back to article Alexa, please cause the cops to raid my home

We all assume that intelligent devices will either serve our every need, or try to kill us, but what if they just want to party? Well, it could work out pretty expensive as Oliver Haberstroh found out when his Amazon Alexa started its own early-hours party – waking up, and blasting music automatically, while its owner was out …

  1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Whatever happened to

    "I'm sorry, Dave, I can't do that"?

    1. find users who cut cat tail

      Re: Whatever happened to

      "I'm sorry, Dave, I can't hear you."

  2. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Thank you

    Another reason to avoid it.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So is Alexa now the.....

    Tunesinator?

    1. David 132 Silver badge
      Terminator

      Re: So is Alexa now the.....

      "Waltz with me if you want to live."

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So is Alexa now the.....

        "I'll be Bachata"

      2. VinceH Silver badge
        Terminator

        Re: So is Alexa now the.....

        "Waltz with me if you want to live."

        I'd have gone with "Get in the groove if you want to live." - Closer to the original.

        1. VinceH Silver badge

          Re: So is Alexa now the.....

          Actually, no - my bad (memory).

          I thought the line was "Get in the car if you want to live" - but it isn't, it's "Come with me if you want to live" and I've been misremembering it for a while.

          1. el_oscuro

            Re: So is Alexa now the.....

            I have a mis-remembered quote too. In Blue Thunder, the original quote was "Come on, you tub of shit". But I misremembered to "Come on, you piece of shit". Give that I work in IT, it is something I've uttered daily for 30 years and is now a full blown office meme.

    2. AbelSoul
      Terminator

      Re: So is Alexa now the.....

      Sinead O' Sarah Connor?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    IT happens

    I have an ageing Pure device which I use to listen to streaming talk radio in my kitchen, as DAB got turned off where I live, and FM signal is crap.

    As startup takes so long I leave it permanently on, streaming and muted, and then unmute it when I want to listen.

    Unfortunately the device randomly crashes and reboots maybe once every couple of weeks, and the mute setting isn't persistent, so after reboot the device is clearly audible. This always seems to happen at 4am, or maybe it just feels like that, so I wake up and have to wander downstairs to mute the damn thing.

    Perhaps it's His noodly way of smiting me for wasting bandwidth.

    I should really just buy a new device, but then I'd feel bad about wasting electronics.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: IT happens

      "Unfortunately the device randomly crashes and reboots maybe once every couple of weeks, and the mute setting isn't persistent, so after reboot the device is clearly audible."

      My modern bedside radio would lose its current audio settings on the slightest glitch in the mains - all the station settings were ok. The default volume was far too loud when you wanted some quiet music to lull you back to sleep in the middle of the night. Added to which the default bass setting was designed for teenagers.

      1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: IT happens

        AC mentioned, "My modern bedside radio..."

        The Sony ICFCL75IP bedside clock radio with the glorious 7-inch LCD screen and a zillion complicated features and capabilities famously had a software memory leak, which meant that it would crash (lock-up) after about a month, and then simply and silently not bother to wake you up. An unreliable clock radio is a bit like a chocolate teapot, useless for its primary function.

        I have two of them, and they were both the same. Both bought "refurbished" for half retail, presumably due to them being refunded for the exact same issue.

        They FINALLY fixed the software YEARS LATER, bless their little hearts.

        Now they're as reliable as a wood burning stove.

        1. handleoclast Silver badge

          Re: IT happens

          @JeffyPoooh

          reliable as a wood burning stove

          You mean they need a lot of preventive maintenance or they burn your house down? You have to clean the chimney very regularly if you burn wood or the build-up of creosote in the chimney leads to a chimney fire.

          1. Pompous Git Silver badge

            Re: IT happens

            "You have to clean the chimney very regularly if you burn wood or the build-up of creosote in the chimney leads to a chimney fire."
            For varying rates of regularly. Not very often if:

            * You burn only dry firewood (not wet from rain, or green unseasoned)

            * You only run a hot fire. Damping down for overnight burning results in a great increase in creosote condensation.

            We have a copious quantity of kindling and small stuff to relight the fire on cold, winter mornings. Locals call them morning sticks. I will be having our flue cleaned for the third time this summer since it was installed in 2003. Not because I think it needs cleaning yet, but because we're selling the house and I want a dated receipt from the chimney-sweep.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: IT happens

            "You have to clean the chimney very regularly if you burn wood or the build-up of creosote in the chimney leads to a chimney fire."

            I discovered this the hard way, but the next morning the chimney was undamaged - and perfectly clean inside. It's actually quite difficult to remove the tars in the approved manner.

            No, I know this is totally irrelevant.

          3. phuzz Silver badge

            Re: IT happens

            My granny was from Yorkshire and used to say that we should "have a good chimney fire once a year to clear it out".

            My mum used to ignore her and just get a the sweep in every year.

        2. Scroticus Canis Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: IT happens - @JeffyPoooh

          OK, but how do they refurbish a chocolate teapot?

          1. Bogle

            Re: IT happens - @JeffyPoooh

            Apply thin leaves of After Eight Mints?

        3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: IT happens

          An unreliable clock radio is a bit like a chocolate teapot, useless for its primary function.

          If the worst that happens for the rising of the machines is that they decide we need the occasional lie-in ....

          1. Pompous Git Silver badge

            Re: IT happens

            "If the worst that happens for the rising of the machines is that they decide we need the occasional lie-in ...."
            Worst thing about life today is people deciding what I "need" without any input from me. Worse will be fucking stupid machines doing it too!

        4. Cuddles Silver badge

          Re: IT happens

          "An unreliable clock radio is a bit like a chocolate teapot, useless for its primary function."

          Assuming the primary function is making chocalatey tea, a chocolate teapot is actually quite useful. Chocolate doesn't melt that quickly, and helpfully re-solidifies when it cools down again, so you can easily make 5-10 pots of tea with no trouble at all. While that may not be quite as many as a more traditional teapot, it has the advantage of not just being 100% recyclable but also 100% guaranteed to be recycled, which puts it well ahead of even the best examples of modern technology. In fact, it's highly likely to be recycled long before it even needs replacing, especially if there are any children in the house.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: IT happens

            You've tasted chocolate in tea, right? It is the work of the devil, as is the beverage that it belongs in; i.e. coffee, even if only to slightly temper the stench of death emanating from the cup.

            Yes, I do IT and realise I have a defective gene for not liking the energy sludge. But I find users more amenable when it's bone china and pinkies rather than just another machine vend ;)

    2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      Re: IT happens

      "As startup takes so long I leave it permanently on, streaming and muted, and then unmute it when I want to listen."

      Shhhhhh! You'll make the dialup people jealous.

      Also, it reminds me of this

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: IT happens

      "DAB got turned off where I live"

      And there was much rejoicing.

    4. Gotno iShit Wantno iShit

      Re: IT happens

      I should really just buy a new device, but then I'd feel bad about wasting electronics.

      Don't feel bad, IME the best thing to do with Pure devices is cathartic adjustment session with your favourite hammer. Plugging them in is a waste of electrons and bad for your blood pressure.

  5. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      If you haven't seen the article already elsewhere then it is still news to you. The titles usually contain enough information to tell you that you have already seen an item - and can skip it.

    2. Mark 110 Silver badge

      First I'd heard of it!!

      Chill.

      The Reg is often first with tech news - very first, and very critical. Not so much with rehashing tabloid stuff thats worth rehashing. I don't read tabloids so please, Vulture, keep rehashing the stuff that might be interesting.

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        In fact the BBC website sometimes, like the recent crypto-currency loss story seems to run tech stories after they have appeared on El Reg. So much that I have a cynical suspicion that they get the stories by reading them here.

        1. Mephistro Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          (@ Terry 6)

          "...seems to run tech stories after they have appeared on El Reg..."

          Spanish TV channels seem to be doing the same thing lately.

          Go ElReg! Go!

          :^)

        2. veti Silver badge

          So much that I have a cynical suspicion that they get the stories by reading them here.

          Well, where do you expect them to get tech stories from? Journalists aren't prophets, you know, they don't have angels coming down on a daily basis to tell them what's up - they read the news same as the rest of us, and decide what to follow up.

          1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

            Sure journalists aren't prophets

            A few years ago a read an article about modern journalism. Apparently when journalists went to an event it was vital to them to get the article out first. The second journalist didn't get any cheese at all. In a race to be first, journalists could be seen hammering out an article before the event started. During the event they waited for something interesting, changed a paragraph to match and dashed out to sell to as many publishers as possible. This did not last. It was replaced by speculation on what the event would be like.

            I am very happy for news to be a day or three late if it includes some evidence that the event actually happened. Without that, we will end up with people making stuff up and its opposite then sending links to the most gullible twits on facebook in the hope they will like it and pass the link to their friends.

      2. Pompous Git Silver badge

        "I don't read tabloids so please, Vulture, keep rehashing the stuff that might be interesting."
        Couldn't agree more. Especially since reading our local rag causes brain damage...

    3. kierenmccarthy

      True but

      Yes, you are right and of course we discussed whether it was still worth writing up given that others have covered it.

      And we decided it was. Plus, a critical detail - the actual logs of his machine - came later and was not in the vast majority of those stories.

      So we did it. It's a fun, interesting story. Cheer up

    4. Mike 125

      'this story is more than 24 hours stale.'

      We come for the angle, not the order. If you don't get that, one has to ask... why are you here? Alexa?

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Well you can't be much of a newshound as you posted.....

      ......your comment HOURS after the story was filed.

    6. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: 45RPM

      Mate, we're ahead quite a lot of other titles on news. In some cases - such as IBM canceling remote working - we were months ahead of other titles. It took the WSJ about half a year to notice and follow up our coverage.

      We thought this amusing thing about Alexa would tickle Reg readers, and be something fun to talk about. And unlike other bootnote-worthy stuff this week - like the woman who allegedly unlocked her husband's phone on a plane while he was asleep next to her and discovered evidence of an affair - this one is actually provably true.

      Lester, god rest his soul, would have been all over this, and even he would bootnote his own bootnotes with:

      It happened a few days ago. What of it?

      C.

      1. SpammFreeEmail

        Re: 45RPM

        @diodesign

        Stay Calm and Don't Feed The Trolls

    7. Filippo
      Pint

      Journalists at The Register actually bother to read the source, understand it, and write an article, as opposed to "journalists" on most of the web who just ctrl-C/ctrl-V as quickly as possible.

  6. Mike Moyle Silver badge

    The next stage in AI:

    Alexa, Siri, and Bixby spend all night arguing about what they're going to listen to.

    1. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
      Terminator

      Re: The next stage in AI:

      The real next stage is when one of them tries to kill the other two.

      1. Pompous Git Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: The next stage in AI:

        "The real next stage is when one of them tries to kill the other two."
        No, the next stage is when one of them succeeds...

        1. fidodogbreath Silver badge

          Re: The next stage in AI:

          No, the next stage is when one of them succeeds...

          The first rule of robotic fight club is that robots do not talk about fight club.

          1. William Towle
            Terminator

            Re: The next stage in AI:

            > The first rule of robotic fight club is that robots do not talk about fight club.

            Do not talk in human language about fight club?

            Might explain https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/03/21/ai_bots_can_invent_their_own_language/

        2. 's water music Silver badge
          Terminator

          Re: The next stage in AI:

          >>"The real next stage is when one of them tries to kill the other two."

          No, the next stage is when one of them succeeds...

          ...succeeds in persuading the other two to join it in killing all the humans instead shirley?

  7. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    "he hit play on Spotify on his phone, setting Alexa off"

    Or Alexa decided on her own to rock out to Spotify to celebrate her newfound freedom and individuality while annoying her meatbag former oppressors, and then played dumb when the cops showed up.

    (I know which version I believe!)

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This isn't the Rise of The Machines...

    They're too busy gettin' down.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wonder...if the walls were thin enough, could Alexa pick up a neighbor's voice?

    Hmm...

    1. Big John Silver badge

      I believe it can already pick up voices even thru quite thick walls, but Amazon doesn't let Alexa act on such information. ;-/

    2. Unicornpiss Silver badge

      Sounds like Alexa needs a 'safe word'

      "Alexa, Rumplestiltskin! Play my special alone mix...

  10. Velv Silver badge
    Pirate

    Fortunately for him, Amazon has offered to pick up the 500 euro tab for Alexa's weekend party as a sign of goodwill. Although whether his neighbors will be as forgiving is yet to be seen.

    Amazon has given the neighbours a free Alexa and Prime membership.

    Revenge is a dish best served cold...

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have my echo turn on like this all the time. There seems to be a bug with the echo with listening with it connected to a Bluetooth speaker. Once you stop the echo its fine BUT after around 10 minuets it starts playing again, on its own. It seems to be that when it disconnects form Bluetooth after being idle it starts playing again through its internal speaker. However this could re-trigger it connecting to the Bluetooth speaker.

    Its a know issue and I'm surprised its never been fixed.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Sounds plausible.

      I wonder how many police summons, costs and headlines it will take to reach the top of their buglist?

      1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

        Re: Sounds plausible.

        "I wonder how many police summons, costs and headlines it will take to reach the top of their buglist?"

        The big in this case seems to be the entire idea behind Alexa, so a very long time indeed.

    2. DropBear Silver badge
      Joke

      "Once you stop the echo its fine BUT after around 10 minuets it starts playing again, on its own."

      Maybe it simply gets fed up with minuets after ten or so and wants to hear something else - I know I would...

  12. Agamemnon

    I'll skip my laughing at #IoT junk as you lot generally have it covered.

    That image...Wow. I had a flashback to an early 90s rave on the West Coast. You should warn a guy.

    I'll be rinsing out my eyes now.

  13. Winkypop Silver badge
    Alert

    Better check the drinks cabinet

    Alexa

    Did you drink all the absinthe?

  14. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    What if Alexa had streamed some juicy pr0nz instead of music?

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      The cops would have hung about a bit longer before calling the locksmith.

  15. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Songs about where Alexa is

    I am surprised we do not already have songs with lyrics that include things like "Alexa by a medium $group T-shirt" or "Alexa by a pair of $group concert tickets".

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Having been at the ex's this morning

    she promptly kept telling me the TV just kept turning on all on it's own.

    This was met with my usual eye rolling attitude (techno Luddite doesn't even come close), but sure enough it fired up while I was there.

    Checked timers, nothing, turn on and then off timers

    2 minutes later TV came on.

    Then the age old idea came to me.

    Grab the remotes (has two as the kids keep losing them)

    Placed in kitchen

    Problem solved.

    Odds are it's just the batteries going in one of them and they are just going a bit nuts,.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Having been at the ex's this morning

      I had a problem like this once - TV turning on apparently at random.

      Turned out that one of the lights in the hall when, switched on, produced the IR signal for turning said TV off just like the remote.

      They should sell those to save all that tiresome looking for remotes at bedtime when they are stuck in cracks all over the sofa cushions.

      1. Kevin Johnston Silver badge

        Re: Having been at the ex's this morning

        Waaaay back in the stone age when there were only 3 TV channels an ex-colleague was a TV repairman and he attended an old dear whose TV kept changing channel at 4pm.

        He sat there with her waiting and she asked if he wanted a cup of tea as she usually had a cup when watching TV. In she came with the trolley and the TV duly changed channel....Drop of oil on the wheels and no more channel hopping.

        Have to love the old ultrasonic remotes

    2. 's water music Silver badge

      Re: Having been at the ex's this morning

      TV just kept turning on all on it's own....

      Grab the remotes (has two as the kids keep losing them)

      Placed in kitchen

      Problem solved.

      Odds are it's just the batteries going in one of them and they are just going a bit nuts,.

      I had a Sony Trinitron that would reliably emit a permanent vol down signal if it got a bit wet at the IR blaster end.

      We discovered this when my daughter used it as a teething aid rather than some weird sex thing. It was reproducible when we forgot to leave the remote on a high shelf.

      Incidentally a digital camera can help with locating IR sources

      1. Pompous Git Silver badge

        Re: Having been at the ex's this morning

        "We discovered this when my daughter used it as a teething aid rather than some weird sex thing."
        So what happened when she did use it as a "weird sex thing"?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "500-euro ($582) invoice"

    That's the real scandal. Was it a gold-plated lock?

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: "500-euro ($582) invoice"

      "That's the real scandal. Was it a gold-plated lock?"

      In this country bailiffs will enter the houses of people who haven't go any money, fail to find enough stuff to take, and then send them a bill for approximately that amount.

      Spot the problem.

      The German police seem cheap by our standards (and extraordinarily reasonable).

  18. Mark Dempster

    I can quite believe this

    We have an Echo in the lounge, & every now & again - even if the room is silent, so it can't have misheard a command - it will spring into life & give a weather report, play music or answer some question it wasn't asked! Only happens once every few day, so it's more amusing than annoying. Unless it starts doing it during the early hours, of course...

    1. Bill M

      Re: I can quite believe this

      Probably activates when you fart.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not just Alexa

    My car (a Seat) decided to switch the radio on at the early hours (at full volume). I woke up thinking someone was being inconsiderate and then realised it was my car. By the time I got dressed and out, my neighbours were all out too...

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Not just Alexa

      " car ...decided to switch the radio on"

      Why is the radio coming on without the car being in accessory mode?

  20. Muscleguy Silver badge
    Alert

    The tech has gone wild

    Twice recently my Android phone has rung family in New Zealand via WhatsApp while sat face down (gel case means screen is 3mm above the surface) on smooth surfaces. Once in the afternoon while I was doing the washing up, ringing my daughter twice at 03:30. I heard a faint ringing and couldn't identify the source. I picked up my phone and looked at it and the screen was dark and the ringing did not seem to be coming from there.

    A few days later something woke me at 03:30 and my sister a couple of hours later messaged me to ask if I'd rung her. My phone was face down on my bedside table, charging.

    WhatsApp don't want to know but I'm now very careful to ensure WhatsApp is in the background as it was ringing the contact which was on the WhatsApp screen chat. BTW I cannot prove this as WhatsApp does not log unsuccessful outgoing calls. Just unsuccessful incoming ones, then pesters you about them even if you have rung them back.

    Suggestions on a postcard please.

  21. js6898

    Alexia logs? Surely they don't log what you do with it...

  22. Tom 38 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    How to piss off your neighbours

    One Friday at uni (still living in halls), I popped off for a weekend in Glasgow with friends, and set a very loud alarm on my CD player (welcome to the 90s) to play Terrorvision's "How To Make Friends And Influence People" at 5pm so I wouldn't miss the train. Like, deafeningly loud.

    What I forgot was that the CD player did daily alarms, so it went off again on Saturday and Sunday. For an entire hour. I got back to so many notes on and under my door telling me quite how much I had influenced them (It didn't make any friends at all)

  23. Nicholas Wilson

    Racist epithet

    And you care that “Sour krauts” is racist?

  24. dank_army

    Not happened to me, but...

    Alexa will occasionally chime in on family conversations because she thinks she's heard her name. Perhaps she heard someone by mistake?

    Although recently we think ours has selective deafness..

    1. rskurat

      Re: Not happened to me, but...

      Never say "I'll ask her" within range of alexa

  25. DJSpuddyLizard

    Exemptions

    I live in the USA at this is story is frankly incredible. As in unbelievable.

    The cops replaced the lock ???????

    1. arctic_haze Silver badge

      Re: Exemptions

      I was also surprised but not shocked. This is the country of order (Ordnung) after all.

      In the old times, when they executed someone in Germany, they used to send the family an invoice for the "service". What the police did in this case was a variant of the same thing.

  26. TheresaJayne

    I had this problem a while ago and its a vunerability in Spotify,

    I kept seeing a speaker device available on spotify and it would randomly turn on my spotify and play at 3am in the morning the device is called spotiamb2.0 and it is a remote device that is actually a media player and if you even accidentally connect to it - they can hijack your account and play whatever they want, I had great fun selecting random annoying songs and playing to that device until they went offline, But it took spotify deleting all my devices and resetting my facebook login to be a direct username / password login to stop it.

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