The Amazon Echo

Prime day on Amazon was just three days ago and I gave in to a need to purchase something. I choose an Echo Dot so that I could find out what all the talk was about.

It was deeply discount for the sale day, I paid $15 less plus tax. It arrived just two days days after ordering, one day earlier than promised at purchase. Setting it up was an easy task. I had put the Alexa app on my phone earlier so as to set up the Amazon app to be a kind of echo, though limited in options. I spent about an hour exploring the app and setting up the flash briefing and some skills, echo apps are called skills.

Once the Echo Dot had arrived and I attached it to power the Echo Dot led me through the setup with visual, via a multi color ring around the top, and voice commands. First you connect to the Echo’s own wifi hotspot and then you can direct the Echo to connect to your wifi network at home. Once connected the Echo took about 3 minutes to connect to Amazon and be ready for me to use.

Alexa, the “wakeup” name I set, had no problem understanding me. I could ask the time, weather, to set timers and reminders right out of the box. The flash briefing worked just as setup. I could play music from my amazon account as well as playlists. The play lists is the most interesting part. I could make vague references to the list and Alexa would find it. Just not too vague. Alexa would start playing the last audible book I had been listening to, when asked. Overall I think this technology is going to continue to be made more useful to us. I would recommend you get an Echo dot, to sample some of the advantages to using it and then review the other offering, like the Show.

Now one of the issues many people have with these products is the always on microphone. There are worries that you will say something that Amazon will use against you. While it may seem like a problem, Amazon says they only have the requests stored. The systems all have to be listening in order to respond when you say their names. Much like when you want your kids to pay attention when you are speaking to them.

The bottom line is if you are not comfortable with that, you have a mute button for the microphone on the Echo or, just don’t use any device with a microphone. An evil government will use whatever means to suppress the citizens, as demonstrated during world war II in Europe. Even to the point of making up evidence. So, if your only issue is with government surveillance then get an Echo. Spend your energy on pressing your government representatives to create laws and regulations to protect your data ownership and create punishments for improper handling of data that leads to loss of control of that data.

About jcoffey
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