How did you get started in making: I used to work staff at various local fan-cons, and would see groups like the R2-D2 builders and be amazed that they could actually build replica R2s, full size, actually working and everything. I started building replica props in a small way, working my way up to more complicated projects, and once I was confident of my skills, I built my first droid. I have been an avid bot builder ever since.
What kinds of stuff do you build: I’m a robot builder. I have mostly concentrated on droids from the Star Wars universe, but I’m researching builds from other properties such as Wall-E, Short Circuit, etc. The list never gets shorter, only longer.
What’s something you’ve made that you’re really proud of: Probably my R2 droid. It’s not the best thing I’ve made, but it let me prove to myself that I could do it. Building my R2 droid wasn’t so much a learning experience as several learning experiences, one after another. Hand-soldering all of the dome lights was definitely the toughest soldering job I had ever tackled.
The body was my first time dealing with metalwork, and adjusting the frame to my custom build took a bit of experimenting. The legs were CNC-cut wood, and the smaller pieces were everything from sheet plastic to 3-D printed to resin cast, and even recycled junk. In short, just about every way to build an R2 short of Legos or papier-mâché.
Along the way I got crash courses in woodworking, wiring up multiple circuits and backflow-proof drive systems, brazing aluminum, finding realistic metal looks for wood and plastic, and even building a simple “sled” to get him in and out of the car. I keep saying one day I’ll go back and rebuild him using all that I know now. But at the moment, he is just fine how he is. I am still awfully proud of the fact that I saw it through to the end.
Any advice for people reading this: If you have ever looked at something someone else made and said, “I wish I could do that, but there’s just no way.” Believe me, I have been there myself. Find some small part of it, something you know you can do, and do that. Then use that to move on to another bit. It’s like the old joke, “How do you eat an elephant: One bite at a time.” If you break down a huge project into a bunch of small ones, you will amaze yourself with what you can do.
Meanwhile, one popular card for tech-savvy shoppers is the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature card, a partnership with Chase bank.
Apple and Amazon are two of the biggest names in tech, and now each has its name on a credit card. So which one is the best? Let’s take a look.
Cash-back rewards: The Apple Card offers cash back that can be used anywhere, at any time. Use the cash back towards paying for groceries, paying a friend or paying down your credit card.
Where to earn: Earn 3 percent back on anything from Apple stores (namely an Apple Store, apple.com, the App Store or iTunes), including games, in‑app purchases, and services such as your Apple Music subscription and iCloud storage plan. Earn 2 percent at other stores by using Apple Pay (using the virtual card on your phone) and 1 percent in stores that don’t accept Apple Pay (using the physical card). There are no earning caps, but your credit card limit can max out the amount you earn.
No fees: There are no fees for a missed payment or annual fees with Apple Card. You will, however, still be charged interest in addition to what you already owe.
Annual Percentage Rates: Speaking of interest, Apple’s APR rates range from 13.24 percent to 24.24 percent interest on purchases, based on credit score.
Security: The Apple Card has no credit card number on the physical card. There is a virtual card number in the Wallet App for when you use the card with Apple Pay. You can also see the pinpointed location and business of where a purchase was made.
Other features: The Apple Card is paired with the Wallet app, which has the appearance of a budgeting app. Spend summaries are available to show how much you’ve spent in each category. Purchases are color coded based on the type of things you buy, such as food or clothes.
Payment: See how to save on interest before you make a payment. Apple Card will estimate the amount of interest you’ll be paying, based on your payment amount.
Wallet app (and iPhone) required for sign-up: The Wallet app is exclusive to Apple’s own iOS devices, so if you don’t have an iPhone (or iPad) you can’t sign up to use it. Sorry, Android fans.
Now playing:Watch this: Apple Card FAQ: What you need to know
Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Card
Rewards: The Amazon Prime Rewards Visa card rewards you with points you can redeem toward a future Amazon.com purchase (or through Chase). 100 points is equivalent to one dollar earned. You also earn a percentage of cash back on your purchases. There’s no cap on what you can earn. Plus, when you’re approved for the card, you’ll get a $70 Amazon gift card.
Where to earn: Earn 5 percent back at Amazon and Whole Foods, 2 percent back at restaurants, gas stations and drugstores, and 1 percent back on all other purchases. Many retailers now have an Amazon store to sell their items, so always check Amazon before making a purchase so you can get 5 percent back.
Fees: There are no annual or foreign transaction fees, but there is a fee for late payment of up to $38 plus interest.
Annual Percentage Rate: Amazon’s APR ranges from 16.49 percent to 24.49 percent, based on credit score.
Card options: Amazon offers two Visa cards. One is the Prime version, which requires you to have an Amazon Prime account. The other is the Amazon Rewards Visa Card and offers 3 percent back at Amazon and Whole Foods, rather than 5 percent. Prime membership is not needed for this card.
Premium perks: Use the card for room upgrades and VIP guest status at luxury hotels. The Amazon Visa also offers complimentary concierge service for finding tickets to top events or arranging dinner reservations.
Which one’s better for you?
Aside from the perks like financial tracking, the privacy of no physical number on the card and deep integration with Apple Wallet, the main differences between the two boil down to rewards and usage.
If you buy a lot of stuff from Amazon, that card is probably a better bet. The fact that its rewards are restricted to Amazon points (as opposed to Apple’s cash back) isn’t a big deal if you buy enough from the online retailer.
On the other hand, if you shop primarily at other online and physical retailers that accept Apple Pay, the Apple Card’s 2 percent cash back is great. It’s also a solid choice if you’re the kind of card user who occasionally makes a late payment.
It’s worth noting that since the Apple Card’s 3 percent cash back is restricted to Apple’s own stores, you might get a better deal by buying something on sale at another store (such as Amazon or Walmart). Hardware prices at Apple’s own stores are often higher than other retailers.
The Apple Card looks to have some advantages over what’s available now and could be a valuable addition to the (virtual) wallets of savvy shoppers. We’ll know more when those who were invited to sign up give us feedback.
I’m currently the Co-founder and CTO of LearnOBots, an Education Technology company that is promoting Hands on experiential learning in STEAM domains. I design new curriculums, educational kits and programs that are deployed in different cities across Pakistan. Some of our new products are making their way all over the world. Sometimes I share my experiences as a speaker as well. I also hold the position of Assistant Professor of Computer Science at National University of Sciences and Technology, Pakistan.
How did you get started making?
Since my early childhood I’ve been opening and breaking things. During college I managed to turn an Ericsson Amps cellular phone into a radio scanner. I’ve built many open source education kits as well that are being used at LearnOBots. I got into the making spirit due to my father who has always been an avid maker. Being the only son, I was his assistant in all the fixes that he did on his own. From fixing the car to installing a security camera/intercom, to fixing the electricity, plumbing or gardening issues, he did it all. And I was always by his side, acting the every ready to learn assistant.
What type of maker would you classify yourself as?
I like to explore and help others explore as well. I don’t stick to one idea, and want to play with many things. One of my projects was to upgrade the firmware of a Garmin GPS from Russian to English language, which required going back to the good old RS232 serial protocol. This GPS was being used by my friend who flies for the military and since he was flying a Russian MI 17, the GPS was in Russian language and needed to be converted to English.
I also love teaching what I learn, hence the company that I formed 5 years ago to promote the maker movement in Pakistan. Before developing CodiBot I used an open source design from thingiverse to create a cheap 3D printed mobile robot for STEM education. Another project is a Solar house kit that teaches kids about alternative energy sources and electrical cicruits. Most of my current projects are focused on promoting STEM education.
What’s your favorite thing that you’ve made?
My favourite project so far is the open source sub $100 robotics kit called CodiBot that I designed at LearnOBots which has now been used in thousands of workshops across Pakistan. It is based on the Arduino Uno board and is based on an Octagonal laser cut acrylic design. A lot of thought was put into the shape of the robot, enabling it to carry a number of different sensors and actuators for the extensive curriculum that I’ve designed around it.
What’s something you’d like to make next?
My next project is to develop a Robotics kit that enables everyone to learn the exciting world of Artificial Intelligence. Just recently Tensor Flow Lite has been ported to the Arduino environment, I’d love to use that to create a cheap kit that makes learning about technologies like Deep Learning and Neural Network more accessible.
Any advice for people reading this?
Technology has become very cheap and accessible. Therefore anyone can become a maker. I would encourage everyone to learn new skills and start solving problems around them. If there are any parents reading this I would urge them to encourage their children to take up hobbies that enable them to become makers.
These sites prey on people who already feel vulnerable, hoping that they’ll disclose personal information in an effort to cooperate or verify their identity. Scammers might ask you for your credit card number, your account information or Social Security number — be aware.
Below are some best practices to avoid falling victim not only to this scam but any scam involves your personal information, like the recent Capital One hack.
Double-check the website address
It’s fairly simple for someone with malicious intentions to create a fake website that looks and acts like a legitimate Equifax settlement website.
The FTC recommends you start all of your Equifax settlement-related tasks using the FTC’s dedicated webpage for all things Equifax: https://ftc.gov/Equifax.
On that page, you’ll find information about filing claims for the up to $125 settlement, credit protection as well as the look-up tool to see if your data was included in the breach.
It’s always a good idea to double-check the URL in the address field of your browsers. Scammers will often buy addresses that mimic the legitimate URL, but with a few letters or words in a different order. Typos are one giveaway that you’re on a fake site, for example “Eqiufax” instead of “Equifax”.
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If you enter the URL on your own, or get to a settlement site through another means, double-check that the web address is one of the following if you’re:
It’s not just fake websites to watch out for
Setting up a fake website isn’t the only way a scammer might try to trick you. You may receive emails or phone calls from scammers pretending to be an Equifax or government official, asking for your personal information to process a claim for you — don’t reply to the email or give any of your personal information over the phone.
If someone contacts you and asks for payment to file or process your settlement claim, it’s a scam. Filing a claim is free.
I grew up in a household with extremely crafty parents they were always making things and fixing things. So I’ve always been making things since I was a child. Adding a sail to a gocart. A mechanical arm. And building a motorhome with my father. I think in some ways I developed electrical skills because it was not one of my father’s skills.
What inspired you to build the Backyard Lunar Lander?
I was inspired to build a lunar lander after looking back at a favorite sticker that my third-grade teacher gave me. Her father worked at Grumman at the time as part of the Apollo program. It has always been a bucket list thing for me to build something like this, and now with the anniversary, I thought the time was right.
What have been the public’s reactions to the Backyard Lunar Lander?
Everyone’s reaction to the lunar lander has been very positive. They appreciate my work and really like to think back to the Apollo missions. The impact it was for us landing a man on the moon and return them see him safely to earth. Many have shared their stories where they were and what they thought at the time. I feel my half-size Lander has promoted people of my generation to tell their stories to the next generation and explain what an exciting time it was.
What are some other projects you’ve worked on?
I have always worked on projects. Woodworking, home remodeling, large scale architectural turnings, and small jobs for others. Recently, I built a horse bicycle with elliptical wheels with moving legs in the center. It rolled like a bicycle, and more importantly, it looks like a horse. It was a fun project and got a lot of attention. I wanted a project for myself that would just be a lot of fun and something that would make people think.
After the horse bike project, I started the tagline “Think it, Make it” to help encourage people to come up with ideas, take action, and make something. I really believe that making and fixing things promotes a can-do attitude, creates skills, and is just a lot of fun. I always giveaway stickers similar to the one that my third-grade teacher gave me and tell the person they got to make something, anything, big or small, and just make something. It has worked for me and I believe it will work for them.
What’s something you’d like to make next?
What is next? I have no idea but when it pops up, I know it’ll be fun.
Any advice for people reading this?
Think It, Make It.
More information on the Backyard Lunar Lander can be found on our site
As a guy who tests fridges as part of his job, it’s a question that comes my way pretty often. And, exactly 6 years to the week since joining the CNET Smart Home and Appliances team, I still don’t have an easy answer. Sure, there are lots of good refrigerators (and plenty that are just so-so) — but fridges aren’t one-size-fits-all, and every home, kitchen and budget is different. With so many different brands and models to choose from, it isn’t always easy to find a fridge that feels like a perfect fit.
But if you’re in need of a new icebox, don’t feel overwhelmed. The trick is to focus on the features and designs that matter most (and, better yet, to figure out which ones you can skip). From there, it’s just a matter of keeping an eye out for a good deal on a reputable refrigerator that fits the bill.
I’ve got plenty of tips to remember as you go, but first, let’s take a look at a few of the best models we’ve tested in recent years, all of which would serve as good starting points for your search.
If you’re looking for a modern-looking French door fridge with strong performance, plenty of room for groceries, and unique, helpful features, then take a close look at the Samsung RF23M8090SG. It’s a couple of years old at this point, but still current — and still available at retail. Better still, the fact that it isn’t brand new means that you won’t have trouble getting it at a good price ($2,697 isn’t cheap, obviously, but it’s also more than $1,500 less than this high-end fridge originally sold for).
Along with outstanding performance, the RF23M8090SG offers sleek style and a very nifty auto-filling water pitcher that docks inside the left door. The fridge also features a drawer with its own temperature controls — and, importantly, that drawer is its own separate compartment beneath the fridge, and drawers like those almost always perform a lot better than similar drawers kept inside of the fridge itself. All in all, it’s an excellent appliance that’s worthy of the asking price.
Need lots of space for groceries, but don’t care so much about following today’s French door trends? You’ve got other options, and one of my favorites is the LG LTCS24223S. It’s an old-school top freezer fridge, yes, but you can get it for significantly less than a comparably sized French door model, and it’s available in black stainless steel, which will help it fit right in with a modern kitchen. Don’t care much about black stainless steel, either? You can save another $170 and bring the price down below $1,000 by going with the plain stainless steel version, instead.
Either way, you’re getting a 24-cubic-foot fridge with impressive durability and performance. And hey, nothing wrong with bucking a trend to save a buck (or, you know, a thousand bucks).
I tested the Whirlpool WRB322DMBB bottom freezer back in 2016 — the performance was exceptional, but the design was a bit bland. Now, three years later, the updated WRB322DMHV stands a marked improvement. The interior doesn’t feel as flimsy as before, and it’s available in black stainless steel — which, again, is nice to have if you want a modern-looking kitchen that you can show off to houseguests.
We haven’t done a full, scored review of the newer WRB322DMHV just yet, but we’ve run our default setting tests on it, and it looks to be just as strong a performer as before (keep reading this post for a closer look at the data). At about $1,600, it’s a very good middle ground pick between a French door model like that Samsung and a top freezer model like that LG. Downgrade from black stainless steel to plain stainless steel, and you can get it for significantly less, too — as little as $1,300, if not lower.
Like I said, recommended models like those can serve as a great starting point — but before you get too deep into the process, there’s a couple of things worth remembering.
Start with what you know
We use our refrigerators each and every day without thinking too much about them. The next time you open yours, ask yourself what you like and don’t like about it. Maybe you fill your glasses from the water dispenser more often than you fill them from the sink or pitcher. Maybe your fridge has adjustable shelves that slide in or fold up out and out of the way — but you never bother using them. Maybe you never seem to have a good spot for a specific grocery that you like to have on hand. Maybe your fridge is a top freezer or a side-by-side and you hate having to stoop down to get into the crisper bins.
Little insights like that are really helpful, because they’re informed by the best data you’ve got — your own habitual fridge usage. It might seem obvious, but before you start browsing and talking to salespeople, make sure to stop and put some thought into what actually matters from your fridge, and what upgrades might be the most meaningful to you.
Narrow things down
Next, you’ll want to break out the measuring tape and figure out how much fridge your kitchen can fit.
Beyond the basic width, depth and height measurements, you’ll want to be sure to consider how much clearance you have for the doors. Side-by-side and French door models typically require a little less — with the doors split down the middle, you only have to swing one half the width of the refrigerator open whenever you use one.
As for capacity, a good rule of thumb is to aim for 4 to 6 cubic feet of storage space for each member of your family, plus a couple of extra cubic feet as contingency. If you’re married with two kids, for instance, then you’d probably want at least 20 cubic feet of total storage space. If you buy groceries in bulk or like to host lots of parties, then upgrading to something even bigger might be worth it. And don’t forget to look up the capacity of the fridge you’ve already got. If it feels cramped when you squeeze a full load of groceries in, then a couple of extra cubic feet would probably go a long way.
Set a budget
Aside from size, the other big limiting factor for your buying decision is obviously how much you’re willing to spend. Prices vary based on brand, time of year, and how new the model is, but in general, you should expect to pay about $700 – $1,000 for a new top freezer fridge, $900 – $1,500 for a new bottom freezer, and $1,200 to $3,000 for a new side-by-side. French door fridges are the most popular with homeowners, so they see the highest markup — expect to pay anywhere from $1,500 to $4,000 for a new one.
Manufacturers tend to focus on unique-sounding features and flashy designs to stand out from the competition, but for the most part, we haven’t seen many dramatic refrigerator improvements over the past five years or so (and efficiency standards haven’t gone up since 2014, either). In other words, a fridge made in 2019 isn’t likely to be noticeably better than a comparable fridge made in 2015.
Get a feel for things
Okay, you have a basic sense of what kind of fridge you need and how much you want to spend. Your best bet now is to head to the store and get your hands on the models that interest you. Literally. Open and close the doors and the drawers, press the buttons, try rearranging the shelves… whatever you want.
Your goal is to figure out if any of the fridges on your list feel cheap to the touch, or if there are any little things about the way they’re designed that would put you off during day-to-say use. I like to start by focusing on all of the moving parts — the crisper drawers, the hinged lid over the butter bin, any shelves that fold up, etc. If I’m paying thousands, then all of them should move smoothly and comfortably (and as I’m sure you’ll discover, lots of them don’t).
I also like to reach into all of the drawers and feel the overhang from the shelf above. It’s a common spot that manufacturers tend to overlook. In a lot of cases, it’ll be a little bit rough or even sharp, and can scratch your hand as you’re reaching in and out.
This is also a good time to get info from the stores you’re shopping at about warranties. I’d recommend sticking with models that cover the sealed system (the refrigerator’s condenser, compressor, evaporator and tubing) for at least 5 years and preferably 10.
Three fridges — which would you buy?
Let’s walk through a quick example of how you might want to approach a purchase. Let’s say you’re that happy couple with two kids I mentioned before, and let’s also say that you’re sick of your side-by-side refrigerator’s narrow freezer, and the way you have to bend down low to get fruits and veggies in and out of the crisper bins. That puts you in the market for a refrigerator with a full-width freezer, waist-up access to all of your fresh groceries and at least 20 cubic feet of total storage space.
A French door feels like the obvious upgrade, and maybe that’s the way you’ll go — but you shouldn’t rule out bottom freezers, either. They aren’t typically as fancy or feature-rich as French door fridges, but they still check all of your boxes, and you’ll have a much easier time finding a good deal on a great one.
I recently tested all three in our climate-controlled lab, and didn’t find very much separating them as far as performance is concerned. The Electrolux model had a few hot spots in the door shelves, and the Frigidaire saw its crisper bins affected by the temperature-adjustable drawer beneath them, which I dialed down to the minimum setting during the test. Neither are deal breakers.
The important point of note is that neither of those French doors outperforms the bottom freezer despite costing thousands of dollars more. That’s pretty typical, both in terms of cooling power and efficiency. There are definitely outliers, but most of today’s fridges are playing in the same ballpark, regardless of what they cost. And again, all three of these are roughly the same size — 22 cubic feet.
That leaves features and design as the key differentiating factors. The Whirlpool bottom freezer has an ice maker down in the freezer, but it doesn’t have one in the door, and it doesn’t have a water dispenser, either. And, unlike the Frigidaire and Electrolux fridges, it doesn’t have a temperature-adjustable pantry drawer. It’s up to you whether conveniences like that plus the appeal of French door design are worth the markup. Other high-end models might substitute in other nifty gimmicks to tempt you — the autofill water dispensers in certain GE and Samsung models, for instance.
If it’s my money, I’m either saving my cash and going for the bottom freezer, or — if a French door model is a must-have — looking around for one that’s about two years old and marked down by at least $1,000, if not $1,500.
The BigFDM, a 3D printer with a 900x800x800mm build area.
The ANAVI Miracle Controller, a development board for controlling two 12V or 5V addressable LED strips via ESP8266 that features a dedicated slot for an I2C OLED display and slots for up to 3 plug and play I2C sensors.
My love of making and tinkering started when I was very young, watching my grandfather work in his woodshop making furniture and hope chests for our family. For as long as I can remember, the thought of transforming the materials of the world around me into objects with purpose that I can see and hold has always fascinated me. This fascination carried with me through high school and eventually college where I constantly found myself with a drive and passion to create, but nowhere to let that passion grow. Shortly after moving to Kansas City, I discovered my first makerspace, Hammerspace Community Workshop. There I found an amazing atmosphere of like-minded, ingenious people with knowledge and passion equal to my curiosity and aspirations, as well as all the tools to turn my dreams into reality.
What type of maker would you classify yourself as?
My geeky interests over the years lead me to discover a love of making custom spellbook themed dice boxes and gaming accessories, which has quickly grown into a potential future business venture. Through the encouragement and tool availability at my local makerspace, I have not only grown my skills and portfolio as a maker, but also my love of inspiration, my confidence as a person, and my community of friends, though to me they are family.
What project are you currently working on?
My current project is a portable storage case for roleplaying game accessories made in the style of the journal from the animated series “Gravity Falls”.
The process of making this custom storage case has been a fun learning experience full or trial, error, more trial, and success. One of the many great things about the makerspace environment is that there is always someone around to look at your project with a fresh pair of eyes and give you some helpful, time-saving suggestions that you may have never come up with on your own. It’s also a great extra boost of encouragement to finish what you’ve started when you have so many fellow makers who are as excited about your project as you are.
Any advice for people reading this?
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and to make them often. The most valuable things that we can make as makers isn’t our products, our projects, or our revenue. It’s our mistakes. Obviously, always plan your work as much as you can with what knowledge and experience you have, and ALWAYS proceed with those plans SAFELY. But mistakes WILL happen, so listen to them and learn from them openly. Mistakes are the experiences that teach us and (in turn) they become the wisdom that we pass on to others. Mistakes are the truest currency of making. Two makers can pass money, tools, and objects back and forth all day long without ever growing as artists. It’s the sharing of their wisdom, their experiences, their mistakes that truly grows them as makers, artists, and as people.
Google wants its AI-powered voice assistant to spread to every corner of tech. As of today, you can find Google Assistant in a wide variety of smart speakers — from the original Google Home ($99 at Walmart) to the Google Home Mini to third-party options from companies such as JBL. You can find it in smart displays such as the Google Nest Hub (formerly the Google Home Hub). Google Assistant is built into every Android phone and you can download it as an app for iPhones. It’s even built into cameras, security systems and cars.
As Google Assistant becomes more omnipresent, the search giant behind it is doing a good job of continually expanding Assistant’s capabilities. Through Google Assistant, you can set timers, control lights and thermostats, play trivia games, watch YouTube or Netflix and more — all with simple voice commands. As the list grows, it can be tough to remember all of the many things Google Assistant can do.
Google has released a suite full of all the capabilities of Google Assistant. While it’s a seriously helpful website, to make the most of Google Assistant, you’ll still want to have an idea of what you want to do first. Then you can search the site to narrow down your options. As such, we’ve done our best to assemble and test everything we could think of. Below you will find the (almost) complete list of voice commands for the Google Assistant so far.
Summoning the Google Assistant
You can begin a conversation with the Google Home by simply saying, “OK, Google,” or “Hey, Google.” Summoning the Google Assistant on your phone or any other device with Google Assistant works the same way, but your account will know to only respond on one of the devices, even if both hear you.
The capabilities on all of Google’s speakers are the same, and even third party speakers offer almost all of the same features, so unless noted otherwise, assume the commands listed below for Google Home work for any Google smart speaker or smart display.
You and up to six family members can train Google Home to recognize your voice. The technology isn’t foolproof, so be careful before you allow Google to use your voice to verify purchases. Otherwise, Google can customize certain responses based on who’s talking. Ask about your calendar or your commute to work, for instance, and Google will provide an individualized response.
Pick your assistant
Make your Google Home sound unique by switching from the default voice for responses. You now have a few options including a celebrity cameo from singer/songwriter John Legend. Ask your Google Home to “talk like a Legend” and John Legend will respond to a variety of questions including a few easter eggs where he sings. Here are specific things you can ask John Legend:
“Sing me a song.”
“Are you John Legend?”
“Do you know Chrissy Teigen?”
“How are you?”
“Sing Happy Birthday.”
“Tell me a joke.”
“Who’s your celebrity crush?”
“What’s your favorite song?”
“What’s your best pickup line?”
Even better, different family members can set different voices, and using voice recognition, Google Home will switch on the fly based on who’s talking.
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The Google Home allows you to ask lines of questions that are connected. For instance, you could say, “Hey, Google, play ‘Lose Yourself to Dance.'” Then, “OK, Google, what album is this from?” Then, “Hey, Google, play that album.” Even though you aren’t using the name of the album, Google Assistant understands the context and supplies the answer.
Last year, Google added an optional feature called Continued Conversations. Once you speak a command to a Google Home speaker, it will complete the action and continue listening for another command for a few seconds or until you say “thank you.”
For instance, you can say, “OK, Google, what’s the weather?” After it tells you the weather, say, “What about tomorrow?” Then you could say, “Remind me to bring an umbrella tomorrow morning,” all without ever having to repeat the wake phrase. You can turn off this feature in the Google Home app if you don’t want the mic to stay active.
String two commands together
Google also recently enabled a new feature on Google Home which allows you to speak up to three consecutive commands in one sentence. For example, you can say things like, “Hey Google, play Hammock on Spotify and set the volume to 10” or “OK Google, what’s the weather and turn on the living room lights.”
Almost any of the above commands can be used together, but some commands will only work when phrased in a specific way. An undeniably easier way to make Google Home perform multiple actions at once, however, is to create a routine.
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Much like Alexa, Google Home now has routines that can be triggered with a custom phrase or on a custom schedule. In short, you can create a routine that turns off the lights around the house, locks the front door, adjusts the temperature and plays soothing music when you say, “OK, Google, good night.”
Or you can have a routine that runs every morning on a schedule as an alarm that plays the news, turns on the lights, makes your coffee and creates a timer so you know when it’s time to leave the house.
If you live in a multilingual home, Google has also made it so Google Home speakers can understand two languages at once. You can currently choose a combination of any two of the currently supported languages: English, German, French, Spanish, Italian and Japanese.
Once set up, Google Home will then be able to respond to you in a different language on the fly, based on the language in which you originally spoke the command.
Ask for help: “OK, Google, help.”
Control the volume: “OK, Google, turn it up,” “OK, Google, Louder” or “OK, Google, Turn it to 11.” (Yes, the max is 11.)
Halt an action: “OK Google, stop,” “Pause” or “Be quiet.”
Hear your daily briefing: “OK, Google, tell me about my day” or “OK, Google, good morning.” (This includes a personalized greeting, info on weather, traffic, reminders, calendar entries, flight status and curated news stories.)
Weather: “OK, Google, how’s the weather today?” or “OK, Google, do I need an umbrella today?”
Tune an instrument: “OK, Google, tune my instrument” or “OK, Google, play an F sharp.” (If you don’t specify “flat” or “sharp,” you must say “note” after stating which note you want Google Home to play, such as “play an A note.”)
Remember things: “OK, Google, remember that I put my passport in the filing cabinet” or “Remember that my password is ‘money’.”
Recall remembered things: “OK, Google, where is my passport?” or “What is my password?”
Location: “OK, Google, where am I?”
Translations: “OK, Google, how do you say [word] in [language]?”
Stocks: “OK, Google, how are Alphabet’s stocks doing?”
Words: “OK, Google, what does [word] mean?”
Spelling: “OK, Google, spell [word].”
Special events: “OK, Google, when is [event]?” (Easter, for example.)
People: “OK, Google, who is [person]?”
Facts: “OK, Google, how tall is [person]?”
Things: “OK, Google, what is [thing]?”
Places: “OK, Google, what country is [location] in?”
Animal sounds: “OK, Google, what does [animal] sound like?”
Distance: “OK, Google, how far is [business name] from here?”
Restaurants: “OK, Google, what are the nearest restaurants to me?”
Businesses: “OK, Google, are there any [business type] around here?”
Business information: “OK, Google, how late is [business] open?” or “Is [business] open now?”
Quotes: “OK, Google, give me a quote” or “OK, Google, give me a love quote.”
Medical information: “OK, Google, what is a torn meniscus?”
Calories: “OK, Google, how many calories are in [food item]?”
Authors: “OK, Google, who wrote [book title]?”
Inventors: “OK, Google, who invented [item]?”
Get voice shopping instructions: “OK, Google, how do I shop?”
Order items from Google Express: “OK, Google, buy dish soap.”
Reorder a previously purchased item: “OK, Google, reorder Old Spice deodorant.”
Add to shopping list: “OK, Google, add [item] to my shopping list.”
Check shopping list: “OK, Google, what’s on my shopping list?”
Track orders: “Ok Google, where’s my package?”
Play music: “OK, Google, play some music” or “Play some [genre] music.”
Play ambient sounds: “OK, Google, help me relax” or “OK, Google, play white noise” or “OK, Google play forest sounds.”
Play an artist or song: “OK, Google, play [artist]” or “Play [song].”
Play a song by lyrics: “OK, Google, play the song that goes, ‘Is this the real life?'”
Play a Google Play playlist or album: “OK, Google, play some indie music” or “OK, Google, play [album].”
Ask what’s playing: “OK, Google, what song is this?” or “OK, Google, what album is this?”
Get more information: “OK, Google, when did this album come out?”
Fast forward and rewind: “OK, Google, skip forward two minutes” or “OK, Google, skip backward 30 seconds.”
Set a sleep timer: “OK, Google, stop in 20 minutes.”
Play music on Spotify: “OK, Google, play [artist] on Spotify.”
Play music on Pandora: “OK, Google, play [artist] on Pandora.”
Like or dislike a song on Pandora: “OK, Google, dislike this song.”
Play music on YouTube Music: “OK, Google, play [artist] on YouTube.”
Play stations on TuneIn: “OK, Google, play [station] on TuneIn.”
Pull up lists on YouTube: “OK, Google, let’s look at what’s trending on YouTube on [TV name].”
Play a movie or TV show on Netflix using Chromecast: “OK, Google, play [show or movie title] on the [TV name].”
Sports updates: “OK, Google, who is [team] playing next?” or “OK, Google, did the [team] win last night?”
Sports scores: “OK, Google, what was the score for the last [team] game?”
Team information: “OK, Google, tell me about [team].”
Movies: “OK, Google, what movies came out last Friday?”
Casting for movies: “OK, Google, what actors are in [movie]?”
Shows by network: “OK, Google, what shows are on [network]?”
Google Assistant now integrates with Google Maps, allowing users to share destination info with others. It’s also capable of making calls, replying to texts, controlling music, and searching for destinations through voice commands, all within the Google Maps app.
Book a hotel room at the following properties: AccorHotels, Choice Hotels, Expedia, InterContinental Hotels Group, Mirai, Priceline, Travelclick and other online services: “Find a hotel in San Francisco” then “Book a room at Quality Inn.”
Get flight prices to a destination: “OK, Google, how much is a round-trip flight to New York?”
Get flights with a specific airline: “OK, Google, find me flights with Jet Blue.”
Check on your flights: “OK, Google, when is my next flight?” or “OK, Google, my flights in [month].”
Discover places to visit: “OK, Google, what is there to see in Paris?”
Find restaurants to try: “OK, Google, what’s the best restaurant in Berlin?”
Play music and sound effects as kids read certain books out loud: “Hey Google, Read Along with [book name]”
Create character-themed alarms: “Set a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle alarm for 8:00 PM.”
Read a variety of kids stories: “Tell me a bedtime story.”
For instance, if you have three smart lights in your living room and assign them and the Google Home speaker to the living room, telling Google Home to turn the lights on or off will only affect the lights in that room. To control lights outside the living room, you will need to specify by saying, “Hey, Google, turn off all the lights,” or “OK, Google, turn on the kitchen lights.”
Google Assistant can now integrate with Android Messages, Hangouts, Messenger, SMS, Telegram, WhatsApp, and Viber. Users can tell it to “Read back replies.”
Place a call: “OK, Google, call mom” or “OK, Google, call [contact name]” or “OK, Google, call the nearest coffee shop.”
Hang up: “OK, Google, hang up.”
Find your phone: “OK, Google, find my phone” or “OK, Google, ring my phone.”
Pair with Bluetooth: “OK, Google, Bluetooth pairing.”
Check Bluetooth status: “OK, Google, is Bluetooth active?” or “OK, Google, is Bluetooth paired?” or “OK, Google, is Bluetooth connected?”
Cancel Bluetooth pairing: “OK, Google, cancel” or “OK, Google, cancel pairing.”
Clear paired Bluetooth devices: “OK, Google, clear all devices” or “OK, Google, clear all Bluetooth devices” or “OK, Google, unpair devices.”
Google Assistant will now automatically punctuate sentences when you dictate messages, without you having to change any settings or giving any special voice commands.
Android users can now access voice commands for Google Assistant, even when the device is locked. In the past, this option was only available on Pixel 3 handsets.
To use this feature, tap the Explore icon in the top right of the Google Assistant app. Next, tap the three vertical dots in the upper right corner, and hit Settings. Then go to Assistant > Assistant devices, and pick your phone.
Within that menu, turn on Access with Voice Match and Lock screen personal results.
If you have more than one Google Home speaker in your home, you can broadcast messages to all speakers (except the one you give the command to) using one of the built-in commands. Or you can create your own broadcast message. Plus, people can now reply to broadcasted messages.
Wake up: “OK, Google, broadcast wake everyone up” or “OK, Google, broadcast it’s time to wake up.”
Breakfast: “OK, Google, broadcast breakfast is ready” or “OK, Google, broadcast breakfast is served” or “OK, Google, broadcast it’s time for breakfast.”
Lunch: “OK, Google, broadcast lunch is ready” or “OK, Google, broadcast it’s lunch time.”
Dinner: “OK, Google, broadcast dinner is ready/served” or “OK, Google, broadcast ring the dinner bell” or “OK, Google, broadcast it’s dinner time.”
Time to leave: “OK, Google, broadcast time to leave” or “OK, Google, broadcast time to get out.”
Last year, Google rolled out what it calls Actions for Google Assistant. These are third-party services and integrations that work much like Alexa skills, except you don’t have to activate them one by one. Actions are enabled by default.
You can find the full list of Actions in the Google Home app by going to More settings > Services. You will also find sample invocations there, which will tell you how to interact with the different services available.
21 Blackjack: “OK, Google, let me talk to 21 Blackjack.”
Best Dad Jokes: “OK, Google, talk to Best Dad Jokes.”
Domino’s: “OK, Google, talk to Domino’s and get my Easy Order.”
Product Hunt: “OK, Google, talk to Product Hunt.”
Tender: “OK, Google, can I talk to Tender about drinks like an old fashioned?”
Todoist: “OK, Google, tell me what my next task is with Todoist.”
Poems and songs
Sing a song: “OK, Google, sing me a song.”
Sing Happy Birthday: “OK, Google, sing me Happy Birthday.”
Read a poem: “OK, Google, read a poem.”
Tell a story: “OK, Google, tell me a story” or “OK, Google, tell me a scary story.”
Sing a lullaby: “OK, Google, sing a lullaby.”
Sing nursery rhymes: “OK, Google, sing ABC” or “OK, Google, sing Yankee Doodle” or “OK, Google, sing Old MacDonald.”
“OK, Google, always be closing.”
“OK, Google, what is your quest?”
“OK, Google, I am your father.”
“OK, Google, set phasers to kill.”
“OK, Google, are you SkyNet?”
“OK, Google, make me a sandwich.”
“OK, Google, up up down down left right left right B A Start.”