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Smarter Devices Can Sometimes Cause Dumb Problems

08/31/2018 11:17 AM

Improved technology is often intended to fix a problem or produce a better product. In some cases it seems like bad design or simply poor planning has created an inferior product with new technology.

I have a few examples that I have recently experienced although I wonder how many other products have similar flaws.

The fridge that needs to be reset after a power outage.

We have this fridge that was purchased about 5 or 6 years ago at a summer home where power outages are a frequent problem. Typically, the power is only out for an hour or two but sometimes longer, being in a remote area and that we don’t need power for most stuff it isn’t an issue. When we replaced our fridge with a newer model we began to notice that after a power outage the fridge would no longer cool. The freezer part stays cold but the fridge will warm up. Doing a search, we discovered this was a common issue and can be resolved by holding two buttons to reset it. After a reset the fridge works normally again, the issue seems to reside with the circuitry and fan to circulate cold air. Another issue with the same fridge is that when it is really humid it will sometimes freeze over.

In older fridges the bulk of the circuitry and temperature control was done by a mechanical timer to determine when to defrost and a mechanical thermostat. These components had no issue with a power outage. It was even possible to force a defrost cycle by manually turning the timer if you knew where it was. With this new fridge it has a fairly complicated circuit board that monitors temperature runs the display as well as the defrost cycle. There is no way to force a defrost cycle and it seems to reset the timer when the power goes out. This has caused a fair amount of food loss and general annoyance. The larger problem is if no one is there to reset it. Talking to a local appliance center it seems many new brands are subject to this same problem and buying a new one won’t necessarily fix it.

The washing machine that is trying to cause a leak

We have a newer front loading washing machine that works okay except for one issue. When it fills with water it does so in a way that it pulses the water on and off at a rate that seems perfect to create a water hammer effect. In my research is seems this might have been done to help better disperse the detergent. This also seems to be a common issue with this brand, one solution is to put in water hammer arresters and they do help a little but do not resolve the issue. Our house is about 40 years old with copper plumbing in good shape. I have gone through our house and added support and holders everywhere that is reasonable. While this has helped some any pipe with any flexibility like the braided lines that run to a sink or toilet still shake when the machine fills. In my mind a simple fix could probably done with software to pulse in a random patter although that isn’t likely to happen. On online search reveals that this brand has caused others damage in broken pipes and flooding for some. Thankfully for me I haven’t had any damage yet. Online talks of a class action suit are evident but none that I know of have been filed as of this time.

The toaster oven that needs to be reset

The toaster oven used to be one of the most basic devices. Today many toasters have digital displays and advanced circuitry, although the one in question simply has knobs and appears to be analog. Even the timer on it ticks and clearly is a mechanical timer. Yet something in this toaster is digital because every once in a while it refuses to work and the power light on it blinks on and off. The fix is simple just un plug it and plug it back in and presto it works again. A slight annoyance but these problems simply shouldn’t exist.

The TV that forgets channels

I have had cable for years and decided to cut the cord and use an antenna for my local channels and internet serveries for others. My house had an attic antenna from yester year, I connected it and works great. I have a few fringe channels that sometimes don’t come in for a brief period depending on the leaves on the trees or snow on the roof. My TV sees these channels aren’t coming in and helpfully decided to forget they exist. To get them back I have to do a complete rescan or manually tune to them. I am sure this could be fixed with some software yet it should not be an issue in the first place.

These are just some examples from my firsthand experience. If you have machines using digital circuitry for what used to be analog and is now creating problems that didn’t previously exist I would be interested in your examples.

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#1

Re: Smarter devices can sometimes cause dumb problems

08/31/2018 12:03 PM

Reminds me of the funny story about the king, the electrical engineer, and the software developer.

http://www.danielsen.com/jokes/objecttoaster.txt

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#2

Re: Smarter devices can sometimes cause dumb problems

08/31/2018 12:09 PM

Just return these to the manufacturers and get appliances that aren't on scratch and dent sales.....haha

Seriously though it helps to read the reviews of people who have bought one, of really anything you are buying, it can save you a lot of grief...yes it takes time, but this is because we have such a large selection of choices, the result of an affluent society......and if you get a bad one, return it or have it fixed to work properly and bill the manufacturer....don't let yourself be pushed around to accept defective goods, take a stand...If you accept to live with defective goods, that is all you will ever have....

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#3

Re: Smarter devices can sometimes cause dumb problems

08/31/2018 12:23 PM

Reminds me of an old adage: "Just because you can, doesn't mean you should."

The Laws of Unintended Consequences seem to be on the rise.

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#5
In reply to #3

Re: Smarter devices can sometimes cause dumb problems

08/31/2018 3:59 PM

Aye! Therein lies the rub.

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#4

Re: Smarter Devices Can Sometimes Cause Dumb Problems

08/31/2018 12:47 PM

I'd add to that cars that are so smart that their software can be hacked and cause the car to drive into oncoming traffic, regardless of driver input.

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#6

Re: Smarter Devices Can Sometimes Cause Dumb Problems

08/31/2018 10:57 PM

I want to know why my Chevy truck locks itself after I pull into my dealer's service area, shut off the engine, and get out to talk to a service advisor. It took me two trips to the dealer to remember NOT to leave my keys in the ignition when I go there.

Grrrr <--- press this

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#7
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Re: Smarter Devices Can Sometimes Cause Dumb Problems

08/31/2018 11:31 PM

It ONLY does this at the dealers?

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#12
In reply to #7

Re: Smarter Devices Can Sometimes Cause Dumb Problems

09/01/2018 6:40 AM

No, it's just the only place I would ever consider leaving the keys in the car.

I never leave keys in my cars anywhere, even when gassing up. That seems to be way to much temptation for some folks nowadays.

But I still think this auto-locking stuff is really dumb.

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#30
In reply to #12

Re: Smarter Devices Can Sometimes Cause Dumb Problems

09/04/2018 6:13 PM

One wonders whether rental car companies have had to deal with this? Maybe they get them delivered with those features disabled.

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#31
In reply to #30

Re: Smarter Devices Can Sometimes Cause Dumb Problems

09/04/2018 6:19 PM

Or they know how to turn them off. I figured out how to turn off the auto locking in my Silverado today. It was buried in all the option settings (where the phone and audio and other settings are) in the control panel on the dash.

Only trouble now is that i have to lock the truck with the remote or the key from outside. I can't open the door, press the lock button on the armrest and shut the door. It unlocks before I get the door closed.

I can't phreaking win.

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#33
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Re: Smarter Devices Can Sometimes Cause Dumb Problems

09/04/2018 7:39 PM

Sometimes you just want to drive out to Detroit and smack somebody with a dead herring.

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#34
In reply to #33

Re: Smarter Devices Can Sometimes Cause Dumb Problems

09/04/2018 8:17 PM

I've worked there. It's worse than the federal gov't, even harder to figure out who's responsible.

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#8
In reply to #6

Re: Smarter Devices Can Sometimes Cause Dumb Problems

09/01/2018 12:11 AM

If I leave the key in the ignition, with the windows rolled up and the doors closed, my Camry will lock me out in less than 5 minutes.

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#9
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Re: Smarter Devices Can Sometimes Cause Dumb Problems

09/01/2018 12:29 AM

These cars are trying to teach you that you should NEVER get out of any vehicle and leave the keys in the car; much less in the ignition!

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#11
In reply to #9

Re: Smarter Devices Can Sometimes Cause Dumb Problems

09/01/2018 12:39 AM

The car is the servant and I am ( supposed ) to be the master.

Unless I, you, prescribe to the notion that AI can think better than us.

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#13
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Re: Smarter Devices Can Sometimes Cause Dumb Problems

09/01/2018 10:58 AM

As a bartender once said.. "that's the dumbest 'shtuf' I've ever heard".

Tee hee .. I'll warn my parents

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#15
In reply to #6

Re: Smarter Devices Can Sometimes Cause Dumb Problems

09/01/2018 3:30 PM

Some of these auto lock features can be user deactivated/activated....

  1. Put the key in the ignition and turn it to on.
  2. Press the Unlock button three times.
  3. Turn the ignition off.
  4. Press the Unlock button three more times.
  5. Turn the ignition back to on.
  6. The horn should beep once. This tells you that you’re now in programming mode.
  7. Press the Unlock button, then press Lock again. The horn will beep once to tell you that Auto Lock was deactivated. It will beep twice if you’re reactivating the system.
  8. Turn the ignition back to off and listen for the horn to beep one time confirming that the programming was accepted.
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#16
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Re: Smarter Devices Can Sometimes Cause Dumb Problems

09/01/2018 4:10 PM

I saw that on a web search while back. I haven't tried it and I have a hard time believing that such a universal solution exists. Do you know anyone who has actually used this? Especially on a 2014 Chevy Silverado 1500?

I'm not interested in having the neighbors think I've finally gone over the edge!!!

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#17
In reply to #15

Re: Smarter Devices Can Sometimes Cause Dumb Problems

09/01/2018 9:06 PM

You do the hokey pokey

And you turn yourself around

That's what it's all about

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#19
In reply to #15

Re: Smarter Devices Can Sometimes Cause Dumb Problems

09/02/2018 12:01 AM

I'll have to try that, although it may or may not have anything to do with my Problem:

I was riding in the back seat of my friend's month's old Lincoln. When we got to the destination, he was unable to unlock the rear doors. The only way I could get out of the car was for him to open the door from the outside. (It might be possible for me to climb over into the front seat). If an accident un-capacitated the driver, it would be impossible for any rear seat occupants to get out of the car! I presume this is part of the child-safety system, but neither the owner of the car nor his very astute son could figure out how to let me out without physically using the outside door handle.

Now the button on that outside door handle is an electric switch, not a lever. If the battery were destroyed or disconnected, there would be no way to open either rear door!

And that's safety!!!!????

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#25
In reply to #19

Re: Smarter Devices Can Sometimes Cause Dumb Problems

09/04/2018 5:49 AM

Its child proof and prevents kids from leaving the car when you do not want them.

Usually there is a mechanical lock that activates and deactivates this.

Nobody will flick it for different passengers and personally I never seen a need for it as long as doors are locked while you are driving.

I was in an Uber the other day that had it activated. It is possible that the drive can override the door lock with his button in newer cars, else someone has to help you from the outside, like a parent would do for their kids.

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#18
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Re: Smarter Devices Can Sometimes Cause Dumb Problems

09/01/2018 10:55 PM

This happened to me when I pulled my truck into the wash bay at work. Fortunately, I had a spare key secured underneath the truck in case of emergency. Unfortunately, there was about an inch of mud under the truck that I had to lay down in to get to the spare key...

Needless to day, I haven't left the key in the ignition since. I frequently leave the key in the slot, but I always pull it out half an inch or so, AND I leave the window down a few inches, just in case.

I find very few electronic devices that work as well as the older ones.

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#36
In reply to #6

Re: Smarter Devices Can Sometimes Cause Dumb Problems

09/05/2018 2:16 PM

Simple solution: I carry a spare brick in my jacket pocket.

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#37
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Re: Smarter Devices Can Sometimes Cause Dumb Problems

09/05/2018 2:37 PM

Fortunately, in my pickup there is usually something satisfyingly heavy and destructive in the back.

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#39
In reply to #6

Re: Smarter Devices Can Sometimes Cause Dumb Problems

09/06/2018 2:41 PM

On my Ford the auto lock feature can be disabled by the user. - JHF

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#40
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Re: Smarter Devices Can Sometimes Cause Dumb Problems

09/06/2018 3:52 PM

Yeah I just figured out how to disable the autolock in my Chebby truck.

To add to your control's description in another note, I have a 7" (or so) screen in the middle of my dash. When I was contemplating buying the truck the salesman quickly corrected me when I tried navigating the screen by touching it. "It isn't a touch screen."

After being corrected I attempted navigating the system with the various station selection buttons, icon buttons (not with international symbols) and rotary controls with more push-buttons embedded in them.

I rarely try anything while driving, though the temperature and fan speed controls are fairly straightforward, thank goodness.

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#10

Re: Smarter Devices Can Sometimes Cause Dumb Problems

09/01/2018 12:34 AM

You said that the braided flexible lines for the toilet and the sink shake when the washer fills. Can you put an extra long flexible line to supply washer ?

I had this problem with a swamp cooler. I took a length of poly line to replace the rigid copper

I made 5 coils about a foot wide, loose. Now the poly pipe shakes and the float no longer hammers.

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#14

Re: Smarter Devices Can Sometimes Cause Dumb Problems

09/01/2018 11:08 AM

Allow me to introduce my smart TV whos rf remote is on the fritz, the invisible control buttons on the face are highlighted with snippets of white tape for ease of use.

Check out my 5 star stainless steel 3tier digital 10 year warranty dishwasher..

... don't forget to wash it's filter weekly and prewash your dishes for ANY results.

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#20

Re: Smarter Devices Can Sometimes Cause Dumb Problems

09/03/2018 4:16 AM

It would be helpful to know the models and brands of these appliances. Then we can avoid buying them and also it may prompt the manufacturers to rectify the faults and avoid adverse publicity.

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#21
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Re: Smarter Devices Can Sometimes Cause Dumb Problems

09/03/2018 11:03 AM

Good point!

On the other hand, it might be good to know some examples of brands that have given good service. For example, my Carrier whole-house air conditioner was installed in 1967. I moved to this house in 1970, and have spent a total of about $200 ($4US a year) on maintenance, and it is still working fine!

A newer unit might use energy more efficiently, but there is virtually zero probability that a replacement would last for over 50 years, even from the same brand. There is also virtually zero probability that anyone involved in making this unit 51 years ago still works at the company.

Here in the US, we do have Consumer's Reports to perform the quality tests and satisfaction surveys. (I'm a subscriber) I presume there is some similar organization in the UK and/or Europe...

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#22
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Re: Smarter Devices Can Sometimes Cause Dumb Problems

09/03/2018 3:59 PM

Anecdotal reviews certainly can help but they often just present the realized worst case scenarios.

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#24
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Re: Smarter Devices Can Sometimes Cause Dumb Problems

09/03/2018 9:48 PM

I also have a carrier unit, that was installed in 1973, works great, but sucks the juice.

American Quality.

Maybe one of us should call them and see if someone still works there.

We can congratulate the responsible party.

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#26
In reply to #24

Re: Smarter Devices Can Sometimes Cause Dumb Problems

09/04/2018 11:59 AM

My 1973 GE whole house A/C unit is still cranking away. I've replaced the outside blower motor and various run capacitors over the years. Last year, I just replaced the blower motor inside in the air handler for the first time. Even though this unit is not very efficient by today's standards, my house is fully shaded for the most part so it has it easier than most. Mainly used to reduce the stinking humidity here in Maryland.

And no, I do not let a technician anywhere near it. All they will do is hook gauges up to it to see if they can get it to leak.

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#32
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Re: Smarter Devices Can Sometimes Cause Dumb Problems

09/04/2018 7:14 PM

Pretty much the same here. The condenser unit is always shaded, either by a grape arbor or by an umbrella. That outside blower motor was part of the $200 maintenance cost.

The house is in the sun in the mornings, but shaded in the afternoons. I just had a new roof put on a year ago, and it is pure white. It helps a LOT to reduce the load on the A/C. My wife is more interested in esthetics, so she doesn't care for the white roof, but I love it!

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#28
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Re: Smarter Devices Can Sometimes Cause Dumb Problems

09/04/2018 1:45 PM

I opted not to put brand names in as I think these are more universal problems that come and go with different models. It is also not my intention to oppose or endorse any particular brands. That said, the products were all from major brands like Samsung, LG and KitchenAid.

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#29
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Re: Smarter Devices Can Sometimes Cause Dumb Problems

09/04/2018 6:05 PM

LG and LG

fool me twice

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#23

Re: Smarter Devices Can Sometimes Cause Dumb Problems

09/03/2018 6:42 PM

I have finally - after 20 years - bought a new car, because the old one's body components were wearing out, even though the running gear was fine. It was a manual, but the new model is only available in automatic.

I was worried about this, because the last automatic I had from this manufacturer had this wonderful computer memory system that noted my usual light foot on the accelerator pedal and after a couple of days decided that I really didn't mean it when I floored it, and only applied the accumulated flywheel energy when I took my foot off the pedal again, after missing my opportunity safely to enter the traffiuc stream. Disconnecting the battery every day or two was the only way to keep this under control.

The new model has a wonderful implementation of CVT, so the original programming team has moved on. Unfortunately, they have moved on to the automated anti-collision system! In this car, when the vehicle ahead brakes without warning to turn off or park, if I respond by moving out to overtake, the alarm shrieks at me for changing lanes, and then, when the front of my vehicle is firmly in the outside lane, with speed matched with that of the car behind, the system slams on the brakes!

Happily, if I remember to hold the disable button for 10 seconds every time I turn on the engine, this danger can be avoided, but the design of the system seems to increase rather than decrease the risk of a collision by trying to be too smart for it's processing power.

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#27
In reply to #23

Re: Smarter Devices Can Sometimes Cause Dumb Problems

09/04/2018 12:02 PM

My fear is that your experiences are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

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#35

Re: Smarter Devices Can Sometimes Cause Dumb Problems

09/04/2018 9:03 PM

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#38

Re: Smarter Devices Can Sometimes Cause Dumb Problems

09/06/2018 2:38 PM

The most dangerous example is touch screens in cars. For 50 years I had cars with a knob or lever for the radio and heater controls. I knew if I grab the lever and move it to the right, it is colder, to the left warmer, etc. Now I have no tactile feed back. I must take my eye off the road to adjust anything on the car. Cheaper to build but much less user friendly, that is dangerous. Don't believe any rebutle from the car companies. Moving the dimmer switch to the signal lever is not safer, it is cheaper. There is nothing for my left foot to do in my automatic transmission car and truck. It could be ready to dim the lights, but no, when I am rounding a corner and someone comes the other way, I have to take one hand off the wheel to dim the lights. Again, cheaper to build, not safer. - JHF

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