12 of the World’s Most Annoying Technologies
Most consumer technologies, when wielded correctly, are magnificent. But so are bagpipes. In the hands of someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing, technology can be an annoyance enabler. These 12 technologies are not the future we were hoping for.
Here’s the deal with the flash on your camera: Most of the time it doesn’t help. You’re either too far away from the action or you’re too close. That photo you shot at the concert? Still dark. The flash didn’t help, and everyone within a four-foot radius is nightblind now. That photo from the girls’ night out where your friends were two feet away? The flash made them look like ghouls. Go to your smartphone or camera’s settings and turn off the flash. Do it now.
The Apple TV Remote
I’m pretty sure the Apple TV remote’s ability to disappear from this astral plane into a sofa vortex has got to be the number one reason Apple developed the Remote app for iOS. And when they aren’t lost, they’re accidentally turning iTunes on and off, or launching slideshows inadvertently. One place they can be fun? When you’re in the audience and someone else is presenting from a MacBook.
Photo: Dennis van Zuijlekom/Flickr
Optical drives are the new floppy drives. The decline of CD and DVD ROM drives is punctuated by the rise of ultrabooks and the MacBook Air. Despite that, some software vendors still insist on releasing updates on optical discs. Thumb drives are cheap and reusable, guys. Can we agree to just use those?
Sure, electric ranges have numeric dials. But with no flame to view, that’s too often a guessing game that leaves your tortilla too white or grilled cheese blackened. Need more proof the electric range is inferior to gas? Walk into the kitchen of any restaurant and you’ll never see an electric range.
A long time ago a company named Macromedia released Flash. The tool was used to create low-footprint animations, games and splash screens back when modems were slow and bandwidth was expensive. Flash was amazing and everyone loved it.
Today, Adobe Flash is an over-bloated mess and your computer hates it. It crashes browsers and computers and makes your system’s fan blow like a hurricane. Worse, there’s basically no need for it anymore. HTML5, H.264 and a slew of other technologies have made it obsolete. If you’re considering building a Flash-powered website, please stop now.
The Hornit is a 140dB bicycle horn. Like a car horn, it’s meant to be used in emergencies. But just as car horns are too often used as New Jersey brake pedals, so too are Hornits abused by cyclists who use them to say “screw you” rather than “please don’t kill me.” Problem is, they don’t just scare the bejesus out of that motorist who cut you off in traffic, but also every pedestrian, dog, bystander and baby within a one-mile radius.
Look, here’s a good rule of thumb: Once you get out of the car, or leave your desk, take off the headset. Nobody wants to hear your end of the conversation. That’s not idle speculation, it’s science! Headsets just make it worse. At least when there’s a phone involved, there are visual cues that say “I’m on the phone.” I mean, other than hearing one end of a shouted conversation.
The Electric Guitar
In the hands of a master, the guitar is an amazing mixture of music, sex and fire-breathing dragons. In the hands of the kid down the street with an amp and a fuzz box, it’s an endless loop of the first three notes of a Limp Bizkit song. Who knew you could make Limp Bizkit sound worse? Are you learning to play the guitar? That’s awesome! Buy headphones.
Photo: Stephen Mackenzie/Flickr
Is your home set on a large wooded lot with acreage to spare between you and your closest neighbor? Did a tornado power through your yard last night, leaving your property covered in limbs and leaves? No? Then get a rake, dude. Leaf blowers are so irritating, they have been been outlawed in some towns.Others should follow suit.
Onscreen Alphabetic Keyboards
The QWERTY keyboard layout has been around since the 1870s. Sure, it’s an anachronism in many respects, but we’re used to it. Everyone knows what a keyboard should look like. So it’s completely confusing that Apple and Microsoft insist on using on-screen keyboards for Apple TV and Xbox 360 that place the letters in alphabetical order. Hey guys, look at keyboard before building on-screen interfaces.
Wall Warts are the power supplies that hog the space of two outlets on a powerstrip. The problem is easily solvable by offsetting the transformer to the left or right of the outlet. If your product’s power supply doesn’t do that, look for a replacement–or at least don’t bring it to the café and take up two outlets.
Photo: Steve Krave/Flickr
We’ve been hearing for years that wireless HDMI and inductive charging are right around the corner, but cables are persistently necessary to power our devices and deliver media to our giant HDTVs. Wires are messy and need to be eliminated. It won’t happen all at once, but stop teasing us with wireless solutions unless you can deliver.
We’re sure we’ve missed more than a few horrible annoying pieces of technology. Share your favorite — or unfavorite — in the comments.