Hey Alexa-Sing Me A Song!


The Amazon Echo Spot greets us daily.

The house we built two years ago has its share of electronic doodads. It has Wi-Fi linked sound bars and electronic lighting schemes. I can check on the garage door status from anywhere in the world (the farthest from home I have used this feature is a football field length down the street,)  and we have finally figured out how to use the electronic code on our back door. But one thing we have never had is an electronic digital assistant.

Yes, I talk to Google on my phone (I prefer her to Siri) but we have never had one of those stand-alone devices. I never saw the need. But this year the prize (for which I no longer feel guilty) for my fundraising prowess (thanks to all of you) with SEABlue was an Amazon Echo Spot. It is a little gizmo, the reviled baby of Amazon's Echo Series. In fact, the negative reviews I read compared both its appearance and usefulness to an old-fashioned alarm clock. Wrong!

We have had little Alexa (that's the name of the voice inside her) for a week now. We set her in the kitchen window box above the sink, hooked her up to our always balky home Wi-Fi and let her rip.

We have kept it simple so far. "Hey Alexa, play some U2." Out comes "One," a favorite of mine, with all the lyrics showing up on the Spot's face.

"Hey Alexa, play Sweet Caroline." Out comes a very odd rendition of Neil Diamond's classic.

"Hey Alexa, play a lullaby to our grandson."  Out comes Brahm's "Lullaby" followed by "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star."

"Hey Alexa, play Shawn Mullin's Lullabye." Out comes "Sorry, you will have to subscribe to our costly music service for that song." OK, so Alexa isn't perfect.

Need a quick answer to a question? The more specific the query, the better the response. When I asked what movie the line "Leave the gun, take the cannoli" is from  the answer "The Godfather" wass instantaneous. But ask for a recipe for Thanksgiving Mashed Potatoes and 53 suggestions pop up, also instantaneously. It's a little too much information.

Since we have had a busy week,  I haven't had a chance to delve into Alexa's other capabilities. I'm sure that with more time and effort I will have her feeding the dog, taking out the garbage, and making the bed. Hey Alexa, you can do all that, can't you?

What have been YOUR experiences with digital assistants?  Share them! And for all my trivia friends out there, yes, I DID actually know the source of that movie quote, I was testing Alexa.

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