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Old 07-15-2007, 07:41 PM
Evil Captor is offline
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Bad Design in Everyday Life


I regularly encounter stuff that's badly made and designed and thought I'd share.

The thing that got me thinking about this is a large plastic coffee mug with a lid mechanism for car travel. All in all it's a fine mug, but it does have one tiny little design flaw. The handle of the mug, instead of being solid, has a series of tiny square opening inset in it -- maybe 1/4" on a side and deep enough you can't really see how deep they are without using a flashlight (the mug is black, so is the handle).

What is the purpose of these holes? I have no idea. It is almost as if the designers put them in there to save on weight without sacrificing strength, perhaps thinking the owner of the mug might be engaging in speed coffee swilling contests.

Or maybe someone just thought they looked nice.

The problem with the square holes is this: every time you pull the mug out of the dishwasher, you have to bang it against something over the sink to knock all the water out of those square holes. If you just pick it up and set it on the counter, the water will drizzle out of the holes onto your hand or onto the counter, generally both if you're holding it by the handle.

Those tiny holes can hold a surprising amount of water.

And do those tiny holes release all that water instantly and easily when you bang the mug? No. Almost inevitably, for a few minutes after you first hold the mug, your hand tends to be a little damp.

Ruinous? No. But annoying? You bet! And bad design? Indubitably!

Anybody else run into similar bad ideas?
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Old 07-15-2007, 08:22 PM
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Well somehow GM manages to make half the things in the car completely inconvenient. The big two for me is that the seatbelt constantly gets in the way of closing the door, and the visor knocks the mirror askew every time you put it down.

It also seems like computer casings are always designed to have lots of little grooves and decorative textures that serve no purpose except to collect a lot of dirt that's really hard to get out. I used to have an IBM that was all ribbed all over the place for no reason and the only way I could see I'd ever get the dust out of those ribs would be to give it a bath with a scrub brush.
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Old 07-15-2007, 08:44 PM
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I've got a landline cordless phone/answering machine (a BT 2150) that I only keep because it has an absolutely superb hands-free capability on the handset and is robustly made.

But it has an awful user interface. My biggest gripe is that it stores incoming numbers in a list under a 'Caller ID' entry on the menus. Whether you answer them or not. And the flashing LED on the base unit doesn't distinguish between answering machine messages and calls. Listening to messages or taking calls doesn't make any difference.

So, say someone rings up and I answer the phone and talk to them. When I end the call, the LED is flashing. It's saying "you have a call in my memory". Yes, I know that - don't you remember I just answered the call, you moron? So, to stop the flashing and leave the LED for missed calls and/or messages only, I need to clear out the caller ID memory after each call. That's 13 key-presses, three of which have delays of about a second (plus annoying, long beeps). Add one key-press for each additional call.

Essentially, I have to scroll though the list of received calls, then back out, go into "Delete old", confirm, then back out. And I have to do that so that the flashing light means what I want it to mean: I have answering machine messages which I haven't listened to yet. Why would I need to be reminded that someone rang and I answered the call?

I'd replace the phone for that reason alone if it weren't so wonderful at hands-free.
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Old 07-15-2007, 09:28 PM
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Don't even get me started on automobile cupholders. I rent cars occasionally and so have encountered a lot of them. I know it's a tough design job to come up with a cupholder that will hold cups you don't really know the dimensions of, but some cupholders do not appear to be able to hold ANYTHING without spilling it.
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Old 07-16-2007, 12:20 AM
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My laptop won't tell me that its battery is seconds from dying, if I'm using a full-screen application. The message does come up, but behind the application so I can't see it and have no idea until it suddenly goes into Hibernate mode. Then I plug it in, and the first thing I see when I un-hibernate it is "Low battery! Switch to AC power immediately."

So, when I need to switch to AC power, I don't know it. When I'm on AC power, I'm told to use AC power.
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Old 07-16-2007, 01:07 AM
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I recently bought a new iron (this one ) that falls over if you look at it funny. I can't quite figure out what went so horribly wrong with the design process that led to this, but it will barely stand up. If I slightly bump it in any way or even set it down without using both hands to gently steady it, it flies through the air and smashes into the ground. It has two little nubs on the back that are meant to act as a sort of tripod in conjunction with the tip of the handle to prop it upright.

The other day I opened a window in a different room and the iron flew off of the board and smashed into the ground.

Last edited by VCO3; 07-16-2007 at 01:07 AM.
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Old 07-16-2007, 04:25 AM
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There's an entry hall in my new apartment. The light switch for the living room, adjacent to the hall, is in the hall, by the door. Awesome. Now every time I come in the house, I turn on the light, go into the living room. Except when I leave that room for another room, I have to amble over into the space-wasting entry hall and turn off the light.

It would be totally brilliant if there weren't any other rooms in the place. Plus, the switch in the living room turns on the light in the kitchen. No excuses here, that one's just dumb.
  #8  
Old 07-16-2007, 04:34 AM
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Sprung flaps on letterbox slots for doors. I appreciate that the spring is there to stop the wind from rattling the flap, but when it's so powerful that it severs the postman's fingers, or shreds the mail as it is pushed through, it means something went a bit wrong somewhere.
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Old 07-16-2007, 08:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Evil Captor
Anybody else run into similar bad ideas?
Very similar to your mug issue: I have two stacking saucepan/steamer sets, different designs by different manufacturers but both of them have exactly the same flaw - the handles are made of metal folded over into a kind of tube shape but with big gaps on the underside. The result being that when you put them upside down in the dishwasher, the handles fill up with water (and nasty particles of food washed off other items) during the wash cycle. When you take the pans out of the dishwasher, said water is then redistributed over the rest of the clean items in the dishwasher, and over your feet. Drives me mad every single time.

Last edited by Colophon; 07-16-2007 at 08:03 AM.
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Old 07-16-2007, 08:06 AM
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Man oh man.

Clock radios.

I don't know why clock radios are so badly designed, but they seem to be deliberately awful. Let's make a list:
  • Setting the alarm requires more steps than launching a Titan missle
  • Snooze is nine minutes, which is a perfectly natural number (if you're missing a finger)
  • The process of setting the alarm is often bizarrely similar to setting the time. Hope you're not sleepy when you set your alarm!
  • The snooze button is often bizarrely close to the button that turns off the alarm. Hope you're not sleepy when you hit your snooze!
  • 25 buttons to control a device that does two things (buzz and not buzz)

The only acceptable clock I've ever found is this one, and it has 12 buttons, 3 slide switches, a volume wheel and two freaking knobs. What, no handcrank or foot pedal?
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Old 07-16-2007, 08:19 AM
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Pickle relish in a squeeze bottle.


If you can't figure out why this is a bad idea, remember that the hole is big enough for liquids but not for solids. If your favorite condiment for hot dogs is vinegar, then this is the product for you.
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Old 07-16-2007, 08:21 AM
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Standard "tube" flourescent light bulbs. Surely there's a safer, easier way to design these things?
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Old 07-16-2007, 08:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by initech
Man oh man.

Clock radios.
I don't even understand the need for "snooze" and "sleep" functions. Why have an alarm clock that you're going to ignore?
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Old 07-16-2007, 09:18 AM
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The Hamilton Beach Toastation seems like a great idea, but in actual use, the oven part burned 100% of the items we tried to cook.

Major department stores are still selling this item, so maybe it was just our one oven that stank.
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Old 07-16-2007, 09:33 AM
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What's up with TVs that have an LED that is brightly ON when the TV is OFF, but is OFF when the TV is ON? Even when you have become accustomed to the non-intuitive behaviour of the LED, it takes a good few seconds to respond to the remote control. It still trips me up sometimes, and I find myself pressing the button twice, thinking that the TV didn't notice my first press. Result: TV switches on (a process that unaccountably takes about 15 seconds), then immediately switches off.
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Old 07-16-2007, 09:51 AM
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The Comcast Digital Cable remote.

If you want to scroll up numerically via the 'guide' you press the 'down' arrow. But to go up numerically one channel at a time, you press the 'up' arrow.

And the rest of the remote is pathetic in terms of layout.

After 15 minutes surfing with a Comast remote, I could commit a murder if someone annoyed me.
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Old 07-16-2007, 10:01 AM
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My cell phone has a camera - something I don't want or need, but something that I apparently have to have if I want a screen on the outside of the phone (it's a flip phone). It has a button on the side, that if you hold down for a few seconds, it turns on the camera with the phone closed. Then, everytime you hit the button it takes a picture and stores it to the phone.

The problem is that I keep this phone in my front pocket. When I sit down, somehow the button gets pressed and the camera gets turned on. Then, I end up with 60 pics of the inside of my pocket.

I finally just took a needle nosed pliers and ripped the button off. I did find out later that there was a way to disable the button, but of course it was too late. Why not have the button default to off and have to user turn it on if they needed it? Why have the button at all? What kind of narciccist needs self portraits with a shitty camera phone?
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Old 07-16-2007, 10:13 AM
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The most egregious instances I have encountered these last years with telephones in my elderly parents' household:

cordless phones: All models that we gave gone through need the user to press a hangup button on the handset after the call is finished, even if the other party has hung up. Result: if the hangup button is not pressed, or not pressed firmly enough or not long enough all callers get an 'occupied' signal.

We had the neighbours ring several times, and one time we had the Red Cross mobile nurse call (my brother and I live in other states) out of concern because our parents' phone had been 'occupied' for long periods.

non-cordless phones: in the good old times (up to early 80s) telephones were clunky apparatus that, for hanging up, you only had to aim the receiver in the general direction of its cradle for the receiver to reliably slide into its cradle and hang up.

Nowadays phones have slim receivers, to be put into vague depressions, and you need very fine motor control indeed to put the receiver down in a way that effects a hangup.

Again, a source of 'occupied' lines and filial anxiety.
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Old 07-16-2007, 10:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philster
The Comcast Digital Cable remote.

If you want to scroll up numerically via the 'guide' you press the 'down' arrow. But to go up numerically one channel at a time, you press the 'up' arrow.

And the rest of the remote is pathetic in terms of layout.

After 15 minutes surfing with a Comast remote, I could commit a murder if someone annoyed me.
Seconded! And the commonly used buttons like mute and previous channel are tiny and hard to find. But the ON DEMAND button is huge, shiny, and prominently displayed at the top of the remote. I keep mixing up the specific device "on" buttons with the "all on" buttons and turning the cable on but the tv off.
The whole thing seems like a big advertising device that I'm forced to use to control my tv now. (unless I succeed in convincing my husband that this whole digital thing is overkill and go back to conventional basic basic - fat chance)
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Old 07-16-2007, 10:34 AM
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My company's voice mail. It's Audix, which I understand a lot of companies use, but the options are all in the wrong order. So, the red light on my work phone is lit, meaning I have a message. I dial up voice mail and enter my extension and password, and we're off and running.

"Press 1 to leave a message, press 2 to get a message."

Right here, this is where it starts going wrong. To leave a message for someone else, I simply dial their number - I never need to use the 1 option. Ever. Maybe my exec do, but I don't. I'm calling because I want to get my messages. 90% of people are calling because they want to get their messages! They totally need to reverse this order.

"Call received today, July 16. 20 seconds. To listen, press 1, to delete..."

Gah! Yes I want to listen! Just play the damn thing - don't make me press any other buttons!

"...to delete, press star + D."

What? The hell? Why are the other ones all numeric, then we start with the star D stuff?

Drives me bananas. It's a good thing I rarely get phone calls at work.
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Old 07-16-2007, 10:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brewha
I finally just took a needle nosed pliers and ripped the button off. I did find out later that there was a way to disable the button, but of course it was too late.
I had a TV that had a global reset button on the remote. Press the button, and the TV would go into "Are you my mommy?" mode - all favorite channel presets, color, tint, bright, etc was wiped clean. Why was this button on the remote? I wound up popping the remote apart and slicing the rubber nub off so it was recessed into the remote's case.

Similar to the OP's coffee mug, Kitchen Aid made one big design clunker on their food processor. A noble machine otherwise, but the bowl has a ring around the underside of its base. After a trip through the dishwasher, there will always be water in this moat - there is no way to position the bowl so it can drain out. One of these days, I need to take the Dremel and grind out a drainage slot.
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Old 07-16-2007, 10:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philster
The Comcast Digital Cable remote.

If you want to scroll up numerically via the 'guide' you press the 'down' arrow. But to go up numerically one channel at a time, you press the 'up' arrow.

And the rest of the remote is pathetic in terms of layout.

After 15 minutes surfing with a Comast remote, I could commit a murder if someone annoyed me.
Oh, no problem. All you need to simplify your life is the handy Logitech Harmony remote. Put away those remotes and replace them with this one, simple remote.

Sure, it has 53 buttons and an LCD screen, and to program it you'll need to connect it to the internet. Did I mention that it has 53 buttons? Well, not to worry. Many of them are nearly invisible and so hard to press it's almost like they're not there at all!
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Old 07-16-2007, 11:01 AM
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Short window-AC cords versus electrical outlet locations. I've got one troublesome window located a few feet too far from the outlet for, apparently, most window AC units. (Whether that's a cord problem or an outlet problem is a matter for debate. Personally, I'd like to string up the contractor and electrician who worked on this house by the short cords of AC units.)

It'd be nice if you could ascertain the length of the cord from, say, the box the unit comes in, but that info isn't always listed. Ditto for the location of the cord; if your outlet is, say, six feet from the window on the right side, and the cord is six feet long, it needs to originate from the right side of the unit or it won't reach (and even then it won't reach unless the outlet is on the same level, height-wise, as the unit's bottom -- and fat chance of that).

OTOH, my TV remote control is absolutely wonderful. It's ergonomic, a comfy fit for my hand, and it's durable, having survived many drops onto the floor. The button layout is intuitive and rational, and I'm able to comfortably navigate the entire thing in the dark. And I know that I'll never find its like again.

Last edited by The Scrivener; 07-16-2007 at 11:05 AM.
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Old 07-16-2007, 11:05 AM
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I used to have an IBM that was all ribbed all over the place for no reason
I believe it's "ribbed for her pleasure."
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Old 07-16-2007, 11:08 AM
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IBM: the computer brand of choice for your virtual sexual encounters... Four out of five sex perverts agree!

Last edited by The Scrivener; 07-16-2007 at 11:08 AM.
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Old 07-16-2007, 11:11 AM
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A lot of laptops have those ridiculous damned internet switches that turn on the wireless network adapter. I guess the switch is supposed to be more convenient somehow but it is just too easy to break the switch or have it hit against something and mess up the wireless when you could have just turned on with a couple clicks of the mouse.
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Old 07-16-2007, 11:20 AM
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My current daily annoyance is the carafe from my coffee maker...it has a similar problem to the OP's mug. The handle is hollow, and the bottom is open. It fills up with water in the dishwasher, and so every day I have to remember to carry it upside-down to the sink, and pour the water out. I usually empty the dishwasher in the morning before work, and in my half-asleep state, I don't tend to remember. I take the carafe out first, so I can use it to make my coffee, and end up getting the water all over the other dishes in the dishwasher, and usually on the floor, as well.

VERY annoying.
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Old 07-16-2007, 11:48 AM
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The biggest design flaw I have to deal with daily is the gear shift / cup holder / ashtray set up in my Metro. OK, it's a small car, and they didn't have a lot of room to work with. The cup holder is right in front of the ashtray, and keeps it from opening, if occupied. To stub out a cig. (as opposed to pitching it out the window, which I don't do) I have to move my beverage and hold it in my crotch, then shut the ashtray to replace the beverage. Also, I can't shift into park if the cupholder has a cup in it. I've gotten used to it, but it's still annoying.
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Old 07-16-2007, 12:22 PM
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I was a technical writer. Once I had a client who wanted me to put all the user instructions for a piece of software into a help file--and I mean all the instructions. Even when I pointed out the uselessness of putting certain instructions into online help, and that paper instructions might be better for certain tasks, the client was adamant. Absolutely everything was to be in online help.

Well, he who pays the piper (or the writer) calls the tune, so I got to work. In the end, the client received a fine set of user instructions, all in an online help file. Of course, this also resulted in installation instructions that couldn't be referenced until after the installation.

The client said, "Oops...."
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Old 07-16-2007, 12:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Sonoran Lizard King
The biggest design flaw I have to deal with daily is the gear shift / cup holder / ashtray set up in my Metro. OK, it's a small car, and they didn't have a lot of room to work with. The cup holder is right in front of the ashtray, and keeps it from opening, if occupied. To stub out a cig. (as opposed to pitching it out the window, which I don't do) I have to move my beverage and hold it in my crotch, then shut the ashtray to replace the beverage. Also, I can't shift into park if the cupholder has a cup in it. I've gotten used to it, but it's still annoying.
This reminds me of another gripe I have. My husband's car is a 10-year-old Sebring convertible. The cupholders are underneath the radio, right in front of the gearshift. The gearshift is so close to the dash that if you have a cup in the cupholder, you can't put the car in park.

The cupholders are also about an inch & a half deep, so every time you go around a corner, the cup falls out onto the floor. So if you have a drink in there, you have to either take it out of the cupholder & put it in between your legs, or hold it into the cupholder and steer with one hand. Sort of defeats the purpose of the cupholder, doesn't it?
  #31  
Old 07-16-2007, 12:29 PM
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The cable remotes I can deal with. It's the cable consoles that leave so much wanting. If you should misplace your cable remote and want to change channels using the digital cable box, you need to repeatedly press the channel up or down button. A 0-9 keypad would make it so much easier to surf using the cable box itself.

VCRs that are useless without the remote. Sure, you can hit "play" on the VCR, but unless it has a TV/VCR button you could be screweed.

Both are reasons to never never lose the remote. But sometimes you misplace it and you need to turn the channel in a hurry.

Checks. We used to get them with the little "19" in the upper right to ease writing the date. For some reason it seems completely impossible to put a "20" where the "19" was. Why?
  #32  
Old 07-16-2007, 12:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philster
If you want to scroll up numerically via the 'guide' you press the 'down' arrow. But to go up numerically one channel at a time, you press the 'up' arrow.
Thirded. What dummy came up with this? (FYI, I have Cox) I actually had this conversation with a friend once.

Friend: Hey, go up one channel.
Me: Do you want to go to 15 or 13?
F: What the hell are you talking about, just go up one channel.
Me: Listen carefully. I can either go up numerically to 15 or up on the screen to 13. Which do you want?
F:

Also, I can't believe it is so slow. I tell the cable to do something and it takes at least 4 seconds to do it. I know this doesn't seem like a lot, but trust me, when you are flipping through 7 screens it gets rather aggrevating.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brewha
The problem is that I keep this phone in my front pocket. When I sit down, somehow the button gets pressed and the camera gets turned on. Then, I end up with 60 pics of the inside of my pocket.
My pocket is constantly calling people and taking pictures. I got a flip phone specifically so that all the buttons would be on the inside where my mischievious pocket gremlin couldn't get to them. Why put any buttons on the outside?


I can't believe my two biggest pet peeves in this category were taken already.
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Old 07-16-2007, 01:00 PM
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I posted about this a couple of years ago.

Television/entertainment center stands, which are designed to both hold up a television set and to contain the VCR, DVD player and other assorted technical ware. All the technical stuff is down there a foot or two off the floor, and it is necessary to grovel around on all fours to insert a DVD. Also complicating matters is the fact you need to use an ELECTRON MICROSCOPE to read a lot of the button labels, and the buttons are the size of GRAINS OF RICE. God, I hate our TV stand.
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Old 07-16-2007, 01:05 PM
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Thanks for mentioning the button lables. Look at the back of your VCR, DVD, whatever console. Chances are you need a bright light shone on the case to discern which is the cable in, cable out, audio, whatever. Raised lettering with no difference in color as the rest of the box is nearly impossible to see in the situation you usually encounter the back of the box- in a cramped dimly lit space.
  #35  
Old 07-16-2007, 01:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brewha
My cell phone has a camera - something I don't want or need, but something that I apparently have to have if I want a screen on the outside of the phone (it's a flip phone). It has a button on the side, that if you hold down for a few seconds, it turns on the camera with the phone closed. Then, everytime you hit the button it takes a picture and stores it to the phone.

The problem is that I keep this phone in my front pocket. When I sit down, somehow the button gets pressed and the camera gets turned on. Then, I end up with 60 pics of the inside of my pocket.

I finally just took a needle nosed pliers and ripped the button off. I did find out later that there was a way to disable the button, but of course it was too late. Why not have the button default to off and have to user turn it on if they needed it? Why have the button at all? What kind of narciccist needs self portraits with a shitty camera phone?
Holy crap. My cell phone has a button on the outside. If it's in my pants, everyone knows, because as I walk, the button is hit constantly, and my pockets start making R2D2 noises.
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Old 07-16-2007, 02:17 PM
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My biggest peeve is kitchen appliances designed by someone who obviously never had to clean anything in their lives. The flat panel controls are becoming more common, thank goodness, but every appliance, big and small, still seems to include some knobs, crevices or switches that get gunked up and are terrifically hard to get to.

Tip of the day: Baby wipes.
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Old 07-16-2007, 02:34 PM
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My university uses our school ID cards for almost everything: you swipe to get into your dorm, uni buildings after hours, the cafeteria, the library, etc. You can even put money on your card and use it for laundry or vending machines. However, whatever piece of machinery reads the magnetic strip when you swipe also rubs off the part of your card with your name on it. I've gone through at least 6 cards in the last 3 years simply cause you couldn't read my name anymore.
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Old 07-16-2007, 02:45 PM
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Why can't they put a button on the cable box that you push and the remote will beep from it's hiding place? You can do that with my cordless phone.
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Old 07-16-2007, 02:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by I'm Ron Burgundy?
Holy crap. My cell phone has a button on the outside. If it's in my pants, everyone knows, because as I walk, the button is hit constantly, and my pockets start making R2D2 noises.

R2D2 noises? That's pretty funny. The first time it happened to me, it sounded like a baby bird chirping. I couldn't for the life of me figure out what the noise was.
  #40  
Old 07-16-2007, 03:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Dolores Reborn
Why can't they put a button on the cable box that you push and the remote will beep from it's hiding place? You can do that with my cordless phone.
I was just thinking that the other day!
  #41  
Old 07-16-2007, 03:35 PM
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A few years back I had a USB flash drive that came with a Spiffy Lanyard™ that attached to the cap protecting USB connector. Occasionally being a somewhat fidgety fellow, I enjoyed spinning the drive around my finger at the end of the Spiffy Lanyard™. This went on until the day the drive separated from the cap mid-spin, flew across the room with astonishing force, hit the wall, and shattered.

When I went to get another drive, I noticed that the newest revision from the same manufacturer was identical in every detail, save one: the Spiffy Lanyard™ now attached to the body of the drive, rather than the cap.

Also, I recently got a TV that offers no visual cues regarding volume adjustment. I know that I should be able to tell the TV volume is changing just by listening-- but I find the lack of a bar at the bottom of the screen which shrinks/grows to provide visual feedback of my actions... disturbing.
  #42  
Old 07-16-2007, 03:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by initech
Man oh man.

Clock radios.

I don't know why clock radios are so badly designed, but they seem to be deliberately awful. Let's make a list:
<snip>
You left out - no reverse button, for the times you go one minute past the time you want to set the clock for, and have to go all around the clock again.

My clock radio - a GE, does everything right I'm happy to say. They even had it in the Omni Hotel in Montreal. But most of the clock radios you see in hotels are almost impossible to use. You know, the ones with eighteen music channels prominently displayed, settable by a single button push, but setting the time requires a five button sequence and the knowledge of BCPL.
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Old 07-16-2007, 03:49 PM
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Why does my computer not have the USB ports ON THE DAMN FRONT, where I can actually reach them? Even crappy Chinese TV's have dual AV inputs at the back and front so you can actually plug stuff in without dragging them halfway around the room.
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  #44  
Old 07-16-2007, 03:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Snickers
My company's voice mail. It's Audix, which I understand a lot of companies use, but the options are all in the wrong order. So, the red light on my work phone is lit, meaning I have a message. I dial up voice mail and enter my extension and password, and we're off and running.

"Press 1 to leave a message, press 2 to get a message."

Right here, this is where it starts going wrong. To leave a message for someone else, I simply dial their number - I never need to use the 1 option. Ever. Maybe my exec do, but I don't. I'm calling because I want to get my messages. 90% of people are calling because they want to get their messages! They totally need to reverse this order.

"Call received today, July 16. 20 seconds. To listen, press 1, to delete..."

Gah! Yes I want to listen! Just play the damn thing - don't make me press any other buttons!

"...to delete, press star + D."

What? The hell? Why are the other ones all numeric, then we start with the star D stuff?

Drives me bananas. It's a good thing I rarely get phone calls at work.
I can see *D for delete, since that keeps people like me from deleting stuff accidentally. But you are absolutely right about it being stupid to hit 2 to get your messages. 1 should be get your messages, 2 should be record a message, and 87 should be send one. And what does "scan all your greetings" mean anyhow? I keep my standard greeting as 1, and record a new one as 2 whenever I leave for a few days. They make this simple task as hard as possible.
  #45  
Old 07-16-2007, 04:17 PM
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The classic example of a bad design is the Norman Door, so named after Don Norman, who popularized how awful they are in his book "The Design of Everyday Things".

Imagine a glass door with hidden hinges, and a chrome bar that extends all the way across the face of the door. This door could possibly be opened in one of four ways - pulling on the right or left, or pushing on the right or left. When you first approach such a door, you have a 25% chance of getting it right.

Now imagine a building that has two sets of these doors (half the malls in America at one time, it seems). You'd have to open one door, walk a few feet, and open the next door to actually enter the building. Your odds of success: 12.5%. Norman used to go to such buildings and just sit and watch as people flailed with these doors, trapped themselves in the area between the two sets, and in general got frustrated as hell.

It's really very simple: you put the mechanism for opening the door on the side of the door that opens. If you should pull the door open, you put a handle or grab bar on it. If you should push the door open, you put a push plate on the door. No chance of confusion, and these little affordances intuitively guide people to the right action. And yet, doors are still made incorrectly all the time.

I also hate digital up/down buttons instead of knobs. Whoever thought it would be a good idea to make people repeatedly press a button or press-and-hold a button to get the volume they want, rather than just turning a knob until they hear what they want, should be shot.

GE made a dishwasher at one time where some bright boy decided to make the 'on' button multi-purpose. Press it once, and the dishwasher starts. Press it again, and it starts in another mode. Press it a third time, and it dumps all the water and goes into shutdown mode. The problem is that to make it work in modes like that, you had to put a time delay on the switch. Added to that was the fact that the dishwasher took some time to prepare to wash, during which there was no apparently movement or sound. So people would press the button, and nothing would happen. So they'd press it again, and the dishwasher would be in a new state, but nothing would immediately happen. In frustration, they'd press it a third time, and the dishwasher would go into dump-and-shutdown mode.

A whole lot of those dishwashers were returned as defective. and many, many extra service calls where made when there was nothing wrong with the dishwasher, because people just couldn't figure out what the hell it was doing.

Then there are stoves. Every see a stove that looks like this:

Code:
  0       0
                  <-- Burners
  0       0
  ---------
   @ @ @ @  <-- Switches
Which switch controls which burner? It's a mystery! You can guess that the right two probably control the right two burners, but which one is the top burner, and which one the bottom? There's no way to know.

A better design might look like this:

Code:
  0       0
                  <-- Burners
    0   0
  ---------
   @     @ 
     @ @  <-- Switches
There is no chance of confusion now. More and more stoves are using this kind of layout, but you still see plenty of the older lame ones.
  #46  
Old 07-16-2007, 05:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Sonoran Lizard King
The biggest design flaw I have to deal with daily is the gear shift / cup holder / ashtray set up in my Metro. OK, it's a small car, and they didn't have a lot of room to work with. The cup holder is right in front of the ashtray, and keeps it from opening, if occupied. To stub out a cig. (as opposed to pitching it out the window, which I don't do) I have to move my beverage and hold it in my crotch, then shut the ashtray to replace the beverage. Also, I can't shift into park if the cupholder has a cup in it. I've gotten used to it, but it's still annoying.

I have an Aveo with the same problem. I don't smoke, but I do keep change and other little things in the ashtray, and I hate having to take my coffee cup out of the holder to get to it. Also, the cup holder in the front has two holes, which are different sizes. One is fine, it's big enough to hold my travel mug or a normal sized bottle of water or carry out cup. The other is completely useless, unless I had the need to store a marker nearby. What could possibly fit in this holder?!

Of course the single cup holder in the back is huge, which means anything that gets put there better have a cap, or else the floor mats get drenched any time I make a turn.
  #47  
Old 07-16-2007, 05:09 PM
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I have this toaster.

It combines good design elements with bad. I bought it for the good, and I still think it was a good choice, but the bad are slowly increasing in irritation level and threaten to overtake the good and tip the balance of my opinion.

The good: Long wide slots handle a variety of bread products. Nicely spaced heating elements produce very even toasting. Darkness dial produces consistent setting.

The bad: The button labels on the front are printed in a matte silver-gray on a neutral gray-green background, and are almost impossible to read, so until the user memorizes them he will do a lot of bending over and point-blank squinting. Also, the metal body is poorly isolated from the interior, so the thing gets second-degree-burn hot, and you need to keep everything else on the counter six inches away from it if you don't want to melt its plastic neighbors.

To me, bad design is most frustrating when it's combined with good design. Something that's poorly designed top to bottom, I just get rid of it. Something that has a few smart features I really like, plus a couple of what-were-they-thinking aspects I have to tolerate if I want the positive... that fills me, slowly and incrementally, with stabby-grr.
  #48  
Old 07-16-2007, 09:10 PM
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I have a built-in towel rack in my shower. It's not even that unusual. My grandmother had one too and she felt compelled to actually use it so if you wanted to take a shower at her house you had to take off all the towels and lay them gently on the toilet seat and put them all back on the rack when you were done. That's livin'.

I just balance shampoo bottles on mine and it sucks for that purpose too.
  #49  
Old 07-16-2007, 09:34 PM
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Any tool that has a commonly used accessory and no built in storage for that accessory. Specifically, wrenches for changing the bits. Everytime I use the router, I have to figure out where the wrench is.

My Hitachi grinder is a particularly heinous example of this, because to remove or attach a grinding wheel, you need a special pin wrench that has two prongs that fit into two holes in the arbor. If you lose the wrench, you're screwed. If they'd put a normal nut-shaped bolt on the thing, at least you could use a standard wrench if you lost the one that came with it.
  #50  
Old 07-16-2007, 09:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BobLibDem
Checks. We used to get them with the little "19" in the upper right to ease writing the date. For some reason it seems completely impossible to put a "20" where the "19" was. Why?
Oh, sure! That's all well and good now, but don't come crying to me about your Y2K1C problem in 93 years!
  #51  
Old 07-16-2007, 10:02 PM
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The light fixture in the stairwell in our townhouse. It's about 12 feet above the landing, and we don't own a step stool or ladder tall enough to reach. We have absolutely no use for a ladder right now, we'd be going out and buying a ladder just so we can change the damn light bulb in the stairwell, and then the ladder will just take up space in our tiny garage until next time the bulb burns out. The bulb is inside a globe that's held in place with tiny screws, so there's no reaching tool that can help. Can't reach from the top of the stairs. So, basically, one of these days we have to remember to borrow a ladder from my in laws. Or call the landlord, which I refuse to do for such a tiny matter as a burnt out light bulb.
  #52  
Old 07-16-2007, 10:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Voyager
<snip>
You left out - no reverse button, for the times you go one minute past the time you want to set the clock for, and have to go all around the clock again.
<snip>
Or you could just wake up one minute later or earlier? (Depending if the alarm was 1 minute ahead or the clock.) Or, set the other one one minute ahead, too?
  #53  
Old 07-16-2007, 10:48 PM
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Another alarm clock question. Why do most clocks have a setting that lets you combine the radio and the buzzer? I can understand having two different options; some people need that obnoxious buzzing to wake them up, while other people (like me) would decide to test the radio's resistance to shotgun blasts if they had to wake up to EEEE-EEEE-EEEE-EEEE!!!!!!! every morning. But why have an option that combines the two? Does anyone actually use this?
  #54  
Old 07-16-2007, 11:23 PM
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And here's the clock radio with buttons on the front which are nearly impossible to push with one hand. This is because the force necessary to push the buttons is greater than the force required to push the entire radio around the surface of the end table. Maybe, as you're lying in bed, you could reach your arm over at an ungraceful angle, and grip the whole side of the radio with your palm to hold it in place. With luck, maybe your thumb will find one of the buttons. Or maybe, the entire radio will accidentally fly off the end table. Maybe next time it won't be an accident.

Most fake sounding nature sounds I've ever heard
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Last edited by drewbert; 07-16-2007 at 11:27 PM.
  #55  
Old 07-17-2007, 12:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drewbert
And here's the clock radio with buttons on the front which are nearly impossible to push with one hand. ...
Most fake sounding nature sounds I've ever heard
I always, always, always set the sucker from an upright position. And I'd love the ocean waves sound except for the damn bird calls every few seconds. But the number one reason I hate this alarm clock is that the stupid TIMEX can't keep time.

My personal pet peeve is with my shower head with the shiny, slick plastic ring to turn to adjust the spray, using my soapy wet fingers. Grrrr.
  #56  
Old 07-17-2007, 12:41 AM
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We have the original ceramic toothbrush holders mounted on the wall in our bathroom. In 7 years, I've never found a toothbrush that will fit in it. It does hold dirt well.

I have a toddler. Every stinkin' baby item is made of indestructible plastic. With little grooves and designs and swirly things that make them impossible to clean. Yes, I've tried baby wipes, old toothbrushes, q-tips. Damned impossible

Computer desks that aren't reversible. I better buy a desk that has the computer hole on a side I like for all eternity. God forbid, I place it in another location where it would be more convenient for it to be on the other side. Sure it's a cheesey fiberboard desk. Make a few more screw holes and it would work on either side!

Monitor power buttons that you can't push. Either your fingernail gets stuck between the button and the case or you need a jack hammer to work the thing.

Dunkin' Donuts had the perfect coffee cup. It was plastic, insulated, sealed reliably. Didn't have a wacked out handle sticking out 3ft from the side of the cup. You could microwave it. You could put it in your purse, you could shake it upside down and it wouldn't leak. They stopped carrying it. You can find them for sale on ebay occasionally for about $20. Why with all the different traveler mugs is it impossible to find one that doesn't have metal or a handle? The cups downfall? It looked exactly like the regular dunkin' donuts styro cup and people often would throw it away thinking it was trash. I've had 3 of them.

I've often wondered why my stroller has a basket, two cup holders, a clock, a thermometer, but doesn't have a hook anywhere to put a purse. Yeah, the basket underneath. Sure, with all the other crap under there.
  #57  
Old 07-17-2007, 01:04 AM
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Nintendo's WaveBird wireless controller.

Don't get me wrong, it's a fine controller (still one of the best), but it has a really annoying facet. Here's the thing: The WaveBird has two parts, the controller and the receiver (which plus into the GameCube). On both pieces is a small black dial which can be rotated to choose one of 16 channels (1-16). For each controller, the number must match that of its respective dial so they're "on the same frequency," so to speak.

While that's annoying in and of itself, the worst part is that the numbers that designated the frequency were also written in black. In fact, they weren't even written, they were simple imprints on the black dial itself, which made it damn near impossible to read those fucking numbers except in the best lighting conditions. Even worse, those stupid dials, I swear to God, would rotate by themselves overnight. No matter what you did, whenever you came back to the GameCube, you would have to reset the numbers again.

Last edited by Red Barchetta; 07-17-2007 at 01:04 AM.
  #58  
Old 07-17-2007, 01:06 AM
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A Radio Shack digital timer. It's about four inches high, two and a half wide, and has a nifty easel leg you can open in the back to make it stand up on a desk top so you can see it without hovering over it. The problem? The leg is about three-eighths wide and the bottom edge has a convex curve built in it. Every time you nudge the thing, it rolls over on that round bottom and falls on it's side. One of these days I'm gonna glue a couple outriggers on that usless rounded base.
  #59  
Old 07-17-2007, 02:03 AM
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I have an instant read oven thermometer/alarm with a heat resistant cord so you can keep the thermometer in the oven while it's cooking, and you set an alarm to go off when the dish reaches the right temperature - sort of similar to this model, but mine's not as nice.

Mine is fairly intuitive to operate, it's easy to switch between Celsius and Fahrenheit (handy if your recipe is in different units than you're used to), and it's easy to set the temperature you want.

However, the model I have doesn't have an off switch. You put the batteries in and the thermometer is on. To turn it off you have to remove the batteries. And then, inevitably, I'll end up misplacing one or both of the batteries before the next time I use it, and then don't have any more AAA batteries in the house when I need them.
  #60  
Old 07-17-2007, 02:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diceman
Another alarm clock question. Why do most clocks have a setting that lets you combine the radio and the buzzer? I can understand having two different options; some people need that obnoxious buzzing to wake them up, while other people (like me) would decide to test the radio's resistance to shotgun blasts if they had to wake up to EEEE-EEEE-EEEE-EEEE!!!!!!! every morning. But why have an option that combines the two? Does anyone actually use this?
Can they be set for different times? Because then I would. I prefer to wake up to the radio, but there are plenty of times when I'll just sleep right through it. When I was living alone, I'd set my radio alarm for my 'would like to get up' time, and a separate clock with a buzzer alarm for my 'absolutely have to get up' time. It's moot now since I work at an office that starts an hour later and is 40 minutes closer to my house, plus they don't care if you're 30 minutes late.

Anyway, count me in as another who's got a dozen cell-phone pictures of the inside of his pocket. Plus, the camera function stays on after you shoot a picture, which drains the battery much faster than the regular sleep mode.
  #61  
Old 07-17-2007, 02:39 AM
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The All About Today calendar.

It's a cloth wall-hanging with velcro in the slots for "day","date","season" etc and more velcro round the side in the places to store the excess months/days/years/whatever.

I got one for my 3-year-old and one for her cousin. It's a wonderful little educational tool EXCEPT THAT (as you can see in the picture) all the elements of the date are AT LEAST 50% taller than the rectangle which is supposed to hold them.

Notice, in particular, how the example picture makes sure to have a date which is in summer, and weather sunny? That would be because they're the shortest season and weather symbols on the thing - try making it work for winter on a windy day and see the snowman and the kite (either of which could take up both those slots without half trying) duel to the death.

What kills me is that it's otherwise so well made, and this would be a really simple problem to fix - just stick the seasons and weathers in pockets like the year, and you'd have masses of space to extend the main section down as far as needed, without even having to make the thing any bigger. But Somebody Just Didn't Think.
  #62  
Old 07-17-2007, 07:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pokey
I have a built-in towel rack in my shower. It's not even that unusual. My grandmother had one too and she felt compelled to actually use it so if you wanted to take a shower at her house you had to take off all the towels and lay them gently on the toilet seat and put them all back on the rack when you were done. That's livin'.

I just balance shampoo bottles on mine and it sucks for that purpose too.
Actually, the rack isn't for towels. It's for rubber floormats, the kind that keep people from slipping in the shower. When you're done with the shower, you pick up the mat and let it dry on the shower rack - this way it won't mold/mildew.

I figured this out when I was 36.

Last edited by JohnT; 07-17-2007 at 07:52 AM.
  #63  
Old 07-17-2007, 08:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnT
Actually, the rack isn't for towels. It's for rubber floormats, the kind that keep people from slipping in the shower. When you're done with the shower, you pick up the mat and let it dry on the shower rack - this way it won't mold/mildew.

I figured this out when I was 36.
I visited a friend in her new house this weekend and found out that the built-in towel bar is also very good for clocking your head. -->but substitute "end of towelbar" for palm and you have my happy happy good morning wakeup call.
  #64  
Old 07-17-2007, 09:02 AM
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I have the same cellphone troubles. Mine is not a flip-phone, so I guess I got what deserved, but why is there no way to lock the keys? Otherwise it's always calling people by itself.

I have a spatula that has a handle that cane be removed. It's not supposed to be, it can only be removed with a great deal of effort. But that means all kinds of nasty stuff gets in the tiny gap into the handle. So you have to pull it off to wash it all the time - which defeats the purpose of making it extra hard to puill off.

I currently love my cupholder but I've had the problem where you couldn't put the car in park in a previous car.

My voicemail machine at home drives me crazy these days. Say I go away for a week's vacation. Two Saturdays for example. Well it doesn't tell me which Saturday the message was left! It simply says "Saturday, 2 PM". How frustrating is that? I know you can figure it out by context but it's still annoying. Not to mention I screen all my calls so sometimes I've heard all the messages once already. Can I delete them all at once? Hell no! I have to hit delete for every message.
  #65  
Old 07-17-2007, 09:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Voyager
But most of the clock radios you see in hotels are almost impossible to use.
I can top that by a little. There's a B&B that where I regularly used to stay. The old owners were very nice. All of the rooms were non-smoking, but they looked the other way for me and GF. Hey, we were regulars, and their best customers. But with the new owners, we tried a stealth smoke. Before we even put them out, there was a note slipped under our door. Typed and printed on letterhead. Explaining the no smoking policy. I can live with the policy. What I can't live with is the intense scrutiny. I go on vacation to relax, not to pass muster.

Breakfast with the old owners was great. Pancakes, omlettes, muffins -- stuff like that. Hey, I like to eat healthy, but not on vacation. New owners? Yogurt parfait, Every. Fucking. Morning.

And they have a new policy that they will only replace your towels every three days.

What does this luxury cost? Two years ago, it was $185 per night. I now see that they've jacked it up $245.

But I'm here to talk about clocks. When they redecorated, they put a clock in every room. Not one clock actually worked. Decorative, non-functional clocks.
  #66  
Old 07-17-2007, 10:17 AM
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Stupid POS Chinese Haier-Brand microwave. Coulda got another Malaysian Samsung, but I thought I would save a few bucks.

This junker beeps one tiny beep when using its kitchen timer function yet nags quite loudly every 15 seconds after it's stopped cooking/reheating and you don't reset or pop open the door.

We pressure-cook a lot of stuff and this is the first ,and hopefully last microwave timer I've seen that doesn't allow you to program your minutes in advance. Program,say,4 minutes to boil potatoes and the program disappears in 5 seconds if you don't hit START. I don't want to hit START until the weight starts rocking, but this POS makes me program in 3:55
(to accomodate the delay involved in having to set the timer right when the weight rocks instead of setting when the pot is placed on the burner and having my setting held indefinitely till I need it).

The timer, once it starts, only shows the countdown for 5 seconds. To get the countdown back for another 5 seconds, you have to hit TIMER each time. Every other micro with an LED readout that I've owned kept the countdown displayed start-to-finish.

You can't silence the button beeps, which BTW are louder than the timer beeps.

Most micros have an add-time function that allows a one-touch addition of one-minute intervals --handy when you see that your "average " corn-popping time called for on the bag isn't enough to half inflate the bag. But this thing makes you hit" reset "after the original time is up and then add time with the keypad and hit ON again.

Finally, this machine is NOISY in its operation.

Avoid Haier!!!

Last edited by zenith; 07-17-2007 at 10:19 AM.
  #67  
Old 07-17-2007, 11:27 AM
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Hmmm. Weber gas grills. I've been looking for a new one (that isn't the size of a stainless steel Buick) and the Webers seem decent. But...the control knobs are located on top of one of the horizontal wings. You know...where I'd be wanting to put plates of things down on top of? I don't know if this was just a brain-damaged design decision or if some other manufacturer had patented the "knobs on the front face of the grill" approach, but it cost them a sale.
  #68  
Old 07-17-2007, 11:27 AM
Velma is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Auntbeast

I've often wondered why my stroller has a basket, two cup holders, a clock, a thermometer, but doesn't have a hook anywhere to put a purse. Yeah, the basket underneath. Sure, with all the other crap under there.
This is annoying, but I actually know the reason why. You aren't supposed to hang things off the stroller because it could tip the stroller over if it is too heavy. I know this from experience (I caught him before he hit the ground, never fear ) It doesn't take much weight, either.

Here's another one for clock radios. I have one now that I like except the display is so freaking bright I have to turn it away from the bed. That sucks because I want to be able to see what time it is in the middle of the night, however I don't want a beam of light shining directly at my face while I try to sleep. I had to move that clock into the living room, where it seriously is bright enough to serve as a nightlight. The one I got to replace it has an adjustable brightness level, however it lights up in such a way that you have to be looking at it straight on to distinguish the numbers from the background. It is really bizarre. When I am lying in bed I see the lit up display but I can't make out the numbers so I have to sit up in bed. What is apparently so hard about clock radios?

I would also add about 2/3rds of all packaging to this list. Easy open my ass. Why more things can't be resealable is my other pet peeve. Chips and cereal, I am looking at you. Put them in a Ziplock type bag.
  #69  
Old 07-17-2007, 01:56 PM
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Just remembered another bad design. Shirts with the laundry-care tags halfway down one side seam rather than attached to the neck label.
  #70  
Old 07-17-2007, 02:33 PM
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The most common badly designed item I incur is the lock on the door of a public toilet. Half the time the lock does not fit into the groove because it is not properly aligned, forcing you to hold the door closed with one hand while sitting on the pot.

I've noticed this in movie theaters, schools, libraries, and many other places where you'd go to a bathroom like that. I guess it isn't so much a design flaw as it is a flaw on the part of the people who measured and installed the locks. But seriously, how can this be SO common?
  #71  
Old 07-17-2007, 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Sublight
Can they be set for different times? Because then I would. I prefer to wake up to the radio, but there are plenty of times when I'll just sleep right through it.
Yes, mine does exactly this. I have it set so that the radio comes on, fairly quietly but enough to gently wake me up but not have to open my eyes, then the actual alarm goes off 15 minutes later.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam Stone
Now imagine a building that has two sets of these doors (half the malls in America at one time, it seems). You'd have to open one door, walk a few feet, and open the next door to actually enter the building. Your odds of success: 12.5%.
Even worse than that. 25% x 25% = 6.25%. And, in practice, usually even less than that, since there are usually two of these mystery doors in each set, one of which is unaccountably locked at all times. So at each stage you have a 1 in 2 chance of getting the right door, then a 1 in 4 chance of opening it the right way, then the same again at the second set, giving you a 1 in 64 chance (1.56%) of getting through the entrance without looking like a putz.

Last edited by Colophon; 07-17-2007 at 02:47 PM.
  #72  
Old 07-17-2007, 03:12 PM
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Originally Posted by stucco
My university uses our school ID cards for almost everything: you swipe to get into your dorm, uni buildings after hours, the cafeteria, the library, etc. You can even put money on your card and use it for laundry or vending machines. However, whatever piece of machinery reads the magnetic strip when you swipe also rubs off the part of your card with your name on it. I've gone through at least 6 cards in the last 3 years simply cause you couldn't read my name anymore.
Could you put some scotch tape over your name?

(or are suggestions for coping out of place in this thread)
  #73  
Old 07-17-2007, 03:32 PM
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I have a white sports bra. It is not the kind intended to be worn solo as an exercise top. It is not a prestigious status brand. Yet, for some reason, the manufacturer has embroidered their logo in dark blue on the front. This means the bra can't be worn tastefully with white or light-colored shirts.
  #74  
Old 07-17-2007, 05:14 PM
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Actually, the rack isn't for towels. It's for rubber floormats, the kind that keep people from slipping in the shower. When you're done with the shower, you pick up the mat and let it dry on the shower rack - this way it won't mold/mildew.

I figured this out when I was 36.
Well why the hell was my grandma putting towels on there! The crazy thing is that she was one of the few people I've ever known who even had one of those mats.
  #75  
Old 07-17-2007, 05:50 PM
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Originally Posted by BobLibDem
Checks. We used to get them with the little "19" in the upper right to ease writing the date. For some reason it seems completely impossible to put a "20" where the "19" was. Why?
Why do you need it though? It's just two more numbers. Maybe they haven't bothered because people don't use personal checks as much as they used to.

I nominate public restroom TP dispensers--just certain ones. I'm talking about the ones that have sloping tops so you can't put your keys, wallet, and comb on them without having them fall right to the floor. Why on earth did they make the tops sloping when flat ones would have been so much more practical.
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Old 07-17-2007, 07:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Sam Stone
The classic example of a bad design is the Norman Door, so named after Don Norman, who popularized how awful they are in his book "The Design of Everyday Things".
A good book by the way.

I second most of the criticism of alarm clocks.

Another design flaw that really irritated me was my mother's TV and remote control's tiny dark grey lettering with black on black buttons scheme. I was her live in caregiver for several years, and with her bad eyesight she was always calling for me in to fiddle with it for her. It was hard for me sometimes to tell what the buttons on the TV did ( at least I could hold the damned remote up to a light ) unless I brought a flashlight, much less her. Oh, and all the buttons were identical as well; not even an odd shaped or large one for the volume and channel changing.

And from the apartment building I lived in some years ago, there was the over the stove kitchen fan that didn't actually connect to any sort of vent or even a filter. And then there was the outdoors drainage system with an exit higher in elevation than the intake.
  #77  
Old 07-17-2007, 08:02 PM
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I like my DVD player--it was inexpensive, yet it plays things in all kinds of weird formats, which is cool. It's durable, light and small. However, there are two things about it that get right up my nose--first, the remote does not have an on/off button. You can open the DVD tray, or close it, but you can't turn the effing thing off without going over there and hitting the button. Also, the remote is a dark charcoal grey and the miniscule lettering for the fifty billion tiny buttons is in a charcoal grey one shade lighter than the rest of the remote. Go ahead, read the button labels, I dare ya! It's taken me three years to memorize where the subtitle, FF, RW and main menu buttons are--the rest of the functions are a complete mystery. Nearsighted SO, on the other hand, loves to show off by using the zoom and chapter advance and other fancy schmancy functions. Someday he will smirk while doing so and then we'll see whether he can recall from memory where the "remove remote from ass" button is!

My laptop has fabulously designed outer hinges that started cracking within a few months of purchase. I suppose one day the screen will fall right off and then where'll I be?
  #78  
Old 07-17-2007, 08:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Harriet the Spry
I have a white sports bra. It is not the kind intended to be worn solo as an exercise top. It is not a prestigious status brand. Yet, for some reason, the manufacturer has embroidered their logo in dark blue on the front. This means the bra can't be worn tastefully with white or light-colored shirts.
Get a seam ripper (used in sewing) and very carefully slit the stitches in the embroidery, then pull the strings out. I say "very carefully" because you can slit cloth as well as thread with a seam ripper.
  #79  
Old 07-17-2007, 08:24 PM
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Originally Posted by SmartAleq
I like my DVD player
Ooooooo my goddamn DVD player. We went cheap on the new one and shouldn't have.

1. Doesn't remember the scene you were on after you turn it off.
2. Has an auto shut-off setting which can't be adjusted.
3. Doesn't show the time on the top, by which I mean time remaining in the movie or anything like that.

I blame my SO, but he so obviously feels bad about choosing it - I leave all electronic choices to him - that I don't even have the heart to complain. But I hate it.
  #80  
Old 07-17-2007, 08:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spectre of Pithecanthropus
I nominate public restroom TP dispensers--just certain ones. I'm talking about the ones that have sloping tops so you can't put your keys, wallet, and comb on them without having them fall right to the floor. Why on earth did they make the tops sloping when flat ones would have been so much more practical.
Same reason the top of the cistern is sloping or covered - to stop people snorting coke off them.
  #81  
Old 07-17-2007, 08:57 PM
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I hate cell phones. They always seem to have buttons on the outside of flip phones that are amazingly easy hit either if you are talking on it or it is in you pocket. My last phone had an option to lock the outside buttons. I loved it. It had the flaw of a very easy to break antenna. After I broke it the third time they no longer made the phone so I couldn't get another. I would have just to not get the R2D2 effect.

I started working as an electricians apprentice a while back(need the license). I can't believe how companies that make electrical components go out of their way to make these things inconvenient. It's obvious the people designing things have never had to work with them. I could write a book on the stupidity.
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Old 07-17-2007, 09:01 PM
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Same reason the top of the cistern is sloping or covered - to stop people snorting coke off them.
Are you wooshing me? I hope you are. Because that pisses me right off. Again all of us law abiding citizens have to suffer because of a few assholes that choose to get high.
  #83  
Old 07-17-2007, 09:42 PM
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Originally Posted by cher3
My biggest peeve is kitchen appliances designed by someone who obviously never had to clean anything in their lives. The flat panel controls are becoming more common, thank goodness, but every appliance, big and small, still seems to include some knobs, crevices or switches that get gunked up and are terrifically hard to get to.
I have something much worse. The top of my stove (the piece with the burners in it) is separate from the rest of the stove, so there's a big groove around the edge. That means that if I drop any food on there, when I try to wipe it off, it ends up in the groove, so I have to take a knife and scrape it out. It was obviously designed by someone who has never done a bit of cooking, or they would have known that was an incredibly stupid idea. And it's burnt orange, so it's ugly and badly designed.

So many bathrooms are poorly designed. I remember one bathroom where you had to stand up and walk across the stall to get toilet paper.
  #84  
Old 07-17-2007, 09:50 PM
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And on the subject of public toilets, why do the doors on the stalls all open inwards? Some of the stalls are so small that you have to practically stand on the toilet to open the door (and Og forbid you have a bag or a heavy coat, which gives you even less room to move inside the stall).
  #85  
Old 07-17-2007, 09:51 PM
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Originally Posted by boytyperanma
I hate cell phones. They always seem to have buttons on the outside of flip phones that are amazingly easy hit either if you are talking on it or it is in you pocket. My last phone had an option to lock the outside buttons. I loved it. It had the flaw of a very easy to break antenna. After I broke it the third time they no longer made the phone so I couldn't get another. I would have just to not get the R2D2 effect.
I hate my cell phone for its call volume button. My last phone had an up-down elongated button recessed into the side of the phone, right about where your fingers might rest if you were holding it during a call. This one, I couldn't even find until I recently sat down with my home phone, my cell phone, and worked it out. The volume button would only adjust during the course of a call, and of course during a call I didn't want to be screwing around with the phone. The manual's diagrams didn't actually show where the button was. Turns out it was the circular "D-pad" style button that normally selects an option on the phone screen; during the call it changes the volume.
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Old 07-17-2007, 09:53 PM
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Originally Posted by LurkMeister
And on the subject of public toilets, why do the doors on the stalls all open inwards? Some of the stalls are so small that you have to practically stand on the toilet to open the door (and Og forbid you have a bag or a heavy coat, which gives you even less room to move inside the stall).
It's so you don't clock someone standing nearby when you exit the stall. Note that bathroom doors open inwards as well - no windows to allow you to check outside before opening the door, so this keeps passers-by from being hit.
  #87  
Old 07-17-2007, 09:56 PM
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Sony is a frequent offender, which is funny since they also often get it almost right.

The Sony VCR I brought because it was inexpensive, but decent quality. It has Play, Fast Forward, and Rewind controls on the face, along with an On/Off button and an Eject. It does not have a TV/VCR button. Yep, you guessed it, if you turn the VCR off it defaults to TV and you can't switch it to VCR unless you have the remote. No, pressing play doesn't automatically switch it. It will start the tape running, but you can't watch anything unless you use the remote control to switch it to VCR function.

In addition, they included a remote which is for the higher-end version of the VCR, that also can be used to control certain Sony branded TVs. That means there are two sets of channel buttons. If you're not paying attention you'll use the wrong set and be wondering why the VCR channel isn't changing.

The surround sound/stereo system I have is worse. It has: a DVD player, CD and SuperCD function built in, an MD player, tape deck, and radio. There's a USB cable, but that can only be used with Sony's proprietary program and Windows XP. Frankly, I can't see what use it would be even if I wanted to use it; shitty and useless feature. It comes as two separate decks, the main one with the mixing functions and DVD/CD player, the other with the MD and tape deck. The cord on the main console is meant to be plugged into the MD/tape deck and is only long enough for that purpose. The thing is, I never use MD or tapes (I bought the system used from a friend who was upgrading, so I didn't have much choice of features) but I have to plug it in and waste power and space with the component, even if I never use it.

The remote control has separate buttons for each and every component that uses Play (and eleventy-billion other buttons that are very rarely used) but only one set of Pause, FFD, RWD, Skip buttons. I think it was meant to provide easy access to most of the different functions, but in practice this means that you have to be very careful which of the 5 or 6 Play buttons you hit, or you'll get switched to the MD player when you want to play a DVD. Then you have to run through the functions to get back to the DVD player.

Which brings up the main annoyance. The Function switch is a tiny nub button hidden under a slide plate at the bottom of the remote. So to get to the alternate input, you have to slide the plate down, and use your fingernail to hit the itty-bitty button. A plethora of Play buttons, but the Function button — which I use more often than anything else but the DVD controls on this remote — is almost inaccessible, and in fact took a visit to the owner's manual to find. The damn thing has buttons for almost every conceivable function built into either deck (including a full set of apparently useless number keys; useless because it doesn't control cable access or change channels of anything) but the button to change to alternate inputs is hidden and extremely inconvenient to use.

Usually, good design consists of two things: 1) Making controls or parts work the way most people intuitively expect them to (intuitiveness), 2) Limiting immediately available choices to those most-used or most needed (simplicity). Not having a TV/VCR button when your player defaults to an unusable state without the button is bad design, even though the simplicity ideal is preserved. Puking up every button for every feature you can think of onto the face of the remote, while burying commonly-used options violates both simplicity and intuitiveness.
  #88  
Old 07-17-2007, 10:40 PM
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Originally Posted by zenith
Just remembered another bad design. Shirts with the laundry-care tags halfway down one side seam rather than attached to the neck label.
I have some T-shirts that have the care instructions on the left-hand seam -- on two three-inch-long strips of plastic tape, not on fabric as God and nature intended. They itch like a motherfucker.
  #89  
Old 07-17-2007, 10:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Sleel
Sony is a frequent offender, which is funny since they also often get it almost right.
Based on everything I've seen from Sony, this is actually excellent design from their point of view. The primary purpose of every Sony product is to push you toward buying more Sony products. Proprietary software, proprietary storage media, extraneous functions that are useless with anything but other Sony products, etc. Internally, they refer to this by saying their unique branding position is their interconnectivity; what it means for users is that nothing works as promised unless you replace everything you own with $30,000 worth of overpriced Sony crap.
  #90  
Old 07-18-2007, 02:53 AM
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Oh, and here's one that moved me to call in: Woolite's dark wash liquid detergent comes in a bottle with a black cap, that unfortunately completely prevents you from seeing the fill lines scored inside the cap.
  #91  
Old 07-18-2007, 06:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Sublight
Can they be set for different times? Because then I would. I prefer to wake up to the radio, but there are plenty of times when I'll just sleep right through it. When I was living alone, I'd set my radio alarm for my 'would like to get up' time, and a separate clock with a buzzer alarm for my 'absolutely have to get up' time. It's moot now since I work at an office that starts an hour later and is 40 minutes closer to my house, plus they don't care if you're 30 minutes late.
Mine doesn't. Just one alarm, with 3 different sound options - radio, buzzer, and radio/buzzer. I guess I just have a really cheap alarm clock.
  #92  
Old 07-18-2007, 07:32 AM
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Originally Posted by zenith
Just remembered another bad design. Shirts with the laundry-care tags halfway down one side seam rather than attached to the neck label.
Or the ones that cannot be completely removed, no matter how carefully and closely you cut.
  #93  
Old 07-18-2007, 07:34 AM
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I recently bought a new Panasonic DMR-EX75 DVD player, with a DVR built in. It came highly recommended, but they neglected to mention a few key shortcomings.

It doesn't have a second digital tuner, so when it's recording, I can only watch what I'm recording, and not a different channel. A fairly basic VCR function completely eliminated for no good reason - I doubt it was for cost, as it was a relatively expensive product.

When you use it as a regular digital tuner to watch TV, it has three possible 'drives'. The HDD, the DVD, or the SD card. The only one that shows the channel information in the LED display is the DVD setting. If you're on the HDD setting, it only shows the word "SLEEP" while the HDD is in rest mode, which is always because I barely use it. The SD setting doesn't show diddly squat. If I have a DVD in the drive, but stopped, and I switch back to the DVD setting after switching it back on in the morning, it starts to play the DVD when all I want is to know what channel I'm on.

I do not understand why they completely removed the casual television watching functions from this otherwise excellent product.
  #94  
Old 07-18-2007, 07:43 AM
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Train Ticket Machines
Every time I ride a NJ Transit train to NYC, I am amazed at the crappy machines that sell train tickets.
Not only do you have to press fifteen buttons to tell it you speak English and you want to go to Penn Station, but it takes another five steps to get the machine to understand how many tickets you want and another seven to charge your credit card.

The worst of it is this: why does it take the machine 20 seconds to print a single ticket? Then another 20 seconds to print a receipt? Why does it print one receipt for each ticket, even if you told it you wanted four tickets right from the start?

Fifteen years ago when I worked at a movie theater, their ticket printing machine could print ten tickets in about five seconds. Why is the train ticket machine so agonizingly slow for a procedure where speed is truly of the essence?

I'm just glad I never am in a hurry when I go by train. Imagine what it must be like arriving ten minutes before your train only to see a short queue of three people in front of the machine, and then watching how slow the process is.

Cup Holders
My Volkswagen has two little cup holders right under the radio that can probably hold a can of German beer safely, but nothing else. Nothing taller than a can will fit. Useless except for storing loose change.

Credit Card Machines in Retail Stores
Why is every single one different? There must be forty different competing brands out there. They all have entirely different menus and layouts. It seems that most of them agree on the totally unintuitive "Cancel" keystroke to tell it you are using a credit card and not a debit card and you want the transaction to go through anyway.

Card Readers in General
In high-volume places, why not have more than one magnetic head inside the reader, one on each side? That way, it doesn't matter which side the stripe is facing. If it's the kind where you insert the card in a slot, why not have four read heads? That way it is goof-proof. Of course, it may cost an extra couple of dollars, but the machine will be far more user friendly. I have seen one or two machines like this, but they are rare.
  #95  
Old 07-18-2007, 08:15 AM
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The camera flip phone with the picture button on the outside. Yes I have one and yes I have taken numerous pics of the inside of my purse and the BF has numerous pics of the inside of his pocket.

The volume button is of course right next to the picture button so we have other random pics as well.

One of my DVD players does not turn off. You can put it in stand by mode but it has no "off" button. It also will not allow closed caption to come through. I am not sure why but it blocks it. I am hard of hearing and when I want to watch TV in my bedroom the A/C is loud enough that I can't make out what the characters are saying. I have to raise the volume to hear the soft vocals but I don't need it for music so I am constantly raising and lowering the volume of the TV.
The remote also has no pause. The play and pause button are one in the same.

I have another DVD player that lets the CC come through with no problem but it will not play some DVDs so I am always flipping between the two players. Thank goodness the video/audio jacks are in the front.

Of course the cable/antenna connection for the TV is in the back, in a blocked in area, about two inches by two inches in the lowest corner of the TV and all instructions are printed in black on black in a 4 point font.
  #96  
Old 07-18-2007, 09:11 AM
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ATMs.
Good Og, why can't they make the contrast on some of these things a bit darker? The one I usually go to (rather than driving another 4 miles into town to use the one at the bank itself - I don't want to use the others that are not from my bank, as the charge for using them just pisses me off), is facing north.
You can only read it clearly around noontime, on very cloudy days, and after dark. You can't see what the screen says on sunny days until around 11am. That is good until around 1pm...because it has a bit of a canopy over the machine, and the glare of the sun doesn't wash out the screen.
I've asked our bank about it, since it is their machine, and they said they'd 'let them know' (whoever 'them' might be) that it was hard to read.
That was about 7 months ago.
No changes at all, yet.
  #97  
Old 07-18-2007, 09:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Ferret Herder
Note that bathroom doors open inwards as well - no windows to allow you to check outside before opening the door, so this keeps passers-by from being hit.
Which has the side effect of causing one to be bashed in the face by the door when one is attempting to exit the bathroom but a frantic arrival has beaten one to the other side of the door and rushes in just as one is reaching for the handle.
  #98  
Old 07-18-2007, 09:45 AM
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My parkade at work installed a new automated ticket system, so that they could eliminate the job of the person who sits in a booth at the exit of the parkade, collecting cash from people who are leaving.

The new system requires that you take a ticket when you drive in. Then you are supposed to take the ticket with you, and when you are ready to leave you have to find a vending machine that allows you to pay for your time and validate your ticket. Then you get in your car, drive out, and put your now-validated ticket in another machine, which verifies that you've paid and raises the gate to let you out.

The ticket machines are only on two floors out of 9. So if you're going from, say the main floor to your car on floor 9, you first have to get off on 2 or 4 to pay for your ticket. So the elevators are now much more heavily utilized, and slower.

There are always lineups at the ticket validation machines, because they are extremely difficult to operate.

But here's the kicker: This behaviour in general (having to take your ticket with you and validate it at a separate machine) is so non-standard that many people don't validate it. Instead, they drive in, take their ticket, throw it on the dash, park, and then drive out later, expecting to find a toll booth to pay for the ticket. So what happens when they get to the exit gate? They block traffic. They get confused. Then they had to read the fine print on the exit machine, realize they have to pay at a vending machine, and get out of the car and go hunt for one while everyone waits behind them.

The problem is so bad that the parkade has had to hire an attendant as a 'runner'. He stands at the exit gate, and if someone forgot to pay he takes their money and ticket and bolts for the ticket machine, pays it for them, and brings it back.

So in the end, they saved nothing, inconvenienced everyone, and bought a whole bunch of very new, expensive ticket machines and vending machines for validating them. And the attendant no longer has a booth to sit in.
  #99  
Old 07-18-2007, 09:56 AM
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Sam Stone, they did that at the new parking garage at the train station I mentioned earlier. I went there for the first time last month. Fortunately for me they have signs ALL OVER saying "Pay your ticket in lobby before leaving parking garage"

I agree that it is a totally butt-headed system.
  #100  
Old 07-18-2007, 09:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam Stone
My parkade at work installed a new automated ticket system...

The new system requires that you take a ticket when you drive in. Then you are supposed to take the ticket with you, and when you are ready to leave you have to find a vending machine that allows you to pay for your time and validate your ticket. Then you get in your car, drive out, and put your now-validated ticket in another machine, which verifies that you've paid and raises the gate to let you out.
Sounds like a mis-placement of the pay machines to me.

Pearson Airport has a similar system in the car park at Terminal One. However, the difference seems to be that the walk-up pay machines are at the pedestrian entrances. People returning to their cars must pass the machines to enter the car park, then take the elevators to the different levels to get to their cars.

Where are the pay machines in your car park located relative to the entrances? Is it possible to enter your car park on foot and not pass a pay machine?
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