Nicholas Girard Week 8, presentation intro, audio portion, and flow chart link

After tossing out many more complex ideas, a few concepts seem like they’ll be easier to understand on the user and programming side I came up with an Idea that reads news from publishers near you with a local tag.

People don’t want to search for the news, and getting your local news can sometimes be hard to seek out. I’m aiming to increase the connection between a local and their local news agencies.

When I’m working in the kitchen or when I would hang out by myself, I wanted to just listen to NPR through tunein, but sometimes I wanted more local stories. Asking to read websites by name doesn’t work. Asking for stories from local publishers like the San Francisco Chronicle doesn’t work.
Now I’m introducing the idea for Alexa local news.
On first time setup, the skill will save a small bit of data that tells Alexa where to search.
IP to address isn’t very accurate, but the skill could play a story with 100 mile radius to search and still be just a few miles off without a problem, so we can use this and the “local” tag on newspaper websites to play samples, and with user permission, their full stories.
We can also search twitter with a list of names and play the story with the most retweets in a
We can also cross reference the papers with twitter usernames and “local” in the headline.
early development would just cover urban hubs in California to create the headline lists.

This is a mock interaction between a User and Alexa (myself) for a news service.


User: Alexa open local news:

Alexa: Welcome to local news
Pick a local news source: 1.Mercury news. 2. San Francisco Chronicle 3. Silicon Valley Business journal

User: 2
Alexa: Here are a few headlines to choose from
1. The Regulars: Carpenter crafts cable cars’ beauty


  1. SF on verge of banning sales of new fur clothes


  1. Comments on housing bill disappear from SF candidate Kim’s Facebook page


User: 2

Alexa: Much to the chagrin of Union Square clothiers, San Francisco is on the fast track to becoming the first big city in the country to ban the sale of new fur clothing.

The Board of Supervisors is expected to vote Tuesday to bar the sale of everything from mink stoles to fur-lined gloves to hats — even rabbit’s foot good-luck key chains. Owning furs would still be allowed, as would sales by secondhand and charity stores.

Berkeley and West Hollywood already have similar bans — but neither one has San Francisco’s reputation as a fashion center, let alone the number of stores that sell fur.

“It is estimated that around the world some 50 million animals are slaughtered in gruesome ways so that we can wear their fur and look fashionable,” said Supervisor Katy Tang, the ban’s author. “My hope is that it will send a strong message to the rest of the world.”

Alexa: do you want to hear more?

User: No

Alexa: Do you want to hear another SF Chronicle story?

User: Yes

Here are a few headlines to choose from
1. The Regulars: Carpenter crafts cable cars’ beauty

  1. SF on verge of banning sales of new fur clothes


  1. Comments on housing bill disappear from SF candidate Kim’s Facebook page

User: 1
Alexa: Luis Ferreira moved to San Francisco over 30 years ago from Madera, Portugal, with ambitions to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps and become a master craftsman. Today, he serves as one of four carpenters who are given the unique responsibility of restoring and repairing San Francisco’s greatest tourist attraction, the cable car.

His specialty, according to his team, are the one-of-a-kind curves it takes to make the seats and roofing of the cable car.

“They learned that I have this technique to work on these garlands and curves and twists,” says Ferreira. “The better the challenge, the more I put my mind into it.”

The SFMTA Woods Division cable car shop does not build new cars from scratch; their only task is to repair and restore the 44 cars that are currently active in the fleet. Ferreira doesn’t see himself leaving his position anytime soon. He enjoys being a part of San Francisco’s history.

Alexa: do you want to hear more?
User: no
Alexa:  Do you want to hear another SF Chronicle story?
User: no

Alexa: Do you want to exit?
User: Yes

Alexa: okay, just say Alexa: open local news when you want to come back.

Here’s how it works

Nick, Matt, revised UPD response

Nicholas Girard:
San Jose State University was surprised by a possible school shooting on February 28th.

A photo of threatening bathroom graffiti circulated twitter. However, campus officials didn’t send out an alert until hours later. Some students found the response inadequate and unsafe.

Sarah Helwig even wrote a critique that she published online. She’s a public relations student at San Jose State.

Helwig says the text alert from campus police didn’t tell students any plan of action.
Sarah Helwig: “And I think they dropped the ball by not explaining it in the first place”


The automated Alert SJSU system sent texts to students saying “UPD is aware of the graffiti in DMH. We are investigating the credibility and will take precautions.”

Helwig says the vagueness of the text created a potentially unsafe situation. Some students didn’t even know that there   might be a danger on campus

Sarah Helwig: “I had plenty of students that I talk to afterward and they were like oh! the graffiti what about the graffiti. But they had no idea what was really at stake”

The message read “shooting today, 2/28”  
University police chief Alan Cavallo spoke to the Spartan Daily. Said simply, the police withheld the message to prevent a panic.
Nicholas Girard, California One.


Nicholas Girard, week 6, revised script

NG: After years of high mass-shooting activity, opinions on gun control are starting to change. The Florida shooting victims have been taking to stages and demanding change more than any previous survivor group.
Currently, it’s legal to go into a gun show in Nevada and buy guns.
KA: “That’s absolutely ridiculous. You could be selling to, you know: a gang member, you could be selling to a psychopath, you could be selling to someone who just got out of the mental hospital the day before. Like you have no idea.”
NG: Kelsey Agostini doesn’t pay much attention to politics. She’s from the San Francisco Bay Area and she wants gun shows to at least require some kind of fast background check system
KA: “It would definitely help people who are selling guns understand what kind of person they’re selling to.”
NG: Based on facts published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, Gun-related violence in California increases after Gun shows in Nevada, multiplying interpersonal gun violence by 4 after gun shows.
While the momentum is gaining, the National Rifle Association still has a tight grip on the Republican

party. Republicans will not likely change their position on gun control unless challenged at the ballot box. Nicholas Girard California One.

Nick SSML assignment

Hi, I’m Warren, and I’m interviewing my guest, peace.
North Korea’s diplomat Kim Yo Jong recently made an appearance at the pyeongchang
Olympics. Her smile is a sneer and she sits above Mike Pence. Obviously insulting our global hegemony. Don’t you think?
No.. uh. I think that’s just how her face looks. We should be celebrating peaceful relations while North Korea is on the world stage. The fact that we weren’t offered any peace deal is an obvious snub. And we should be angry. Don’t you think? No. I’d disagree I’d say that the fact that, when interviewed, Kim yo Jong said she wouldn’t make political theatre out of an international event. While the opportunity for a deeper conversation on a peace agreement, Kim sat down near Mike Pence at the olympics with no real cost. The photo spoke to the ceasefire, and showed that we are not nations currently at war, or currently launching nukes at each other. Hmm. Well. Just to be safe let’s just conduct military drills on their borders and kill leaders without nuclear arms, that’ll make them stop arming themselves. Don’t you think? No I think that it’s really a matter of … ugh.
god damnit.
We’re done here.

Oil and State

Big mess:
Two oil companies went bankrupt last year, leaving the state to clean up the mess.  California State lawmakers are considering spending 100 million dollars. The state needs to clean up two offshore oil drilling facilities and a man-made island.

 Second story: Youtube Propaganda:
A Russian state broadcaster has obtained hundreds of millions of views on youtube…

The director of National intelligence accused Russia Today of promoting Russian propaganda just last year…..  Youtube plans to solve the problem by making changes to its platform. Youtube will now start labeling news videos that receive some government funding.

Assignment #1

“Alexa I want to learn something” enables the curiosity skill. This can lead you on a path that follows your interests. Even though Alexa continues to use her robotic voice, the skill matches the interface. There is no break from “her” and it feels like Alexa can engage conversationally. After the initial fact, she prompted me with the options Would you like to “hi, are you curious about rocketry, or evolution?
She even responded to neither, I thought it was going to be limited to yes or no as prompts. Even though this is a default advertised skill, it has the polish that many skills wish to have.

4 out of 5 brains

Find my Phone seems like the most useful Amazon Alexa skill, not that I would lose my phone regularly, no, but setting it up prior and having the knowledge that I can now throw my phone between the cushions and not even have to get up or ask anyone to dial my phone to receive a call thrills a slothful demon inside me. 4 out of 5 couch potatoes

Good Night: If you’re going to be alone in an apartment, it can get very lonely, but if you have an echo with the good night skill enabled, you’ll have an eloquent poet quote Shakespeare and end your night on a high just before you drift to sleep.  Here’s a sample of a response to “Good night.”
“All I wish

a sheet of clouds for your bed

And bright crystals for the stars

while you sleep

may the angels bring sweet songs

that bring you bright dreams

good night.”

While she gets the timing off, the sentiment is sweet.

4 out of 5 sonnets


“Sleep sounds, beautiful dream” This app won’t be stopped between queries, so a gentle piano tune will play throughout your conversations with Alexa when she isn’t talking or listening.
I don’t like that it takes a hard “Alexa, stop.” to actually stop the sounds. But I do like the ambiance it adds to a space like a chiropractic office. This would be perfect if small sounds wake you up, as a constant sound is preferred if you want to sleep.

3.5 out of 5 stars for a limited soundtrack.