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To do: Change your smart speaker settings before the holidays



To do: Change your smart speaker settings before the holidays

When we have friends and family with kids over, voice assistants can become a favorite attraction. At best, someone will start another “Baby Shark” round, and you’ll sing it for a week.

But what if one of those curious kiddos buys toys with your Amazon Echo? Or maybe your niece, Alexis, will have the Echo going haywire. 

That’s why it’s worth changing a few settings to make your voice assistants safer when guests come knocking. Do it now before the holiday rush!


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Keep kids from shopping on voice assistants

Tech-adventurous toddlers can order things with voice commands before anyone can stop them. That’s a massive pain in the wallet and can take lots of service calls to untangle … and yes, it’s more likely to happen around the holidays.

HomePod mini. (Credit: Apple)

Frankly, I’m more comfortable turning voice purchasing off unless it’s on something private like my phone. Since Amazon is a big culprit here, it’s a good thing you can prevent Alexa from going on a shopping spree. 

  • Open the Alexa app, select More > Settings, then go to Account Settings.
  • Here, you can find the Voice Purchasing menu, where you can turn voice purchasing capabilities off entirely.
  • You can also set up codes to use voice purchasing, but only if you know the passcode.

Google Assistant lets you do something similar to the Payments section in your account. Voice payments aren’t on by default, but you can turn them off here if you’ve set them up before.


Know your mute buttons

Manufacturers include physical mute buttons on every voice assistant device because they care about our privacy. No, they just do it so they can say they care.


When you have guests and it looks like over-indulgence in voice commands (and/or cocktails) could be a problem, tap mute to stop any commands. Look for the crossed-out speaker icon. For displays, an accompanying switch flips the camera off, too … just in case.

Set up parental controls

From explicit radio shows to downright adult content, there are probably a few things you don’t want voice assistants to search for when guests are around (or considering past privacy issues, ever). I have a few parental blocks that prevent this, no matter how naughty or rambunctious people get.

smart speaker

Smart speaker top view artificial intelligence assistant voice control blue ring finger (iStock)

Google Assistant has some of the best options, with an Assistant Parental Controls section for each child user, although this won’t affect new users. 

Google Home has several app content filters in the Digital Wellbeing section, where you can add filters to specific devices to block unwelcome content.

If you use Alexa, open the app, select More and head to Settings. In the Music & Podcasts settings, you can find an Explicit Language Filter to enable.


Change your wake word to limit guest use

It’s understandable if you don’t want just anyone using your voice assistants, especially if you have personalized options — or it’s just too annoying. 


One thing you could do is change the wake word. Bad news: You can’t do this with Siri or Google. Well, there are reports that Google Assistant responds to, “Hey, boobies” (really), but that’s probably not what you had in mind. If you use Apple or Google smart home gear, stick with mute.

If you use Alexa, you can change to another recognized wake word.

  • Go to your Device in the Alexa app and select the settings icon in the upper right.
  • Tap Wake Word and switch it to something more unique than Alexa. Options include Amazon, Computer, Echo and Ziggy. This time of year, Santa is an option, too.

For more info to help the privacy-conscious, I’ve got some tips on changing privacy settings to avoid being tracked during the holidays.

White Amazon Echo device on a light wooden table with a hand touching the device

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Keep your tech-know going 

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Blue Origin’s first crewed launch since 2022: Where to watch



Blue Origin’s first crewed launch since 2022: Where to watch

It’s been over a year and a half since Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket failed mid-flight, and more than two since its last crewed flight. Now, the company is go to launch six human beings into space. The company’s launch window begins at 6:30AM PT / 9:30AM ET, but will start streaming 40 minutes ahead of time on its website.

Blue Origin also normally streams its launches live on its YouTube channel, so it’s a pretty safe bet it will do so for its NS-25 mission tomorrow. Assuming the launch goes as planned, it will carry six passengers aboard, including the 90-year-old Ed Dwight, who was America’s first Black astronaut candidate but has never been to space. The other passengers are Mason Angel, Sylvain Chiron, Kenneth L. Hess, Carol Schaller, and Gopi Thotakura.

The Federal Aviation Administration closed its investigation of the mishap in September last year, requiring Blue Origin to carry out 21 corrective actions that included redesigning the engine and nozzle components to prevent future failures. In December, Blue Origin launched 33 science payloads from NASA and other institutions into space. The capsule and booster were successfully recovered afterwards.

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Fox News AI Newsletter: How artificial intelligence is reshaping modern warfare



Fox News AI Newsletter: How artificial intelligence is reshaping modern warfare

Welcome to Fox News’ Artificial Intelligence newsletter with the latest AI technology advancements.


– How artificial intelligence is reshaping modern warfare
– Sebastian Maniscalco admits AI makes a guy who writes like ‘Rocky Balboa’ sound like he ‘went to Yale’
– Researchers create AI-powered sarcasm detector

NEXT-GEN BATTLE: Modern warfare is changing rapidly, and harnessing artificial intelligence is key to staying ahead of America’s adversaries.

Pentagon illustration

Modern warfare is rapidly changing — and artificial intelligence may only speed up that process. (istock)

TECHNICALLY SPEAKING: Comedian Sebastian Maniscalco isn’t sure what to make of artificial intelligence in the industry. 


FUNNY BOT: A team of university researchers in the Netherlands says they’ve developed an artificial intelligence (AI) platform that can recognize sarcasm, according to a new report.

AI letters

AI (artificial intelligence) letters are placed on a computer motherboard in this illustration taken on June 23, 2023.  (REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration)

‘OUTCOMPETE CHINA’: A bipartisan group of U.S. senators on Wednesday joined in a call to boost American funding of artificial intelligence research.

‘MACHINE LEARNING’: The widespread use of artificial intelligence tools has many workers concerned that the rapidly-evolving technology will eventually result in them losing their job, and one expert says that is a real concern — but not in the way some might expect.

Ukraine Drone training

A recruit of the 1st Separate Mechanized Battalion ‘Da Vinci Wolves’ named after Dmytro Kotsiubailo trains and learns to work with FPV strike drones while undergoing five-day training at a military outdoor firing range on March 12, 2024, in central Ukraine. After training, recruits can join the Armed Forces of Ukraine to defend Ukraine in the war started in 2014 and escalated during the full-scale Russian invasion in 2022.  (Valentyna Polishchuk/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images)

AI AT WAR: The world may end up breaking into tech alliances as a guiding political issue in the years to come, according to a retired American serviceman-turned-novelist as detailed in his new book. 

Subscribe now to get the Fox News Artificial Intelligence Newsletter in your inbox.





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Stay up to date on the latest AI technology advancements and learn about the challenges and opportunities AI presents now and for the future with Fox News here.


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This modder proves everything’s better with a GBA SP screen attached



This modder proves everything’s better with a GBA SP screen attached

Have you ever looked at a Nintendo DS and thought it would be cooler if the top screen was swapped for the Game Boy Advance SP’s? Or looked at a Super Nintendo controller and wished it had a GBA SP screen bolted onto the back? Whether you have or not, Hardware modder Hairo Satoh, aka Retrohai hai Softbank, has you covered with some truly cursed reimaginings of Nintendo’s portable consoles. (Recall their portable emulated PlayStation built into the Takara Roulette Controller.)

Let’s go on a little journey through Satoh’s Instagram account. Before we get into my favorite mutated Nintendo handhelds — frankententos, if you will — know that Satoh also does some very pretty custom jobs on the company’s various portable consoles. And they’re made to order.

This one they posted recently is a good example. We are Known Transparent Case Stans here at The Verge, but this goes a step further with its colorful hologram stickers and ChromaFlair-style color-changing sheen. Oh, and it runs Game Boy Advance games.

That controller mod I mentioned up top isn’t the only time Satoh has turned a console gamepad into its own handheld. The GBA SP’s screen looks remarkably at home on an SNES (well, Super Famicom, technically) pad…

…and on a PS2 Dual Shock controller, too.


But why not jam one onto a Nintendo DS Lite, too? It doesn’t make sense at all, even if this is a mash-up of the two most attractive pieces of hardware Nintendo ever made, but I don’t need any justification for this thing’s existence. Also, this is the point where things start getting a little cursed.

I guess this is also a Nintendo DS?

Again, but more colorful.

Ah yes, the Original Game Boy Advance SP DS (OGBASPDS).

I’m enamored with the concept of a multi-position adjustable screen on this original DS.


Give me this and the ability to emulate the fantastic vertical-scrolling shooter Ikaruga, please.

Ah, yes, this makes sense.

I can’t say I understand the extra buttons and d-pad here, but I respect the chaos.

The Nintendo Long Boy DS.

I think this is probably the final boss of Satoh’s inventive creations.


Satoh didn’t respond to us when we reached out, but we’d love to know more about these creations. How much of these are made up of custom hardware on the inside? How many of them are emulating Nintendo’s handhelds, rather than rejiggering its original hardware components to fit? If we receive a response, we’ll dig in some more.

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