alexa home smart speakers

Alexa and co

We’re rather excited to have started looking at developing Alexa skills. An Alexa skill is a program that sits on Amazons servers and can be added (by a user) to their Amazon Alexa device. If you have a device and haven’t already checked them out then go to your Alexa app and take a look through the marketplace of additional skills.

Many (or most) of these current skills are basically fun such as the ability to make Alexa fart on command, tell you a random dad joke or as I found yesterday the amazing ability to translate Geordie sayings. Others are semi-useful commands such as “Alexa, what’s the time in Beijing?” or “Alexa, give me a recipe involving chicken”.

We however believe there can be some amazing uses for these clever devices. How about a website owner being able say “Alexa, turn on the latest special offer” and having their website change to start promoting a particular product. Maybe “Alexa drop all prices on the shop by 10%” or “Alexa change the closing hours for tomorrow to 6pm”.

The possibilities are virtually endless and it’s use for Disabilities and web accessibility are very exciting. How about the ability to tell Alexa to fill a form in for you? or a Q&A specific to your company that customers can add to their devices. “Alexa what’s the latest offer in Dave’s shop?”….”Dave says he has beans at 3 for a pound this week”.

We’re very excited by this, are you? can you think of any uses? Drop us a comment below and we can discuss before saying “Alexa do a loud wet fart”

api google issues maps Uncategorized websites

Google Maps

Over the last week or so I’ve noticed a few sites suffering from the Google map issue. This is where the map is displayed however it has an overlay to darken the map and the words “For development purposes only” showing across the map as a watermark. It also places a pop up message saying “This page can’t load Google Maps correctly.”.

At first glance this looks like quite a problem however the solution is fairly straight forward. You see, it’s all down to how Google license their Map API and about a year ago or so they changed the rules to say that all users had to be registered with a billing account (even though 99% of users will never need to pay).

That was all well and good however overnight millions of small websites, personal projects etc were all suddenly non-compliant and many have either failed to realise or don’t have a clue how to fix it. Google themselves provide the solution in the “Do you own this website?” link on the error message but it appears many, many owners haven’t clicked it or still don’t understand it.

The solution (in a nutshell) is to create yourself a google developers account, add in the Google Maps API and set up the billing. Then change the code within your site to include the API key. It’s a fairly straight forward process however we need to understand that many small business website owners do not have the basic understanding of their site to muck around under the hood. Many sites were sold to them years ago, put online and that’s how they’ve stayed until now.

If you’re one of those owners and aren’t confident in changing this then give us a shout, we’ll do it for you and literally charge you pennies for it. In some cases you can even just use our API key as the number of hits you’re going to get is never going to trouble the billing account.

Don’t sit there with a map that’s looking wrong and makes your site look like you don’t take care over it. Get it fixed once and for all.

We’re here to help