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Just what we need: E-mails from our washing machines
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Do we really need a washing machine that e-mails you when it’s through with a load of clothes?

And does it make sense having one of those robotic round vacuum cleaners that can live stream video of where it is cleaning to your personal computer or cell phone?

There are an entire gaggle of technophiles swarming Las Vegas this week at the Consumer Electronics Show that believe they are the greatest thing since You Tube made it possible for you to post embarrassing video to ridicule people.

Yes, technology is supposed to make life easier for us which is the entire point of modern washing machines in the first place. But having one that e-mails you doesn’t make life easier as much as it provides more useless information to clutter up our lives.

Much ado has been made about how the Kindle will eliminate the need for books in a few years on the assumption that anything that isn’t electronic is doomed to become obsolete. That might happen one day but the odds are that will be a long time coming.

Case in point was the head-long rush into on-line ordering for every day needs from groceries to products from pet stores. It was just a decade ago we were told by technophiles that supermarkets would eventually become obsolete and in a few years everyone would be buying their cars - and ultimately - their house via the computer.

It was all because of this great innovation know as the Internet.

Funny thing, but people once thought that going to the store would be a thing of the past when another technological marvel was rolled out - the telephone.

Just like the Internet one would get on the phone in the 1920s to order groceries and have them delivered. It was another time period when people let their uncontrolled enthusiasm send them on spending sprees while tossing aside the tried and true ways of doing things such as saving to make most purchases and not buying on credit. Anything that was “new” was a must have much like how people respond to when a new cell phone is rolled out or some other “new generation” tech device.

The theory behind all of the online start-up delivery services was that people would ultimately pay for the convenience. But a funny thing happened to phoning in grocery orders to be filled. It was called supermarkets. They significantly brought down the price of food and prompted most people to abandon phone ordering.

Affordability and not the latest high tech device to do one’s business is ultimately what drives the market whether that new technology is a crank arm phone or a Blackberry. It is exactly why - the Internet dry cleaning service that was going to base their operations in Manteca to serve the Bay Area and the Central Valley - never went very far after burning through tons of start up cash.

First, it wasn’t a new idea as services have existed for almost as long as the phone has been around to pick up clothing for dry cleaning and return it once it is done. What killed that service off is that it is simply cheaper to drop off your clothes and pick them up yourself.

Convenience can be expensive.

This brings us back to the e-mailing washing machine. It will add to the cost of a washing machine without enhancing its main purpose which is cleaning your clothes as well as possible.

As for a vacuum cleaner that feeds you live video of your house being cleaned, that sounds about as entertaining and useful as the old TV test patterns.

But, hey, it’s got to be good because it’s cutting edge, right?