Google Home Assistant and Support for Routines and Automation Sucks.

So I am deep into trying to automate my home using IOT devices and Google Home Assistant. To start off, I’m pretty much a fan boy, so it hurts to have to write this, as I just can’t believe the state of things with their Home Assistant stuff.

We have several Google Home devices, a Home Mini, Home, and a recently purchased Home Hub. Lets just pretend that everything was working great before the arrival of the Hub (which is a huge lie). Hub comes into the picture, and things start to go awry. Routines that are recognized by the other Home devices and Pixel devices are unrecognized on the cute little hub despite it’s advantage (lol) of showing the command name that is spoken. Which is the CORRECT command, yet it replies with some advice on including the name of the device you want to control. I went through a bunch of gyrations and finally decided to try the “Chat with me now!” button on the Google support site for Home.

So after some explaining, to a very nice person, we finally got to the coup de grace of customer support world wide for anything technical – lets reset the device and start over (or reboot, or reinstall, or reflash – you know the game.) So I sighed, and resisted saying OK it’s reset without doing it, and reset the damn thing.

After 20 minutes of setup fun, wifi connecting, a cup of coffee, and resetting slideshows, etc. etc. I was back to having a 3rd Google Home device going in the house. The support person suggested trying the commands again. Guess what. It didn’t help. Guess what else? Other routines that worked on other devices now lost their brains too! Holy crap! Resetting the new device ruined the others as well?

I’m not even going to go into the rest of the troubleshooting and pain I tried, but finally the rep suggested a specialist would call me in the morning, requesting I reply with a screen shot of the routine (like how is “turn on the tv” going to help them prepare – lol) and I said sure and did so.

The following day I paid close attention to the phone. Nothing.

The next day I got an email asking me to take a look at some phone setting for enhanced voice support from Google services. The instructions were not relevant for the phone I use, or the wifes. WE USE PIXEL 2 and 3’s – their FLAGSHIP phones. (I hate people that use CAPS. Yeah. Grrrr)  So I replied. Not found on this phone. Searched. Nothing in settings. You didn’t try to call me.

Another day passes and I get a new email.

“Thanks for contacting Google Support!
 
Have you tried deleting the routines then re-create it?”
WHAT? Delete the routine is the actual suggestion??????? If I call Microsoft about a problem with their Word doc will they suggest that I delete the doc and try over if I have a problem? WTF kind of response to a customer is that? Does their dev team know that support is suggesting this as a solution to them competing with the other big boys in the space? Start looking for another project to jump to if so, as Google Home Assistant home automation will go the way of the many other abandoned solutions they roll out, mis-manage, provide no support for, and rot.

How to Shuffle Spotify With Google Home Assistant

Here’s a command that works for me to queue up a playlist on Spotify with Google Home Assistant:

OK Google Shuffle <name of playlist> Playlist

I also included this one on a routine called “Best of” where it fires up the TV, switches to the Chromecast (which are connected to some Sonos gear) and modified the command to use the Chromecast:

OK Google Shuffle <name of playlist> Playlist on the Chromecast

This puts the spotify (my music service) app up on the TV with the playlist name and current song showing.

Let me know in the comments if you got this working, or have found additional interesting ways to automate your life!!

Google Assistant and Home Routine for LG WebOS TV Netflix Youtube etc.

Here’s a quick listing to get a Google Assistant/Home routine for turning the TV on, and switching to Netflix for example:

In the routine, when I say Netflix, My assistant should:

  1. Turn on the TV
  2. Count to 10
  3. Ask LG to play Netflix on the TV

The count part is due to the TV booting up, you need to give it time to come online and be ready for the Netflix part.

 

LG 65C8 Sonos Soundbar Integration Magic Remote

So I have the LG 65C8 with WebOS 4.x and had a little trouble getting it to play nicely with my Sonos system, particularly the Soundbar and the included LG “Magic Remote”. A little web help and some fooling around with the following instructions got everything working, and the Soundbar happy in the new ecosystem

Steps:

  1. Plug the optical port into the LG set
  2. Go to Universal Remote Control for your LG TV and then choose Soundbar -> Manufacturer -> Philips
  3. Choose Remote type 4 (maybe 3 some have said, but 4 worked for me, aside from a slower 1 at a time vol up/down instead of continuous up-up-up when mashing the key, may try 3 later)
  4. Once that’s done, go to the Sonos app and go to Rooms -> More -> Settings -> Room Settings -> Choose the room for your PLAYBAR/PLAYBASE > Remote (under TV) and hit Remote Control Setup
  5. If it’s your first time there, you may need to enable IR etc.
  6. If you already had a remote, hit the “Replace current Remote”
  7. Prosper

This should get the Magic Remote working for your LG WebOS enable TV. Have fun!!

Bitcoin/Crypto Mining With SATA Cables in an Open Air Rig

So you can run mining rigs with SATA connections on your PCIE risers, but beware, one might be a problem, more probably will given enough time (t). I had a 2 cards using SATA connections solution in an 8 card rig and everything was doing just great until one evening we noticed a burnt electronics smell wafting up from the basement. Turns out that you are playing with “fire” with a setup like this as too much voltage will be pulled and sooner or later even a decent connector will fail. In my case, it failed at the PSU, melting the wire, disconnecting it from the power supply and the rig kept running sans one card, but the heat as it melted also melted the connection at the PSU – no harm anywhere in the long run, just a missing PSU connection.

After powering down the rig, I learned from fellow miners, this is far from a safe setup. I re-wired everything to use Molex connectors, only 2 per cable max. Moving forward, all of the rigs I build used 6 pin connectors instead of SATA or Molex. Problem solved.

Here is a shot of the damage:

Have any similar fun with your rigs? Comment below!!

Arlo Pro 2 Security Camera – Too Many Notifications or Forgot to Arm

I really like the Arlo Pro 2 security camera systems. The app has a few limitations though, namely you cannot schedule custom modes to change on a schedule. Add to the fact that the custom modes are not available through an IFTTT voice command and we were struggling with too many notifications on the weekend or when we are home for the day, which leads to you ignore everything – then there is no benefit to having them until you notice something is wrong and you decide to take a look manually. I have created a custom mode (where garage triggers front door etc.) that uses the push notifications to provide the alerts, but it still had the same issue so I would come home and disable the cameras while I mow the lawn etc. The problem with that is when it gets late or I go to bed, the alarm is off for the night because I forgot to turn it on.

I tried an “If this then that” app routine that took care of all of the bedtime home automation, but the integration to Arlo only provides a connection to “Armed” – no way to get to the custom triggered setup in the arlo app.

My workaround here? I created another duplicate custom mode that has no push notifications – and switch to it in the case of being home and wandering around the property. It still records every movement, just without pesky notifications that train you to ignore them. Now though, everything is recorded and in the event I forget to arm the system with notifications, at least everything is being recorded and I can look back at whatever happened should there be an issue.

Now if those pesky Arlo Pro 2 add-on cameras weren’t $180/ea and pretty difficult to get, all would be perfect in the world (OK – and better Google Home and Assistant integration too…) Cheers!

Arlo Pro 2 Google Home Hub “It looks like the stream is currently unavailable”

Banging my head on getting the Arlo Pro 2 cameras to stream to my TV and Google Home Hub with the error “It looks like the stream is currently unavailable”. This worked some time ago, so I tried rebooting the Arlo router, checking for device firmware updates, etc. Nothing helped. Scouring the web I found people getting some success with unlinking the Arlo device and reconnecting and lo and behold, it worked. Here are the steps (Home version from about 10/2018)

  1.  Open Google Home
  2. Click the + Add button on the Home Screen (Home icon)
  3. Click on Set up Device
  4. Click Have Something Already Set Up?
  5. Click Arlo under Linked services
  6. Click Unlink Account
  7. Go back to set up device
  8. Add your arlo account, follow prompts
  9. When the new devices are listed, add them to your rooms if you like
  10. Say ‘OK Google show [the front door]”‘
  11. Profit.

How to Play Spotify Playlists on Shuffle with Google Home

I have been messing around with playing Spotify playlists using Google Assistant/Home devices (and sadly missing the still-not integrated Sonos – another story). The key to a Google assistant playlist usings shuffle is to switch up verbs: play vs. shuffle. First, make sure you have a default music provider setup, like Spotify. Then try this:

OK Google shuffle “my awesome playlist name”

Boom. Works.

Cake is on a Sinking Ship

Ironic release for a band not so ironically sinking. Cake’s recent release “We are on a Sinking Ship” is about as sad as one can think of for a band that used to be central to what it meant to be relevant with albums filled with fun ironic takes on life and being human. Their ship has sailed, and sadly it shows just how lost at sea they have become. Ten years ago McCrea and company moved into the “Shut up and play the hits” territory, basically telling audiences that filled a venue, you aren’t going to like the following – sorry, we are artist that don’t give a fuck. “Here, I’m giving away a tree – I care about things at a level you will never understand.” We are on a Sinking Ship shows just what a band that tastes success and wants to be hipster relevant can do to wreck a good time. You are not hipster, relevant, or having a good time. This garbage track is exactly where this band is, sinking, and sitting down to write music with a goal of “let’s write a song with our message” instead of “let’s make something special”. The ridiculously shitty lyrics and childish melody of this crap called a song are an insult to the capability of the group of days past. Wait for the label-lead or band needs to pay the bills tour that reintroduces their old chops sans this self-indulgent bucket of crap with a $20 ticket coming soon to a D list venue near you soon. I’ll sign up for that.