[RELEASE] Ask Alexa

After some fiddling with the encoding of the file, I got the whole file up to the editor.

Madam A now responds, but it’s much more hit and miss than it was previously. A lot of the time I get “I don’t know about that.” I’m considering editing the invocation name to be two words, but I don’t know if that would help, and I don’t know how many places in the code would need to be updated.

Thoughts on improving recognition accuracy for trigger phrases?

Hi,
I have been using ask alexa for a while for some reason with the most recent update, my room macro stopped working. When I say " Alexa tell smartthings to turn off downstairs lights", she responds that “downstairs lights does not support that”. Any idea what could be the cause of this?

For both @knozturk and @ADHawk you have the same issue. You are initiating the native skill…not Ask Alexa. If you change the invocation name (At the bottom of the Settings area of the app) to TWO words (Smart Things) and then update your JSON this will radically improve your results

Amazon changed this months ago making this necessary.

Happy Friday…Nothing to report in Ask Alexa land, but I have released the new DTHs for the GE Switches/Dimmers I have been raving about.

Happy Friday…It has been hot in the Pacific Northwest where I live. I hope everyone is staying cool!

Not much to report; the release of the new DTHs for the GE dimmers/switches went well and I am getting positive feedback regarding them. I am already working on a revision to add some additional features for a use case I have (visitors to my house).

Anyway, on the Ask Alexa front, I have a beta that I have been using that utilizes the NotifyMe skill. This is for those that want notifications from the Ask Alexa Message queue. I have delayed releasing this new version as I had hoped this function would get better. Unfortunately, the developer sent this:

Amazon says they cannot make any notification limit exceptions for Notify Me. And, they clarified that if any one user exceeds their per-user limit, Amazon blocks everyone from using the skill (which is the state the skill has been in for over a week now).

We are now attempting to get Amazon to tell us what, exactly, their per-user notification limit is so we can preemptively implement the same limit on our end. By doing this, we can keep Amazon from blocking Notify Me due to the high activity of one or more enthusiastic users. As soon as Amazon reveals this information, we’ll implement the cap on our end, ask Amazon to unblock the skill, and then let you know what your new notification limitations are.

We apologize for how long this is taking, but we’re moving as fast as Amazon allows.

Thanks again for your patience.

Such is life…I will keep monitoring this, and if Amazon comes out with a better notification system I will add it to Ask Alexa.

Enjoy.

3 Likes

Happy Friday…A few things to mention this week!

I am updating the GE switches with a new version that gives more programmatic control over the various settings of the device. I had a few specific use cases where I could use them, and assume others could as well. You can get the new versions here:

I did get a final resolution on the NotifyMe skill:

As you might have noticed, notifications from Notify Me started working again on or about July 26 (hooray!)_

Amazon both “unclogged” our skill and shared with us their new notification limits: 5 notifications in a 5 minute period per user

As a result, this is exactly what Notify Me now enforces, ensuring no one user can break the skill again. If you try to send more than 5 notifications within a 5 minute period, Notify Me ignores your sixth request and returns the following error message:

{
error: “Too many requests”,
message: "Amazon enforces a limit of 5 notifications in a 5 minute period. Please wait at least 5 minutes before trying again.
}

About five minutes after you receive above error message, you should be able to send notifications again.

Thanks for your patience and support.

-The Thomptronics team

Finally, thanks to @ADHawk I pushed out a small update to Ask Alexa. It is JUST the IDE app and doesn’t make a significant change, but if you are having issues with PINs and SHM, this might be your fix. We are now at 2.3.9f.

Enjoy!

1 Like

@MichaelS

Hi. I’m currently running 2.3.9d, and i’m wondering if you can explain about the notifyme stuff.

Is this something that’s coming that will allow Alexa to speak remotely umprompted, or will it simply make the orange light shine to tell me I have a notification? or have i missed your meaning altogether (not entirely impossible)

Currently I get notifications by getting bigtalker to talk to a tablet running lannouncer which is bluetoothed to Alexa. Whilst this works i’d love (alongside many others) to find a way of just getting Alexa to speak my alerts directly. (However my understanding is that this is not exposed functionality)

Thanks

I can’t figure out how to add my new Rachio controller to Ask Alexa. I looked through all of the menus and don’t see a way to add a sprinkler controller anywhere. Has someone figured this out yet?

The sprinklers appear as switches so you can add them in the switch area and control them with on or off commands.

I have not implemented NotifyMe in the current release (Which, you should go to 2.3.9f) as I am not sure it is the functionality people will want. It does not “wake” and alert you with voice when a message comes it; instead it just does the light as you guessed…you then have to ask about message to get the text.

I recommend looking here: https://www.amazon.com/Thomptronics-Notify-Me/dp/B07BB2FYFS

This is pretty much the functionality I already have with the Ask Alexa Message Queue…if you use a Sonos speaker you get an even better experience as those speakers CAN wake and start talking.

Hope that helps.

With football season getting started, I will be forgoing the Friday updates during the preseason. Keep those suggestions or questions coming however!

2 Likes

When I try to test the skill I am not getting any response. Just blue bubbles forever. Any idea of the issue? I have tried rebuilding the skill 3 times but still the same result.

AskSkillError

What are you typing? With the receipt changes the simulator is testing you account not just the skill… so you be able to type “Alexa, what time is it” and get it to work… But this is a true simulator in that you have to type exactly what you would say.

No matter what I type, it just does that. It also doesnt show the JSON it shows “Skill I/O is available only for speech requests to skills you have created.”

Actually sounds like something is funky with your account… Does your Alexa device work properly?

I actually opened a second account, and it still did it. Good thing is when I try it from the device it is working as expected. I am going to try on a different network/PC later.
Thanks for your replies!

1 Like

Can’t wait for the day when Amazon allows Alexa to provide real time notifications. I want her to tell me when my doors open, or if the garage door is open (followed by the question if I want to close it).

@MichaelS - there is an option to configure a speaker in the app, but I am unable to select anything. I don’t have Sonos or Bose or Samsung speakers, so is there a way to setup a bluetoooth speaker or something?

For Bluetooth there is nothing I have control over in the app. I recommend searching the forums, however, as I believe there are some ‘hacks’ that allow you to push the output to Bluetooth which would then announce on the speaker.

1 Like

Hi @MichaelS,

Long time no speak, hope all is well!

Just a quick heads up to let you know that I’ve run into a funky issue whereby when I ask the system to unlock or lock a door with the password included in one single command, I get “There was a problem with the requested skills response”, but when I leave off the password in the initial command, causing Ask Alexa to ask me to follow up with the password, it works successfully.

I’m running 2.3.9f with Lambda code 1.3.1a.

Thanks as always.

Hmmm… That specific area is what the “f” version focused on… However can you give me at percise set of commands you are saying and the results. I can’t reproduce it with my system. I would actually type them each into the simulator and then see if it works… so something like:

Condition 1: error
Condition 2: works
Condition 3: works

Thanks