Muting your Android Phone When Entering Shul


I am usually the one who touts the benefits of technology within the confines of religious life. I point out how it can enhance your Shabbos and Yom Tov by turning on and off your lights. I research ways to use your gas fireplace on Friday nights to make your Shabbos a little warmer, and I will write about how you can listen to the Daf Yomi on the Amazon Echo. However, there is an area where technology may not be compatible with religious life: I am referring to, of course, having your phone turned on in shul.

 

We all have a siddur app on our phones that is handy when we are not in shul. At the last wedding I attended, there was a large mincha minyan with nearly everyone davening from their phone. I am sure Steve Jobs is smiling down from heaven as everyone davens to their phone. However, if Hashem is smiling at this is another question.

The problem with using a phone during davening has two facets. The first is the potential distraction of others by having your phone ring or vibrate, disturbing the people around you. Second, the distraction it causes in your own tefillah even if it is not disturbing others.

My phone is always vying for my attention. I have alerts for breaking news, stock movements, weather and the President’s tweets, just to mention a few. While these alerts alone can be a sensory overload, having to view and swipe an alert during Shmona Esrei will surely ruin any focus and connection one is having with the Almighty.

Taking a siddur is always the best idea and really the only option in a shul with shelves full of Siddurim. When not in a shul, a habit I try to form when beginning Ashrei is to turn the phone to Do Not Disturb mode. Turning off your ringer alone will not stop the distracting notifications as Do Not Disturb mode can. There are settings you will need to consider when turning on this mode and the options will depend on the phone and the version of the software you have. An alternative to the Do Not Disturb mode is to turn on Airplane mode.

The second issue with phones and tefillah is forgetting to turn off your ringer when entering shul even when it is left in your pocket. My shul has a charging station in the lobby with compartments with locks and keys, so you could safely leave your phone outside of the shul and even charge it while you daven. Yet, it is all too common for someone’s phone to ring or chime during davening, disturbing the entire minyan. The last time this happened, I thought for a moment, maybe this is a sign for me to pursue a simpler, less technological life. Then I realized the purpose of my articles is to find ways to mold technology so that it is compatible with Halacha and observant life. Thus, the idea for this column occurred to me. By then, I had taken three steps backwards and likely thought little of any of the words I was saying.

Even if you turn your phone to vibrate, the vibrations are enough to disturb those around you. Of course, if you have made it a habit of turning your phone to Do Not Disturb or Airplane mode you can also turn off the sound and vibrations. However, wouldn’t it be nice if there was an automated way of silencing your phone whenever you enter shul? As your Orthodox Tech Journalist, I decided to research this possibility and update you as technology evolves.

I believe I have two potential solutions for you. One if you are an Android phone user and another less robust solution if you are an iPhone user.

For Android users, you may recall, my previous column discussed using the IFTTT (If This Than That) Platform to turn off motion on your camera. Another IFTTT recipe I created was to mute (including vibrations) your Android phone when entering a location. If you go to www.ifttt.com/p/tribetechreview you will see my growing list of IFTTT recipes for the Shomer Shabbos user. If you select the “Mute Android phone when entering shul”, you will be able to tap on the map (not the address) and alter the location if my shul is not your default shul. You can also zoom in and out of the location to provide greater location accuracy.  This can be important if you live very close to shul or pass nearby without entering. You will also need to enable the reverse recipe of turning the mode off when leaving shul if you want it to be truly seamless. This is a pretty clean solution. I have been testing it with some Beta users and it seems to mostly work well but until you are confident that it is, I suggest you double check your phone before entering Shul.

Unfortunately, iPhone users will have to wait for the next column… so until then, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Linked-In or WordPress.

A Wyze Camera for Shabbos (Part II)


In my previous column, we looked at the Wyze Cam smart camera which retails for $19.99 at http://www.wyzecam.com.  We discussed the camera’s robust functionality, attractive price point and (unlike higher priced cameras) its free 14-day cloud storage. In part, Wyze achieves this price point by only storing video in the cloud in 12-second clips after the camera detects motion. We raised the issue of motion detection sensors that trigger events in your home on Shabbat and promised to provide a solution. In this article, we’ll explore a solution that may be a foundation for many smart home applications.

Wyze
Wyze Cam $19.99

I mentioned in the last column that while the Wyze Cam app does allow for turning off the motion detection at certain times during the day, it does not allow you to choose the day of the week, or to choose times based on sunset for Shabbos. Plugging the camera into a smart switch that turns the entire camera off for Shabbos is a solution, but one that leaves you without recording activity, negating the primary purpose of a security camera.

Addressing the 24/7 recording requirement turns out to be easy. The Wyze Cam offers an option to install a micro SD card and set the camera to record continuously. This changes the camera’s reliance on just motion; instead it records 24/7.  The size of your SD card will dictate the length of playback available as the camera will overwrite older recordings as it needs space. A 32 GB SD Card will give you a few days of continuous recording. If you simply turn off the motion detection and choose continuous recordings most halachic authorities would agree that this is permissible on Shabbos. The motion detection, however, is a key feature that you would only want to turn off on Shabbos and Yom Tov but the app itself will not allow this.

I placed a development request to the company to at least allow day of the week scheduling and sunrise and sunset times for motion detection, but at this time the app still does not offer this. Additionally, this would only address Shabbos but not Yom Tov which, of course, occurs on weekdays as well.

Recently, the Wyze Cam enabled IFTTT connectivity which I believe can resolve all the camera’s Shabbos and Yom Tov issues concerning motion detection. IFTTT stands for IfThisThanThat and it allows many devices to integrate with other services. In our case, the “If” will be if it is Shabbos or Yom Tov and the “Then That” will be to turn off the Wyze Cam motion sensing. We can also create the reverse which is to turn the motion sensor back on Motzaei Shabbos.

IFTTT is a free app that can be loaded onto any Apple or Android device.  Once you sign in, there are a growing number of services and devices you can integrate. In our case, we will be integrating a Google Calendar pre-loaded with candle lighting and Havdalah times for both Shabbos and Yom Tov.

I created a series of public Google calendars pre-loaded with all candle lighting and Havdalah dates and times for several years. These calendars and IFTTT can be integrated to address Shabbos and Yom Tov issues with the Wyze Cam and potentially many other devices. There is a separate calendar for several time zones. There is one for New York Metro, Chicago, LA, etc. and, of course, one for Jerusalem. If you need another time zone, send me an email (tribetechreview@gmail.com) and I will be happy to add it.

To add the appropriate Tribe Tech Review Public Shabbos and Yom Tov Google Calendar to your personal calendar, follow the instructions on the Navigation Page.

I created two Applet on IFTTT as TribeTechReview.  One to link the Google Calendar and turn off the Wyze Cam motion detection for Shabbos and Yom Tov and then another Applet to turn them back on after Havdalah.  You can search for the TribeTechreview Applets by searching for the keywords “Shabbat” or “Yom Tov” or by clicking this link. To integrate IFTTT with both the Google Calendar and Wyze Cam you will need to login to both services on the IFTTT Platform.  The App will prompt you for the appropriate login when required.

IFTTT

I setup the candle lighting Applet to trigger 15 minutes before the listed time to provide a buffer so that small execution delays and time zone differences should not be an issue. I tested both the Candle lighting and Havdalah Applets over several weeks and it worked flawlessly and ran within a few minutes of the scheduled time. This solution will work even if your phone is powered off.

TRIBE RATED version 4

The IFTTT integration is a tremendous step forward for Shomer Shabbos consumers of smart home technology. I would like to see more hardware companies integrate it as it can be the basis of solving the many Shabbos issues that seems to be emerging in home automation. With the Wyze Cam’s IFTTT integration, I can give the camera a high Tribe Tech Level 4 of 5 Rating for being Shabbos and Yom Tov compliant with third party integration. In fact, good things do come in small packages.

 

Instructions for importing a Public Shabbos and Yom Tov Calendar to your Google Calendar


As a public service, I created a series of public Google calendars pre-loaded with all candle lighting and Havdalah dates and times for several years. These calendars can be integrated to address Shabbos and Yom Tov issues with home automation or just give you candle lighting times for Shabbos and Yom Tov. I created a calendar for several time zones. There is one for New York Metro, Chicago, LA, etc. and, of course, one for Jerusalem. If you need another time zone, send me an email (tribetechreview@gmail.com) and I will be happy to add it.

To add the appropriate Tribe Tech Review Public Shabbos and Yom Tov Google Calendar to your list of personal calendars, Right Click and Copy the appropriate calendar URL link below.  Then go to your Google Calendar on any computer (not phone).  Choose Add Friends Calendar by URL and then paste the appropriate calendar link from the time zones below:

Using Waze as Your Car’s Built-In Navigation System


NavigtionsMy wife drives a 2017 Nissan Pathfinder. She routinely tells me she loves her car. I am less enthusiastic. For $2,000 we upgraded the vehicle to the “tech package” that includes a navigation system, but the vehicle’s built-in navigational interface is shamefully behind the times. Therefore, to navigate while driving, I clip my phone to a $5 plastic piece that grips the vents of the air conditioning system. I spoke to local car leasing expert Aryeh Moskowitz of Arcar Motors and he agreed that I am not alone in my disappointment. In fact, technology complaints are at the top of the list, according to a recent J. D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study. Wouldn’t it be ideal if our phones easily connected to our dashboards and empowered it with the same capabilities of our phones? The answer, of course, is yes, but is the technology currently available?

My navigation application of choice is Waze. At times, I also use Google Maps. I prefer Waze because I believe its live crowd-sourcing of traffic is superior to any other navigation system available. The interface is clearly much more intuitive than my car’s system. I’ve noticed as I travel that most of the Uber drivers I encounter also use Waze. Some occasionally use Google Maps or the built in Uber map—also Google-based. At times I even use Waze when I know where I am going, just to warn me about traffic cameras and speed traps. I also must admit that I love Israeli technology.

When I was in Israel my rental car came with a Waze navigation system. This was somewhat surprising as I have not seen this option yet in any new, used or rented car in the United States. However, that is what I want in my dashboard: the navigation system of my choice integrated with the car sound system so music will fade when a notification is being communicated and a voice call will work with my navigation system the same way it does for the current factory-installed system.

If you are in the market for a new car, you will notice that some cars now have a (optional) feature called Apple CarPlay and/or Android Auto. The idea of these platforms seems to address the functionality we desire. When you plug in your phone to the car USB port (wireless versions are on their way), a selection of available apps optimized for in-car use are displayed. Each platform has its own set of compatible apps that are now built into your dashboard screen. However, do they provide the seamless Waze navigation integration we have been looking for?

I reached out to Aryeh again and asked him to grant me access to a car with Android Auto installed. Thankfully, he had one available and joined me with intrigue as we tested the functionality. We plugged in an Android phone with Android Auto installed, and after some settings configurations we were given the choice of using Google Maps or Waze on our dashboard maps. We selected Waze and, presto, voice guidance took over in the vehicle.

We took it a step further and tested the ability to issue voice commands to Google to make phone calls and send text messages. We were able to say “OK Google, Call” or “Text,” including via WhatsApp, and were even able to ask Google to “play music” from several streaming services. Finally, we were able to say, “Ok Google, navigate home using Waze.” No buttons to press or interface to “navigate.” If you are a user of the Google digital assistant, you can ask Android Auto for anything you can ask your assistant. You can ask it to close the lights or the garage at home, set your thermostat on the way home from work or to read you an audiobook on a long road trip. Try getting your $2,000 factory-installed navigation system to do these.

While much of this same functionality exists on the Apple Car Play, the only navigation app that Apple offers is its own Apple Maps. Sadly for Apple users, both Google Maps and Waze are not available on the Apple CarPlay platform. While Apple Maps has been around for many years, it is far from the best offering from Apple and not what I or many of you use, even if you are completely entrenched in the Apple ecosystem. Allowing Google Maps and Waze on the Apple CarPlay platform would require both Google to desire it and Apple to allow it. As competition for the dominant dashboard platform of the future heats up, I don’t expect either of these fierce competitors to allow it.*

(* Since originally written, Apple has announced they will support third part Maps including Waze within Carplay .  This is of course welcome news)

Regardless of Apple or Android platform, the features on these platforms outperform car manufacturer-installed systems. One would expect all car manufacturers to embrace these platforms. However, after taking a closer look with Aryeh, not all manufacturers have adopted them in all Models. Infiniti as an example currently does not offer either. BMW offers just Apple CarPlay as an option but not Android Auto. Hyundai, on the other hand, offers both standard. Some manufacturers have announced plans to offer one or the other, while others have embraced the newcomer Amazon, who plans to integrate Alexa into your dashboard.

Will the availability of a platform impact your decision of which car to buy? It is certainly something for you to consider, especially if you want the latest technology embedded into your vehicle. But what if you love a car or already own one without the platforms? Are you stuck in car technology purgatory? Luckily, there are several stereo receivers that are available to be installed into your dashboard that come with both the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto platforms. These receivers can be purchased and installed by companies such as Best Buy. However, for directions to a store near you, you will still need to take your phone out and glue it to your dashboard. If you are using Apple Maps instead of Waze, please watch out for those speed traps and potholes along the way.

Alexa as a Home Intercom System


When we renovated our home, our contractor presented us with the option of installing a classic intercom system. This type of system requires a special phone or a wall-mounted device to page and communicate by voice from room to room. However, something inside of me said that these systems will be obsolete by the time they are installed, so we passed on the option. I then set out to find the latest intercom technology and I am certainly glad that I waited.

The first device that caught my attention was the Nucleus intercom system. If you are looking for an intercom that has both audio and video, this system may be the way to go. The product has come down in price significantly, and at $100 provides a rich set of features including an integrated Amazon Alexa. This means that you can use the device as a stand-alone video intercom or as if it was an Amazon Echo. You will require one of these devices in each room in which you want an intercom set up, which can quickly add up. Additionally, to hang this on a wall you will either require a power source at eye level or have a wire running up the wall. Alternatively, a power over ethernet (POE) would need to be run at eye level to the location of each potential device. The installation can quickly add to the total price. Placing the device on a stand and using WiFi with the cord running behind furniture is certainly the most economical and aesthetic way to go. I have not tested the product, but I do not believe it avoids any of the Shabbos issues raised previously with the Echo. Additionally, powering the device via POE will not allow the smart timer solution I provided in an earlier article.

Given that I (and presumably many of you) already have an Amazon Echo in several rooms, using the Echo as a home intercom system seems like the easiest and more cost-effective choice, for now. You can add an Echo Dot for under $50 and expand it to rooms as you feel necessary. While I don’t currently own the Echo Show, which is the Echo device with a screen, I did convert a Fire Tablet that I bought on sale for under $50 and converted to an Echo with a screen.  This is a much cheaper alternative to the Echo Show without the “clunkiness” of the device. While, we do not have a smart doorbell with Alexa compatibility, I do have a camera on the front door that I can ask Alexa to view from the Tablet.

The key to setting up an Echo device as an intercom is to uniquely name each device after the room in which it is located. We have the kitchen device named “Kitchen” and my daughter’s room named “Abby.” I keep the names as short as possible to make it easiest to speak. For example, saying, “Alexa, call Abby” is easier than saying, “Alexa, Call Abby’s Echo Dot” or “Alexa, Call Abby’s Bedroom.” It also makes it less likely that Alexa will misunderstand a word.

The Echo has two calling modes. One is simply a call where the device rings and a voice command is required to answer the call. The second method is the “drop-in” mode, where the connection is instantly established with no answer or acknowledgement necessary. This can be problematic from a privacy perspective. I set my kitchen Echo to allow drop-in from household members only. The thought is, anyone who can physically drop into the kitchen at any moment can also drop-in via Alexa. However, the master bedroom, which requires a knock before physically entering, will certainly require specific permission before connecting. I set the drop-in feature on this room to “off.” For kids’ rooms, it is really a personal call. If you have an Echo show (or Tablet) with video features, you may feel differently about this than if it is just a voice connection.

While the Echo as an intercom works well, Amazon is far from content to leave it at that. The Echo also allows the intercom to extend beyond the walls of your home. The intercom and drop-in feature can extend to anyone who owns an Echo device. My parents have an Echo and we have used it to talk occasionally (yes, Mom, I know I should call you more often). My daughter has an Echo in her college dorm and it does make me feel like she is just a little closer to home. But beware, Amazon is very aggressive in asking for access to your contacts, and if you don’t configure your Drop-In settings properly, you may have your boss or other contacts Drop-In on your family dinner unannounced, or perhaps even worse.

Finally, Amazon is taking aim at phone cord cutters (those who opt not to have a home phone) and now offer a device called the Echo Connect that will allow your Echoes to call any land line or cell phone. While I have not tested this yet, the idea of being able to dial everyone on your phone book without picking up a landline or cell phone is certainly appealing. To all this, my mom has one thing to say, “OK, so don’t pick up the phone; but call me anyway!”

Converting Alexa to Judaism


Echo

Shortly after the first iPhone was released back in 2007, Apple introduced the App store.  Today many take the App Store for granted as we easily download our favorite apps. However, it took a while before the power apps of Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Waze and others emerged to fight for space on our phone home screens. Before them, a slew of lesser apps dominated.

The Amazon Echo also has a new app store and it is known as Alexa Skills. Whatever the Skills are today, I assure you they will only improve tomorrow.

To download Skills on the Echo, open the Echo App and enable the Skill. Then, speak to Alexa and ask her to use your new Skill. For home automation, the most important Skill is your Hub platform. For me that is Wink (see article history at tribetechreview.wordpress.com) but it may be Samsung’s SmartThings or another platform for you. Once you have your Hub Skill enabled, you can control all the devices on your Hub via a voice command. I can open and close lights, close locks (not open, for security purposes), play music and adjust my thermostat, just to name a few.

For this week, I thought we would look at apps that are specifically targeted at Jewish audiences. These application development pioneers have launched Echo Skills that Convert Alexa to Judaism.

Alexa has a built-in feature called Flash Briefing. It will provide you with a customized update of weather, news, sports and more. You do get to choose your news sources so be sure to avoid fake news.  I chose the Wall Street Journal over the New York Times but there are many others to choose from, including Israeli news sources. Arutz Sheva, Ynet, Haaretz and an unofficial Jerusalem Post Skill are all already available. Arutz Sheva, my choice, is a strong quality feed while the unofficial JPost Skill I am sure will improve or will be launched officially in time.

Hebcal, a critical add-in I use within my Microsoft Outlook Calendar for access to all yom tov dates and times, has now launched a Skill for the Amazon Echo. Enable the Skill and you can ask Alexa to ask Hebcal what time candle lighting is for Shabbat. You can also ask for a future Hebrew date or the Torah portion for the week. It can tell you when Pesach falls out this year or any other year. The challenge will be to understand Alexa’s accent in trying to pronounce Hebrew words.  Perhaps one day Alexa will take Ulpan, roll her “R’s” and pronounce the “CH” in Hanukkah.

I searched a little deeper into the Skills library and found a way to have the Daf Yomi play through the Echo.  While I imagine this is not what Jeff Bezos of Amazon had in mind, the famed Rabbi Shalom Rosner of OU Torah allows you to add his daily daf shiur to your flash briefing. I found another Daf Yomi shiur in Yiddish which gave me another perspective on the Super Bowl ad where Alexa lost her voice. I am not sure how far my readership extends but accessing all shiurim on YU Torah via the Echo seems like a worthy endeavor. A shorter daily Torah thought or a Mishnah Yomi may also be helpful for those with limited time.

There is a daily Tehillim Skill where Alexa will read you the perek of Tehillim of the day — in English.  There is a Purim and Pesach Trivia game, a Yiddish dictionary, and even a Rabbinic Randomness Skill which will give a random rabbinic quote. I heard a great quote from Rav Kook. I even found an Omer counting Skill. Of course, you’ll need to ask Alexa the Omer count for last night so that she does not err in stating the current day without making a proper Bracha.

Not all the Skills, Jewish or otherwise, are keepers. You will find yourselves enabling and disabling Skills until you find the ones that speak to you, so to speak. It may be the Daf Yomi or a bit of wisdom from Rabbinic Randomness, or something else entirely. But a year from now there will be even better and more impressive Skills to choose from. The next Waze or Facebook Skill is likely already being programmed in someone’s garage in Palo Alto or Tel Aviv. I will certainly keep an ear to the ground for you, so stay tuned and keep reading.

Alexa, Get ready For Shabbos!


Echo

Alexa, is it possible to write a blog on home technology without inevitably discussing the Amazon Echo?

When Amazon introduced its digital voice assistant, the Echo, affectionately known as Alexa, in June 2015, it was a game changer. It caught consumers and tech giants like Apple by surprise and upended the home technology industry. I was testing lighting and home automation devices at the time and was surprised to receive an invite to be an early beta tester for the Echo. I often received skeptical questions from my otherwise supportive wife: is it too difficult to press a button that you need to use voice control? But as the Alexa app log demonstrates, she is a convert! “Alexa, how many teaspoons in an ounce?” “Alexa, play my favorite station on Pandora.” “Alexa, set a timer for 30 minutes.” “Alexa, turn off all kitchen lights.” And my least favorite, “Alexa, what time does the mall close?” Wait, “logs” you ask? Yes, Alexa is listening and recording, always!

While recording voice logs in your home raises many privacy concerns, I have learned that in home automation, privacy is what you give up for convenience, much like other technology we have already grown accustomed to. To be fair, the logs are only sent back to Amazon when you preface your sentence with the wake-up word, Alexa. However, to hear the word Alexa, the Echo must always be listening. In certain models of the Echo, the device moves from audio logs to video logs, which can raise an eyebrow even further. I won’t go there, yet.

The always-listening feature does bring us to an important Shabbos question: Does one have to turn Alexa off for Shabbos if it is always actively listening and evaluating? I posed this question to Rabbi Binyamin Zimmerman of the Zomet Institute in Israel (zomet.org) and he responded that “Since Alexa is always listening by capturing all sound in its vicinity and analyzing it to determine if it contains the trigger word Alexa, all speech triggers a function within the device. Although on Shabbos one might not care for this function, as one will (at least try their best) to not say ‘Alexa,’ it is a function that they very much want during the week. Therefore, even Alexa’s normal functioning on Shabbos would raise serious concerns, even if her name is never stated.” In other words, the Zomet Institute position on the Echo is that it is not permissible to have the Echo on in your home on Shabbos.

I sought a second opinion from other Rabbi’s and they all agreed with the Zomet conclusion that keeping Alexa on in your home on Shabbos is a problem. I asked the question again when Amazon announced that the Echo will be listening for glass breaks and smoke alarms to see if that would make a difference and the answer was still the same.  From my own user experience, I have encountered practical reasons that you would always want to find a solution to turn the Echo off for Shabbos. I have had the device mishear the word Alaska as Alexa during the Shabbos meal. I have also had the device play random music without prompt. I have heard comparable stories from other users. What do you do on Rosh Hashanah when Alexa randomly starts playing music, as one user described? Pray (out loud) and ask for “Alexa to stop” and hope for a miracle?

I therefore recommend you always have an Alexa Shabbos plan. You can certainly unplug the device for Shabbos. Amazon is keenly aware of the privacy issue that their devices present and prominently offer on all versions of the Echo a mute button that will turn off the microphones and video if applicable. This would be effective in addressing Shabbos concerns. An important voice command feature that is noticeably absent from the Echo is the ability to ask Alexa to stop listening. Sure, you can physically push the mute button, but that is counter to the entire premise of the Echo. A routine that would allow you to say, “Alexa, get ready for Shabbos!” and would trigger a series of actions, including turning off the microphones in all Echo enabled devices, would be a welcome addition to the service for Shabbos and non-Shabbos observers alike. My technical recommendation for now is to turn the automation technology against itself and have the Echo device plugged into a smart switch or outlet that turns itself off for Shabbos (see previous articles at tribetechreview.com). This is what I have implemented, and it is effective. Upon turning the device on for Havdalah, the device wakes without any need for re-configuration. Perhaps when Amazon sees many devices going offline for Shabbos it will add this feature.

Honestly, I think this problem will become even more difficult to address in the future as more traditional appliances and gadgets around your home will come embedded with Alexa. Amazon makes it clear that this is their strategy and offers a free integration tool kit to make it easy for manufacturers to implement. They recently introduced their Alexa enabled Microwave which if anything is a message to electronics manufacturers to integrate Alexa in everything or else they will.  Google is right behind Amazon as their search engine empire is at risk as searches move from computers and phones to voice-based devices (and the Google home device will have the same Shabbos issues). Refrigerators, thermostats, speakers, microwaves, washers and dryers will likely all have voice recognition embedded. Many already do. The Consumer Electronics Show this past year in Las Vegas was all about Amazon and Google voice integration. Hopefully, voice recognition will improve to the point that unprompted actions will no longer be an issue, but having listening devices all over your home might be inevitable, and muting each of them every week will not be easy.

The good news is that the Echo is always learning new skills and commands. Features are updated on a weekly basis. My first-generation device has all the software updates of the latest generation. A device that can be purchased for as little as $29 and gets better each week is very compelling. I look forward to the week when I am able to share a Shabbos mode workaround and Alexa will observe a day of needed rest. We are all living in a Star Trek world and we will need to adapt if we want to continue to live on the ship while remaining in Avraham’s tent. I will likely spend a few articles discussing Alexa, but until next time, live long and prosper. Shabbat Shalom!