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BEACHCOMBER - Perfection

  • By David Barron

Perfection is pretty hard to achieve, particularly with machines. But we are getting so close. Even though this may be true, many people accept much less.
Take for example, cell phones. We can’t live without them.

We all buy them at $50 to $400 apiece and sometimes much more for the more sophisticated units. However, we do accept their limitations, perhaps too many shortcomings.

The basic limitation is that cell phones do not work 100% of the time. Funny, but when you really need a cell phone, it may not work for you. Cell phones are good about 85% of the time. That’s when you get the “no service available” and only a few bars.

Would you accept a car that only works 90% of the time? Most Americans don’t accept that level of performance. That’s why they buy foreign makes – because of their proported reliability.

If you read the Consumer reports, you’ll see that American cars are never rated in the top ranks in their classes because of their presumedlack of reliability, even when they are new. I personally will not buy a Ford car.
That’s because in my experience the Ford transmission will fail at about 65,000 miles, right after the warranty ends. I have had better experience with General Motors vehicles. What about electricity? You can count on service at near the 100% reliability if there are no weather-related conditions.

When you flip the switch the light goes on. When you plug a power tool in the wall socket, it usually works. There are some places in parts of this country and the world, where electricity is an occasional service. We here, however
are used to nearly 100% reliability.

How about regular land-line telephone service? It’s good, right? That is unless you forget to charge-up one of those new cordles walk-around phones. But over-all, land-line phones are almost 100% reliable.

A lot of our home appliances are pretty good too. Such things as refrigerators, clocks, motors, washing machines and clothes dryers seem to work most of the time until they get old and need to have parts replaced.
But when it comes to cell phones, they don’t always work.

I’ve called my service provider several times, but they have no excuses. They just say “sorry.” Everybody tells me, “switch to Verizons,” but it’s not that easy. The traditional cell phone company locks you into a two-year contract for a measly discount on your phone unit.

So what’s the answer? I don’t know. Maybe we have to wait another 20 years to get cell phone perfection of a near 100% reliability.

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