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My View: Waiting for 'Alexa' to lighten my load

By Carol F. Heavern

I suppose that it is all the fashion now to have a home hub or voice-activated speaker, connected to the home Wi-Fi network. From what I have heard, all of them have friendly sounding names and soothing voices, mostly female.

So, what would I ask a home hub to do for me? There are many tasks my retired husband never seems to have the time to do around the house these days.

For instance, instead of asking “order us a pizza,” I would prefer that the hub whip up a 10-course gourmet meal and it is welcome to make use of my kitchen. Just call us when the dinner is ready. Maybe it should also set the table and do all the dishes afterward.

First, we check the kitchen. I was considering asking my hub to “empty the dishwasher.” However, after some consideration I believe that “load the dishwasher” makes more sense as this is generally the more aggravating job. Eventually my husband will put the dishes away.

“Clean the refrigerator” is another of those thankless tasks that I usually end up doing. I would give this job to my husband except that I am afraid that he would toss out everything in the refrigerator or forget to put the food back in when he is finished cleaning. This could get expensive, so better let the home hub handle this instead. I may as well add “clean the microwave,” since it is located nearby.

Carol F. Heavern.

While we are still in the kitchen, another task that I would enjoy giving away is “go grocery shopping.” To be fair, my husband does do a large amount of the regular basic shopping but has difficulty with specialty items. Could I train my hub to find the exact brand of paper towels or pickles that I prefer?

Imagine the supermarket produce section, with hubs of all sizes and types gathered together to squeeze melons and check the ripe tomatoes. Perhaps they will gossip about their owners and what goes on in their households.

And what about our home security? I understand that these hubs may be able to communicate with other devices such as smartphones, smart homes, etc., but I am thinking of an old-school solution. As we have no dogs in our house, I should be able to say to my hub “use a deep voice and bark like a pack of Rottweilers” to scare off any would-be burglars. But this might annoy the neighbors, so perhaps one barking dog noise would be enough to do the job.

Another task I would be happy to get rid of is “do the laundry.” The hub’s memory should already know how to sort my clothes by darks, whites, sheets, underwear, etc. And, if the clothes dryer shrinks my husband’s underwear, he should go complain to the hub.

It would probably be too much to ask if it could separate out my good sweaters and wash them by hand, so I guess that job remains with me.

Speaking of laundry, I often ask my husband to change the bedsheets in our bedroom. He often has trouble with this request, as I do not believe he knows the difference between my winter and summer sheets. My hub should know which sheet set to put on our bed during any season of the year, then figure out the best way to accomplish this task without any drama.

Now, with nothing to do around the house, my husband will only have to mow the lawn and shovel the driveway. A home hub would certainly make his life easier, and I hope it will do the same for me someday.

Carol F. Heavern, of Buffalo, is a computer tutor who gets nervous around voice-activated devices.

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