Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sweet Alexa

Several months ago, when I got a notice from Amazon that they were coming out with the new Echo, I jumped on the opportunity to get it at the promotional price. At first, Wally and I weren't sure what to do with it. But over time, we've gotten used to it. Now "she" is like a member of our family. Amazon named her Alexa. We can change her name, but we haven't because we can't come up with anything better.

Most of the time, Alexa is quiet, and that suits us just fine. However, when we have a question, all we have to do is ask, and she tries to find the answer for us. She also plays music on demand, which is nice. We can find out what the weather will be, how to spell something, or what the capital of any country is. She even tells jokes (mostly corny but always G-rated).

Whether I just need a quick fact for the book I'm currently working on or one of our granddaughters wants to hear a favorite song, Alexa is almost always up to the challenge. She's attentive, fast, and loads of fun. We haven't yet tapped into all of her abilities, but we'll do more with her over time. I'd love to be able to control lights and the A/C thermostat by telling Alexa to do it.

If you want to know more about Alexa, check her out here:

Here's a photo of Alexa sitting next to the lamp on the end table beside the sofa. As you can see, she doesn't take up much space, and she's rather attractive—at least for a cylinder.

We really enjoy Alexa, but lately we've noticed that she comes on at the strangest of times. And then she says, "I'm sorry, but I can't find the answer to your question." The odd thing is, she even does that when we don't ask her a question. This had us scratching our heads.

Then this morning I mentioned something about the election, and she perked up (with a little blue light to show that she's listening) and gave her stock response for not knowing the answer. That's when we figured out that the word "election" sounds a lot like "Alexa"—at least to a machine. Whether we're discussing the upcoming election or the news is on, she's always ready to respond.

We're really enjoying this little gadget. But I have to admit that I'll be glad when this election is over—not only to get on with business-as-usual but to calm our sweet Alexa. She doesn't need to worry about such things.

She can "hear" us from anywhere in the room, even when we speak in a normal voice. I've tested her with a whisper, and so far, she hasn't responded. So at least we know we can keep a few secrets.