Ignoring the Amazon Echo

The mighty everything store in the sky is offering wondrous deals at huge discounts today, because it’s “Prime Day”. It’s kind of like saying “Here’s some money off some stuff that will help you spend more money with us, but only if you’re already spending lots of money with us”. I’m sure there’s some clever mathematics analogy to do with something squared, but I’ll be buggered if I can figure it out. I’m not sure I can be bothered.
Two of the developers at work were talking about the Amazon Echo – the biggest thing you never knew you needed until somebody invented the damn thing to arrive since the “smart” phone (and why are “smart” phones called “smart” – mine is as brainless as a bucket of mud). Apparently the Echo has been slashed to about half price for the next few hours.

I’m sorry – and I know this is flying in the face of everything everybody might expect of me – but I can’t see the point in the Amazon Echo at all. How do you qualify spending a ridiculous amount of money on a device that sits there and tries to understand what you’re asking it to do, after you’ve trained it to do it ? Do you really need to have voice controlled lightbulbs? Or voice controlled heating? Is it really THAT much work to stand in front of your music player for a few seconds to choose something to play? And why would I want Amazon (of all people) to keep a damn shopping list for me?

I guess at least I can take some comfort in Amazon never being able to draw any comparisons between my web searches, and things I might buy. The last time I looked, there were no white goods or household consumeables even vaguely related to any of the Microsoft Office 365 Client Side Object Model Javascript libraries.

Maybe I’m becoming a luddite. Maybe I’ll be the last man standing though – while everybody else is sitting in their robot deck chairs like the morbidly obese passengers on the spaceship in Wall-E, I’ll be the guy that can still walk, because he went shopping for groceries, rather than getting them air-dropped by drone on his front doorstep.

Getting back to the whole “smart” phone thing – I’ve been seriously considering going back to a basic candy-bar phone – or at least trying it for a while. I’m not going to buy the Nokia 3310 because it’s just a marketing gimmick – but I might get a similarly dumb handset. It strikes me that I could actually get back to reading books if I don’t have the magical “dicking around” device sitting in my pocket. I often take a book in my bag for long train journeys, but the temptation to endlessly stalk idiots across Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, WordPress, Blogger, and so on is often irresistable.

I think the only thing I might miss on a phone would be the railway times app – but again, it’s not so long ago that I would actually plan ahead, rather than figure out a journey while I’m making it. The same goes for instant messaging apps (yes, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger, I’m looking at you). The only reason I ever receive messages is because somebody wants something from me and they don’t want to ask face to face.

Anyway. I got a bit off-track, didn’t I. Alexa can get lost. I don’t need a robot to be reminding me of all the things I haven’t done – I have a family for that, and they’re very good at it. I also don’t need the kids ordering a bouncy castle, or playing the latest manufactured rubbish from the singles chart throughout the house all day.

I wonder if you can say “Alexa, only listen to me”, or even better, “Alexa, if the kids ask you for anything, pretend to do it, and just let me know instead”…

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