Spy Games

A game show in similar format to Big Brother, Bravo has a new show called Spy Games. The people live together in a house and are given secret dossiers and some notes to try to figure out who each of the secrets is about. There are also alliances set up just like Big Brother.

The contestants are given tasks to do, some physical, some technological, and some mental. Some of their tasks are things like infiltrating a black tie gala (after surviving a trek through the woods), lock-picking out of a room, break into a spy house and downloading secrets while being sabotaged. One person’s dossier is stolen.

Some of the secrets they have to figure out are things like – who is called Dr. Death, who is accused of racketeering, who lived in Qatar, just to name a few. If you are interested, you can catch this on Monday nights at 10:00pm on the Bravo network.

Amazon Sidewalk

The Victor crew recently heard of Amazon Sidewalk and wonder what this is about. Let’s find out.

Most homes have devices using Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. It may be to steam music, use a home camera system, maybe your appliances hook up to an app. Depending on your home systems, you might be maxing out or using all your available connections.

Amazon sidewalk wants to extend the range of low-bandwidth, low-power devices. Their new protocol hopes to increase the connection range. This will enable you to use smart devices anywhere on your property where Wi-Fi and Bluetooth usually can’t reach. They are utilizing a 900 MHz spectrum to help devices communicate. The 900 Hz spectrum has been around for a long time. It is the same used for cordless telephones which some of you may still have at home.

More practical applications would include getting notified when the mail is delivered, when to water your lawn through sensors, or even extending Amazon Fetch – a small device you can put on your pet’s collar and limit your pet to your yard using Ring.

Learn more

Need More Alexa?

Then consider Echo Loop. Echo Loop is a smart ring is a way to answer your calls quickly, set reminders, get answers quickly. It’s kind of like a wearable PDA. The battery lasts all day and it is water- and scratch-resistant.

The Echo Loop comes in four sizes, small, medium, large, and x-large. You can order the free kit that contains the sizer rings so you can try them on wear them on for a while to make sure of the fit. Once you know the size you can ask for an invitation to order the ring at a discounted price as a Day1 Edition. The price is $129.99. After the introductory period, the ring will be sold for $129.99.

Learn more.

Amazon echoframes

By invitation only, which you can request, you can get Amazon echoframes for your eyeglasses for $179. After the introductory phase, they will be $249. The only choice right now is black. The only choice is black but they give you all day access to Alexa. You can filter from who and what notifications you receive so you aren’t bombarded all day long.

It directs the sounds to your ears so others won’t hear what you hear. You can turn off the sounds with a button. They are not yet compatible with iOS smartphones and you will require a Android phone with Android 8 or higher and the Alexa app to connect as well as Bluetooth. There are special instructions for you optometrist for how to clean and shape them. If they do not work with your prescription, you can get a refund.

Learn more.

Amazon Echo for your Car

Amazon now has Echo Auto for your car. Right now we see it listed for half price.

What you need for it to work:
Compatible vents
Bluetooth or AUX input
Smartphone with data plan
Alexa app on your phone
Compatible apps for music streaming, maps

Since this is made for your car, it is designed to attach to your vents and comes with a vent mount. There are 8 microphones which can be switched off for privacy. Voice control the Echo Auto through the Alexa app to stream audiobooks, podcasts, or music from Amazon Music, Apple Music, Spotify, SiriusXM, iHeartRadio, other radio stations.

Use Google Maps, Apple Maps, Waze to get directions. Find gas stations, check the news.

Amazon Echo Auto

Apple iPhone 11

You probably already know from the Apple announcement event last week that they have already announced the upcoming iPhone series 11. There is the 11 and the 11 Pro.

So what makes the new phone different? Let’s delve into the new features.

iPhone 11: The iPhone 11 has a new dual-camera system – this gives you the option of wide or ultra-wide shots. The iPhone 11 will handle up to 17 hours of video playback. The iPhone 11 has the same 6.1″ Liquid Retina HD display as previous models. It is made from aerospace-grade aluminum. It comes in light purple, yellow, mint green, black, white, and (PRODUCT)RED.

iPhone 11 Pro: The iPhone 11 Pro will have a third camera for telephoto shots in addition to the wide and ultra-wide cameras. The Pro version will handle up to 20 hours of video playback. The iPhone 11 Pro comes in two sizes featuring 5.8″ or 6.5″ Super Retina XDR display. It is made from stainless steel. The colors are midnight green, silver, space gray, or gold.

Find out more here: https://www.apple.com/iphone/

Here is a video from The Verge highlighting the event:

Deepfakes

We’ve been seeing this word a lot lately. Let’s delve into what it is and what it means.

According to whatis.techtarget.com, it is an AI-based technology. It is used to alter videos to show something that didn’t happen. It comes from a Reddit user who changed clips of celebrities and used regular people in these clips.

So this is not just pasting your face over a celebrity image but rather using AI technology to create the clips making it even more polished.

This article from CNN has a lot of information that shows how this technology is made. It also sounds the warning of what may happen regarding the political atmosphere in our country concerning deepfakes.

Many celebrities are concerned about deepfakes because people have swapped their image onto porn films, thus invading their privacy and making something that didn’t happen go on social or other media.

Here is a video from Nova/PBS

Here is a TedTalk by Supasorn Suwajanakorn

Need Help Knitting?

MIT researchers have created an AI that can do your knitting for you! Create your own design and have it made for you. Even if you have never knitted a stitch before, with this system you can create hats, gloves, or whatever you want. Even patterned designs. You can create a template for the computer to follow.

The only missing ingredient is the joy you can get from making each stitch by hand…

Source

Flying High

Do you remember the cartoon show called “The Jetsons”? The people rode in a car in the air. Now there are some more personal drones almost ready for us to take flight. There will still need to be a lot of rules and regulations put in place before that can become a reality…

The company eHang in China has developed a personal drone. Watch as the CEO takes flight brought by Digital Trends:

Are You Smarter Than an AI?

AIs are supposed to be ever learning. However computer vision can be a different story. The Verge has an interesting article that shows some pictures and what AI sees it as.

In the article are a lot of pictures labeled with what the AI says it is vs. what it really is. In one group they are showing 4 different pictures of a dragonfly but the AI doesn’t identify any of them as a dragonfly.

It is important to get computers to see what is really there especially in the realm of self-driving cars. We don’t want them to see stop signs where there aren’t any or vice-versa. In another article on The Verge, it was reported that Google’s AI saw a rifle and not a turtle. If this had been something where they were looking for adversarial attacks, this could be a problem.

Coming Soon: iPadOS

Last week we talked about changes coming to iOS 13. This week we will talk about the new iPadOS.

The new Safari browser will be more like a full Mac version but with touch. You can use a download manager, take a screenshot that will copy a whole page. There are new options in Photos to change a photo, how you want to group them, you can edit videos.

Files app works with USB drive and you will see all your cloud drives. You can use Sidecar mode on your Mac and use your iPad as a second screen.

In the Notes app, you can squeeze the keyboard when it shows up and it shrinks. You will be able to swipe to type by moving from letter to letter.

You can have widgets on your home screen.

They are still working out some bugs but it is due to come out this fall.

More about Apple iOS 13

iOS 13 is coming out in the fall. But it is made for your iPhone. The iPad will be getting its own OS. So what will be different?

There will be “light mode” and “dark mode”. You can time when you want to use dark or light mode as well.

They are updating their “Apple Maps” app in hopes people will start using it. They hope the map is actually fixed. Also they are adding a street view. You can set favorites and collections so easily get to them in a list.

iOS will have more privacy by allowing you to grant access to apps just one time. You can even have the app ask each time so they can’t track you.

Reminders will have more sort features. You can tag people to your reminders so you can easily remember if someone else needs to be contacted.

More integration with health app to your Apple Watch.

You can Find My … device or… friend.

More photo editing options.

Apps should launch faster, and other speed improvements.

Better volume control.

Swipe on the keyboard – type one-handed without taking your finger off keyboard.

More emojis that are customizeable.

You can download the beta now but it is recommended to wait until the final version comes out.

News from Apple

As you may have heard last week, Apple will be discontinuing iTunes. When they release macOS Catalina, they will have three new apps to take the place of iTunes: music, TV, podcasts. No longer will you be able to use all three in one app. You will still be able to access everything you have in iTunes via these apps. iCloud will still sync everything across devices as well.

Apple music will also be able stream music on your Mac through the music app. The TV app will have movies, shows, and premium channels. They also say Apple TV+ is coming soon. You will be able to listen to your podcasts with the podcast app. Since it can sync across your devices, you can start on one device and finish on another.

Other things new that will be coming with the new OS is a rebuilt Reminders app. You will be able to add attachments to reminders. The start page will have an update and will add Siri Suggestions. There will something called Sidecar that allows you to use your iPad as an extended screen. You can work on one and display on the other or mirror the screens. Also with Sidecar, you will able to use the Apple Pencil to work on supported apps. Screen Time is also going to be available on Mac. There will also be enhanced security on the Mac. There are accessibility enhancements such as Voice Control, omm the second display, Hover Text to make some text larger and more readable.

Find out more: https://www.apple.com/macos/catalina-preview/
https://www.apple.com/macos/catalina-preview/features/

Watch the WWDC 2019 Keynote from Apple:

MS Paint

Remember Microsoft Paint? Usually it is disparaged by people, especially those who have access to something more powerful like Photoshop.

Microsoft has added some new features to MS Paint that are to be included in the Windows 10 May 2019 update. The most key new feature is that the keyboard will be used as the primary input. This will give users the added ability to draw only with their keyboard.

In keeping with the accessibility features, they have also improved the way Paint interacts with screen readers like Windows Narrator.

See more information along with the keyboard shortcuts illustrated.

Want More Alexa?

If you run Windows 10, you can have her! More powerful than Windows’ Cortana, you can have her run on your PC now. Just say “Alexa” and start speaking.

You will have to give permissions to your microphone. You will also have to sign in with your Amazon account. Alexa will listen in the background and you can access it just like Amazon Echo.

So what happens if you have the Alexa app on a Kindle, an Amazon Echo, and you put this on your PC? Well, we wondered too and found this on Amazon.com Basically it says the closest one will respond. Some content and settings are shared but not all. While it may not work the way you intend or is different than the Echo device, it may be helpful.

Do you want a Narwal?

Not the mammal. The robot mop and vacuum. What sets this apart from other robotic floor cleaners is that it is self cleaning. It has Lidar Navigation Technology to map your floorplan. You can use the app to schedule and customize your cleanings. When it is done cleaning your floor, it will return to its base and clean the mops and dry them.

It has capacity enough to clean a 3200 sq ft floor. Right now it is still in KickStarter – it now has far outreached its goal. You can still sign up for the early bird version.

Update – new video:

Future Microsoft Excel Feature

Ever wish you could more easily put a table in Microsoft Excel instead of typing all those fields or trying to copy and paste? If you have Microsoft 365, you are in luck. Over the next few months, they will be rolling out a new feature that allows you to insert data from a picture.

You will open the Excel app on your phone or tablet, and tap the “Insert data from picture” button to start. Then you would capture the data you want to import within the box borders shown and you can change the size around the image to make sure you get it all. Using its AI engine, Excel will convert it to a table. You can correct the data by tapping on Edit or continue by tapping Ignore if it detects errors. You can then Insert the data. Excel will convert the data to the spread sheet.

Source

Gmail Apps Update

In the past week, the Gmail app has been updating across all platforms. It went to Android users first and just rolled out for iOS users. It will take a little getting used to.

As a heavy Gmail user, I currently have 3 accounts on my device. I used to touch the hamburger menu icon (the three bars) to open up the side panel and see all my labels and switch accounts. Instead, they have added the icon for the account you are currently in at the top with the “Search mail” box above the messages list panel on the left.

The entire app looks more “white” as well. There are three list densities to choose from: Default, Comfortable, and Compact. Default will show who it’s from, a small logo on the left, subject and the first part of the email and show if there are attachments. Comfortable will remove the attachments from the list view. Compact will only show who it’s from and the subject line (no logo, but it will show a checkbox to allow you to move or delete). You may need to play with it to look the way you want.

To compose a new email, you will see a colorful plus sign over the message list. Even though the app had updated, I had to hard close the current app and reopen in order to get the new one.

Gmail Default View
Gmail Default View Settings
Gmail Comfortable View
Gmail Comfortable View Settings
Gmail Compact View
Gmail Compact View Settings

Gmail – some features

There are a few newer features added to Gmail in the past year or so that can be annoying to some, helpful to others.

Gmail NudgesOne newer feature is called Nudges. Do you forget to answer emails? Gmail can nudge you now to answer the email. I had noticed there was an older email (4 days old) that I wanted to wait to answer. All of a sudden the email was at the top again. In the subject line there was orange print that said “Received 4 days ago. Reply?” You can choose to reply or even “snooze” the email. If you snooze it, it will go into a new folder called “Snoozed”. This can be enabled or disabled in Settings.

“Smart Reply” is another newer feature. The first time I saw it, I was a little confused because I hadn’t read anything about it. These are the words that show up at the bottom of an email that allow you to choose a canned response. For instance, based on words in the email (yes that’s creepy), I’m looking an email that ends “How’s that sound?” and the canned response choices are: “Sounds good to me.”, “Sounds like a plan.”, and “Sounds great!” So I could choose any one of these quick replies. I can usually tell when I’ve gotten one of these from somebody. These Smart Replies can be enabled or disabled in Settings. This picture shows the instructions for disabled from your iOS device.

Another newer feature is the “Hover Actions” where you can hover over the email list and delete or label while in the list. This action can be enabled or disabled in Settings.

You can now add a split view to Gmail where you can see the list of mail on the site and a pane with email to the side or top of it (horizontal split or vertical split). If you have a wide screen, it makes it nice to work with.

Gift Idea: Oculus Go

The other day I was in a Best Buy store and came across a salesperson with Oculus Go. I was curious. After talking to salesman about how it works, I had to give my name and email (of course) in order to try it out. So what is it? It’s a standalone VR headset. Standalone in that you don’t need to hook up your phone or a computer to see the content and can take just the headset with you. It fits right over eyeglasses. There are built-in speakers. It has a 2560 x 1400 p screen. It comes in 2 models: 32GB ($199) and 64GB ($249). It only comes in a light gray. The company is owned by Facebook.

So here I am in the middle of the store holding the controller with my arms outstretched playing demo games and watching demo movies. You can see above you, behind you, and all around. I got to see a demo short of Jurassic Park Blue. It was like the dinos were right in front of me. I played a game that was a lot of fun called Fail Factory. I must have been moving around too much because the sales person had to move me back. They do suggest you use this sitting down for that reason. It was a lot of fun and I am contemplating getting one.

Some caveats – rechargeable battery life is only about 2 hours gaming and 2 1/2 hours watching movies so you can’t plan on it for an entire flight if your flight is over that. There is only 3 degrees of freedom rather than 6 in most VR sets. Case is sold separately (unless you find a deal that includes the case). 32GB will hold about 3 HD movies, 10 games, and 20 apps. 64 GB will hold about 7 HD movies, 20 games, and 40 apps.

The Jody Victor Crew

Gift Ideas

With Christmas coming we will try to find some gift ideas for the next few weeks. This would be something we see, but may not necessarily buy for ourselves but know someone who might like it.

First off, lets start with the PowerPic from Twelve South.
This is a picture in a frame with a hidden phone charger. Only works with iPhone 8 and up, Pixel, Galaxy, or any Qi-enabled smartphone. It is a pine frame that you plug in. It has a hidden Qi charger to wirelessly charge your phone. You can choose from black or white frame. It works even with your case on your phone. When you put your phone on the frame, it completes the picture. You can download the frame pictures and phone pictures from their website. This will set you back $79.99.

Wi-Fi 6

We talked about Wi-Fi a couple weeks ago. Let’s expand on that. Now they have given Wi-Fi version numbers for the different protocol types identified by the letter suffix on 802.11. Let’s start with 802.11 and what it is.

The 802.11 protocol is set forth by the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.) They are the ones who set the standards of what is under each protocol, specifically the IEEE 802.11™ Wireless Local Area Networks, the working group for WLAN standards. They have regular sessions and presentations about 802.11 protocol. There is one being held right now in Bangkok, Thailand.

The Wi-Fi Alliance® has now assigned version numbers to different Wi-Fi protocols.

  • Wi-Fi 6, which will be available next year will be 802.11ax standard.
  • Wi-Fi 5 is the 802.11ac standard
  • Wi-Fi 4 is the 802.11n standard

Older standards are not being given a version number because they are not widely used anymore.

Wi-Fi Certified WiGig™ will bring bands of 60 GHz with multi-gigabit speeds, suitable for virtual reality and HD streaming. Wi-Fi security WPA3™ will have increased crytographic strengths.

Sources and Further Reading:
http://www.ieee802.org/11/
https://www.wi-fi.org/news-events/newsroom/wi-fi-alliance-introduces-wi-fi-6
https://www.wi-fi.org/discover-wi-fi/wi-fi-6
https://www.wi-fi.org/discover-wi-fi/next-generation-wi-fi

Atlas Robot

Boston Dynamics has a few projects they are working on in robotics. Boston Dynamics was founded in 1992 by MIT. In 2013, they were acquired by Google X which later became Alphabet, Inc. In 2017, Boston Dynamics was sold to SoftBank (remember Pepper?). We have previously discussed Spot also developed by Boston Dynamics.

Atlas is a 6-foot robot that is more humanoid with 2 legs. It was unveiled to the public in 2013. It has slowly been evolving. It now can do parkour (similar to military obstacle course training):

Vertical Videos

In the past, if you uploaded a video to YouTube with a video taken from your phone, you would see the black bars on either side of it with the video in the center, tall and slim. YouTube has conceded that vertical videos are here to stay and have adapted their site to accomodate them.

YouTube makes this move on the heels of Instagram introducing IGTV, a longer form of video you can create through Instagram or with their standalone app, IGTV. Instagram itself limits you to just one minute but IGTV allows you to make a video up to an hour long. Initially that will only be available to popular uploaders but will be rolled out to evveryone eventually.

Sources:
https://www.makeuseof.com
https://productforums.google.com/forum/