Tech News and Commentary
Dave and the team discuss the Boring company completes another tunnel, cardiovascular disease in women and a smart bra, AMC Theater’s woes, $5B lawsuit against Google, a coffee grind reading app, Microsoft AI and optimizing news, and more.
Steve in Lake Villa, Illinois listens to the podcasts – calling via the App and asked: “My wife convinced me to buy a couple smart plugs. I don’t know what to use it for. I use one on my coffee maker. What do you think is the best use of smart plugs? I’m lost for what I can do with these.”
Steve, that’s pretty much up to what you need to automate so it sounds more like a question for your wife if she’s the one who wanted them.
What we can tell you is that normally they’re mostly useful for something — like a lamp — that has only to be turned on or off.
Usually, you’ll get more out of them if you can automate something in some way, for example, like I said, if you plug some lamps into those smartplugs you might be able to get them to turn on after sunset but only if you’re home, or to turn on when you’re a block away and getting home.
You can use them for some other things that are interesting for some users, for example, to turn on an A/C unit if you have wall, window, or split units, but those normally require higher amp models which are not common. You can set just about any unit to control fans, dehumidifiers, and other common gadgets though.
Devices in the kitchen like a coffee maker can be completely automated with a smart plug. You can turn it on in the morning as you’re getting ready for your day, saving you time.
If you’re thinking ahead it could also be used for holiday decorations. Making sure they are on at night so you don’t have to remember yourself.
It can also save you money by cutting off any power that is left on standby.
Smart plugs can also work with radio. So you can set it to turn on whenever we are on the air so you never miss our show.
Your wife must have been thinking about some uses when she convinced you to buy them though, is there anything that she’d like to automate or control remotely? If so, that should be your answer.
Willie asked: “I have a new Automobile that does not have a CD player. I have a Portable CD players that have 3.5 mm connection cord, however, there doesn’t seem to be any way to plus it up to the car audio system? Does this mean I need to purchase another portable CD player with a special USB connection.”
Willie, there are cables like the one you describe but they usually have very different uses from the one you’re describing, so you may find that they don’t work for what you’re trying to do.
If this car is modern enough to have ditched CDs then it probably has Bluetooth built in, and that’s probably a safer way to go.
You can buy very inexpensive Bluetooth adapters online that will take a 3.5mm input and turn it into a wireless signal that your car’s receiver should be able to pick up and use.
A good reason to look at a Bluetooth adapter is that it’s a generic solution, which is helpful when what you’re trying to incorporate are CDs which are probably no longer interesting devices to cater to directly.
The reason we say that is that if you look at CD album sales by year you’ll find that in the year 2000 almost 950 million albums were sold, by 2010 that number had dropped to 253 million, last year the number didn’t even get to 44 million.
As of late 2019 vinyl sales were expected to surpass CD sales, so don’t expect a lot of CD-centric tech to come out any time soon.
Another solution could be transferring all the songs from your CD collection to your phone, once transferred then you can access your catalog anywhere, including your car.
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