A Change Made By the FCC Could Reduce the Amount of Robocalls You Receive

iStock/Oleksii Spesyvtsev
iStock/Oleksii Spesyvtsev

Robocalls, once an occasional annoyance, have grown into an overwhelming problem for phone owners. Between January 2016 and June 2018, the number of robocalls Americans received doubled from 2 billion to 4 billion. Reports related to spam calls are the most common complaints filed to the FCC. Now, Popular Science reports that the government agency is finally taking action to reduce unwanted spam calls.

On Thursday, June 6, the FCC unanimously voted to give phone carriers more freedom to block robocalls. Previously, laws allowed companies like Verizon and AT&T to block certain calls—like automated calls, for example—but only after the customers who would be affected opted in. Under the new rule, carriers can block all robocalls without letting subscribers know or asking for their permission first.

For anyone who dreams of being able to answer a call from an unknown number without the fear of being scammed, the change may sound like a good thing. But there is a drawback: Legitimate calls that use automated dialing—like appointment reminders from doctors' offices, for example—may be an unintended casualty of the robocall purge. The American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management is asking the FCC to add a provision to the rule that ensures medical calls won't be affected.

Exactly how many phone users will be impacted by the change is unclear. Phone carriers can now block more robocalls easily, but they're not obligated to by law. And if providers do want to take advantage of the rule, they may take their time developing new call-blocking features.

Instead of waiting for your phone company to fix the issue, you can take steps to reduce the flow of robocalls you receive today. Several apps, including Nomorobo and RoboKiller, automatically ignores calls that match numbers in its scam caller database. You can also see if your carrier offers robocall-reducing apps for free or for a few extra dollars a month.

[h/t Popular Science]

The UK Wants to Use 'Noise Cameras' to Crack Down on Loud Cars and Bikes

iStock/Ales-A
iStock/Ales-A

Snarled traffic creates more than air pollution. Thanks to modified engines, mufflers, and exhaust systems on cars and motorcycles, congested roadways can become symphonies of belching and rattling. Now, the UK government is looking to do something about it.

According to the BBC, the Department for Transport is currently testing “acoustic cameras” that will measure the decibel levels of vehicles on public roads. If a microphone detects a vehicle producing an excessive amount of noise, a camera will photograph the source and the owner will be fined.

What defines excessive? That remains to be seen. The UK enacted a law in 2016 limiting new cars to no more than 74 decibels. It's primarily older cars and modified motorbikes that create noise disturbances and prompt complaints from people living nearby.

The trial equipment will also need to prove it can identify one vehicle's noise emissions from another's and single out cars from other possible sources of sound. If the trial results are promising, it's likely the "acoustic cameras" will be policing UK roads in the near future.

[h/t Jalopnik]

This Scented Smart Candle is Fire-Safe and Alexa-Friendly

LuDela
LuDela

Candlelight can do a lot for a room, setting a mood and signaling that it’s time to relax. But not everyone is comfortable with the idea of nursing a tiny flame and melting wax indoors. Technology has provided a solution in the form of the LuDela Perfect Pillar, a smart candle and decorative accent that takes the worry out of a flame-lit atmosphere.

The battery-powered artificial candle generates its flame with refillable liquid paraffin and offers a variety of different scents in the form of SunScent fragrance rings, which you can place on top of the candle to release the scent of your choice. The candle never dims or melts, and you can swap out its fragrance ring at any time to give your home a new scent.

The LuDela Perfect Pillar smart candle starter set
LuDela

The LuDela candle's smart features make it a safer choice than your typical accent candle, especially for homes with small kids or pets. For instance, it has a sensor inside that detects when the device is tilting; if it falls over, the flame is automatically extinguished. You can also turn the candle on and off or create a timed session using the included remote control or your Amazon Alexa. The remote control comes with a child-lock option to prevent little hands from turning the candle on without adult supervision.

You can find the LuDela Perfect Pillar on Amazon, where a starter set with a wax candle fixture, two liquid paraffin refills (which burn for approximately 20 hours each), two fragrance rings, and a remote control goes for $99. Subsequent refill capsules cost $10 per two-pack.

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