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YouTube’s Power of the Purse

  • July 07, 2020

There is a way to turn a dumb home appliance into a smart one. It takes a few tools, and some imagination.

I’ll walk you through this process using a fan and some gadgets as an example:

You will need:

  • An Amazon Echo product, such as the $25 Echo Flex.

  • A smart plug such as TP-Link’s $17 Kasa.

  • A plug-in fan with a physical power switch that can stay in the “on” position.

  • An Apple or Android smartphone for setting up Alexa to talk to the smart plug.

Here’s what to do:

  • On your smartphone, download the Kasa app.

  • Open the Kasa app and register for an account. Once logged in, tap the Smart Plug icon, then tap the + icon and then the Smart Plugs icon. Select your Smart Plug model.

  • Plug the Kasa smart plug into a power outlet. Plug your electric fan into the smart plug. The light on the plug will turn amber. In the Kasa app, follow the instructions to connect the plug to your Wi-Fi network.

  • In the Kasa app, select your Smart Plug. Then click the gear icon and click Name and Icon. Give the smart plug a friendly name like “Fan.”

  • Open the Amazon Alexa app. Tap the menu icon and select Skills Games. Search for the TP-Link Kasa skill and enable it.

  • Standing near the Echo, say “Alexa, discover my devices.” Alexa should detect the device named Fan.

  • Now test the fan. Make sure the fan’s power switch is in the “on” position. With your Echo nearby, say “Alexa, turn on the fan.” Then say, “Alexa, turn off the fan.”

With this setup, you will have essentially created a remote-controlled smart fan. The Kasa app also includes the option to set a schedule for when the fan should turn on and off. Come winter, you can use this same setup with a space heater. Pretty neat, huh?

We encourage readers to check the wattage on their AC or heating unit before using any plug.


  • The great food delivery embiggening: Uber is combining with the food-delivery company Postmates, my Times colleagues reported Sunday and the companies confirmed Monday. Remember what I said last week: The food-delivery companies are merging to improve their dismal economics at the expense of restaurants, couriers, and diners like you and me.

  • What to do about Hong Kong now? Civil-liberties experts worry that a new law will let China’s government crack down on political expression and dissent in Hong Kong. This is creating a dilemma for internet companies. Facebook, Facebook-owned WhatsApp and the Telegram messaging app said that they would pause law enforcement requests for data about online users from Hong Kong authorities until there was an assessment of the human-rights implications of what some critics say is China’s takeover of Hong Kong, my colleague Paul Mozur reported.

  • Summer camp. Sort of. My colleague Nellie Bowles looks at the implications of summer camp conducted through computer screens because of the coronavirus. From mailing boxes of baking supplies to synchronized virtual soccer routines, camps have to be a lot more creative to keep kids’ attention.

Make way for ducklings, the sequel: Mama duck and her babies — with the help of a few traffic-stopping humans — safely cross the street to New York City’s Central Park.


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Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/06/technology/youtube-online-harassment.html

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