How did we ever survive before Alexa? Clap on, clap off...

By John Toth / Editor and Publisher

“Alexa, change the channel to ESPN.”

“Alexa, dim the lights.”

“Alexa, turn up the A/C a little.”

Alexa is the new Clapper. “Clap on ... clap off ... clap on, clap off, the Clapper.”

I had that tune memorized after watching the Clapper commercials decades ago. I never bought one. I can do my own turning on and off. But, I do see how it can be useful in some cases.

I didn’t go for The Clapper then, and I am not doing the Alexa wired house now. I don’t even like that Amazon chose Alexa as the name for its … whatever it is, some smart program. Women named Alexa are probably not too pleased about it, either.

Google had the right idea. All you have to say is “O.K., Google,” and a nice voice comes on to assist you.” Apple’s Siri is another misfire, although I have not known any girls or women in my lifetime named Siri.

But my concern is that we are becoming too dependent on these gadgets and less active. Not that it takes these gadgets to make us become less active. We can do that well enough on our own. But they don’t help.

I hate to bring the news to all the millenials, but there was a time when we had to change the TV channels by hand. We actually had to get up and turn a knob on the set, and then go back to our seats.

You were little children when we did that, before the smart TVs came along. You probably don’t remember. It wasn’t a lot of hassle and was over in a few seconds. We didn’t even think about it much.

“But I want to get an Alexa compatible TV so I can just tell it what to do,” came the answer after I asked a question about the high price of some TV sets. I usually buy mine on sale and don’t really care about whether it has Alexa.

“Why can’t you just put the remote control in your hand and push some buttons on it?” I asked.

I’m not suggesting that anyone should get off the couch and manually change the TV channel. Only that the wrist be elevated a little and the fingers push the buttons.

Even The Clapper required some physical action – clapping at least once or twice.

I wonder what would happen if there was a lot of clapping in the room. Would the Clapper go crazy and start strobing the lights? I’m asking for a friend.

I’m not anti-Alexa, though. I use my Amazon Dot to play all kinds of music and find out when football or baseball games are on.

“Alexa, when are the Texans playing?” And in a matter of seconds, I get my answer. It is an amazing tool. “Alexa, play light classical music.” And it will play until I say stop.

“Alexa, when does baseball season start?”

“The 2019 major league baseball season starts on March 20, 2019.”

I don’t know how she does it, but I am impressed.