Wired magazine presented a list of 33 things that suck for various reasons. (Okay, they titled it “33 Things that make us crazy”- but same idea.) Being an electronics and Consumer Products magazine, they tend to focus on items in those categories. The cool part is they don’t just complain. The explain the reasons why those things are in bad shape, how they could be improved, or at least if they can’t explain why they cannot be improved. Some of the ones I thought were good:
- Car Alarms: We’re so used to cars crying wolf that no one takes the sirens and flashing lights seriously — when was the last time you thought a hysterical car was really being stolen? The trouble with alarms is that they’re too dumb to see whether someone’s actually slim-jimming the door. Instead, the typical system relies on vibration or proximity sensors, which means it’s just as likely to be triggered by a passing truck. The result: endless false positives.
- Plastic Packaging: The clear, airtight packages threaten more than our mental health: In 2004, nearly 6,500 Americans were admitted to emergency rooms with injuries sustained while trying to liberate portable CD players, memory cards, and Bratz dolls. We’ll just shop online, thanks.
- Radio : Listenership among 18- to 24-year-olds is down 20 percent over the past decade. Stations have responded not with bold programming but by cutting costs. They’ve also expended considerable resources to squelch competition from low-powered FM stations and Internet radio. Not that it has helped — 85 percent of teenagers now discover new music through sources beyond the FM dial. Even the biggest radio fans envision a grim future for the medium. One bright spot: The inevitable shift to digital radio could create more room for more types of content.
- Ticket Purchasing: the performance-ticket biz is held hostage to a few monopolistic dealers. To wit: Whether you’re into jam bands or Justin Timberlake, chances are you won’t see a show without going through Ticketmaster. The broker has a lock on venues, with exclusive deals for 75 to 90 percent of seats in major markets. That allows the company to add “service fees” that raise prices by 30 percent or more.
- Web Video: You can be stymied by how the movie was encoded. YouTube and other sites use 1995-era video-encoding algorithms — they work on almost all computers, but they’re bandwidth hogs. What’s more, many video sites deliberately throttle back the speed at which they serve streams, because they know you have a short attention span. Translation: They don’t want to pay to feed you the entire clip if you’re not going to watch the whole thing.
They also gave a list of things that don’t suck:
TV screens in the back of airplane seats. Twice-baked potatoes. Dryer sheets. DVRs. The set design on Mad Men. Farmers’ markets. Tap water. Touchscreens. Scissors. Pocketknives. Thumb drives. Kites. Strike-anywhere matches. Doorstops. Run-flat tires. Netflix. Noise-canceling headphones. Casual carpool. Guitar Hero. Salt-and-vinegar potato chips. Bicycles. Kevlar. Velcro. Carbon composite. Dradis. Flip-flops. The first half hour of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Seat belts. Zippo lighters. Spartan Laser. Heated seats. Public libraries. Remote control. Ice cream.
Anyone have anymore additions to either list?