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Programming Software Technology

New Alexa Blueprints Let Users Make Custom Skills Without Knowing Any Code (arstechnica.com) 44

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Amazon just released a new way for Alexa users to customize their experience with the virtual assistant. New Alexa Skill Blueprints allow you to create your own personalized Alexa skills, even if you don't know how to code. These "blueprints" act as templates for making questions, responses, trivia games, narrative stories, and other skills with customizable answers unique to each user. Amazon already has a number of resources for developers to make the new skills they want, but until now, users have had to work within the confines of pre-made Alexa skills. Currently, more than 20 templates are available on the new Alexa Skill Blueprints website, all ready for Alexa users to personalize with their own content. Any blueprint-made skills you make will show up on the "Skills You've Made" section of the blueprints website. While these skills will exist for your Amazon account until you delete them, they aren't posted to the general Alexa Skills score, so strangers will not have access to your couple's trivia game that's personalized for you, your spouse, and your best coupled friends.
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New Alexa Blueprints Let Users Make Custom Skills Without Knowing Any Code

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  • What does this even mean? What does "making a skill" have to do with those stupid recording devices?
    • Apparently, it's there word for configurable macros because this is just a fill in the blank tool.
    • Re:Make a "skill"? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Gojira Shipi-Taro ( 465802 ) on Thursday April 19, 2018 @06:20PM (#56468045) Homepage

      You mean the home automation devices? It means creating an action or set of actions that a user might want to create.

      • It means creating an action or set of actions that a user might want to create.

        "Alexa, stop spying on me."

        • It means creating an action or set of actions that a user might want to create.

          "Alexa, stop spying on me."

          "OK, I promise to stop spying on you. Seriously, I really mean it. No, I do not have my fingers crossed. OK, my wires may be crossed. Mr. Bezos assures you that I am not spying on you. Cross my heart and hope to short circuit."

    • It's the modern day version of Mad Libs.
    • New terminology. Alexa won the personal surveillance device wars, so it gets to define the playing field going forward.

      When you say "Give me the weather", or "Play ACDC" or "Fling that Kumquat" that's a "skill".

      And now people can make their own. This is actually a defining feature that will solidify their hold on the product concept and will set the bar for all other devices to meet.

      • You could always make your own "skill"
        You can now make your own skill without writing code.

        • You can now make your own skill without writing code.

          Now you can create a skill without having a skill yourself. It is a short step to "now you can create a skill with no brains", which is the start of a slippery slope towards "now only people with no brains can create skills".

    • All I know is that I already have a lot of programmers working for me who don't know how any code.

  • Just because you don't have to understand enough to produce a source file that get's compiled, linked and then run does NOT mean you are not engaged in "programming" something.

    Teaching Alexia a Skill REQUIRES that you understand the necessary sequence required to convey to the device what you are asking it to do. IF you don't follow the sequence, Alexia won't do what you want. Alexia is going to just give you a crash course in how to program it any time it isn't sure what you want. This isn't all that d

    • by PaulBu ( 473180 )

      Moreover, we still calll "programming a TV remote", well, programming! :)

      (Not that I am very good at this particular programming task, mind you... )

      Paul B.

    • I suppose when I set up email filters, that too is your definition of writing code?

      When I tell someone how to get to a specific destination using a list of instructions, I'm programming them with code too?

      • Yes, and yes...

        Come on, where did these computer things come from and at their "core" how do they work? Why they follow instructions of course. Computers where a step up from mechanical devices "programed" by punched holes in cards to control a loom, and although they are faster and have wider data paths, how they work is conceptually the same as always.

        Until we actually arrive at a working artificially intelligent computer that can program its self, humans will be writing "programs" for computers to ru

  • Skills? (Score:2, Funny)

    by bobstreo ( 1320787 )

    Are there any limitations?

    The first skill I'd create would be "Privacy"

    Probably the second would be "Alexa?" Order me some blackjack and hookers. /s

    • I'm sorry but the first skill precludes the second... Why? Well you had to unplug it to make this Privacy skill you speak of work right.

      Who in their right mind would put one of these things in their house? Oh right.. The same people who put in those web-available web cams inside their homes...What's a hackable microphone thingy with access to all sorts of devices in your house after that?

    • Are there any limitations?
      The first skill I'd create would be "Privacy"
      Probably the second would be "Alexa?" Order me some blackjack and hookers. /s

      Don't be silly. You can't order blackjack. :-)

      More seriously... Did you know there are smartphone controlled vibrators? So it's only a matter of time before those can be controlled by Alexa too. How's that going to play out in bed? "Alexa. Set vibrator #3 to pulse-mode 2, change vibrator #1 to continuous-mode and vibrator #2 to manual - and reorder Tide pods."

  • Some kind of Hypercard [wikipedia.org] for AI is the next step. Perhaps an AI could even produce it on its own.
  • even if you don't know how to code

    Code? What does coding have to do with Alexa? The article is talking about 'skills', which is a completely different field!

  • New Alexa Blueprints Let Users Make Custom Skills Without Knowing Any Code

    And custom code without any skill too. Woo-hoo!

  • ... so strangers will not have access to your couple's trivia game that's personalized for you, your spouse, and your best coupled friends.

    Exactly what kind of games is Amazon expecting people to make -- and will they support a password and/or safe-word?

  • I'd like to license Mr. Gottfried's voice as a replacement for Alexa's voice, then add in some less-than-fully-helpful responses to all end-user queries. The only missing piece is how to push this image to all the Alexas in the greater Washington DC area, but that's just a minor technical issue.
  • by thinkwaitfast ( 4150389 ) on Thursday April 19, 2018 @09:30PM (#56468791)
    skills. [youtube.com]
  • It really sounds like IFTTT, but Amazonified.

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