Tech News and Commentary
Dave and the team discuss Apple smart-glasses, socializing online during quarantine, YouTube bedtime reminders, Google’s dark mode, fidget spinners and UTIs, a virus killing masks, and more.
Nick in Windsor, Ontario listens on AM800 CKLW and asked: “I have an Amazon Echo Show. Is there a way to change the search engine on it? I believe it goes to Bing.”
Nick, as far as we know it’s still not possible to easily change the default search engine.
As you might expect, Amazon is not jumping at the chance to bypass its own smart assistant’s logic to let you use Google’s.
Having said that, if you’re technical enough, there are workarounds to install Google search as a skill.
It’s not straightforward though, it does require you to not just install a skill, but also code a AWS – Amazon Web Services Lambda function.
Lambda functions are programs in your chosen programming language that run in AWS’s serverless environment. If you’re a programmer and you’re willing to go through the trouble, it’s not the hardest thing in the world to set up, and you will be able to ask Alexas to “search Google” for something.
If you’re not a programmer you should know that Amazon’s AWS has a fairly generous free tier that does include a large number of processing hours to be used on AWS Lambda functions, but signing up for even that free tier does require giving them your credit card information.
There is also a learning curve to AWS that you will have to content with.
AlexaMods.com has links to many skills you can add to any Amazon Echo, including an ask Google skill. This link will redirect you to GitHub. There it gives you guides and a way to download the code to implement to your Echo Show.
If you’re looking for an option in a settings pane, unfortunately, you’re out of luck for the time being.
Rob asked: “Two questions… What is the difference between a wi-fi booster and a wi-fi extender? What is a good wi-fi booster or extender? Garage is about 20′ away from my hub. Thank you for any help you can give me! Be safe.”
Rob, those terms are mostly used interchangeably. They’re both wireless range extenders.
There could be a difference in that a WiFi extender sometimes refers to a wired device that you plug into a your wired network to extend your WiFi to a place that wouldn’t otherwise get it, but more often than not they are meant to identify devices that will take a WiFi network and somehow make it reach places it normally wouldn’t.
Booster is mainly a term for something that takes a wireless signal, boosts it and repeats it, but there’s no official definition that anyone is required to stick to.
As for good boosters or extenders. Most of them are either difficult to set up or difficult to use. For example, some will force you to connect to a different network once you start to lose your main one. That’s luckily not always the case, but those that truly extend a single network and are just standalone repeaters sometimes have compatibility issues or are a lot of work to set up.
If your garage is only 20 feet from your hub, you should get a usable signal in there unless there’s an awful lot of metal in those walls. If you mean yards, then a good repeater will probably help and a mesh type will make your setup easier and your use more seamless.
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