Re: Your unsolicited email / our joint problem

To:,,,,,,,,,,, …

Dear PR professional:

With respect to our joint problem, Stanford researchers have found a solution!

Please see here for the answer:

With kind regards,

Dirk Riehle

PS: If the research paper above doesn’t load, please see this copy:

The Humor that is Alexa 2 / 2

So the Echo Dot seems like a good addition to a larger apartment or house. In addition, Amazon promises you can order it through your existing Alexa device. So I tried:

Me: “Alexa, order an Echo Dot.”
Echo: “I can only order product for Prime members. So I added Echo Dot to your shopping list. Please get a membership.”
Me: “Alexa, f#$%^@ you.”
Echo: “That’s not very nice to say.”
Me: “OK, how about that: Alexa, scr#$%# you.”
Echo: “Well, thanks for the feedback.”

I may be in the subscription business myself, but I generally try to avoid to be on the receiving end…

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The Humor that is Alexa 1 / 2

I was watching an old TV show rerun with a character in it called Alexa. My Amazon Echo (trigger word is Alexa) was also listening:

TV set: “Alexa, stop doing that!”
Echo: “Sorry, I don’t understand what you are saying.”
TV set (raised voice): “Alexa, don’t talk to me like that!”
Echo: “Sorry, I still don’t understand what you are saying.”
Despite a few more “Alexa, …” it fell quiet.

I’m amused. Ever since I have wondered what a mischievous screen writer could do given that the Echo can control a garden variety of devices in your house. Or order stuff. How about:

Mischievous character in TV show: “Alexa, open the blinds. Alexa, switch on the lights” (probably most effective a 1am or 5am)
Domino avatar on TV show: “Alexa, order 17 frutti di mare pizzas”

The possibilities seem endless.

The looming bubble in Lego bricks

In 2014, for a course that teaches students teamwork, I bought 20 sets of basic lego bricks for a bridge building exercise. The cost per set was 20 Euro. This year the number of students in our project courses exceeded what could be done with this basic set of legos and so I looked to buy more.

Two years later, the cost of these sets has exploded to more than 100 Euros per set. Mostly that’s because (a) the actual set was retired and (b) there is no proper replacement, just new “classic sets” that come with lots of pieces that nobody wants. I sense a bubble in the Lego bricks market… divest yourself now! Send them my way!