The Boy In The Room Posts

May 7, 2019

I have an old Parrot piano accordion, which was given to me by an aunt many years ago. It was the larger (37 keys, 80 buttons) of two accordions she had and played, and was then too heavy for her to manage. Knowing I was…

April 15, 2019

Some time ago, I posted how Storyline, the free online tool I had used to write my first Alexa skills, had changed to Invocable, a paid platform charging developer level charges for hosting (i.e. hundreds of dollars a month). At the time, however, they said…

February 1, 2019

When I was fostering dogs, I kept telling myself that I would eventually get my own sometime. I decided that I wanted to do that by this year, given that I was turning 60 and supposedly slowing down a bit. I actually started the search…

January 22, 2019

My new gadgets, courtesy of the Alexa Developer Perks, arrived today. The Spot makes a darling little Alexa alarm clock, and although its reactive dimming might not quite go far enough for me on nights where even dull glows bother my sleep, I’ve found the…

January 18, 2019

This morning, when I woke up, I had Alexa sing me “Happy Birthday”. But once I got up, and checked my email, I found she had wished me Happy Birthday in an unexpected – quite coincidental – way. Back in November, I made an application…

December 6, 2018

They say it’s often been observed That folk get the government they deserve The current case is not exempt A government guilty of contempt But surely this is not our fault? A general public never caught In hyperbole and outright lies. “It’s not our doing”…

October 18, 2018

Back in April this year, I wrote to the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) for “official guidance on GDPR for purely personal, non-commercial, use of data”. I made the point that much had been published about how GDPR applied to organisations and companies, but I had…

October 18, 2018

A few months ago, I discovered that as well as the familiar (to me) “Alexa, what is the temperature”, which gives the outside temperature, based on something like Accuweather, I could also say “Alexa, what is the temperature inside” an be given a fairly accurate…

October 14, 2018

I’ve been playing with writing Alexa skills recently, using the Storyline tool. Storyline is great for writing scripted skills, and also has facilities for connecting to other online applications to exchange data, via JSON and simple GET/POST connections. I wrote this very simple PHP routine…

October 12, 2018

I have been playing with Alexa Skills for some time, and having great fun. Until recently, all of my skills were private. If you design an Alexa Skill but never publish it, it remains in Dev – it is accessible to all of your own…

August 27, 2018

I’ve been using a number of web integration tools to do various tasks, ranging from cross posting from one social network to another, through to on-line automation. I think many people may be familiar with IFTTT (If This Then That), but the two relative newcomers,…

June 23, 2018

I’m not talking about failure in a big way, but failure in terms of petty little tasks. I may make plans to do something that I haven’t done before – like fit a lock to my garden gate – that I should be totally capable of doing. But something nags me in the back of my mind – what if I run into problems? How will I cope? So I put off the task, rather than discover if I can do it (or do it well).