Amazon Echo / Google Home devices

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Amazon Echo / Google Home devices

Post by Michel » 07 Jan 2018, 09:27

Hello All,

Neil complained no-one is talking rubbish in here, so I thought I'd ask if anyone as an Amazon Echo or a Google home smart device thingy, and if so, what do they think of it? I've been sorely tempted by such a thing for a while. A couple of friends have them, and they do appear to be genuinely useful for some things. I'm aware of the potential privacy issues, and suspicions of whether the thing might be listening in.

So, do you have one? Would you have one? Have you used one?

all opinions welcomed..

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Re: Amazon Echo / Google Home devices

Post by CitroJim » 07 Jan 2018, 09:57

Robyn has an Alexa and I find it hugely entertaining if nothing else... She can even understand me :lol:

I can see they have their practical uses too.

Things like this are the future so embrace them ;)
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Re: Amazon Echo / Google Home devices

Post by myglaren » 07 Jan 2018, 10:18

I have an Alexa Dot Echo.
Only used to listen to music in my Amazon music library and ask it silly questions - "Open the pod bay doors please HAL" etc.
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Re: Amazon Echo / Google Home devices

Post by bobins » 07 Jan 2018, 10:43

'fraid they don't interest me :? I didn't wake up this morning suddenly realising I needed a voice activated 'thing' opening the curtains, ordering stuff, making notes for my non-existent diary, or playing music, etc, etc, etc.... and I doubt that situation will change in the forseeable :-D
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Re: Amazon Echo / Google Home devices

Post by demag » 07 Jan 2018, 11:43

It's Google. Or Amazon or Microsoft or Apple et al. They follow your very move and report back. The US government know everything about you for "security reasons". Don't make it easy for them, go down fighting!
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Re: Amazon Echo / Google Home devices

Post by white exec » 07 Jan 2018, 11:46

We have just been made a Xmas present of one of these - an Amazon Echo Show (the one with the screen). Eary days yet, but it's certainly technically clever, both in terms of the quality of speech recognition and speech generation, and speed of retrieval of info. Linking two together via internet (which is why we were given it, to keep in visual touch with family), the picture quality is first rate, and calls to other users worldwide is free.

However, there is a dark side to these devices. Left switched on (which Amazon advise), the device is constantly listening to all sounds and conversation around the home - it can respond to verbal commands from a room or two away! - and, by Amazon's admission, is feeding back the contents of any "Alexa, . . . ." command given, to Amazon's servers, for archiving there*. You can, Amazon say, go into your account and delete stored voice material . . . but how deleted is deleted?

There has already been a case where police have applied to Amazon under warrant for the release of potentially stored audio material, as part of their investigation into a murder in the same house. Amazon have been reluctant to release the data, but have, I believe, now agreed to do so. The point being, the data was possibly stored without instruction so to do.

Now, if an organisation asked you to agree to the installation of a bugging device in your home, which was capable of relaying conversations back to servers and recording them there, there would be an outcry. In this case, they haven't asked, but have gone a smart step further in asking you to pay for the device (£200 in the case of the Show), and leave it switched on 24/7.

Big Brother has arrived, and you are being asked to pay for it. I cannot see any security-conscious company or organisation wanting one of these on its premises. Yes, the mic and camera can be muted, but how mute is mute?

* Amazon say that "a fraction of a second" of audio is recorded before the command word (eg Alexa) is uttered. So, the device is recording/storing before the command word, not just after it. I am not reassured.
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Re: Amazon Echo / Google Home devices

Post by demag » 07 Jan 2018, 11:56

Exactly, Google used to store all your data on its servers for 32 years. Why 32 I have no idea, it now stores it for ever. Read the EULA on your gmail account, all your emails are scrutinized, nothing is private. This is why they don't like TOR or secure email accounts. How I wish I could un Google myself.
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Re: Amazon Echo / Google Home devices

Post by Michel » 07 Jan 2018, 12:35

demag wrote:
07 Jan 2018, 11:56
Exactly, Google used to store all your data on its servers for 32 years. Why 32 I have no idea, it now stores it for ever. Read the EULA on your gmail account, all your emails are scrutinized, nothing is private.


Yeah, I know. Apart from a vaguely correct version of my name, I'm not sure Google have any *accurate* data on me. They certainly don't have my correct address, DOB, phone number or credit card details. I expect they know plenty about the "person" with the details I have put in, but that doesn't really matter, does it? I use secure email to send anything important. Amazon will know more about me, but that's because anyone I buy stuff from has to know where I live to get it delivered..
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Re: Amazon Echo / Google Home devices

Post by Homer » 08 Jan 2018, 15:00

I have an echo dot. My kids find it endlessly entertaining just adding poop to the shopping and to-do lists.

It turns the living room lights on and off and sets the brightness, and can also adjust the heating thanks to Hive without me having to laboriously tap on my phone screen :lol: 8-)

It can finally play music through the Sonos speakers I have throughout the house.

But. Half the time it doesn't understand what I say, it especially struggles if the TV is on, and picks up on spurious words which don't even sound like the trigger word. A bit of a mixed bag really.

If you want evasive answers ask if it is working for the government. 8-[
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Re: Amazon Echo / Google Home devices

Post by CitroJim » 08 Jan 2018, 15:04

Homer wrote:
08 Jan 2018, 15:00
If you want evasive answers ask if it is working for the government. 8-[


:rofl2: She's cleverer than we think ;)
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Re: Amazon Echo / Google Home devices

Post by white exec » 08 Jan 2018, 17:41

We were trying to come up with commands that would give it a headache, or even get into an ever-knotty conversation with another one in the same room (there were two here, briefly, over Christmas).
We even asked it for The Meaning of Life, the Universe, and Everything. She said she didn't have that information.
My guess is that they have been programmed not to self destruct, or disappear up their own *******.
Agree, there's more to these than meets the eye. And this is only the beginning... :shock:
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Re: Amazon Echo / Google Home devices

Post by CitroJim » 08 Jan 2018, 17:57

white exec wrote:
08 Jan 2018, 17:41
We even asked it for The Meaning of Life, the Universe, and Everything. She said she didn't have that information.


I'm shocked :shock: Everybody knows it's 42 :wink:

I'd have thought the designers/programmers - surely a bunch of big geeks - would have done that for the sheer fun of it. I know I would have...

And every geek on this planet knows the significance of 42!
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Re: Amazon Echo / Google Home devices

Post by demag » 09 Jan 2018, 01:36

They do?
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Re: Amazon Echo / Google Home devices

Post by CitroJim » 09 Jan 2018, 06:24

demag wrote:
09 Jan 2018, 01:36
They do?


Maybe the younger geeks no longer study HHGTTG in any great detail now or even know of its existence perhaps...

If that's the case then it's very sad :(

I'm of that age now where I forget those things I enjoyed as a youngster were a long time ago and I fall into the trap of thinking that all youngsters remember those times...

I just assume everybody of any age enjoyed HHGTTG in the 70s by listening to it on the BBC as I did...

I've even been guilty of saying to the kids things like 'You remember the Chernobyl disaster in 1986...'

:roll:
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Re: Amazon Echo / Google Home devices

Post by Michel » 09 Jan 2018, 07:03

CitroJim wrote:
09 Jan 2018, 06:24

I've even been guilty of saying to the kids things like 'You remember the Chernobyl disaster in 1986...'

:roll:


Had Sam and his little mate in the back of the car the other week one evening, telling each other "spooky stories". Sam started off "A long, long time ago.... in 1982"...

Oi! I was 10 then!
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