What happens if you forget Alexa's name?
Earlier this week I hosted an enlightening breakfast event aimed at demystifying artificial intelligence.
At the end of the interviews one of the delegates told me a funny story about his 87-year-old dad which I don’t think he’ll mind me sharing.
“I decided to buy my dad an Amazon Echo,” he recalled. “I installed it one afternoon and showed him how to get Alexa to do basic commands like play his favourite Mozart music. He loved it.”
A week later the dutiful son paid his father a visit and there was a surprising twist in the Alexa story.
Rather than becoming the centrepiece of his father’s life, the Amazon Echo was sitting idly in the corner.
“Why aren’t you using it?” he asked his dad. “Don’t you like it?”
“I love it son,” was the gist of his answer. “I just can’t remember its name. I’ve tried everything.”
The result is that this particular Amazon Echo has got a Post-it note stuck to it with the name ‘Alexa’ on it.
As most people who own an Amazon Echo know, it only responds to commands if the user utters the name Alexa first.
But the Echo is not the easiest thing to customise. It’s the same reason why most households don’t change their four digit house alarm code from the standard one.
It got me thinking about the technology problems that never seem to get fixed.
The first is the age-old problem of cracked or shattered iPhone screens. The screen has to be sensitive to touch but resilient enough to cope with being dropped or sat on.
A survey of the insurance industry found that around a quarter of people are walking around with a broken screen, which seems ridiculous until you realise that Apple has just increased the price of its iPhone screen replacement service, with those with out-of-warranty devices now paying up to £176.44 to fix them.
Fixing broken screens has now become a cottage industry.
The other perennial problem is how long the charge from a mobile phone lasts – or rather doesn’t last. Seeing your mobile phone battery down to its last 20 per cent is enough to turn the most mild-mannered man or woman into a gibbering wreck.
The relief I feel when I find a charging point to breathe new life into my ailing mobile phone battery is palpable and ridiculous. I punch the air when I reach 100 per cent charge!
I went into a mobile phone shop recently and I was advised not to use my handset so much if I wanted to preserve the battery life, which is counter-intuitive.
The other thing that bugs me is grabbing my headphones out of my gym bag and spending the next 10 minutes trying to unravel the cable. Surely in this day and age all headphone cables should be made in such a way that they don’t tie themselves up in knots.
And finally why can’t we have a reliable Wi-Fi network on the train network? Whenever I go to London I don’t bother connecting to the Wi-Fi because the service is about as reliable as a chocolate teacup.
Rant over. Have a good day.