Archive for September 17th, 2016

September 17, 2016

Hello, Alexa!

echo

Technically it’s “Hello, Echo!” We had to change the wake word since ‘Alexa’ and ‘Alexis’ are too phonetically similar.

Last Amazon Prime day I purchased the Echo. It’s sat in it’s box until now. I clearly have not learned my lesson. At least this time I didn’t buy two.

I admit I wasn’t sure how much use case we’d get out of Echo. With our push for a smart home, it seemed like a tool that would one day control everything. At the time I didn’t realize that it could talk to our new irrigation system at the time of purchase. I did think it would be nice to ask Echo about the weather while busy trying to dress the kids in the morning. It’s not often I have a hand free to crack open my laptop or check my mobile device. It would also be nice to have a way of playing Christmas music. We gave up the only stereo we had when we downsized, and laptop speakers don’t work as well.

When Amazon had its sale we figured we’d grow into Echo.

Now that it’s set up I can say it’s worth it now.

Nicole is constantly asking it to play songs, only she doesn’t know their titles so her request of “please play Elsa” falls on confused digital ears. Domingo has been referring to Echo as “the robot” and now Nicole is eager to build a robot of her own. That makes this engineering Mama extremely happy to hear.

Alexis, for her part, runs around chanting “Ek-oh! Ek-oh!” When Alexis woke up from her nap this afternoon I asked her if she wanted to play with Nicole. She only blinked at my groggily. I asked if she wanted to play with Echo? “Ek-oh!” She puts too much of a pause between the syllables for Echo to understand her, but I’m sure she’ll get the hang of it in no time.

It took the girls less than 20 minutes to figure out they could add crackers to Mommy’s shopping list. That may be off putting to some. Had it not been possible to disable voice purchasing I would have been annoyed too. Since I can, and don’t need to worry about spurious photos, I’m eager to see my kids learn how to interact with all kinds of technology. Maybe in a few years I’ll be able to hire Nicole as an App developer. She’s already inspired enough to build a robot.

So that’s speakers, future proofing for our smart home, a toy for the kids and fostering our love of robotics all for just $141 (with tax). Well, and an additional $7.74 so Nicole could listen to the full songs from Frozen, and not just the 30 second free samples.

September 17, 2016

Camera Ready

alexis_posing

Who is this child, and what did they do with my Alexis?!

Alexis has long been my child who merely tolerates the camera. She’ll cooperate for me, provided I don’t over do it. But others? Nope. Her last round of school photos were a complete bust. She started crying the minute the she was brought into the room, so the photographer had her sent back to class without attempting a single frame. I admit I was more than a little bummed about that. This is the same studio that did the vintage style photo for the playroom, and I was looking forward to an updated version.

Rather than just be bummed, I decided to reach out to the JCPenney’s photographer we had success with. I called up and asked if they could do a similar vintage shoot. I also needed an updated family photo for our living room. Why not kill two birds with one stone?

That was last Friday.

The beginning of the session wasn’t promising. Alexis clung to me and cried when I tried to have her just stand by my side. But by the end of the session a transformation had taken place. Alexis was eating up all the praise she was getting for holding a pose and smiling, and the photographer kept doting on her for being so cooperative. It created a bit of a feedback loop and my camera shy little girl was behaving much more like her camera loving big sister than I ever remember her being. It was especially amazing because the photographer was giving her complicated directions I wouldn’t expect a two year old to be able to understand, but she did and happily obliged! She not only posed as requested, but held the pose for the photographer.

Today I got out my camera and asked Alexis to sit in the chair so I could take a picture. She posed herself (though this is one of the poses the JCPenney photographer had asked for), and held it long enough for several snaps. I shot Nicole next. Once Nicole was done, Alexis climbed back up into the chair with her teddy bear, ready for found two.

Before today it’s been four weeks since I last picked up my camera. I had been feeling rather uninspired. Now that I have two eager models I will have to make up for lost time!