A Smart Speaker Could Save You From Cardiac ArrestParrot ‘Falls in Love’ With Amazon Alexa, Uses It to Order T… Stay on target If you’re an avid Google Home or Amazon Echo user, you should know or already are aware that both of the home assistants can and do record your voice. They’re listening, and they’re definitely keeping track of what’s been said. This isn’t a new concept or anything like that. Your internet history and activity online is recorded every time you visit a site, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the ‘always-listening’ devices in your home are retaining some of that data.That means each time you make a request with your voice the snippets of your request are processed and sent to a server to analyze what you’re asking for and to return results in a manner that’s useful for you. Obviously, the innards of Google Home and Amazon Echo aren’t the end all be all of what’s required to make the devices work, so they’ve got to relay the information to be quick and snappy. Anything you say, however, before commanding Alexa or Google Home is not recorded.But the reason why either device would even listen in the first place has to do with “wake words,” as explained in this Wired article. The process has much to do with buffering data and ensuring the products don’t miss out on a request by being too slow. So by keeping an “ear” out so to speak ensures the machines can do what you need them to as soon as you ask instead of there being a delay. There are security measures in place to keep the information that could be heard in your home out of the hands of hackers, but with any information shared on the internet, there’s the potential that someone could get a hold of your communications.In short, yeah — the assistants do record you, but it’s for a good reason, and you don’t have to worry what’s being done with this communication. It’s all in the name of making these products more helpful. If you’re worried about sharing confidential information they may not be for you.
As Storm Hector’s 70 mph winds leave a trail of destruction across Scotland, NASA’s Opportunity rover was forced to suspend operations during “one of the thickest dust storms ever observed on Mars.”Unlike many Brits, though, agency engineers are rejoicing over the celestial squall.“This is the ideal storm for Mars science,” according to Jim Watzin, director of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program in Washington.The agency has three orbiters circling the globe, each equipped with special cameras and atmospheric instruments.“We have a historic number of spacecraft operating at the Red Planet,” Watzin said in a statement. “Each offers a unique look at how dust storms form and behave—knowledge that will be essential for future robotic and human missions.”This set of images from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) shows a fierce, giant dust storm kicking up on Mars (via NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)Martian dust storms are commonplace. They can quickly balloon into regional storms, and sometimes expand to engulf the entire planet. These full-scale events are estimated to occur about once every three to four Mars years (six to eight Earth years), and can last up to weeks or even months. The most recently recorded storm was in 2007.The one currently swirling above Opportunity now blankets 14 million square miles of the Martian surface—about a quarter of the planet, as reported by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).Scary as that sounds, this is a perfect chance for scientists to study the physics of these storms, which is critical to understanding the planet’s ancient and modern climate“Each observation of these large storms brings us closer to being able to model these events—and maybe, someday, being able to forecast them,” Rich Zurek, chief scientist for the Mars Program Office at JPL in California, said. “That would be like forecasting El Niño events on Earth, or the severity of upcoming hurricane seasons.”Among NASA’s eyes in the sky is the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which acts as an early warning system for situations like this. It was the capsule’s wide-angle camera, called the Mars Color Imager, that provided the Opportunity team a heads up about the coming storm.The 2001 Mars Odyssey and MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution) orbiters, meanwhile, provide additional-yet-unique views for the folks back home.Keep an eye on NASA’s Mars Exploration Program website for more updated about the Martian dust storm.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. Stay on target NASA Captures ‘Red-Handed’ Avalanche on Mars in Mesmerizing PhotoBest Skywatching Events in September 2019
Interplanetary space probes need encouragement, too.The public is invited to send messages of support to the spacecraft on its record-setting flyby.On Jan. 1, 2019, the ship will visit the most remote world ever explored by humankind: “(486958) 2014 MU69,” also known as Ultima Thule.Launched in 2006 as part of NASA’s New Frontiers program, New Horizons completed its objective—perform a flyby of Pluto—in 2015, and has been cruising through the Kuiper Belt, more than 3.7 billion miles from Earth, ever since.Visit the Beyond Pluto website to select a greeting for the mission team to beam (along with your name) to New Horizons, as it speeds past Ultima Thule next month.“Traveling at light speed, the signals carrying these messages will reach the spacecraft about six hours after being beamed from the [Johns Hopkins] Applied Physics Lab’s largest dish antenna, on the very same day that New Horizons flies by Ultima Thule,” according to principal investigator Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute in Colorado. “How cool is that?”Entries will be accepted through Dec. 21, 2018.“Like the flyby itself, this is a one-shot chance to become part of deep-space exploration history,” the Applied Physics Lab said in a recent announcement.After the New Year’s Day flyby, scientists will choose a formal name to submit to the International Astronomical Union, based in part on whether MU69 is a single body, binary pair, or system of multiple objects.(Early observations hint at either a binary orbiting pair, or a contact [stuck together] set of nearly like-sized bodies, some 11 and 12 miles in diameter.)The people’s moniker—Ultima Thule—will be used in the meantime.NASA, meanwhile, announced on Monday that its Voyager 2 probe has exited the heliosphere—the protective bubble of particles and magnetic fields created by the Sun—and entered interstellar space.More on Geek.com:First Global Maps of Pluto, Charon Available to AllNASA’s OSIRIS-REx Discovers Water on Asteroid Bennu‘Christmas Comet’ Will Be Brightest Comet of the Year Stay on target NASA Makes Ultima Thule ‘Pop’ in Artsy 3D ImagesNew Horizons Snaps Sharp Images of Ultima Thule’s Surface