Alexa isn’t just a load of hot air after all

February 28th, 2023 3:30 PM

By Emma Connolly

It was a bit telling how all the six-year-old wanted Alexa to do was make fart noises, while I wanted to know about the chances of rain. God, middle age is a fright all the same! (Photo: Shutterstock)

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We had a guest in our house for a few days this week, a right old know-it-all she was too. I didn’t think I’d like her at first, but it turned out she was actually pretty useful, except when it came to her range of farting noises 

• I’M always a bit late to the party when it comes to technology. It’s probably because at some point early on in my life I decided I didn’t like technology, and it didn’t like me and it’s been a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy so we tend to avoid each other. I’d probably be happy enough still scrawling away on the wall of a cave to be honest, I’m that much of a luddite. Of course, there’s absolutely no reason why I should be any ‘worse’ at technology than anyone else but I don’t really help myself when for starters I refuse to read any instructions (I usually just skim the pamphlet before flinging it at my husband declaring things are ‘hopeless’, even if all it’s asking me to do is to insert batteries), I don’t properly save passwords and I have a default that goes to immediate panic if things don’t work out in three seconds flat. Anyway, last week I found myself in the company of an Alexa, which, you’ll appreciate, was very unsettling. I mean … I just couldn’t! The virtual assistant technology gizmo was for a family member and I was helping them get it set up – or at least my husband was. Alexa has obviously been around for years, and I had always dismissed it as being gimmicky and totally unnecessary in anyone’s life, but yeah, it turned out I was totally wrong there. Shocker. 

• It was a huge novelty having this whole world of information at our fingertips, or at least perched on the kitchen counter, and how we all reacted to ‘her’ was pretty hilarious. I’ll admit to being a bit suspicious of her for starters so I asked her a warm-up question of ‘who is the President of Ireland?’ to see if she was on the ball or not. What? I’ve trust issues, ok! She responded with Michael D in two seconds flat so next I proceeded to quiz her on the likelihood of rain or showers in the West Cork area that day – what with the usual load of clothes hanging on the line. I can vouch for her reliability on that front too. My husband’s opening question for her was to explain the laws of relativity (I think she passed the test, I couldn’t be sure what with not knowing them myself), while my brother, who had wandered in, asked her ‘how many cows are in Ireland.’ Turns out she had a good grasp on the nation’s stocking rates too. The six-year-old then went in another direction entirely. Once she got her head around the fact that Alexa didn’t know us personally, and couldn’t tell her favourite dinner, or play her favourite song, all she wanted was for Alexa to make fart noises. For anyone curious, it turns out Alexa can do a hippo, monkey, snake and cow fart; she can also do a cheeky one, a spicey one, a squelchy one, a daddy one, a long one and some others that fall under the random category. It was funny. At first. Until the novelty wore off, which took a while. I presume most Alexa owners already know that if you ask her her name she blasts out this pretty catchy tune too? Once I got on top of the laundry, I repeatedly asked her to tell me about my home village of Timoleague, but all she wanted to do was point me in the direction of a Tim O’Shea in Killarney. 

• But jokes aside, for sure this is a very handy piece of kit, even if it’s not entirely vital. It depends what you’re into like everything else. And of course there’s always the fear that Alexa will be listening in to us. I actually asked her that and she assured me that she took privacy laws very seriously indeed. Besides, the six-year-old is already pretty good at landing me in things so it couldn’t really get any worse. 

• It’s hard to believe it’s Lent already, isn’t it? That came around quickly. I’m not sure what way to approach it this year. Sometimes I feel it’s a good way to kick-start some stalled New Year’s resolutions; other times I go a bit left-field and take things up, rather than give things up. I feel I’ve had enough suffering so far this year what with my ankle (and trying to set up Alexa), but at the same time I enjoy discipline and I want to prove that I can show up for myself. Yes, I’ve been listening to those Mel Robbins podcasts again! I’ll 100% show up for all of life’s non-negotiables like work, family duties etc but I’m shocking at showing up for myself, and I’m craving the satisfaction of saying I’ll do something and then actually following through on it. I don’t want to sound all painful or anything but in the same way that I wouldn’t be late for the school pick-up, I want to commit to something for myself and stick to it for the 40 days (if I was to say quit wine would that include the 40 nights as well, I wonder?). I think I should probably check that one with Alexa first.

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