Tech News and Commentary
Dave and the team discuss Facebook surfacing public group discussions in feeds, Microsoft’s Xbox Series X news, Apple’s and Epic’s troubles, SpaceX firing more satellites into orbit, a new medical tech, and more.
Charles in McComb, Mississippi listens online and is calling via the App and asked: “Is there a way to setup your Echo Dots as a surround sound?”
Charlie, yes there is.
The exact configurations allowed will depend on which speakers you have, but you may be able to get 1.1 and 2.1 audio if you have an Echo device with a subwoofer, or a 1.0 and 2.0 audio if you dont.
The big catch is that you will need a Fire TV Stick 4K or a Fire TV Cube. You wont be able to just do this from the speakers themselves.
If you do have one of those, just go into Devices and Set Up Audio System and a Home Cinema option will walk you through the rest.
On thing to note here is that you mentioned the Echo Dots in particular and the Dots are not really great speakers. Theyre more omnidirectional microphones that talk back than speakers.
Dont expect great audio quality if they are the only Echo devices you own.
Thomas in Brunswick, GA asked: “Hopefully you can give me some insight on Solar and battery banks. Thanks for any information you can give for while we’re out camping and can utilize this equipment.”
Thomas if youre tent camping, dont expect any miracles. Batteries are heavy and big rigid solar panels work better than small flexible ones.
If youre in a camper, you will probably have a better experience with solar. Look into ETFE panels and an MTTP controller if you can, that will maximize what goes into your battery.
Lithium batteries are great and will get you a lot more mAH than a marine deep cycle battery, but you will pay quite a bit more for them.
If youre fully mobile and just in a tent, your options go down a little, look at GoSun and Jackery for more portable options but keep in mind that a small flexible panel will take a very long time to charge the battery and without a charged battery you dont have a way to charge your electronics.
Larry in Metamora, Michigan Listens on AM800 CKLW and asked: “Hi Dave and Chris, Glad your both recovering from Covid19.My question; How do you disable the Google assistant on an Android phone? I attempted to disable it and it came back during un wanted times like when I am listening to a podcast. I love your show and listen when I am out and about”
Larry, there should be an explicit setting to turn it off, but its a pain to get to.
Go to your phones settings app, from there youll need to go to Google, then Account Services, then Search, Assistant and Voice, and in there to Google Assistant.
Within the Assistant tab you can go to phone, and in there you can set the assistant switch to off.
In other words, Google considers it a selling point and does not want this to be easy Its doable though if you grab a shovel and dig through settings for long enough, though.
Jim in Houston, Mississippi listens on SuperTalk 101.9 and asked: “I have a security system I’m having trouble with. I have 2 cameras hooked up to it and have a HD recorder. It was working fine and I changed providers, and increased my upload and download speed. Now my cameras won’t work. They do not receive anything at all. There’s no signal. I about decided it may be the “HDM-one” cables. (I’m sure he means HDMI). Could that be a possibility?”
Jim, if both cameras are connected via independent HDMI cables, then probably not.
Are these cameras that you can check on your phone? If you have a monitor that the cameras plug into directly then the odds of the cables being a problem is higher, but if these are cameras that broadcast to your phone, then its more likely that some equipment from your new internet provider is the cause.
It may just be a closed port somewhere that you need to open for the cameras to be able to speak to the world. Before you buy any new cables it may be good to reach out to your new internet provider and ask if theyve had issues with cameras and if so, how you should resolve it.
Some companies can control the routers they provide remotely so they may be able to open up the right ports for you.
Craig in Snellville, Georgia and asked: “I’d like to know the differences between the Google Pixel phones.”
Craig, the current lineup is made up of the Pixel 5 and the Pixel 4a.
The Pixel 5 has a 6 inch screen, it comes in gray and black, and it features 5G connectivity if you have a 5G plan.
The screen itself is always on and it features something Google calls Smooth Display, which is just higher frame rate at 90hz and Gorilla Glass 6.
Its battery is 4080mah which you can use to charge other devices from the phone itself.
The Pixel 5 doesnt have a headphone jack.
The Pixel 4a does have a headphone jack, it comes with a 6.2 inch screen which is slightly wider but mainly taller than the Pixel 5s.
That screen doesnt have the Smooth Display feature, or the Gorilla Glass 6, but it is still always on.
The phone also features 5G if you have a 5G plan and it comes in black and white.
The battery on the Pixel 4a is smaller and it cant be used to charge other devices.
Both come with Android 11, the Pixel 4a at $499 is less expensive than that the Pixel 5 at $699.
Neither breaks $1000, which may be a sign that phone manufacturers couldnt get away with charging mid-range laptop prices for phones after all.
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