Now I’m a big fan of Amazon’s Alexa and own the first generation Echo which plays music and radio in the kitchen and occasionally acts as a timer and controls the nearby lamp.  The three 2nd generation Echo Dots spread round the house are in our bedroom, living room and snug.  The bedroom device is largely used for radio, news and a clock.  The living room to turn the lamp and the plug controlling the TV, Bose speaker and BluRay player on and off (but not Sky+ & Vodafone router) while the snug device controls the lamp and plays me TMS on Radio 5 Live Sports Extra!

Now being a retired “gent” funds are not as plentiful as they once were and I can’t justify buying more Echo Dots for the top floor of the house where the two iMacs reside (den and guest bedroom).  Fortunately for my bank account I read the other day about an app called “Reverb” which you can install on iMacs and iPhones that act as a software only Alexa device.

Now there are some limitations as Amazon only allow you to play music through Alexa when there is a hardware device present.  Also the listening for the wake up call “Alexa” is disabled and you have to hold a mouse click on the “blue ring” to activate it’s capability.  This can be a blessing when mischievous Phillip Scofield activates devices with glee across the UK whenever they on his TV program “This Morning

Click, listening, thinking, verbal answer!

Still, it’s free and despite some negative reviews on the app I think it’s great on my 2 iMacs and iPhone 6!


My Friend Alexa

Now to be honest I have, or more accurately soon will have had, four friends called Alexa.  The first was a Gartner Analyst called Alexa Bona who was guaranteed to bring real business value in the sense of software licence cost reduction as well as reduction of onerous contractual obligations with the like of Microsoft, Oracle, SAP etc.

Given that my old pre-retirement business at Gartner depended on clients renewing their membership subscriptions, she was one of the first ports of call whenever there was some doubt over the renewal as she could wow most client CIO’s and more importantly CFO’s that ours was a service worth retaining.

Of course such things are normally now relegated to the distant recesses of my memory, until about a week ago, when I spotted a post on my Facebook account from Nikki Jones wife of my old team leader in Gartner and ex-client CIO who apparently had fallen in love with Alexa!

Of course knowing that he’s from a Welsh family he could be somehow related to the “Lothario” Tom Jones, so I duly sympathised mentally with poor Nikki, who’s wedding to Simon Debbie and I had attended many moons ago…  On closer scrutiny though I realised this was not an affair with my favourite analyst nor any other woman, but in fact Amazon’s Echo smart speaker!

Now I have to admit my initial curiosity was on a slow burn given we’ve got the incremental costs of attending Alex’s wedding, my Land Rover service and the Galaxy insurance policy to pay for this month, so obtaining such a frivolous device potentially could incur the wrath of “She Who Must Be Obeyed”…

A few days later though I finally plucked up the courage to buy the smaller Echo Dot smart speaker for a very reasonable £49.99, although I believe I accidentally told Debbie it was £40 pounds or thereabouts when I finally came clean, realising that Amazon Prime was delivering it last Saturday.  Much to my surprise though my dear lady loved the device and we decided to put it in our master bedroom so we could stay prone in bed and ask the time  or listen to the radio, bliss!

In fact the surprises kept coming when she then said what a good idea it would be to have the Echo in the kitchen.  Now I assumed she meant another Echo Dot which duly arrived today, but no, this “instruction” was for the full Echo as per Nikki’s Simon and so duly chastened, I put the second Echo Dot in the den where I write this blog and placed the order for the new kitchen based unit for tomorrow.  A mere snip at £149.99, less £20 as a special offer for Prime members.

This saving allowed me to then purchase a LED smart bulb for the ridiculously “low” price of £25 to test this new technology and allow the turning on and off of our kitchen lamp by voice.  I’m sure you’ll agree that avoiding RSI in old age is worth the incremental £23 cost…

This all got me thinking though, as Alexa is the default command word to activate the Amazon smart speaker, I wonder what happens in my favourite analyst’s house, as surely if she has one or more of these devices she’d never get a moment’s peace?


My Friend Alexa