New technology always disappoints, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t cool. My first encounter with a technological innovation was in 1964 when I was given the coveted Tressy doll for Christmas.

I wasn’t fond of dolls and rarely played with them, but the Tressy was different because she came with a key you could stick in her back. Turn it and her hair would grow or shrink.

I was totally awed by the ads for Tressy, so when I opened my present and found a real Tressy, I was in raptures.

The first time I played with the doll, however, the keyhole on her back broke, and her hair refused to retreat into her plastic scalp. I was crushed.

Donna Marmorstein

Donna Marmorstein

I’ve been skeptical about innovation ever since, but I still relish the ideas behind each new invention.

When the Alexa smart speaker was advertised, I was amazed at what it was supposed to do. It could give you time and weather; keep a shopping list, look up anything on Wikipedia, set timers and alarms, add events to your calendar, play music and send voice messages.

It does most of those things some of the time.

More and more frequently, though, it mishears or ignores me completely. When Alexa was new, the ads said it was made to improve itself over time. Instead, it seems to worsen.

Often, Alexa gives off-the-wall responses to my requests. If I tell it to play a Fargo radio news station, it might play a country station in Texas, or an alternative music station in Philadelphia. It might add odd items to my shopping list or my calendar. Instead of “appointment with Dr. Kaiser” it could say “appointment with lock your eye serve.”

GPS technology also disappoints. Once, we went a very short distance from an airport to a wedding venue. We must have checked an option for most energy efficient instead of the most direct route, so the GPS took us in a slower — but somehow more ecological — mode of travel.

Another time, I inadvertently used pedestrian rather than auto mode, and I was routed in a very weird way. These are human error problems, not technology problems per se, but they happened so easily that I still blame technology.

Recently, our refrigerator died, and we bought a new “smart” refrigerator. I was wowed by many new features.

This refrigerator has a camera inside so you can see what’s in it without opening the door. Supposedly.

Also, you can view your refrigerator’s contents from your phone so that if you are at Ken’s or Kessler’s and can’t remember if you still have ketchup, you can use an app and see.

Unfortunately, the camera only shows what’s right in front of it. You can’t see what’s in bottom drawers or the doors. It’s still cool, but not quite as cool as it makes out to be.

The refrigerator has a screen on the door, so you can surf the internet while deciding what to make for dinner. You can connect your fridge to your smart TV, if you want.

My son says, “Great. Now you can watch the inside of your fridge from the comfort of your living room.”

When you view your fridge contents, labels on items appear and make a list. This is handy because it arranges items by expiration date. However, it invariably mislabels items. My yogurt is labeled “beer.” My salsa was called “cookies.” Pickles were a sports drink.

The promise of technology is often brighter than the reality, but the reality is at least a source of amusement.

Donna Marmorstein lives and writes in Aberdeen. Email [email protected]

This article originally appeared on Aberdeen News: Soliloquy column If only technology were true to its promise