Smart Speakers are totally safe and privacy-enhancing (just kidding)

Home Assistant Self-DestructA recent study about smart speakers revealed that they are, in a word, crap.

The study, entitled, WHEN SPEAKERS ARE ALL EARS: Understanding when smart speakers mistakenly record conversations, revealed that these smart gizmos are very often activated by words and phrases that have little to do with anything.

Of course, that means they are recording and sending audio clips when they really shouldn’t be.

Not to worry, though – we are reassured by the researchers that it’s no big deal!

Read more…

All the smartphone features, none of the Google!

No-Google SmartphoneI’ve been using dumbphones for awhile now, but I started to miss some smartphone features.

Then a friend of mine mentioned LineageOS again. I decided to take the plunge… And I’m glad I did!

It IS possible to have a relatively private smartphone without all the Googley madness – even in this day and age.

But it does take a bit of time, patience, and some technical know-how.

Note that I don’t walk through the entire installation process here since it’s particular to your specific phone…

Read more…

EEK! #7 – High Voltage DC is still alive!

HVDC rulez!We all know that AC won the war vs DC back in the day.

But did you know high-voltage DC is still around? What’s more, it’s actually become quite useful!

Some countries have recently installed million-volt DC power lines that span thousands of kilometers!

While HVDC has various benefits over HVAC, naturally there are also a few drawbacks.

Join me for another exciting episode of EEK!

Read more…

The Power Problem with Electric Vehicles

EV Power ProblemThese days, it’s all about Going Green. And what could be more green than an electric car?

Zero emissions, baby! Well, sort of…

While the acceleration may be awesome, the range leaves something to be desired. And range is directly related to power – specifically, the available power from a battery pack.

What’s more, the power to charge the battery has to come from somewhere, and that “somewhere” is the electric grid. So what happens if all of a sudden, everyone gets an electric car?

Well, in many places, it wouldn’t be pretty. Some regions would need to DOUBLE their current grid capacity. And all that extra juice has to come from somewhere… and it ain’t coming from solar or wind power!

Read more…

Can aluminum foil protect you from your phone?

Tin Foil your Phone!There are quite a few smartphone cases, Faraday bags, and other little gizmos out there that claim to protect you from the phones RF waves.

A common method that people use is to line one (or both) sides of their phone case with good old aluminum foil.

So, the question is: Does tin foiling your phone really work? How much? And where exactly should you put the foil?

Watch to find out!

Read more…

Why haven’t space suits changed much in 45 years?

Space suitsWhen we watch sci-fi shows, we see these uber-fancy futuristic space suits.

Yet when we look at the actual real space suits in use by astronauts today, we see the same big puffy white suits that look unchanged since the Apollo missions in the late 60’s and early 70’s!

What gives? How come we don’t have fancy space suits yet?

It turns out that there are pretty good reasons. Space suits need to do specific things to protect astronauts…

Read more…

Is Wi-Fi 6 really that much better?

How good is Wi-Fi 6?There’s a new flavor of Wi-Fi in town: Wi-Fi 6!

In case you’re confused, I’m talking about IEEE 802.11ax, the successor to 802.11ac (which is now called Wi-Fi 5).

Are you confused yet?

While I’m not a terribly big fan of wireless stuff, Wi-Fi 6 does include several improvements that increase capacity and speed for more connected users.

The question is: does Wi-Fi 6 go far enough, or is wired still better?

Read more…

No more WiFi, Part 2: Home Powerline Networking and MoCA

Powerline Networking and MoCA adapters for home networkingSo you’ve read all the studies about our Wireless Wonderland, and you’d like to go wired.

You’ve also watched my first video, No More WiFi: How to wire your home for internet.

You’re not big on drilling holes and running cables everywhere, so you decide to use powerline ethernet or ethernet over coax.

Before you go that route, there are a few things you should know about these two home networking solutions.

Not only are they generally more expensive than ethernet cabling, but they’re also usually not as fast or reliable…

Read more…

The Biggest threat to Privacy: Browser Fingerprints

A lot of people these days are talking about protecting their online privacy.

We have hearings going on, threats of breaking up Facebook and other Big Tech companies, data leaks, and so on.

Many people are going so far as to boycott Google (which is easier said than done).

But so far, no one – except Mozilla – is talking about the biggest threat to online privacy: Browser Fingerprints.

Read more…