We tend to travel more in the summer; summer holidays, beach trips, weekends away etc. But the scorching temperatures can do bad things to your car. Read through our tips to keep your car running during the summer months.
Check the Tyre Pressure
This is good to do all year round, however the temperature can affect the air pressure in your tyres. So if the temperature does rise then you need to make sure they stay properly inflated. You don’t need to take your car to a mechanic to check the pressure. Air pressure gauges are available at most garages, as well as air pumps to re-inflate them.
Your Car Battery
The heat of the summer months can have a negative effect on your car’s battery. You can’t do much about the temperature but you can take steps to make sure your battery doesn’t deteriorate. The best way to do this is to have your car serviced regularly to make sure the battery has not degraded and has no corrosion. The heat can cause the battery fluid to evaporate and this can damage the internal structure of the battery.
The engine needs as much lubrication as it can get when it’s hot, so make sure you keep your oil levels topped up. If you are driving extra miles in the summer you may need to change the oil more frequently.
The Air Conditioning
Air con is a god send in the hot weather, so make its working by having it serviced regularly! Replacing the air filter and cleaning out any clogged vents is also a good way to keep your air con working at full capacity.
Inspired by Star Trek, the creators of Alexa wanted to be like the crew of the USS Enterprise, who would simply shout out ‘computer’ then give commands or ask questions to the all-knowing devise. The guys behind Alexa wanted to replicate this, but felt that ‘computer’ was a word used to commonly is everyday life. And thus Alexa was born, as having a word that has soft vowels and contains an X is unusual. Amazon Echo devises and Alexa have advanced leaps and bound since its original conception and the dream of having a voice controlled assistant is a reality, as now over 12,000 products have ‘Alexa Skills’.
Being able to switch lights on and off with your voice seems like the peak of technology and the Amazon echo devices have been incredibly popular. However, with smart homes and smart security becoming more and more common, we look at how you can use your Amazon Echo devise to secure and protect your home from burglars. Now the Amazon Echo can’t do this alone, so we have compiled a list of the best home security cameras, lights, doorbells and many more gadgets you can connect with Alexa.
Step one- Pick an Amazon Echo
There are a few different Echo’s you can choose from; the original Echo (2nd gen) to the newest Echo Show.
The Echo (gen 2) is smaller than its predecessor and has a microphone that is more sensitive and will reach further, it’s also cheaper. So if you’re looking for a good all-rounder to make your entire home smart then this could be the one for you.
The Echo Plus is what you would expect, the standard Echo with a few things added. The Plus has an inbuilt ‘Zigbee Hub’ which means it can directly connect to certain smart home devises, this means that instead of adding your devises one by one, the Plus will ‘discover’ them.
The Echo Dot is the smaller version of the Echo, it’s cheaper too, so if you’re looking to keep the cost down the Dot might be the one for you. It’s as smart as the original Echo, the difference is the sound quality; the speaker isn’t much better than the one on your phone. However if you are just buying an Echo for security, the Dot is a safe bet.
The Echo Show is one of the newer versions of the Amazon Echo. It boasts a 7 inch touch screen, which allows you to gain audio and visual feedback when you ask it things. In terms of home security, it allows you to access live footage from compatible security cameras. The Show can also be used for video calling and has an in built microphone for voice recognition.
Step two- Pick any extra gadgets
Nest Cam Indoor
The Nest Cam Indoor, is a smart security camera that sits in your home and allows you to view your home from anywhere, it also contains speakers that allow you to speak through it, from anywhere. With the Nest Indoor Cam you can ask Alexa to watch your live video feed on the Amazon Echo Show or Echo Spot display. Also if you have an Amazon fire TV devise you can even watch it on a TV. The Nest Cam Indoor provides 1080p video at 30fps, which for this kind of camera is the best picture quality you are going to get. The downside of the Nest Indoor Cam is that you have to subscribe to ‘Nest Aware’ and pay monthly to view your recorded footage; this starts at £5 per month for 24 hours of storage.
Nest is more geared up to work with Google Home; however you can us the Alexa app to connect with Alexa and your other Amazon products. You will just need to ‘enable’ Nest camera on the Alexa App.
You can buy the Nest Cam Indoor on Amazon for £139.00
Seeing as Amazon brought Ring for around for over $1 billion earlier this year, this is one of the most compatible gadgets you can get to go with your Amazon Echo. Ring is essentially a video doorbell that enables you to see, hear and speak to anyone at your door.
Once you have enabled Ring on your Alexa app you can simply ask… “Alexa, show my front door” and boom, you get the live feed from your front door. This is great if you are home alone and want to check out who is at the door before you answer it. If you choose to have the video doorbell then the hope is in the future Alexa can ‘learn’ about your families habits. For instance if a child is walking home from school while a parent is still at work, you will be able to ask “Alexa…is David home yet?” And be shown a video image of the child arriving home. This kind of facial recognition might be a couple of years off, but it’s the tip of the iceberg for what Amazon could do with the Ring video doorbell. The possibilities for home security are endless when it comes to Amazon and Ring.
Canary offers a range of some security products, including the Canary itself. The Canary is a all-in-one smart home security solution. It uses AI technology, HD camera and microphone plus a 90 decibel siren to protect your home. What’s good about the Canary is that all you need is Wi-Fi, you just place it somewhere in your home and you’re ready to go. You can download an app that allows you to view live footage of your home wherever you are and in an emergency you can ether sound the siren or make an emergency call. Another bonus of the Canary is that it will ‘auto-arm’ when you are not around, so you don’t have to remember to put it on. It will also ‘learn’ what normal activity is in your home and will detect if anything is ‘different’.
You can integrate Canary with your Amazon products and Alexa similar to the Nest Cam Indoor. You will be able to ask Alexa to stream live video from your Canary.
Yale is another company that Amazon has partnered with for home security. By connecting a Yale smart door lock you can use Alexa to control your door. By saying specific phrases to Alexa, you will trigger responses, such as “Alexa…is the back door locked?” will trigger the devise to check the status of your lock. The feature which people find the coolest is the “Alexa…lock the front door” feature. This allows you to lock your door from anywhere in your house, giving you the peace of mind that you will not be getting unwanted visitors at night. For security reasons you will be able to unlock your door using voice commands. But Yale offers lots of other advanced way to unlock a door with its keyless entry locks; all you need is your phone to gain entry to the house.
You can read more about the Yale keyless entry system on our blog ‘best smart locks’
You can buy a Yale Smart Lock from Amazon for £199.00
August smart locks were the first smart locks to support Alexa. August enables you to ask Alexa to lock the front door and check if the door is locked from anywhere. By connecting your August devices to Alex you are able to view your front door camera by asking “Alexa…show me my front door camera” and once you are happy to let someone in you can ask Alexa to unlock the front door, to keep it secure you will be prompted to provide your secure PIN code to unlock the door. August and Amazon are promoting ease of use with their products, they want you to be able to let your friends in, even if you are busy cooking in the kitchen.
You can buy an August Smart Lock from the August website starting at $149
Step three- Decide if it’s worth it
Is Alexa Safe?
With all this advancement and new technology to help secure your home, people are questioning how secure Alexa is. One main thing that concerns people is that their smart home devise is always listening. Clearly they are listening for any commands you might throw at it, but how much can it hear? Well Alexa does record what you are saying and sends it to a server, but that only when it’s triggered by you saying ‘Alexa’. Alexa does have a habit of being triggered by things other than your voice television or radio for instance, so there is a chance snippets of your life will be sent to a server and stored. Amazon obviously have some of the best security in the world to keep this data safe, so it is unlikely that anyone could access this data and use it. However nothing is 100% secure, so there is always a small chance that something could happen.
If you choose to have an Amazon Echo product and Alexa in your home then you will never have 100% privacy. If you did have complete privacy Amazon Echo’s and all the other home assistance would be completely useless. You can however make your Amazon Echo more secure with a few simple steps. Mute it when it’s not in use, this will turn off the ‘always listening’ function until you unmute it again, this is easy on the Amazon Echo and there is a ‘mute’ button on the top which you simply press. There is also an option to erase your old recordings; go to your Amazon account and look under ‘manage my device’ and you can delete your entire history or individual queries for yourself. It’s also wise to disconnect the calendar feature from Alexa, as a hacker could gain access and know when you are planning to be away from home.
Anything that is connected to the internet is potentially hackable, so there could be a risk of hacking with an Amazon Echo product. It’s more likely that the hacker is your child who asks Alexa to send them toys, which if you have the shopping mode enabled, could happen. There is also a risk that someone with hacking skills could turn your Amazon Echo into a listening device. But you have to weigh up the risks. Why would someone want to listen in on the average person’s life? There are easier and more effective ways to get someone’s bank account details. We’ve mentioned that some of the security systems that work with Alexa let you control the door locks with your voice, you could be running the risk that anyone could shout ‘Alexa…open the door!’ a few do offer a pin number to keep it safe, which is something we suggest you have. It is also advisable to enable the mute function while you are out of the house to stop this from happening as well.
There has also been some talk about hackers being able to control Alexa by using ultrasonic frequencies. This has been named ‘Dolphin Attack’. It involves hackers broadcasting a frequency too high for the human ear to hear, but is audible for your microphone on your Amazon Echo product. In theory a person would be able to ‘whisper’ commands you cannot hear to your smart device, and if your smart lock is connected, potentially open your door. As advised before, turning off your microphone function when leaving the house is the best way to protect against this kind of attack.
If it’s the fear of a burglar hacking you smart door or alarm system and getting in to you home, that’s stopping you from getting an Amazon Echo and related products, then rest easy. Most burglars are opportunistic and are more likely to kick your door in, smash a window or pick a lock to gain entry to your home. The fact that you have a camera on your door bell or a smart security system may even put burglars off from breaking in, as they are more likely to be identified and caught. On the other hand, when you have a flashy or expensive security system, you run the risk of thieves thinking you have items worth stealing locked inside. But this can be the case with a smart lock, or non smart lock that is out of the ordinary.
So is it worth getting an Amazon Echo with Alexa and using it for home security? Well there are definite benefits to having a voice activated security system, as it makes it easier to secure your home. Being able to ask Alexa to arm your security system means you are more likely to remember to do it. Those with children could benefit by using the smart lock and doorbell camera to check on the safety of their children. However if you are not very technology minded or don’t have a smart phone, then you will struggle to make full use of the systems. It could ultimately make life more difficult for you and lead to unnecessary spending. However, it is looking more and more likely that smart home hubs, including smart security systems will be common place, with devices being voice controlled.
In the UK June is Pride month. There will be lots of activities going on not just in London but all around the country. These events are usually fun filled and a great way to spend a day. However going to an event where 1000s of people will be attending always has its risks. Read our tips below to make sure you can make the most out of a Pride event and keep yourself safe.
Go and stick with a group you know and trust.
Events like this are always more fun in groups, so if you and your friends plan on going STICK TOGETHER. With potentially thousands of people piling into the same area it’s easy to get separated. It’s a good idea to discuss a pre-arranged meeting spot that you can go to if you do get lost. ‘Under the Pride flag’ is not a specific enough place. Pick somewhere memorable and stationary.
If this is your first Pride event then it advisable to go with people you know well and trust, friends you’ve known for years are more likely to look for you if you get lost.
Tell someone where you will be.
Yes, even if you are a fully-fledged adult, tell someone where you are going. If you are under 18 then, you might tell your parents or an adult that you trust. Try and check in with them, a text here and there just to let them know what you’re up to. It’s advisable to arrange a time that you will call them, maybe after the parade. This is to ensure that if you do get into trouble someone is aware of roughly where you are.
On a side note, make sure your phone as sufficient battery, so you can use it in an emergency.
Know your limits.
We cannot preach that you shouldn’t drink at these events, but we can preach to know your limits. The safety aspect of holding on to your faculties are obvious, the majority of Pride festivals are held outside, so being paralytic on a road is just asking for trouble. You are also surrounded by people you don’t know, your friends might look after you if are drunk, but at any large event there is always a risk that someone could take advantage of your venerable state. Also you don’t want to miss out on all the activities at Pride because you have to be taken home.
Be careful with your money.
Unfortunately, at events like these, there are bound to be pick pockets. Try and take a suitable bag and secure any belongings. Cash and cards should be concealed in any compartments that your bag might have. It is always a good idea to keep some money separate from the rest, just in case you are the victim of a pick pocket or lose your wallet or purse.
Plan how you are getting home.
It goes without saying that you shouldn’t drink and drive. But you need to be prepared on how you will get yourself home. If you know what time you will be ready to leave, book a taxi and make sure you have the money for it. If you are getting the train, be sure to know what time the last one is so you don’t get stranded. It doesn’t matter if you are getting a taxi, catching the train, getting the bus or walking; make sure you include a friend. There is safety in numbers and doesn’t matter what your gender is. Pride events can attract certain people who will want to cause trouble with anyone who has been involved in the festivities, so stick with a buddy.
Plan for the weather.
It’s England in June, so the weather could literally be anything, so plan for any eventuality. If it’s looking like a sunny day then make sure you pack and wear sun cream. Also try and take some water, as it’s easy to become dehydrated when it’s sunny and you’re moving around a lot. On the other hand, if it looks like a wet and cold day, make sure you wear appropriate clothing. You may have planned out the perfect outfit and accessories, but you’re going to regret your outfit choice if it hails and you’re in summer gear!
Think about your feet.
If the weather is hot it may be tempting to wear flip flops all day, but that might not be the best option. Putting aside the hygienic issues that come with having almost bare feet on any city pavement, there is a safety issue as well. There could be broken glass on the floor that could cut you, and with thousands of people all taking part or walking in a parade, you could break some toes getting stood on. If you are going to be on your feet all day then try and wear footwear that is supportive and comfortable. You don’t want your day and night ruined by blisters and painful toes.
We hope you enjoy any Pride event you go to this month, but just remember to keep yourself safe.