Some time ago I got Echoes and Sonos speakers for our house, thinking one of the good things about having smart speakers would be: they let our kids choose music to play. This is true, although there’s a huge downside: they let our kids choose music to play. And kids have terrible taste in music, they only know six songs, and they like to play them all the time. The one my kids always choose? I Like to Move It Move It.
Right now you’re thinking, yeah wow I bet it would be terrible to hear that song – perhaps the most repetitive song ever “written” – multiple times in one day, and you’d be right! But what’s worse is, Alexa doesn’t even choose that version from its search results. It chooses the will.i.am cover version from Madagascar 2:
You probably shouldn’t play that. It is staggeringly, soul-crushingly bad. It’s what happens when perhaps the worst rapper alive decides to cover the worst song in the world and BARELY EVEN DIALS IT IN. Lyric sample:
Shake up the ground, shake up the ground
Shake like a earthquake, quake up the ground
Play to make a sound, play to make a sound
Play to make a, play to make a, play to make a sound
So I can do my little dance, do my little dance
Do my little, do my little, do my little dance
Ants in my pants, got ants in my pants
Ants in my, ants in my, ants in my pants
I’m guessing it took Mr. i.am less time to write the song than its total running time, yet I have to listen to the consequences of his decisions multiple times per day, and even one listen of that song kills brain cells. This song is an atrocity. What’s even EVEN WORSE is that of course a song that murderously repetitive is a total earworm – like when you catch yourself singing “BY MENNEN” in the shower. So if the multiple plays this song gets in my household weren’t bad enough – each one, I’m sorry to say, fractionally enriching Mr. i.am – they are rendered insignificant next to the multiple times more replays performed upon me daily BY MY OWN TRAITOR BRAIN.
My only succor is the thought that I do not have to pay him royalties.
Perhaps that will come in a future software update.
As you can probably tell from the URL I like robots.
My daughter “wrote” two “books”. By “wrote” I mean she drew a series of pictures, and by “book” they are probably more like a zine comic book, as put together by a six-year-old, of course. But she read them to us, decoding the pictures as if they contained words, sometimes getting mixed up and backtracking. Let me try to summarize the plot:
Once upon a time there was a robot, called Joy Robot. (Note: this robot contains a little girl in its belly that looks awfully similar to my daughter.) But then… a terrible robot appeared! This is Destroy Robot (who contains a little boy, identity unknown). The two robots had a war. They fought and fought, until the Queen of the Mermaids appeared. She tried to help. But Destroy Robot used Mind Control! And then the Queen and Joy Robot fought. But after a while, Joy Robot remembered who she was, and she and the Queen fought Destroy Robot. And Destroy Robot was destroyed!
I’ve never told my daughter about this site. It’s quite possible, however, that she witnessed my love of robots first hand, and thus her behavior was guided. Or, it could be in her DNA.
But one way or the other, I’ve never wanted to change the name of my site more than I do now.
Amazon announced their long-rumoured Echo with a screen today and frankly I think this thing is a dog, but what do I know.
So this is basically… a smart TV for your kitchen? Is there any other room in the prototypical house for which this would be an appropriate arrangement of screens and speakers? In a living room a TV would probably be better, on a desk a computer would be better, and in a bedroom basically any one of tablet/laptop/TV would be better. My problem is I haven’t tried a normal Echo, and I gather it’s distinguished by an unusually effective voice service, so maybe if I got hooked on Alexa I’d want one of these.
There are plenty of rumours now of Apple getting into this game, and Phil Schiller spoke up saying he thought screenless smart speakers weren’t that useful. But I don’t think that means Apple is bringing out a smart speaker with a screen. I think it means they’ll bring out a smart speaker that will send stuff to your Apple devices that have screens, which is pretty much all of them. Apple needs to bring Siri up to the level of Alexa, integrate more smart home stuff with HomeKit, and make Siri something that is essentially ubiquitous in your home (could be the speaker, but the Watch gets you 90% there), and it could dominate this category right quick. Easier said than done, I guess.