Follow

If you happen to have a 'smart' voice assistant appliance in your house, (they're getting harder to avoid these days, especially if you want say wireless multiroom audio), one thing I recommend you do is configure your router's firewall to refuse forwarding any traffic with the source MAC address of the voice enabled appliance from your lan to wan, (outside internet), that way you don't have to trust the vendor not to record 24/7 - you can just enable/disable the firewall rule as needed.

OpenWrt has this under Network => Firewall => Traffic Rules, but it's going to be similar under derivatives like ASUS-WRT.

But basically any router that doesn't just have a basic smartphone app to manage it should be able to do it.

@MatejLach
I don't have an assistant, and won't be getting one. Interested in the technology though.

Don't these devices require Internet access to answer some of the questions? A firewall rule blocking them would then defeat the purpose.

@fitheach Things like Sonos are useful without the built-in voice assistant, yet they have one. There's air purifiers now that come with Alexa. It's everywhere. And at least for OpenWrt you can easily toggle it on/off in the web UI or via a script, so have it disabled when you're deliberately using it, but enable afterwards.

@MatejLach
Sonos? The smart speakers? I kind have that already as I have a radio transmitter which I connect to my laptop. I can then listen to my own broadcast anywhere in the house (or even outside). 😉

Except for the assistant part most of these things are buildable at home.

@fitheach A FM transmitter is a neat way to do it. is also an option with some setup & likely the way I'll end up setting it up in the future.

@MatejLach
Years ago I used to have an Icecast server, but I found it wasn't that flexible a solution, for me. Any place I wanted music I had to have a computing device of some sort. The FM transmitter is very flexible. Any place I want music I only need an FM receiver. So, for example, in my shed I have an old battered portable radio. If I still want to control playback etc., I use VLC in a terminal from a tablet.

@MatejLach
Forgot to mention FM transmitters are cheap as chips. Many under £10 in the UK.

@fitheach Yeah, the reason I went the Sonos/AirPlay route for now is precisely because for PulseAudio, I'd need to have some kind of setup everywhere, keeping it updated & all that, which is kind of a hassle.

I have to say the FM transmitter route seems more & more appealing as you talk about it. I am only concerned about the sound quality, something close to lossless would be nice & also I had a pair of wireless FM headphones that were prone to hiss. May've improved since.

@MatejLach
Well, the Sonos is a computing device albeit made as an appliance. I can understand voice operation is a huge attraction.

I've had troubles in the past when the transmitter is too close to the PC output device. The best FM transmitters have a jack plug and a short length of cable leading to the transmitter. This keeps the transmitter a little distance from your source, reducing interference. Luckily, this type of FMT are the cheapest.
>>>

@MatejLach
<<<

Other than that the only *possible* drawback is household appliances interfering with transmissions. Microwave ovens, for example, are particularly bad for creating interference.

@fitheach @MatejLach on some of the transmitters I've found using a 3,5mm jack plug to socket extension acts as an antenna, and gives you some extra range/keeps away interference (or you can wrap a few turns of a wire around the device and inductively couple it), but at 10 nanowatts its not going to cause you problems with Ofcom / your country's Communications Ministry (usually the range of these is just a few metres).

@vfrmedia
Exactly, and that is why the ones with the short length of cable work best.

My shed is 50m from the house, 75m from the living room (where my laptop lives). The transmission also has to go through several walls/doors. It manages it without problems. I get good reception in the shed.

I also use the same method in the car/camper. This also works well. Plus, I often wonder if other motorists pick up my "broadcasts". 😃

@MatejLach

@fitheach @vfrmedia @MatejLach I used to have an FM transmitter supplied by a company called Veronica. I used it for a while to play my music round the house, but did some modifications to it after I realised the signal was travelling a mile.

This was long before the little consumer "iTrip" type transmitters were available.

@ak

I remember a friend having one in the 1980s; ISTR there were a quite few versions of them, even the small ones had about 1W power which could go pretty far...

@fitheach @MatejLach

@vfrmedia
Not just the power, though. Also geography, antenna (sender & receiver), and quality of receiver.

In an experiment a few years back I extended a bog-standard wifi device with a Pringles tube at one end and an old satellite dish at the other. I was able to get a reasonable signal at 1.5 miles.

@ak @MatejLach

@fitheach @vfrmedia @ak @MatejLach we had some schematics and a friend was building this "phone/modem over power lines" thing sometime in the late nineties. Played games with neighbours through this thing. The downside is you have to have one for each room where you want it.

Sign in to participate in the conversation
Matej Lach's mastodon

Hi there! I am a free software developer. I enjoy working on useful software, as well as advocating for software freedom and the use of open standards, promoting data ownership, decentralization and privacy. If this is important to you, I may be worth following. If you like Go, Rust, or Swift, it may be worth following me as well. Besides computing, I enjoy metal, a good read and occasionally some gaming, (not much time for that these days).