Fun with technology!

If you can think of something to talk about that is not related to knives, discuss it here.
User avatar
TwoFlowersLuggage
Posts: 1981
Joined: Sun Nov 26, 2017 8:18 pm
Location: Stuck in traffic on a highway in Southern California

Fun with technology!

Postby TwoFlowersLuggage » Sun Feb 10, 2019 7:05 pm

Have any of you guys played with the "Smart Home" devices? I'm a tech nerd, so I find this stuff pretty entertaining. I got a Amazon Echo Dot for Christmas, and the first thing I did was get a simple WiFi controlled outlet that is compatible with Alexa. So, when I walk into the bedroom, I can say "Alexa, lights on". Silly, but neat! It's also pretty cool to be able to say "Alexa, Play the blues", and it will find a blues music station on Amazon, or I can say "Alexa, play Muddy Waters".

Yesterday I did something new - I bought a small 5 volt relay board for $4. I connected the power side of the relay to a USB adapter that is plugged-in to a $10 WiFi controlled outlet. The control side of the relay is connected to the wall switch that turns-on our gas fireplace. I then created a simple routine that will let me tell Alexa to turn-on the fireplace, and the fireplace will stay on for 1 hour then automatically power-off.

So, now I can say: "Alexa, Flame On!" ::tounge::

I could have done it a couple of bucks cheaper by using this: https://www.itead.cc/inching-self-locki ... witch.html, but I didn't feel like waiting weeks for it to be shipped from China. However, this device does some really cool stuff and it has WiFi included on the board - all for under $6! We live at an amazing time. I think we are in the infancy of connected devices. If we can keep the Marketing pukes from ruining it, there is no telling what the engineers might be able to dream-up to do with this stuff.
"The Luggage had a straightforward way of dealing with things between it and its intended destination: it ignored them." -Terry Pratchett

User avatar
tongueriver
Gold Tier
Gold Tier
Posts: 4367
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 8:01 pm

Re: Fun with technology!

Postby tongueriver » Sun Feb 10, 2019 8:13 pm

"Alexa, open crazy-strong GEC knife!" Yeah, I hear you; if I was a LOT younger I would probe more deeply into these mysteries. At this point I just struggle to do the simple things on computer and phone. I used to do a lot of medium format photography and a full darkroom; technology is fun.

User avatar
jerryd6818
Gold Tier
Gold Tier
Posts: 30662
Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2009 5:23 am
Location: The middle of the top of a bastion of Liberalism.

Re: Fun with technology!

Postby jerryd6818 » Sun Feb 10, 2019 8:17 pm

I bought a DOT year before last for my faux son-in-law. He's an Infrastructure Developer for State Farm in Phoenix and loves technology. Theirs responds to Siri and does all the heavy lifting of turning on and off lights, music, setting timers, etc and it's also hooked up to the garage door, up/down/status. I thought about getting one but I need the exercise. :lol: :lol:
Forged on the anvil of discipline.
The Few. The Proud.
Jerry D.

This country has become more about sub-groups than about it's unity as a nation.

"The #72 pattern has got to be pretty close to the perfect knife."
--T.J. Murphy 2012

User avatar
tongueriver
Gold Tier
Gold Tier
Posts: 4367
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 8:01 pm

Re: Fun with technology!

Postby tongueriver » Sun Feb 10, 2019 8:19 pm

jerryd6818 wrote:one but I need the exercise. :lol: :lol:

Jerry, when I go to the YMCA I see people circling the block for the closest parking spot so they can go in and work out. ::shrug::

User avatar
jerryd6818
Gold Tier
Gold Tier
Posts: 30662
Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2009 5:23 am
Location: The middle of the top of a bastion of Liberalism.

Re: Fun with technology!

Postby jerryd6818 » Sun Feb 10, 2019 8:29 pm

tongueriver wrote:
jerryd6818 wrote:one but I need the exercise. :lol: :lol:

Jerry, when I go to the YMCA I see people circling the block for the closest parking spot so they can go in and work out. ::shrug::

It might be raining when they come out. :lol:
Forged on the anvil of discipline.
The Few. The Proud.
Jerry D.

This country has become more about sub-groups than about it's unity as a nation.

"The #72 pattern has got to be pretty close to the perfect knife."
--T.J. Murphy 2012

User avatar
Mumbleypeg
Gold Tier
Gold Tier
Posts: 6002
Joined: Fri Apr 18, 2014 1:28 am
Location: Republic of Texas

Re: Fun with technology!

Postby Mumbleypeg » Sun Feb 10, 2019 8:48 pm

Our youngest son gifted Alexa to us a few years ago for Christmas. We connected her to our in-home WiFi network and talked to her for a year or so, asking (mostly inane) questions and receiving replies. Then the wife decided to remodel much of our old house. During the remodel Alexa had to be put aside so as not to be in the way of the workmen.

That was about two years ago. Alexa is still sitting in a box in a closet. Haven’t missed her one bit! ::sotb::

Ken
Member AKTI, TSRA, NRA.

"There was a time when young people revered their elders. No one knows when this was." - Bill Heavey
https://www.akti.org/

User avatar
Colonel26
Bronze Tier
Bronze Tier
Posts: 6943
Joined: Sun Jul 01, 2012 3:35 am
Location: Kentucky

Re: Fun with technology!

Postby Colonel26 » Sun Feb 10, 2019 9:01 pm

Huh! I’ve never heard of this dot thing.
“There are things in the old Book which I may not be able to explain, but I fully accept it as the infallible word of God, and receive its teachings as inspired by the Holy Spirit.”
Robert E. Lee

User avatar
TwoFlowersLuggage
Posts: 1981
Joined: Sun Nov 26, 2017 8:18 pm
Location: Stuck in traffic on a highway in Southern California

Re: Fun with technology!

Postby TwoFlowersLuggage » Sun Feb 10, 2019 9:52 pm

Here is the Amazon Echo Dot. Around Christmas time, they were available everywhere for around $20-$30. I actually got mine as a gift when I signed-up for a Sirius/XM radio for my car.

Just having Alexa around is not where I get my kicks. I like the ability to make things happen. It takes me back to my childhood when I would take my toys apart and rewire them to "improve" them or to make them do other things. Anything with a motor was fair game. I was probably not more than 7 or 8 when I figured out that adding more batteries made toy motors go faster. I would directly wire 9 volt batteries into toy cars that normally took 2 AA batteries, then watch them go! Sometimes things would get a little hot, but toys back then didn't have all the electronics they have now, so they were a lot more tolerant to my surgery. When I was a kid, you could give me a few tools and a box of gears, axles, motors and batteries and I would stay occupied for days. I don't think I'm all that different now...

If I had more time, I think I could really get into all the latest gadgets like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, 3D printing and all the rest of those types of things. I really believe these could become the Erector Sets of the modern world. They have the potential to take kids out of the purely virtual world of online gaming and let them see that technology can also do some cool stuff in the real world. I know I would have absolutely loved this stuff when I was a kid. - but - I was a pretty weird kid... :mrgreen:
"The Luggage had a straightforward way of dealing with things between it and its intended destination: it ignored them." -Terry Pratchett

User avatar
RalphAlsip
Gold Tier
Gold Tier
Posts: 2039
Joined: Sun Feb 02, 2014 9:01 pm
Location: Texas

Re: Fun with technology!

Postby RalphAlsip » Sun Feb 10, 2019 9:53 pm

I enjoy technology and interconnected gadgets and have a significant amount of home automation. However, I don't, and won't, use voice assistant technology like alexa, google home, apple homepod, etc. because I don't want them eavesdropping on every sound and conversation in my house. There is great potential for both good & bad from this technology.

User avatar
TwoFlowersLuggage
Posts: 1981
Joined: Sun Nov 26, 2017 8:18 pm
Location: Stuck in traffic on a highway in Southern California

Re: Fun with technology!

Postby TwoFlowersLuggage » Sun Feb 10, 2019 11:17 pm

RalphAlsip wrote:There is great potential for both good & bad from this technology.


As is true of all technology, including email, cell phones, wired phones, telegrams, paper mail, human messengers and yelling out your window.
"The Luggage had a straightforward way of dealing with things between it and its intended destination: it ignored them." -Terry Pratchett

User avatar
jmh58
Gold Tier
Gold Tier
Posts: 5530
Joined: Wed Apr 02, 2008 11:22 pm
Location: Pgh,Pa

Re: Fun with technology!

Postby jmh58 » Sun Feb 10, 2019 11:37 pm

My 10plus yr old flip phone is still a mystery to me!!! :oops: ::facepalm::
John :D
..a great rabbit chase ends with a BANG!!

Son.. You need to get off the front porch once in a while!!

Not all who wander are lost!!!

All it takes is a little bit of sharp!!

User avatar
treefarmer
Gold Tier
Gold Tier
Posts: 7268
Joined: Sun Oct 04, 2009 6:53 am
Location: Florida Panhandle(LA-Lower Alabama)

Re: Fun with technology!

Postby treefarmer » Mon Feb 11, 2019 12:49 am

There you go, John, we’re in the same boat! ::tu::
Treefarmer

A GUN IN THE HAND IS BETTER THAN A COP ON THE PHONE.

User avatar
RalphAlsip
Gold Tier
Gold Tier
Posts: 2039
Joined: Sun Feb 02, 2014 9:01 pm
Location: Texas

Re: Fun with technology!

Postby RalphAlsip » Mon Feb 11, 2019 1:01 am

TwoFlowersLuggage wrote:
RalphAlsip wrote:There is great potential for both good & bad from this technology.


As is true of all technology, including email, cell phones, wired phones, telegrams, paper mail, human messengers and yelling out your window.

Cell phone is the only one I would put in the same category as a voice assistant for passive snooping.

Rant alert:

The privacy genie is probably so far out the bottle it can never be put back in. There was an article published recently about personal injury lawyers contacting numerous individuals whose mobile phones were tracked to being in hospital emergency rooms. There is speculation that the Weather App was collecting location information and selling it.

Amazon Web Services offers a facial recognition API (an API is a technical way to make information available). Amazon also provides the voice assistant Alexa. Who knows what Facebook and Google are providing to an Amazon database.

Let's assume Ralph Alsip's photo was posted on Facebook and the photo was "tagged" as Ralph Alsip. The act of tagging links a picture to a name and to a specific person. Then Facebook sells Ralph's face and link to Ralph's identity to Amazon and this is stored in Amazon's facial recognition database. Let's also assume Ralph has an Alexa device. In a casual living room conversation in the privacy of Ralph's home between Ralph and his wife, Ralph mentioned he would like to buy a red sweater to wear on Valentine's day. Ralph's Alexa device surreptitiously recorded this private conversation between Ralph and his wife and stored the conversation in an internet database. The next time Ralph uses his computer and visits an ad-supported web site, Ralph will see advertisements for red sweaters. The next time Ralph visits the local Sears store to look at pocket knives, the surveillance camera captures Ralph's face as Ralph walks into the store. Sears' surveillance system passes the customer's face to Amazon to see if there is a match in Amazon's facial recognition database. Sure enough there is - it is Ralph Alsip with 100% confidence because Ralph was identified in a Facebook post. Furthermore Amazon will tell Sears that Ralph wants to buy a red sweater. The Sears store will dispatch a Sales Associate to find Ralph and tell him about the great red sweaters they have just in time for Valentine's day.

Obviously, this is my creepy made up scenario. But if you take Sears out of story (lol) it becomes more plausible. Stuff like this is happening now and is only going to become more prevalent. Europe is starting to get aggressive on protecting individual's online data. https://www.cnet.com/how-to/what-gdpr-means-for-facebook-google-the-eu-us-and-you/. There have already been several multi-Billion dollar fines levied from this regulation in Europe. As far as I know the fines are being paid with little significant impact to ongoing business for these companies. For the record, I don't completely trust the motivations of the EU in this matter either - I think they're more about making money themselves under the guise of protecting individual's rights.

Companies like Google, Facebook, and Amazon are making tremendous sums of money collecting and selling personal information. I'm against it... until I get compensated for the value of my personal information. :) In my scenario, Sears would have paid Amazon to learn about Ralph's identity. Sears paid extra if Ralph bought a red sweater. Ralph didn't get a discount for his role in making this happen. Ralph was robbed of his personal information.

User avatar
TwoFlowersLuggage
Posts: 1981
Joined: Sun Nov 26, 2017 8:18 pm
Location: Stuck in traffic on a highway in Southern California

Re: Fun with technology!

Postby TwoFlowersLuggage » Mon Feb 11, 2019 2:19 am

Actually, out of all the methods of communication I listed, a modern cell phone is the *most* secure against passive snooping. Nearly all wired voice traffic is now sent via voice-over-IP (VoIP). I can put a packet sniffer on the wired lines and capture all the network traffic. *Good* VoIP systems encrypt the voice data before it is sent over the internet - but we're all just trusting the telecom companies to use adequate encryption for their entire system. If they don't, it is trivial to put the packets of specific conversation together and decode them back into sound files. I do this all the time on our corporate network, and I guarantee you that engineers at Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, CenturyLink, etc can do it too. (So can the NSA) In addition, every packet can be traced right back to the source, so unless you are actively hiding on the Dark Web, your location is known to at least your nearest telecom node.

Cell phones ALL use encrypted communications between the handset and the cell tower. There might be some sort of super spy way to snoop on those signals, but I've never heard of it. This wasn't always true - but it has been ever since cell phones went all digital. Once your call hits the cell tower, then you are right back on the same network used for VoIP wired calls.

The one big exception to the cell phones is rogue cell towers. If you have connected to a fake cell tower, then all bets are off. In that scenario, the bad guys can do anything they want with your communications.

The worst of the modern methods of communication is probably email. Email technology is very outdated and there are many, many gaps that start with your own computer/phone/tablet. I would NEVER say anything in an email that you want kept confidential, and that includes personal information like SS#, DOB, credit card #, passwords, etc.
"The Luggage had a straightforward way of dealing with things between it and its intended destination: it ignored them." -Terry Pratchett

User avatar
Mumbleypeg
Gold Tier
Gold Tier
Posts: 6002
Joined: Fri Apr 18, 2014 1:28 am
Location: Republic of Texas

Re: Fun with technology!

Postby Mumbleypeg » Mon Feb 11, 2019 2:31 am

I disabled location services and Google search on my Android phone for exactly the reasons Jerry described. I would walk into Walmart, Target, or other store and immediately ads and coupons for products in those stores would appear on my phone. Same thing at some restaurants. Often the coupons and ads would be for items I had searched for on my computer.

They knew what I had an interest in buying, and where I was. I was also receiving a plague of pop-up ads for items that I had searched for, even when I wasn’t in a store. Open an application or go online and boom, up pops an ad. I tried changing Google settings but no relief.

So I disabled Google search, installed DuckDuckGo in its place and made it my default web browser across all platforms I use. No more ads! No more ads and coupons upon entering stores an restaraunts.

Ken
Member AKTI, TSRA, NRA.

"There was a time when young people revered their elders. No one knows when this was." - Bill Heavey
https://www.akti.org/


Return to “General Off Topic Discussion”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: royal0014 and 39 guests