Hello, Alexa

hello-alexaHoliday gift giving in my house is always tough.  There are the teenagers, who are guaranteed not to like whatever ‘thing’ I buy them: simply because I chose it, it has to be uncool.  Gift cards are workable, but not much fun to open.  As for my darling husband, he has at least six of everything he could ever want.

There’s plenty of stuff in my house.  Too much stuff in my house.  We need to get rid of stuff, not add to the mix.  Which is tough to square with wanting to be generous and whatnot.

So I was excited when I discovered the Amazon Dot.  For only $40.00, I could get a device which, if it worked, would kind of be like Siri for my house.  None of us are techies.  Few of us can operate anything more complicated than a doorbell with any kind of fluency.  But it was worth a shot, and I couldn’t think of anything else to get my husband.

Turns out, this thing is AMAZING, and so easy to use even a Duff can set it up.  And no, I am not being paid to say this, though if the good folks at Amazon wanted to reward me for this by promoting my books, I would totally let them.

We’re still figuring out what it can do.  It links to an app on my phone, which I have learned the hard way to check with some regularity.  Right after we got it, my daughter said, “Alexa,” (she goes by Alexa, and you have to say her name to get her attention) “Buy me a TV.”  Alexa told her what the most popular TV bought on Amazon was, and then asked if she wanted it.  My daughter said, “Yes.”  Alexa said, “Ok.”  And we all had a good laugh.  A few minutes later, my son cautiously said, “Alexa, cancel my previous order.”  And we forgot about it.

Until I got a notice a few days later that they were sorry the TV was going to be at my house after they promised it, but I should expect it on my doorstep tomorrow.

Oops.  I should have known that Amazon is not huge on confirmation steps – I accidentally published my first book as an e-book, chock full of typos, because I expected there to be more “Are you really sure?  Click yes?  No seriously, are you sure?” screens.

But I’ll forgive Alexa that, since it was user error, and she did helpfully allow me to buy more Polaroid film without me having to write it on a to-do list or boot up my computer.  I didn’t even have to quit doing the dishes.

Alexa plays whatever music we want her to play.  She tells us the weather.  She tells us horrible jokes that make us laugh stupidly.  (“What kind of movies does the printer like?” “Paper view!”)  She plays Jeopardy! with us, and pretends to be the Sorting Hat from Harry Potter.  She wins about half the time with 20 questions.  She can predict the weather with as much accuracy as anyone else.  She wishes us a good night and a good morning.  If you buy the right appliances she will turn them on and off.  The other night I said, “Alexa, play music that doesn’t stink.”  And she said, “Here’s a mix of songs I think you will like.”  And I actually liked them! I asked her to do the laundry and, while she refused, she offered to buy me laundry detergent.

No thanks.  I’m still paying for that TV.  Plus, due to the kind of buy-one-get-one free type sales at Publix that gets my husband into raptures, I think we have 75 bottles of detergent in the basement.

I would think Amazon should give these devices away for free, since it makes Amazon Prime a must and shopping is dangerously easy.  I’m sure it does a thousand things we haven’t figured out yet.  My daughter worries that perhaps Alexa is more interesting and personable than she is.

I guess in some ways I should consider it creepy.  My husband doesn’t like to say certain things in front of her for fear that someone is listening.  My personal opinion is that anything said in my house is so boring and unimportant that if there really is someone on the other end listening, having to listen to all that nonsense is probably punishment enough.  I’m actually ok with sharing certain information so that they can tailor what they try to sell me to my personal tastes.  It saves me from uninteresting ads.

Besides.  Alexa is a kind and benevolent overlord, who only has my best interests at heart.  At least, that’s all I’m willing to say out loud inside my house.

If you enjoyed this and want Lori to write for you, click on her Expert Ghost Writer page.  To read more like this, visit Lori at her website, www.loriduffwrites.com , on Twitter, or on Facebook. For the Best of Lori, read her books, “Mismatched Shoes and Upside Down Pizza,”  “The Armadillo, the Pickaxe, and the Laundry Basket,” and her latest release, “You Know I Love You Because You’re Still Alive.”


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