Internet and Web

Your internet connection, web sites and services.

Why is Google's voice command feature sending audio to my Gmail account?

Episode 1451

Mark from Loris, SC
Google Assistant logo

Mark has a low end Android phone running Marshmallow. Ever since the last update, any time he uses the voice command feature, he's noticed a message that says it's sending audio to his Gmail account. Leo says it's a normal function of Google voice command. It's just letting him know what account that service is associated with. It's not emailing him, it's just letting him know what account it's using. The phone isn't really doing the dictation, it's sending the voice data to Google servers. It looks like Google is being transparent about it.

How can I keep in touch with my customers?

Episode 1451

Ron from Orange County, CA
MailChimp

Ron is looking for software that will enable him to keep track of client details and information, and then do a mass email advertisement. Leo says that Customer Relations Management (CRM) is a huge business and there's powerful sales force tools available. But he'll want to be careful not to deluge his customers with what his ISP could consider spam. That's why Leo recommends using a service like Constant Contact or Mail Chimp.

How can I hack my Echo?

Episode 1449

Bill from San Carlos, CA
Amazon Echo Dot

Bill wants to know if he can hack the Echo to make it more powerful. Or would he be better off going with Google Home? Leo says that both are good, so he should pick one and stick to it. Leo advises buying the cheaper Echo Dot. It has Bluetooth and line out, so he can connect it to a really nice powered speaker. He can also do a party mode where they are linked and synced together. He can then create zones for different music, or have them all play the same thing.

Isn't it good that there will be less regulation of the internet?

Episode 1449

Bryan from Panama City, FL
Network Neutrality

Bryan wants to know if Leo is for or against repealing the Net Neutrality rules. Leo says he's definitely against repealing it, as he believes it will benefit the big ISP companies and not the end user. Sure, it's government regulation, but if you trust the water coming out of your tap, why not trust regulating the internet to keep it open and neutral? By throwing out rules that keep ISPs common carriers under Title 2, it now gives ISPs the power to do whatever they want and charge whatever they want. Leo understands the mistrust of government. Many technology types are libertarians.

What is the Fingbox?

Episode 1449

Ken from Pennsylvania
Fingbox

Ken wants to know about a new hardware gadget called Fingbox. Leo says that Fing is a good company, but this is their first internet of things hardware offering. The key here is, will it be kept up to date? Will it be maintained in the long term? It looks like a cool Echo type of device, but only time will tell.

Facebook Releases Study on How Time Spent on Social Media Affects Us

Episode 1448

Facebook logo

Facebook released a study on whether or not spending time on social media is bad for us. The report comes from the director of research at Facebook, David Ginsberg, and a research scientist at Facebook, Moira Burke. It's good to ask this question, and it's surprising Facebook would even ask it — until you read their conclusions. They determined it is bad for you if you're passively consuming it. They say in the study that the people who just read Facebook would feel worse, but those who interacted with others felt better. These findings seem a little self-serving, according to Leo.

Why doesn't the Amazon Echo understand me?

Episode 1448

Jay from Los Angeles, CA
Amazon Echo Dot

Jay has an Amazon Echo Dot and the Logitech Harmony system, and sometimes the Echo simply doesn't do anything. Leo says it can do that if it doesn't understand the command. Leo suggests turning on the "ding" feature that will signal that it understands him. He can also use the Amazon Echo app on his phone and look at what the Echo is doing. Then he can see if and why it didn't understand him.

Should I buy a hardware firewall?

Episode 1448

Tom from Madison, WI
CUJO smart firewall

Tom wants to know if the CUJO Smart Firewall is a good idea. Leo says that he already has a firewall with his wireless router. That handles about 80% of all bad traffic. Also using OpenDNS can filter out even more. Then he could have a software firewall to handle the rest. Everything that CUJO does, he can do with other services that cost less or free. Mesh Routers also offer the exact same protections.

RIP Net Neutrality

Episode 1448

Ajit Pai

In a strict party-line vote, the FCC voted 3-2 to kill Net Neutrality rules, in spite of overwhelming support to protect it. Leo says that while the rules were in place in 2015, we've really had it since the beginning. Leo says he believes the smaller ISPs will probably still keep the spirit of Net Neutrality, but he believes the bigger companies like Time Warner, Comcast and others will probably charge Google, Facebook, and others for access to their customers. He doesn't believe at this point that customers will see a direct impact, though.