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L&LD

Part of the Furniture

coxhaus

Part of the Furniture
I tolerate these devices in hopes of some day using them. It sure would be nice if Alexa could learn about networking. I could use Alexa to trouble shoots problems and make fixes. But as of now Alexa cannot even tell me what her IP is.

The only thing right now Alexa does well is to find and mange movies on Fire. It sure is nice just to ask Alexa for a movie, than to hunt around in the menus.
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
I tolerate these devices in hopes of some day using them. It sure would be nice if Alexa could learn about networking. I could use Alexa to trouble shoots problems and make fixes. But as of now Alexa cannot even tell me what her IP is.
I would be wary of what you wish for. Anything 'she' can do for you, she can do for anyone else. :rolleyes:
 
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L&LD

Part of the Furniture

Smokey613

Senior Member
LOL, the US government has been monitoring/recording phone calls for years, even before cell phones. Does anyone think those huge military data centers are actually used for “weather modeling” ?
 

distilled

Regular Contributor
LOL, the US government has been monitoring/recording phone calls for years, even before cell phones.
This. Voice assistants only make obvious what has been possible for a long time. Eavesdropping through computers, phones and tablets isn't new.

Having said that though, Almond and Ada may not be as conversational as Alexa, but they present an open source option for voice interface, one of several that are evolving. I really like the Alexa Dot form factor, and you can buy them for $25 when they go on sale, so hopefully one of the "Hack Alexa" projects will come up with a DIY instructable for just making use of the little round box itself as a sort of voice access point. A pretty box containing a decent speaker, mics, WiFi and Bluetooth is worth $25. To heck with the cloud and Polly.
 
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coxhaus

Part of the Furniture
I don't think any of my 3 Alexa's have been hacked in the years since they have been out. They tell you when your packages arrive automatically from Amazon. They work as intercoms, and play music through out the house or just certain rooms your choice. They also have a guard mode which I have not used much. I don't mind them. But I use Apple blue tooth for home automation for turning on lights and stuff as it runs off my AppleTV 4k. I have trust in Apple as a company even though I don't use their laptops. I am an Apple iPhone guy and my wife uses iPads and iPhones.
 
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distilled

Regular Contributor
It isn't really about them being directly compromised by hackers, it is a about having a monolithic corporation like Amazon have access to tremendous analytics and personal information that is gathered by that device. Being a gigantic employer, this means that you are not just trusting Amazon and Apple, but every employee that has access to it. You are trusting that not one single employee with that access has used a corporate VPN from a home PC that has been compromised by a hacker, or a curious teenage family member. It is a whole lot of potentially deeply personal data being collected by a black box.

Amazon have already been called upon by the feds to provide Alexa data as evidence in a murder investigation, and both Amazon and Apple have issued public apologizes after being caught giving access to recorded data to an outside contracting firm, "to help them better their parser".

Having said all that, I have nothing against Alexa, I have three of them on a segmented part of my LAN, along with three Firesticks. Diversion blocks literally tens of thousands of connections a day to a few metrics.Amazon.com sites. Apparently when they have trouble calling home, they go ballistic. Some folks on XDA said that Fire tablets kill their own batteries trying to call home if they are blocked.

Meh, take the good with the bad, right?
 

coxhaus

Part of the Furniture
I would like cover how blue tooth works in my large home which takes to 2 APs to cover. If I am on one far side of the house I can turn on and off lights on this end of the house. I get no response to the other end of my house using Bluetooth. As I walk to the other side of my house I can then turn on lights on this side but not the other side. So it kind of works in a large home. I also have scheduling for all lights. But I can not sit in 1 location and control it all unless I am in the middle of the house.

I wish Apple would add a relay feature for HomeKit so the back end units could talk to each other or relay between them so I don't have to walk to the other side of my house to turn on the lights.
 

distilled

Regular Contributor
I know exactly two bits less than nothing about the Apple ecosystem. Grew up on the ][+ with a 300 baud AppleCat (TSPS / Cat's Meow!) modem and Applesoft BASIC (and 6502 - CALL -151 anyone?) but ever since the late 80s, the "Beagle Brothers" days, Apple have become more of a fashion statement than a technology company, IMHO. They make very good products, but they are not very good for most tinkerers. Trebor & Werdna FTW! But not anymore :) Be that as it may, have you looked at Home Assistant and the Homekit integration? Again, I know nothing about Apple or Homekit, but there IS an integration for it, and HA can do just about anything. The dang thing can do just about anything. Bet there are WiFi < -- > Bluetooth extenders, too, there are certainly enough IR blasters etc that integrate easily. Some are even Tasmotizable (is it flying as an adjective?)

https://www.home-assistant.io/integrations/homekit/
 

Pork

New Around Here
I am reminded of my father in-law who resisted having a cell phone for years because he was certain that the beam would cause cancer and the government would have access to all your information. He worked for the CIA and knew what he was talking about. However, once he got a smartphone he realized that other than the location mapping, it was well worth any risk. Perhaps if he was going to be a criminal he would avoid it further since cellphone data is used in nearly every drug bust or advanced criminal investigation. But he didn't have any plans of starting a new vocation at 90.

When we got him his first Google Assistant, we informed him of the risk of having his data controlled and sold by Google and he could care less. Being able to have Google handle just about everything he needed and having Google there to answer the simplest questions, was well worth any paranoia or fantasy anyone has about privacy. He ended up writing a book with two revisions using Google Assistant for dictation.

As for privacy being a laughable belief, he showed us a simple device that literally recorded the vibrations on your windows and could pretty clearly isolate a conversation inside a residence from across the street. He had it because it was retired and new technology was much much better. When asked if it was Alexa, Apple, or Google, he said, "well sure, why wouldn't it be?"

Moral of the story: privacy is an illusion. So why not just enjoy the benefits of a smart appliance?

I use Google's infrastructure because it has the best personal interface. Every day I am amazed at how smart it is getting. You can ask it questions like "Who was the opening act for U2 in their Zoo tour when they played in Denver and it will give you an answer.Anytime there is an argument about a fact, ask Google and it clears it up. It handles all of my lights, my entertainment devices, and it's amazing.

I have Alexa as well but just for fun. When I ask Alexa a question, invariably she says, I can't help you with that right now. So I have Google listen for her saying that and it literally clears it's throat, looks up the answer, and provides it for me. LOL Now if it would just fact check Alexa when she returns results...that'll be soon.
 

KW.

Regular Contributor
Moral of the story: privacy is an illusion. So why not just enjoy the benefits of a smart appliance?
I do not agree with this. In my view comparing corporate surveillance with state/law enforcement surveillance is like comparing apples and pears.

I am sure that if you are target of the CIA or any other intelligence service you might say that your privacy is greatly threatened and it can even be so that it has become an illusion.

And Im also sure the intelligence services has had fancy tools since the sixties and before to monitor people.

But it is also evident that even in the most repressive states individual groups and individuals have maintained there privacy even with the efforts of state crackdowns.

In democratic and even in oppressive countries revelations of illegal surveillance has also met controversy and sometimes forced states to at least think about their behavior and the cost of getting caught.

We have cases as the story with the NSO group, a spying cooperation hired by states, that been caught with the most sophisticated ways of surveillance. I am sure they are bothered with the public outcry of their surveillance.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NSO_Group

Edwards Snowden revelations also showed the public outcry and what a fundamental need privacy is for the humankind. We also have have examples from the history how countries that have broken free from Orwelian surveillance usually have stricter laws about what is acceptable.

So change happens and privacy is no illusion even if privacy is often threatened and often violated.

Democratic states also use to have laws against bugging and unwarranted surveillance. Of cause these laws is not always followed, but if it comes out the public it still get reaction and is a pain for the official caught.

@thiggins post is example of something else thou even if it seems be a thin line between state and corporate surveillance.

This is type of private surveillance on an industrial scale for profit is a relative new frontier that has expanded greatly and in my opinion is out of control. Bugging in homes is an extreme overreach and should not be neglected with: ”are you naive, it is nothing to do about it, what do you have to hide”.

This forum is a great example of the opposite, and so are so many open source communities. People can make a change. One way is using other technological solutions. Even greater is what other solutions prove. It's possible to have all the ”benefits” without to have to loose the most trusted place in your life, the only sanctuary to be yourself and to share yourself with your loved ones, your home.

Im confident that the big companies that live on surveillance of the humankind is feeling that the tide is changing. With knowledge people are not comfortable with being monitored.

Privacy is no illusion and the greatest failure would be to accept it as illusion. If that happens, yes, privacy will become an illusion. But I do not believe we are there and I am optimistic that the unhinged corporate surveillance have their golden days now and the reason is the speed of the implementation. But we already see that even the worst out there are forced to understand that surveillance is controversial and can come with a backlash.

It's a great time for making money on the really private smart home technology that already exist and Im sure will be even better .
 
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Smokey613

Senior Member
It's a great time for making money on the really private smart home technology that already exist and Im sure will be even better
I think most people would opt for this type of home automation solution if it were as easy and inexpensive as the Amazon, Google and Apple solutions. I know I would much prefer a local, self contained home automation solution.
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
Moral of the story: privacy is an illusion. So why not just enjoy the benefits of a smart appliance.
And when you believe that it is. :)

I have 'friends' with these devices in their homes (I've mentioned before). I don't visit there often and when I did, I was unusually quiet. Not because I had anything to hide, but because I don't need my every exhalation recorded and analyzed for the benefit of others.

With COVID, it has become much easier to distance ourselves while still remaining friends. (I haven't visited them in their home for over 6 months now).

When you intentionally allow a crack in the wall to deepen, the only fault is your own, not some 'illusion'.

When we would visit mutual friends without such devices at their homes together (with these 'google' people), the conversations and bonding was real and palpable.

However, when the location of the get together was at the device's home, the conversation was invariably turned to 'let's ask... blah blah blah' and frequent and many interruptions of 'play this song/video...' with excuses of why it worked before and it doesn't now. Not to mention fights and shouting about which person got to hear/play what song/video. And that was before the kids started chiming in too.

No thanks.

Tell a bigger lie, get more people to believe it is how they're selling these things.

For myself though, the above insight into this kind of 'tech' is the core reason to never let it enter my home.

Technology doesn't make people come together/connect. It makes devices connect(ed).

People come together on their own, better.
 
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Pork

New Around Here
Famous historical claims that "That technology is not coming in my house, no thank you."

Electricity
- No Way, it'll likely catch the entire house on fire. We'll stick to our kerosene lanterns.
Radios - Heck No. If we can listen in, they can too. I don't want people listening in on my every conversation.
Television - Obviously mind melting technology used to enslave the masses--not on my watch. And besides with only one picture, families will argue and fight over who gets to control the TV--it will represent the end of home entertainment. I'll stick with scrabble, thanks.
Calculators - It's a slippery slope. Before long, people will forget how to do math and we will all be slaves to the pocket calculator--not if I can stop it.
Stereo Audio - Why would I waste money on a device designed to spread the message of satan subliminally--not in my house. And with all the conflicts that trying to decide what to listen to brings about--I will not put up with it, it will break up families and cause more harm than good.
Personal Audio (Walkman, ipod) - Nobody in this house is gonna go deaf by wearing those ear-destroying headphones filled with acid rock!
Personal Computers - If everyone had a PC in their homes, no work would ever get done--it would be Leisure Suit Larry 24-7. I won't let it happen. I'll continue to do my accounting work with the slide rule my grandfather used.
Cordless Telephones - Obviously, you bring one of these in your home and your entire family will die from cancer--mysterry? I think not! I prefer feeling connected by having a cord on my phone.
Cellular Telephones - It's not bad enough that phones had to go cordless, now nobody is safe and we will see so many cases of brain tumors and mystery cancer from these cell phones that you'll thank me for not allowing cell phones in my house.
Smart Phones - This is nothing more than a spying device used by big companies to mine your data and sell it to foreign interests that will analyze it and figure out the best way to manipulate us. There is nothing I need a smart phone for that my handy rotary dial can't do with a little ingenuity and the will to stand my ground.
Smart Home Appliances: "I have 'friends' with these devices in their homes (I've mentioned before). I don't visit there often and when I did, I was unusually quiet. Not because I had anything to hide, but because I don't need my every exhalation recorded and analyzed for the benefit of others. For myself though, the above insight into this kind of 'tech' is the core reason to never let it enter my home."

I am sure that I have missed several classic historical and hysterical justifications for why some technology was not welcome. Keep up the good fight, folks.

I am sure that 10 years from now, my grandkids will tell stories about how I refused to let some device scramble my atoms and spit them out on the other side of the planet and that's why my family has to transport to my neighbor's house and walk over to visit me--all because I refuse to have a matter transporter in my house like everyone else. LOL
 

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