Wifi Kettle Delivers Tea 11 Hours Later

We enjoy our hi-tech world until something goes wrong, then you wish things were built just a bit simpler. For example, it’s nice to push a button to roll down the car window until it stops working. Once upon a time, you could remove the door panel, see what the problem is, and fix it. You didn’t even have to know auto mechanics to do that, but back then parents taught their kids how to fix their own cars anyway. It’s useless these days, since so many parts of an automobile are controlled by computers. A story about a British tea drinker follows the same line.

Mark Rittman is a data specialist and no stranger to tech. He has a new wifi-enabled tea kettle, and set about brewing a cup at 9 AM yesterday. Three hours later, it still wasn’t working.

A key problem seemed to be that Rittman’s kettle didn’t come with software that would easily allow integration with other devices in his home, including Amazon Echo, which, like Apple’s Siri, allows users to tell connected smart devices what to do.

So Rittman was trying to build the integration functionality himself.

All that is completely over my head, but Rittman kept working on it, sharing every step on Twitter. Every time he solved one problem, another would pop up. Eleven hours later, he finally got his first cup of tea of the day.

Commenters who followed the story on Twitter wondered why Rittman didn’t return the kettle to the store, which would have taken much less time. Hey, it was a challenge for the tech guy, and made a great (if long) story in the end. Read the short version at the Guardian. Or you can see the long string of Tweets that chronicled Rittman’s day, although he says he will condense the story on his blog, once he gets caught up on everything else he didn’t do yesterday. -via Metafilter

Update: Rittman's account of the tea kettle saga is up at his blog.


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Some people love technology for its own sake and will over complicate simple matters to no benefit. Things like door locks and WiFi lights come to mind. Of course others are just gullible.

Technology doesn't always make things more complex. Replacing mechanical systems with electronic ones has improved reliability with little outward changes. And power windows are a bad example... I replaced mine with old manual mechanisms, only to have the gears start stripping and teeth wear down a few years later. An electric motor certainly CAN be made to last for decades, and could be as reliable as more gears.
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