Amazon Echo and Alexa really matter
Anil Dash

I ordered the Amazon Echo & it just arrived two days ago. So far I have mainly used it to play music but I plan to integrate it to be used to control the lights and thermostat in my house as well as other appliances down the line. I am not a tech-y person at all but I love gadgets. I read everything I could online about how to set up Alexa so I was prepared for her arrival. Set up was easy & soon I was asking Alexa all kinds of questions & playing music. I am still a bit creeped out that she is always “listening” but from what I have read, the only things that are recorded are questions or statements prefaced by the wake word “Alexa.” I had to download the Alexa app on my phone in order to complete the set up. I was a bit startled when I looked at the app a day after I got the Echo and saw everything I had asked or commented on recorded there in print in the Alexa app.

One thing that I do not like is that if Alexa does not have a song in her data base she will play a sample of the song. If she can access a sample of a song why can’t she play the entire song? I have yet to link my Spotify or Pandora accounts to Alexa but when I do I will have to specifically ask her to play said song from that account.

There are many Easter eggs that you can find online for Alexa. She has responses for things like, “Alexa, are you skynet?” to Alexa, what did the fox say?” She knows all kinds of facts & even tells jokes. She will tell you the weather forecast & broadcast the news (through NPR) if you ask. Last night I asked her for “dinner music” and she accessed a playlist of mellow classic rock songs. I haven’t even begun to engage all that she is capable of.

I look forward to learning more about what Alexa can do. There are many “skills” that enable the user to interact with Alexa and I have yet to implement any of those but plan to soon. For now I’m happy to have Alexa play music, set alarms, add items to my shopping list/to do list, turn on and off lights and tell me an occasional bad joke.

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