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Almost ready to throw Alexa in the trash

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Almost ready to throw Alexa in the trash
« on: October 09, 2023, 10:28:44 am »
This is the third time in two years that Alexa has 'forgotten' the devices attached to her.  Of course it happens when I'm on a long trip away from home and my friend, who is house sitting, is having to experience no lights, etc. or lights that stay on and have to be manually turned off.
I am certain there was no power outage.  I also had her cycle power on my Echo Studio, which didn't fix the issue.  It's been 24 hours so the issue didn't 'fix' itself. I am certain my  internet is up because I immediately get warnings when it goes down, even briefly.
Not sure what else to try when I'm not there.
All of the devices say "Device is unresponsive" or "server is unresponsive" when trying to toggle something on/off.
When I look at the status of my Echo Studio and my two echo dots they all show connected to my network but all have bluetooth "disconnected"
I'll say that if I have to set up everything (all devices) for the 3rd time in 2 years then Alexa is likely going to find a new home.
It.Should.Just.Work.
Any helpful suggestons would be appreciated.

Re: Almost ready to throw Alexa in the trash
« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2023, 11:57:31 am »
did you check history to see if maybe the wrong commands are being given to begin with?   Did you verify the neighbor did not have the switches turned off?   Seems to me there is a good chance the issue is with the neighbor since your post indicated it only happens when you are away and the neighbor is housesitting.

Re: Almost ready to throw Alexa in the trash
« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2023, 12:01:21 pm »
did you check history to see if maybe the wrong commands are being given to begin with?   Did you verify the neighbor did not have the switches turned off?   Seems to me there is a good chance the issue is with the neighbor since your post indicated it only happens when you are away and the neighbor is housesitting.
Yes, the neighbor knew/knows not to manually turn on/off switch. I checked history and she is using correct commands, plus, as mentioned, I'm using the app commands and getting same (non)result.  I even have covers for those switches.  Additionally, plugs are affected as well that lights are plugged into and already switched on. She knows NOT to use the switches for those lights.  I never said or meant to imply this only happens when I'm gone.  Out of the 3 times this occurred, this is the only time I'm away from the home.

Re: Almost ready to throw Alexa in the trash
« Reply #3 on: October 09, 2023, 02:17:51 pm »
one other possibility, sometimes there are updates and/or technical issues beyond your control that messes with smart devices.   It may take a day or so to clear.   I learned a long time ago that it is better to leave issues alone for a day or so before trying to fix them because most of the time, they will fix themselves.   I may do a router and smart device power cycle but that is it.    Most recent for me (within the last month) was hue and kasa.    I let them be and they were good again the next day.   

One way I troubleshoot is to use google.   If something is not working, I will first check with google and see if it works with it.   Then I will check the device's own app and see if it is working there.    I would suggest getting at least one google device and place it in the room where you use alexa the most.   If alexa is having problems, use google as a backup.   If it is also having problems, the majority of the time, it is not your setup and just wait for it to, hopefully, fix itself.   

Re: Almost ready to throw Alexa in the trash
« Reply #4 on: October 09, 2023, 02:53:50 pm »
one other possibility, sometimes there are updates and/or technical issues beyond your control that messes with smart devices.   It may take a day or so to clear.   I learned a long time ago that it is better to leave issues alone for a day or so before trying to fix them because most of the time, they will fix themselves.   I may do a router and smart device power cycle but that is it.    Most recent for me (within the last month) was hue and kasa.    I let them be and they were good again the next day.   

One way I troubleshoot is to use google.   If something is not working, I will first check with google and see if it works with it.   Then I will check the device's own app and see if it is working there.    I would suggest getting at least one google device and place it in the room where you use alexa the most.   If alexa is having problems, use google as a backup.   If it is also having problems, the majority of the time, it is not your setup and just wait for it to, hopefully, fix itself.
Yes, I've outwaited problems in the past but this is different when I'm not at home and lights are on, etc.  Do you mean to suggest I buy a google device and also have it connected to all of my devices like Alexa? Can you elaborate on how that would work, having a given device 'connected' to Alexa and Google?  I didn't know you could do that.

Re: Almost ready to throw Alexa in the trash
« Reply #5 on: October 09, 2023, 04:50:44 pm »
Yes, I've outwaited problems in the past but this is different when I'm not at home and lights are on, etc.  Do you mean to suggest I buy a google device and also have it connected to all of my devices like Alexa? Can you elaborate on how that would work, having a given device 'connected' to Alexa and Google?  I didn't know you could do that.

unless you are using amazon branded smart devices (bulbs, smartplugs, thermstate, etc), then yes, set one device up just like you did with alexa.    There will not be any type of conflict between the two.   You can use the same smart device accounts to link your devices.   For example, you can use the same Hue account for both.   When you set up google, forget you have alexa.   once you have it setup, then you have your backup. 

One other option, you can give it a try without purchasing a google device.   Just setup the google home app and give it a go. 

I actually have a full setup of both google and alexa.   I prefer alexa but I do use google sometimes.   It comes in handy when amazon is having problems or, as I said, when troubleshooting.    When I get smart devices, I will get the ones that will work with both systems, though I do have some that will only work with alexa.   Who knows when amazon might decide to lock my account or they get on my last nerve with the forced sponsored ads and other unwanted content.   

Anyway, I think it is something that is worth considering.   

 

Re: Almost ready to throw Alexa in the trash
« Reply #6 on: October 09, 2023, 05:03:26 pm »
unless you are using amazon branded smart devices (bulbs, smartplugs, thermstate, etc), then yes, set one device up just like you did with alexa.    There will not be any type of conflict between the two.   You can use the same smart device accounts to link your devices.   For example, you can use the same Hue account for both.   When you set up google, forget you have alexa.   once you have it setup, then you have your backup. 

One other option, you can give it a try without purchasing a google device.   Just setup the google home app and give it a go. 

I actually have a full setup of both google and alexa.   I prefer alexa but I do use google sometimes.   It comes in handy when amazon is having problems or, as I said, when troubleshooting.    When I get smart devices, I will get the ones that will work with both systems, though I do have some that will only work with alexa.   Who knows when amazon might decide to lock my account or they get on my last nerve with the forced sponsored ads and other unwanted content.   

Anyway, I think it is something that is worth considering.
That is a good idea, using devices that work on both Alexa and Google; however, since most of my ecosystem is Alexa, that doesn't help out unless I start switching out devices, which is costly for about 25 Alexa branded bulbs/plugs/switches that I currently have.  Still, if Alexa and I divorce because I have to set everything up again, I may consider the investment since I've come to depend on it.
In the meantime if anyone else has ideas on this issue and some type of resolution to consider, I'd appreciate hearing it.

Re: Almost ready to throw Alexa in the trash
« Reply #7 on: October 10, 2023, 04:41:44 pm »
In my issue https://www.echotalk.org/index.php/topic,6349.msg27979.html#msg27979 I described my annoyance with Alexa dropping devices directly connected to the zigbee hub build-in echo plus. While it was not clear upfront who is the guilty part, a flawed zigbee setup by graywind or the amazon hardware/firmware/software design. Graywind acknowledged some problems in the generation of motors used in my blinds. They not only provided updated versions to all 5 blinds with 2 new remotes and to do something extra, they added a version of their hub. Over the last 4 month I haven't encounter any dropped shades as I now use the graywind hub as the primary control point driven from alex using the graywind skill. This leaves me with only one conclusion, the direct zigbee connection with echo plus is the weak link when devices are getting lost. All my other zigbee hue lights are running via the hue hub and have shown robust stability with their own hub even if alexa looses contact which gives me an easy way to debug the origin of problems with lights not working temporarily. The suggestion to have a 2nd path to control devices is well based on the lousy state of affairs in home automation.

Re: Almost ready to throw Alexa in the trash
« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2023, 09:08:04 am »
In my issue https://www.echotalk.org/index.php/topic,6349.msg27979.html#msg27979 I described my annoyance with Alexa dropping devices directly connected to the zigbee hub build-in echo plus. While it was not clear upfront who is the guilty part, a flawed zigbee setup by graywind or the amazon hardware/firmware/software design. Graywind acknowledged some problems in the generation of motors used in my blinds. They not only provided updated versions to all 5 blinds with 2 new remotes and to do something extra, they added a version of their hub. Over the last 4 month I haven't encounter any dropped shades as I now use the graywind hub as the primary control point driven from alex using the graywind skill. This leaves me with only one conclusion, the direct zigbee connection with echo plus is the weak link when devices are getting lost. All my other zigbee hue lights are running via the hue hub and have shown robust stability with their own hub even if alexa looses contact which gives me an easy way to debug the origin of problems with lights not working temporarily. The suggestion to have a 2nd path to control devices is well based on the lousy state of affairs in home automation.
That is another good idea. I've been thinking about buying a 'different' zigbee hub and using it with my Echo studio but I wasn't sure how they work together.  I am still under the belief that my ES 'talks' directly to any zigbee devices without internet but I guess I'm wrong.  Any suggestions for a robust zigbee hub that might be more dependable than my ES?

Offline jwlv

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Re: Almost ready to throw Alexa in the trash
« Reply #9 on: October 12, 2023, 04:44:50 pm »
Echo devices can talk to Zigbee devices without internet. But the problem is Echo needs to have internet access to understand what you are saying. Even the simplest commands, like 'turn on the light' requires Echo to contact the mothership at Amazon to understand what you said. The voice processing is done remotely at one of Amazon's servers. It is not done locally on your Echo device. The only voice processing that is done locally is the wake word; E.g. Alexa, Computer, Echo.

Re: Almost ready to throw Alexa in the trash
« Reply #10 on: October 12, 2023, 07:49:07 pm »
Echo devices can talk to Zigbee devices without internet. But the problem is Echo needs to have internet access to understand what you are saying. Even the simplest commands, like 'turn on the light' requires Echo to contact the mothership at Amazon to understand what you said. The voice processing is done remotely at one of Amazon's servers. It is not done locally on your Echo device. The only voice processing that is done locally is the wake word; E.g. Alexa, Computer, Echo.
Hmmm. I thought it was more advanced I guess.  So basically, no wifi, no Alexa.
Oddly enough, here is how the problem "fixed" itself.  My house sitter turned off the 5 lights manually since Alexa wasn't recognizing the device (told her I'd deal with her when I get home!).
When I got home I manually turned on all 5 lights (they came on), then just told Alexa to turn off each light and she did!? So I'm left with why does turning off something that 'isn't recognized' for a period of time and back on becomes recognized again without having to re-add it.
Maybe this technology still isn't ready for prime time yet.

Re: Almost ready to throw Alexa in the trash
« Reply #11 on: October 14, 2023, 06:43:50 pm »
so the technical issue was the house sitter  ;-)    Here again there is another disadvantage of using amazon branded bulbs.    I have hue bulbs.   I also use Lutron Aurora smart button that screws over the light switch when in the on position.   It is linked to the hue bulb for those guest and family members who may tend to use the switches instead of voice.    You can turn the lights off with it and it will not affect the smartness of the bulb like the dumb wall switch will do when in the off position.    That said...

I don't believe Lutron Aurora buttons are compatible with the amazon branded bulbs, but one of the others like flic might be.   Someone else will have to help with this.   

Offline jwlv

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Re: Almost ready to throw Alexa in the trash
« Reply #12 on: October 15, 2023, 07:18:01 am »
Maybe your WiFi router has some sort of sleep mode. It might go into low power and disconnect from devices that have not been used in a while. Seems a bit far fetched to me too, but I can't think of anything else.

Most of my smart switches & light bulbs are made by Feit Electric. If Alexa fails for some reason, I can still use the Feit app to turn things on or off. I also have a couple of old Wemo smart switches that I'm too lazy to replace due to a number of my custom routines and programs that still use them.

Re: Almost ready to throw Alexa in the trash
« Reply #13 on: October 15, 2023, 08:48:42 am »
Maybe your WiFi router has some sort of sleep mode. It might go into low power and disconnect from devices that have not been used in a while. Seems a bit far fetched to me too, but I can't think of anything else.

Most of my smart switches & light bulbs are made by Feit Electric. If Alexa fails for some reason, I can still use the Feit app to turn things on or off. I also have a couple of old Wemo smart switches that I'm too lazy to replace due to a number of my custom routines and programs that still use them.
Yeah, I'm certain it's not my wifi. If my wifi stops even for 30 seconds I get alerts from those things that cannot connect to the internet, plus I also have a ping monitor setup to alert me if something inside my network can no longer be pinged.

Offline TE5LA

Re: Almost ready to throw Alexa in the trash
« Reply #14 on: December 04, 2023, 12:09:52 pm »
The entire Alexa system is terrible. I constantly have issues with giving commands, only to hear Alexa say "Blah blah is offline". I can give the same command to Google Home and it is done successfully. Sometimes, I can give Alexa the same command 5 seconds after and it works.

I had commands to turn on lights in the morning but deleted them all from the app. Alexa still turns my lights on at the same times. I can't get it to stop running these routines.

I recently moved to a new town, created a new "Home" on the app. I do not have all the same devices I used to have, but Alexa still "finds" devices I had at the previous address and adds them. Of course, they don't work because they don't exist, but Alexa doesn't care.

All these issues stem from the fact that Amazon keeps all this information on their servers and deleting or changing things in the app doesn't always get done on the servers. This is why they want us to re-register our accounts because it deletes the old information and starts over.

I have an Nvidia Shield Pro and nothing will make it work with Alexa. I've done everything correctly and the skill links correctly and Alexa says it will work, but any command results in "Nvidia Shield is not responding".

Since I can control Shield using Google Home from my phone or even from my $13.99 smart watch (through Google), I'm thinking of making a switch of hardware.