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  • Nancy Spear

"Alexa, stop!"

My 88-year-old client loves her Amazon Echo. An Amazon Echo is basically Google or Siri -- you can ask it anything with a voice-audible command. Like most Echoes, it responds when the request starts with "Alexa..." My client uses it as a timer, to ask about the weather, and even to play a song. She thinks it’s amazing, and it is. So at the end of our last lesson, after she mastered the art of replying to emails, I had a surprise for her.

On her laptop, I searched for the video of a 6-year-old girl ordering four pounds of sugar cookies and a $170 dollhouse using Alexa (and yes, it’s a true story). I thought she’d enjoy it, but the surprise was on us.

If you click on the video link below, you’ll hear the mother ask, “Alexa, what’s the weather like today?” Well, my client’s Alexa started replying. My client quickly told her to stop. But a few minutes later, the video plays the 6-year-old asking Alexa, “Can you play dollhouse with me and get me a dollhouse?” Alexa thought that meant play the song "Dollhouse," by Melanie Martinez. Alexa started playing the song at Volume 6.

We tried telling Alexa to stop but it was so loud that she couldn’t hear us. We tried again and again to no avail. So what did I do? I asked my client to dance, of course! We might as well make the best of it.

By the end of the song, we were both laughing and she had happy tears running down her face. Sometimes, you’ve just got to have some fun.

Nancy Spear

Nancy's Tech Help for Older Adults

310-365-9951 • •

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