Weekly Round Up 9/7/18

 

Especially coming from a guy as corrupt at Ajit Pai…

The FCC chief’s call for cracking down on tech companies is not only laughable, it’s the ‘height of hypocrisy’

 

Here’s hoping one of them is designed to keep the Kardashians off the air…
10 Takeaways From Variety’s Entertainment and Tech Summit

 

The red tape alone is ging to take a millenium to get through…
A 22-year Apple veteran explains why Silicon Valley’s ‘fast fail’ approach won’t work with health tech

 

We were fools to think it could.

Now We Know Tech Won’t Save Us

 

Watson, you sneaky, little bastard…
IBM used NYPD surveillance cameras to develop facial recognition tech

 

If it helps produce more “People of Walmart”, it’s all good…
Exclusive: Walmart’s Tech Arm is Adding 100+ Jobs in Reston

 

Who needs eyesight when you’ve got Alexa & Siri?
Small screen, big problem: what tech is doing to your eyesight

 

I’m sorry, what did you say? I was checking my Facebook…

Google researchers say the tech industry has contributed to an ‘attention crisis’

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Weekly Round Up 3/30/18

 

 

 

Facebook can’t have all the fun…
It’s Amazon’s Turn in the Tech Hot Seat

It should be for any business that handles people’s data.
Backlash against tech companies is a wake-up call

Edward Snowden said it best, “Voluntary surveillance.”
Why do people hand over so much data to tech companies? It’s not easy to say ‘no’

As I was a watching a clip of this, I got the feeling Uncle Timmy might be running for office one day soon…
Recode Daily: Tim Cook talks Facebook, data privacy, domestic manufacturing and tech in education

This is super creepy and cool all at the same time.
A Prediction About Future Tech From The 1990s Has Gone Viral Because It’s Spookily Accurate

They never seem to get any better…
Women and Minorities tech; By the Numbers.

I don’t need Alexa cooking any meals for me, thanks.
To Invade Homes, Tech is Trying to Get Your Kitchen

I’m telling you, that tech episode of the X-Files scared the crap out of a lot of people.
How Tech Can Make Retirement Harder For Couples

Weekly Round Up 3/23/18

 

 

Apple’s looking pretty good right now, huh?
Facebook scandal could push other tech companies to tighten data sharing

Facebook may have just pushed our society back to the dark ages where tech is concerned.
It’s Not Just Facebook. The Big Tech Revolt Has Begun, Says Nomura

#deletefacbeook
The new tech divide: social media vs. everyone else

I thought I did. I didn’t.
Want to #DeleteFacebook? You Can Try

Um, they’ve never been held accountable for anything until now. How can it get worse?
Big Tech’s accountability-avoidance problem is getting worse

After the story of what Facebook did broke this week, there was no way this bill wasn’t going to pass…
Senate passes sex trafficking bill in defeat for weakened tech industry

I weep for our future.
People were asked to name women tech leaders. They said “Alexa” and “Siri”


Right, because they’ve proven so trustworthy with normal data….(eye roll)

Tech company using facial recognition technology to combat revenge porn


Oh, good. We found him.

This White Tech Guy Has an Idea to Make Tech Less White

App of the Week: Out of Milk

Out of Milk, the popular shopping list app, just added support for Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant.

 

By Ryne Hager of Android Police

There are a lot of shopping list apps out there, and that’s an understatement. Back in the early days of app development, shopping lists were one of the most popular simple projects, and even now people learning the ropes typically toss one together. But Out of Milk has stood the test of time for the last seven years. And now managing your shopping list is getting just a bit more convenient via the new Out of Milk voice assistant, which works with both Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant.

There are a couple of steps you’ll have to make to get things working as they should. The full instructions for Google Home are here (and Alexa instructions are here), but remember that the Out of Milk voice assistant requires you to use an account created on the Out of Milk app or website. Once it’s set up you’ll be able to yell at your assistant of choice and make use of the following features:

• Add and remove items to a list (e.g. “Add rice to my list.”)
• Include the quantity of an item on a list (e.g. “Add two gallons of milk to my list.”)
• Add multiple items at once to a list ( “Add bananas, cereal, & butter to my list.”)
• Check which list their editing (e.g. “Which list am I in?”)
• Switch between existing lists (e.g. “Switch to my ‘Walmart’ list.”)
• Read off items on a list (e.g. “What is on my current list?”)
• Read off all lists (e.g. “What lists do I have?”)

If you haven’t used Out of Milk, it’s pretty nifty. It allows you to add items to lists synced with other devices as well as friends or family. And you don’t just have to type or dictate, it can also scan barcodes. So the next time you toss out an empty bottle or box, you can quickly make sure you’ll grab it on your next shopping trip.

 

 

Ready to give things a try?

You can download Out of Milk at Google Play and iTunes.

Do you have a favorite App for Grocery Shopping? Tell us about it in the comments below!

How to: Link Your Calendar with Alexa

 

 

by DAN MOREN of Tom’s Guide

Having Alexa read you your upcoming appointments is one of the best uses of a virtual assistant. It saves you from having to go to your computer or pull out your phone to check what’s going on for the day or add a new event. Alexa supports Google Calendar, Apple Calendar, and Microsoft calendars via Outlook.com and Office 365. Here’s how to link them.

 

1. Open the Alexa app on your phone.

 

 

2. Tap the Menu button in the top left corner.

 

 

3. Tap Settings.

 

4. Scroll down to find Calendar and select it.

5. Tap the calendar system you want to link; for this example, we’ll use Google Calendar.

 

6. On the following screen, which includes your name, tap “Link your Google calendar account.”

 

7. When prompted, choose the appropriate Google account. You may need to enter your username and password.

8. The following screen tells you what abilities you’re granting Alexa; in this case, managing your calendars. Tap Allow.

9. Tap Done.

10. Choose which calendars you want Alexa to have access to by tapping the checkbox beside their names. When you’re finished, tap the Back arrow in the top left.

11. In the middle of the screen, you can choose to which calendar new events will be added. Tap the name of the calendar that Alexa has chosen to change it.

12. You’re all set! Now, you can add a new event to your calendar by saying “Alexa, add dinner to my calendar for 6pm today” or, for a more interactive approach, “Alexa, add an event to my calendar.”

How to: get Siri to read articles and other text on iOS and macOS

 

 

Over the weekend, I published an article about the cool features built into The Amazon Echo and their A.I., Alexa. I didn’t want fans of Apple’s A.I. Siri to fell left out, so, I’m sharing this piece on one of Siri’s coolest features. Who needs audiobooks? Not me and not Siri..

By Greg Barbosa-Cult of Mac

While Siri may not be the perfect companion some wish it was, the personal assistant’s voice can lend itself to our lives in a variety of helpful ways. For the past few months I’ve been using Siri to read all the text I want to read but don’t actually need to read. Having the personal assistant read articles to me means I can focus on other activities while essentially turning my reading lists and emails into a personalized podcast.

Withings Body Wi-Fi Scale

Having Siri read your content can be quite a liberating feeling. It allows you to consume all the reading material you like, but with the added benefit of not having to have your face buried in a screen. Enabling this feature also means you can even navigate between apps, and Siri will continue to read the content you initiated!

HAVING SIRI READ ALOUD ON IOS

To get Siri to start speaking to you on iOS, we’ll have to enable an Accessibility feature. To do so, head into your iOS Settings → General → Accessibility → Speech section.

 

From here you’ll see two options: Speak Selection and Speak Screen. Enabling the first allows you to select a group of text and have Siri read that specific group back to you. Selecting the second allows you have Siri read everything that is visible on your screen. Personally, I’ve enabled both features.

Tip: While in this section, enable the Highlight Content option as well. Enabling it allows you to visually follow along with what is being read onscreen.

Both Speech features are powerful in different ways, but the Speak Screen option is one I’ve found myself using much more often on iOS. I use the Speak Selection feature to have her pronounce unknown words to me, and the latter to have her read large amounts of text. To activate Speak Screen use two-fingers to swipe down over the iOS Status Bar. A small opaque window will appear and begin reading the content aloud. I usually enable Speak Screen whenever I’m going through emails or my reading list.

 

That window has a few controls to assist in the speech while the content is being read. If you want to speed up Siri’s reading rate tap the bunny, and to slow it down tap the turtle. Tapping the forward and backward options will jump through to the next major break in a group of text (usually paragraphs or user interface elements). Pressing Pause will pause the speech.

Tip: You may notice when text is being read that Siri will pronounce things incorrectly. You can edit a word’s specific pronunciation under Settings → General → Accessibility → Speech → Pronunciations.

HAVING SIRI READ ALOUD ON MACOS

On macOS, the process is slightly different than iOS. Launch System Preferences and navigate to Accessibility → Speech and enable Speak selected text when the key is pressed.

 

The difference here is that on macOS, this feature works better when it’s treated more like the Speak Selection feature on iOS. If you were to hit the configured keys while just looking at any screen, you may find that Siri reads back what is seemingly random text. I’ve found that the best way to have Siri read the text back to you on macOS is to highlight the group of text you want read and then to hit the configured key command. At least in this manner you know was it being read aloud.

Tip: Both iOS and macOS feature a Voices section under their Speech features. You can change the voice that is heard when text is read to find a more fitting one for your taste. I’ve chosen Alex as he sounds more natural than some of the other voices.

Over the past few years Apple’s commitment to integrating accessibility features into its software has become a highlight of its products. While many users may not need the accessibility features iOS and macOS provides, we can still benefit from the powers they hold. We’ve covered using the low light filter to lower iOS brightness even further, and hope you’ll find using Siri to read text useful as well.

Have you found yourself using any of iOS or macOS’ accessibility features? Let us know in the comments.

 

Amazon Echo tips and tricks: Getting a grip on Alexa

 

 

This is the coolest gadget for the home right now and Alexa is like Siri on steroids. Anyone who ones an Echo can tell you how much fun it can be and how surprisingly helpful it is to have around. If this is a preview of the “Smart Home” future, Sign.Me.Up!


By ELYSE BETTERS of Pocket lint

The Amazon Echo almost needs no introduction, that gateway to a world of connected fun. Posing as a cylindrical speaker, the Amazon Echo is likely to be one of the hottest gadgets of 2016, with Alexa getting in on the action as your new helpful AI assistant.

The Amazon Echo can make to-do lists, set alarms, stream podcasts, play audiobooks, read PDFs, provide weather forecasts, warn you of traffic, answer trivia, and serve up other information in real-time.

We’ve been living with the Echo, Dot and Alexa for some time and here’s how to get the most out of this cool smart home accessory.

 

Amazon Echo: How does Echo work?

The magic of the Amazon Echo comes from its connection. After a quick set-up process, which involves plugging it in, taking control of it via the Alexa app (Android, iPhone, Desktop) and connecting it to your home Wi-Fi network, Alexa will listen to your voice and respond accordingly, either returning information found online, or through a number of partners that work with the Amazon Echo.

You need to be online to use the Amazon Echo, but it’s simply a case of asking questions and issuing commands.

Amazon Echo: How many Echo models are there?

There are three different versions of the Amazon Echo:
Amazon Echo
Amazon Echo Dot
Amazon Echo Tap

The Echo is the full-sized speaker, the Dot provides the microphones and Bluetooth or physical connection to existing features and the Tap is a portable Bluetooth speaker (not available in the UK).

We’ve broken down the different skills of these devices in a separate feature, explaining all the pros and cons if you need to know more.

 

Amazon Echo: Echo tips and tricks

Mute the “Alexa” wake word
Amazon Echo is always listening for the word “Alexa”. Whenever you say it, the Echo will listen, consider what you’re saying and respond. But if you don’t want the Echo to wake and respond, there’s a mute button on the top of the speaker that you can press to mute Alexa.
Press it again to unmute her. Simples.

Change Echo the wake word
If you happen to have someone in your house called “Alex” or similar, then you’ll find the Echo responds when you say that name too. You can choose another word, either Amazon or Echo.
Head into the Alexa app > settings > select your Echo > Wake Word and pick a new word from the list.

How to control Amazon Echo through your browser
There are a couple ways you can control your Echo, as well as your to-do and shopping lists. The first, as we mentioned, is through the Alexa app. The second way is through the web. Just visit this site in your browser: http://echo.amazon.com and you’ll be able to log-in and control your device without needing a phone.

Change the default music service
The Echo is compatible with a range of music services, not only Amazon’s own. If you’d rather use Spotify, head into the Alexa app > Settings > Music & Media.
In this section you can link music accounts and pick the default. Then, when you say “Alexa, play Phil Collins” it will use Spotify rather than Amazon music, for example.

Add skills to Alexa

There are lots of things that the Echo will do by default, but sometimes you’ll have to enable a particular feature to get more. These are called skills, and basically give Alexa access to particular information. In the Alexa app head into Skills and you’ll find a range of compatible apps and features. It’s here you can enable control of your Hive heating or access to your BMW Connected app, for example.

Setup Household Profiles
From the Amazon website you can link your family Prime accounts. With a feature called Household Profiles, you can add another adult to your Amazon Household to listen to either his or her content (for instance, music and audiobooks) and manage shared features (like lists).

Go to Settings, scroll down the page, and set up your Household. Shared members will have to download the Echo app and agree to join the household. You can also the app to setup your household too. More information about Household Profiles is at this support page.

Switch Amazon account profiles
Thanks to Household Profiles, Amazon Echo can be synced with more than one Amazon account. To find out which profile you’re currently using, say “Alexa, which profile am I using?” To switch profiles, say either “Alexa, switch profile” (moves to the next profile) or “Alexa, switch to David’s profile” (moves to the profile you named). More information about Household Profiles is at this support page.

Control a smart home device
You can control some smart home devices with Alexa (see a list of compatible devices here).
After you say “Discover my devices”, or use the Alexa app to discover and pair smart home devices, you can ask Alexa to do things like “Turn on/off [smart home device name]" or "Dim the light to [##] per cent” (see a list of commands here).
You can also setup groups (see here) so that saying “house lights” turns on/off several lamps. Alexa works with many common connected devices, like Philips Hue.

Force software updates
Amazon Echo has a CPU and software running it that needs updating. The speaker looks for updates every night, but if you want to force an update, just hit that same mute button we discussed earlier, then let Echo sit for at least 30 minutes, and the speaker will update.

Amazon Echo: What can you say to Alexa?
Here are some examples of things you can do with Echo/Alexa, along with links to their relevant Amazon support pages:
• Ask questions
• Check your calendar
• Control media playback on Bluetooth devices
• Control music with your voice
• Control smart home devices
• Discover and buy music
• Find local businesses and restaurants
• Find traffic information
• Get updates on the weather
• Go to the movies
• Hear the news
• Keep up with your favorite sports teams
• Keep track of important tasks and items to purchase
• Listen to audiobooks
• Listen to Prime Music
• Listen to stations, shows and more
• Read Kindle books
• Reorder products from Amazon
• Request music
• Set up alarms and timers


Amazon Echo: Are there any Easter eggs?

Alexa responds to a wide number of fun Easter eggs.
This Reddit thread aggregates several interesting commands you can issue to Alexa. We’ve picked out a few of the more interesting ones and listed them below, but not all will work in all locations:

“Simon says…”:
You can get Alexa to repeat anything you say if use the command “Alexa, Simon says…”
“Alexa, play Bingo”:
Look up and download some free printable bingo cards, and ask Alexa to start a Bingo game with you.
“Alexa, ask Word Master to play a game”:
This is like Geography. Alexa says a word, then you have to follow with a word that starts with the last letter of the word she said.
“Alexa, start Animal Game/Capital Quiz”:
This lets you play 20 questions about animals or geography.
“Alexa, start Star Wars quiz”
Self-explanatory.
“Alexa, play Jeopardy”
Trivia geeks will love these game-show style questions. Don’t forget to answer in the form of a question.
“Alexa, roll the dice”
Missing the di to your board game? She’ll roll 6-sided, 10-sided, 20-sided, and other dice as well.
“Alexa, open the Wayne Investigation”
This starts a chose-your-own-adventure game that immerses you into the world of Gotham.

 

Amazon Echo: What are some funny questions to ask?
Ask Alexa these questions and we promise you’ll love her responses:

“Alexa, what does WTF stand for?”
• “Alexa, Up Up, Down Down, Left Right, Left Right, B, A, Start”
• “Alexa, how much is that doggy in the window?”
• “Alexa, Is Santa real?”
• “Alexa, do you know Hal?”
• “Alexa, Who shot first?”
• “Alexa, which came first: the chicken or the egg?”
• “Alexa, what is love?”


This website
suggests more hilarious questions you can ask.