Did you know that many of today’s smart phones have an FM radio receiver in them?

It’s true. Many Android smart phones have FM radio receivers built in which wireless carriers block by default. Why would they do that? Simple, because they want you to use your data plan on streaming music services. Duh.  So how do you use the included FM receiver in your phone?

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Having a Google Business Page is obviously important to your online marketing and SEO. If you’re like me you’ve had one or more Google accounts over the years. As new services came to be, you kept opening new accounts to keep business things from personal things, separate You Tube accounts, different business interests and so on. Now you have a quagmire of Google accounts with things mixed and matched all over the place.

One of my main issues was that my Google Business Page was on a different account from all of the rest of it’s Google services like You Tube and Google Voice, and I needed to get that page on the other account.

Google doesn’t make transferring things between accounts easy, but there is a way with pages. You basically do it by transferring ownership of the Google Business Page from one account to the other.

How to transfer your Google Business Page to a different account

  1. First you need to log into the existing account, go to the page that you want to transfer, and access it’s settings.
  2. In the page’s settings go to Managers where you will see the “Add managers” button.
    2a. You find the settings by clicking on your page’s avatar on the top right.
  3. Click “Add managers” and invite the account that you want to transfer the page to by putting in the email of the other account.
  4.  Now log  out, and log into the other account and navigate to the page and you should see a notice at the top of the page that you’ve been invited to manage this page.
  5. Accept the invitation. You are now a manager of that page on your other account.
  6. Wait 24 hours and log back into the old account, go back to Managers and you should see a drop down menu in the new managers box.
  7. Select the option to make the new manager a page Owner.
  8. Log into the other account to make sure that you are now an owner of that page.
  9. If so, you can now delete your old profile as that page’s owner.
  10. You have now transferred ownership of the page from one account to another.

That’s it!

Source: https://support.google.com/business/answer/3415281?hl=en

Ever since Amazon Echo was announced, a.k.a “Alexa”. I started imagining being able to live out my Star Trek fantasies of a voice enabled home that did my bidding. While the Echo isn’t there yet ( and yes I’ve strenuously suggested that Amazon allow us to use “Computer” as the trigger word), it is surprisingly functional with real world abilities and tasks, and fun to use.

As soon as I took my Echo out of the box I immediately started looking for ways to use it not just for home automation and entertainment, but while I worked. After a little digging and a little ingenuity I was able to find a few useful ways to use Echo ( or “Alexa“) as a voice activated home office assistant right out of the box.

To get started, many of the ways to extend Alexa’s capabilities require you to have a free IFTTT (If This Then That) account. IFTTT is an integration/collaboration platform that allows different software, apps, and hardware to work together. “If I do this, then I want this to happen”. It has 1000’s of integrations called ‘recipes’ for a ton of apps and functions that we do everyday on our computers and devices, and they can be set up and used from you desktop/laptop or Android and iOS devices

To quickly learn a little more about IFTTT and how to use it, here’s a quick instructional video by David. Lee EdTech

For the purposes of this article we’ll just be concentration on how to use “Alexa” with some commonly used work/office tasks.

How to use your Amazon Echo to automate the Office

Make, Use and Syndicate Lists

Right out of the box you can use Alexa to make 2 kinds of lists. “To Do”, and “Shopping“. To start or add to each list you can say simple commands like, “Alexa, add printer cartridges to my shopping list”, or “Alexa, add ‘call John’ to my To Do list”.

The “To Do” list is just a general list. It’s not date specific, but it can be with a few adjustments ( we’ll get to that in a minute).

The shopping list function is really for shopping via Amazon with a Prime Account, which I highly recommend having. If you buy office supplies this way (or anything), this can be very convenient. Here’s more about voice purchasing with “Alexa”.

However, you can use it for your general shopping list as well.
Alexa -IFTTT Shopping List

Export, send and print your lists.

What good is making a list if you can’t have it with you when you need it, right? Fortunately this is easier said and done.

You can also find IFTTT recipes to send your lists to apps like Todoist, Evernote, Google Drive Spreadsheets, One Note, iOS Reminders, DropBox, Wunderlist, and more at https://ifttt.com/amazon_alexa/recipes

Access and Use Google Calendar

Out of the box Alexa can be configured to tell you what’s scheduled on your Google calendar.

In the Alexa app on your mobile device, or using the Alexa desktop app simply go to Settings->Calendar and connect your Google calendar or calendars to “Alexa”. Once that is done, you just ask “Alexa, What’s on my calendar today?” and it will tell you. You can also ask by day or date.

You can also have “Alexa” add To Do items to your Google Calendar as “quick add event” .

News, Tech, and Stock briefings.

By default Alexa has a feature called Flash Briefing. News updates from default popular broadcasters such as NPR, BBC News, ESPN, Fox Sports and even TMZ. You simply ask “Alexa, what’s the news” or “Alexa, Flash briefing” or something similar and it plays headlines and quick stories from the sources you’ve checked in Settings->Flash Briefing.

Alexa comes with TuneIn online radio and podcasts which provides me access to the full line of TWiT network shows and podcast. I simply say “Alexa, play Tech News Today podcast” (or any TWiT show) and my Echo will play the latest episode of what I asked for.

You can also activate Techcrunch News in your Settings->Skills and say “Alexa, ask Techcrunch news for headlines”

Want to hear stocks news? In the Skills section of your Alexa app or dashboard activate the Stock Exchange add on to get a quick briefing on the state of your portfolio, and stocks on NYSE and NASDAQ. You will need to be able to tell “Alexa” the stock symbols.

If you work away from home or travel out of the home office regularly you can also ask “Alexa” for traffic updates. Make sure you put your location in Settings->(Device name)->Device Location.

Set timers, alarms and track time

Do you work by the hour or bill by time? You can set up multiple timers and alarms with your voice and Alexa will let you know when the time is up. Check out Setting up timers and alarms.

You can also track time and keep a record of the time spent using an IFTTT trigger “Alexa, trigger (log the time)” or the phrase of your choice and a record of the time will be recorded on your Google Docs spreadsheet. This Action will add a single row to the bottom of the first worksheet of the spreadsheet you specify.https://ifttt.com/recipes/341871-alexa-trigger-log-the-time

If you’re in and out of the office, you (or your employees) can also Track time and location with IFTTT’s DO button. The DO button is an add on to IFTTT that allows you to perform a specific task by pushing the button on your mobile device. You can set up your DO button so that when you tap it the time and your current location will be saved to a Google spreadsheet in a DO Button folder.https://ifttt.com/recipes/259396-track-your-current-location-in-a-spreadsheet

Send short SMS and Email messages

You can have Alexa send short messages to predefined recipients through it’s To Do list function. This could be incredibly helpful when you need to communicate quickly with 1-5 employees or associates.

  • Send short SMS via Voice
    Notes: Recipient will receive content of all items you add to your To Do List. To send SMS, simply say “Alexa – add ‘I am running late’ to my To Do List”.
  • Send someone a short email via Voice
    Notes: Up to (5) recipients will receive content of all items you add to your To Do List. To send a message, simply say “Alexa – add ‘I am running late’ to my To Do List”.

Send Content to your Kindle Fire Tablet

When Amazon announced the 7″ Kindle Fire tablet for $50 of course I got one. It was 50 bucks. At that price I didn’t expect much, but surprisingly I use it pretty much every day to catch up on the news and tech blogs that I like. I’ve also been using it to live stream tech shows from the TWiT network when doing other things on the TV or computer. It’s become really handy and I have to admit it’s a quality device, especially for the price. However, my Fire Tablet just got a lot cooler.

With Voicecast, you can ask Alexa to send additional details about news, weather, and more to your Fire tablet (running Fire OS 4.5.1 or above). You can also turn on Automatic Voicecast to send content to your Fire tablet automatically.

When Alexa sends content to your Fire tablet using Voicecast, it appears on the lock screen of the tablet. When you’re doing something else on your tablet at the time that you request content (such as browsing the web or playing a game), a notification appears in the Quick Settings menu on your tablet.

Here’s how to set it up: https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=201601900

Find my phone

It goes without saying that you probably misplace your phone every now and then. Instead of running around having other people call your phone, have your Echo do it for you. Just say “Alexa, trigger find my phone”, (or whatever you set after the word “trigger”) and this IFTTT recipe will call your phone: https://ifttt.com/recipes/341784-alexa-trigger-find-my-phone.

There’s so much more that Alexa can do

I know you’re sitting there thinking, “But I can do all of that with Google or Siri”, but not really. I use Google religiously but it’s not great unless you have the phone close to your mouth, or are using some kind of bluetooth ear bud. With Alexa I can literally speak to it from anywhere in the room, even facing away from it, and it hears and responds very well. I also can’t use Google or Siri to control many devices or integrate with other apps and software like I can with Alexa.

Your Amazon Echo can be configured to do a variety of task right out of the box to help automate simple office tasks, however, where the Echo really shines is in the way it integrates with other devices and software. You can set your Amazon Echo up to control your lights, security, make coffee, control electrical outlets and much more using compatible connected devices and products from Belkin WeMo, Philips Hue, SmartThings, Insteon, Wink and many more….and the party is just getting started.

To find out more check out the Amazon Echo at Amazon.com, and check back here for more tips on great ways to use technology in your home office, and make running your business easier and a lot more fun.