Digital tincans


I did it and I’ll bet that you did it as a kid.

We made our own communications devices with two tin cans like the type that peas come in, punched a hole in the bottom of each, and connected them with a string. If you put one over your ear and your friend went to the end of the string, they could talk and you could listen. Picturing it now, it was kind of stupid because we didn’t have that much string and could have just talked. But, as my friend Whooba would have said, “There’s got to be a workshop in there somewhere”.

Later, we graduated to a pair of walkie-talkies.

Photo by Pradamas Gifarry on Unsplash

It had a much longer range than the string and was kind of cool. There was a gotcha with the set that we had and that was that they had a number of different channels you could use. Presumably, it was to avoid others from listening to you. But, and this was a big but, you both had to be on the same channel to be able to communicate.

All of this came back yesterday.

We own two Google home communication devices. One is a Nest Mini and the other is a Nest Display. I hope that I got the names right; that’s not what they were originally called. The Mini was gifted to us and the Display came with the doorbell.

Both are connected wirelessly to our home Wifi. I have the Mini in my room here and the Display is on the other end of the house. It never dawned on me that I could actually communicate between them. I had no reason to even try. I mostly thought of them as something that would listen to instructions and respond. We have a rule that they’re turned off during trivia nights.

They do have the ability to send messages to each other. All that you have to do is send the command

“OK, Google, Broadcast”

You speak your message and it’s sent to the other speaker.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. If I had more than two then I could be selective or inclusive by specifying which one(s) to broadcast to. I had to smile when I thought of morning announcements at school with the ability to give the principal feedback immediately.

Anyway, it’s turned into being a useful way to broadcast messages back and forth, mainly when I’m in here doing some work.

With all the technology in the world, it’s amazing how close this comes to two tin cans connected to each other – this time with Wifi instead of a string.

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OTR Links 11/23/2022


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