Tech News and Commentary
Dave and the team discuss teens and social media, Apple return to the office three days a week, the results of Martian drilling, the FCC rejecting finding for a rural satellite provider, CRISPR and fertilizing, Apple’s next big event, and more.
John in Bridgewater, New Jersey listens to the Podcasts and is participating with the App and asked: “Looking for a little help with some Alexa-controlled light switches. I’ve done most of the ones in my house and it’s usually just a single switch controlling a light or a fixture. I’ve done one that is a 3-way, which is two switches that control one light. But I’m having trouble finding switches that say they’ll work with a 4-way, which is a fixture that can be controlled by three different switches. I’ve been looking for a while. So I figured I’d ask you guys because you’re sometimes, most of the time, smarter than me. So if you can help out with this, I’d appreciate it.”
John, the only 4-way smart switch weve seen advertised is a Lutron Caseta offering. Lutron has been around for a long time and their products tend to work well, unfortunately they dont work on their own.
For the Lutron Caseta 4-way switch to work, and specifically for it to work with Alexa you will need to use Lutrons Caseta Home Switch as well.
There may be another solution to your problem, though. If all you really want is to turn a light on and off you can just use smart light bulbs instead. Then any regular smart switch will do, since theyll be turning them on and off wireless anyway, so no special wiring is needed, and Alexa will be able to control them directly as well.
There are tons and tons of smart light bulbs in any of the colors, brightness, and warmth available from any other modern lightbulb so finding one that fits your needs would be trivial and they have the added benefit of lasting a very long time.
Don in LaBelle, Florida listens online and asked: “A question about Amazon Echo. Why does it turn on the light 10-15 times a day and I don’t have it scheduled for any particular time? (He doesn’t specify if he means the ring light on the device, or an actual light in the room. -cg)”
Don, if you mean a light bulb, then you may want to remove it from your network, reset it, and add it fresh again.
Having said that, we suspect that youre talking about the light ring on the Echo device itself.
If thats the case, its turning on because it thinks that someone is using its trigger word. Echo speakers are constantly listening for the word Alexa, if they hear anything that sounds like it might be Alexa theyll turn on and await further commands.
Something in your house seems to be making a sound that your speakers interprets as being relatively close to Alexa and its triggering it to be ready to respond.
Robert in Miami listens Online and used the AskDave button on our site to submit his question and asked: “My question is regarding wristwatch cameras. I need you to recommend something that’s dependable, that doesn’t need constant recharging, and can do video as well as photo captures. What do you say, Dave?”
Robert, unfortunately you wont find that in the market today.
No major company is making wristwatch cameras anymore, Samsung did a long time ago, but never expanded on them after their initial try.
All you will find in the market today are cheap attempts with all the problems you mentioned, the software wont be dependable, the hardware wont be good in general, the battery wont last, and they will generally not be very useful.
As of today, the best option you have for a portable high quality camera that is always on you, is a smartphone.
Chris in Uncertain, Texas listens on 710 KEEL and asked: “Where I’m at, I don’t have Internet. I’m wondering… How reliable is Starlink?”
Chris, a few months ago it was reliable and relatively reasonable, price wise, all things considered.
These days though, there have been lots of talk of price hikes, the added cost of heating the equipment to work in the winter, and of degrading service now that its finally operating under a regular load.
It may just be growing pains and they may recover as they expand their network, but for right now you may want to wait and see how things go. If they plans get more expensive and the system doesnt work as well, then it may no be worth the investment in the future.
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