Life with voice assistans

I’ve liked the idea of voice assistants ever since I got my first iPhone and asked Siri the most random things. I’ll admit, at the time I thought it was just a gimmick that could occasionally come in handy when you need to be hands-free like while you’re driving for example. But then years later I fulfilled one of my high-tech fantasies and introduced Alexa to my home and felt like I was living in the future. While she would only do trivial things for me like playing music or dimming the lights it was still pretty cool.

Once the novelty wore off, there were a couple things that kept making me think when interacting with her (or it?).

What about manners when talking to artificial intelligence? I usually utter robotic commands such as Alexa, lights on” or Alexa, play music”. No please” or thank you”. My mother would be ashamed and it doesn’t exactly set a great example for my kids in the future.

But that’s something I can work on myself in order to change or maybe even improve my relationship with Alexa. I wonder if she’d execute my commands faster if I always said please” and thank you”. Or maybe the opposite–everything happens really slowly until your manners miraculously reappear.

When it comes to voice assistants, there’s a pattern that I find both interesting and disturbing. At least out of all the ones I’ve been using it defaults to a female voice. In most cases you can change this but I wonder why that is and I’m not the only one apparently. Perhaps they’ve been mostly trained with female voices and male ones are lagging behind, but surely we would’ve overcome that by now?

Anyway, I’m about to prepare dinner so excuse me while I politely ask Alexa to set a timer for the pasta.

Who pre-orders books anyway?

Almost all my reading is done on a Kindle and I enjoy occasionally window-shopping in the store for anything that might grab my attention. Since I don’t follow any authors religiously–even my favourite ones–I was pleasantly surprised to see Lightbringer by Pierce Brown being advertised with a release date. If I pre-ordered it now, I would have it first thing on the 25th of July.

But then I thought, Why would anyone pre-order a digital copy of a book? At least when you pre-order video games, you usually get some extras for your commitment but books? Come on. It’s not like they’ll ever run out of digital copies anyway.

After checking my order history it turns out I’ve already pre-ordered two books in the past–Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir and Dark Age by Pierce Brown.

Looking back, the main reason was to show support and appreciation for the authors since I enjoy their work. It probably makes no difference to them either way but it does make the wait a bit more enjoyable or exciting because I know I’ll be able to get my hands on it as soon as possible.

Like a mini Christmas that you mark on your calendar. And so I marked the 25th on my calendar and added another pre-order to my list.

Deleting my account should be easy

I’ve been thinking about my digital hygiene recently, which meant reviewing my various services, subscriptions and providers. I’ll go into more detail in another post but as a first step I looked at all my accounts to see which ones I’m not using anymore in order to shut them down.

There’s no harm in just ignoring these accounts indefinitely but why risk it? What happens if said website or app gets compromised? Unnecessary exposure is best to be avoided and so deleting idle ones just makes sense.

To my surprise, deleting my accounts and my data wasn’t always straight-forward and some of them didn’t even provide an option to do so. This should be the bare minimum and something I expect if I sign up to a service.

I want to be able to erase any trace of my presence just as easily as when I signed up in the first place.

The Grey Man — Mark Greaney

I was drawn to this book because I was looking for something similar to I Am Pilgrim, and The Grey Man did not disappoint. This book was a thrilling page-turner from the very first chapter, with the action and suspense building up at every turn.

The writing was captivating and the fast pace had me fully invested from the beginning. I’m only now venturing into this genre and I’ve found it highly entertaining.

The main character, Court Gentry, was another aspect of the book that I really enjoyed. The author did an excellent job of portraying his progression as a character, from a highly skilled assassin to a man who starts to question his choices and ultimately, his own morality. This added depth to the story and made me care about what happened to him.

However, there was one thing that bothered me throughout: Court Gentry seemed almost invincible, despite suffering multiple injuries that should’ve probably been fatal. It made the book feel a bit unrealistic at times and I found myself rolling my eyes at some of the situations he managed to survive. I understand that this is a common theme in action books, but it did detract slightly from the story.

Overall, I enjoyed The Grey Man and would recommend it to anyone looking for an action-packed read. Mark Greaney’s writing was superb, and it has made me want to check out more of his work in the future.


Tracking no more

I finally did it. I removed Google Analytics from this site and won’t be tracking anyone anymore. It’s not like I was regularly keeping up with the numbers or optimising content anyway. It’s not about that. The only reason I implemented analytics in the first place was to if my blog had any readers at all. Simple curiosity. I found it fascinating that people from random cities and countries somehow landed here. And sometimes they even came back, or so it seemed.

Since I’ve never intended to use those analytics anyway, I figured I might as well remove them for good. I felt it’s the right thing to do. Yes, I could’ve opted for another more ethical solution like Plausible but I couldn’t be bothered because it just doesn’t matter.

Anyways, I hope you’ll still stop by every now and then. Make sure to say hi because I won’t know about it.