts you early to a potential problem. As the power connector is on the side of the stick and the cable comes out at right angles, it’s possible that this will foul against an adjacent HDMI connector. On my TV it was apparent that the Fire TV was always going to sit in the topmost socket. Alternatively, I could have used an HDMI cable along with the gender changer to locate the stick away from the sockets and avoid interference. YMMV, as they say.

The other end of the USB cable goes into the power supply and once all connected and powered up, it’s simply a case of switching to the right HDMI input and following the prompts. The setup begins with pairing the remote to the stick and then connecting to wifi. As with all devices bought from Amazon, it comes pre-configured with your account details.

Fire TV Stick Fire TV Stick Wireless

To make life even easier, there’s a set of cartoons to take you through some of the features of the Fire TV stick.

Fire TV Stick Cartoon Fire TV Stick Cartoon

With that all done, you’re dropped into Amazon’s Fire interface. It’s largely unchanged since I first reviewed the Fire TV but that’s not a bad thing given that it’s big, bright and intuitive. Click up and down with the remote to move between the media areas….TV shows, Movies, Games, Apps, Music and so on. Click right and left to scroll through the chosen area. The Home area summarises recent activity so it’s easy to get back to something that you recently viewed. The interface is generally responsive but there can be a little lag when going into a new area, such as Photos, where it’s checking to see if there are any new media. I assume that the lag will be inversely proportional to your network connection speed.

Fire TV Menu

There’s no doubt that the Fire TV is best used with Amazon Prime and other Amazon services – much of the promoted material is for Prime shows – but other media services like Netflix and Spotify are present via apps, and there’s a full range of catch-up services for UK’s terrestrial services (BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4 and My5). When I first reviewed the Fire TV a few of these were missing from the lineup so it’s good to see the extras. In addition to film and TV, the interface presents music purchased through Amazon as CDs and Amazon Music. If you use Amazon’s storage for photos, they’ll appear in a section too.

Amazon Fire TV StickVideo playback on the Fire TV can’t be faulted. I watched a number of shows through a variety of services, including Netflix, and the picture quality was unfailingly good. Programmes started quickly and got into HD picture quality within a few seconds. No problems here.

The Fire TV Stick supports apps as well, and these mostly offer other media services, such as YouTube, or games, such as…..well, loads including Crossy Road! It’s actually good fun playing mobile games on the big screen, though some require the Fire Game Controller (GB£44.99) rather than just the remote. Some games are tricky enough with just the remote, so if you are gamer, expect to stump up for the game controller. There’s something for everyone, as they say, and I played a fair bit of Lego Star Wars – The Yoda Chronicles. Overall, I felt there was a much greater range of games than last time and more of the headline titles were available.

While having loads of media is a good thing, it’s even better when there’s a search function to quickly find what you want to see. This is the Voice Remote version of the TV Stick and as such, the remote has a button at the top with a microphone symbol. When pressed and held, you can simply say what TV or film you are interested in, and the Stick will work it out and show you the options. Owners without the Voice Remote will have to laboriously type in the name of the programme. The voice recognition is accurate and the subsequent search recommendations are valid. Press the mic button, say “The Fall”, and the first programme it offers is the BBC drama (the one I wanted) followed by other films or TV programmes with the word “fall” in their title, such as “Downfall”.

Sadly, it doesn’t look like search has moved on too much. It is good at finding stuff but it still seems to only reference Amazon-hosted material. Take the above mentioned “The Fall”, which is currently showing the third series on BBC and aired episodes can be viewed for free on iPlayer. However, search on the Fire TV Stick would have you pay £2.49 for the HD version of episode 1 without mentioning the freebie option at all. More on this in a moment….

Amazon Fire TV ContentsBack in January 2015, I said, “Overall the Amazon Fire TV compares well with the competition and if you are into Amazon’s ecosystem, then the Fire TV is a no-brainer buy at the current price of £64 giving easy access to familiar photos, music, movies and games. Even if you aren’t a fully paid-up member of the Amazon fan club, there’s still plenty to recommend with the current selection of apps and games which will undoubtedly grow over time as more broadcasters and app developers get on-board.” Here in October 2016, there’s not much to add except that it’s even better now than it was then; there are more broadcasters on-board, there are more games and the Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote is cheaper at £44.99. It drops to only £34.99 with the standard remote.

But….since starting the review of this Fire TV stick, a new version has been announced, at least in the US, which addresses some of the remaining deficiencies, namely cross-media search. Obviously it’s not clear right now when that will arrive in the UK or which apps will be searched in addition to Amazon media. Interestingly, the new Fire TV Stick comes with Alexa so the voice interaction won’t be limited to only search but other queries too. I’m looking forward to it already.

Thanks to Amazon UK for providing the Fire TV Stick for review.

GNC #1152 Made by Google

Made by Google is a tell tale sign that they are ready to battle against Apple, Microsoft and Amazon. There offerings are compelling for a first round of announcements. With laptop computers to follow and tablets Google is making a big push to grow their already massive eco-system. Plus I talk about all the tech news you can handle.. Big thanks to all of you that supported our Sponsor this past month….

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ACCELL – USB-C to 3 USB-A 3.0 Hub

usb3The team at ACCELL are always coming out with useful adapters, whether it be a docking station, display port to DVi, USB-C hub etc, the list goes on, and they are often very early to market on gear we all want and need.

The USB-C to 3 USB-A 3.0 hub is no exception. As laptop manufacture lower the number of available USB ports on computers, hubs are going to be needed more than ever. So look no further ACCELL has a new USB-C to USB-A hub. Testing here the device worked as advertised with three devices connected.

Here is the feature stack from the manufacture.

  • USB 3.0 compliant, supports data transfer speeds up to 4.8Gbps
  • USB-A output: 5V @ 900mA
  • USB powered design, no external power necessary
  • Power consumption: 5V @ 200mA
  • Approximate length: 7.9in (200mm)

Priced at $37.99 this unit is available to purchase today.

TAMRAC – HOODOO 18 Camera Daypack

hoddooA few weeks ago I received the TAMRAC HOODOO 18 Camera Daypack to review and was excited to do so, as I have not reviewed a backpacks designed for specifically touting their DSLR around and a few lenses in some time.

I loaded it up with my Cannon D60 an a couple of lenses, 12 inch laptop, tablet and a bunch of stuff I would expect to need to hump around day in and day out doing some camera work to include a compact mono-stick.

The backpack has a unique shape, the best way to describe it, is that it looks a little thicker at the top then at the bottom. But as you add gear, the bottom of the bag is not restrictive.

hoddoo2The only thing I wish the bag would have had was a little more padding at the bottom of it for lenses. The bag contains 4 major compartments. The back compartment for laptop / tablet, a padded top pocket to hold your dslr, a deep front pocket that could handle a very large lens, and front side pocket where I stored keys, mobile etc. There actually was room in it for a bunch of stuff and deep enough things would not fall out.

This bag is designed to be a day bag, I do not think I would use it for travel but depending on your utility it will easily fit under a airline seat and still leave room for your feet.

Priced at $80.95 and available today, this is a bag that I am going to get a lot of years utilization out of on a variety of projects.

LOFTEK LED RGB Floodlight Review

loftekThe folks at LOFTEK sent me a LED RGB Floodlight to review designed to be used for mood lighting in the yard or in a room needing a color effect.  16 color tones and 4 flash modes (Flash / Strobe / Fade / Smooth) provide colorful and bright illumination across wide area. With 6 brightness level you can adapt this light to almost any setting.

Designed to be used indoors/outdoors includes a remote control that allows you to control it, and even set a timer to have the light automatically shutoff. This LED RGB Floodlight would even be good for DJ’s trying to set the mood for any room. Very durable made of Aluminum die cast no cheap plastic pieces.

Priced at $66.99 you really cannot beat the price if your looking for a DIY project.