[Editor’s note: Merry Christmas! This week, we’re taking time off to focus on our loved ones, so we are sharing some of our favorite stories from this year. Keep an eye out for our top features from the archives as we rest and get ready for a brilliant 2019! Cheers, from Candy and the entire staff at CandysDirt.com!]

“What am I doing wrong in this world,” my husband asked, walking out the door one Monday morning, a lousy day that began wrong right from the start. Blasting us awake, Livin’ on a Prayer streamed loudly on our Amazon Echo Dot that we use as our alarm clock. Though we’re an Amazon-enabled home with two-and-a-half tech-savvy users (the half is 10 years old), we’re having a hard time with the Dot.

“She” joined our family of other Amazon AI products several months ago, but this bot has a learning curve we’re still adjusting to. And this particular Monday morning, Dot shouted at us with a loud, warbly guitar, saying “Whoa, whoa… whoa, whoa,” like Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora’s distinctive opening chords.

Fumbling with the Alexa app on his phone, my husband walked into our tiled-bathroom, and no sooner had he found the setting to turn down Dot’s master volume, he dropped his phone. That dreaded plop sound of a phone falling face down on the floor… The fear you feel as you bend down to turn your phone over… You know what I’m talking about. I listened for the expletives to fly, but all I heard was, “That’s a good way to start your Monday morning.” He showed me his newly-cracked phone and my heart sank for him.

I felt his question needed answering because we’ve all been there. One thing after another. Can’t win for losing. Universe, can I start this day over? Alexa, can you fix this lousy day?

It’s possible, but not easy because it’s a mental workout that most of us have never exercised before. Alexa seems to know everything, so maybe she can help us re-program ourselves to overcome negative thoughts and turn around a lousy day. Here are some ways to do that: (more…)

“What am I doing wrong in this world,” my husband asked, walking out the door one Monday morning, a lousy day that began wrong right from the start. Blasting us awake, Livin’ on a Prayer streamed loudly on our Amazon Echo Dot that we use as our alarm clock. Though we’re an Amazon-enabled home with two-and-a-half tech-savvy users (the half is 10 years old), we’re having a hard time with the Dot.

“She” joined our family of other Amazon AI products several months ago, but this bot has a learning curve we’re still adjusting to. And this particular Monday morning, Dot shouted at us with a loud, warbly guitar, saying “Whoa, whoa… whoa, whoa,” like Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora’s distinctive opening chords.

Fumbling with the Alexa app on his phone, my husband walked into our tiled-bathroom, and no sooner had he found the setting to turn down Dot’s master volume, he dropped his phone. That dreaded plop sound of a phone falling face down on the floor… The fear you feel as you bend down to turn your phone over… You know what I’m talking about. I listened for the expletives to fly, but all I heard was, “That’s a good way to start your Monday morning.” He showed me his newly-cracked phone and my heart sank for him.

I felt his question needed answering because we’ve all been there. One thing after another. Can’t win for losing. Universe, can I start this day over? Alexa, can you fix this lousy day?

It’s possible, but not easy because it’s a mental workout that most of us have never exercised before. Alexa seems to know everything, so maybe she can help us re-program ourselves to overcome negative thoughts and turn around a lousy day. Here are some ways to do that: (more…)

Walls have ears 1

Do the walls have ears? Is your home listening in on you? It might be if you use “smart home” devices, says Jon Anderson. And they could be storing everything.

In Edgar Allen Poe’s Tell-Tale Heart, the writer gets away with murder, boasting at seating detectives above the buried body while being interviewed. Good planning and credible acting were all that were required.

In Arkansas, a murder case is winding through the courts.  Three men watched sports, got drunk, hit the hot tub and the next morning one was dead.  The homeowner is suspected of the killing that he says was an accident that happened while he was sleeping. The homeowner is also a gadget guy with many “smart” appliances attached to the internet.  One is Amazon’s Echo running the Alexa personal assistant (think Siri).

Voice activated devices are like dogs listening to hear “walkies” so they can spring into action. Only unlike dogs, these devices are also recording. Manufacturers say they only record the actual interaction (the question and answer), but honestly, who’s to say?

(more…)