08 December 2016

No Need to Reinvent the Wheel #AlexaDev #AlexaSkills

Of course, now that I have an Amazon Echo (and the Alexa app on my Fire Tablet), I can't go two seconds without coming across an Alexa Skill. People send them to me, often unsolicited.
Alexa Can Learn: Skills are add-on code snippets that allow Alexa to do new things. Amazon opened the Alexa platform to third-party developers, so there have been a lot of skills created. As with any newly emerging tech, people play around with it. Some skills are mundane, some silly, and others are dead useful. Browse the Alexa app to see what's available. No need to reinvent the wheel. If you need Alexa to do a specific thing/s, chances are someone else might have needed that same ability and there may be a skill for it already in existence. Users can rate Alexa Skills that have been accepted to the platform, so check ratings to find out what others think. Be aware that using a third-party service could mean that Amazon will share your basic user data with said third-party. ALWAYS read privacy policies and terms of use and be aware to which conditions you're agreeing. No commercial entity is entirely altruistic despite catchy mottoes like "Don't Be Evil", so YOU must be the safeguard of your own data. Weigh the trade-offs and limit sharing, when necessary. (This includes what you share with Amazon.com.) Turn off the mic. It's hysterical that the idea of "Always On" is used as a selling point. 1984, much?
The other day I received an eNewsletter from some Purina brand that offered an Alexa Skill to determine "What dog breed is right for you?" My girl (a Rhodesian Ridgeback mix and former stray who rules the roost) looked at me and cocked her head to say, "As if." Guess we're not getting a puppy for Christmas!

Between skills and IFTTT triggers, Alexa will be able to help me run my household quite efficiently once I've configured everything to my liking. I'm still playing around with the litany of things I'll be able to do with Alexa, testing this and that and having a loads of fun in the process. Oh, the Places We'll Go....

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