Tuesday, August 21, 2018

What new hell hath sonos brought me?

Chapter two in torture by Sonos.
Sonos: What's Wrong in this Photo?
What's Wrong in this Photo?

So my house was redone and my systems dismantled. Now I have Sonos speakers all over the house.

1. How does sonos talk to my computer for routine audio like Youtube or sites like www.spellingcity.com.  I believe that there is some special software to install on my PC. Anyone? I'm currently running a second set of speakers for listening to my computer. (Which is the two little speakers pictured on the right).

2. How does Sonos become a front end for my Alexa? Right now, they sit right next to each other on my desk.  I've heard some sonos speakers have mics in them but are they Alexa-compatible and what do I have to install where to make this happen? This is why Alexa sits next to the Sonos speaker. Maybe they'll become friends and start working together.

3. How to play my computer library of music through sonos? For my music on my computer, I use to use iTunes and my speakers.  Now I gather that I point sonos owards my music on my computer. The problem is that sonos doesn't recognize the music folder. Each album (and speaker and playlist) needs to be independently listed into sonos. Shit!

4. Podcasts from my phone.  While I have figured out how to play my phone music across Sonos (use the Sonos app!) from my phone, I'm still turning my phone volume all the way up to listen to podcasts while I listen to podcasts from my phone.  Any ideas?

Want to read about Chapter one in my tortured move to Sonos and this next gen of technology?

BTW, I have checked the sonos website which apparently written by a marketing agency or other people removed from reality and who believe in hype and lots of adjectives: "easy-to-use...Alexa built right in (editor:  huh? Built right into what? I've yelled alexa at several different types of Alexa speakers and none of them have glowed colors and talked back)....looks good, it sounds big, and it's more flexible than any other smart....etc"

Of course, I'm just being sardonic since I haven't taken enough days to read all the how-tos which are surely hidden somewhere on their website.  T  But, the fact is, I'm probably about 10 hours into trying to get this stuff all connected.

8/22 - Week three of these speakers. I've figured out that there are for my purposes two types of sonos speakers. Ones and others (beams, play ones, play fives, and playbars). Only the Ones have built-in Alexa.  I just found one, flipped it over, and photographed it (which allows me to see the bottom and what it is!). It's a Sonos one. Why doesn't it do act like an Alexa? How do I activate it?

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Sonos, Itunes, Spotify: Oh My!

So my house was just redone and all the speakers and Alexa devices removed. I use to have my computer connected to a set of speakers in my office and my musical life was simple and good. I could listen to music with iTunes on my iPhone. Play music with iTunes from my computer through the speakers. Or tell Alexa what I wanted to listen to and she played.

Today there's Sonos speakers all over the place. The Alexa speakers are gone. My kids have created a Spotify account for me and left for college telling me I'm going to love it. So this morning, I sat down with my computer and iPhone and tried to figure out the relationship between by three devices (iPhone, iMac, and Windows computer), these Sonos speakers, and the software for Spotify, iTunes, and Sonon.

I'm sixty years old. Is this my Waterloo? I'll tell you one thing, the F*ing World Wide Web is NOT serving up any charts or explanations that help me understand it so here I am trying to puzzle it out.

Starting with the Sonos speakers, they seem to be wifi enabled and on our home wifi network.  There' s an indeterminate number of them and someone has given them names which are sometimes helpful such as office and kitchen.

Current puzzle: I'm listening to the Dixie Chicks played on iTunes on my computer. It's playing through the feeble speaker built into my windows PC. How do I get it to play through the Sonos speaker? Do I go into iTunes and get it talk to the Sonos? Do I go into Sonos and get it to talk iTunes?  It's interesting none of these programs seem to live in a browser, they all seem to be apps that have to be installed on the computer. I wonder why?

Stay tuned.....

And I quote from the Sonos community forum:

Q: When playing music in iTunes, the music comes out my computer speakers. How do I change it where iTunes on my computer will play on my Sonos speaker?

A1 You don't really "change it". On your sonos under settings...music library settings...you point sonos to the location of your iTunes music. Sonos then goes to that folder on your computer and indexes all the music and makes it available then to you on Sonos.

Okay thanks. I was controlling my music from iTunes on my computer and whatever song I choose, I wanted to play on my Sonos speaker. So it doesn't work this, it only works from Sonos to iTunes and not iTunes to Sonos?

Yes Sonos has to go out and fetch the song from iTunes (it actually makes it more robust and better quality as it fetches the song file directly and plays it directly on device vs. it streaming from a source).

Correct. What you're doing with Sonos is telling the system where your iTunes library exists. You then use the controller app to tell the "player" on the speaker where to go and get the music from. 

At that point, you're not really using iTunes at all, you're using what appears to be a Sonos player app.

This sounded good so I went into Sonos, pointed it towards my music folder and was terribly optimistic when the music, after a few minutes, showed up in the Sonos app. So I picked play on some Paul Simon music but am not stuck with this message.
Sonos unable to play itunes music from windows computer
Sonos unable to play iTunes music from windows computer

So, I'm still stuck.....

First Principle: Forget iTunes for playing purposes. Going forward, point Sonos towards the music library and play with the Sonos player.

Great, onto questions about Spotify and Alexa and how they relate to Sonos. Also, audio and video input.   Can the Sonos speakers be a front end on Alexa? Do I have to use my phone or computer as an Alexa front end?  My computer use to rely on my speaker/microphone set up for audio input. Now that the computer is essentially in a drawer and all the audio attachments are gone, how do I video conference on my computer?  How do I run telephone conversations across my computer? What a pain in the neck?

Friday, August 03, 2018

Google Classroom: SpellingCity classroom provisioning

As best I can tell, Google Classroom is now being used in about a third of the K12 classrooms. One of the cool features is the ability for a teacher to provision her third party apps with the students roster including an ongoing sync from Google Classroom.  This also includes the ability to update the roster when new students enter the class.

Read about how SpellingCity and Google Classroom provision.

2019 update; Google Classroom has been expanded to icnlude not just student provisioning and single sign on but also assignments and reporting. The focus still seems to be at the classroom level.

Here's why teachers love Google Classroom. Basically, once they set up their student roster ONCE in Google, teachers can:

  •  insert their students by entering a code into any third party software package that supports Google Classroom
  • Keep their student roster updated so any new students who enter the class are automatically updated into the whole spectrum of packages
  • Have a Single Sign On strategy so that once a student logs into Google Classroom, it is a one click portal into the other linked packages, no new passwords or logins required
  • Google Classroom has many more advanced features such as:
    • Centralized assignments
    • Centralized reports and grades
    • Shared spaces for group collaboration
In some cases, teachers sign up on their own for the Gsuite for Education from Google. Other times, the school or district sets it up as part of a general email or Chromebook or other major tech deployment.

Go Google!