Internet of tat is tatty.
Amazon's voice-controlled assistant Alexa and its Echo devices now sport the ability to take your phone calls – so long as you don't ever plan on ignoring calls from anyone. The Alexa Calling feature, announced by Amazon earlier this week, allows Amazon Echo devices and the Alexa app to place and accept phone calls to and from …
Putting aside the lack of features in the device offering, what bothers me is the level of self-inflicted pain here:
- keeping phone numbers of self-professed "crazy ex-boyfriends" as contacts instead of deleting them
- willing to share contact info with a big company (yes, I get it - convenience trumps privacy, etc - but still...)
PTW, doncha know that when a woman makes a complaint it's necessary to point out that all her problems are down to her own cluelessness. Can't have the little ladies getting the idea that they know stuff.
(Yes, I know that victim-blaming (i.e. user) is a professional hazard among tech people so maybe the OP was only accidentally being sexist.)
I don't answer the phone to any unknown numbers. If it's important they will leave a voicemail. Then I will add their number to my contacts.
If you're getting calls from a crazy ex boyfriend so often then it's a matter for the police and they will stop them doing so.
Or maybe someone is just a collector of ex-boyfriends, and like to keep the list, maybe one day it could be useful. Also, for someone, knowing they're still calling may be flattering.
Although I knew a woman who changed telephone number whenever she terminated a relationship. Surely, a definitive answer to avoid unwanted calls, even if a drastic one with some disadvantages.
I've got a crazy ex who, when she's going through a bout of drinking and self-delusion, will call/text constantly for a few hours.
I don't remember numbers very well, so why would I delete hers? I certainly dont keep it for drunken booty calls, if anybody is wondering, it would not be worth it.
> WTF is wrong with these developers ? It seems the ability to code totally destroys any other function of their brain.
This is not a developer issue. It is a XD choice not to include the feature - agreed by both the producer and product manager - then signed off by the product owner.
Every single element is designed before any developer comes near it.
And it would seem that those designing the elements have totally failed List Maintenance 101. If you give the user the ability to access a list, the option to delete or modify an element of said list is part of the basic requirements since before I went to Uni in 1991.
Of course, respecting said basic requirements takes time and money - which are two things that were obviously not important enough to squander next to the ability of touting yet another chat interface. I would say "Congrats, Amazon, you're now on my blacklist" - except that they've been on my blacklist ever since they demonstrated their willingness to go and erase customer purchases on their Kindle without customer approval.
Every single element is designed before any developer comes near it.
Oh yes? Most of us round here have done some form of software development, and know that there's bad design choices, design and code errors, but IMHO the biggest cause of problems is always "the things that occurred to nobody during the design stages".
This Alexa issue has a strong smell of that last one, and the (apparent) panic to fix it shows that it isn't something that the designers and developers did deliberately and is a choice they are now prepared to stand by.
Sounds like Agile development to me. Deliver a half-assed product, then add more features to it when you get time.
But Amazon being Amazon, of course, they see no reason not to launch the product to the public while it's still thoroughly half-assed. They probably call it "beta testing".
I blame the modern software tendency to Just Do It For Us. They realized we turn off bull**** functions and/or don't activate cool new spying features, so they program to be default ON, Opted-IN, and no way for us to turn said "features" off.
Products aren't designed for consumers anymore. They are designed to drive a business model, and they expect us to quietly follow along with whatever asinine scheme they have cooked up. These days that means subscription based spyware and no user control over anything.
All the IOT disasters are just symptoms of this strategy.
If a close friend etc gave me ANY of these "home spies", they would mysteriously fail and go to recycling centre.
These things, and Google TV in present form, ought to be illegal because they are not stand-alone. Corporate spies.
Ten years ago the voice recognition performance was as good on standalone. The claim that Cloud is needed to process and improve it is distortion. They want to collect all your private information for advertising income.
Do I hear an echo of "fail"? I surely do.
I have installed and then deleted quite a few apps on my android phone. They look good, but when I try them I discover they don't do what I thought, or are flawed in some way. The point is that I can delete them. If I can't then they are malicious apps.
So once you've installed this Alexa Calling, you can't uninstall it except by calling support? That is totally unfuckingacceptable (forgive my tmesis). Are they channelling Microsoft?
I'd already decided, for several reasons, that echo was not something I would ever wish to use. I would have said yesterday that it was possible (but unlikely) that Amazon might modify echo to the point where I would reconsider that decision. I have now concluded that there is no fucking way I will ever use echo, no matter how much they improve it.
I just don't get why this device has sold at all, let alone why it's proving a 'success' (I know, citation needed). Everything about it sounds creepy, the voice, the constantly on microphone, the fact that its sole reason for being is to make the owner (or, knowing Amazon, the licensee) consume more and more and more tat... I feel like we're all in an episode of Black Mirror.
Jones's and keeping up with them?
Gotta have the latest bit of kit to brag about down the Pub
Too lazy to shop anywhere else
There is no way that ANYTHING like this especially from Amazon or Google will ever get into my home.
All they want is to get more information on you so that they can target Ads at you better.
Like Facebook which apparently in the time it takes to blink an eye after you have logged on, has loaded up all your history, browsing history, CC purchases and a whole load more data on you, into its 'A.I.' system so that it can better target Adverts at you.
Jut say no to all this crap or give them the finger whichever gives you the most pleasure.
'All they want is to get more information on you so that they can target Ads at you better.'
Well they couldn't be any worse, currently their targeted ads to me consist of:
Things I've already bought that I'm unlikely to need another of, seriously how many headlamp bulbs am I likely to need in a two month period?
Things I can get free from work. I mean legally they're issued as PPE why would I buy the exact same product with my own money?
YouTube are no better, as a man hiding male pattern baldness with a razor blade I'm not sure why they think shampoo adverts are something I'm likely to appreciate...
Everything about it sounds creepy
Perhaps the reason that eveything sounds creepy is because most of what you read is from people who have never used the device, don't really know how it works, and whose knowlege is limited to the mostly inaccurate information that they have read on the Internet.
I have several Echo devices, at both home and office. They are limited in what they can do, but even in their limited form they provide sufficient value for me to keep them around.
When the last software update asked if it could have access to my contacts, I declined. I didn't intend to use the calling features so I didn't see the need - but the point is that it ASKED me, it didn't just go out and grab them. As the user I had the choice.
This had nothing to do with Amazon. iOS and Android (recent versions) require permission to access contacts. I'll bet you anything you like that if this wasn't enforced at the system level they would have just taken them and turned the feature on at first run, like it or not. They deliberately launched this without call blocking and with automatic contact slurping, you can thank your OS vendor for giving you any semblance of control at all.
Hell of a thing, a 'customer/client/datacow' pays for the monitoring system - be it Alexa, Google, etc - pays for the power/bandwidth the system uses, all for a perceived 'convenience' - to be milked dry of any/all information, folded, stapled, mutilated into a product for a business profit.
I'm just marveling at it. Update that old saw, 'Take my wife, please!' to 'Take all my data, please! I'll pay!'.
Time for some facts:
Run wireshark on your network, fire up Alexa, and look at any outgoing connections from your network. Until you say the trigger phrase, she is dormant. Always listening is a myth.
Really not sure what value the questions posed to Alexa hold either if i'm honest - Amazon aren't going to get much out of things like 'Alexa, turn on the light', 'Alexa, play spotify', 'Alexa, set a timer for 10 minutes', and 'Alexa, what's the weather like today?' which is what she gets asked 95% of the time.
Alexa isn't true AI. She has a bunch of scripted answers to a whole bunch of commonly asked questions, with some smart home API's. She's actually pretty dumb. Reading some of the comments here, you'd think she was Skynet incarnate...
"Amazon told El Reg a solution is in the works. "The call block feature will be available in the coming weeks," a spokesperson said. "We know this is important to customers, and we're working on it."
So important you left a basic feature such as call blocking out?!? What were they thinking?
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