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Technology Tidbits - June 2016  
We love to share the latest technologies & suggestions to improve your home's network infrastructure. We hope that you find one or more of these articles helpful. Additional articles can be found archived on our website news page.

Home & Office Network Solutions
is closed from June 21-June 30.

Who is listening?

In a May 13, 2016 article written by Greg Vallente a staff writer for Tech Home Builder, Greg describes privacy concerns surrounding the "always listening" Amazon Echo.

According to Vallente, the industry leading voice-controlled device is technically always on, allowing users to simply say "Alexa ..." to initiate a request. The Echo capitalizes on the trends of smart connectivity, voice-based operation and the Internet of Things (IoT), but exactly how connected is this device and who is able to access this connection?

Gizmodo's Matt Novak recently submitted a Freedom of Information request to the FBI to find out whether the agency has wiretapped an Amazon Echo to listen in on conversations.

The FBI replied with a rather coy response - "...we can neither confirm nor deny..."

This controversial report is sure to heighten cybersecurity and privacy issues already relevant in the smart home industry. These have been major concerns, and in many cases, it is the reason people choose not to pursue smart home options.

Music Streaming Services

What's out there for you!

When looking at streaming services, you do have some choices, but not all are free.

The Virtual Library category is led by Spotify, with similar services such as TIDAL offering higher audio quality content at 16 bit/44kHz. Services like this enable listeners to build their own custom music libraries much like iTunes, but with a monthly subscription model instead of paying for each song or album.

The Custom Radio concept, where a listener provides artist or genre preferences is led by Pandora which uses a sophisticated analysis protocol to "recognize and respond to each listener's tastes in order to create a more personalized radio experience." Slacker is another option in the Custom Radio category.
The broadcast radio category is led by Sirius/XM, with TuneIn Radio and iHeartRadio also giving listeners access to terrestrial content that includes news, talk and sports as well as music.  The primary benefit of these types of services is convenience and new music discovery.

Lastly is sports broadcast. Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League all have services that allow you to listen to radio broadcast of games via streaming. There is typically a charge for these services too.
One thing to keep in mind with streaming audio is that there is always a delay when compared to listening to live TV or radio. Typically 1-3 minutes depending on the service. That said, don't be surprised if you receive a text notification about your favorite team scoring before you hear it on the streaming broadcast.
Securis offers monthly residential recycling events. They process just about anything with a plug. At this event they charge minimal fees for monitors, TVs and hard drive destruction. We encourage you to recycle your electronics with them on the second Saturday of each month.

For more information visit Securis at
Charities of Choice
Home Network Solutions, LLC contributes to a variety of charities. However, our charities of choice include AART (All Ages Read Together) and LAWS (Loudoun Abused Womens' Shelter).

AART provides free individual school readiness programs at 11 locations in Loudoun and Fairfax Counties to promote school readiness.  Classes combine instruction in letters, numbers, colors and shapes with other basic Kindergarten readiness lessons.  Each week the children receive a new book to build a home library.  Their website is should you wish to see details.

LAWS is a private, nonprofit organization that provides help and assistance to adult and child victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse in Loudoun County, Virginia.  With the help of their supporters and community, they empower victims of domestic and sexual violence with support, advocacy, and education so that they may live free from fear and danger. Their website is should you wish to see details.
Home & Office Network Solutions