Amazon Alexa now speaks “Australian”

Over the past week the press has been writing articles about the availability of Amazon Alexa, and referring to skills from local service providers also being available.

Unfortunately that hasn’t been the case for those of us who brought in their devices from the US, nor have the devices actually been available for sale.

This morning I noticed my Echo Dot was unable to interact with my light bulbs or speakers Рit kept telling me to set up a mobile device from the app. I checked Google Play Store Рthe app is still not available, however logging in to the Alexa portal I noted that all of my devices were showing as offline.

A few minutes later they came back online, and I found that I was able to install the English (Australia) language pack on all devices except the Amazon Tap as it won’t be launching in Australia.

I was also able to install a variety of local skills and link them, which was something I couldn’t do before.

My existing skills had to be re-configured for services such as TP-Link Kasa (my WiFi lightbulbs) which was easy enough to then run a re-discovery and have them working again.

Spotify also had to be reconnected, as did Todoist, Office 365, and virtually everything else.

However Sonos and Harmony do not appear to be available, and as such I can’t pipe music from Alexa through to my Sonos speakers or control my media devices.

Given that Alexa is not officially launched until February 1st down under, I’m hoping these won’t be far behind.

My hope is that the Amazon Household functionality will also be made available soon, so that my wife and children no longer influence my music collection!


Teams quick tip: the case of the missing Teams meeting add-in

A few months ago, the ability to schedule a meeting in Teams directly was made available in Outlook, and it’s been a wonderful thing.

What you see in the calendar view in Outlook is options for both Skype Meeting and Teams meeting, as well as in the New menu dropdown when in the inbox view:

I had a short moment of panic when I could no longer see the ability to schedule a Teams meeting, as it had disappeared from Outlook:

I compared my desktop against my Surface Pro and found that they had slight variations in build numbers for both Outlook and Teams so I thought that perhaps a bug had been introduced in a newer build on my desktop. I started checking for missing add-in DLLs, registry keys, scouring the web for blog posts, etc.

Then, Office on my Surface went through some updates and Outlook restarted, and presto: the Teams button was missing too!

Long story short, by process of elimination I found that:

  • If Teams is signed in to your home tenant/account when Outlook opens: the Teams Meeting option is there
  • If Teams sign signed into an external tenant/account when Outlook opens: the Teams Meeting option is not there

I suspect for the average user while Teams is somewhat still new in many organisations this is not an issue as users will reside in their home tenant/account.

However in the scenario where a user is in an external network, shuts down their computer at the end of the day, and comes back in the next day: Teams will join back into the last tenant/account is was connected to, and therefore Outlook won’t show the Teams Meeting add-in. To get this functionality back the user will need to switch back to their home tenant/account, restart Outlook, and then the button will be back.

That being said, hopefully as more people move to using Teams as their primary communication and collaboration tool this will be less of an issue as users will schedule meetings directly from the Teams interface (connected of course to their home tenant/account).