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Intel Networking Power Technology

Why Intel Wants To Network Your Clothes Dryer 330

An anonymous reader writes "Intel has shown off a working prototype of a small box that, among other things, can monitor your clothes dryer to see how much it's contributing to your power bill. The Intelligent Home Energy Management proof-of-concept device is a small box with an 11.56-inch OLED touchscreen that is designed to act as an electronic dashboard for monitoring energy use in the home. By equipping devices like home entertainment systems and clothes dryers with wireless networked power adapters, the system can actually report back the power draw for a particular power point. Leave the house, and it can make sure power-draining devices like that plasma TV are turned off. It is unlikely the device will enter production (there are apparently only four in existence), however this story about the box shows something we can expect to see in the home of tomorrow. Ultimately, it's not only about saving money, but also reducing load on the electricity grid by removing needless power use."
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Why Intel Wants To Network Your Clothes Dryer

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  • Perverts! (Score:4, Funny)

    by MarkGriz ( 520778 ) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @10:06AM (#32601712)

    They want to see your underwear, that's why.

  • by Attila Dimedici ( 1036002 ) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @10:08AM (#32601738)
    These will only become common if the government mandates it. I do not believe that the average end user will get enough benefit out of a device like this for them to be interested in putting the effort and money out to deploy and use these.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by operagost ( 62405 )
      A lot of people are already monitoring their stuff with Kill-A-Watt. This is a networked, managed version of that. If the price was low (like less than $30 US per appliance, plus maybe $100 for the central box or software), people would get it. The problem would be getting to that price point.
      • Really, "A lot of people"? I do not personally know anyone who does. I would say that the accurate statement would be that a lot of early adopters/geeks are using Kill-A-Watt, but not many others.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by xaxa ( 988988 )

          Some electricity companies in the UK have sent digital power meters to customers -- the one my parents received has a large LCD showing the total power use for the home (in watts). The display is portable, the sensor is wrapped around the main power cable.

          (I think they're forced to send them to some people to encourage energy efficiency.)

        • ***Really, "A lot of people"? I do not personally know anyone who does.***

          Some will in the future I think. My local hardware store has grown a couple of bubble wrapped Kill-A-Watt devices on a peg a few feet over from the network cables at the other end of the aisle from the PVC pipe fittings.


          Wrt to the technology itself. Is there some reason this couldn't be done over the power line using X-10 or something similar? I do not, repeat NOT, want to run network cables to my washing machine. Neither do

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Polo ( 30659 ) *

          But kill-a-watts are becoming more mainstream.

          I've had friends who would never have looked at it until they had trouble with power bills > $500.

          As devices like this appear:

          http://www.belkin.com/conserve/insight/ [belkin.com]

          that just have a money readout, it will make more sense to non-nerds.

          And hopefully one day: kids.

      • by skids ( 119237 )

        The price point has to be lower, and there is no reason it cannot be.

        I "kill-A-Watt" includes a good amount of unnecessary hardware, like it's own LCD screen. As does this joke of an offering from the OP.

        All that's needed is a wireless chip attached to a relay and a couple sensor inputs. That's like 1/50th of a cell phone worth of electronics. And I'm not talking about a smart phone here. The end nodes should be under $5, The central "station" should be doable for under $30.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by gumbi west ( 610122 )

        Why exactly would I want to spend, even say $200 (a very low price for a system given the cost of a kill-a-watt), for a system that might save me $10 a year on electricity and sometimes annoy me for hours on end.

    • by 0100010001010011 ( 652467 ) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @10:16AM (#32601836)

      I signed up for PowerSmart Pricing [powersmartpricing.org] for free. Which has hourly rates instead of a monthly flat rate. I've cut a good chunk of my bill by shifting most electricity to off hours.

      Coupled with a free eSmart [actonenergy.com] programmable thermostat. I can set temperatures from the internet. I also have it setup to kill my AC during peak hours. I did have to give them ability to kill my AC remotely, however 1) I'm not home anyway. 2) It's only 6 times between June and September. Meaning all of 2 days per week.

      I'd love to figure out the protocol that it uses and set up some scripting, but for now it works.

      Initial cost out of pocket: $0
      Savings per month: $20-$50 (compared to previous year)

      • by Pojut ( 1027544 )

        Oh man...I wish our power company offered something like that (we live in Maryland, ~30 minutes outside of DC)

        • Oh man...I wish our power company offered something like that (we live in Maryland, ~30 minutes outside of DC)

          I agree, and ever since the Maryland Government went away from regulation, energy prices are going to be like California soon. It's really gotten out of hand IMO. BGE is just paying for the poor investments that Constellation Energy made over the last few years. It's really a lot of BS IMO.

        • by b0bby ( 201198 )

          I'm with Pepco, in MoCo, and they have the thermostat program (I'm on it) but not the tiered pricing. Still, it was easy to get them to put in the thermostat, so it's a start.

          • by Pojut ( 1027544 )

            Hey hey, a fellow Monkey County resident! We're in downtown Rockville, and we have our electric through Pepco as well. What's this thermostat program you speak of?

      • by FatSean ( 18753 )

        That is really cool! Sadly CL&P doesn't seem to offer anything near that. In fact, the way I'm billed, it doesn't seem to matter what time of the day I use the power...it's the same rate. The off/peak power billing plan only makes sense for people who use a ton of power. Despite all my computers, fish tank, tortoise house...still under 800 Killowatt hours a month. Maybe it's time to review their offerings.

        • That is really cool! Sadly CL&P doesn't seem to offer anything near that. In fact, the way I'm billed, it doesn't seem to matter what time of the day I use the power...it's the same rate. The off/peak power billing plan only makes sense for people who use a ton of power. Despite all my computers, fish tank, tortoise house...still under 800 Killowatt hours a month. Maybe it's time to review their offerings.

          Variable Peak Pricing requires me to buy my electricity from CL&P instead of from the company that uses all renewable tech to generate.

          Oh well, take one for the team and all that.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by QuantumRiff ( 120817 )

      I've seen some new hotels with some interesting energy saving stuff.. If it doesn't sense anyone in the room, it shuts off the heat/AC, turns off lights, TV, etc.

      Personally, I would love something like that at home, or just a big frickin red button near each door to the house (especially the door to the garage) that would kill all non-essential outlets in the house, turn off lights (except maybe one or two on a timer) and knock the thermostat down (or up in summer)

      Why is Intel working on this at the power s

      • Personally, I would love something like that at home, or just a big frickin red button near each door to the house (especially the door to the garage) that would kill all non-essential outlets in the house, turn off lights (except maybe one or two on a timer) and knock the thermostat down (or up in summer)

        Isn't that what X-10 [x10.com] is all about?
    • by jimicus ( 737525 )

      I've seen one of these in the flesh - they're very shiny indeed.

      There's no earthly reason it has to be used for power monitoring - it could, for instance, provide a pretty UI to a fullblown home automation system. AFAICT, the only reason Intel are specifically making a thing about the power monitoring is because with ever-increasing electricity prices they think it's a sexy marketing feature.

      • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

        Yes, it's high time that home appliances of all sort got a standardized remote control interface.

        My primary interest is for home theatre equipment but this could be useful for the entire house.

        Any device should be standardized and self documenting so that it's easy with simple tools to figure
        out what the device supports so you can automate it. There could even be standardized commands for
        some things along the lines of the AT command set.

    • by icebike ( 68054 )

      Worse than little benefit, the sum of the power used by the monitoring will exceed by a factor of ten the power saved by reminding you to turn off your dryer before leaving home.

      The built in timer will turn off said dryer for next to nothing.

    • by thijsh ( 910751 )
      This is beneficial to everyone if you don't have one of these screens per new fad. In my opinion to be truly useful everything in the house should be controlled with the same house computer in a neat interface: Power, music, calendar, the doorbell + opener, your fridge (with RFID you can have food expiration warning and auto-ordering online etc.). Add voice activation and you're golden!

      Enough dreaming, time for a reality check: this thing is still pretty useless... A big disadvantage of these wireless 'Zi
    • Eh, don't be so sure. Along with simple monitoring some of these devices can come with remote controls, and I don't mean like... a remote control like a Wii mote... I mean... like controlling it remotely... English needs more words. Anyways.

      So my Uncle is a tech Savvy programmer who made his millions working on the code that stitches pictures from multiple cameras together and lets you pan it around. So, doing well when virtual tours came along, made a ton when Google Street view came along, he's pretty muc

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by fermion ( 181285 )
      When I see statement like this, I often think about indoor plumbing. I can imagine the hicks saying "how day the government make me put in indoor pluming. My outhouse is good enough."

      Obviously there is little benefit of indoor plumbing, especially in the south where it seldom gets cold and the rain it not that big of impediment, and there is space. The added cost of indoor plumbing does set a huge impediment to ownership of houses, and some may choose to not have it in order to have a protection from t

  • by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @10:08AM (#32601740)

    This'll be a great idea if it can be built so cheaply that the money I save from using it is greater than the money I'd save by not buying it.

    Not sure I see that happening all that soon.

    • People like to bring this out, but it isn't always that simple. Time is money. The most aggrivating thing to me when I was a kid was my dad driving 6 miles out of his way to get gas for 10c/gallon cheaper. So you drove 12 miles, consuming half a gallon, costing you 50c at $1.00/gallon. You saved $1.50, netting you $1.00. You also wasted 15 mins....do you like working for $4.00/hr on weekends? I'll change my own brakes/shocks and save $100-$200 for 2 hours of work, THAT is worth my time.

      I know this is

      • Right.

        People buy electric clothes dryers out of convenience in the first place. A clothesline offers a significant reduction in both up front and ongoing costs, but far less convenience.

        Put this monitor in someone's house and pop up a message that it will cost an extra dollar to dry clothes now versus waiting 6 hours, I think most people will spend the dollar.

    • by King_TJ ( 85913 )

      Yeah.... You could already buy a "Kill-a-watt" meter and hook it up to a device to see how much power it draws. Most people probably haven't bothered, even though it only costs $20 or so.

      http://www.amazon.com/P3-International-P4400-Electricity-Monitor/dp/B00009MDBU [amazon.com]

      The thing is, beyond taking steps to simply reduce usage of the device in question, or alter your usage patterns so you use it more at night (or otherwise deemed "off peak" electrical usage hours), you can't do anything else to make it cost les

  • by Pojut ( 1027544 ) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @10:09AM (#32601752) Homepage

    ...they come up with a way to detect that monster that keeps eating my fucking socks. I'm sick and tired of wearing mismatching socks! DAMMIT, FIND THAT BASTARD!!!

  • by rotide ( 1015173 ) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @10:12AM (#32601786)

    Assume for a second that they are going to start selling these systems tomorrow. What would their cost be? $100? $300? $500?

    Now, how much would you stand to save per year in reduced energy use from a device like this monitoring and potentially powering off unused devices? $50? $100?

    I'm already pretty good at keeping things off when I'm not using them so I'm skeptical that a device like this is going to save me any money after you figure in the cost of the device and the ironic cost of powering the device.

    In theory a device like this sounds good but the very people who are worried about their energy use (and would purchase a device like this) are probably the people who least need it.

    • No... probably more in the order of 5-10 euro.
      A very decent payback time. All it is, is a bunch of amp-meters, a number of switches, a display and a wireless system. I can find phones that can do a lot more for 20 euro.

  • I don't want to run a network drop to my laundry room.

    Is it going to add more than $10 to the cost of the dryer? If yes, and unless it's going to save me more than $10 in the first year; again, don't bother.

    • by Xacid ( 560407 )

      Way to be altruistic there, buddy.

      Why bother buying a hybrid then? Why seek out alternative energy sources? We could keep driving our beat up Suburbans and keep using our coal mines simply because it's cheaper and switching wont give us instant gratification.

      Think long term and think of everyone but you.

      • I guess it's snarky day here on /. and ad hominem attacks are part of the culture anyway.

        In that vein, altruism and $1.78 gets me a coffee at Starbucks.

        The carbon footprint of me continuing to drive my existing car -- no, it's not a Chevy Suburban -- is much lower than me replacing it with a Prius out of some misguided altruism.

    • by Muad'Dave ( 255648 ) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @10:29AM (#32602018) Homepage

      ZigBee, which, as the article states is the key to this system, is a protocol that runs over a wireless mesh network. I use XNet ZB modules [digi.com] for my tinkering.

  • Clothes dryer? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by elvum ( 9344 ) * on Thursday June 17, 2010 @10:13AM (#32601804) Journal

    My highly advanced clothes-line technology comes with an implicit display of its power consumption - zero.

    • by Bert64 ( 520050 )

      A lot of people live in small city apartments, many of which simply have no space for clothes lines...
      Also using clothes drying racks inside the house tends to increase the moisture in the air which can encourage mould to grow which is highly undesirable.

      • That's just because there's this silly perception that having clothes lines outside the window is something that only happens in third world countries.

    • by Ogive17 ( 691899 )
      I tried the outside thing.. but I ran into two problems. First was the amount of bugs that would attach themselves to the item hanging on the line. Second, and much worse, birds seemed to enjoy using my clothing for target practice, and more than once I had bird shit on the side when I went to bring them in.

      Now I just run the dryer right before going to bed, so at least it's during non-peak times.
    • by pavon ( 30274 )

      Yeah I tried that. After the third load that got covered in dirt from the wind unexpectedly picking up, I said screw it. It wasn't worth spending all that extra time only to have to rewash the load.

  • by kannibal_klown ( 531544 ) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @10:14AM (#32601810)

    I don't see the appeal. It looks like it's over-engineering a solution to something that can be done with common sense.

    Then again, I love tech and gadgets and I guess most of that is an over-engineered solution to something or another.

    The only reason I would care about this is if I realized I left something *dangerous* on before I left for work and could turn it off remotely. I don't use a curling iron, but I know for some that would be a big deal. A stove / oven / toaster oven / etc would be dangerous as well, and while I never left one on before leaving the house I know that's a concern for some. Though I imagine only electric stoves and ovens would apply unless there was a way to electronically turn off the gas reliably.

    As for the power draw, I would just care enough about it to know in the beginning "how much does X" use via one of those little gadgets you can temporarily plug between the device and outlet. Then decide for myself if I should monitor how much I use device X.

    Personally, I'm in the mind-set of "turn if off when not in use."
    - Not watching or listening to the TV, turn it off.
    - Not in that room across the house, turn off the main light.

    I shouldn't need a device to remind me.

    • CurrentCost meters (Score:4, Interesting)

      by gbjbaanb ( 229885 ) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @10:41AM (#32602178)

      Here in the UK we're seeing a lot of devices that you place around the incoming electricity feed (via a loop you put around the cable) that has a wireless transmitter to a LCD display of current overall power usage (and some historical stats). They're quite cool, some can be connected to your PC, like the CurrentCost Envi [currentcost.com]. The idea is you can see how much power those hungry devices use as you see the meter spike up when you turn them on.

      The government has set a policy for monitoring meters, and the electricity companies (and Sky TV for some reason) are offering subsidised units (I got mine cheap off ebay from someone who had one of these).

      You can get these things in the US and Australia/NZ [currentcost.co.uk] too, and even Google is getting involved as these things will upload to Google Powermeter [google.com].

      So, adding a wireless usage transmitter to every plug sounds expensive (but cool) but it wouldn't provide that much more information than you can get currently. However, the CurrentCost devices talk to each other (and you can set up multiple meters) so if their comms protocol was a standard (it might be, they advertise it as C2), then additional transmitters could fit into an existing power-usage network without fuss.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      While I think that idea is inevitable and even responsible, it also seems like a serious vulnerability. I don't want someone getting in and turning my washer, dryer, stove, AC on while I am away, let alone my neighbor's constantly open wrt54g with a default password of "admin".

      If we think planes crashing into buildings are scary how about massive rolling black outs at 8:01 AM every morning.

  • by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @10:15AM (#32601826) Journal

    So the Government (or the egacorporation acting on the govt's behalf) can turn off your appliance, and only let you use it during certain predetermined times. i.e. Rationing of electricity usage.

    Yeah I know..... you think I'm a nutter for saying that, but then again I've studied government history. If they CAN do a thing, they will do that thing. Maybe not now, maybe not tomorrow, but eventually.

    • Correction:

      "or the [mega]corporation acting on the govt's behalf" - Also known as fascism (old term) or Corporatism (new term) where the government motto moves from "We the People" to "We the Corporations".

    • by Pojut ( 1027544 )

      What's to stop them from doing that already? The rolling brownouts could be planned, man!

      jaykay, jaykay :)

      • by Chrisq ( 894406 )

        The rolling brownouts could be planned, man!

        jaykay, jaykay :)

        Thanks but though laundry is the topic we don't want to discuss the state of your underwear.

        • by Pojut ( 1027544 )

          Thanks but though laundry is the topic we don't want to discuss the state of your underwear.

          Strange. My wife always tells me the same thing...

    • I don't think you're a nutter for saying it, I just think you're a nutter for saying it now. The idea of remotely controlling ones electricity usage is nothing new. BGE routinely bugs me about offers of installing a thermostat that they can remotely control to reduce load on the grid during peak times (supposedly I can override their control, but I'm not real interested in having it in the first place so haven't looked into it). The only difference is this is about a different appliance than the AC/Furna
  • what's the impact on my power bill of a bunch of these little things?

    • Nothing significant. I have a PowerMeter that I use to measure various devices like my TV, computer, or air conditioner and I was curious to see how much energy the gadget uses, and it was unmeasurable. Probably 0.1 watt or so. Even if I had 10 of these power-monitoring devices in my applicances, that's only 1 W * 24 hours * 30 days == 0.7 kilowatt-hours, or 79 cents added to my bill.

      My DTV converter is also unmeasurable when put in "standby" mode. It doesn't take much energy to run embedded CPU devic

    • by Barny ( 103770 )

      Was my thought too, aren't we supposed to be trying to do away with standby power devices?

    • If it costs you five watts to save 100, you've saved 95. As long as the extra load is less than the load they eliminate, you're ahead.
  • How about the networks showing hours and hours of repeats, garbage and more repeats every day?

    That way people would be less inclined to switch on their power-hungry TVs and would do something (hopefully less energy consuming) instead. ... Oh, hang on. What's did you say? they already do that?

  • ....whenever I move around the house I turn lights off, turn off radios, unplug anything with a goddamn LED on when the device is off (I'm looking at you toaster!), and firmly but politely as the other people in the house to turn things off when they aren't using it.

    I'm not "green" I'm cheap!

    "Green" means spending money on this monitoring device, it means buying a new car when the old one could just use a good tune up, it means feeling good but not accomplishing anything. Being cheap means that I actually h

    • by Bert64 ( 520050 )

      Or how about go back to traditional hard off switches, instead of the software controlled standby switches most appliances have these days?

  • I recently shopped in a high-end major appliance store and the salesman told me about a frig that has the ability to contact the manufacturer if something goes wrong. The system figures out what parts are needed and sends them to the local repair center so that they are on hand when the repair person comes to your house. While that is pretty slick and efficient the darker side is that information could potentially be used by the nanny state to turn down your frig settings. Thus proving a major axiom: Any

    • This idea of appliances calling in for their own repairs has been somebody's wet dream for a long time, and they even made a TV commercial showing supposedly how it would be a good thing for a repairman showing up at the door unannounced. That's not what I want, and I don't see why this idea has such legs.

      It would be maybe interesting if the appliance could send just me a report, then I could shop it around for estimates, but having it automatically contact somebody without going through me first is unappea

  • and your needs, when this goes city wide, expect others to set the power quota, with you at home.
    One Australian city had to find generator capacity - solution, float an on/off radio network idea
    http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/etsa-plans-to-take-control/story-e6freo8c-1225697720719 [adelaidenow.com.au]
    Note the "power would be cut to certain appliances" and "a plasma TV and airconditioner might be turned off remotely"
    This is the gateway for a "death panel" on your private electrical use.
  • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @10:23AM (#32601930) Journal

    Our flying cars are just around the corner.

    I have heard about the intelligent home all my life. So did my parents AND their parents. Look up some old reels from a "visions of the future" style problem. Where you see some housewife in black&white use robots we still don't have. 50+ years and the toaster still doesn't work right.

    Okay, so the dryer is networked. What now? Report its power drain? I know it drains power, I can hear it running. How much? Well, I know how much thank you, I can see it on the bill. If I don't care about the money I sure as hell don't care about the environment OR that it will brownout the district.

    If I do care about the environment and bill, then I would hardly want to ADD to the polution and cost by installing electronic devices I don't need.

    This belongs in the category of the fridge that scans your food. The gadget is called a wife. They can see straight through metal and can detect rotting food a mile away. The gadget for saving electricity is called a dad. Try it. Get a wife with the optional extra of a kiddy or two (odd enough you don't get a discount for bulk buying) and you soon will be the most efficient energy saver on the planet.

  • Correct, its about monitoring the citizens even further. Expect gen 2 to report back to the government to see if you are washing too often.

  • I don't think we need the added complexity or the flood of daily metrics. Instead of fitting all of these appliances with their own power-monitoring and networking features, just buy one Kill-A-Watt, measure each appliance once in their typical usage pattern(s), and make some decisions. If you think they will deteriorate over time, measure them again in six months. Of course Intel wants to sell more chips, but I don't really want to turn my house into the NORAD Crystal Palace with all of the metrics-gath

  • Yahoo and HP will want to try to buy adspace on the dryer's LCD display.

  • Just get a killawatt [google.com], plug it in, turn the drier on for a cycle, and you've got its usage. Do this for your other appliances and you'll have all the data you will ever need.

    There is no reason to have on-going monitoring in your house, as appliances don't change their electrical usage over time. However, the simplest solution won't lead to profits for Intel. In fact, you'll use more energy constantly powering the monitoring device hob, the sensors, the Ethernet network, etc... All these parasitic monitors

    • by amorsen ( 7485 )

      A killawatt can't turn the freezer to -21C (as opposed to the usual -18C) for a couple of hours with strong winds (and therefore close to free electricity).

      Of course that requires variable electricity prices, but I can't imagine that there will be many civilized places without them in 10 years.

  • Anything that I own that is worth running off hours, namely the washing machine, dryer, and dishwasher already has the ability to dial in the number of hours before it starts.

    The only one I ever use is the dishwasher, and that's more because I don't want to listen to it while I'm up. I tend to do 2-4 loads of clothes at a time which makes it rather hard to schedule running at off peak hours. Your money is better spent on a higher spin cycle which reduces dry times. A lot of my clothes come out so that they

  • HAN (Score:5, Informative)

    by Tisha_AH ( 600987 ) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @10:38AM (#32602152) Journal

    I work in the AMI/ Smart Grid field and I am just finishing up a study on HAN devices for a municipality. This is the way to go, with a ZigBee enabled device to communicate with power monitoring adapters that all of your electrical loads plug into. If it also supported an internet LAN connection back up to the utility AMI MMS (meter management system) it could incorporate the latest billing rate information and any data collected from the AMI meter outside the house.

    There are some solutions out there that are closed-proprietary but I believe that a standards-based solution is the right way to go. HAN needs to get to the point where you can go into your local home improvement store and buy devices that can associate to a central device. Right now the price-point is too high at around $100 a device and it can cost $300-$400 to equip a home with a IHD (in home dislay), programmable thermostat and a communications gateway.

    I hope that Intel can apply pressure to the marketplace so this technology can become ubiquitous.

  • I bet they want to inflate the system with a dual core atom rather than a low power solution like ARM. Something designed to monitor power consumption with the intention of saving energy really should be extremely efficient in itself.

  • Wouldn't it be easier to make the Breaker box smarter and it would KNOW that my Clothes dryer is the high amp draw on circuit 12, the HVAC is the high draw on Circuit 10, the TV is Circuit 15, etc. Even if it can't ID them right away, it could learn the devices by asking you what you just turned on, no need for them all to have smartchips and wifi.

    My blender, toaster and can opener all plug in at the same place in the kitchen and have different draw patterns than say the Microwave or the Stove, Oven, Fridge

"I don't believe in sweeping social change being manifested by one person, unless he has an atomic weapon." -- Howard Chaykin