Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Web Secret 549: Alexa

My California son came home for Thanksgiving.

He showed up with an Echo Dot, and many many Smart Plugs.

The Echo Dot allows you to access's intelligent personal assistant Alexa through voice commands. You use the Smart Plugs to control the electronic gizmos in your home. All you do is plug the Smart Plug into the wall and then plug your device into the Smart Plug.

Things you can ask Alexa to do:

1. "Alexa, order 100 rolls of toilet paper on Amazon."
2. "Alexa, what is the weather in Samoa?"
3. "Alexa, set timer for three hours, take medicine."
4. "Alexa, turn on Nespresso machine."

Remember the computer on the Enterprise in Star Trek? That was my reference point.

Things I quickly learned about Alexa:
  1. Alexa is not yet perfected so I found myself shouting at her a lot.
  2. I don't want Alexa. I want Alex, preferably with a British accent so I can give free rein to my butler fantasies.
  3. Alexa does a lot of simple stuff which is just easier and quicker to do the old fashioned way - by pressing a button. For example, If Alexa does not obey my command to turn on the Nespresso machine in my hour of need - say every morning when I first wake up - I become very angry and end up disconnecting the Smart Plug and plugging the Nespresso machine back into the plug.
  4. If you live with someone who uses Alexa a lot, say goodbye to peace and quiet as there is always somebody yelling at Alexa or Alexa is rattling on about one thing or another.
  5. Alexa is not remotely wireless - you have to plug in the Echo Dot and plug in every device you want to control with Alexa.
  6. On a final creepy note, Alexa sometimes starts talking about random things without prompting. Very Twilight Zone...
So for me, Alexa is not yet ready for prime time. But I did make a mental note to try her again in a couple of years.

Sooner or later, she will be ubiquitous and perfected.

And then...

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