Tech News and Commentary
Dave and the team discuss brain-computer connections, the Nintendo Switch Lite, Prime Day numbers, and more.
Jaime in Tampa, Florida listens to the podcast and asked: “My mom has an Amazon Echo and she’s afraid to use it because she’s worried that the government can spy on her and listen into her life. I keep telling her “Mom, it’s not gonna do that unless you have that kind of device, like the Echo Show where people can see in the house and stuff.” But she’s worried about the Amazon Echo. Can it be hacked, and if it can, how would it can be hacked. What I basically want to know is: Is my mom right to be paranoid about using one of these devices?”
Jaime, if you’re going to stick a super sensitive bundle of microphones in your home and give it an internet connection, you have to assume that it may be accessible from outside your home.
Amazon has enough customers that the only reason anyone would bother to listen in on your mother is if she was more interesting than you think in some way, but when you connect a microphone to the outside world without knowing how it works, it’s not unreasonable to think what your mother is thinking.
If it makes you feel any better, there are 1000s of other ways the government or anyone else can spy on your mother, phones being the most obvious ones, and if the government wants to listen in on her, they probably won’t bother to hack anything, Amazon was recently bidding for a $10B government contract and they store data from the government.
Odds are they won’t be any more interested in protecting your data at the expense of their profits than AT&T was during the room 641A days.
Jim in Gladewater, Texas listens on KTBB and asked: “You ever heard of Master Voice from back in the 80’s? Wondering if they have anything similar to that, where your voice controls your home.”
Jim, every smart assistant does just that.
The most popular choice right now is probably Amazon’s Alexa and it’s compatible with security cameras, smart lightbulbs, smart thermostats, smart garage door openers and just about anything else you can think of.
Having said that, Google Home is not far behind and even Siri can control more smart home devices than you probably realize exist.
If you’re happy to use your phone as the gateway to your smart home, you can use that, otherwise smart speakers with multidirectional microphones are so common right now that they’re easier to find than regular speakers.
Scott in State College, Pennsylvania and asked: “I have a Samsung Galaxy S7. I like the phone but it seems to run down on battery. I didn’t know if I should just spend the extra money and upgrade it or get like a new battery or some sort of battery pack. If you could give me your thoughts, I would appreciate it. And if you think I should upgrade or get a battery pack, which would you suggest?”
Scott, a battery pack would probably get old very fast. It’s basically like carrying another phone on you.
If the only reason you’re considering another phone is the battery life decreasing, you probably don’t need to buy a new phone at modern smartphone prices.
These days Samsung’s flagship replacement to the S7 will cost close to $1000, a battery won’t even cost you $50.
If all you want is better battery life, you might as well go with a new battery. You may have to pay someone to replace it for you, but even then you’ll be saving a significant amount of money.
Herman in Mansfield, Louisiana listens on 710 KEEL and asked: “Is there a pre-made faraday cage for a large in-home generator?”
Herman, not that we’ve found.
There are some companies that will sell generators with a faraday cage built in, but we haven’t seen cages sold separately. It may be just as well because generators with cages are typically marketed at preppers, and like most things marketed at preppers, they are not cheap.
In theory it shouldn’t be too hard to make one, if you really need one, the question is, what do you need the cage for? there may easier solutions than building something like that.
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