Does Alexa allow multi-part queries?

I think Alexa gets really interesting once you consider the possibility of doing multi-part queries, or adding data to a set and then asking for aggregate summaries based on that information. For example, a simple request for the calories in a specific order at a restaurant should be simple. Once Alexa skills move past the “only 1” paradigm, then the gloves will come off and we’ll be in future-town.

Right now with just the basic logic, you can say “Alexa, how many calories are in a Big Mac at McDonalds” given that there is a McDs skill in reality. Alexa will reply “there are a millionty calories, OMG what are you thinking” or something like that. It is all SYN-ACK, challenge-response that is 1 to 1 right now.

Like a MYSQL query on the command line, where you must end with  a semi-colon for it to understand you’re done with the command, the same verbal equivalent needs to happen with Alexa obviously in an intuitive way so people still have the illusion they are talking to a “person”.

Lorem Ipsum: A Love Story

I have used lorem ipsum generators tons of times to generate placeholder text for use in web designs. After a while, I guess this played on my mind, and I started to see a story in the text I was copying from mostly lipsum.com. One — dark and stormy — night I generated a paragraph of lorem ipsum and pasted it into Sublime (my favorite text editor) for my latest web project. This story is the result. Any words you don’t recognize are likely the latin from the lorem ipsum generator. I used them as they sounded to me at the time. This is…random at best. Enjoy:

Lorem loved Ipsum but they had bills to pay. Their dog Dolor loved to sit with Amet, Ipsum’s work buddy whenever he was over. Amet was a consectetur, which was a term known in the industry, specialized in selling Adipiscing machines. Ipsum worked mostly on their online elit platform which explained to customers the features of their machines and why they were useful in simple brochures on the web. Ipsum’s company operated in this narrow market and had found some success because of something they termed “vitae condimentum” which in English is “needed attachments” meaning that the machines they manufactured could not be done without to accomplish the job customers bought them for. Because of this, and Ipsum being the sole expert in the field, he remained employed through many ups and downs. Lorem’s quam aside, the two of them had weathered a suscipit investigation of the company’s high level executives, and a tempus of other things recently. Ipsum had helped land a new account, a company who sold pediatric dental appliances called “The Curabitur”, all while one of the VPs was in court for a molestie scandal. Things were looking up, finally. Even Dolor had managed to find love with a cute lacinia who lived a few houses down from them.

Ipsum was sure this time nothing else could go wrong, and things had to be improving. The very next day he slipped on the warehouse floor and tore his Massa Ligula, a terrible freak accident he didn’t even see coming. Despite his protests that his Ligula couldn’t be “that bad”, and after noticing that his neque was also injured slightly, the company did the right thing by him and awarded him the maximus check they were allowed by law, to be sure that he would urna enough while he recovered. He sat outside on the back porch, checking his laptop to be sure he wouldn’t fall behind on work, while Dolor ran in and out of the porta on the back door, and dug up the neighbor Tristique’s turpis garden. She was currently away in the Carribean on extended vacation, and said she didn’t mind anyway. It was fine for Dolor to enjoy the vegtables, and she wasn’t going to use them, and thought somebody should take advantage of them.

Aliquams Lorem had went from money problems to now worrying about her poor Ipsum getting better. The finances were better now, and would be for some time, but she didn’t want him to do too much and eget reinjured. She remembered the time when they metus in the city. Phasellus was the mayor then, and the only thing she was suscipit of was her vehicula. She would go to the college in the afternoons to sit in the doorway to hear Ipsum lectus about elit and stared shamelessly at his ligula when he wasn’t looking her way. She longed to sit down at the diner with him and nibble some bacon and egestas while she looked pretium, as they had deep convallis on life, its joys and its struggles. It took a long time for her to work up the courage to even say two words to him and ask him out. That was the downside of staring at his ligula so long. She finally choked down the embarrassment and took the plunge. For what seemed like eternity, they talked and ate after Ipsum’s lectus. Their friend Amet would sit a few tables down with his girlfriend — at the time — Arcu. They seemed to have no lacus of anything then. Life was peaceful, and they were in love.

Lorem would drag Ipsum to the Aenean auctor house to see what people would bid for ultrices vacations in Africa, mostly in the Congue. They lacus the funds to bid themselves, but in the interdum, they felt their love deepening in so many eros ways that it nearly scared them both off at times. Lorem certainly enjoyed the “eros” times they had with no quam at all. She considered those times vitae to their budding romance, because she never wanted them to end. She’d made up her mind that Ipsum was the one she wanted to end up with. She was standing in the vestibulum next to the lectus hall, as Ipsum stepped through the doorway into the waning sunlight, and that was it. She ran through her mental checklist just to reassure her that she wasn’t making the wrong decision. Ipsum was perfect, he didn’t have a tempor, she would have absolutely nunc of that. The maximus butterflies she’d ever felt were in her stomach at the sight of him. Even his best friend Amet was great. He saw her standing there twirling her hair nervously with her hand, and looked at her with quisque in his eyes, having finished his lectus, and asked her to tellus him what she was thinking.

Lorem looked up at him, and sheepishly wobbled on one foot, tucking the other behind her heel, embarrassed enough to be thinking about him when he appeared. Then as she was about to speak, she accidentally looked at his LIGULA and he had to have noticed where she was looking this time. He pretended not to but grinned slightly anyway, covering his mouth with his hand so he wouldn’t be so obvious as to laugh at her. It isn’t like he hadn’t noticed how volutpat she was either. He even remarked to himself in the words of an old professor’s anecdote “bring me a tincidunt” meaning some form of alcohol, even if it was from the chemistry lab. Neither of them being as proper as they should made for quite the story in coming days.

It wasn’t long after that day that they got married and joined their two very different lives together. Things weren’t perfect, but Lorem wondered why people always seemed to focus on perfection so much. It wasn’t like anyone had ever got close. She wished just for the simple happiness of love, good friends, and dumb dog to hug. She had all that. It wasn’t until Ipsum’s accident that she thought through it and discovered the libero that comes from being thankful for the many blessings she had in her life.

Her daydream faded away as she realized she heard Ipsum snoring, slumped over on the table, fast asleep, with his face pressed firmly into his laptop, which was furiously producing some kind of alien language in a document that looked serious and important that she knew Ipsum would be unhappy to have destroyed, so she gently shook his shoulder. She was careful not to jostle his neque too much, still in a brace. He absent-mindedly tried to sit up and look around, without much success. Lorem jumped up and began to help him sit upright, but in the middle of it all, they both rolled right off the chair and landed on the concrete with Lorem practically sitting on his chest. Ipsum was so stunned by it all, that he didn’t see her coming. She smiled, grabbed his face and kissed him, long and hard. She stood up and offered him her hands to help him up, but he was just as motionless as when he hit the ground.

“What was that for?” Ipsum asked, flabbergasted.

“It was for you.” she said coyly.

“I know, but what did I do to deserve that?” he asked.

“Oh, I don’t know. Maybe…you just have a really cute, um…ligula?” she said wryly, once again going in for the kill. She kissed him again.

He just smiled like the lovesick puppy he felt like. Then they both stared into each others eyes and laughed until Ipsum said “owwwww”.

It was then that Lorem knew everything — even Ipsum — would be okay.

The End.