Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The robots are coming to the country!

Our annus horribilis is proceeding to its close, perhaps earlier than expected if the ancient Mayans did their maths right, but probably not without a nasty surprise or two. To start with, the 'fridge to the left of the Rayburn is making strange noises. The motor is now louder than my tinnitus. Then Fred Rouchier, the wonderful electrician delivered the new combined microwave/electric oven to replace the deceased one, along with an information bombshell. I am still in shock.

What follows is what Fred has learned and what he recounted to me.
if I connect my dishwasher to a telephone line........
.......(no, I did not know the dishwasher had a telephone jack).......
then, when the dishwasher auto detects a fault,
before its owner, my respected self, does.....
then it calls Bosch Central with its diagnosis...
then Bosch Central checks its stores and despatches the part to....
Fred Rouchier who will come to do the necessary repair …
probably way before I have stopped flapping around doing housewifely
maintenance such as deep cleaning of the filter, adding extra salt, de-gunging the water sprays - and grumbling at the machine.

Given that the machine is not used on a daily basis, Fred may even turn up before I am aware that the machine thinks it has a problem.

(If this same model were in Clea's super-modern-new house, little Round Red Vacu-Bot would be skimming around the floors, possibly humming to itself as it tidied. Then – when finished or in need of a recharge - it would take itself to its dock and re-connect. My house has too many corners and steps for it to function and I feel like saying 'nah, nah-er nerrer'.)

Now I look at the new combined microwave/electric oven with suspicion. It demands to know the weight of that which it has to defreeze. It can be programmed to do a three stage de-frosting all by itself. No doubt I can pre-programme it to cook lunch, all I would have to do is put the ingredients in its cavity. I don't know, I have not yet fully digested the book of instructions. But, as far as I can see, it does not have arms and legs to go fetch the food to be cooked.

I am not happy with these machines that are more intelligent than I am, that demand a great deal of brain power to operate. The new clothes washer does not ask me when I want its programme to start but when I want it to finish! This involves calculation: the length of time of the selected wash programme, run alongside the cheap time schedule of the EdF (steady at night, erratic during the day). Of course, the wash programmes are not in whole hours, but in half hours. The EdF works in whole hours. In short, if wanting to run the machine overnight on cheap time, I have to stay up until the right time to calculate the setting and start it. For, if I get it wrong, the wretched machine beeps its 'finished, come deal with me' noise way before I want to wake up.

I did mention to Fred that I strongly suspicioned that the clothes washer had taught the dishwasher to do this irritating beep. Masterfully, he de-beeped the dishwasher. But neither of us know how to de-beep the clothes washer. It will just have to do double duty as an alarm.

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