From Xbox Controller grip repairs to music services that aren’t all that great, this edition of Ask The en covers a lot.

Before we dig deep into my Amazon Echo addiction and the games I’m hoping to hear the most about at the Electronic Entertainment Expo next week, thanks to all those that sent in their questions. If you have a question or comment about anything that plugs in or has a play button, post them on Facebook or send them over on Twitter. Heck, you can email me at

Let’s make it hot.

Xbox Controller Grips

What to Do When Your Xbox Controller’s Grips Fail

Q. My Xbox Wireless Controller grips are falling off my gamepad. How can I fix them?

First, let me say, that stinks. Xbox Controllers with grips are more comfortable than the standard controller for sure. It’s one of the reasons that I miss the Elite Controller I sold earlier this year.

I wish I could say that this is the first time I’ve heard of Xbox Controller grips failing, but it isn’t. A check of Reddit and other community websites indicates it’s a problem for a lot of people. My solution is to get in contact with Microsoft Support or visit a Microsoft Store and ask for a replacement. Even if it’s out of warranty, they may take care of you.

If it’s out of warranty and they refuse to replace it, I’m not confident that any glue you could buy won’t prevent the same thing from happening again. You could buy another from Xbox Design Lab, which lets you add grips to your own designs. That way, at least you don’t have to wait for another special edition design with the grips to arrive on store shelves.

Music Services

What Should You Be Looking for In a Music Service?

Q. How do you decide which music service to subscribe to?

Good question. I gave up on streaming music services when Groove Music Pass went the way of the U.S. budget surplus. Instead, I just buy MP3s of my favorite albums and use Spotify or Prime Music to stream the rest.

If I were you, I’d choose a music subscription by price first. Find out how much a month or a year costs, then decide if that’s what you’re willing to pay. Take family passes into account; some services let you share with your family now.

Next, do yourself a favor and use a free trial to test out the service’s apps and extras. For example, Amazon Music’s library is big. However, its apps are absolute trash. I found that out by trying the service without buying a subscription thanks to a free trial.

All that being said, in my opinion, Spotify, Google Play Music and Apple Music are the only serious contenders in this space.

Amazon Echo & Alexa

Amazon Echo and the Creep Factor

Q. You talk about Echo speakers a lot. How many Amazon Echo devices do you have? Also, they don’t make you nervous?

Thanks for letting me know how often I talk about Echo. It’s third only to two other favorite topics of mine: Xbox and the guy on the oatmeal box. Honesty with one’s self is paramount in any discussion of taste.

I have four devices with Amazon’s personal assistant built in. Two are full-size Echo speakers and one is a tiny Echo Dot. The fourth is an Ecobee 4 thermostat with Alexa assistant built-in. Honestly, I can picture two more devices joining my line-up. I’d like the new Fire TV Cube to replace the Echo Dot and Fire TV Stick combo in the living room. I wouldn’t mind a full-size speaker to put in my office either.

The Amazon Fire TV Cube.

As for my feelings on devices that are always listening, I’m of two minds.

I don’t find an always listening microphone creepy because I’ve had a Kinect sensor in my living room since my days on the Xbox 360. A Kinect sensor is looking at me as I write this column. Also, to me, an Echo Dot is no different from having cameras and a microphone pointing at me from my nightstand. That’s where I keep my Samsung Galaxy S8+.

All that being said, I do approach all tech decisions by assuming I can’t trust the company that made it. Therefore, I limit what my devices know about me. For example, no social media app has permission to track my location. Bixby, Cortana and Alexa don’t have permission to do that either. I don’t even let camera apps save location information for the photos they take or personal assistants scan my email.

My first Kinect.

Alexa knows what my voice sounds like, what terrible TV shows I watch and the garbage pop music that I bump when no one is watching. That’s it. If someone wants to build a voter profile around that, good luck. I’ll take Demi Lovato as the junior senator from Virginia without complaint.

I’ve also disabled drop-ins on all my Echo devices and have no plans to turn it on so that family members can instantly talk to me without calling first.

Tech is only scary if you don’t know what your device knows. Control the information and you control your fear. At least, you feel a little better.

E3 2018

The E3 2018 Announcements That Excite Me Most

Q. What games are you excited to see at E3?

I talked a bit about my E3 2018 hopes in My Hopes & Dreams for E3 2018. That article goes into a lot of detail that I won’t rehash here because this edition of Ask The en is already a little long.

So, I’m excited to find out these random things in no particular order. Some of them are just me dreaming.

  • A Halo 6 teaser.
  • Assassin’s Creed Odyssey details.
  • More Xbox benefits for Xbox Live Gold gamers on PC.
  • More Spider-Man PS4 details.
  • Sequels to this generation’s Xbox exclusives.
  • The Division 2 release details.
  • Anthem release details.
  • Super Smash Bros for Nintendo Switch release details.

Thanks to everyone that submitted questions and commentary. Please do submit anything that’s on your mind for the next edition of Ask The en. Just drop them on Facebook or Twitter.

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