California Speaks update of 4/25

Team Name (tag this post with your team name as well): California Speaks

What we did the past week: Fully implemented the search function (“search for {term}”) in the skill, and have uploading of files reside on Amazon S3 (not any personal server).

Issues we had with gathering material (finding sources, verifying facts, interviews, etc.):

Issues we had with producing the content (writing, recording, editing, etc.): It looks like California Speaks won’t be updating for a while, so there won’t be new content in the near future.

Technical issues (with WordPress or Alexa, etc.): I struggled with running ffmpeg on AWS, it’s just running manually on my laptop for now.

Other questions we ran into:

What we are going to do this week. Things to improve. Who is doing what: Publish the skill, and respond to user feedback.

How we are going to test our skill this week: Go through the flow diagram and make sure each path works as expected.

Help we need:

California Speaks 4/25 homework

My marketing plan for the California Speaks skill will be broken up into two parts. First, I’d like to attract new listeners and direct them to the Alexa skill, and second, convert existing listeners to use the skill.

To attract new listeners, I’d put up fliers around campus that advertise California Speaks, and direct readers to listen with Alexa. A QR code or short URL would make it easy for people to quickly add the skill straight from their smartphone. I would also consider asking other local radio stations in California, including San Jose State’s, to promote California Speaks in a 20-30 second clip.

To convert existing listeners, I’d ask California Speaks to mention that you can now listen to episodes using your Amazon Alexa at the end of every episode. They could also promote the skill on their existing social media channels (Facebook and Twitter), as well as on their radio stations during the weekly broadcast of the question and answers.

Team California Speaks update 2018-04-11

What we did the past week:
I spent the past week learning about how Amazon Web Services works, and modifying the existing skill code to store all of the files on AWS. It should theoretically work using the AWS Lambda interface that Alexa recommends but I don’t think it actually does yet.
Technical issues (with WordPress or Alexa, etc.):
A lot of the AWS documentation seems outdated. But I got it mostly working with trial and error.
Other questions we ran into:
How much money are people willing to pay to make this work? It seems like we will pass the free limits eventually.
What we are going to do this week. Things to improve. Who is doing what:
I’m going to make sure the basic functionality works, and the downloading and encoding process fully works on AWS. If there’s time afterwards I’m going to implement the “search” functionality.

Assignment 3 Task 2

The San Jose Mercury News reported that some San Jose City Council members and city staff signed non-disclosure agreements with Google, during discussions about the tech giant buying city property near the Diridon Station in downtown. San Jose’s City Attorney Rick Doyle said that NDAs are becoming more common when dealing with large tech companies, despite public questions about whether city officials accountable to the public should be allowed to sign NDAs.

One of Hillary Clinton’s top aides in her 2016 presidential campaign has filed paperwork to run for governor of California. Amanda Renteria threw her hat into the ring earlier today, shocking some political leaders. Renteria is currently the Chief of Operations for the California Department of Justice, and has worked for Senator Dianne Feinstein in the past.

Passengers on a flight to Honolulu might have started their vacation off with a bang…literally. A United Airlines flight on route to the holiday destination had its engine cover fall off with a bang, leading to an emergency landing in Honolulu. The Federal Aviation Agency is still investigating what might have caused the Boeing 777 aircraft to malfunction like that.

Week 1 assignment

The first skill I enabled was “Clean Joke of the Day” by Pineywoods Tech, LLC. When you ask Alexa for the news, it will tell you a joke first. I picked the skill since it seemed lighthearted and simple. The joke is read by Alexa, not prerecorded, so it entirely messed up the joke, since it happened to be bear with long pause one, and Alexa did not pause to finish the punchline.

“Washington Post” was the next skill I enabled. It is published by the newspaper itself. The content it has appears to be updated live. It supports multiple modes, including reading the headlines, a politics brief, and a news quiz. The headlines are read out loud by Alexa, and was hard to listen to. It frequently stumbled on names, and was hard to listen to. The politics brief was read by a reporter, and was a softer and more comforting voice.

The last skill I tried out was “Ambient Sounds: Fireplace sounds” by Invoked Apps LLC. It is a very simple skill, as it just plays the sound of a fireplace. I think it will run forever until you ask Alexa to stop. The company has also published other sounds, including a brook, the ocean, birds, and so on. I think the main appeal for these skills will be helping people who cannot sleep in a different environment ease in to the different sounds.