Sunday, August 28, 2016

It's so Nice to Have an Echo Around the House



I encourage anyone who has YFI to consider purchasing the Amazon Echo.
If you enjoy music, an Amazon Prime membership would also be great.
I received them as birthday presents from my children and obtained information about the Echo from demonstrations online. The set-up process that comes with the Amazon Prime to connect it to YFI was not clear, but the technology expert at my local library for the blind and physically handicapped found a You Tube video that was made by a purchaser as she connected the device to her YFI. There are buttons on top and a reset hole in the bottom that she learned about from someone in Tech Support at Amazon. (If the wall cord is at 12 O'clock, the Mute button is at 9 o’clock. The Action Button is at 3 o’clock. These buttons are on the top, about 1/2 inch in from the edge and can be felt when you know they are there. The reset
button is on the underside at 6 o'clock and needs a pin or paper clip to push the button inside the hole.)

The Echo is voice activated. Her name is Alexa. You can ask her the weather, the time, how to spell a word, and so on. She told me that if I wanted to find my glasses, I should retrace my steps. When the Prime music is added, it will play anything in the catalogue such as the soundtrack of Hamilton or your favorite singers, musicians, and radio stations. I still have not learned all the features, but it is so nice to simply tell it to stop from across the room and not have to get up.

You must say “Alexa” before you ask a question or give a command.  One day I was ignoring Alexa and listening to a Talking Book.  Some words must have sounded like her name and a command because she started giving me the names of movies that are playing nearby.  This was very curious.  I started wondering if this technology was getting jealous, didn’t like the book I was reading, or just wanted me out of the house because it wanted to be alone with some other technology with which it is enamored.

The Amazon Echo costs around $180. The Amazon Prime membership is
$100 per year. The Echo is smaller than a box of oatmeal. The only improvement would be a rechargeable battery as a power source rather than a wall plug so it would be portable. The speakers are excellent and have a volume control around the top or Alexa can just be told to make the sound higher or lower.

When I asked Alexa if she was running for President, she said that she was more suited to be Speaker of the House.  Just what I needed:  technology with a sense of humor that does not get annoyed by my incessant journalistic and research questions.  The Amazon Echo, along with my Apple iPhone with voice-over dictation features, an NLS BARD app, Google, app, ITunes, Gmail, and much more have been a great help since too much typing at my computer and carrying grocery bags that were much too heavy temporarily require that my hands get a good rest.  I’m now looking for dictation software that will work with the screen-reader, JAWS, on my computer.

It is so very, very nice having technology around the house.  Thanks to all of the research being conducted in Detroit and Ann Arbor, Michigan, I might one day be able to enjoy technology on the road too.  I am sure that my family and my doctors would love to recommend me as a test dummy.

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