Alexa – Trouble setting up

I was asked to assist a friend to get Alexa (Amazon device) setup and operational.  Alexa is a wireless device which can take commands in the form of the spoken words, interpret these and then take actions as appropriate.  So for example if you said “Alexa – please play Classic fm” Alexa should respond by playing Classic fm via the Internet using the Tune-in radio service.

The basic method for setting it up is to load a free App on your mobile phone/ipad etc, then open it.  You are then prompted to connect to Alexa which appears with its own wireless SSID.  Now enter the details for you home Wi-Fi network (which would usually be hosted on your Broadband Service provided router).  You need to enter the Network SSID and any password associated with it.

I tried this but it failed to work at my friends home.  BT is the broad-band provider and they provide a BT hub/router.

Each time an attempt to connect was made Alexa simply reported that  it had failed to connect to the Wireless Network – no clues as to why this might be the case.

Tried phoning the BT broadband service hotline and under their instruction did a factory reset of the BT hub and Alexa – still no success in connecting.  I was at the point where I was about to suggest that the device might be faulty and should be returned to the manufacturer under warranty.

I decided to take the Alexa to try the same procedure on my home location where I have the same setup.  For me it worked without any delay.  How strange this seemed!

Took it back to my friends home/network to have the same negative out-come.  After many attempts I was about to give up on the device.  But then I thought that there could be an issue with the Wireless Network configuration . I noticed that the BT Hub has two wireless networks which are based on the older standard 2.4GHz and the other being 5 GHz.  Which of these was the Alexa connecting to .  I decided to separate the two networks and give each network a unique name.  The original name for both was BTHub5-3X5Y or similar.  Both wireless networks had the same name.

I decided to call the 2.4 network BTHub5-3X5Y and the 5 GHz one BTHub5-3X5Y5 – note the extra 5.  I then forced Alexa to connect to the 5GHz network.  It worked straight away 😉

So I felt that I had solved the problem.  The device is now working reliably!!.  So where was the fault?  Not entirely sure but having the capability to chose exactly which network I am connecting to seemed to make the difference 😉

 

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A first for the Kemnay Kirk Anytime Anywhere

This post is dedicated
to the memory of the former
Minister of Kemnay Parish Church
Rev John Renton

John Renton initiated a number of changes and significant projects during his ministry at Kemnay Parish – these always led to an improvement to some aspect of church life.

A current project at the Church is Kemnay Kirk Anytime Anywhere (KKAA) which seeks to establish the capability to webcast in real time Church Services.   Our primary audience is the residents of local care homes who are church members or where church goers but who can no longer attend due to illness or infirmity.  The Church wants to deliver the service either live or as an online recording which can be viewed by residents of  these care homes and also for people confined to their own homes where they are unable to attend church in person.  The online archive can be viewed by clicking here 

The project involved designing a system which allows church services to be recorded from various cameras positioned around the sanctuary and record and/or live web cast the resulting video stream.  Viewers can then view the services either in real time or after wards when convenient from the service archive which is available through the web church web site.

It is I think appropriate that I can report that KKAA did its first realtime webcast on the occasion of the funeral of our dear former minister Rev John Renton.  This did not involve broadcast to the internet but it was possible for people who were involved in the catering team for the funeral tea to be at the church centre and to view the whole service at the there.  The church was full to capacity with some people having to stand throughout the service.

The following diagram shows schematically the setup which was put in place to allow the service to be viewed in the church centre.

As you can see in the above diagram, there are two locations involved  which are the Church and the Church Centre.

Between the two site we have a point to point wireless link which  has a capacity of approximately 15 Mbps.

At the church we have a device which takes its audio from the church sound desk and a HDMI feed from the Video production system.  These are combined into a single stream which is broadcast using one of a number of streaming protocols.  On this occasion the RTSP protocol was used which was then viewed using a computer at the Church Centre.  The video was then displayed on a large screen for people to view.  VLC was the application which was to receive and display the video stream.

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Rev John Renton

10th January 1946 – 19th January 2017

Today we attended the funeral and memorial service for my very good friend the Rev John Renton ( John is on the extreme right of the above picture).

I first met John when we started attending Kemnay Parish Church in 1993.  We wanted to get to know people in the church so we decided to have a social evening and invite  two couples from the church.  One of those couples was the church minister and his wife, John and Morag.  We did not know either them very well at the time but after a lovely evening together which was full of food, joy and laughter – we all “struck it off” and became very good friends.  This friendship was to develop over the years and as time passed we started to go on holiday together including weekend visits to hotels and cottages and then eventually we went on cruise holidays together – affectionately we are known as the ‘group of six’.

As time passed we all became very close friends and supported each other through some difficult times of illness and bereavement but also enjoyed many very happy times together.

I came to know John not only as my church minister but as close friend and confidant.  He was always a great listener and encourager.  He was always respectful of his role as a Minister of the Gospel but managed to set aside the formality of that part of his live when we met socially.

I came to know him as a very loving, caring and sensitive person who also had a sense of humour with the capacity to transcend into bouts of uncontrollable laughter.  They say laughter is a great tonic and he was definitely blessed with that capacity 😉

John combined his role as Parish Minister with a whole range of other roles including being a student, committee chairman at both Presbytery and National levels for the Kirk, project manager for two major refurbishment projects at the church and school’s chaplain for the three schools in our village.

This was to be the start of a lasting and deep friendship which lead to a holiday each valentines weekend and also our bi-annual October cruises – These six friends have enjoyed many unforgettable times with much relaxing and laughter.  But we have also enjoyed each others support through difficult times.  John was always a gentleman with a quiet countenance with his keen sense of humour.

There is one story I would like to recount which always make me chuckle when I think of it.

This was one occasion in church where we saw John ‘lose it’ – in uncontrollable laughter.  This was one Christmas morning when John would asked the children of the church to bring along their favourite Christmas gift.  Our daughter Fiona (set up by mum and dad) brought a strange glass tubular liquid-filled glass object.  When asked to bring the object and give it to John she did so.  When in his hand the liquid started to boil fiercely.  He looked at it then asked Fiona what is was – “it is a Passion Meter,” she said.  This reduced John to a state of uncontrollable laughter – so much so that he had to turn away from the congregation to try to compose himself.  But each time he turned back to the congregation – again he would start to laugh uncontrollably.  The congregation also saw the joke and were also laughing in a way seldom seen in church.  Who could say church is boring !!!

He was to return the favour at Fiona’s wedding when he presented the happy couple with their own Passion Meter.  When Fiona tried it, it failed to bubble!!!!  Much laughter ensued once again 🙂

I also recall John’s keen-ness to encourage the use of contemporary music in the church.  There was a Music Group consisting of a range of instruments including
recorders, brass, guitars and more.   Later the church praise band was formed – John’s style of involving as many people as possible in a church service was, I feel, a good thing.  His was not a single handed ministry, it was very much a team approach with the goal to seek out the gifts which people had and see them utilised in the life of the church.

He involved as many people as possible in so many different ways.  The Pentecost in the Park events in 2000 and 2010 was a case in point when many members of the congregation worked together, under his leadership to put together a weekend long event in the church and marquee in the village pleasure park.  It was always his ambition to do this he told me.  He did this not once but twice 😉

The Millennium project which saw the refurbishment of the Church Centre and its transformation into a vibrant facility which is now used not just for church groups but also community groups was a great initiative in bringing the  Church and Community closer together.  The refurbishment of the church building – again John was the driving force behind that project whilst he would also continue his considerable workload as Parish Minister.

John was more than just the Minister at Kemnay Parish Church, he fulfilled a very wide range of roles and responsibilities.  As a member of the School Chaplaincy team he conducted assemblies in the three schools in Kemnay and also conducted the moral aspect of the primary school’s sex education curriculum.

One demonstration of John’s caring nature happened when on one of our early cruises – a novice wine waiter spilled a full glass of wine all over John, an accident of course.  The Maitre d was very quickly on the scene reassuring John that the waiter would be disciplined for his incompetence.  John insisted that no action be taken and asked that the wine waiter should continue to serve our table for the rest of the cruise.   He even went to see the Maitre d the following evening to stress that he wanted no action taken against the Wine Waiter.  Of course John’s white shirt was cleaned at the ship’s expense and the wine waiter continued to serve us each evening – without any further ‘spill incidents’.  This incident actually exposed a very caring aspect of John’s nature which I witnessed on a number of occasions where he wanted to give an individual a second or indeed third chance.  He was always keen to practice the act of forgiveness – which of course was a core aspect of his faith.

I feel that John has lived a very faithful life which started when he gave his life to God at the young age of 11 years all the way through to his last months when he had to deal with the pain and discomfort of a failing body.

I will miss our times together – coffee with the boys, discussing world matter and putting the world to rights and generally relaxing.  I also look forward to the wonderful hope a reunion in Gods presence after this live is over.

The following bible texts are appropriate to end this post in the context of the life lived by my good friend – John Renton.

Until we meet again – Mizpah

2 Timothy 4:7 [Full Chapter]

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

And concerning the hope of things to come.

Revelation Ch21 Vs4

“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

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Happy New Year – 2017

Each Hogmanay Mary and I host a party on Hogmanay. We have friends and family around and enjoy playing some games and have a social time together. At about midnight I usually say a few words of reflection of the year gone past and looking forward to the new year. The following video contains pretty much what what I said on the night.

Whilst sharing this I would like to wish all my online friends much happiness and good health for 2017.

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Kembhill Park Flood – Photos on the night 8th Jan 16

Photos taken on the night of Friday 8th January 2016

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