Sunday, March 4, 2012

Tech Peeves

It doesn't come often, but it's time for one of those posts about "Things that Annoy Me." Today's theme: technology. Those modern conveniences are all well and good...except when they're not. Here are a few examples.

Telephones: My telephone can remember everything for me. Its most useful feature, considering how it's a telephone, is remembering other people's phone numbers. I never need to commit a number to memory any more—all I need do is type it into my phone and forget about it. And I do. If you asked me to tell you the phone number of the one person I call more than any other (my boyfriend), I wouldn't be able to. I would be ashamed, except it's not my fault! My phone not only remembers his phone number, but it blocks me from seeing it! All I can see when I dial is his name. Convenient...and crippling. Come on, Apple, couldn't you at least display the number below the name, so I have the opportunity to try to learn the number?

Email: Along the same lines, Microsoft Outlook, which I started using for work after being a dedicated Thunderbird user for years, blocks me from seeing a sender's email address if they're already in my address book. Great. What if they, like me, have 4 or 5 different email addresses? How do I know which one I've received a message from? And how do I memorize the address (you know, in the event that I'm away from Exchange Server when I need to contact them)? Come on, Microsoft...

No, wait. Let me broaden my complaint.

Come on, software vendors! Give us some options! Let us maintain some semblance of autonomy!

Digital Content: Digital content is grand. Who doesn't love being able to have instant Internet access to their favorite media? But digital media's big, huge, whopping downside is the complete inability to resell it. For this subject, allow me to use as an example two of my favorite things: books, and Doctor Who. I'm kind of a single-use consumer of media. Stories are only good once, and I never watch the same movie twice. So when I read a book, I want to be able to re-sell it. This cannot be done with e-books, so even though you might think I, lover of words and inhaler of books, might be a prime candidate for e-books, I am not. And instead, I can only sadly look at the outrageous prices of e-books, shake my head, and sigh.

The same goes for TV shows, including my favorite TV show, Doctor Who. Since I don't subscribe to cable, my only option for viewing this series is to watch dubiously sourced episodes on the Internet or buy them online. I would be willing to pay a reasonable price to see Doctor Who, but for a single viewing, I consider a reasonable price to be a dollar or less. iTunes, the only legal source of standalone Doctor Who episodes I've found so far, charges $2.99$. I might pay 2.99 if I wanted to keep the show and watch it over and over. But that's not what I'm going to do. So why can't I just pay a lower price for a single viewing? Or barring that, why can't I sell my rights to the content to someone else at a discount? The limitations of digital content seem just built to turn every good citizen into a thief.

Doors: I'll close with something related to closing: the overuse of handicapped doors. I never gave these motorized doors much thought until I started working in an office directly across from one. Now I spend my entire day watching able-bodied people push the handicapped button instead of just pushing open the door. Why? Why wait for a door to slowly swing open when you could just push and walk through? Surely you are not so weak that you need a motor to do what your hands and feet could do! But you choose to let the door do all the work and then stand open long after you've passed through, needlessly gobbling up electricity in its opening and letting cold air to come sweeping into the building. What a waste! For shame!


Anonymous said...

Interesting complaints, many of which I share. But fear not! I have a few "solutions".
Outlook: I store email address that include the destination. Valerie at Gmail for instance, is yours. Doesn't show the whole address but I know it's going there rather than the long abandoned AOL address.

Doctor Who. NOW are you sorry you moved away from Toledo? (Probably not :-( ) As you know, I never miss The Doctor and would be willing to send you new episodes on DVD-RW disks, complete with commercials. Since those are re-usable (sort of. They start failing after 3 - 4 uses) the guilt over getting them free, if there is such a feeling, is mitigated. The included commercials pay for the viewing. As well as they do on the DVR since you can skip through them...

Automatic doors. I sometimes find myself pushing the button since the warning sign in HUGE LETTERS says CAUTION Automatic doors. One fears to push them open lest one should be smacked in the face by flying doors. Somewhat overblown warnings for a miniscule danger. I normally force myself to ignore the warning, setting up a bad habit for things like subways, runways and freeways (No bicycles! I scoff...)

Can't help the phone. The hidden TN annoys me too.

One more related thing. The blog has taken on an entirely different look on a mobile device. Was this by design(er)? It's comforting to see it the same on a phone as on a PC. The change was disconcerting.


Valerie said...

Woah, the comment form changed, too. Blogger's been pushing their "new" interface (which I don't like), so I guess mobile layouts and a new comment window might be part of that campaign. I'll see what I can do to change it back. And I would definitely take you up on your offer of ad-supported Doctor Who DVD's!