Our house is largely powered by Amazon Alexa's devices. I have even gone so far as to put them into our guest bedroom. This blog post was written as something I put on the dresser for our first house guests using the room after I changed the lighting over to be Alexa powered. Yep. I've just written documentation for the guest room. Deep Sigh. On the positive side my house now has a very, very Star Trek feel to it. This makes me happy.

For people who don't know what an Alexa is, an Alexa is a voice based computing platform that allows you to issue voice commands that can do lots and lots of different things like play music, turn on lights, supply a romantic or dimmed light mood instead of using candles, set timers, etc.

The next section is examples of what you can do in our guest room with its Alexa.

Alexa Example Commands


  • Alexa turn on guest room
  • Alexa turn on guest room lights
  • Alexa turn off guest room lights
  • Alexa set guest room to Savanah Sunset
  • Alexa set guest room to arctic sunrise
  • Alexa turn on guest room
  • Alexa turn on savanah sunset
  • Alexa set guest room to green
  • Alexa set guest room to red


  • Alexa play Journey
  • Alexa play Frank Sinatra
  • Alexa play Raise Your Glass by Pink
  • Alexa play Christmas carols

    Clock and Time

  • Alexa what time is it
  • Alexa set a 10 minute timer
  • Alexa set a timer named check plex for new movies for 10 minutes
  • Alexa set a 7 am alarm
  • Alexa set an alarm for 7
  • Alexa set a 2 minute timer named brush my teeth

    General Life

  • Alexa what is 43 * 523

    What Do I Wear

  • Alexa what is the weather
  • Alexa what temperature is it?

    For Fun

  • Alexa Play Akinator
  • Alexa tell me a joke
  • Alexa why did the chicken cross the road
  • Alexa Mordor thing shelley knows JSJ

And if you want to be kind of an funny jerk you can also say

  • Alexa turn off all lights

This will turn off all lights in the entire house. Boom! Now this seems like an insane feature until you realize that your kids have never found a light they wouldn't prefer to leave on. Deeper sigh.

More Details on Alexa

A single Alexa device costs about $50 and can replace your:

  • Alarm Clock
  • Radio
  • Weather Report
  • Stereo
  • Timer
  • Light Switch

I use the following equipment in our guest room:

In terms of other smart home technologies, I've used X-10 and Iris and I am so, so, so much happier with Alexa.


And, yes, I know the argument about not wanting Amazon to listen in on your home. I don't believe that is a valid concern given that virtually every one reading this generally carries a cell phone that is already doing this (Hey Siri / Hello Google). Scott McNealy pointed out the loss of our privacy back in the 90s. This is not news.

Disclaimer: Oh hell yes I'm an Amazon shareholder. I'm also a proud user of as many AWS APIs as I can find. Go buy an Alexa. Hell please buy six or seven. I have at least six of them.