Talking Cars

Check out episodes on YouTube of Talking Cars with Consumer Reports (if you haven’t already). Three CR testers review and discuss recent model tests and topical subjects which could prove helpful for those that looking to buy a new car or better understand those reviewed.


My cars talk to me. I don’t think its my mother though. One time out of the clear blue, the Onstar lady told me I needed to renew my membership. Scared the heck out me so now I’m wondering how much she is listening to.

I used to have Onstar but I dropped it for the very reason that Bing brought up. I like my privacy. Besides…I never really used the service.

I’ve been a fan of the podcast (on i-tunes) for some time, more than the youtube video’s since I can catch up while in the car that way.

I have a gps that talks, not a car that talks, but I issue the command, shut up, and it does not.

My radio talks to me. And sings to me. That’s all I need to consider the car’s communication skills complete.

ironic that video of “My Mother The Car” was posted. That fictional 1928 Porter was created by George Barris, creator of some of TV’s and movie’s most famous cars, who, sadly, passed away the other day.

My GPS turns itself on for no apparent reason (and drains the battery dry). I use it for trips and keep it on a little table near the front door otherwise (because I know how to get to work). I nearly jumped out of my skin the first time it did this. I was sitting in the kitchen by myself when I heard a woman’s voice command, “Turn around when possible, and make a left at the end of the street.” Several times I’ve come home from wherever and found it “on”.

This was around the same time that lawsuit was in the news about that school district in Pennsylvania that was using the laptop webcams to spy on students in their homes. It just made me think, what other devices could turn themselves on to potentially spy on you? Webcams, cell phones, on-star, etc? Sounds kinda paranoid, but when you see a device turn itself on for no apparent reason, it really makes you think. . .

Its also annoying because if I want to use it in the house on battery power to plan a roadtrip I can’t because its done turned itself on and drained the battery so I have to put it back in the car and plug it into the cigarette lighter to charge it back up. I have a love-hate relation ship with technology.

Um what other devices can spy on you? Now I’m no computer guy but I’d put security cameras hooked to the net, furnace controls, thermostats, phones, and on and on. Anything that you can access from afar, someone else can access too. I don’t like them but we’ve got wireless phones all over the house and I know that we have somehow tied into a conversation in someone’s house somewhere with them at least once. I’m not paranoid but I think we would be shocked at what a determined person could get access to and that’s without the listening devices and trackers on the market and access to the law enforcement license plate tracking data. I used to just put a cover over my computer camera but now I just disconnect it.

“It just made me think, what other devices could turn themselves on to potentially spy on you? Webcams, cell phones, on-star, etc?”

There have been instances of computer-savvy, perverted guys who figured out how to remotely turn-on the webcam in women’s computers, thus giving them a view of whatever went on near those computers.

I might not be much to look at, and I doubt if anyone wants to look at me, but–all the same–I have covered the webcam in my laptop with a piece of Post-it Note. When I want to use Skype, I remove it. As soon as my Skype conversation is over, I cover the webcam again.

My cars don’t talk to me. Well, not anymore after OnStar changed their cell phone protocol and made ours obsolete. My Garmin speaks to me in an English accent but Maps on my phone speaks midwestern American English. It doesn’t respond when I tell her to “Shut Up.”

BTW, your cell phones can and have been hacked by our own government (Google “Stingray”) as well as others. They can gain access to the cameras, GPS location and cell towers used. They’ve been used to convict criminals for about 20 years. Welcome to 1984!

Microsoft patent,
” proposes to use cameras and sensors like those in the Xbox 360 Kinect controller to monitor, count and in some cases identify the people in a room watching television, movies and other content. The filing refers to the technology as a “consumer detector.”

“In one scenario, the system would then charge for the television show or movie based on the number of viewers in the room. Or, if the number of viewers exceeds the limits laid out by a particular content license, the system would halt playback unless additional viewing rights were purchased.”

Wonder if it would apply to videos on tour busses!(stretch to keep it car related)