S3E12: How to apply for Internet Assistance program | Amazon Sidewalk | and Google Privacy?


Chapter 1

Internet Assistance Program aka Emergency Broadband Benefit, 

Did you experience financial difficulties last year during covid such as unemployment or furloughs? Or maybe your children qualify for free or reduced lunch? If you live in the United States, there is a government program to give you Internet fees assistance of up to $50 a month. So say you qualify and you have lower speed Internet, this is a chance to upgrade to a higher speed plan perhaps? Or maybe you are struggling and you just need help to maintain the Internet you have. I will have a link in the show notes. You should go and see if you qualify. This program won’t last forever so the biggest downside is if you upgrade your Internet you may have to downgrade to a more affordable plan when the program stops. In the meantime many states are trying their best to lobby and create plans to help rural areas who do not have what the FCC classifies as broadband which is 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload. Hopefully we will eventually treat the Internet as a necessity since so many of us use it for everything we do. 



Chapter 2

How many times have you said to yourself? Hey Self, would you like to share your Internet with your neighbors? NO! You don’t want to do that. Your neighbor may be into stuff you aren’t into. Amazon announced several months back that “Sidewalk” their connectivity feature for helping their Alexa and other smart devices connect more quickly to the Internet would be turned on by default on all of their devices. They have also partnered with Tile, the Bluetooth device for helping find things that is shaking in their boots thanks to Apple’s AirTags (which feels like a blatant rip off of Tile’s technology). So Tile and Amazon have partnered to compete with AirTags. But what does this mean? Well basically Sidewalk will slice out a small portion of your Internet bandwidth to dedicate to traffic between Amazon smart devices, roughly 80k per second. So if you have 1.5 meg internet, that might hurt some but if you have 25 meg or more (the FCC’s definition of broadband) you may not even notice or miss it. And Amazon says the traffic will be encrypted and your privacy will be protected. Of course, this is from the same company whose Alexa devices seem to go off randomly and think a lot of what I say must be its key word. If you are paranoid and you have the Alexa app on a smart device, you can turn off Sidewalk. But the potential is eventually IoT (Internet of Things) devices may use this approach to talk rather than having to use Zigbee and other proprietary methods of communication or instead of using your Wifi in a not all that secure manner. So it could be a good thing or a bad thing. Time will tell. If you aren’t paranoid enough to NOT have Alexa devices but you are paranoid enough to be worried, you can opt out of Sidewalk inside the Alexa app by going to Settings, Account Settings, Sidewalk and toggle “Enabled” to Disabled.


Chapter 3

Google learns we may want privacy? Oh, and better protection.

So I mentioned features of Google’s Password Manager in Chrome browser as mentioned during Google I/O. Well, we didn’t talk about it but Google is making TSA aka Two Step Authentication the default going forward and will eventually convince you to turn it on. I highly recommend it. While it is not bulletproof, having to have both the password to your account and then having a code texted to you or using Google Authenticator means it will be extra challenging for hackers to get into your gmail and other Google products. And you will have greater control over your privacy. You can password protect your search history in your browser. That’s right. So you can prevent others from seeing your search history in Google accounts. You will also get more options to delete past history in Chrome. Say, you want your history deleted after three months. Bam, you can easily set it. What it to expire in 24 hours? Sure. Want to protect via a password where you surf on the Internet? You can. 



How to tell Google to delete your history automatically


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S3E11:Google Photos Unlimited is GONE

Google Photos Unlimited Is GoneS3E11 Google Photos Unlimited is dying. These are the show notes for the podcast. They are not word for word what the podcast contains but I try to keep them pretty close. 

Chapter 1

Starting June 1st, Google Photos Unlimited option is gone. If you are like me, you have been using Google Photos to backup your photos on all of your devices (yes it works on iPhone and iPad as well as any PC/Mac or Android device. But the feature is going away and Google is going to rename its High Quality storage feature (which basically compressed and downscaled your images) to “Storage Saver”. In case you didn’t know you get 15 gig total storage with Google. That means your Gmail, your Google Docs, and your Google Photos only have a grand total of 15 gig. So if you get lots of big attachments in your email, you may be eating up all of your storage.

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You can go to this link to see what your storage situation looks like:


So everything you have uploaded before June 1st is your freebie but after June 1st, everything you upload counts toward that 15 gig limit. So you will have to decide “do I want to upload in Original Quality (meaning full size) or Storage Saver?”, which is compressed and downscaled. 

Now if you love Google Photos like I do, maybe you want to buy storage from Google.

You can buy 100 gig for $1.99 a month or $20.00 a year and that is probably the best deal for most folks. You can by 200 gig for $2.99/month or $29.99 a year or you can be insane like me and pay $9.99/month or $99 a year for 2TB. And you can share any of these storage tiers with your family and they can backup their computers and their devices to it. 

If you are an Apple family, then you may want to look at iCloud (which only works okay on Windows and isn’t an option for Android) but if everything is all Apple in your house, then iCloud is probably your best bet. You can do 50 gigs for $0.99/month, 200 gigs for $2.99/month and 2TB for $29.90/ month. Ironically iCloud is hosted on Google cloud. Just saying.

Lastly the next option is Microsoft OneDrive assuming you need Microsoft Office. For $99/year subscription with O365 you get 5 accounts each with 1TB of storage and the Full Microsoft Office Suite for your Macs, PCs, Android and iOS devices. OneDrive does not work awesome on Mac but it is good on iPhone and iPad. At least you can just keep snapping pictures and they will be backed up full size. Though you have to open the app for it to backup. iCloud doesn’t have that issue. Google Photos on iPhone/iPad also has to be open to actively backup to your Google cloud. A drawback for sure. You can tell iPhone to default all your photos to Google Photos though and it is easy to work with as you spend a lot more time in the app.

Do you need to stop using Google Photos if you don’t buy in, maybe no. Depends on you and your photo style. Do you need original size images and you take a lot of images? Then the free tier simply won’t do.  But if you don’t take a lot of pictures or if you are mostly happy with Storage Saver versions of your photos, you can get by for a bit. And Google has many great features that are too much to mention in this video and not bore you to tears.

One more option is Amazon Photos. Already an Amazon Prime member, then Amazon Photos offers unlimited photo storage but only 5 Gig of video storage. One of my YouTube videos is 5 gig, so for me that doesn’t work but what if I told you I back up to four cloud services? 

I use iCloud 50 gig tier for $12 a year, Amazon Photos because I am already a prime member, Google Drive as I buy 2TB from them to store nearly everything, and lastly I have Microsoft O365 subscription which gives me 1TB of storage per member of my family. I also backup to an external hard drive. Paranoid often? Maybe. 




And now Chapter 2

So Google IO, their big product announcement conference and developer fest was last week. As I said last week I would talk about the big announcements. I am such a huge Google Fanboy, but um, well, Google is getting boring. No, seriously. 

So they announce Workspaces which integrate their disjointed products such a Gmail, Meet, and their Office Suite better. 

Google gave up on their WearOS and are merging their effort with Samsung’s Tizen OS to try and create a better Android watch experience. This means Samsung and Fitbit and Fossil will all be using the same OS and they will have to find ways to make their watches different from each other while running the same OS. This was the challenge before but with Samsung secret sauce thrown in, what will Google do with Fitbit. I love Fitbit and one day I will tell you why I no longer Fitbit. 

Google and everybody else is working on their way of making video meetings more 3D by creating 3D models of the person you are talking to so it seems they are right in front of you. 

Next Google will make a way for you to animate still photos, think the crazy nostalgia stuff from the Ancestry sites that make deep fakes of famous people in still photos. Creepy.

Actually the coolest product they announced is that Chrome’s built in password manager will help you change compromised passwords right inside the password manager. I do think that is cool. They announced other stuff, a new Pixel phone, Pixel buds, yada yada yada. Google, you have gotten boring to me. Do something amazing already. Odds are something is baking in their labs that should scare the heck out of us and they will announce it at a later date.


Chapter 3

This is a short chapter. Apple Vs Epic. The trial is over and in the coming months a verdict will be announced. When that happens, things will get interesting in the Apple App store. Will Apple win or Epic, I think it will be unfavorable for both. If the judge rules against Apple, Google will get its own lawsuits as well, it basically does the same thing as Apple, just not as well. If Epic loses, then consumers’ fates are sealed and we will choose yet not really have a choice, we will have the illusion of choice. 

Chapter 4

From the Not soon enough machine, Microsoft has announced the end of Internet Explorer. If you install the latest builds of Windows 10, Internet Explorer 11 is not a part of it. You can still go and download it (if you must) but it isn’t on there by default. In fact in June of 2022, it will be dead, end of support. Go Download Microsoft Edge. Seriously. It works on nearly every platform and it is using the same browser engine as Google Chrome and Microsoft has added some features Google has added yet to theirs. I am not a Microsoft fan but I have to give Microsoft credit, Edge isn’t too bad. Though on my Mac I have resorted to using Safari again after all these years of only Chrome and sometimes Firefox. 

And that is it for this week. Here is a brain teaser. What if Netflix goes into the video game streaming business? That and all the tech news that is worth talking about on next week’s show. 

Friends Reunion May 27

Thank you so much for listening to the podcast. 

When is doubt, reboot. 

Here is a link to the YouTube Live version of the Podcast