44 days in certification without any communication - I Quit.
I submitted my "EchoTTT" skill 44 days ago, and so far have not heard a [b][u]single thing[/u][/b] back. No acknowledgement, no email, no followup. My conclusion is that I wasted 30-40 hours of time of a good amount of money making a very useful skill (and web site) that just got dropped into a black hole. This is not a sane or developer-friendly environment. I quit. I was really interested and very motivated to work on Alexa apps, but for now, I've lost interest. I really hope Amazon continues to improve in this area and becomes more developer-friendly.
Today I received an email from Amazon assuring me that my skill was still in the certification process, and apologizing for the delay. I'm glad to hear this, and I encouraged them to provide at least some feedback/acknowledgement for developers like us. So maybe my "I quit" was premature (and perhaps childish, out of frustration), but I'll still wait to see the outcome of this to see if Alexa development is really worth the time investment. I still like the idea and potential, but the process needs to be less frustrating for me to maintain interest.
It's annoying when you have to throw a fit to get service. >_< I'm tipping on that precipice too. Just got a bill for my AWS usage for last month. None of my skills that need webserver hosting have gone public yet, but they're saying it's going to cost $12 a month for a site with no traffic. Yeah, it's not a lot. But I'm going to need some revenue stream from these skills for them to even pay for themselves. (Not including the labor I've put into them. Which I'm quite sure I'll never see the money back on!)
I've got half an answer from them so far. I had two instances running. You get 750 hours for free. The thing is those are on-the-clock hours, not processor hours. Even though it's a VM, and not bare metal, they charge for time, not usage. Even through the cost to [i]them[/i] is usage based. So even though neither were being appreciably used, both clocked up time and exceeded the free tier. Borderline dishonest business practices aside, things get a bit squirly after that. There was also a charge for "load balancer time" for the two instances. Again, the free hours would have covered one, but not two. If I remember right, the Amazon instructions said to turn load balancing on, and there wasn't actually any way to turn it off. What I don't get is why [i]one server[/i] needs load balancing. That defies logic. Other than the logic of trying to make money by making you turn on a feature you don't need and then charging you for it. That would have bumped it up to the $30 range. But there was this mysterious $18 credit for "Unauthorized Usage Exposed Key Root:0053276364". Their support people declined to explain that one. So we're still in discussion. Other than that I was charged $0.20 for Cloud Watch and $0.39 for EBS, whatever that is. Not enough to complain about. Beyond that, I have to admit I haven't read the 40,000 words of documentation they pointed me at "explaining" the charges. And they did offer to refund the charge for the second server if I shut it down. (Probably to discourage people setting up multiple bogus accounts to get the free tier multiple times.) So it looks like I'm shutting down the server with all the Alexa samples from the EchoProofOfConcepts project. Sorry guys.
The big charge is for load balancing, I think. If you turn that off you will like get close to having all charges occur in the 'free tier' The difficulty with turning off load balancing is that there are a couple hoops to jump through for https and setting up your certificate. I went through the same shock after the first month, but now it is basically free. Steve
I do the cheat where I have a front end Lambda service that just forwards to my AWS server. So I don't need a certificate. So, hell yeah, I'm happy to turn off the load balancer. Like I said, I can't conceive of what use it is with only one server. And, since this is a rant thread... Edgar the Dog? EDGAR THE DOG? [b]EDGAR THE DOG???[/b] I just had to review that for my blog.
> I could barely contain my WTF. Yeah, the published Skills list is a big WTF for me too. Nothing says "The Echo is a fairly useless novelty item" like the list of Skills Amazon has chosen to publish to the world (my own Guess The Number included). Blah.
I am curious about the list of skills. If I pick up my iPhone and launch the Alexa app, and if I look at the skills list, I see a fairly short list (less than 200 items?) full of mostly useless skills. I'm confused. Is this the whole entire app store? Or are these the skills that Amazon, for some wild reason, wants to promote? Is there a place I can go and see all of the skills that are available for the Amazon Echo?
It's the entire app store - the process of publishing third party apps is fairly new. For a while it was extremely tightly constrained (a few skills every couple weeks), but things have sped up considerably in the last month or so.
Hi Matt, Your EchoTTT app sounds just the ticket! Are you able to share exactly what it does here? I've been using IFTTT and Amazon Echo in conjunction with Phillips Hue and Harmony Hub to control the TV, lights and a few WeMo devices. But the reliability is approximately 95% - and one must remember "exactly" the commands for each action. Im almost at the stage of having to print out a cheat card of commands!..lol Im very pleased you didnt quit, we need people like you here.