Originally intended to document my experience of DeLorean ownership, focus is often radical and strange, boring and obtuse.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Roomba 2: The Sequel

Fraternal Roomba twins separated at birth.

I am surrounded by failure. Firstly, neither of our cats can speak English despite 8 years of personal, one-on-one lessons. Secondly, their arch-nemesis, the Roomba, broke down numerous times over the last week. And when I look at my computer I see nothing but failure. (It was a one in a trillion chance, but both my regular hard drive AND my backup hard drive failed at the exact same time. I lost everything.)

Yes, everywhere I look there is failure. Even the Useless Men, with two new posts in the last 30 some-odd days, are performing particularly uselessly.

But let's get back to Roomba, its failure and iRobot's silly customer support. It all started when Roomba stopped beeping.

The Roomba beeps to tell you various things. The cute & cuddly beeps are charming like a Speak 'n Spell, or sad and scary like a pissed off R2-D2. Roomba says "DO-DO! LA-LA-LAAA!" when it is happy, and "Uh-oh!" when there is trouble. The beeps are the window to Roomba's feelings and innermost thoughts. When something bad has happened to Roomba, he tells you. With beeps!

But how can Roomba tell you his speaker is broken when he can't beep at you? On top of that, Roomba wasn't working - and because of the failed speaker, couldn't tell me why.

Enter iRobot Customer Support. After explaining via email that my Roomba no longer beeps, and I therefore couldn't figure out what made him sick, I received a reply. A ridiculous reply that went something like this:

"If Roomba beeps 'uh-oh' 2 times, it means...
If Roomba beeps 'uh-oh' 3 times, it means...
If Roomba beeps 'uh-oh' 4 times, it means..."

A box o' fun!You get the idea. Customer Support was useless, and in my curt reply I let them know it. But upon receiving a nice package at my door today, I wish I had been a little nicer in my email.

After the inital email, I received a second one from iRobot. The Customer Support agent apologized for the previous email, then told me that with a failed speaker, Roomba was in need of being replaced. That's right, a full replacement because of the failure of a part worth a little less than a gallon of gasoline. (And don't even get me started on the amount of fuel it took for them to ship it to me from Pennsylvania!)

While I waited for my new Roomba to arrive, I disassembled my Roomba to try and find the problem. Inside there were bundles of tiny wires. The wires lead to various sensors and motors. I found the speaker and it was intact. The speaker wire was also intact. I took apart the motor to the side-spinning brush. I re-greased the gears with nuts and gum and put everything back together.

After all my toiling, Roomba still didn't work. It would start, but jerk to a halt a few seconds later. Frustrated, and knowing a logo-less replacement was on its way, I vented my anger in the form of a powerful punch. Roomba came back to life instantly.

It seems a good flogging now and then is good for delicate electronics, and helps the Chinese workforce stay motivated to churn out the cheap Roombas destined for jerks like me who can't afford the Trilobite.

And if anybody's looking for me, I'll be hiding in Florida till Sept. 2nd. Au revoir!

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Blogger SJ said...

A little kick is always what sets the small ones right.

2:25:00 AM

Blogger mmat said...

you have 2 roombas now? frickin sweet! just think of how productive you'll be now that you have 2 robots cleaning your house. way to go jetson!

8:50:00 AM

Blogger Monogram Queen said...

Hmmm all these failures... You ain't living right. That's it.

Are you really going to FL? Not a good time unless your a fish!

9:34:00 AM

Blogger Martini said...

Yeah, 2 Roombas, but only one battery. They don't give you an extra battery. Booo!

11:08:00 AM

Blogger Velvet Ginger said...

Wow...I learned something here, I thought I wanted to get one, now I am not so sure. Maybe you should get a vacuuming squirrel. You have sure had some mechanical troubles; what would Marty Fly do????

4:56:00 PM

Blogger The T-Dude said...

Unrelated to this post. I happen to love Halloween as well. It was my fathers favorite holiday and was the day he died. I will always celebrate it with great love. And I also love peanut butter and dill pickle sandwiches so it may seem a bit back handed, it was intended with the greatest respect and sincerity.

11:18:00 PM

Blogger Becky said...

Lesson learned, it is good to beat something when it quits working, rather than being patient and trying to get it replaced. Have fun in Florida, hopefully there won't be any monsoons while you're there.

10:04:00 AM

Blogger ZoeyBella said...

Sounds like a rough patch there! Hope things get better really soon for ya! *Sending you good thoughts that don't have anything to do with floor robots or crashing computers.*

2:16:00 AM

Blogger Ms. Creek said...

i havent been on for an incredibly long time and you still have the same post on!!! you must be as busy as me! just started back to teaching after having the summer off or something?

8:26:00 PM


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