Another Type of Smart Glasses

We’ve told you about Google Glass, Vaunt Smart Glasses, and Amazon Echoframes. There are new smart eyeglasses out from Bosch. What is different about these glasses, is they use tiny lasers to beam images directly onto your eyeballs. You will need to be custom fit for them to make sure they hit your retina in the correct place.

They have a way to integrate with your corrective glasses. It is the smallest most lightweight product that can turn any set of glasses into smart glasses. A smart phone can be paired to it but you should not have to look at the smartphone to see what you want.

Meet a New Personal Robot

There’s a new personal robot ready to help you. It’s called Ballie and is made by Samsung. It was introduced at CES2020.

It is a small rolling robot that reacts to your needs. In the video, you can see some of the capabilities. From waking up and opening your drapes, helping you with your exercises, your pets, connecting its camera through an app, turning on the TV for your pet, knowing to clean the floor with the vacuum.

Passwords…Again!

Yes, they are a pain. All the requirements to have minimum characters, numbers, symbols, lower case, upper case, where does it all end? Well for now it doesn’t. The Portland, Oregon division of the FBI has recommendations for passwords and security.

Some people seem not to care about passwords and just make a simple one to get them into a site. They reuse passwords for multiple sites without changing them. Sometimes there are a couple favorites they just use over and over again. If they are asked to change them out, they just rotate the same ones around.

So back to the recommendations of the FBI. They recommend using passphrases. This would be three or four totally unrelated words strung together. You still may need to add special characters or numbers or capitals with some sites like banks, but you can slip in between words if that makes it easier for you. If you need help, try out this passphrase generator.

Read the full FBI article

Malwarebytes 2020 Report

We talked about Malwarebytes a few years ago. Back then, it was mostly PC users that worried about malware and exploits. Well, in their latest reports–surprise, surprise–Malwarebytes reports that in 2019, they saw a 400% rise in MAC exploits! That is a significant change from previous years.

Many of the malware items are called PUPs-Potentially Unwanted Programs. Many of them need to be quarantined. Malwarebytes scans for those as well as PUMs-Potentially Unwanted Modifications. For a PC, PUMs could be found either in the registry or in a browser setting.

Read the report (PDF)

Source

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.

Avast Caveats

Do you use Avast antivirus programs? It has come to light that they harvested user data and sold the information collected to a firm called Jumpshot who in turn sold to other companies: Google, Microsoft, Intuit, to name a few. This pertains to both PCs and Macs. This includes both free and premium services. So while you are trying to protect your privacy and data, Avast is going behind your back and selling your data and privacy.

To be fair, you have the option to opt-in to allow some user data to be collected, but you are not really told how or what is being used. The data collected includes location lookups, searches, YouTube video listings, Google Maps, LinkedIn, and various others.

Think twice before you download a free or even paid software. Don’t allow them to collect information.

Source

Do You Really Own What You Think You Own?

Wow – that sounds confusing. And it is. You purchase something you think is good tech only to find out it is no longer usable. The Victor crew came across this article and it is true. Many things no longer work because it is no longer supported.

For instance, in 2011, Lenovo came out with an Android tablet IdeaPad K1. So that Christmas, I treated myself to one. I went all out and bought the keyboard, a nice leather case, and carrier. I was set. About 6 months later, I find out it will no longer get updates of Android and they left us with and Android 4.0 update to flash on it which would wipe out any customizations ore even any apps on it. I did flash it but the hardware now is old enough it probably won’t run much anymore.

Another example is HP Printers. For some printers to print, you HAVE to be enrolled in their InstantInk program or they can remotely disable your printer.

Back to the article. It is about Sonos. Sonos announced they will stop sending security and software updates to their legacy systems. Products introduced between 2005 and 2011 are considered legacy. People are being offered a 30% discount to trade in their old systems, however, they put the item into a 21 day countdown before goint to “recycle mode”. Once in this mode, it cannot be used or repurposed without their permission.

It would be nice to know the expiration dates of our devices, whether it is security updates, general software updates, or when they think the hardware will no longer work.

Source

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

Contract for the Web

Do you realize there are many people who still cannot connect to the Internet? For most of us, all we need to do is pull out our cell phone and we are online. For those who cannot, there is a plan of action globally to try to ensure everyone a chance to connect.

This objective, spurred by Sir Tim Berners-Lee who implemented HTTP and is the founder of the World Wide Web Foundation and director of the World Wide Web Consortium, is to join governments, companies, organizations, and individuals in an effort to allow all people to be able to go online free from the fear, abuse, privacy violations we are seeing now.

Some of the principles:
Ensure everyone can connect to the Internet
Keep the Internet available all the time
Respect and protect online privacy and personal data
Make the internet affordable and accessible to all
Develop technologies that support the best in humanity while challenging the worst.
Create and collaborate on the Internet

You can also join in the contract by sharing your email to be updated.

Find out 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.

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/