We got an Alexa for Christmas from somebody who clearly doesn't know us terribly well. Averse as I am to technology in general, and useless as we both are at anything requiring an internet connection and a modicum of engineering skill, we've more or less left her alone on the kitchen counter in an unspoken agreement to be 'cool with tech' and also 'clueless, actually'.
I have no idea how she's been passing the time, but every so often she announces, with the equivalent of an e-cough, that she's still here.
The array of blue lights will kick off and, randomly, bracing music will start up. Disconcerting, but we honestly can't be bothered to figure it out. Her taste isn't bad, as it happens.
As she inexplicably refuses to play anything on my Spotify account - robustly defending the complex licensing arrangements she has entered into - we left her be.
We're both working from home, so her eclectic choices are not always welcome, but I figure it helps her get through her virtual day.
So it was with more than a little alarm that I read Revenue had sent out a guidance note to its employees who are working remotely (or WFH, to use the parlance), telling them not to discuss confidential files of, eh, their clients in the vicinity of virtual assistants.
It advises them to unplug the device or use a different part of the house to make calls to colleagues about tax matters in case they're twigged by global tech companies. Given their peculiar relationship with paying tax, they're hardly likely to feature anyway.
The only implication is that either myself or himself are randomly doing our business in song titles.
'Social Disease', 'Working Day and Night' and 'Cruel Summer' are beating 'Good Vibrations' and 'Don't Worry, Be Happy' in the Ryan charts.
The voice of the people - with added pot plants
I'm of the firm view that 90pc of meetings for the last decade could have been conducted by an email anyway, but because we're all so mad about remaining 'connected' at the moment, Zoom, Skype and Microsoft Teams, featuring pot plants, laundry, pets and children, have become the norm.
Now a study from Trinity College claims this is all having a detrimental effect on our voices. All that waiting to get your spoke in is causing "hoarseness and dry, tight or lump-in-the-throat feelings". Inflammation and straining the voice could result in long-term problems, it adds.
I think it must be a bit like when the telephone was first invented. People would stand in their hall, in awe of the device, and proceed to shout down the handset to Auntie Mary in Cork loud enough she could actually hear you anyway from above in Dublin.
Proving that the old ways are still the best
Since the over-70s have been allowed back out, they seem to be thoroughly enjoying their new-found freedom after being cooped up for so many weeks, delighted to be able to enjoy a proper walk and fresh air.
But I've been struck by the difference those weeks have made. Most cocooners are fresh as a daisy, dressed up for their constitutional, wearing a fetching hat or colourful scarf and a big smile.
They're thrilled to see other humans, as well as dogs, birds and ducks. They nod happily as they pass at a social distance.
The rest of us, on the other hand, numbed by the sameness of our Covid-19 lives, have morphed into shadows of our former selves, stuck to the leggings and baggy T-shirt we've been wearing since March 18. The seniors have something to teach us.