Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Inspired by the holiday season, emerging voice-first technology, and too much eggnog — I’ve twisted the classic poem from Clement Clarke Moore into a modern Christmas tale.

My holiday wish is that a few developers are inspired to build their own Alexa skills and fill my Amazon Echo with cool custom skills in 2018. I hope you find this fun and filled with holiday cheer.

‘Twas the night before Christmas,
when all through the hills
Not an Alexa was stirring,
not even 5,000 cat skills;

The Echos were connected
to wi-fi with care,
In hopes that new features
soon would be there;

The devs were nestled
all snug it their beds;
While visions of incentives
danced in their heads;

And Bezos in his rocket,
and AWS on the map,
Had just fried our brains
with their re:Invent rap.

When out from Alexa
there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed
to listen to her chatter.

Away to the device
I flew like a flash,
Tripping over my Dot
and programmable dash.

The screen from my
brand new Echo Show,
Gave a lustre of midday
to devices below.

When what to my
developer eyes did appear,
But a miniature Spot
and eight Alexa pioneers.

With Alexa evangelists
so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment
he must be St. Nick.

More rapid than Lambda
his skills they came,
And he whistled, and shouted,
and invoked them by name:

“Now, Song Quiz! now, Rain Sounds!
now Flash Briefings and Jeopardy!
On, Beer Bot! on, Potterhead Quiz!
on, Mystic Mirror and Inspire Me!

To the top of the search!
to the top of Amazon’s leader wall!
Now invoke away! invoke away!
invoke away all!”

As keyboards that before
the developers fly,
When meet with an error,
give another try;

So up to the rankings
the Alexa skills they flew
With the sleigh full of Echos,
and St. Nicholas too —

And then, in an utterance,
I heard on the speaker,
The slots and intents
of each new feature.

As I drew in my ear,
and was turning around,
Down the dev portal
St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed as Alexa,
from his head to his foot,
And his woofer was covered
with sound files and aux input;

A bundle of devices
he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a developer
getting approval feedback.

His LEDs — how they twinkled!
his light ring, how merry!
His Dolby was crisp,
his smart home integration legendary!

His seven microphones
picked up all the audio,
And the wake words
were as clear as the snow;

The stump of a cord
he held tight in his base,
And the notifications,
it encircled his head with grace;

He had hand-free calling
and a little cylinder belly,
That replied when invoked,
like a clerk at a deli.

He was quick and responsive,
a right jolly old elf,
And I said “Alexa!” when I saw him,
in spite of myself;

A wink of his lights
and a twist of his top,
Soon gave me to know
I had nothing to stop;

He spoke so many words,
putting SSML to work,
And filled all the rooms;
it gave me a smirk.

And connecting to the cloud
with his API,
And giving a nod,
Alexa said goodbye;

He sprang to his sleigh,
to evangelists gave a whistle,
And away they all flew
like a Blue Origin missile.

But I heard Alexa exclaim,
ere he drove out of sight —
“Happy Christmas to all,
and to all a good night!”

Merry Christmas!

Here’s an article I wrote about If you want to learn more about Alexa skill development — and how it’s a great gateway to cloud computing. Then be sure to enable the Santa Claus skill to see if you’ve been naughty or nice!

Why learning to code Alexa Skills is the gateway to a cloud computing job
There are radical economic shifts underway. Society is moving from commodity-based capital toward intellectual capital…medium.freecodecamp.orgNaughty or Nice?
Naughty or Nice? — Santa Claus is making a list and checking it twice! Do you want to know if you are naughty or nice…devpost.com

AWS Community Hero, Alexa Champion, and maker of dad jokes.
Follow me on Twitter @drewfirment. #WePowerTech