She's a Luddite...Until her robot breaks

No, really...the Robot is an essential member of the family.

I call my wife my Lovely Luddite. I even named my consulting company after her (and my kids of course, who, combined with me, add up to 6 whole geeks). She has visions of us moving to Amish country some day. Not actually being Amish, mind you. That would be too much hard work. She just wants to bask in the glow of a simpler time without mobile phones, and bigger screen televisions.

She’s a Luddite until her robot breaks. That’s right, her robot. Not a Jetsons-style Rosie, but a vacuuming robot. We’ve had 2 Roombas so far that have succumbed to the rigors shedding animals and dirty kids. They each lasted a couple of years and really did work as advertised. They don’t replace vacuums, but they really do keep the house looking presentable, get in those hard-to-reach places and everything else the infomercials say they do. Since the untimely demise of the second Roomba (part of their Pet Series, this time), my wife, who regularly tells me how many of our societal ills are the result of technology, has been disconsolate at the idea of actually pushing a vacuum back and forth across the rug

So this weekend, our new Neato XV-11 came in the mail. I pushed for the Neato since it didn’t rely on a geared brush that was the bane of my existence as I regularly cleaned the Roombas. Supposedly much lower maintenance, more powerful, and more methodical than the Roombas, I was eager to try out something new (especially since engadget said it sounded like a jet engine).

It does sound like a jet engine and it cleaned like a champ the first three cleaning cycles. Then it started throwing RPS errors. Some Googling turned up “Robot Positioning System” and some basic troubleshooting information that failed to get the little jet-powered vacuum working again.

My wife was initially not fond of the Neato. I think it was just a little too manly-geek for her. The Roomba was a Ford Focus, relatively reliable, generally likeable, and pretty good at what it was supposed to do. In contrast, the Neato was a precision cleaning machine, cutting through dust and hair with Mercedes-like precision. Its laser mapping system eliminated the need for the Roomba’s bounce-off-the-walls approach. It was sleek, aggressive, and olive drab with as much cheer as a non-humanoid robot should be able to muster.

Three trips around the house that repeatedly packed the dirt cup and left the hardwood floors smoother and cleaner than any old Roomba could ever dream of made my wife a convert; needless to say, she was disconsolate again when the RPS codes started and the cleaning ended.

“Maybe we’re just not meant to have a robot! Maybe our house is just too dirty!” she wailed in despair.

I’ve emailed tech support. I’m sure it’s just a firmware problem.

“What’s firmware?”

I tell her not to worry about it…”Our robot should be working again soon, my lovely Luddite.”

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