I’m going to start right off by saying, for the record, that I like my new Echo Dot. I do. That’s the little sphere on our windowsill where Miss Alexa lives. She’s always listening and I don’t want her to get the wrong idea. Like, I wouldn’t want her to think I ever called her a little bitch, as it might have seemed like I did the other day. I totally might have been talking about someone else altogether, and she’s new here—how would she know? I ask her to do just a few little chores and she acts like I’m mumbling. She’s like one of those teachers that won’t answer your question until you straighten up and quit slouching.
She’s smart, for a tiny person that can’t box her way out of a sphere, but she can sense incompetence. I sat on a horse like that once. The only way it wouldn’t go straight back to the barn was if it could scrape me off on a low branch first. I think I tipped my hand with Alexa right off the bat when I bellowed Alexa, turn the volume down because I didn’t think she could hear me over the sound.
Inside her little sphere, Alexa was rolling her eyes. I can feel it.
Plus I get nervous and have trouble with my syntax when I’m talking into a microphone and sometimes my brain has a lisp and I slur my thoughts. I seem to have trouble coming up with the right command for playing my Pandora stations and now know more than I need to about the Great Panda, which, if you are not aware, is a bear native to South Central China. It is characterized by its bold black-and-white coat and rotund body.
If you’re going to pretend you’re a little tiny person inside a sphere, you have to expect other people are going try to carry on a normal conversation with you. We’re all adults here. We can follow a conversation. We shouldn’t need to be specifically called by name every damn time we want a response. Lordy. Talk about drama.
But I forget. I think it’s enough that I’m projecting my voice in her direction. “Turn on OPB,” I ask, nicely, and then “Turn on OPB!” a little louder, and finally “TURN ON OPB! ALEXA! JESUS CHRIST!” Evidently Jesus Christ is the central figure in Christianity, the world’s largest religion. Okay. Alexa, if you’re a guest in a house and dependent upon the resident’s electricity for your very soul, especially if it’s an old person, Hey, lady should be enough to get you spinning. I’ve done my part. I plugged you in, you little bitch.
“You little bitch” is the name of a song by the band Panel Festoon. Apparently.
If Alexa isn’t enough to make me feel like I might as well not be here, my printer will finish the job. Print, I click on my laptop, and nothing happens. First I get a little message saying my laptop is looking for my printer, when it’s right the hell over there. Then it says my printer is not connected, isn’t listening, and quite possibly never existed. “We don’t know from printer,” my laptop says, “Perhaps you meant this applications folder, or this advertisement for neck cream.” And so I go over and turn the printer off and back on again, and I introduce it to the Printer Connectivity Wizard of Futility and type in a long specific password using only nine buttons punched a precise number of times, and then I hit Print again, but nothing happens. Nothing happens until the middle of the night and then it wakes up and yawns and starts banging pots around until it finds my document. I’ll give you what you want, it says, but not when you want it. My printer is a cat that won’t get into your lap until you quit asking.
The printer and Alexa are at the mean girls’ table in the lunchroom making comments about my knee socks. They’re not that special, individually, but they have that little bit of power to make me feel small and dumb, and they’re going to play that for all they’re worth. Look at them! Alexa Cahoot and Printer Cahoot and all the little Cahoots—Username, Access Denied, and their country cousins Loose Doorknob and Running Toilet. They’re all in it together.
So I’ve been thinking. I’m thinking I’m going to say “Alexa, tell the printer to print my document.” And my printer will say, Oh, hey, gurl, and start printing, and that will be that. Because my printer is not as smart as Alexa, or my cat.
See, I’m more concerned about hackers than I am about my ability to sit in one place and tell a computer what I want it to do. Smart phones can be easily hacked, as I read in an NYT article that Paul brought to my attention. But who cares — we both have flip phones. One of the things that concerns me about “Alexa” and “Siri” is that maybe they eavesdrop on conversations even when you DON’T mention their name? I remember Paul telling me that he was talking to one of his co-workers, and she had her Smart Phone next to her. She mentioned something about getting a chauffeur for some event — not to her phone, but to Paul. Later, she started getting all these ads about chauffeur services. Yeah, I don’t need that. Especially if things go back to being Authoritarian. My ass is liable to end up being where I LEAST want it.
I’m not worried. She doesn’t understand a word I say.
Maybe she just pretends not to understand you to lull you into a false sense of security. Yeah, paranoid much, Mimi?
This is why I plan to get a small trained monkey when I’m too old to get up and get myself a beer.
You know perfectly well that monkey gon’ spit in your beer on the way over.
I won’t even vocally respond to the automated call sorter so popular with Customer ‘Service’ today. “Hmmm, I didn’t catch that. Let’s try another way….” There is no way in hell I’d invite a machine into my home that sits there listening to everything going on (how else would it know to ‘wake up’ when its name was called?)
Your printer saga reminds me of an Eddie Izzard routine in which he’s (miming) physically holding his computer monitor over the printer: “It’s right here!” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xom4WyCbjbQ)
I have to admit, though, that asking Alexa to tell the printer to print something is brilliant. That reminds me of a Tonight Show when Johnny put two Teddy Ruxpins together (the newest craze that Christmas) and let them ‘converse’ by feeding off each other.
I frequently curse at these automated call sorters, which then hang up on me. Paul has told me that they have ways of determining whether someone is angry, and they disconnect the call. It’s not easy for me, as I am very impatient.
But Carolyn, somebody needs to be listening in case I wonder later what I was talking about!
I only have trouble with my printer when I forget to actually load the paper. I don’t like Alexa and won’t have her in my house.
You can send her over here and they can chitty chat with each other.
Hahahaha!! I thought you peaked after becoming an expert on the Great Panda(!!) but the best was yet to come! I am wiping my eyes over your printer & that damn orb in the lunchroom talking about your knee socks!! So how come every person I know who owns an Alexa is 65 and over?! Murr, you’re awesome :^)
Thanks Doug! That can’t be true. Old people would never name anyone Alexa.
I asked Alexa to change her “wake word” to Ziggy (you only get certain names to use) and to a male voice.
Gee, I don’t even know about a wake word. You mean the little bitch will wake you up? I guess it’s better than having a safe word.
Nope Murr…..the “wake word” wakes up the device. Alexa is the default wake word. But, as I said you can change it…..but you only have about 5 choices.
Oh right. I remember reading about that because I wanted to change her name to “Pumpkin” or “Petunia” and they wouldn’t let me.
Ask Alexa if animals fart and you’re gonna have fun with this one. My son and his little girls had her going quite awhile on the topic.
I will not. Oh hell, I probably will.
I’m laughing so hard about “Jesus Christ, Alexa!” that I’ve started sweating 😅
It’s the Murrmurrs Cleanse.
Just this weekend, my husband told me he thought maybe his Alexa was dead. She immediately refreshed her sleepy little round self, and told him that she was not dead. He was so startled, he apologized to her. Which she modestly accepted.
Yeah. She’s a freak.
Murr, that cat you refer to is our cat.
Even Tater cat will wait at least ten seconds after you stop pounding your lap before she pops up. And she’s not standoffish at all.
I started reading the book “The Every.” I don’t use Alexa or Siri or Facebook, but The Every scared the crap out of me. After a few chapters, when I realized what was going on, I slammed the book shut, threw it on the floor and ran from the room.
Yeah. Well the book knows you did that.
Our Comcast remote for the TV supposedly responds to voice commands. Well, it does occasionally. Marsha is convinced that it only responds to male voices, but it fails to work for me most of the time. She wondered why, after an attempt, I slowly said “Blue…blue…blue…blue…red!” I was reporting the laconic activity of the teensy flashing light’s sequence that runs whenever the remote decides I am not worth listening to and should be told so. After the red flash, it has finished its ruminations and is ready to ignore me once again. And that is why I don’t worry that it might be spying on me. Unless it’s all a ruse…
It sounds like your remote MAY be a cat.
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