Echo Dot and Brennan

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root...@btinternet.com

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Dec 28, 2017, 7:49:28 AM12/28/17
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I am visually impaired so cannot find tracks on the Brennan now which is why we got the echo dot so we can use this to play tracks but it won't work.  Have I misunderstood how it works or am I doing something wrong.

we have paired echo dot with Brennan. 

Do you have to say connect each time you turn it on?

Then if we say something like "play help by the Beatles from Brennan" - it just goes to library stored on echo.

can someone help or let me know this won't work in this way.

thanks

Brennan Support

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Dec 28, 2017, 10:31:02 AM12/28/17
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Hi Roots

Martin Brennan here. I'm afraid Alexa and B2 don't work like that. You can play Alexa through B2 as you have already discovered - really using B2 as a glorified Bluetooth speaker - but you can't send instructions to B2 verbally.

Its possible in theory - as I understand it I would have to develop what Amazon call "skills". But its a very big job - possibly bigger than B2 itself. In the example you gave "play help by the Beatles from Brennan" we understand the likely meanings but dumb computers don't know that "help by the Beatles from Brennan" isn't some weird track name.

I am interested in helping the visually impaired - I did some work last year with a screen reader and the web UI - but really the bottom line was that the web UI would need to be redesigned from the ground up to do the job right. 

Its possible that a simple subset could be done verbally but that might not be very useful. 

You might want to explore if Sonos have made any progress integrating with Alexa or Google home.

Martin

THW

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Jan 2, 2018, 10:24:53 AM1/2/18
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I too am very interested in having the B2 work with Alexa. I do not have a B2 yet, but the web interface looks interesting for managing a collection, organizing playlists, etc. It does not look particularly useful for actually playing selections from the collection. I have had an Echo Dot for only a few days, but I haven't had time to see whether I can set it up to play, for instance, a specific selection from the items in my I tunes. From what I've read, I think it does do that. I  realize that a whole new "skill" might be an enormous undertaking, but if one could say "Alexa, connect to Brennan." then  "Alexa, play the Beatles." "Alexa, play Junco Watanabe singing Mozart." "Alexa, play the album Dancer With Bruised Knees." "Alexa, play the song Dancer with Bruised Knees."  I don't even know whether any of this is possible, and my sample requests indicate some of the complication involved, but also how terrifically useful such a facility would be not just for the visually impaired.

Sonos is now selling a Play One that incorporates Alexa, but I don't think that does anything more for the issue than having a Dot. It still needs the "skill" to access the Brennan. However, it also seems to me possible that Alexa itself incorporates the voice to text recognition. Without any additional "skill," you can ask it to play "The House at Pooh Corner," and it does (from AudioBooks, I think), but not the version I would choose. So if it knew to look for Pooh on a B2 on a local WiFi instead of over the internet, wouldn't it simply play my copy?

I'm not suggesting that this would be simple, or that I will wait for Alexa to buy a B2, but only that you might not have to build the whole voice control from the ground up. And further refinements of the B2 for all users should take precedence.

Brennan Support

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Jan 3, 2018, 3:39:50 AM1/3/18
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Hello THW

Martin here - I think you can already do what you are asking for - you can say "Connect to Brennan" and it will connect to the Brennan via Bluetooth and then if you say "play Beatles" it will - but its not playing the copy of the Beatles on the B2 - its effectively using the Brennan as a Bluetooth speaker.

So anything Alexa can say/play - it can play through B2.

The "skills" only come into it if you wanted to say play a particular album on the B2. Where Alexa effectively needs to control the B2.

You are no doubt aware that Google Home does much the same and I have heard from one quarter that its recognition skills are better. I think its fair to say voice control is here to stay - but who knows in what shape.

Martin 

THW

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Jan 3, 2018, 8:43:35 AM1/3/18
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Martin,

Of course I understand that one could use the Brennan as a very expensive way to play Echo's internet connection into my audio system. But if that's all I want to do, I can connect the Dot directly to the amplifier. Brennan, I understand, allows Playlists, recording from vinyl (I have a fair number of rather specialized records and CDs not available through Alexa), and presumably higher quality sound than Alexa produces.

I will, a some point soon, explore whether I can get Alexa to play material from my computer. If it can do that, rather than play an equivalent from some other source, then I would imagine that simply making the B2 "visible" to Alexa would accomplish my purpose. It's probably more complicated than I imagine. I remember a programmer friend of mine marveling at the early mouse's ability to make a circle on-screen in real time -- he had some idea of the programming necessary to make that happen, whereas I could only see the rather obvious correlation between the motion of the mouse and circle appearing on-screen.

Thanks,

T.

THW

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Jan 3, 2018, 9:21:52 AM1/3/18
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Martin,

A further development: it does not appear possible for Alexa simply to access my I Tunes library. However, there is something called My Media for Alexa (https://www.mymediaalexa.com/#), which even has a version for the Raspberry Pi (still in beta). If I read it correctly, I think what it will do is play the music files through the connecting device (the Dot, in my case), which is a weak link. I'd rather it simply controlled the playback through the wired connection into my hifi system. But it seems as though this is getting close.

T.

Brian

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Jan 11, 2018, 11:23:25 AM1/11/18
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Hi Martin

I understand the logic of the relationship between Alexa and the Brennan that you describe in your response to Root, but I had the same expectation as Root because your "plug" for the Amazon Echo Dot on your home page implies exactly the relationship that you now say is impossible.

“Alexa - Connect to Brennan”
“Searching"
"Now Connected to Brennan B2” 
“Alexa - Play Christmas Music”

That - not unsurprisingly - lead me to believe that I'd then be hearing a Brennan playlist.  I'll make use of the Echo and Sonos kit that I bought in this expectation, but I think your home page needs amending to ensure that others don't fall into the same trap.

Brian

Brennan Support

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Jan 12, 2018, 12:06:37 AM1/12/18
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Hi Brian

Point taken - I'll amend the copy after I get back on 18th. Feel free to badger me by email if it looks like I've forgotten.

When writing copy you have to tread a line between brevity and possible ambiguity and I can see that this is misleading.

How do you find the Alexa generally? - I bought one about 14 months ago - but haven't felt the need to use it - though I'm hardly a "normal" user if there is such a thing.

Martin

THW

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Jan 13, 2018, 4:15:11 PM1/13/18
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A further detail on My Media for Alexa. I queried the developer for that about whether it could control the B2 to play through its own output. He hadn't heard of it, but must have looked and asked whether one could access ssh on the Brennan's Raspberry Pi, so I sent him the details from the post on "Open Source?" Seems promising.

Brennan Support

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Jan 15, 2018, 4:25:05 AM1/15/18
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Keep me posted - Martin

rita....@btopenworld.com

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Apr 4, 2018, 12:42:13 PM4/4/18
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Oh dear.  I've just spent time setting up my new echo dot, so that my partner who is severely dyslexic, could access our music more easily.  Of course I've just discovered that this won't work.  Grrr.  I bought it especially for that as, when reading about the B2 before I ordered one, it said they do connect.  Its true they do, but not in the way we hoped.  Rita 

Brennan Support

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Apr 5, 2018, 4:49:59 AM4/5/18
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Hello Rita

Martin here - I understand from David G that if you use B2 with a Sonos speaker then you can instruct Alexa to play tracks verbally using the Alexa Sonos route.

I know that's an extra expense and yet another technological hurdle so I'm not recommending it - just letting you know. You might want to research around ask David if it might be of use to your partner

Martin 

root...@btinternet.com

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Apr 5, 2018, 9:10:14 AM4/5/18
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Hi there, just want to check is that saying you can instruct Alexa to play tracks from your Brennan or just stored on Alexa?
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Spike Haward

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Apr 7, 2018, 9:06:48 AM4/7/18
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Just downloaded the My Media for Alexa app as mentioned by THW. Great idea - thanks THW!
It works well and fairly simple to set up - there is an addon transcoding package that is needed for the flac, and the MyMedia skill to add to the Echo. My Brennan now working by voice. ('Alexa - ask MyMedia to play music by Johnny Cash')

My Media for Alexa runs on the PC as a service, so the app does not need to be open. The only downside is that the PC needs to be on, but I can live with that - its on most of the time anyway!.

I also see on their website that there is now a download version (beta at the moment) for the PI - could this be added IDC, Martin?

Brennan Support

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Apr 9, 2018, 5:06:33 AM4/9/18
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Hello Spike

Thanks for the suggestions.

I'm keeping an eye on Alexa on Pi - the biggest problem seems to be something called tunnelling - Alexa is not in the Echo - its at Amazon HQ so there has to be a route from Amazon HQ to your Brennan B2 through your firewall

All ideas welcome

Martin

Spike Haward

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Apr 10, 2018, 9:39:48 AM4/10/18
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Hi Martin

Although 'Alexa' is now communicating with my B2 using My Media with the service running on my PC, it would be good to have it stand-alone. I was a bit loathe to attempt to install the beta Pi version on my B2 although the online instructions seemed reasonable.(I am not familiar with that OS) I also raised the question with MyMedia support re a lack of a transcoding addon for that version and got this swift response:


<Can you try the following:


<pi@raspberrypi:/ $ sudo apt-get install ffmpeg


<If it doesn’t work, please let me know which version of Raspbian you are running

<Thanks, Ed


My question - is it worth a try? I have flashed my original pre-NAS SD card with the latest software version so I have a backup if I corrupt anything, or is there something else I can 'break'??


Spike



PMB

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Apr 13, 2018, 4:50:40 AM4/13/18
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Hi Spike,

Martin says - tell him B2 does have a Raspberry Pi but it doesn't use Raspberry Pi software - so while the Alexa software is of interest its not something he can just run.

Paul
Brennan Support.

Stevo 59

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Jul 10, 2018, 5:15:52 AM7/10/18
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Hi Martin and friends. My first post.

I’m in the process of loading up 2000 or so classical albums for my dad, who is totally sightless, (via EAC on a laptop and a usb stick). At the moment he has to ask the care Home staff to find the music he wants. He bought his B2 in the hope that a way to implement voice recognition would be available soon, and therefore wanted the music loaded in readiness.

So he is another user who desperately needs this. I’m following this thread in hope.

Stevo

Mike Williams

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Jul 23, 2019, 4:18:29 PM7/23/19
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Hello. I have tried following these suggestions but have drawn a blank so far. I have enabled NAS as instructed but I cannot see my B2 as a network item on my laptop. I have downloaded My Media for Amazon Alexa to both my Amazon Echo and my laptop. I set up the ffmpeg folder that seems to be required. Any ideas please?

Thanks
Mike

Dennis Lefebvre

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Jul 23, 2019, 4:30:09 PM7/23/19
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On Tuesday, July 23, 2019 at 4:18:29 PM UTC-4, Mike Williams wrote:
....enabled NAS as instructed but I cannot see my B2 as a network item on my laptop. 

Even though you cannot "see" the B2, you should be able to access it by typing the path directly. See this recent post:

Spike Haward

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Jul 23, 2019, 4:38:35 PM7/23/19
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Hi Mike
I found that - in order to get My Media for Alexa to 'see' the Brennan and to index the folders - I had to map the B2 as a network drive on my PC - EG m:\\brennanb2\music
Spike

Mike Williams

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Jul 23, 2019, 4:58:30 PM7/23/19
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Progress! Thank you Spike and Dennis. I mapped to the B2 and can now see it on my laptop. No joy yet with Alexa; I'm wondering if it's not part of my network.

Spike Haward

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Jul 23, 2019, 5:08:17 PM7/23/19
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No, you won't actually 'see' your Echo on the Laptop as a network device. Just ensure that your newly mapped drive is a path in My Media for Alexa and you should find that the app will then index the B2.
Spike

Mike Williams

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Jul 24, 2019, 1:32:48 PM7/24/19
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Thanks again Spike. I'm not sure I understand that bit! Where I would see that in My Media? I have what looks like the equivalent to Windows Explorer, with a list on the left that goes from Dashboard to Uninstall. There's a Watch folders line there but it only seems to have samples in it and I'm not having a lot of luck with adding others. Am I missing something?

Mike Williams

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Jul 24, 2019, 4:53:03 PM7/24/19
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Oh my goodness! It works!

I seem to have successfully connected Alexa to my B2 via My Media for Alexa. I can play music from the B2 to both the Amazon Echo in the kitchen and a different track on the Fire tablet at the same time.

I finally managed to work out how to map the paths to My Media. I'm not that great with tech!

Thanks for your help and encouragement! I'm chuffed to bits!

Mike

Spike Haward

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Jul 24, 2019, 6:04:55 PM7/24/19
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That's great, Mike. It works well too, I think.

The only issue I had was with playlists - it does not recognise the B2 ones as they seem to be a relative path.
I solved that by creating my own playlists for the app, using an absolute path for each track.

Regards
Spike

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