Can We PLEASE just STOP Making Things Better?

December 24, 2018|Posted in: Uncategorized

All I want is clean dishes. Is that so much to ask?

OK, the back story:

Anyone who’s ever read this blog–both of you–knows that I am not a huge fan what I have come to call “invasive technology”: the software and apps and such that get all up in your business under the thin façade of making your life more “convenient.” I don’t need Siri chastising me because I didn’t take the route she recommended, or Netflix pointing out movies I might like based on my previous viewing, or Roomba mapping out my apartment and sending detailed schematics back to HQ. My life was perfectly livable before all these “advances,” and the simple reality is that nothing comes for free: these companies are either using the gathered information to target market you, or they’re pulling a Facebook and selling it all to the highest bidder.

A recent article from The Wired Shopper featured 50 different experts sharing their thoughts on the future of the so-called “Internet of Things.” Of the 50, only one–ONE–mentioned “danger” as a potential side effect. A clothes dryer connected to the internet may seem harmless enough (if mind-bogglingly unnecessary), until realize that it can also be easily connected to your other household items: the aforementioned Roomba, with a detailed layout of your home … security cameras clearly showing the home is empty … even that Ring doorbell or electric garage door opener.

How many of those devices do you own? Second question: how many of them have unique passwords? Yeah, that’s what I thought. We all know how passwords are supposed to work, but it’s so much easier to just use your kid’s birthday for everything. That means if a hacker gets into one of your systems, he can probably get into many more.

The thing is, that’s the more extreme end of the process: household appliances were already ridiculously over-complicated WITHOUT adding in internet access. My old washer had an analog dial: you twist it to the setting you want, pull it out, your clothes get washed. It wears out, you can replace it yourself in 15 minutes with a screwdriver. Easy-peasy.

My new washer sings to me. I mean, seriously, at the end of every cycle, instead of a buzzer, I get “La Marseillaise” in dulcet electronic tones. The control panel has more flashing lights than a Vegas slot machine and requires an advanced degree in quantum electronics to program. Oh, and get this: six months after I got it, a circuit board blew: had it not still been under warranty, the repair would’ve cost me more than I paid for my original washer, brand-new.

But this post isn’t about any of that. It’s about my dishwasher.

See, I have a really nice kitchen: French-door refrigerator, Viking-esque range, and so forth. A fairly pricey set-up, and all but totally wasted on me, but I didn’t pay for it.

The range has a touch-screen and plays little tunes when the oven is to temp. The fridge has three different climate controls, a freezer drawer, and an annoying alarm when it thinks I have left the door open too long. Again: overkill, but whatever.

But that dishwasher.

Apparently, most dishwashers costing upwards of $500 in the last few years come complete with a sensor that allegedly determines how much washing is needed for any given load. At the start of the cycle, the washer rinses the dishes, then the sensor checks how dirty the water is to determine the proper amount of time and water it will need to get everything clean.

This might work for a family of four who cooked a huge meal, ate, and then immediately loaded the dishwasher. That, however, ain’t me. I run the dishwasher once a week, whether it’s full or not. Leaving so much a coffee stain on a dish for a week before you wash it, and it is NOT going to come off in the dishwasher.

So I rinse off my dishes prior to placement in the washer. Problem is, if you’ve already rinsed off much of the muck, the stupid sensor interprets that as meaning the dishes as already fairly clean. So either I rinse them and they don’t get clean … or I don’t rinse them, and they don’t get clean. Which is, I admit, very much a first-world problem. But it’s also very much a perfect illustration of over-technologizing what should be a very simple process, and ending up with a product that is more expensive, more prone to breaking down, and which doesn’t do the job it was created for! How is this progress??

All I want is clean dishes.