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The Home Assistant Green is here to make the most powerful smart home platform more accessible



The Home Assistant Green is here to make the most powerful smart home platform more accessible

Buy enough tech and you can’t escape the siren call of a smart home. Amazon practically throws Echo Dots at you. Google will sneak a Nest Mini in the box with almost anything you buy in its store. Good luck buying a new kitchen appliance that doesn’t beg to be connected to the internet. All of those come with platforms that are locked down and cloud-dependent, requiring you to bend to their corporate wishes to use them.

But for the last decade, Home Assistant has been the go-to software for privacy-focused nerds who want all the benefits that Apple, Google, and Amazon products provide with infinitely better flexibility and fewer security risks. And now, for the software’s 10th birthday, the people behind Home Assistant are introducing a new product in the hopes of extending it beyond the domain of nerds: the Home Assistant Green.

“Our ideal future, long term, is that we want for people to get a privacy-focused smart home is not only something rich people or nerds have access to,” Home Assistant founder and CEO of Nabu Casa Paulus Schoutsen told me in an interview. 

“We want people to get a privacy-focused smart home… not just rich people or nerds”

Like a lot of people, I originally ended up finding Home Assistant because I had too many devices that did not play well or at all with each other: Hue lights, smart speakers, a NAS, an air conditioner, not to mention with random switches, motion presence sensors, and other misfit dongles I bought on AliExpress. And while bigger companies are adopting Thread in an attempt to make everything play nice together, even interoperability on that has been a mess. A general dissatisfaction with the state of things and a need for painful specificity is apparently a common pathway to Home Assistant.


But there have been many roadblocks. While the process of getting Home Assistant set up is not tremendously difficult for the kind of person that screws around with Raspberry Pis regularly, it is still not an experience for the faint of heart. It is, at this point, still an enthusiast piece of software, and setting things up is still a very intentional process by design. But there’s a huge segment of people that want to jump in without messing around with hardware. The Home Assistant Green is a convenient little package and an attempt to make the onboarding part easier for everyone.

A box for everyone

The Green box is similar in size to Raspberry Pi computers and just needs power and Ethernet to get connected.
Image: Home Assistant

Priced at $99 and planned as a permanent item alongside the Home Assistant Yellow, what makes the Home Assistant Green novel is not that it has powerful, high-end hardware, although the RK3566 quad-core CPU is fast enough to run the software without issue. What makes the device unique is the 32GB eMMC storage that’s preloaded with Home Assistant’s platform. It’s a more affordable and much easier entryway for people who want to dip their feet in the water without having to flash a memory card from another PC. The unit also comes with 4GB of LDDR4x RAM, a few USB 2.0 slots, an HDMI out, and a microSD slot for expansion. 

The device is explicitly made to just run the Home Assistant Operating System — it’s not meant to be an all-purpose computer like a Raspberry Pi. It’s also not a piece of hardware you can just give to a tech-phobic relative yet but rather something for the person who is aware of Home Assistant but hasn’t wanted to deal with the hassle of getting it all running.


To get started, you just plug it in with the included power adapter, connect it to your router via ethernet (the Green does not have Wi-Fi “because the backbone of your smart home should use ethernet,” Schoutsen explains), and go through the setup process using your phone or another computer. The system will automatically detect devices on your network that can work with it. If you don’t have a Hue hub or existing way to connect to Zigbee devices (and experimentally Thread), you can add a Skyconnect dongle later. There are countless devices Home Assistant already works with, but for Home Assistant Green, simplicity is the point. 

The Green joins the existing Home Assistant Yellow and Blue boxes.
Image: Home Assistant

I received an early sample of the device for testing, which came in a nice frosted plastic case with a metal base and simple-to-follow instructions. This is a much nicer-looking setup than what I currently have, which is a bare Raspberry Pi 4 Model B just kind of chilling out on my bookshelf with cables jutting out at various angles.

After plugging everything in and visiting the address of the Green in your computer’s browser (http://homeassistant.local:8123/) or the Home Assistant mobile app, you are greeted with a quick installation screen asking if you want to start a new smart home or restore an old one. Since I was already running Home Assistant, I made sure to do a full backup of my instance and downloaded it to my PC before unplugging it for my router. From there, I just uploaded the backup and waited for like 20 minutes while it put everything in place. It currently doesn’t let you know when it is done, so you just kinda have to refresh your browser window, but sure enough, all my stuff was exactly where I had left it, all my painstaking UI tweaks and integrations were there, and my Skyconnect functioned. It all just worked.

If simplicity is the goal, the team achieved it. 


Once it’s plugged into your router, you set up the Home Assistant by visiting its IP address in your browser.
Image: Chris Person / The Verge

“Currently we’re aiming for the audience we call the ‘outgrower,’” Schoutsen explained via Discord. “It’s the one that uses Amazon / Apple etc., runs into the limitations and wants more. Searches the web and finds Home Assistant. At that point users already know they want a smart home and are looking for solutions to their problems, which Home Assistant generally can solve. We believe that with requiring a Raspberry Pi to get started or the relatively high price of the Yellow (you don’t know if your problems will get solved for $200), we were missing out on a good chunk of outgrowers. So with Green, we’re trying to offer a way for anyone to get started with Home Assistant.”

10 years of Home Assistant

Home Assistant, which celebrates its 10th birthday today, has grown a lot in the last 10 years. Like myself, Schoutsen got into the game after getting an expensive set of Philips Hue bulbs and hitting a wall with what they would let him do.

“I didn’t start Home Assistant because I wanted to write a smart home platform,” he explained. “Hue got released, and I bought it. I was at that point a visiting scholar at UCSD finishing my MSC thesis and was doing a bunch of Python stuff, so I wrote some code to talk to Hue.” 


Since then, the project and the team have expanded to 28 people. Development of Home Assistant is funded by subscriptions to the company’s cloud service Home Assistant Cloud, as well as the sale of hardware like the Yellow, limited edition Blue, the SkyConnect dongle, and now the Green hub, allowing the company to develop without outside investors breathing down its neck. Outside of the core team itself, there are countless people adding blueprints and contributing to the code in their spare time. According to Schoutsen, Home Assistant is the second most active open-source project on GitHub. 

The newest Home Assistant logo, redesigned for its birthday.
Image: Home Assistant

When I inquired about possibly extending the project beyond the home, Schoutsen said he was not interested. “Anytime you expand the focus, you need to add features that fit one use case well, the other not so well,” he explained. “I wouldn’t want to go after hotels or offices. When talking to companies, people always thought we would go there, as that’s where the money is but not the fun 🙂. And we have no investors to steer us away from our focus on the home.” Building into offices would also require very strict access control, Schoutsen said, which would slow down the process by which they add features. This is a more sober vision for a product than you normally see coming from founders, one that was further compounded when I inquired about where they see the Home Assistant relative to Google or Apple’s offering.

“I don’t see us competing directly with Google / Amazon / Apple anytime soon for the segment of users that need to be taught about a smart home because the thing is that anyone with a smartphone has access to Google Home and Apple Home. We don’t claim that those users have a smart home, though. Even having multiple connected devices doesn’t make a smart home. A home only qualifies as ‘smart’ when people start caring about having their connected devices with unified control or work together.” 

“A home only qualifies as ‘smart’ when people start caring about having their connected devices with unified control or work together.”


Having used both HomeKit and Home Assistant, I am inclined to agree. Home Assistant’s main market will always be people who want an intentional smart home, something that does exactly what they ask it to, not an overly curated closed garden. And while there is still tons of work to make it more inviting to newbies (finding user-created blueprints should be easier, Schoutsen admits), the core of what makes it work remains the same: thousands of users getting devices for their home, saying “this doesn’t work like I want it to,” finding a workaround, and sharing their progress.

“It takes quite some effort to keep the machine moving,” he said.

While I am, by my nature, a person who loves to tinker, I also live my life with the understanding that most people are not like that. You can invite curiosity with Raspberry Pis, but a lot of people want something that gets them most of the way there already. So much IoT hardware is sold on being seductively easy and inviting at the cost of being closed, insecure, and invasive. Looking at the semi-opaque plastic case of the Home Assistant Green, I hope that Schoutsen is right. I hope more people get into running Home Assistant, into open-source software, and ultimately about having total control over a truly “smart” home.

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The Sphere’s first show looks like it was a mind-blowing spectacle



The Sphere’s first show looks like it was a mind-blowing spectacle

U2 played the first-ever show at the Las Vegas Sphere, a massive, dome-shaped venue wrapped in over a million LEDs. The concert, a live performance centered on the band’s Achtung, Baby album, was also the band’s first in a series of performances it will put on at the venue through the end of December. The cheapest tickets for the shows that haven’t sold out yet start at about $400, as of this writing.

From videos being posted to social media, it looks like shows at The Sphere can be breathtaking, probably more than a little nauseating, and undoubtedly expensive to produce.

A review in The New York Times says the concert alternated between gigantic, trippy visual effects sweeping across the domed display and the more standard concert screen fare of band close-ups. From this YouTube video of the first song, “Zoo Station,” it looks like the show began with the latter:

But sometimes, things looked absolutely out of control, with wild animations spanning the entirety of the screen in ways that must be completely disorienting for our lizard brains. People were just losing it. I can’t say I blame them:

Just look at this part while the band played “The Fly” and all the text transforms into a tunnel extending up into the sky:


This video from casinocompwallet on TikTok shows what the LEDs actually look like. Sphere Entertainment says each of these pucks contains 48 diodes, is about eight inches apart, and can show 256 million colors:

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10 easy ways to prevent someone from spying on you



10 easy ways to prevent someone from spying on you

You know, one of the absolute worst feelings in the world is when you get that creepy sensation that someone is spying on you. It’s just so unsettling, whether it’s happening in real life or online. I mean, seriously, who wants to be watched without their permission, right? 

That’s why it’s important for us to be proactive and take all the necessary steps to protect ourselves. 

Here are my top 10 tips for keeping your information away from those creepy spies. 


1. Have good antivirus software 


Picture of woman with spy behind (

You often hear me talking about this and there’s a good reason. One of the best ways to protect yourself from being spied on is to have antivirus protection installed on all your devices. Having good antivirus software allows you to be resilient against growing attacks by actively running on your devices. It’s the best to help stop and alert you of any malware in your system, warn you against clicking on any malicious links in phishing emails, and ultimately protect you from being hacked.

See my expert review of the best antivirus protection for your Windows, Mac, Android & iOS devices.   

2. Remove yourself from the internet  

Your personal data can get exposed online in various ways, such as data breaches, data scraping, or data sharing by hackers, websites, platforms or on the dark web. This can put your privacy and security at risk. While no service promises to remove all your data from the internet, having a removal service is great if you want to constantly monitor and automate the process of removing your information from hundreds of sites continuously over a longer period, and it would significantly decrease the chances of someone being able to spy on you all the time.  


See my tips and best picks for removing your personal information from the internet  

Temu app

Temu app on the phone (Temu)


3. Avoid using apps like Temu 

Certain readily available apps are made to spy on you and harvest your personal data . The Chinese-based app Temu and its sister app Pinduoduo have been found to collect sensitive information on users, including tracking locations, recording contacts, browsing history, and other personal information. 

Before you download any app, make sure you read its privacy policy or, at the very least, search the app name along with the word ‘privacy.’ Closely look at its reviews and ratings, and make sure it’s coming from a legitimate official source like the App Store or the Google Play Store.  Never link to download an app from an email or text message. Those links often lead to trouble compromising your security. 



4. Use a VPN  

Consider using a VPN to protect against prying eyes from tracking you and identifying your potential location on websites that you visit. Depending on their privacy settings, many sites can read your IP address and may display the city from which you are corresponding. A VPN will disguise your IP address to show an alternate location. 

For the best VPN software, see my expert review of the best VPNs for browsing the web privately on your Windows, Mac, Android, & iOS devices 

5. Use a webcam cover 


You know those little cameras that you see built into all of your devices?  Or the external webcams that you plug into your computer?  If your devices become compromised, hackers can gain access to your webcam to spy on you and learn your sensitive information. Covering your webcam with a simple piece of electrical tape or using a physical camera cover is an easy and inexpensive way to take control of your privacy and get some peace of mind. 

Think of it like closing the curtains on your window. Why should anyone have the opportunity to see what you are doing in the comfort of your own home?  It is an easy suggestion for everyone that can prevent massive issues.  


 6. Have strong passwords  

Create strong passwords for your accounts and devices, and avoid using the same password for multiple online accounts. Consider using a password manager to securely store and generate complex passwords instead of relying on a single password, which, if stolen, can expose you. It will help you to create unique and difficult-to-crack passwords that a hacker could never guess.  


Plus, it also keeps track of all your passwords in one place and fills passwords in for you when you’re logging into an account so that you never have to remember them yourself.  The fewer passwords you remember, the less likely you will be to reuse them for your accounts.

Webcam cover

Webcam cover for your computer (


7. Use 2-factor authentication 

Having 2-factor authentication is just another way to keep those spies out of your accounts. If someone guesses your password, 2-factor authentication will pose another barrier for them to have to break through. This will encourage many hackers to give up on trying and will cause major setbacks for the rest who still try to get into your accounts. 

Many devices offer 2-factor authentication, and it is typically used either through an SMS-text messaging system, an authentication app, or with a fingerprint or facial scan, making it nearly impossible for a hacker to bypass it. If you don’t have 2-factor authentication on your devices already, I would highly recommend looking into it.



 8. Double-check camera and microphone settings 

Your smartphones, tablets, and computers should have adjustable settings for both your camera and microphone. Oftentimes people don’t realize that every app on your device has its own set of permissions, so you might be giving camera and microphone access to an app that you don’t want to give access to. These settings can be easily changed, so make sure you’re only giving camera and microphone permission where absolutely necessary to avoid any snoopers from looking into your information. There are different ways to manage the camera and microphone permissions on your phone, depending on the app you are using. 

How to adjust your microphone or camera using third-party apps on iPhone 

  • Go to Settings
  • Then scroll down to Privacy and Security and tap it
  • Then go to Microphone or Camera and toggle the switch next to the app’s name to grant or revoke access

How to adjust your microphone or camera permissions using Safari on iPhone 

  • Go to Settings
  • Then click on Safari
  • Next, scroll down to where you see Settings for Websites and then tap on either Camera or Microphone and select Ask or Deny for each option

How to adjust your microphone or Camera permissions for all apps on Android 

  • Open Settings app
  • Tap Apps
  • Look for the app you want to change the permissions for and select it
  • Tap Permissions
  • Then click Camera and Microphone and tap Don’t allow


How to adjust your microphone or camera preferences using Chrome on Android 

  • Open the Chrome app and tap the three dots in the upper right-hand of the screen
  • Go to Settings and tap it
  • Scroll down to Site Settings and tap it
  • Then go to Microphone or Camera
  • Then, toggle Off the microphone or camera off for each site

How to adjust your microphone or camera preferences using Firefox on Android 

Open the Firefox app 

  • Then tap Menu, which is the three dots in the bottom right of the screen
  • Scroll down and tap Settings
  • Then click Site permissions
  • Then you’ll want to click on either Camera or Microphone and tap to block access for each site


9. Lock your screens 

If you want to protect against a snoop physically peeking over your shoulder, which happens more often than you might think, then having a lock on your screen is the best way to protect yourself.  

You can create passcodes for your smartphones, tablets, or computers, and some devices will also allow you to enable a fingerprint or Face ID lock to prevent snoops from guessing a number passcode.  

For step-by-step instructions on how to lock up your screen devices, click here. 

Password protection

Two factor authentication  (


10. Turn off your location 

Location settings are a key way for hackers and spies to keep tabs on you. The last thing you want is for someone you don’t know to have information on where you’ve been or where you’re going. Keeping your location services either completely off or limited, especially on your smartphone, which you take with you everywhere you go, can prevent a hacker from having that information. 

However, before you turn off location sharing to everything on your devices, you need to know the consequences of doing so.  That’s because several applications use your location services, like location-based apps, which include your map, navigation, photo, weather, and fitness apps.  Also, your browser uses your location to provide relevant search results. In addition, emergency services could be affected if you turn off location sharing. In fact, your location may not be automatically shared with emergency services, which could delay response times or make it difficult for emergency personnel to find you.

Kurt’s key takeaways 


We all have to be vigilant when it comes to protecting our privacy because these hackers and spies will do anything to get your information from you. I know it can seem scary; however, as long as you take the proper precautions and stay alert at all times, then you can have a safe and enjoyable experience while you’re surfing the web. 

What scares you the most when it comes to your online privacy? Are there any specific concerns you have that you’d like us to address? Let us know by writing us at 

For more of my tech tips & security alerts, subscribe to my free CyberGuy Report Newsletter by heading to 

Answers to the most asked CyberGuy questions: 


What is the best way to protect your Mac, Windows, iPhone and Android devices from getting hacked? 

What is the best way to stay private, secure, and anonymous while browsing the web? 

How can I get rid of robocalls with apps and data removal services? 

Copyright 2023  All rights reserved. 

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Here’s where you can preorder Sony’s upcoming PlayStation Portal



Here’s where you can preorder Sony’s upcoming PlayStation Portal

There is a chance the PlayStation Portal will sell out as quickly as the PlayStation 5 did when it was first released, which is perhaps why Sony is currently limiting orders to one device per customer. We have yet to test the Portal, but if you’re someone who wants to secure a unit at launch, rest assured that multiple retailers have already opened up preorders in the US and several other countries. Here’s what you need to know.

The PlayStation Portal is a handheld device that can connect remotely to your PS5 over Wi-Fi. As a result, you can stream preinstalled PS5 games to the Portal’s eight-inch LCD screen, which runs at up to 1080p resolution and 60fps. The device also sports controllers on either side, which are reminiscent of Sony’s DualSense Wireless Controller for the PS5 (they even support adaptive triggers and haptic feedback).

Sadly, the Portal doesn’t support Bluetooth, meaning it won’t be able to connect to your standard pair of wireless headphones. It does support Sony’s proprietary PlayStation Link wireless technology, however, allowing you to connect it to the forthcoming Pulse Explore earbuds and Pulse Elite headset. There’s also a 3.5mm headphone jack in case you prefer a wired headset or pair of wired headphones.

As of right now, the PlayStation Portal is only available for preorder in select regions, including the US, UK, France, Belgium, Canada, and Japan. The latter two countries can’t preorder it from Sony, though it is available through Amazon’s Canadian and Japanese storefronts.

Update September 29th, 4:40PM ET: Updated to include additional preorder details for Amazon, Best Buy, and GameStop.

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