Alexa on Fire

The letter AHere are my impressions of the Kindle Fire’s Alexa implementation. It has some features that a smart speaker can’t provide.

It shows what it understands. When you ask a question, the service displays the text of your query. It also shows the text that it speaks back to you.

I was surprised that the Fire also shows a graphic relevant to your question. A question about cheese shows a graphic of cheese on a cutting board. I asked for the name of the mayor of Auburn, Indiana and it displayed the Auburn city logo. My search for the mayor of Indianapolis retrieved a photo of him.

I didn’t explore the quirky questions that you can ask. I also haven’t used it enough for the software to dial in on recognizing my voice, so I was frustrated with some errors when I tried to use it as a calculator.

It isn’t clear how much curation of the answers is done by a human analyst.  My search for the mayor of Auburn, Indiana returned with the wrong name. The display shows that the name came from Wikipedia and I just corrected the Wikipedia page. It will be interesting to see how long it takes Alexa’s data repository to reflect that. Will someone need to check the citations first?

I am interested in where the information came from. I’ve seen the results explain that  information came from Reuters,, Getty or Wikipedia. Sometimes the attribution is spoken in the answer. At other times, it is in a small note on the display.

Unfortunately, the results can attribute information to Wikipedia that is not available there. For example, the sodium content of Velveeta cheese is not available on Wikipedia, even though the answer claims it is.

Alexa on the Fire is useful. I’ve been hesitant to get a smart speaker and this is a demo of some of what I could have. The most consistently useful feature I found so far is the weather.


ThoughtsI’m on vacation with family at Lake Milton OH.  There’s lots of road construction between here and Indy.

Google maps suggested going on 670 In Columbus which is messy even without construction.  The Mazda GPS suggested 270 which is a lot easier. However the Mazda also suggested taking some non-existent roads near the lake.  Then we found out that there were “no outlet” streets that, if they went all the way would be correct.  lol

The house we’re renting is really nice for sixteen.  However I almost bashed my head flopping down into a bunk bed.

They arrested the person who caused the fire an Eckhart library last weekend.  It was incredibly stupid how the fire got started.  Totally unnecessary and something any person would say “no this is a bad idea” before they even started considering it.

I’m thinking off making a page that tells how many percent of your life is over as it dynamically counted down.  I’m not sure how fast that will end up being but it could be a little uncomfortable to watch your life time out in real time.



Traveling to peace

This past week I decided to stop working on the library science degree.  A big reason was that I don’t have an answer to the “what do you want to do with the degree?” question. However what I want to do without the degree is also a good question.

Today I went with my family to Green Bay. My nephew is getting married tomorrow. Sunday we’ll drive back to Fort Wayne.

There was a horrible wreck on I-69 yesterday.  I was held up over an hour. It was fortunate in some sense that the car burned up where it did because it was possible to bypass the fire by taking an exit ramp and immediately re entering the interstate. Certainly it was a horrible day for the driver’s family so my complaints about not getting to give my speech at toastmasters seem a little petty.

I’m really negative on watching broadcast tv. I like the public tv station and occasionally 3abn but I’m more ok with watching videos from YouTube.  I guess I have more control on the phone. My Sony smart bluray player has interesting video content.  Thanks to Amazon prime there’s a lot to choose in addition to the big selection that the bluray player offers for free.   The bluray player plays Pandora without any ads even though I don’t pay the ad free subscription.

I found PRX remix on the local public radio app which is really cool but it can be just as engrossing as tv.  Also there is always something new starting so it’s always changing.

Cool thing I realized today is that using my phone as a radio doesn’t use up my data plan too quickly. PRX Remix is really appropriate for that. I can bring along my ECOXGEAR  bluetooth speakers and be able to not worry about traffic noise overwhelming the speaker in the phone.