Ask the Geek: ’Twas a night with Alexa


Dear Geek,

I am intrigued by voice-activated devices — iPhones with Siri, Google home products, and the Amazon “Alexa” stuff. It seems like these devices from sci-fi movies are now invading homes in real life. Have you ever tried any of these, and if so, what do you think of them?


Beam me up Scottie


Dear Scottie,

It’s getting toward the end of December, so there’s really only one way to answer your question …


Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house

There was a bit of tech lurking in my Vineyard Haven house

The cell phones were charging by the outlets with care

And an Amazon Echo was listening for “Alexa, are you there?”


My children were nestled all snug in their beds

My visions of a clean house unfortunately danced in nobody’s head

The dog on my lap and me in a Bruins cap

Had settled on the couch for a somewhat expected nap


When out of a bedroom arose a slight matter

“Dad, can I have some water?” was yelled, as was the usual nightly chatter

Towards the kitchen I moved, not in a flash but a pace that was easy

But before that I said, “Alexa, play me some Young MC”


The song “Bust a Move” was welcomed like fresh-fallen snow

Giving lustre to my feet, which started to wiggle as I looked down below

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear

But the song’s lyrics on my Echo Show screen, which caused me to cheer


I had read reviews on the Echo devices, or at least glanced at them quick

And decided to try one as they seemed pretty slick

My Echo Show was ordered and via UPS it came

It has now played music, touted facts, but what else can she do when we ask her by name?




Handle smart home needs and get any question’s answer, oh what a ball

My kids have played games with it, had it make fart sounds, and oh that’s not all!


The cylindrical Echo and smaller Dot with less audio umph are well worth a try

Made by a company called Amazon, which no doubt local retailers would like to fry

But my Echo Show is different from those others, it’s true, as it has a screen that I can view

It can “call” other units or a cellphone app, so the grandparents can try their hand at videochat


As good as it is, Amazon’s devices are not the only show in town,

For Google says “Us too, we don’t just wear the search engine crown”

Google Home is a hub which handles many similar needs

With “Ok Google” being its keyword to do as you heed


Google Home is a a great device, and they’d say, “Throw Alexa under the rug”

And no doubt Amazon would reply “Bah Humbug”

Amazon and Google have long battled over a variety of things and devices

So YouTube’s current absence from the Echo put my favorite content in the middle of this crisis


You won’t find Google’s Chromecast on Amazon’s website

So the two companies are doing all sorts of things out of spite

Should a Google device come out with a screen, same as my Echo Show,

It would have YouTube and more, which might please this fellow


Apple’s Homepod will come out in 2018

But Siri is something on which many people are keen

Maybe Apple should adopt something like this slogan

“For now we’ll just let those other two companies wrestle like Hulk Hogan”


Enough of the tech, I should spend this last little bit

Mentioning Island things that bring us a smile, just like Saint Nick

Johnny Seaview’s wink of his eye and a twist of his head

Was as good as signing Daddy’s Caddy — is that car really dead?


Remember Peck’s Bad Boy, Andy’s Frozen Lemonade, and Poole’s Fish Market?

An Islander’s Talk conversation might have someone post pictures of these from their locket

We had A&P, Mettel’s 5 & 10, and a Subway franchise on Circuit Ave (yes really, how dreary)

This was back when phones had no apps because calls were all they could have


From my family to yours Up-Island and Down

To people on Chappy, the most remote part of Edgartown

Happy Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and of course, yes — Festivus,

Ok Google and Alexa, let’s not be remiss, let’s wish all of Martha’s Vineyard a Merry Christmas!


Thanks for writing in Scottie! Happy Holidays!


The Geek