A Business Technology Place

Alexa, play my podcast

How hard can it be?

This week I wanted to play a podcast through my Amazon Echo Dot. It seemed so simple. I would have Alexa learn a skill for a podcast player and then queue the podcast to play. My preferred podcast player is Google Play Music because that’s where I keep my digital music. But I had forgotten Amazon and Google don’t play together. Silly boys.

Here are the options I found:

  1. Enable a skill on Alexa that plays podcasts. Some of the more well-known providers are iHeartRadio, TuneIn, and Stitcher.
  2. Use the Echo Dot as a bluetooth speaker. In this option, the Echo Dot can be paired to another device such as phone or tablet. Then play the podcast on the app installed on the other device.

Pick and go

For option 1, I didn’t want to register a new account. Since I don’t have accounts on iHeartRadio, TuneIn, or Stitcher I chose option 2.

Pairing the Echo Dot to my phone was easy. I turned on bluetooth on my phone and then said “Alex, pair bluetooth”. When I did this the Echo Dot showed as a device that could be paired. The obvious downside to this method is I have to use a second device to play the podcast through the Echo Dot instead of using the Alexa voice commands. I’m OK with that.

One thing to note if you try this. Other family members might not like your podcast content or want to listen at the same time. You might have to move Alexa to a private space. 🙂

Onward and upward!

Photo credit: F. Delventhal via Creative Commons

 

Fix Microsoft Office programs crashing – disable bluetooth add-in

A few years ago I had a problem with Microsoft Excel crashing when I was working with graphs. I don’t remember the exact function I worked with, but I remember the fix. I disabled the “Send to Bluetooth” add-in to solve the problem. The program wasn’t playing well with some other features in Excel and I didn’t use the send-to bluetooth feature so it was an easy fix.
The send to bluetooth feature is used when you want to transfer files to a bluetooth device that is paired with your computer. A common example would be a smart phone. You could transfer documents and spreadsheets to the phone without a cable using bluetooth wireless feature. I don’t use bluetooth transfers so I chose to disable this add-in from each office application as a precautionary measure to fix other crashes and to possibly gain a little speed during startup.  By disabling the add-in and not removing it, you have the option to simply re-enable in the future if you want to use the feature.
Here’s how to disable the bluetooth add-in:
In Office 2010
  1. Start the Office application (Word, Excel, Outlook, etc.)
  2. Select the “File Tab”
  3. Select “Options” along the left-side navigation (This will create a new window for options)
  4. Select “Add-ins” along the left-side navigation
  5. There is a field at the bottom of the window named “Manage”. Change the option for “Manage” to “COM Add-ins” and select the Go button.
  6. Uncheck the “Send to Bluetooth” box and select OK. (If Send to Bluetooth is not showing then your device may not support bluetooth, so you are already done!)
  7. Repeat this for each Office application
In Office 2007
  1. Start the Office application (Word, Excel, Outlook, etc.)
  2. Select the Start button in the upper left.
  3. Select “Options” button on the bottom of the dialogue window.  (This will create a new window for options)
  4. Select “Add-ins” along the left-side navigation
  5. There is a field at the bottom of the window named “Manage”. Change the option for “Manage” to “COM Add-ins” and select the Go button.
  6. Uncheck the “Send to Bluetooth” box and select OK. (If Send to Bluetooth is not showing then your device may not support bluetooth, so you are already done!)
  7. Repeat this for each Office application
Here’s what success looks like.

Bluetooth Add-In