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.

Account Safety/Ring Camera

The Ring Camera system has recently been in the news because it can be hacked easily and one person hacked has filed a lawsuit against the owner, Amazon.

It seems that in plain terms, the authentication used by the family was not robust enough. Ring does offer two-factor authentication that can help prevent this from happening.

Many people fail to use two-factor authentication to begin with because they don’t really understand what it is. Once again we are urging people to get a password manager and use two-factor authentication where possible.

What two-factor authentication does is alert you to the fact a new device is trying to log into your account. If you don’t have two-factor enabled and have a weak password for ANYTHING, you are just asking to be hacked. Be safe and make it priority in 2020 to up your security game.

Kids these days…

This year’s top earning YouTuber with $26 million is 8-year-old Ryan Kaji. This young man has made his money as an “influencer” with his unboxing of toys. His channel was originally called “Ryan Toy Review” and was expanded to more than just unboxing. He uploads a new video every day. His channel is now called “Ryan’s World” and has 23 million subscribers.

Ryan has his own Wikipedia page: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ryan%27s_World

This is his YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/

Here is his latest video:

Keeping Track of Deliveries

These days, there’s an app for almost anything related to deliveries. You can get apps for Fedex, UPS, the Post Office (USPS). If you order online a lot, you can also track through the store app you ordered the item from.

Amazon.com will even send a notification when the item is x stops away. You can track it and be ready for it when it arrives. You can also follow on the other delivery company apps as well.

The USPS app is great and different. You can sign up for Informed Delivery® by USPS® and you will get notifications/emails with images of the mail you should receive that day. They actually take pictures of each of your items! You can use your USPS.com account to sign up for Informed Delivery. You can also use your computer to sign up. Sign up here

Check this out before buying a new Smart TV

New Smart TV on your Christmas list? Be careful of what features you get on your TV. Specifically the ones with cameras or microphones built in. They could be used to spy on you according to the FBI.

Smart TVs connect to the Internet in order to update, download apps, connect through the apps. Some of the newer ones have built-in cameras for facial recognition so they can suggest your favorite programming. Microphones are generally used for voice control for the remotes to change channels.

If your Smart TV is unsecured, hackers can listen and watch you as well, or take control of the TV. If you can’t turn off the camera, consider using black tape over the lens. Make sure to keep the software updated.

If you are victimized by any fraud on the Internet, contact the IC3 (Internet Crime Complaint Center).

Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday is here and there sure are a lot of deals out there. From Oculus Go to Instant Pot, the deals were phenomenal.

On amazon.com, Oculus Go went pretty quickly for a low price of $119.00 for the 32GB version with a timed lightning deal. Regular price they are selling for now on amazon.com is $149.00. It was a little more for the 65GB version.

Once again Instant Pot made a big splash with the 8-qt version selling for about $64. There are many other deals to be had.

Kohls.com was offering $15 Kohl’s Cash for every $50 spent + $10 off + 20% off. Alaska Airlines had fares starting at $39 one way. Even some museums and zoos had membership deals. Whatever the deal is you are looking for be sure to check for deals first!

PayPal to Buy Honey

Hopefully by now you’ve heard of Honey. It is a browser extension you add to your browser. When you are on a shopping site, such as Amazon.com or Kohls.com, it will appear near the price and tell you if the price is a good deal. If not, it will show you other places where there are better prices.

When you put things in a shopping cart, it will run through a bunch of store codes and try to find a deal for you.

I have used it a few times. Here’s a caveat: on one site, I had gotten there through a special link that added a discount to my full order. During checkout, it went ahead and ran through the codes and couldn’t find any. In the process, the 25% discount I started with disappeared and I was left with a higher price. In this case, I closed my browser and came back to the site through that link. Seeing the discount back in the cart, I was able to check out with my discount.

What has people perplexed is the price PayPal is paying to acquire Honey: $4 billion dollars. They plan to accelerate Honey’s growth by driving adoption among Paypal and Venmo users.

Find out more about this acquisition: https://investor.paypal-corp.com/news-releases/news-release-details/paypal-acquire-honey

Let “My People” Go

It was recently reported that Microsoft was going to stop development and in the future remove the My People app from Windows version 1909. Some other changes are the Driver model for Remote Desktop.

Full list of Windows 10 features no longer being developed: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/deployment/planning/windows-10-deprecated-features

Full list of features that have been removed: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/deployment/planning/windows-10-removed-features

It kind of reminds me of the old song, “Let My People Go”. This phrase was first spoken by Moses in Exodus when he was trying to get Pharaoh to let the Israelites leave Egypt.

CNET Suggestions…

Don’t buy Amazon devices before November 22. Echo, Kindle, and Fire devices/tvs go on sale. This is one week before the actual Black Friday.

Here are some of the prices you can expect:
Amazon Fire HD 8 tablet: starting at $50 – savings of $30. Add $15 if you do not want offers on the lock screen.
Amazon Fire 8 Kids Edition tablet: $80 – savings of $50.
All-new Amazon Fire 7 tablet: starting at $30 – savings of $20.
Amazon Fire 7 Kids Edition tablet: $60 – savings of $40.
Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet: starting at $100 – savings $50.
Kindle Paperwhite: starting at $85 – savings of $45.
Fire TV stick 4k with Alexa voice remote: $25 – save $25
Fire TV stick with Alexa voice remote: $20 – save $20
Amazon Fire TV Cube: $90 – savings of $30.

November 27 will have some more savings
Ring Indoor Camera 2-pack: $100 – save $40.
Blink XT2 3-cam system (weatherproof security camera): $185 – save $65.
Amazon Smart Plug: will be offered bundled with many products for just $5 – a savings of $20!

November 28 you can get Echo speakers and smart displays
Amazon Echo Dot (third-gen): $22 for a savings of $28
Echo Dot with clock: $35 – save $25
Amazon Echo (second-gen): $60 – save $40.
Amazon Echo Show 5: $50 – savings of $40.
Amazon Echo Show (2nd-gen): $150 – save $80
Echo Auto: $25 – save $25.

Find out more about these amazing deals on CNet

Fitbit is Being Sold

So apparently Fitbit will belong to Google. Google was looking to expand their wearables division. Google has already been in this space with Google Wear OS and Google Fit. This will help bring together Fitbit’s technology with Google’s. The deal will cost Google about $2.1 billion. The deal is expected to be finished in 2020.

Fitbit, a pioneer in the fitness tracking industry, had already devised wearable smartwatches with their fitness tracker built in. The Versa2 Smartwatch has Alexa built in, as well as Spotify, a sleep tracker, heart-rate tracker, Fitbit pay, and various other apps. We can only speculate whether or not that will change in the future, especially about Alexa vs the Google assistant. It starts at $199.95.

The Fitbit Versa Lite Edition Smartwatch has heart-rate tracking, sleep tracking, apps and notifications and starts at $159.95. The Fitbit Ionic Smartwatch has personal coaching, built-in GPS, can store music, track heart-rate. It runs $249.95.

Other products are trackers: Charge 3 costs $149.95; Inspire starts at $69.95; Ace 2 for kids starts at $69.95 and is for ages 6+. In addition they also have Aria scales (Aria Air and Aria 2). Aria 2 will costs $129.95 while Aria Air is $49.95. They connect through apps to the fitness trackers as well. You can also accessorize your trackers and watches with a variety of different bands.

Source: Google
Source: Fitbit

Home Devices Part 2

Last week we talked about how home devices such as Google Home and Amazon Echo keep listening after you think you have stopped. There is more.

The same company, Security Research Labs, has more testing they have done. This time, they tested Google Home and Amazon Echo with actions/skills called Lucky Horoscope made just to show how the devices can be used by hackers for phishing. When asking for Lucky Horoscope they created to show this, the user is given an error that tells the user the action/skill is not available in their country. It waits a little while and then says there is an update. It then asks for the user’s password and records it. The hacker now has the user’s email and password.

Google Home:

Amazon Echo:

Home Devices

You may think you are ok using home devices such as Google Home or Amazon Echo but maybe not so much. Security Research Labs in Germany has some videos that will show how the devices are still active even after you think they have stopped listening.

Google Home:
In this video you can see the person talking on the right and the information recorded in the terminal on the left. As she keeps speaking after the time of her first question, it keeps recording the information to the server.

Amazon Echo:
You will see it continued to record after the person said “Alexa stop”.

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.

Saved by a Watch

So recently there was a news article about how an Apple watch saved a biker. The biker was on a ride in Washington when he flipped his bike. He landed head-first on the pavement and was rendered unconscious. His Apple watch sensed the impact and called 911.

His son was waiting for him and received a text from the watch to notify him it detected a hard fall and sent a map with his location. By the time he got there, his dad was already gone and on his way to the hospital. His son received the message because he was listed as an emergency contact on the phone.

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

Car doesn’t have Bluetooth?

If you car is older, you might try to add Bluetooth through an adapter. There are several out there you can look at to see what will work for you. Some require an AUX input and/or USB port. Some even come with USB ports if you don’t have them.

But why add Bluetooth to an older car? You might want to stream music. You may even want to use it for hands-free phone calls. There are a few available that will allow you to stream through your car stereo speakers or you can get a Bluetooth speaker that will cost a bit more.

https://www.cnet.com/how-to/ways-to-add-bluetooth-to-an-old-car/

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:

For Your Entertainment – Microsoft the Musical

Here is a video of a walk through the years of Microsoft. In Microsoft the Musical, where they say “It’s all happening here!,” 150 interns spent their free time outside work hours (mornings, evenings, weekends) making this video in eight weeks from start to finish.

It brings you on a journey of Bill Gates and what he achieved. They acknowledge the problem with Vista, as well as the Windows Phone. Their mission is to empower every person to achieve more.

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

Noise-Canceling Headphones

How do noise-canceling headphones work? How did they come about. In the 1970s, Dr. Amar Bose was on a flight and was frustrated with the noise he was hearing and worked on making a way to cancel out the noise. Several years and millions of dollars later, he was able to create noise-canceling headphones.

Sometimes noise will leak through because they works better where there is consistent noise, like on an airplane, subway, or train.

Find out more in this video from TechInsider:

More on Pa$$w0rds

The Victor crew found this article about passwords. There have been so many breaches in recent history. There have been 13 big data breaches this year alone (so far).

This article breaks down why passwords really don’t matter in light of the way hackers are performing their breaches. It is from a Microsoft tech using stats collected from Azure Active Directory connected accounts. The data is broken down by type of attack and how they are performed.

Once you cut through all the techese, the bottom line is to choose passwords with at least 8 characters, use a password manager and let it generate the password for you, try using multi-factor authentication for that extra step.

Scamming a Scammer

Canadian bitcoin expert Ben Perrin was recently approached by a bitcoin scammer. He promised he could double his money every 24 hours. They didn’t know they were dealing with a YouTuber that actually teaches about bitcoin and cryptocurrency.

He decided to play along and see what they were claiming. In a turnaround, Perrin got the scammer to deposit $50 dollars into his wallet as he was pretending not to know what to do. Bitcoin deposits are irreversible so he was surprised the scammer sent the money. Perrin then donated the money to charity.

See the full video along with CBC’s interview with Perrin.

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.