Last Christmas I gave Alexa my heart…
No this isn’t about the absolute classic of a tune by Wham but about my ongoing love affair with the wonderful and ever so slighting irksome artificial intelligence known as Alexa (the voice ‘assistant’ of Amazon Echo).
We were gifted an Amazon Echo Dot for Christmas and it’s safe to say that it’s been a complete and utter game changer and something I’d recommend for anyone and in particular for those of us with chronic illnesses/disabilites.
There are literally thousands of different ‘skills’ (that’s what the games/music etc. are called) that you can access and I’m finding new ones daily. Some of them are very strange like the Meow which just meows at you!
I use it for just about everything you can think of and am continually learning new and exciting skills to use.
One of the first things I discovered were the routines on the Alexa app which you can easily personalise to your own need adding music, reminders etc. For my morning routine I’d say ‘Goodmorning Alexa’ and then she’d reply with a random greeting, tell me an interesting fact, give me a reminder I’d set up and then play 5 minutes of classical music (for me to do my morning breathing exercises to). I also had a similar one for nightime with the addition of a bedtime story!
I use the timers for when I need to have a timeout’ from screen time and set an alarm to ensure I don’t use my phone/laptop during this time or to prevent me from falling down the Pinterest rabbit hole I’ll set the alarm for ten minutes then get off the site once the bell goes.
I use the alarms/reminders to make sure I do my daily routine of stretches/activities at set times and for the evening to remind me to switch my phone off an hour before bed. They’re so simple to set up and are perfect for those who take medication too. No missed pill days for us!
I ask Alexa for a 5-minute meditation timer to do my daily meditation and breathing.
Meditation Studio– with timed and guided meditations these are perfect for taking time to relax.
When you first get your Amazon Echo Dot you can get three months of Spotify Premium to try for 99p with full access to their playlists and songs (make sure you cancel this before it automatically goes to £9.99 a month). You can either pay £9.99 a month to continue listening to Spotify Premium or you could try the 30 days free trial of Amazon Music which is then £3.99 a month and a much better bargain than Spotify premium. You can also get Amazon music as part of Amazon Prime.
Heart/classic/rock fm and there are plenty of other radio stations you can listen to including BBC stations for free.
These are perfect for when you’re lying on your bed with enough brain power to do something but reading/watching TV is too much. I’m constantly looking for new stories to play so if you know of any please tell me!
My spaceship– this is a fun star trek (rip off) themed game where you make decisions and can become admiral of the spaceship.
The Dark Citadel– you play a hero, go on adventures and fight (a lot) with orcs and miscreants.
Magic Door- this is an interactive story game where you can go through forests and mountains to find a wizard. I really enjoyed this.
Codename Cygnus– bit like being in a James Bond film (but less bloody) another interactive story game. Utterly brilliant (but not suitable for children).
The Vortex- a fantastic space themed game that’s one of the most immersive games I’ve played.
Yes Sire– fun and quick choice game.
Song quiz– can play against other people or you can play against someone in your house. Plays you a short clip of music (from 60s-2010s), you can choose the decade and have to name the artist and song.
Question of the day- does what it says on the tin. I do this everyday to get the little grey cells going.
Bible verses– as you’d think !
Our daily bread- I love this and use this daily. It has a short anecdote which it relates to a bible passage, then the bible passage and finally a prayer. A short but simple way for those of us who aren’t able to get to Church to feel more connected. I’m currently on a mission to find a good sermon skill (there a lot of them out there)
My poems- an actor reads a poem to you (and you skip it if you don’t like them)
Sleep sounds, beautiful dream– beautiful, tranquil sounds if you fancy just listening to some background music or just before bed. There are lots of different versions too jungle noises/rain/oceans etc.
Radio Mystery Theatre– listen to old radio plays (of varying quality).
Word of the Day– I’ve had to start writing these down as I keep forgetting them! Gives you a word, pronunciation, spelling and meaning.
I will continue to update these as time goes on. Have you tried any of these or do you have any you love? Let me know in the comments below.