adventures with alexa

(Wow, it’s been a while since my last post, huh? Sorry about that. There should be another one in a day or two.)

Well, “adventures” is probably a little strong for my experiences with Alexa so far.

I have no desire to own one of those devices that listens to everything you say, waiting to hear a key word. I talk to myself a lot, and nobody needs to be listening to all that.

But now Amazon has rolled out Alexa, its “intelligent personal assistant,” to its tablets, so I’ve been experimenting a little. On the tablet, Alexa doesn’t listen all the time (it would kill the battery) — you have to press a button.

So far, the best use for me seems to be weather reports. I press the button, ask what the weather will be today, and I get a reply in words, plus a display on the screen that gives more detail. That’s helpful.

I can also ask her/it to set an alarm, and that works fine.

I can put something on my To Do list, but I can’t set a reminder for it. The To Do list and the alarm are completely separate, unfortunately. I’ve already sent feedback about this, so maybe it will be fixed at some point.

She (let’s call it “she”) can also do web searches and look things up on Wikipedia. If I say, “Good morning,” she greets me in return and tells me a (possibly) interesting fact.

If I ask about her quest, she tells me that she’s searching for the Holy Grail.

I think there’s a way to get her to say that she’s Inigo Montoya and she’s about to kill me, but I’ll leave that to people who are more entranced with The Princess Bride than I am.

So, useful (or at least entertaining), for a few minutes in the morning, but that’s about it.

So far.

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