Amazon Echo Alexa is my new Personal Genealogy Assistant, and she hasn’t asked for a pay raise or more benefits in the entire year she’s been working for me.
She takes notes of “Ah-ha” genealogy research inspiration, checks the weather for upcoming conferences, and plays my family history podcast playlist. PLUS, she is learning new skills all the time to make her even more useful in my genealogy office.
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Can you tell I’m having a lot of fun with the Amazon Echo? I took advantage of the Prime Members’ introductory purchase option last year, and it’s been interesting to be part of the expanding development of Amazon’s new device. Amazon Echo sits on our kitchen counter where it helps to have a hands-free assistant.
List Manager and Travel Assistant
I’m pouring a cup of coffee to fuel my research session and notice we’re running low on half-and-half,
Alexa, add half- and half to the shopping list.”
I’ve added half-and half to the shopping list.”
And, I’m almost out of clear sheet protectors,
Alexa, reorder Avery Economy Clear Sheet Protectors.”
Amazon Echo will place your order for previously ordered Prime-Eligible items, like the Avery sheet protectors. That’s handy.
Time to pack for the next genealogy conference
Alexa, what’s the weather forecast for Salt Lake City?”
Check my flight time
Alexa, what’s on my calendar for tomorrow?”
Remember to pack my mobile chargers
Alexa, add iPad charger to the ToDo List.”
Meanwhile, Alexa is playing The Genealogy Guys latest podcast as I pack my suitcase, and adds more reminders to the ToDo and Shopping Lists whenever I pause the audio to dictate a task.
Amazon Echo puts out a great sound for a small-footprint wireless speaker. Throughout the day, I listen to Prime Music Playlists (Free for Prime Members), podcasts, and local radio.
At first, the Amazon Echo had a few basic skills — it “woke” when we spoke “Alexa” and then responded to commands or questions like “What’s the weather today” or “Play today’s News Briefing.” The device could set alarms, add notes to a To Do or Shopping List, play music from the Amazon playlist, and tell a few jokes. Gradually, more features have expanded Alexa’s capabilities.
Now, Alexa can
- Look up MLB schedules and scores
- Read audiobooks
- Give traffic reports
- Check my Google calendar
- Turn off the lights
- Add items to Evernote or OneNote with If This Then That commands
Alexa Keeps My Personal Genealogy ToDo List
Alexa manages only two lists, a ToDo List and a Shopping List. The lists can be viewed online or offline in the Amazon Alexa App, or at the Amazon Website. I’ve mentally designated the Shopping List for things I need to buy or reorder plus household tasks and the ToDo List for genealogy-related reminders. So, when I’m in the kitchen chopping vegetables for dinner and have a Eureka-moment, I can create a research note by saying
Alexa, add ‘Check FamilySearch for Ottawa, Kansas deed records to the ToDo List.'”
Now, wouldn’t it be nice if she could find those deeds too?