Monday, May 23, 2022

Technology, Meet Relationships—and Criminals



LUCY BURDETTE: The other day I was having a conversation with a few of my friends,  chatting about how things have changed in relationships with the advent of Alexa and Ring, and other technological “advances.” (I remembered a moment a couple of years ago when we were visiting our daughter and she said something to her daughter like “daddy is a dumdum.” Alexa piped right up without being asked to weigh in and said, “that's not very nice!”)

 

One of my friends described how he watches comings and goings at his home on his smart doorbell and noticed his wife carrying something to her car and driving away. She had not mentioned this trip to him, so he asked her about it. Turns out she was ferrying some of his “junk'' to the dump.

 

Another friend mentioned that it is very hard to throw anything out in her household. If she or other family members want to dispose of something they consider junk, they go out the back door and around the house to the outside trash. Otherwise, her husband will notice this on their camera and retrieve the questionable item from the garbage.

 

In my house, for some reason I’ve started getting email alerts when John charges something. (I’m glad it’s not the other way around!) I didn’t ask for these, but I get a chuckle out of mentioning to the hub that I noticed he’d had roast beef for lunch.

 

Really though, it’s not that funny. Where has our privacy gone? And how are our bad guys supposed to operate without immediately getting cornered?

 

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Don’t worry about that last, Roberta - remember when everyone got cell phones, and we all worried about how any character was going to be caught alone or threatened because they could call for help at any moment? Somehow, crime fiction managed to incorporate that technology.

 

There is nothing smart about my house - no Ring camera, no talking refrigerator, and I’m happy with that. I do have Alexa (I love you, Alexa!) but despite her regular offers, I don’t let her order things for me, keep my shopping list, or make any calls. She tells me what the weather is and plays classical music and podcasts.

 

There are a LOT of husbands out there who like to hold on to stuff, and if a critical mass of them are receiving notices from their cameras when their exasperated wives try to sneak junk out of the house, I expect a big boom in A) storage lockers and B) marital counseling.


RHYS BOWEN:  I’ve unplugged Alexa. I’m tired of having a chat about something and then next morning seeing my in-box crammed with ads for that particular object, proving Alexa was listening in! Added to which John could never get the hang of her. He’d say, “Alexandra or whatever your name is. Could you possibly play something by Glen Miller?” And then get annoyed when she didn’t quite understand him!

 

No Ring at our house. I’d never be able to sneak anything out to the garbage if we had one. Husband tries to save old jam jars etc! 

 

But one of the reasons I enjoy writing historical novels is that I don’t have to deal with all the technology!

 

HALLIE EPHRON: This is making me think that there’s got to be a place for EVIL ALEXA. Though I’m sure Stephen King has already exploited it. She sees you when you’re sleeping, she knows when you’re awake… Can you say: CREEPY! This is why I’ve never let Alexa out of the box. 

 

And can I just say that if I’d snuck any of my husband’s stuff out of the house, my marriage would have been very short lived. Fortunately he had the sense to know what I’d classify as “junk” and keep it more or less out of my path.

 

JENN McKINLAY: No Alexa or Ring here either. I have Siri on my phone if I need to ask a random question and don’t feel like typing it into a search engine. And I have dogs - no one is breaking into this house. Hub is a reformed hoarder. He’s started decluttering his things (books and guitars) without a nudge from me for which I am grateful. 

 

For me, my two most valuable commodities are my time and my privacy, which I guard fiercely, and while some technology helps (Freedom App to keep your time on social media limited) most do the opposite so nope, nope, nope. 

 

DEBORAH CROMBIE: We have three cameras on the front of our house, but they are only connected to our home network, NOT to the internet. Ditto our home automation. Rick loves this stuff and I think only someone very computer savvy could build this kind of privacy, hack-proof set up

 

I am, however, very fond of Alexa and love having my audio books and music available all over the house.

 

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: OH, yes, I love Alexa, too. I always ask her valuable important stuff (What year was Grace Kelly born?), and she usually knows. Especially good for math and book research. (What is 23 times $17.95? How many miles is it from Boston to Cleveland?)

I LOVE that you can SAY to the TV: “The Lincoln Lawyer” and up it pops.

Ooh, I always ask Alexa the weather,and sometimes I get it for West Newton, Pennsylvania instead of Massachusetts, and that’s interesting too. 

SOMETIMES, though, she pushes it. “Want me to tell you the humidity?” NO! I cry. 

But I love to set the timer with her for writing.

She also has good recipes, I’m not kidding. “Alexa, how do you make chicken cacciatore?” It works!

We have a security video thing, but it only records when the alarm goes off or something. But I love to be able to see our house on the phone when we are away. Even though we are NEVER away now.

The one interesting thing about Siri. I always said “HEY. SIRI.” in a demanding tone. But I once overheard a cool guy say “Hey Siri,” in a kind of Barry White cajoling way, and it was so nice. So I do that now, too.

Yes, I know they are all listening, but we are boring, so whatever.


How about you, Reds?


122 comments:

  1. No cameras, no ring doorbell here.

    But Alexa lives here . . . mostly I tell her I’m going to work or to church and she is to start guarding. And so she does. And an Echo also lives here as well just so that my four-year-old grandbaby Mia can forever call out, “Nana, hello, Nana.” And then she’ll chatter on about something [and I have absolutely no idea what she’s saying] or sit there and eat her lunch . . . why I have to watch her eat lunch is beyond me, but I love it!

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  2. I have Siri on my phone, and that is it. Even then, I rarely use it because I just never think to. My TV, purchased last year, isn't even a smart TV. And I'm okay with that. I prefer my privacy.

    The one "smart" thing I have is my thermostat. It's nice to be able to turn it off from my phone if I forgot to do that or just have it off for a few hours if I'm going to be out and then turn it back on when I am heading home.

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    1. John just bought a smart Tv, but I think it's smarter than we are!

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    2. Ha ha. Kind of scary to think what the newer generation of smart TV can do. My 10 year old smart TV is a dinosaur.

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  3. Nope, nope, NO WAY!!
    Don't get me wrong, I depend on my Android smartphone. Bbut no ALEXA or Google's version of Siri or smart appliances! EVIL ALEXA is such a possibility.
    The only "smart" appliance I have is my Toshiba smart TV which is over 10 years old. I rarely use it to surf the Internet. But I mostly use the smart function to broadcast Youtube videos from my laptop/tablet to the (larger) TV screen.

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    1. I wonder how we can tell who is working on the Evil Alexa story!

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  4. Alexa scared me one time, so I unplugged and sent back to Amazon.

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    1. Oh Dru, hope you'll tell us more! We're dangling in suspense now...

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    2. That's too funny, Dru! Please tell more.

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    3. Oh, dear. What happened, Dru?

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    4. DRU: Was the Alexa like the Roomba?

      Diana

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    5. LOL - I would do the same!

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    6. I live alone – it was evening and I was reading a book and had the TV on low (background noises) when all of a sudden I was hearing a conversation that was taking place in my apartment not involving me. So I search every nook and cranny of my place and nothing. While I was searching the conversation stopped. I went back to reading and the conversation started up again, this time the person was saying “you are dead to me.” Again, I searched and still I see no people in my place to be holding this convo. Now I’m scared and checked one more place, still nothing. My Alexa was not on the top shelf but on one of the shelves and when I was standing near it, I could hear the conversation louder than before. So yes, Alexa was reading a book that somehow picked up a command from the TV. And that was it with Alexa.

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    7. Yikes! I was traveling with Annette Dashofy and we somehow set off "Hey Google" on her phone, but all it did was spout random calculations. A conversation would be creepy.

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  5. I have and love my laptop and internet access for information. I have my daughter's old iPhone for texts and driving directions when traveling, and I love listening to audiobooks while working on chores. But otherwise I avoid high tech, especially "smart" tech. A few years back I chose not to buy the car with giant screens on the dashboard that looked like airplane controls. I think my rather anxious temperament is soothed by direct contact with basic problem-solving that I can understand.

    My husband would add that I am sometimes ruled by an inner Puritan. He adores Siri though it originally took him quite a while to stop prefacing his requests with "Please," which baffled the algorithm.

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    1. Inner Puritan or Luddite? After my vintage car "died", we had no choice but to buy a new car with a "computer". It has power windows. The vintage car did NOT have power windows. The new car has a "screen" in the middle and if you want to turn on the radio, you have to touch the screen and it is confusing.

      Diana

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  6. I'm in the nobody listening, watching nobody camp. Yes, I'm boring, as Hank says, but I still don't want Alexa's algorithms listening in on my conversations or, horrors, filling my inbox with even more ads. Just. No. No porch cams or smart thermostats here, either. I don't even know what an Echo is, but once I have grandbabies, I think I'll need one!

    I did make up a function for Alexa in a book (Murder in the Taffy Shop). In an attack scene, my protag's African gray parrot (after being cured of dictating parrot-centric shopping lists while her human is out of the house) yells, "Alexa, call the cops!" - and the cops show up. Not sure if this would work in real life, but in my fictional world someone mentions it's a new feature they just added. ;^)

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    1. EDITH: I remember that Alexa scene! Work be nice if Alexa could call 911 if you're in trouble IRL (in real life).

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    2. that's a very clever idea Edith. Sounds like Joan's Echo would do the same thing for real

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  7. We don't own anything electronic that thinks for itself. Technology is already a big brotherish menace hovering over the computer and changing the words in your texts. The only thing I am even tempted to buy is a watch that tells how far you've walked, and honestly, I don't NEED to know that, either. I am still mobile enough to get up and change the CD and, if you remember when you had to get up to change the channel, people were a lot thinner.

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    1. No, Lucy, I have a smart phone. (Nothing "I" though.) But it does not have control over anything in the house like lights and tv, or locks. Our doors lock with keys. We do have a German Shepherd dog but as everyone here knows, he doesn't bark and he hides when company comes so...yeah, no need for a Beware of Dog sign here.

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  8. I've had a so-called smart TV for 12 years, but I never access its smart features, wouldn't know how. And I think my washing machine is supposed to be smart but I never connected it to the internet or whatever it is supposed to be connected to. Who needs something like that? I only have an Alexa because my son gave it to me for Christmas. The next year he gave me a new, improved model. I turn it on every morning to do the Question of the Day trivia and then I turn it off. Occasionally I'll turn it on to hear a certain song and then it is turned off again. In the beginning it was always on and then she commented about something I said when I wasn't even talking to her.

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    1. You see, that's exactly what happened to our daughter! plus the grandkids know how to get Alexa to do all kinds of things...scary!

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  9. I am firmly in the NO NO NO camp on this one. Nothing smart about anything in this house and I dread when/if an appliance breaks down that a basic model will no longer be available. A bridge to cross down the line; in the meantime, I still listen to the radio...though I tend to do that on my phone, which is enough amazing technology for me. (PS - what is an Echo?)

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    1. Same here, none of the above. Like Jenn, I value my privacy. I’m still able to close my lights, bolt my door and set my heater. I’m also able to use my phone or my IPad when needed.
      Danielle

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    2. Echo is the Amazon hardware (speaker) for Alexa.

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    3. Danielle, right! Thank heaven I can physically get up and do these things.

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    4. Amanda, I dread replacing anything electronic. Give me mechanical over electronic for almost any household item. But unfortunately, everything new has electronic components and replacement of parts costs a fortune, if you even can find them.

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    5. AMANDA: I totally get what you mean about what if the basic appliance breaks down. When my vintage automobile needed repairs, the auto repair did an overhaul with new mechanic hires who only knew how to fix the newer models with a computer. They could NOT fix my beloved car!

      Diana

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    6. Mechanics over electronics: yes!

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    7. As much as I reject the "internet of things" I suppose there was a time when the cry was "manual over mechanical."

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  10. No smart stuff in my house - no, no, no. I don't need to talk to my fridge. My sister has Alexa and it is kind of cool that she can ask Alexa to turn off the lights (rather than walk back to the living room), but it's not enough. I have a Smart TV with Alexa, but have never used it. I sometimes use Siri, but not very often.

    And no video doorbell, thanks. I knew a woman who had her phone hacked through her video doorbell and I am paranoid enough (working in tech) that I don't need to give hackers yet another opportunity, thankyouverymuch.

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    1. she had her phone hacked through her doorbell? yikes!

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    2. Right, Liz, every "smart" convenience is another way into your home, your life. Not for me. I am angry that Microsoft suddenly has control over my document folders. How did that even happen? What did I agree to?

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    3. LIZ, how on earth does a phone get hacked via a video doorbell? Was the phone connected to the video doorbell?

      Diana

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    4. Judy, is that what happened? No wonder I can't find anything any more!

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    5. Karen, I have to sign into Microsoft to even "save" a document these days. I am so annoyed. Jonathan thinks I agreed to an upgrade, and it is possible that I did because they were blocking me from saving without it. I don't even remember because there are times when you get so frustrated, you finally just hit "yes." AWK!

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    6. JUDY: I also find that change with Microsoft Office annoying. I have to sign in to even view an old Word document, let alone save it.

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    7. OMG, Grace. If it happened to you, and you are tech-savvy, then I probably can stop beating myself up over it. Why are my documents suddenly in Microsoft's care? SO INTRUSIVE!

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    8. If you buy a version of Word without automatic updating and you say no to cloud storage, you have complete control of your word documents. If you save them on your computer, not the Microsoft cloud, you will not have to log in to access your documents. You can buy a cheap student version, with no updates if you are just using the word processing parts of the product. No updates, you have complete control of your documents. You still have to opt out of their cloud storage though.

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    9. This all smacks of the same theft of files that iTunes did. How are they getting away with this???

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    10. Technically if you read the service agreement in detail you don’t own the content stored in their repositories!

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    11. Ah, that makes sense, thanks for the explanation. I upgraded my Microsoft Office subscription to cloud storage with 1 TB on Onedrive. I used to have Office just on my laptop & did not have to logon to my Microsoft account.

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    12. And I reluctantly upgraded since Microsoft stopped supporting my old version of Word (97-2003) on my laptop. GRRR!

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    13. My doctor once severed their relationship with the firm that did their office management. We had to buy our medical records from the management company to get them transfered.

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    14. Anonymous, I'm talking about content I owned and/or created--my OWN intellectual property--long before Microsoft put sneaky theft provisions into their products. It really should not be allowed.

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    15. I don't think I ever agreed to the cloud storage. If I did, shame on me.

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    16. Regarding Microsoft: If you buy a version of Office 365 (which is all they are selling these days) and you aren't careful, you can end up checking the box that allows for backup to their cloud service - OneDrive. If you do that, Microsoft can play all sorts of havoc. And yes, you have to sign in to your Office 365 account because it's an annual subscription - it automatically keeps itself up to date and no more installation CDs. I have an Office 365 account, but I believe I turned off (or never turned on) the OneDrive integration. I back up through DropBox.

      GRACE: This is why you have to sign into your Microsoft account. It has to authenticate you with OneDrive.

      Anonymous: I don't think you can buy a copy of the old Office that doesn't have auto-updating any longer. It's all subscription.

      From the Office 365 TOS: "All content included in or made available through the Services, such as text, graphics, logos, icons, images, sounds, music, digital downloads, data compilation, software, and documents, is the exclusive property of Microsoft or its content suppliers and is protected by the various applicable trade dress, copyright, trademark, patent, and other intellectual property and unfair competition laws in the United States and internationally (collectively, "Content"). All rights not expressly granted to you in this TOU are reserved and retained by Microsoft or its licensors, suppliers, publishers, rightsholders, or other content providers." The key phrase is "included in or made available through." They are talking about things that come with the software: stock art, sound files, etc. The text you type into a Word document did not come with the software.

      On the OneDrive privacy safeguards page it says: "You control your data. When you put your data in OneDrive cloud storage, you remain the owner of the data. For more info about the ownership of your data, see Office 365 Privacy by Design."

      Now none of this means Microsoft won't play around with your folder structure. I've seen that happen. But generally, if you keep documents in the default Documents folder, you'll be okay. I use OneDrive extensively at The Day Job and it's not messed around with my folder structure (in fact, I was recently issued a new laptop and OneDrive saved me a ton of time by automatically restoring all my files to the new machine).

      To those who asked about the hacking: Once your device is connected to the internet, it's fair game. The doorbell is connected to the phone through the internet. Hack the doorbell software and you can hack into the phone. This hole has probably been patched by now, but still...no thanks. This is also why it is so, so, so important to not reuse passwords. You don't want The Bad Guys to get access to your banking website because the password for that and Facebook are the same. There are many services for password management. I use LastPass. This way I only have to remember my master password for LastPass. It automatically fills in the individual site passwords. And I can use it across multiple devices.

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  11. We have a new furnace and air compressor with a snazzy thermostat that shows outside temperature and with a wi fi connection, enables the furnace to whisper sweet nothings to the air compressor outside. Enough! My new oven has wi fi and I told the installer not to hook it up.

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    1. I have an oven with wifi I don't use either. Really, I can walk into the kitchen and turn the darn thing on...

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    2. Yikes! When would you need to use the oven wifi? To adjust temperature electronically? No thanks. Like Roberta, I will just walk to the kitchen to turn the controls myself.

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    3. They have smart chips that require software and hardware updates, just like your car. If your appliance chips has a problem in the future, without the software updates, the appliance will fail. You have a choice hook your appliance to WiFi or pay an expensive bill later to update it.

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  12. Every once in a while I’ll say something and my Apple Watch will comment on it. I just laugh it off.

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  13. I don't have a smart speaker or a smart doorbell. I'm not anti-tech, but I'm concerned about privacy and I'm also not a shopper or a trend follower, and am hopeless about setting stuff up. I do have a story about advertising though. A few years back, I walked over to the grocery store on Halloween. I have a friend who is a checker there, and she was dressed in a costume of the then President (number 45) in an orange prison jump suit. I took a picture of her and, while walking home, another picture, this one of a neighbor's Halloween tombstone that named the 45th president. I made a FB post with the two pictures. I did not name #45 in my post (I might have used the number). Soon after, I started getting a flood of FB ads for Donald Trump merchandise, some of which were mind boggling and hurt my tender liberal political spirit. Appalled, I clicked on one ad, and asked why I was getting it. FB told me that I had expressed an interest in or preference for Donald Trump. I was able to let them know that I wasn't really interested in him, and the ads stopped.

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    1. that is fascinating and horrifying. And kind of amazing that FB listened to you!

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    2. So true... when I tried to report a hacking incident, they told me to send a picture of myself holding my ID. Every time I sent them said picture, I got an auto reply saying that this picture did not match the info on my account. So frustrating--I deactivated my account for a couple of months.

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    3. I just went through that exact routine with the same results--ack!

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    4. Set your advertising preferences on Facebook! If you don’t know how, you are prey ti a lot of advertising you do not want! If you are going to use technology it is your responsibility to educate yourself about it!

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  14. It just occurred to me, with these comments about "just get up and turn it on" (which is my first reaction, too), that we're missing an important use of smart technology. I think it must have an important role for people with disabilities who CAN'T just get up and turn on the oven, press a button to change the channel, or look out to see who is at the door, especially if they live by themself.

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    1. That is so true, Edith. My mother would have benefitted greatly from these technological advances. But, for many of us, getting up is not a problem.

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    2. Yes, and that is a valuable use of technology that has made life both easier and more independent for a lot of differently abled people.

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    3. EDITH: I was reminded of a Dick Van Dyke movie where he played a scientist. He invented a machine that will fry bacon and eggs for you. Yes, I was thinking about how technology has made life easier for many people with physical challenges.

      Diana

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    4. Yes, that's is so true, Edith. We are commenting via the lens of the able-bodied.

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    5. Excellent point!

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  15. Can you imagine what EVIL ALEXA would have done during the age of Eugenics if it existed before the advent of Nazi Germany?

    As long as technology benefits Deaf people like a mobile phone or flashing doorbell, I am for technology. However, I am not a fan of Robots and ALEXA. IMHO, I do not think that type of technology is Deaf friendly. I remember when my high school physics club got a Robot and I realized that I could not read the Robot's lips. LOL.

    Regarding Siri, unfortunately Siri cannot understand my Deaf accent when I talk. LOL. However, I have used the ? microphone ? to type out what I say - it is the voice to text aspect of my smartphone. And I have used it to practice my speech and if I get it right, the words come out right. I have had different words type out the words that I DID NOT SAY! I call the voice to text thing my "speech barometer".

    When I was a young child, we had the big heavy Teletypewriter for the Deaf, which looked like the Engima machine or code machine during the Second World War.

    Technology can be great or awful, depending on how it is used and how it can benefit you.

    Since college, I have been using a computer. I took to the computer like a duck to water. My family and I use the text messaging on our smartphones to call each other instead of using the phone.

    Regarding the video door bell, the first time I saw that was in Scandinavia. It was a high end technology shop, way more advanced than the American Radio Shack. I saw that if someone rang the doorbell, you can see who is at the door. When I mentioned this to a Deaf friend in Scandinavia, she said that she did not need it because she could see from her upstairs apartment who was at the door. When I returned to the USA, I was living in Washington, DC and I lived in a YWCA type of housing. They had a video doorbell, which meant that people at the front desk could see who is ringing the doorbell. These were the only times I have seen the video doorbell.

    Someone commented that a video doorbell was used to hack a mobile phone ?? How did that happen? I wonder if the phone was connected to "Smart House" app?

    Diana

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  16. So true, Edith--the technology is amazing for people who need it! The only smart thing I have is my tv, which allows me to access sites with streaming content. We live on the road that big tech forgot, so have crappy internet options, until my new phone service (and library) provided a hotspot. Now I can get Britbox! Etc.! And the guys can play games with far-away friends. But NO to Alexa or wifi on the washing machine or ring doorbells. For security, I have my neighbors--we all watch out for one another.

    Kate Wilhelm wrote a mystery called SMART HOUSE, one of her Constance and Charlie series. Let's just say that house (tech) versus people can be pretty scary.

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    1. FLORA: Streaming video is wonderful! I can watch Britbox on my computer. My TV is not working again.

      Diana

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  17. Regarding Technology, I am surprised that while there are many mentions of ALEXA, no one has mentioned ROOMBA, which is a kind of vacuum cleaner?

    Diana

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    1. And which geo-maps every nook and cranny of your house! Good point, Diana.

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    2. They just used a roomba in The Lincoln Lawyer. I was wondering last night if they were going to pay that off...

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    3. We've only seen two episodes, so now I need to see what happens with the Roomba!

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  18. Several years ago we were guests at a friend's home for a cookout. The women were chatting inside while the men kibbutzed around the grill, and our conversation turned to music (one friend was the first female deejay in Ohio). Our hostess raised her voice a bit and said "Alexa, play Mick Jagger."

    All three of us women suddenly went wide-eyed and looked at each other, every one of us wondering what Alexa had been hearing us talk about before rock music! I really think guests should be warned if there is a smart device ready and waiting to big commands. It's only polite.

    Like Margaret, we have a wonderful smart thermostat that gives us the outside temps and the weather forecast for the next five days, for our exact location. I think that's brilliant. And we can program it, or we can connect via my phone. I've been known to turn the AC or furnace back to normal after a trip, from the road on the way home.

    Our Android phones do allow for voice requests, and we use that all the time for Google searches on the road, etc. Other than that, nothing else is "smart". Including us. As we get older, Steve and I are starting to need one another to have a whole brain!

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    1. That is so funny, Karen. I was going to say that the only smart thing in the house is my husband but you may be right that these days, 2=1.

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    2. And I wonder, as 110000 households here in Ottawa are at day 2 with no power, can you adjust your thermostat or open your smart doorlock manually?

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    3. No, it's all electric, Grace. We couldn't open our garage door with the fob once, which prompted me to rethink our key options.

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    4. Hmmm. The 2003 blackout was the first big event I experienced in Toronto where EVERYONE was without power for 24-72 hours & during a heatwave. Good thing smart devices like Echo/Alexa & smart locks were not around then. Lesson learned was to carry a mini-flashlight (now flashlight app on phone) to navigate along pitch black corridors & to find the lock to my apt door.

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  19. Rhys, I can just hear John! So funny.

    I think it's possible to change the name of the device, by the way. Otherwise, families that include members named Alexa (and Siri, a la Tom Cruise's daughter) would get all tangled up.

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  20. A few years ago I was eating lunch in the lunchroom at work. Two women were quietly talking at a table behind me. A third voice suddenly piped up with “I’m sorry, I didn’t quite catch that. Can you repeat it?” It came from one woman’s phone. Until that point she didn’t even realize that she had Siri on her iPhone!

    I don’t receive spam emails or texts, but frequently ads will show up on Facebook for things I’ve talked about in cell phone conversations. It’s creepy.

    DebRo

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    1. That is super creepy. I know that some technology is monitoring my email because if we discuss Tonka trucks for a birthday over emails, the Tonka ads flow in!

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    2. I don't know whether to laugh or cringe at that story. Lesson learned: SIRI listens all the time, if you forget to shut her off.

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    3. I’ve done Internet searches on bizarre topics, just to see if ads concerning similar topics would start showing up on Facebook. So far that hasn’t happened. Which makes me wonder if there’s some algorithm that can detect insincerity?!

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    4. Ha, DebRo, that's terrifying! The Sincerity Algorithm, which is the best rom com title ever. Jenn??

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  21. Back in the sixties, when I was in college, a classmate’s family was among the first in town to replace their rotary dial phone with a touch tone phone. Her father was disabled and was ecstatic to have a phone he could finally use, because his fingers had not been able to handle the rotary phone.

    DebRo

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    1. In the 1980s an uncle gave my grandmother a touch-tone phone that was preprogrammed to call specific people, in addition to the usual one number at a time. There were HUGE buttons so she could see them, and photos of the family members on the programmed buttons. It was so much easier for her to call with.

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    2. Karen, that’s great!

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  22. No uber tech for us - alas. I would love to give Alexa a test drive but hubs sees red whenever I bring the subject up. A ring camera would be wasted here in the woods - we have game cameras for that :) and we do have video surveillance, but hubs set it up and we have set to our private network and on hub's phone.

    Hank, I'm intrigued - you can TALK to your TV? I love that idea.

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    1. We can use voice commands for our Roku, but we never do. They never understand my shaky voice, anyway.

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  23. I should have mentioned that hubs is a rocket scientist who firmly believes that no matter what they say, all of these devices are collecting info.

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    1. I am not a rocket scientist but I knew that all these devices are paying attention. It's straight out of 2001!

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    2. Yup! any Alexis in my life would be called "Hal."

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  24. No, no, no,no,no,no. I like the illusion that I have any control over my own data.

    In the 18th Century, the Utilitarian Jeremy Bentham designed the Panopticon which was a rotunda of units (prison cells, asylum beds) with an observation point in the center. Bentham's plan was built on the idea that prisoners would not know when the one viewer at the observation point was actually looking at them, so they moderated their own behaviour at all times. It is fascinating to me that the intrusion of "friendly and helpful" surveillance devices into our life has not inculcated the same caution into our behaviour. Rather, they have increased our willingness to share. I don't think we need to imagine Evil Alexis.

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  25. No thanks. No ring cameras. No Siri or Alexa. I just don't talk to inanimate objects and I sure don't want them talking to me. We do have smart TVs but I have no idea what makes them smart. My vehicle is a 2003 Jeep Liberty. I hope it lasts forever because I don't want to have to buy a car full of electronics and cameras. Just no.

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    1. Pat, I bet you can actually see out of your car's windows and don't need alarms and cameras all over the place to tell you where you are. I miss being able to look at the street behind me when I back up.

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    2. Turn off the back up camera! It is an option.

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    3. No, no, no. That is the way to see when the rear windows are teensy. More air bags are good, but less window dimension is caused by the space needed for extra air bags. In addition, the seat backs are taller and wider than they used to be. So, the camera is the way that I can see behind the car.

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  26. Nothing listening or spying here (that I know of) but the conversation is taking me back to the '70s and the suspicious clicks on our phones, "Hi, FBI guy. Do you want to come to supper, too?" I even gave up on the programmable thermostat, too many steps and my days are more random now. I did love Edith's helpful parrot, though . . . and as said, it would be a boon to those with mobility challenges.

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  27. We have Alexa connected to the smart tv. Now probably there is a way to get Alexa to be closed captioned. However this mid 20th century brain cannot figure it out. In the meantime I limit my conversation to a dialogue with a neo toddler. No! Go BACK . Thank you.. no no no etc..

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  28. I had no idea Alexa had recipes! I'm going to add that to her repertoire, which in my house consists of 1) Classical music stations 2) weather reports 3) NPR and 4) podcasts. I figure even if Amazon is selling my info, all anyone would know is that I'm extremely dull and probably overeducated.

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    1. Alexa is great for conversions, too, Julia. I tend to use a lot more British cookbooks now!

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  29. I was sitting home alone at my computer and, frustrated by an uncooperative app, I muttered "Damnit." Suddenly, from my phone, Siri said, chidingly, "Now, now!" I promptly turned it off and haven't turned it back on, because I detest eavesdroppers.

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  30. My favorite Alexa story is one night we were watching MY LIFE IS MURDER. Our Alexa is right by the TV and she suddenly started talking about something. We realized she heard the main character's name, Alexa. and thought she was being spoken to. We told her to give it a rest.

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  31. My nephew, for whom I kitty sit when he and his wife are away, has a camera somewhere in the house. I haven't been able to spot it. But he gets a notification when I'm there and does spooky voices through the speakers. "Hellooooooo, Aunt Annette." The brat knows it creeps me out.

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  32. Dean Koontz wrote a scary story about a smart house. I also wonder if the Alexa and Siri companies killed off C.S.I.:Cyber because that show showed all the ways that smart stuff could be hacked. Talking to your kid through the baby monitor! I would never have Alexa because I talk to myself all the time. Since I bought my new smart Samsung TV, often it won't turn on unless I pull the plug and then plug it back in! That is so frustrating. Technology is great if it works and you can understand it.

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  33. I did a TV story once where we drove around with a baby monitor and..never mind. I won't go into it. But just saying.

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  34. I adore both Alexa and our Ring. The latter caught a prowler the first two weeks we had it. Oddly enough Alexa doesn’t flood me with much at all in the way of ads. We’ve tried it to see, talked about X and then watched for something to pop up the next day, but nada. I did fiddle with the privacy settings to avoid just that.

    We have two smart bulbs, both installed when I had shoulder surgery so I could turn the lamps by my chair and bed off and on easily.

    And two smart phones, which have never been hacked. iPhones are good that way. The smart TV isn’t all that intelligent but Roku keeps us happy.

    Having lived at my grandmother’s house when I was small, with no running water and an outhouse, I am completely a non-Luddite. My first experience with a computer was in 1979, and I’ve never looked back. Every night I throw Alexa a kiss and tell her how much I love her. Next thing is a smart watch!

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    1. That was me, Ann

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    2. Ann I agree! My Mom, also from Missouri actually programmed on some of the first Apple computers in the 1980’s.

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