Technology can be both blessing and beast. There are so many new things to learn, it can be intimidating. But I choose to think each technological improvement helps our lives. Where would be without the internet or cell phones? They have made life easier. And so began my duel with an electronic minx called Alexa.
It came with our home, so at first, I ignored it. The technician set it up so it would lock and unlock the front door on command. Big deal. I keep the door locked all the time, anyway. I was unimpressed.
My neighbors used it to play music. They liked it, but I have a jukebox with my favorite tunes. So, didn’t need it. Another neighbor wired his whole house to do anything electronic by mere voice. That was impressive, but to me too many things could go wrong; then your smart house would turn into a dumb nonfunctional house, leaving you trapped and sitting in the dark. No thanks.
But one feature caught my attention. It’s such a simple thing, but Alexa can keep your shopping list for you. So, when you use the last of something, you just tell her to add it to the shopping list and when you’re ready to shop, you can have it on your phone and use it at the store. Easy, right? In concept yes, but in practice?
So, I chose to embrace Alexa, for this at least. I’m not a technophobe. I actually consider myself a little above the average of the curve regarding technology, but with Alexa, I had a bit of a fencing match.
At first, I just kept saying “Add butter to the shopping list, add orange juice to the shopping list, etc.”
I hadn’t tackled the app, yet, but I figured I would have her repeat the list and I would record it on my phone as a text to myself. Good idea, right?
“What is on the shopping list?” I asked.
My crime? I forgot to address her as Alexa each time. Lesson learned. Point Alexa.
“Alexa, add bran to shopping list,” I said.
“Ok I added bread to your shopping list,” she said.
“No, I said bran, not bread,” I countered. Silence.
Don’t speak so fast and annunciate. Lesson learned. But at least she repeated it back, so I know I was further than before. Another point Alexa and one point for me.
For a while, things were going well, we were communicating. So, I decided to level up. Since I purchased different things from different stores, I wanted to add shopping lists for each store.
“Alexa, add vitamins to Target shopping list,” I said.
“Adding vitamins to shopping list,” she repeated.
“No, not just shopping list, Target shopping list,” I said.
Oops, I forgot to say Alexa again. Point Alexa.
It took a little while longer, but eventually I figured out that I had to create the different shopping lists first, then add to them. Lesson learned. A point for me.
With that tackled, we were humming again. But there was one more mountain to climb. The Alexa app.
I downloaded the app and remarkably, there were all my lists with all the items I dictated. Yeah! I got this one on the first try. Another point for me. Right? Not so fast.
When I went to the store and opened the app, the items were gone. Now I was left at the store to rely only on my memory and yes, I forgot a few things.
Thwarted again, but undeterred, when I returned home, I looked at the app to figure out the problem. I even enlisted a YouTube tutorial to help. It turns out it was user error. It automatically checked the boxes of each item and I accidentally deleted them all. I won’t to do that again.
Luckily, perseverance paid off and Alexa and I developed a mutually beneficial relationship for the shopping list. I’ll call this one a draw.
And now I get to watch my husband going through the same fencing match with Alexa. Will I help him? Nope. Teach a man to fish, right? He has to learn the hard way. And after all, it’s a fun amusement for me.
Now I hear stories that Alexa is listening and recording conversations and watching and recording movements. I don’t about that, but just in case, I covered Alexa with a picture, so at least she can’t watch.
© Suzanne Rudd Hamilton, 2022