Midnight repost: Buy dumb!


Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

 
The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit.

 
The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.
 

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs." --San Antonio Express-News

The tenth anniversary retrospective of Behind the Black continues: The failures of modern technology (shaped sadly by a lot of government regulation) often illustrates well the coming dark age. Tonight’s repost from September 15, 2019 gives one good example, and what you can do to counter this trend.

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Buy dumb!

The dumb washing machine we hunted for and got
The used “dumb” machine we
paid $285 for that actually
cleans our clothes.

The smart washing machine we threw out
The “smart” machine that we
paid $923 for and sold for $40.

Two years ago our old Kenmore Series 80 washing machine broke down. The repair guy said it would be so expensive to fix that he recommended it was time to buy something new.

So off we went to Sears, where we ended up buying one of today’s modern “smart” machines for a mere $923. As the LG website proudly exclaims,

A Smarter Way to Wash: 6Motion™ Technology uses up to 6 different wash motions to provide a smart cleaning experience that is gentle on clothes and maximizes washing performance.

The problem was the machine never got any of our clothes clean. It also refused to provide enough water. The way it worked was to sense the weight of the clothes you put inside, and determine the needed amount based on this. Routinely, it wasn’t enough, so Diane did web searches to discover numerous owners faking out the machine’s brains by pouring several buckets of water on top of the clothes before turning on the machine, making them weigh more.

The machine also did not have an agitator, the new in-thing among washing machine manufacturers two years ago, probably forced on them by new federal regulations. And though the tub itself did shake, it did it so gently that the clothes hardly moved.

There were also other issues with the machine’s smart technology that frustrated Diane. The machine was boss, and would not allow for any flexibility to its predetermined wash and rinse cycles, even when they made no sense.

Last week Diane had had enough. She did some research, found a local used appliance store in Tucson, Rosano’s & Sons Appliances. Not only did they have a comparable washing machine to our old Kenmore, they gave their workmanship a six month warranty, and would buy our “smart” machine for $40. They wouldn’t pay more, because they explained that no one really wanted these new “smart” machines. The demand was for the older ones, the ones that while “dumb” worked.

And yes, they were right. Since getting the “new” used machine installed it’s like the good ol’ days, when washing machines were washing machines, and the dirty clothes you put in came out clean. Wonder of wonders!

The moral to this story is this: Buy dumb! The modern obsession with adding computer technology to what should be a very simple machine is not necessarily a good thing. Moreover, the regulations imposed by the federal government in the past decade to make many of our appliances “more efficient” and “environmentally friendly” has only served to make them useless.

So, if any of your old appliances break, and there is any possibility of fixing them, do it. It is worth the cost. The used Kenmore Series 70 we just bought cost less than a third of the LG “smart” machine, and does a better job. We would have saved money and had clean clothes for the past two years had we simply fixed the old machine. And if you can’t get the old machine fixed, find a used appliance place and buy used. It will also save you money, and you will also get an appliance that will do the job.

Readers!
 

My July fund-raiser for Behind the Black is now over. The support from my readers was unprecedented, making this July campaign the best ever, twice over. What a marvelous way to celebrate the website's tenth anniversary!
 

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14 comments

  • janyuary

    My mother’s gourmet gas stove with bells and whistles was digital. For want of a replacement part, the entire $1800 perfectly functional-except-for–irreplaceable-digital-parts stove went to the dump. I got off easier; my last such smart stove was a cheapie $450 HD special. I replaced it with a 50s era gas stove that uses exactly ZERO electricity to operate and which a half-way mechanical mind can repair at home. Several family members have pre-smog vehicles that can be repaired without use of any digital equipment. There’s also a trend in folks I see around me to simplify life by trading in the “smart” phone for a flip phone. Paper maps in a vehicle as opposed to GPS … who knew!

  • janyuary

    Oh — and my mother bought one of those front-loading washing machines, also pressured on consumers as an “eco-smart” choice. She quickly learned that the only cool thing about it, it’s looks, was moot because you have to leave the door ajar when it’s not in use. And I quickly learned by the state of the dishtowels, that it failed dismally to even dampen some items. It was disgusting.

    ALARMING too that eco-nuts are urging consumers to wash in cold water. Underwear and bed linens should be washed in the hottest water possible — my great-great-great grandmother, like any other smart person of her time, boiled laundry for a good reason. And they worry about a half-way nasty flu; I remember well the Hong Kong flu, which in my memory spanned two seasons, 68 and 69. Nobody washed anything but fancy stuff in cold water then, by golly!!!

    Maybe it’s healthier to be too dumb for smart appliances!

  • sippin_bourbon

    Eh, I had a front loader. Bought in the early 2000’s. It worked great. Very high spin cycle, good agitation. It worked great. Until it died. We got a nother front loader. It’s of the “smart” variety, but we have not had the issues you report. Different brand perhaps.

    My next appliance in terms of age is the fridge. Checking at the stores, you can still get a dumb fridge. That is my choice. I do not understand the “internet connected ” appliance push. Risk (hacking) to benefit (your out of milk) ratio seems to make it pointless.

  • Gary

    I’ve always just defaulted to ‘dumb owner’.

  • Greg

    We came home from a trip to find the fridge dead. It was trying to start, but couldn’t get the compressor on. The service tech I called in diagnosed the dead relay switch in about two minutes; he had one in the truck, and he spent about ten minutes cleaning dust bunnies from underneath. He told us: “don’t ever let this one go. I spend most of my time repairing fridges that are 5-6 years old”. No idea how old it is as I acquired it in 1985 or so from a rental I lived in.
    I have an old upright freezer that I bought as a refurb with a new compressor in 1989. It looks like hell on the outside, all rusty and dinged, but it’s humming away in the garage today.

  • LocalFluff

    I can recommend Jeffrey Tucker’s “Hack Your Showerhead” (free online). He’s great to listen too on YT too. The reason many products are inefficient is because of specific government regulations. The companies build perfectly efficient products for global sales. But on Western markets they are not allowed to be that good, so they add things to the product that make it as bad as the government requires it to be. For example, they put a piece of plastic in the showerheads that blocks the flow of water. This, if one screws it open and removes it, one has as good a showerhead as the Chinese do!

  • Jay

    Moved into a 5 year old house with all the latest appliances.
    I have repaired the dishwasher 3 times, fridge 2 times (still have a leak), washing machine 2 times and dryer once. The furnace has also been repaired.
    All repairs done by me with parts bought online.
    If I had gone through a repairman, the costs would have at least doubled.

  • Knot

    They still sell Speed Queens. Dumb, but built well and cleans the cloths…. Not too pricey either (not cheap either).

  • Here are two new ” Old Fashion Washing Machines ”
    I’ve got a LG Trom front loader and I hate it.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTDcc4jdayQ

  • John

    My stoopid modern dyer refuses to give me hot dry clothes.

    It has four levels: Damp, less dry, dry, and more dry. Why it should do anything other than dry dry I’ll never know.

    It has a sensor that adjusts the time to just barely make the clothes dryish.

    If you use the timed dry function, high heat becomes unavailable and what heat it gives you isn’t enough.

    Clothes are wearable, but I want them hot, sanitized, and shrunk, like every other dyer I’ve had in my life until now.

  • LocalFluff

    @John
    If a man makes anything with a dial, and all men do, then one has to make up choices.
    “-This is a great washing around machine that you have engineered, James! Now, what’s to put on a dial to make the customer think that he controls something…”

  • LocalFluff

    We’ll leave that to the marketing department.

  • LocalFluff

    The washing machine dial of most importance in shuttle space flight:
    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/32/Space_Shuttle_abort_panel.jpg

    I prefer the OFF-state. Which was always used, luckily for the crew.
    “- Open the doors and turn the dial!”

  • LocalFluff

    1) OFF
    2) Let’s go to Spain!
    3) Not so good, Houston Houston do you hear me?
    4) ATO abort to orbit and stay in the Heavens as heroes for ever!
    5) Wash your underwear without making them clean again.

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