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Amazon's smart speaker, the Echo and Echo Dot with Alexa inside, sometimes offers more information than kids can handle.

Now there's a Kids Edition, $70 from Amazon.com.

Say "Good morning" to the kids' version, and Alexa will make you laugh, changing her answer every time you ask. The greeting might be followed by "Good morning!" or "Time to shake it out!" or "Move your body and shake out the sleep!" or "Ready? Shake, shake, shake!"

Parents get access to Parents.Amazon.com to put in parental controls. That's important if you don't want kids talking to Alexa all night. You can read transcripts of everything your child said to Alexa, or delete it all. You can also do this on a regular Echo, Echo Dot or Echo Show. Just say, "Alexa, delete everything I said today," or "Alexa, delete that."

The kids' version also gives you a year's subscription to Free Time for free movies, games and books, which are also available on Kindle Fire tablets. After that it's $5 a month per child or $10 a month per family of four ($7 a month if you're a member of Amazon Prime).

For an excellent review, see TomsGuide.com.

SPOTTING A SCAM

We got a doozy of a phone call the other day.

The message said our account would be automatically debited $499 unless we called back to get the money refunded. So we did what we always do in such situations. We typed the phone number into a Google search. Sure enough, it was a scam.

Interestingly, when Joy bought Bob a new phone, the Pixel 3a, we got a spam call within 10 minutes of activating it. So take note: They're out there, and they're gunning for you.

INTERNUTS

GetHuman.com. A reader reminded us to mention this site again. It lists the phone numbers you need to avoid getting the voicemail runaround and talk to an actual person.

"How to create a book in Microsoft Word." Search on that phrase to find an article from HowToGeek.com with step-by-step instructions.

WINDOWS 7 RISK

Our favorite technology guru, Kenny, who was a leading tech support guy for a leading firm before he started helphelpnow.com, advises against using Windows 7 or XP on the Internet once Microsoft stops offering patches.

That surprised us. We thought you were good to go if you have an anti-virus program such as the free Bitdefender or Malwarebytes, for hack attacks.

"If the operating system has security holes," he says, "hackers or worms can get through."

Last month, Microsoft released a patch for Windows XP users, though it officially ended support in 2014. That's because this particular security hole was so bad, it could replicate itself on one old computer after another. If you haven't updated your XP or Vista machine, do a search on this phrase: "Customer guidance for CVE-2019-0708" to find the patch from Microsoft. Support for Windows 7 ends Jan. 15.

Kenny points out that millions of people have not upgraded to Windows 10 because their computers could not handle something newer. That includes the military and banks.

We use a powerful XP machine we got on Amazon for $70. We only it use offline for our favorite greeting card program and some art programs that won't run on newer operating systems. As long you're offline, they can't get to you.

SCREEN CALLS

We forgot to mention the best part of Bob's new smartphone, the Google Pixel 3a. It's the call screening feature found on all Pixel phones.

Tap "call screen" when a call is coming in and the caller is asked to state their name and why they're calling. You'll see a transcript of what they're saying as they talk, and can accept the call or reject it. This comes in handy when the area code matches our own, and we wonder if it's someone local we know.

Bob and Joy Schwabach can be reached by email at bobschwab@gmail.com and joydee@oncomp.com.

Business on 07/13/2019

Print Headline: Amazon rolls out kids' version of Alexa smart speaker

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