What Do the Different Light Colors on the Amazon Echo Mean?

You know in movies like Star Wars where human characters can somehow decipher R2D2’s random bleeps and bloops as if he were speaking in plain English? Well, communicating with your Amazon Echo is a little like that.

The colors on your Echo may not look like much to the untrained eye but they each communicate something specific about your device.

The lights are like a little language of their own. Some of these signals are intuitive and easy to figure out through trial and error. Others are a little more confusing, and some, you would never in a million years be able to figure out on your own. But they’re easy enough to memorize, and it’s worth getting the hang of it so that you know what your Echo is trying to tell you.

Amazon Echo

  • Solid blue with small cyan section. When you speak the wake word, Alexa uses the cyan to point to the speaker.
  • Spinning cyan on solid blue. This means that Alexa is processing your request.
  • White. White represents the volume percentage.
  • Spinning violet. This means that Alexa had an issue with wifi setup.
  • Spinning orange. Spinning orange means Alexa is currently connecting to the network.
  • Solid red. This tells you that your microphone has been turned off.
  • Spinning blue with purple flash. This means do not disturb. Further purple flashes are Alexa telling you that it’s not listening right now.
  • Pulsing green light. This means that you have an incoming call.
  • Spinning green. Spinning green means that you are in the middle of a call.
  • Pulsing yellow. Messages in your inbox.

The Echo Look

The camera-enabled Echo Look has a few features of its own with these flashing lights.

  • Solid blue with spinning cyan. This means the device is powering up.
  • All lights off. Echo Look is active, and awaiting your command.
  • Solid blue with cyan. Alexa is currently processing your request.
  • Spinning orange. Setup mode.
  • Blinking white. Your camera is on. This is a good one to remember if you don’t want to have to throw a towel over your device every time you change clothes.
  • Solid red. Camera and microphone are both off.
  • Flashing red. Alexa unavailable.
  • Multiple colors. Error during wifi setup.

Amazon Tap

Finally you have the Amazon Tap.

  • Cyan. Cyan lights will pop up when you press the microphone button.
  • Cyan and blue pulses. Powering up.
  • Pulsing cyan. Alexa is processing your command.
  • Solid red. Microphone has been turned off.
  • Pulsing red. Alexa cannot process your request right now.
  • Pulsing amber. A left-to-right amber pulse means that the speaker is currently in setup mode for wifi.
  • Pulsing blue. Bluetooth pairing mode.

The Echo is, for the most part, pretty well fully automated. It’s good to know that pulsing amber means “wifi setup mode,” but Echo will manage most of its tasks solo. Still, it’s nice to know exactly what all of those lights mean if for no other reason than to impress your friends and make them think that you’re some kind of robot whisperer, capable of detecting and interpreting the subtle, nuanced language of the machine. Just lean in real close, put your ear to the machine, and say “I think it’s trying to tell us something!”

The Dual Zone Smartduvet: What Does It Do and Do I Need One?

It seems like everyday a new smart home device comes out. And the latest and greatest innovation in the smart home industry today is the Smart Duvet. The Smart Duvet Dual Zone Climate Controlled Bed gives you the opportunity to sleep at your ideal comfort level. Better yet, the Smart Duvet has a self-making feature that allows you to skip the chore of making your bed each morning. Smart Duvet uses patent-pending technology as a way for you to control all settings through their compatible mobile application.

Smart Duvet Features and Benefits

Smart Duvet is a product funded through crowdsourcing on websites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo. The creators of Smart Duvet initially wanted a duvet that could have self-making capabilities. The idea behind the technology was to have a pump placed inside the layer of the existing duvet and the duvet cover. As air pumps through the layer, the duvet is forced to return to its original shape. The idea for the Smart Duvet expanded with the inclusion of heating and cooling controls. The Smart Duvet Dual Zone Climate Controlled Bed adjusts your bed to your preferred temperature level. With the dual zone feature, you can set one side of your bed to your ideal temperature and the other side to the temperature preferred by your significant other.

The Smart Duvet works with your current bedding by adding smart home features. Key features of the Smart Duvet Dual Zone Bed include:

  • Heating: The control box built into the Smart Duvet layer pushes heat throughout the selected side of the bed. The Smart Duvet controls humidity levels in the bed, even when the heating element is in use.
  • Cooling: Smart Duvet increases air circulation levels to create a cooling effect. The increased air circulation will use the body’s natural evaporation process to keep you cool. The cooling feature will also reduce incidences of sweating during sleep.   
  • Presets: Through the Smart Duvet app, you can preheat or cool down the duvet to your desired comfort level before getting into bed.
  • Self-Making: Schedule your bed to be made at a set time each day or through the touch of a button located on your Smart Duvet app.
  • Ambient Lighting: Choose an ambient color and intensity level for your duvet cover through the mobile application.
  • Protective Layer: The Smart Duvet creates a protective layer around your bed as a way to prevent dust mites and germs. The Smart Duvet will also protect against bed bugs.
  • Wi-Fi Connectivity: The Smart Duvet operates on any home WiFi connection.

Smart Duvet Reviews

The Smart Duvet reviews have been very positive for the new product. Consumers like the ability to control their side of the bed without having to compromise with their partners. According to the Huffington Post:

“The Smartduvet solves all heated debates between you and your bed partner, as it is split into two different temperature beds, meaning one side can be set to warm and the other to cooling.”

The tech website The Verge demoed the Dual Zone Smart Duvet at the annual CES convention in 2017. The company was impressed by not only the feature of having a bed that could be made up from your smartphone, but also a duvet with heating and cooling features.

The product has also been featured in the media on websites such as Martha Stewart, Gizmodo, and Yahoo News. The only drawbacks that reviewers have mentioned in regards to the Smart Duvet Dual Zone Climate Controlled Bed are noisy operation and the price.

Smart Duvet Costs

The Smart Duvet costs depend on the size of the duvet needed for your bed. Sizes available for the Smart Duvet include:

  • Twin
  • Full
  • Queen
  • King
  • California King

Retail pricing for the Smart Duvet start at $429 for the twin size and range up to $567 for the California king. But check out their website, as they often run sales and specials with prices starting under $300 for twin and full size options.

The Most Expensive Kendama. What are They and Why They’re Totally Worth It

And you thought the slinky kicked your butt as a kid.

Hang onto your seats because we’re going to take a trip over to Asia and discuss something fascinating and great and totally underrated: the Kendama. 

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What is a Kendama?

The Kendama is a fun and mind-boggling hand game that looks really simple and easy but is actually deceptively hard. It looks simple enough: You try to get a ball, attached with a string, onto the handle of one of the cups or onto the point.

Why They Are Used

First off, there are over a thousand different techniques for players to accomplish the game. Yeah, and you thought Monopoly was hard. The Kendama can be played by any gender, at any age, and claims to help develop perseverance and concentration – but more recently, playing it has become a competitive sport. (We’ll use the term “sport” loosely here, since it seems like anything can be a sport nowadays.)  

Most Expensive Kendama: The rare Mugen Kendamas are considered the rarest and consistently priced, coming in around the $200 or $300 per Kendama. Kendama lover and collector Sweets has one of the largest collections, and while all the prices are estimated, they are valued for around $1,000+ each. Louis Vuitton made a gold Kendama that you can purchase right now for 1,000,000 yen, or around $9,364 USD.

Of course, getting started in the game is a lot easier than buying a Louis Vutton branded toy.  You can easily get a simple one for about $10 on Amazon.

Features of a Kendama:

  1. Kozara: The left cup, the smallest size

  2. Ozara: The right cup, the biggest one

  3. Point: You should know what a point is

  4. Ken: The main body stick

  5. Chuzara: The bottom cup, the medium size

  6. String: Attaches from the midpoint of the cups and point to the ball

  7. Ball: Attached to string on one end and has a hole on the other to land atop the point

Origins

There seems to be quite a bit of debate surrounding where, exactly, the Kendama came from. There is a French version that seems to have origins as the predecessor to the current version: called the Bilboquet, it was played with a stick with two cups on either side, and the player would attempt to land the ball in the cups, then flip it over and try again.

Fun fact: the Kendama started out as a drinking game

Historical artifacts point to Greece or China as the inventors of the style and shape we’re more accustomed to today. However, the version that has become popularized in Japan today is believed to have arrived in Nagasaki during the Edo period, or sometime between 1603-1868.

Top 3 Basic Techniques to Play

First off, not only are there dozens upon dozens of ways to play, there is also a Japanese Kendama Association that will vote on and recognize specific techniques. So pick whichever tickles your fancy, or try one of these standard techniques.

Ozara, Chuzara, Kozara

  1. Start with the ball hanging on its string below the stick

  2. Quickly flip the ball into the air

  3. Catch it in one of the cups

  4. Repeat with each cup

  5. Tip: Bend your knees & treat the ball like an egg (ie be gentle)

Tomeken

  1. Start with the ball hanging down

  2. Quickly flip it up

  3. Attempt to catch the ball in such a way it’s hole lands on the point

  4. Tip: Try not to laugh at the previous sentence, and also keep the ball’s hole facing down when you pull up

Hikoki

  1. Hold the ball (what, not the stick? Yes. Just do it.)

  2. Swing the stick out & away from you

  3. Attempt to catch the point of the stick on the hole in the ball

  4. Tip: Knees flexible, swing the stick in an arc motion

Master Level: Around Japan

  1. Hold the stick in the point grip (underneath the big cup, point directed upwards)

  2. Ball dangling below

  3. Catch it on kozara, then toss and catch it on the ozara (or reverse order, whichever works for you)

  4. Then perform the Tomeken, but from its placement in the cup

The best food scales and why you should be using them

You may have gone most of your life cooking without a food scale. That’s fine, you can get by without one. But if you learn how to use a food scale, you can take your cooking to the next level in a number of areas. First, a scale is essential if you’re into baking. If you’re doing barbecue, fried chicken, egg salad, sure, you can go ahead and eyeball your measurements. Cups and spoons will work just fine for soups and stews. But baking is one part cooking and one part chemistry. Getting those measurements precise, like down to a half a gram precise, is essential for ensuring just the right degree of fluff in your cakes and pastries. Second, a food scale is absolutely necessary if you’re trying to manage your portions, as it allows you to measure food that has already been prepared. You’re not going to cram a slice of lasagna into a measuring cup to see how much you have, but putting the piece on your food scale will let you know exactly how much food you’re eating.

With that in mind, here are three of our favorite food scales available today, and why we love them:

Budget Choice: Ozeri Touch

The Ozeri Touch line is great for a few reasons:

  • It’s affordable
  • It’s slick
  • It’s portable
  • It’s easy to use

This might be the best starter scale on the market in terms of value. An excellent digital food scale with a simple two button interface and a precise, sensitive weighing mechanism.

The design of the Ozeri Touch is very nice, with a slick, tempered glass surface and a lean build. The scale can be tucked away in any drawer in your kitchen. It’s about as thick as a magazine so you could even tuck it away on a bookshelf. The tempered glass is very durable, so combined with the small size, this is one of the most portable food scales available. Whether you’re attending a culinary academy, heading to mom’s to help with the holiday dinner, or you just like keeping your food scale on you when traveling, it’s easy to put the Ozeri Touch in your backpack or suitcase for easy transport.

For many users, the Ozeri Touch might be the only food scale you ever need. It can weigh food up to twelve pounds, and down to 0.05 ounces.

One downside to this scale is that is usesIt uses Lithium 3V CR 2032 batteries that seem to drain pretty quickly. This should be a factor when deciding on a food scale – especially if you are using it often. 

Natural Elements Traditional Balance Scales

If you wanna go old school, Natural Elements produces some of the best traditional food scales available. There are some downsides to going “analog,” of course. You’ll have to learn how to read a food scale, you’ll need a lot of counter space, traditional scales are more expensive, and the scale is anything but portable. But old school food scales provide a reliable sense of accuracy that digital can’t match. And it’s fun. Plus the added benefit is it will never run out of batteries like a digital food scale.

Our Choice: OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Scale

Durable, easy to read, easy to use, stainless steel, cord-free and incredibly precise.

The Good Grips scale is a little pricier and a little less portable than the Ozeri Touch, but it’s built to last. It is difficult to break this thing even if you’re trying. This is the kind of scale you’d stock a kitchen in a restaurant with, a device that can weigh hundreds of items in a day and stay in one piece.

The truth is that any of these scales will get the job done. The real tie-breaker? What goes best with your decor.