internet of things

Is the Amazon Echo a good Christmas gift?

Episode 1343

Cindy from California
Amazon Echo Dot

Cindy wants to know about the Amazon Echo. Leo says that the cool thing about the Echo is that Amazon opened it up to create more functions for it, called "Skills." To date, the Amazon Echo has over 3,000 skills it can handle. If she's an Amazon Prime member, she can tell it to buy stuff and ship it to her. She can tell it to stream music, too. If she has a stereo system, she can save money and get the Amazon Dot and plug it in.

Should I get the Amazon Echo or Google Home?

Episode 1341

Pete from Clinton Township, AL
Amazon Echo

Pete is trying to decide between Amazon Echo or Google Home. Leo says he'd definitely pick the Echo. The Echo Dot, a smaller and less expensive version of the Echo, is designed to connect into a speaker system. It's also only $50. It's way ahead of Google Home with hundreds of tasks and recipes that enable Echo to do a variety of things. Google Home is way too new, but chances are, it'll get smarter quicker. Pete could connect the Echo Dot to a speaker and he'll have a stereo. It's amazing.

Where can I get Google Assistant in the home?

Episode 1333

Ellie from Honolulu, HI
Google Home

Ellie likes the idea of Google Assistant and wonders if it will be coming to home automation like the Amazon Echo. Leo says that the Amazon Echo is a great device and it keeps getting smarter. As for Google Assistant, Google's goal is to have it everywhere, so it likely will be.

Ellie also wants to know if AT&T buying Time Warner will affect her internet access. Leo says no, Time Warner sold it off to Spectrum. The $80 Billion acquisition of Time Warner is all about content.

Denial of Service Attack Strikes Down Major Websites

Episode 1333

Ddos attack

A Distributed Denial of Service Attack (DDOS) hit the internet yesterday, tossing several networks offline. Leo says this happens all the time as robot computers are drafted to clog networks with phoney requests. What's disturbing about this particular attack is that it's using not only computers, but it's taking advantage of smart devices used in the home (called the internet of things), like routers, DVRs, smart refrigerators, and even internet enabled home security systems.

Is the Amazon Echo a good device for a senior?

Episode 1284

Peter from Brooklyn, NY
Amazon Echo

Peter wants to get his mother an Amazon Echo. Will she like it? Leo says he recently gave his in laws an Echo and they love it. But he'll want to set it up right and teach them how to use it with the right verbiage, etc. It's great for reading books to them, playing music, the works. It also has a bunch of skills that he can install to do custom features.

How can I create my own version of Jarvis for home automation?

Greg from Long Beach, CA

Episode 1252

Greg just bought a house and he's in the process of remodeling it. He wants to create a home version of Jarvis. Leo says that home automation is a geeky thing and he was hoping that Apple would make it easy with their Home Kit. That would be the best way to do it. It's the Internet of things, and his Hub would be his iPhone. He could have an iPad built into a wall, but technology changes so fast, it may be better to hang it -- not embed it. But he can have smart window shades, a Nest smart thermostat, iDevices, water sensors, and an internet enabled deadbolt lock.

Is internet connected home automation secure?

Gary from Buffalo, NY

Episode 1241

Gary has a ton of devices attached to his network, including home automation devices. It's called the "Internet of things," where all those devices are accessible to the Internet. But is it secure? Leo says it's possible that his network can be breached through them, but that's theoretical. It hasn't happened yet. More likely, his router will be overwhelmed by all the connections. So it may be time to upgrade it.

How many connections can my router handle?

Episode 1201

Ashley from Minnesota
Asus Router

Ashley is concerned about the "internet of things," where so many devices are internet enabled, and the router being able to handle so many connections. Leo says that most routers can handle 50-100 connections. So that's not an issue to worry much about.

Having said that, a dual band router does connect better. What's the best router to get? Leo says getting an 802.11 AC router, which can aim at the devices (called beam forming). Leo also likes open source routers like those that can run DD-WRT software. Asus is a good brand.