How To Set Up Donations on Twitch

Twitch is one of the most popular streaming platforms on the web, with more than 15 million unique daily viewers and over four million streamers. For many of these streamers, Twitch is not only a way to have fun and share a passion with fans—it’s a way to generate revenue.

While one way to make money is through premium subscribers, another way is through donations. There are multiple ways to set up donations on the Twitch platform, both directly through Twitch and through third-party platforms.

If you’re good at video games and entertaining on camera, you might be able to make a bit of spending money by giving someone something to watch.

How to Accept Bits on Twitch

Bits are the primary medium for viewers to donate to Twitch streamers they like and enjoy. Make a funny joke or pull off a one-in-a-million snipe and you might find yourself on the receiving end of an avalanche of Bits. There’s just one problem: You need to be a Twitch affiliate to receive Bits.

While anyone can send Bits, only those in the Twitch Affiliate program are allowed to receive them—and qualifying isn’t easy. In order to qualify for the program, you need to have at least 500 minutes of broadcasting in the last 30 days. That’s a bit over 8.3 hours. 

You also must have seven unique broadcasts over 30 days, with an average of at least three concurrent viewers during that time. Finally, you must have a total of 50 or more followers. 

Qualifying for the Twitch Affiliate program requires a significant time investment. Once you qualify, Twitch will email you and send an invitation via the notification tab on Twitch.tv. 

You’ll earn one cent per Bit used to cheer you on. This means that for every 100 Bits donated to your channel, you will earn $1. 

How to Set Up Donations Through Third Parties

If the idea of becoming a Twitch Affiliate sounds like too much work, you can use a service like Streamlabs to set up donations on Twitch through platforms like PayPal, Skrill, and Unitpay. Setting up these services is as simple as linking your account so the donations have a place to go.

If you verify your Streamlabs account, you can accept donations directly from credit cards. However, verification has vague requirements including:

  • A proven track record of legitimate use
  • A consistent pattern of concurrent viewers and followers

What these requirements mean is not clear, but it does mean you won’t get verified after just one or two nights of streaming. You will need to put in effort before you qualify, but this isn’t an issue if you have your sights set on becoming a Twitch Affiliate. 

PayPal isn’t the only option, however. Streamlabs has numerous integrations including Patreon, Extra Life, Tiltify, TippeeStream, and more. These services make it easy to accept donations without forcing your viewers to purchase Bits from Twitch’s system in order to donate. 

Streamlabs is a tool that serves as an overlay for your Twitch stream, but you can also use it to synchronize settings across other streaming platforms, including YouTube, Mixer, and more. You can customize your tip page within Streamlabs to further entice viewers to donate, but it isn’t a requirement—and you don’t have to have a Premium account to receive tips.

Set Up Donations With a PayPal Link

There is a third option that many streamers overlook, and that is simply adding a link to donate. People support creators they enjoy. If you give your viewers a way to support you, they’re likely to do so even if it means following a link away from Twitch. 

You can’t add a link directly to your Twitch bio. However, you can add a panel to your Twitch channel from within your Twitch Channel settings that serves the same purpose. 

This panel can include an image that you can link to another site (in this case, your PayPal donation link.) You can also include text to invite viewers to donate. 

To set up donations on Twitch this way, all you need to know is your PayPal.Me address. This address will look something like paypal.me/username. When someone follows the link, it will take them to a page where they can donate however much they want.

The more customized your donation page is, the more likely someone will send a few dollars your way. Make sure to set the profile image with a picture of yourself or a logo of your Twitch stream. Rather than just a link, you should create a donation button that invites viewers to click. 

Once you have several donation options set up on Twitch, all you have to do is focus on entertaining your viewers. Play games well (or don’t), but make sure anyone that spends time watching you enjoys themselves. No one generates a giant fan base overnight, but with dedicated time and a regular streaming schedule, you can build a Twitch career of your own. 

Alexa Routines and Skills: A Tutorial

Amazon’s Alexa system is a powerful smart assistant that lets you shop with only your voice, control your smart home, and much more–but a home isn’t truly smart until it is automated. With Alexa, you can set up routines that happen at a specific time each day or when pre-set conditions are met.

You can also take advantage of more than 100,000 Alexa Skills to create routines and further customize your smart home and improve its functionality. 

How to Create an Alexa Routine

Making a new routine in Alexa is simple. There are three main steps involved. Once you learn how to do them, you can set up all the Alexa routines you want. Take a look. 

Open the Alexa app and tap the More tab in the lower-right corner to open the menu. Tap Routines, and then tap the plus sign in the top-right corner. You’ll see a new screen where you have three options:

  • Enter routine name
  • When this happens
  • Add reaction

The first option is self-explanatory. Just name the routine whatever you want, although it’s a good policy to name it something that identifies it at a glance.

The second option is where the fun begins. You can choose for the routine to begin with a specific voice command, on a schedule, after a smart device trigger, when you reach a location, when you set an alarm, after pressing the Echo button, or when you activate Guard mode on Ring, ADT, or other compatible systems.

Choose the command you want to use. In this example, we used the voice command trigger phrase “Game time.” 

Once you’ve chosen the trigger for your routine, choose the response. This will be the action that Alexa takes to set your routine in action. There are a series of options to choose from:

  • Alexa Says: Alexa will respond with a customized phrase that you set or choose from a list.
  • Briefings: Alexa provides a summary of the day’s events and reminders.
  • Calendar: Alexa provides a breakdown of the day’s events from your linked calendar.
  • Calling: Alexa will make a call through a linked account like Skype.
  • Date and Time: Alexa will tell you the current date and time.
  • Device Settings: Alexa will stop playing music, adjust the volume, or go into Do Not Disturb mode.
  • Drop in Notification: Alexa makes a drop-in call.
  • E-mail: Alexa will read your email summary.
  • Entertain Me: Alexa will sing a song or tell a joke.
  • Fire TV: Alexa will begin to play content on Fire TV devices.
  • Good News: Alexa will read good, uplifting news stories.
  • Guard: Alexa will activate Guard to protect your home.
  • IFTTT: Alexa will run specific the IFTTT applets you have set up.
  • Messaging: Alexa will send or receive announcements.
  • Music: Alexa will play a song, specific artist, playlist, or station.
  • News: Alexa will play the news from your Flash Briefing.
  • Skills: Alexa will activate a pre-set Skill.
  • Smart Home: Alexa will control a smart home device you choose. 
  • Sounds: Alexa will play sounds you choose from categories like animals, bells and buzzers, crowds, and more.
  • Traffic: Alexa will provide a traffic report.
  • Wait: Alexa will set a timer for a time you specify.
  • Weather: Alexa will report the weather.
  • Custom: Alexa will respond to a question you set. 

Almost every option has sub-commands once you select it. To continue the example from above, we chose the Smart Home reaction. This opens another screen that provides access to three options: All Devices, Control group, and Control scene

Tapping any of these options opens additional commands. To complete the example routine, we chose Control group > Loft. From the final screen, we moved the slider for Power to the “On” position. 

This means that when you say “Alexa, game time,” all of the lights in the loft will turn on–and because they are preset to the individual colors, the routine will automatically set the mood for an evening of binging on your favorite games. 

Alexa Skills

An Alexa Skill is a bit like an app. It expands the basic functionality of Alexa beyond what it can do by default. Access Skills by tapping More and choosing Skills and Games from the menu. 

This opens the Skills and Games Menu where you can scroll through available skills in the Discover tab, search for specific types of Skills from the Categories tab, and view any Skills you have saved through the Your Skills tab. Even if you’ve never chosen Skills before, you might already have some available through devices added to your Alexa app.

For example, if you have LIFX bulbs or an iRobot device you control through Alexa, those skills will already be available in the Your Skills tab. There are almost two dozen categories to pick from, with more than 100,000 different Skills to help you totally customize and control your life through Alexa. 

To enable a Skill, choose it from the menu and then tap “Enable to Use.” Once you’ve done this, you have access to any abilities the Skill allows. 

Alexa Routines and Skills enable use of Alexa-compatible smart home devices, but there are also other Skills that act as shortcuts. For example, IFTTTrigger grants access to any of the services on IFTTT.com that can be integrated into Alexa routines. This makes it easier to find potential IFTTT integrations than manually searching through the website itself. 

In addition to Skills that grant more functionality or enable productivity, you can also play games through Alexa Skills. Most of these games are trivia or quiz-style games, but there are others available to users with an Echo Show. You can also play Skyrim. It’s not quite like it would be on PC, but it just shows that the game really is everywhere.

Tribit Stormbox Micro Portable Speaker Review

It can sometimes seem like portable Bluetooth speakers are a dime a dozen, which makes it difficult to figure out which ones are worth your investment or not. Tribit recently released the StormBox Micro, a small, portable Bluetooth speaker that not only pumps out impressive sound but boasts weather resistance too.

Tribit sent the StormBox Micro to us to do a portable bluetooth speaker review, so we put it through the paces to find out how well it performs in a variety of real-world applications. 

Appearance: Compact but Convenient 

The speaker lives up to its name. At 3.9 inches wide, 3.9 inches tall, and just under 1.4 inches thick, the speaker does not take up much space, nor does its weight get in the way of transporting it. The black exterior is nondescript, although it did make it difficult to pick out the top buttons at a glance.

The Tribit StormBox Micro has three buttons on top: a volume down and a volume up button, as well as the MultiFunctional Button. On the front of the portable bluetooth speaker is the power on and off button, the Bluetooth button, and a series of LED indicator lights that denote volume level and connectivity. 

One feature that is worth noting about the exterior of the StormBox Micro is the integrated strap. It snaps into place on the bottom of the speaker but has a secure hold, making it perfect for looping around your belt while you’re mobile. 

If you’re looking for flashing, pulsating LEDs that dance in time with your music, you’re out of luck. The StormBox Micro forgoes the bells and whistles for a plain, straightforward look, but what it lacks in style it makes up for in performance.

Sound Quality

The first thing you notice about the StormBox Micro is the sound quality. Despite its small size, this little speaker pumps up the volume. It is appreciably loud even at lower volume levels and can fill a room when maxed out. 

In addition to the volume, the StormBox Micro produces a surprising amount of bass. Speakers of this size usually fall short due to the lack of space for subwoofers, but the StormBox Micro excels even in bass-heavy electronic music. Sure, it won’t compare to a dedicated speaker with a larger woofer, but at this size the StormBox Micro is hard to beat.

Even demanding songs like Bob Marley’s “Turn Your Lights Down Low” sound great on the speaker. It’s easy to detect instrumental position in the playback, and the StormBox Micro maintains a good sound balance with minimal distortion. 

The primary issues that arose during playback were lower, bass-heavy moments sounding a bit washed out when higher sounds were dominant in a song. Of course, problems like this are expected when dealing with compact speakers.

Features and Functionality

The StormBox Micro has several notable features. It is designed to be used with a phone, as the Multifunctional Button, or MFB, has functionality catered toward phones. The StormBox Micro has two main playback modes: Music Mode and Conversation Mode.

In Music Mode, the MFB serves as the play and pause button when given a short press. A double press skips to the next track, while pressing it three times in a row goes back one track. If you press and hold for one second, the MFB will activate Siri on your phone. 

Conversation Mode is a bit different. A short press of the MFB will answer or end a phone call, while pressing and holding for one second will reject the call. A short press during a phone call will put the call on hold to answer an incoming call, while subsequent presses will allow you to switch between two calls simultaneously. 

Pair one StormBox Micro with another and you have access to even more features, including Party Mode and Stereo Mode. When you put the two speakers in Party Mode, you can play the same song in sync from both, spreading the sound out across a wider area.

Stereo Mode is where the power of the speaker really shines, however. The audio quality is already impressive for a device of this size, and on its own it has good spatial representation. When put in Stereo Mode, however, the speaker tells you which one is left and which is right.

Stereo Mode provides an audio experience that is on par with much higher-priced speakers. It’s impressive for such a small device, although if you have access to a set of high-end headphones, they will likely outperform the StormBox Micro. 

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a way to get impressive audio quality even in your shower, the StormBox Micro might be your best option. With an IP67 weather resistance rating, the StormBox Micro can handle a lot of abuse–it’s water resistant up to a meter deep for half an hour. 

Bluetooth and Battery Life

The Bluetooth functionality of the StormBox Micro is worth mentioning. It can pair with up to eight different devices total, and with up to two at the same time. That means there is no need to pass the aux cord, so to speak. If you and a friend are sharing music, all you have to do is pause your playback and your friend can start playing their music. 

On a full charge, the StormBox Micro portable bluetooth speaker claims up to eight hours of battery life. While testing did not reveal an exact amount, the speaker played music for hours without a break and still had plenty of charge left over. Charging the speaker is easy, too–and included USB-C cable and a 5V plug is all you need.

StormBox Micro: Worth the Cost?

The Tribit StormBox Micro packs a lot of features into a small package, but it carries an equally small price tag. At just $50, it’s honestly hard to imagine a better Bluetooth speaker in this price range. There are options out there that may be louder and have more functionality, but they are more expensive too.

The StormBox Micro is loud, surprisingly effective where bass is concerned, and has enough features to make it a competitor against bigger brands., If you’re looking for a way to jam in the shower, this is your best bet. 

Alexa Skills Not Working? 11 Ways to Troubleshoot

Alexa’s full suite of more than 100,000 Skills is a powerful platform, but there are times when those Alexa Skills are not working. The server that powers the Skill might have a hiccup, or there may be a problem with the way the Skill is implemented within your smart home. 

If you find an Alexa Skill that doesn’t work or perform as intended, here are a few fixes to try.

1. Make Sure Alexa is Connected to WiFi

The Amazon Echo needs WiFi to work correctly. If your device is not connected to WiFi, then Amazon Skills won’t work because Amazon can’t process your voice command. 

2. Ensure You’re Using the Correct Phrase

Many Alexa Skills have specific activation phrases. If you find an Alexa Skill is not working as you expect, make sure you’re using the correct activation phrase. For example, the Food Network Kitchen skill can be activated in three separate ways: 

  • “Alexa, open Food Network Kitchen.”
  • “Alexa, show me cooking classes from Food Network Kitchen.”
  • “Alexa, show my saved recipes from Food Network Kitchen.”

3. Check If the Skill Needs Parental Permission

Some Alexa Skills can’t be activated without parental permission. If you’re using a Skill and it asks for parental permission, you’ll have to enable it from your home screen. This is particularly true with regard to child-focused Skills.

4. Enable the Skill

In some instances, the Skill might have been disabled. When this happens, you’ll need to re-enable the Skill from within the Skills menu. 

5. Re-Install the Skill

If you have a Skill that has worked for the most part but suddenly stopped working, an error may have occurred that can be fixed by disabling the Skill and re-enabling it. When you disable a Skill, it unlinks it from your account. Enable the Skill and re-link it. Doing this should correct most issues.

6. Verify Your Device Is on the Correct Profile

If there are multiple profiles within an Amazon account, each profile may utilize different Skills. If you find that a device isn’t responding when you try to activate a Skill, make sure you’re using the correct profile. 

7. Re-Enable the Device

Many Amazon Skills are linked to specific devices. If a Skill is unresponsive, go into the Devices menu of your Alexa app and disable and re-enable the relevant device. 

8. Reinstall the Device

If disabling the device doesn’t work, remove it from your account entirely. You can do this by opening the device settings and tapping the trash can in the top-right corner of the screen. Once you remove the device, you’ll need to re-add it to your Amazon account. A fresh installation will often correct issues that arise. 

9. Force a Firmware Update

Some Alexa Skills might not be available until the Echo hardware undergoes a firmware update. While any connected device will periodically check for updates automatically, you can force a firmware update to bring your Echo in-line with the firmware version it should have. 

To do this, press the mute button on your Echo. It will take anywhere from only a few minutes to as long as half an hour, but Alexa will announce she needs to perform an update. Once this is complete, the hardware will restart and will no longer be muted. Of course, this only works when firmware updates are available.

10. Make Sure You Complete the Skill

Alexa Skills can be custom-made through the Skill Blueprint system. However, it is possible to make a Skill without updating your account and adding it to your list of active Skills. If your Skill is custom made and doesn’t work, make sure it has actually been completed within the system. 

11. Create a Voice Profile

Some people might encounter a more perplexing issue: Alexa may not seem to understand what they’re saying. If this happens, you can train Alexa to recognize your voice. Go to Settings > Account Settings > Recognized Voices > Manage Voice Profile. 

From this screen, you can choose to have Alexa personalize your skills or delete your voice profile. You can also tap Match voice profiles to speak a series of phrases that Alexa will use to better match your voice when you speak. This allows Alexa to understand you better. 

Alexa Skills are one of the features that set Alexa apart from the competition. The vast library of Skills and the easy-to-use Skills Blueprint allows for almost unlimited creativity in how you control your smart home and your life. The only obstacle is when these Alexa Skills stop working.

Just try any one of these 11 tricks to get your Skills back in working order. At least one of these options should get your Alexa back on track. 

14 Great Gifts for the Nerd or Geek in Your Life

If you’re like most people, you want to start (and finish!) your Christmas shopping as early as possible. Shopping for the nerd or geek in your life can be a tough endeavor, especially if you don’t know what to get them. This list of gift ideas is unique and will help you find the perfect Christmas gift for the nerds you know.

1. Elago 1998 iMac Apple Watch Stand

The 1998 iMac might not be the most powerful machine on the market anymore, but come on–this Apple Watch Stand is pure nostalgia for old-school Mac users. The stand looks great but makes it easy to see your Apple Watch at a glance to change alarms and read messages.

2. Pac-Man Lamp

Everyone knows Pac-Man. This lamp is a bit of a stylish accessory that plays 12 retro Pac-Man sounds and lends a bit of ambience to a space. Best of all, it plugs straight in. N–no need for batteries. 

3. 8BitDo Retro Cube Bluetooth Speaker

The top of this speaker features a giant D-Pad reminiscent of the Nintendo Entertainment System. What better choice for someone in your life that loves retro gaming and listeningloves to listen to chiptunes while going about their day to day chores?

4. Ledger Nano S Currency Hardware Wallet

When cryptocurrency was at its peak, a lot of people dabbled in trying to generate an income. Cryptocurrency continues to fascinate people, so if you have a nerd in your life that likes to play around with Bitcoin, this hardware wallet is the perfect gift for them to keep an eye on their Bitcoin amounts. 

5. TMNT Pizza Cookbook

Cowabunga, dude! No self-respecting geek or nerd hates pizza. Throw in a healthy love for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and this pizza cookbook is a great gift to spice up your homemade pies. Just watch out for Master Shredder.

6. Hermione’s Time Turner

This is the perfect gift for that nerdy someone that loves Harry Potter. This Time Turner is licensed by Warner Brothers and is plated in 24 karat gold. Itand even includes a display for showing it off. The only thing it can’t do is actually turn back time so you can read Harry Potter again for the first time. 

7. Slothzilla Shower Curtain

There’s just something about sloths. Maybe it’s their cute little faces, or maybe it’s the fact that everyone can relate to moving that slow first thing in the morning. Either way, if you know a geek that loves sloths, this shower curtain makes a phenomenal gift. 

8. Firefly Playing Cards

If you ever find yourself in an Alliance-friendly bar on U Day, you better have a set of playing cards to swindle those Browncoat-haters out of their credits. For anyone that’s a fan of Firefly, these playing cards make a great gift for a nerd. 

9. Star Wars Silicon Ice Cube Trays

May the Force be with you…and your drink. This set of Star Wars-themed ice cube trays will let you make ice in the shape of the Millenium Falcon, the X-Wing, Boba Fett, and even Han frozen in Carbonite. It’s a fantastic option for someone that wants to bring a little bit of a galaxy far, far away to their everyday.

10. Chemistry Shot Glasses

What better way to understand the chemistry of alcohol on the body than to drink out of a beaker, an Erlenmeyer flask, and other chemistry-themed shot glasses? This is a great gift for a chemistry student (provided they’re over 21!)

11. Solar System Crystal Ball

If you know someone that loves astronomy, what better gift for thanem an engraved crystal ball with the solar system inside it? This makes an excellent decoration for a shelf or a desk, and it can start a bit of a debate since they only include eight planets. Poor Pluto. 

12. Danny DeVito Cardboard Cutout

[Danny DeVito Cutout]

Danny DeVito is beloved by nerds everywhere for his acerbic wit and twisted sense of humor. If you’d like to have him around you at all times (or you think it would be a fun way to freak out roommates), this life-size cardboard cutout is a fantastic gift option. 

13. C64 Mini

Many people have fond memories of hours spent playing the Commodore 64. The C64 Mini is one of the latest miniature consoles to grace the market and makes a great gift for anyone old enough to remember the original console

14. Arduino Starter Kit

The Arduino Starter Kit is a great way for someone to begin experimenting with electronics. The kit includes numerous projects to start with, as well as many components that can be applied in a largehuge number of different ways. Best of all, Arduino projects can easily be expanded into real-world applications.