Even though I have spent nearly 30 years writing about technology, I freely admit how much what I cover often drives me crazy. And if technology sometimes drives me crazy, I'm sure there are many digital doo-dads that drive you bonkers.
I'd love to know what induces hair-pulling and object-hurling about our increasingly over-digitalized world. I'll start.
There's too much technology: I do not need a key fob video camera. I do not need an iPhone solar panel charger that doubles its size. I do not need a pocket knife that also includes a flash memory stick. I don't need a wristwatch that's also a Bluetooth…something. Could you product planners please engage a bit of common sense before unleashing your useless whachamacallit widget on the rest of us?
Why can't I search my TV program guide by network?: I see an ad for a TV show I want to see. I go home to set the DVR so I don't forget – and spend 20 minutes searching the 1,000-channel program guide for the arbitrary number my local cable has assigned to the network it's on. Why can't I just do a search for, say "NatGeo"? Especially since the cable and satellite companies keep moving channels around. And while we're at it, I have an HDTV and a digital cable box – why do I still see the old analog channels still listed in the program guide? It's bad enough I have to input a three-digit number just to watch channel 4.
Stop talking while driving: Of all the disturbing cell phone usage behavioral trends, one is not just annoying, it's life-threatening. So, PLEASE, I am begging you. If you HAVE to be on your cell while attempting to control a 2,000-pound piece of machinery hurtling down a crowded highway at 60 miles per hour (and why not just blindfold yourself while you're at it?), PLEASE use a Bluetooth headset. I can't tell you how many times one of you chatty Cathys have nearly hit me while I was merely crossing the street because you were engrossed in a very important call that couldn't possibly wait. I want to reach into your car, grab your phone, and smash it. Instead of me breaking it, why not give us all a break – either talk hands-free so your steering wheel isn't, or wait until you're stationary.
Is our meeting still on?: A colleague of mine and I have a meeting set-up, listed in our company's communal online calendar. So why do you have to ask me if the meeting is still on? No, I faked my own death and left the apppintment to throw everyone off.
External mute button: One of the things other smart phone makers have steadfastly refused to copy from iPhone is its external mute button. One flick, and my phone is on mute. I'm not saying the lack of an external mute button should be a deal breaker, but I don't understand why more smart phones don't have one.
Tangled headphone cords: This is one of those "we can put a man of the moon, but…" things – all this technology and our headphone cables still end up in knots. You can wind the cord around your phone – but then you can't get at the touchscreen. There have been attempts to create spring-loaded cord management systems to keep headphone cords from tying themselves up or flattening out the cord to make them less tangly, but no solution has worked. I have taken to hanging up my headphone cables to keep them untangled at home, but this is hardly a practical solution once I leave the house and for those less anal than myself. And, no, wireless headphones are not a solution – Bluetooth stereo stinks, and now you have another gadget whose battery has to be recharged. Can't someone untangle this problem?
Printer Ink Cartridges: I just paid $80 for a printer – and $85 for a set of ink cartridges. Really? Ink cartridges are more expensive to manufacture than the damn printer? Really? Are tires more expensive than the whole car? Are Blu-ray discs more expensive than the player (not counting box sets)? Is ketchup more expensive than the burger? And why aren't ink cartridges a bit longer-lasting? If the black cartridge can be double the size, why can't the other color cartridges be twice their size? And why can't all the printer makers settle on one format cartridge format? Heck, why can't one printer maker settle on one or two formats? And why the ridiculously obscure alpha-numeric printer cartridge designations we're forced to remember? I had two printers die in the last month, and I could only recycle my unused spare ink cartridges – more than $100 down the tubes. Can you tell I'm P.O.'d?
I can't look video chatters in the eye: I love video chatting except for two things: 1 – I don't know how to end a video call. On the phone you can say "Anyway…" and that sort of signals the beginning of the end. But ending a video call is more awkward then ending a blind date, so I end up staying on the video chat hoping the other person has to go. 2 – Worse, you can't look at your video chatter in the eye. Webcams are mounted above the PC screen, but your co-conversationalist's face is in the middle of the screen. As a result, if you look at the person while you're talking, to them you look as if you're staring off into space (and vice versa). If you stare into the camera, you can't see what's on screen, defeating the whole video chatting purpose. Somehow, PC makers have to figure out how to put the webcam in the middle of the screen so we can stare into it while we're looking at whom we're video chatting with eye-to-eye.
So, what honks your tech horn? Leave a comment below, or let us know at email@example.com and we'll compile the best ones – with complete credit as well. I might even tell you why you have either have no reason to complain or how to solve your gripe.