California News Reviews


From my interviews I found that people were fine with the Alexa voice and that it was easy to understand. The pace also works and gave enough time to think about what was said. My older sister who is 26 said that she would most likely listen to it in the morning or when she was bored. She did suggest that adding titles in between the story would help. Such as “in politics” or “in business.” Most people said they would listen in the morning or the evening. My youngest sibling did point out that she found the content interesting however, “as a teenager,” this skill would not be of interest to her.

I interviewed my three sisters age 26, 18, and 16 and my husband who is 22..

Matt’s interviews

I found from my interviews that most people were fine with just hearing the Alexa voice. The only complaint was from Kelly Abbott, Teacher at Castro Valley High school age 36 who said the Alexa voice had a little bit of a hard time with some words and names so she was forced to play the flash briefing over once or twice. All three of my interviewees said they liked how the skill gave news from different parts of the state. They all also agreed that they would most likely use the skill in the morning when waking up before starting their day. Tim Seitz age 26 did say he would like if the skill could give emergency updates if something big took place in the state that day.

People interviewed, Tim Seitz age 26, Matt’s roommate, Brendan Byrne age 24, SJSU engineering student, and  Kelly Abbott, Teacher at Castro Valley High school age 36,

Yale’s interviews

It seems that with my interviews the common consensus really boils down to whether or not they are buying the central premise of the skill. Jay had an issue with the daily nature of the post, but I don’t think with our current workforce we would be able to post twice a day. None had mentioned any grievances with the Alexa voice or the length, which lends me to believe that our approach is solid. I do agree that we might need some more political content, maybe we can ensure that one post is at least somewhat politically measured.

Jay Clouse, roommate: Said he thought the length of each individual item was compact, which is good. The focus on California is neat, but he was not sure if he would use it EVERY morning.

Danny Lin, roommate: Kept his attention at the very least, most of these Alexa skills don’t really do that. Wouldn’t see himself really using it too often because he felt it didn’t really apply to him that much.

Karin Wyatt, mom: She likes the California focus and the fun story at the end, helps her pay attention to the newsier elements. Maybe put some more political intrigue in there.

Gonzo the Great: Testing SSML

What compels a man to live life on the edge? What causes somebody to risk it all, just for the thrill of it? Meet Gonzo the Great, the D I Y stunt devil extraordinaire.

“The feeling I get before the jump is something everybody should feel once in their life. The feeling of complete badassery.”

In Los Angeles, we met up with Gonzo the Great- in a house of his own construction located in a refurbished lot.

“This… this is where you live?”

“Yeah. This is where the magic happens.”

Gonzo took out a loan to buy this lot after an abandoned church had been demolished. He lives alone, spending most of his time working on his make shift stunt palace in his “backyard.”

“Building the house was the easy part. I spend most of my time working on the ramps and traps.”

The “house” is a mainly just a shack. Behind it is dirt ramp, with a dirt bike propped up just a few feet away from it.

“Well, you came here for a reason. Want to see me jump?”

Gonzo quickly changes, donning a- you guessed it- a home-made bedazzled jumpsuit, rife with sparkles and sequins. It’s quite a sight.

*sounds of a dirt bike*

“Ok, ok, you ready? Here we go!”

*sounds of dirt bike speeding off*

With great confidence, Gonzo the great speeds up to the ramp. He doesn’t even make ten feet off the ground.

“Oh man, that was great! Did you see that? That might’ve been the best jump I’ve ever had! Woohoo!”

With Gonzo the Great, the title might be better fitting for his confidence and not his abilities.

Assignment 2

  1. The NBA skill, published by NBA Digital allows Alexa users to get all their pertinent NBA information whenever asked. Alexa will ask users whether they are interested in a live update on any NBA game currently happening, or share the schedule for future games. This skill will appeal to any basketball fan that needs a quick update on their favorite teams. For a diehard Warriors fan, this skill is sure to employed multiple times throughout the day. Since this skill is integrated with a home assistance device, this skill is best utilized for somebody currently engaged with something else than the game being broadcasted. It is particularly useful for a somebody working at home or somebody wanting a quick check on the score before leaving the house.

2. Zen Sounds: Healing Sounds, published by VoiceCities, is a skill that plays a wide variety of soothing music for the listener. Zen Sounds is part of a series of other ambient music selections each fitting a particular mood or atmosphere. The music is the aural equivalent to slowly burning incense, aimed to unobtrusively float here and there. Since the music is so peaceful, listeners may leave it on for extended periods, lulled into a state of introspection or contemplation. “Healing Sounds” is perfect for yoga with friends or a mom looking for a moment of peace.

3. Curiosity, published by, is a fun skill that chains together topic starters. Upon initiating the app, Alexa will ask what one of two topics you prefer. After stating which topic you prefer, Alexa will deliver a short, interesting factoid regarding that subject, after which, Alexa will offer you another separate set of topics to choose from. Since there is a pivot from topics, listeners will be compelled to continue using the skill, learning a wide variety of information in the process. This skill is perfect for the trivia fiends out there, adding another random fact in their toolbelt for when they might need it.

Assignment 1

  • Question of the Day, developed by VoicePress.AI, is a short, fun Skill that asks the user a simple question at the beginning of every day. You are only allowed one question per day, so it’s a high stakes trivia game that will keep you on your toes every morning. If you get the question right, you move onto the bonus round, giving you another chance to boost your score. Some days even offer double points for the correct answer. Perfect for the family during breakfast, or a future Jeopardy contestant.
  • In a similar vein, Music Trivia by is another streamlined trivia based Skill, this time centered around trivia facts regarding the history in popular music. Luckily, this skill is not limited per day- instead asking five questions per session. This app is perfect for the music buff trying to show off their knowledge of music history, a new acolyte sharpening their skills, or even as a drinking game for a party.
  • Retropolis is a Skill from The Washington Post. Narrated by Reporter Mike Rosenwald, Retropolis is a short show detailing the forgotten stories of the past. Wake up every weekday morning right with a thought provoking podcast, focusing on everything from spies to escaping Alcatraz. Integrated into the app is the ability to get the front page news from the Washington Post. If you are the kind of person that needs a something to ponder as you make your morning coffee, this is the app for you.