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Ask Slashdot: Can You Have A Smart Home That's Not 'In The Cloud'? 183

With the announcement of Google Home on Wednesday, one anonymous Slashdot reader asks a timely question about cloud-based "remote control" services that feed information on your activities into someone else's advertising system: In principle, this should not be the case, but it is in practice. So how hard is it, really, to do 'home automation' without sending all your data to Google, Samsung, or whoever -- just keep it to yourself and share only what you want to share?

How hard would it be, for instance, to hack a Nest thermostat so it talks to a home server rather than Google? Or is there something already out there that would do the same thing as a Nest but without 'the cloud' as part of the requirement? Yes, a standard programmable thermostat does 90% of what a Nest does, but there are certain things that it won't do like respond to your comings and goings at odd hours, or be remotely switchable to a different mode (VPN to your own server from your phone and deal with it locally, perhaps?) Fundamentally, is there a way to get the convenience and not expose my entire life and home to unknown actors who by definition (read the terms of service) do not have my best interest in mind?

Yesterday one tech company asked its readers, "What company do you trust most to always be listening inside your home?" The winner was "nobody", with 63% of the votes -- followed by Google with 16%, and Apple with 13%. (Microsoft scored just 3%, while Amazon scored 2%.) So share your alternatives in the comments. What's the best way to set up home automation without sending data into the cloud?

Comment Re:Furthermore, Saudi Arabia must be destroyed (Score 1) 399

While there is insight in your post, "they are a stabilizing force in the region," is frankly laughable. They are the single most destabilizing force in the region, and perhaps in the world, and they have been for more than a generation. Saudi oil money has financed and promoted jihadi terrorism throughout the Arab world and the broader Muslim world. Regarding the rest of what you said, yes, and then some: from what I've read, Saudi oil can be extracted from the ground "profitably" at anything over about 8 dollars a barrel, but the country's national budget (including a ludicrously high and also ludicrously ineffective military budget) requires something like 100 dollar a barrel oil now. As you note, they are spending down their foreign reserves so fast that they will be gone in five years and the Saudis will be running a deficit. And then they are screwed.

Comment Been there, done that (Score 1) 179

A young startup where the execs seemed to change their mind every other week. When one of the founders needed a fall guy for one of his screw-ups, my readiness to go above and beyond for a company I believed in was rewarded with a pink slip. Permanently cured me of that mindset.

Comment Figures (Score 1) 226

A streaming service that offers more than the usual EU/US crap had to end sooner or later. This seemed to be pretty much the only service in the western world with a decent enough selection of Japanese and Korean music.

Comment Re:Too early for criticism. (Score 4, Informative) 238

Yeah, it had only been operating for three months in the surveyed period, and they'd only spent $1.7 million dollars, meaning about $21,000 per job. Not too bad, and it's only 2 percent of the program's projected budget, according to the second linked article. The Dice.com 'article' is ridiculous equivalent to hiring a coder, then the next morning issuing a performance evaluation saying "he's only written 12 lines of code!"

Comment A better article, not behind a paywall: (Score 3, Informative) 85

This is not really a purely online college, as the poster describes. It's an interesting mix between online and offline: all the students are supposed to live together; they do their classes on computers. The physical location can change annually too. The Atlantic had a better article about Minerva a couple of months ago, and it's not behind a paywall: http://www.theatlantic.com/fea... What's really interesting is the instant and continuous feedback from the professor described here as the Minerva method. It sounds like truly scientific learning, a much better technique than the big lecture hall format, with students zoning out half the time.

Comment Re:Sad to see him go... (Score 1) 277

Wilmore's show is still pretty rough after only a few episodes.
Let's see how it will turn out during its second season when they've had time to work out the kinks.

Bassem Youssef would be an awesome choice. since he's already running the same format in Egypt and his recent visit to the US version more than proved that he's up to the task. I'm just not sure if he'd accept the offer.

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