When it comes to new technology most of us are familiar with the terms “Bleeding edge” “leading edge” and “legacy”. Bleeding edge is the latest and greatest. It’s just beginning to show up in the hands of a few tech savvy consumers. We call it bleeding because it’s a given that you will endure pain. Nonfunctional drivers, incomplete standards and incompatible hardware are all par for the course. Let’s put drones, 3D printers and software defined radio in the bleeding edge arena.

Leading edge is what the marketing people are telling you that you need in order to be a functional human being. The latest iPhone, the latest WiFi standard, the latest TV technology, the latest GPS. This is technology that we all know (most of us) and understand. If you walk into a Best Buy today and tell the salesman you want a big screen TV, he’s going to tell you about 4K Ultra HD, 1080P, 120Hz and Smart TVs. Oops I phrased that wrong, He’s going to tell you that this is the absolute minimum TV you need for your children to get a passing grade.

Don’t blame him though, he’s already been indoctrinated by the store and all the vendors coming in to teach him all about the new technology. If you want a little fun, ask him what he owns.

Remember 3D? Several years ago it was impossible to get a TV without 3D, now you have to hunt for a TV that supports it. Despite all the money and advertising spent on it, 3D never became popular enough to be considered mainstream.

That brings me to legacy. These are the technologies that have remained relatively untouched since their introduction. DVD’s would be a great example of this. Despite a resounding win against the HD format, Blu-ray is still struggling to wipe out DVD before streaming makes both of them obsolete.

I’m not writing this to say how much it irritates me when part of my DVD contains an advertisement for Blu-ray but give it up already. I don’t intend to change. I don’t want the extra 30 hours of director commentary. I don’t believe being able to count nose hairs enhances my viewing pleasure. Sorry to vent but that’s been bottled up for a while.

When I look for new household items, I normally seek ground somewhere between bleeding edge and leading edge. Meaning, I’ve bought a lot of junk that sounded good at the time but really I was seduced by technology.

My current opportunity for an upgrade in technology is my clothes dryer. My current dryer was never  very good when it worked and now it’s started showing its age. I could fix it, It still dries but takes forever indicating one of the heating elements is probably burned out. But why would I want to fix it if I can upgrade?

What new advances has science provided dryer technology over the last 10 years? Microwave? infrared? ultrasonic? gravity waves? No, sadly none of those. I’m slated for disappointment. Apparently very little has changed. In ten years since I bought my dryer they’ve added steam as an option. True, they’ve gotten more efficient, more eco-friendly and some of them can communicate with my Smart Phone!!! That last squeak is from the techno-geek side of me, the engineer in me is still wondering how any of this improves my drying experience.

I’ve learned from many previous painful experiences that I should always involve my wife when it comes to major appliances. I discussed the imminent demise with her and she agreed to check with her friends, leaving me free to go through all the reviews.

The reviews are almost painful. Adding steam during a drying cycle will reduce wrinkles but at the cost of additional drying time. It also only works if you keep the batch size small. Oh well, I was having difficulty seeing how adding water would cause it to dry faster anyway.

Eco-friendly just slows the process down. I may save on energy but I lose out on time. My idea of fun does not involve taking all day to dry a load of towels. My current dryer is already acting eco-friendly.

Being able to program the drying cycles from my phone sounded interesting until I thought about it. Unless it comes with a drone capable of moving the clothes from the washer to the dryer, my presence is still required. I may as well spend a little extra time setting the cycles while I’m there. I might even have the energy to push the start button before I leave.

My wife’s friends were equally depressing, from a number of “takes all day to dry towels” and a few “looks great, wish I could understand the controls.” Amazing, her friends sound like they were writing the reviews I was reading.

As hard as it is for me to admit, sometimes the latest and greatest in technology isn’t the best solution, it’s just more expensive. We’re paying the extra money because we’ve been seduced by technology.


Let’s see, new heating element $55, door switch $16, maintenance kit $36, say $110 in parts, plan for about for about 4 hours in labor and although my wife feels my labor is free, we’ll estimate it at $50 an hour. About $310 to fix versus $800 for a new dryer. I wonder if I can convince my wife to let me apply the difference to a newer 3D printer?



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