Do you thank your Alexa? Here’s why I think you should. – A reflection

Thank you text on chalk board
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Do you thank your Alexa? Here’s why I think you should.

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So, you’ve got one of those. The Alexa, the Google assistant, the Cortana, the infamous Siri on your phone, tablet, computer, or of course that smart speaker sitting there on the counter listening.

Do you ever ask for something and she says, “I don’t know about that.”?
What do you say? And do you make sure she is listening when you say it?
I ask that because I’ve noticed a difference in how my husband and I talk to our brand new Echo device, namely Alexa. He asks her for a song and she gets it wrong and no matter how he tries to get the correct title or artist, she just doesn’t get it or the song is not available for some reason. At that point he gets frustrated and says “Alexa, Fuck off!”

Yeah, I get it. The funny thing is that I say it out-loud too, but I don’t say the name. So, I don’t say it when the damn thing is “listening”.

Yep, I am really big on anthropomorphizing, I admit it. And I’m well aware of it.

And that is why, when I ask Alexa to create a list, or look up something interesting, or when she tells me something amusing I didn’t expect her to say, I say Thank you. I don’t always make sure she hears it, I’m not all that out there. But I do say it. I say it in almost the same way I thank my dog when he brings me something he shouldn’t have picked up in the first place or when he sits politely when I ask him.

The other night my Alexa played some pretty ding and said, “I’m reminding you, about that thing.”
I had totally forgotten so I said without reservation, “Alexa, okay got it, thank you.”
“Of course,” she said.

Nice.

The thing about that little interaction is that it made me feel good. I mean, not in any earth shattering type of way but in some abstract sense of decency kind of fashion that is so hard to describe. What I believe is that my thank you was an expression of gratitude toward the technology and the people behind it. I’m grateful for this kind of thing, the convenience, the ease of use, the amazing people making that semi-creepy human-machine interaction possible.
It fascinates me, it scares me at times, but overall I am delighted.

So yeah, I do thank my smart speaker when it gives me something I find of value, like information, entertainment, or cleverly stupid lame jokes. I thank my stupid privacy killing talking speaker because it makes me feel good.

To be fair, I am the kind of person who says thank you to the impossible-to-open packaging when it finally gives me the goods. I thank the printer for spitting out my shopping list without a hitch. I give my thanks to something in the air around me when I hang up the phone after a successful phone call.
It’s all about gratitude,. And I am grateful for so many things. In some odd way, having Alexa gives me an incentive to express that gratitude more often. And I think that is a good thing. Whatever makes me feel better in some small way, has to be a good thing.

So, don’t tell your idiot device to go shove it when it gets it wrong. Remember that behind that little thing and beyond all the wiring and intangible signals, are humans. People with amazing ideas, and awful flaws. Be grateful for all it has to offer instead.

Say Thank you.

Jenny,

About the author


Jenny K. Brennan is a Swedish/Canadian vocalist, songwriter, and writer living in Ontario, Canada since 2002 with one husband, one dog, and unfinished projects in the thousands. Find her on
The House of Imp,
kompoz.com, and anywhere else Mr. Google can locate her. She studies English and braille at The Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually impaired. On her free time, she learns Wordpress by trial and error, audio production using Apple Logic Pro, and carpentry by association.


Gutenberg editor in WordPress 5.0 – yeah, I gave it three minutes. Useless crap I can live without.

Reading Time: 1 minute

Crap, I tell ya!

I have but a few words to say about the new editor in WordPress’ latest update. Their new fancy editor has become cool and intuitive and modern and flexible…. errr, and totally fucking useless! If you like it, then I know that you are sighted. I am not. The accessibility that WordPress has worked so hard on the last decade or so did not make it into the new Gutenberg editor. Yes, the buttons are there, in all the wrong places. The functions are there, without following any logical workflow thinking.

So I gave it about three minutes before installing the “Classic editor” plugin to write this post. I did notice that this plugin had, after only a few weeks since the upgrade , been installed over a million times. I spend a fair amount of time in the plugin directory and you don’t get numbers like that if users are not desperate to get it.

Again – “Classic editor” . Search for it, install it. Maybe you wish to try out the new editor with time,, maybe not. But if you are like me and like speed and efficiency in your post creation as well as rely on access technology such as screen readers, do not fight with Gutenberg. It’s not worth the frustration.

Classic is good.

JennyK

JennyK on writing – A moments reflection on creative writing reluctance.

The lead of the pencil breaking after pressing down too hard.
Reading Time: 2 minutes

jennyK on Writing

A reflection on creative fiction and the funny thing that happens when the writer fights the story. The harder it tries to tell itself, the harder it is for me to hear it.

Mother of Crow – Sundered World 2. That’s what I’m working on. Slowly, painfully, bit by bit, and scene by scene. Damn, this shit is hard. This building a place and an emotion, a tension and a world, characters worth bothering with is a self-made nightmare at best, a confidence crusher at worst. Do I have any of that crucial stuff in this story? Or is it just a collection of words and interesting descriptions of thoughts and things that will move no one? Neither to tears nor laughter.

I’m not sure.

But I can’t let the story go. It lives in the back of my mind. And it changes. Characters fade and appear to freeze in some diffuse edge of the canvas where I build my world. Other come forth, wondering where they can lay their story, their thoughts, their history. And it all happens without me doing any writing for long stretches of time. Are those creatures and humans building something I cannot yet see? Do they speak amongst each other about events I have not been able to discover?

Maybe.

I think, as I write this, sensing them stir in my periphery in part glee at my powerlessness, part frustration over my inability to acknowledge the obvious, that yes they do. And it seems clear to me that I should let them. And hope that the next time I put my fingers to the keyboard that I will be able to allow them to tell me what they know.

A character

There is a dragon. Truth is that he is not quite a dragon. But he is not wholly man-made either. He had a name but that was before. He is restless. Ill at ease. These humans, what do they want? Oh, so that’s it is it? Very well. Anywhere but here. Anywhere. Come then. Come.

From

Mother of Crow.

Jenny K Brennan
December 2018

Cookie cutter blog farming? And instant reaction. Yuck!

Water outlet (Hydro power station - Vännäs Sweden) All I wanted was a glass of water.
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Article factories

Now, there’s something about calling something a factory that really turns me cold.
Yeah, I get that people want content and they want it fast. They want readable stuff that catch the interest of potential customers. And because it might take thousands of reads for just a few of those to ultimately spend money on something, there needs to be some serious traffic going on.

I get contacted a couple of times a day with offers to either fix up my website to look attractive to customers or to write articles for me. Oh, let’s get you hooked with $1 per article, real fucking quickly, and never mind the content. The article making factory can write shit for me.

Um, Yeah No!

And before you get mad at me; let me just say that I do get it. Your strength may not be in writing stuff and since there are people who do little else but write stuff, then why not? It’s the perfect content creation partnership — if it’s done right. Trust me, I do get that. and I’m not saying it’s all bad. But it is not for me.

My reaction to these offers is simply: No thanks, not interested, go away, please.

If I don’t have hundreds and hundreds of blogs on my website, it’s because I haven’t written hundreds and hundreds of articles. It’s not because I couldn’t find mass produced content for cheap. It is because I don’t want content that is not mine or completely endorsed by me on my site. I don’t have time to sift through sludge to find nuggets. I really don’t. and to be completely honest, I don’t trust content aggregators to know what’s right for me, my brand, and my website. I’m really not all that interested in numbers.

I read enough bad content online to know I don’t want that! And I also see so much crap out there that I do not want to contribute to this cluster-fuck of awful that happens when demand goes from quality to quantity where no one benefits. Except for the Blog writing farms that pay pennies for creativity.
You know, you get what you pay for.
An article I pay a dollar for will not be a good one no matter how you slice it. And in such a case where the read is actually quite interesting, I would feel uneasy about not showing the creator enough respect to pay them properly.
I would happily link to the article, endorse it, and see that people find their way there. Sigh. Old fashioned? 🙂 maybe. Then so be it.

Cookie cutter blog farms? No thank you. not for me. Sorry.

If I were a building – A bit of prose – A thought experiment

Lion head gold door knocker
Reading Time: 2 minutes

If I were a building.

A thought experiment.
By jenny K Brennan

I would have cubby holes and symmetry. Flexibility and safety. I would be space age and dreamscape, order and safety. I would have a name.
My foundation would hold steady in any storm within or without. But come the will and need I would move.
Based on all the souls that made me, my boundaries would be no more and no less than the sum of you.
Saving space to give it room.

I would hold safe and offer myself as toolshed and canvas for those within my body.
Were you to paint a mural on my wall, I would attractor you a muse and mentor.
I would have order within reason. I would demand respect as I give it.
I would be dignified but offer my spaces for laughter and lovemaking.
Where I catch the sun, where I protect from wind, where
I offer hiding places, it all makes sense.
I would have a spirit but no designated place to speak to me. I would constantly listen and accommodate wishes in all the ways I am capable.
I would be strong and beautiful. I would be dignified and pure. I would be your safe haven and your communication device.

If I were a building I would be your home. And yours. And yours. And all your homes would be your perfect home as my body and spirit wants to hold only those who understand to respect their spaces with love and creativity. Do with me what you wish
and if your wish is for a place to be really you, I will let you and I will keep you for as long as you desire. Your dream home; for a time or for a life, for your children to be offered that same choice.

If I were a building. I would be your dream home. And yours. And yours.

Jenny Brennan
January 11 2017

Focus, Girl, focus! On the slippery borderland between inspiration and desperation – Reflection on the todo list

Reading Time: 3 minutes

JennyK on her nice new Mac, but what good is it when it's not used for something? :)

Focus! Get at it. Rant time for JennyK — Again. 🙂

Feeling scattered, unfocused, restless. So much I want to do. But what? Which of the many things I want to do should I direct my attention to? O, what a first world problem. 🙂 But still, it’s something that unfortunately becomes bigger the more I ponder it. One day becomes a week becomes a month becomes the seed of uncertainty. Writers block? — Maybe.
But honestly, it it was only about sitting down to write because I’m not writing, I could simply sit down and write. But I find it hard to sit down and write when the constant critic in the back of my mind reminds me that I should record those vocals and transcribe those lyrics, world-building for Mother of Crow. And do some social media promotion, update the twitterverse, format my old computer for someone else to take it over, push to find someone to review my book, write an interesting blog on the website, some fantastic reward on patreon, add something on reverbnation, upload a track on soundcloud, do the laundry, organize my backup cds, scan my mail for OCR, call my mother, get the….

Whoah there, Fool. This is getting more than ridiculous.. and I didn’t even mention exercising, , writing a 100K word novel, feed the dog, making an appointment with the dentist, deal with paperwork I would rather burn…. and cut my toenails. —- Oh, and podcasting, don’t forget the people who actually do know I’m around and who do hear me, my music, my band and our music, subscribe to my blogs, and perhaps also enjoy my fiction and other rants.

Oh, and I really should be social and call the few friends I do have, make an effort to “get out there” and be interested in the rest of the world.

Well.
Should, could, would. Aint gonna unless I — focus?

Here is that point… The point I often reach when I drag it out in the open to look at it and realize how ridiculous it really is.

It’s the point where I balance on the slippery borderline between inspiration and desperation.

I can choose to look at that list and get overwhelmed by it. I can be sad for the people I feel I’m disappointing and despair over the inevitable giving up on me. And I can add to that list this: I need to get better and work harder.

😀 (And we all know how well such a pledge works. It doesn’t!)

Or….

I can take a look at that list and break it into pieces, see them as parts of the whole and realize that at this moment, this second, just now; I can’t deal with all of that no matter how much I try. If I look at those things one at a time I will notice that none of them are a big deal. If I see them separately, they are all good things.

Oh, maybe not the dentist thing.

But seriously; It’s all good.

With focus. Hmm. Back at the beginning. I feel a pattern appearing as I type this. Seeing and dealing with one thing at a time does take some type of focus. And that is where I get lost.

So I ask you, listener, reader, friend;

How do you focus? . What are your tips and tricks to manage all the things when they start to overwhelm you? Do you procrastinate to the point of anxiety and panic? Do you schedule your days and stick to it?

I know I’ve been rambling like a neurotic nut in this post, but I am genuinely curious. Leave a comment and share your thoughts. I didn’t manage to make things much clearer in this rant so I need to sit on this for a while as I’m sure the amazing “back of my mind” is working on it. As long as I let it do that without fretting more just now and then maybe. So that’s what I’ll do. I’ll leave it to you – and my poor subconscious for a little while.

Let me know what you think 🙂 Because I could really use your help. Certainly some other perspective and maybe even the classic kick in the ass. 😀

Jen