Letters to Redmond

Pet Peeves Aplenty

Technology -- can't live with it, can't reveal the minutest details of your life in 140 characters or less without it.

In a recent Barney's Rubble column ["Blowing off Steam," January 2010], Doug Barney asked: "What drives you nuts?" Here's what drives me crazy: when the kids are always on their phones. I have a great picture of my niece and two nephews, sitting right next to each other -- but they're texting! I took the picture and then I told them to put their phones away and talk to each other. They looked at me like I was an idiot. After putting away their phones, they could not think of anything to say to each other, so they just watched TV. Unbelievable. We're definitely losing the art of personal interaction with each other.

Greg Mott
received by e-mail

Here's what drives me nuts about today's technology: Every demand is now! Or, right $%&#ing now! Almost every person with whom I interact these days is so focused on instant gratification that if they can't get it they bounce from person to person to try. The manager wants the report he asked for a minute ago, so he goes from business analyst to business analyst, no matter their current workload. People call me while I'm at lunch to see if I got their e-mail; 30 seconds to boot up a computer is no longer acceptable. Microsecond latency while opening a 100MG e-mail or saving a document is intolerable. Help desk phone queues deeper than a single call are egregious.

People have always been complex machines, but they come with the added bonus of all the emotional rage when technology enters the picture. Yuck!

Donn A. Lassila
received by e-mail

Tweeting bugs me. I got started late in life with IT, so I don't tweet. It sounds like glorified texting to me. As far as vacation goes, when I head out for a week of amateur astronomy with my big telescope at a star party, I turn my BlackBerry off and I don't take a laptop. I think this is again related to my late start in IT. If I were 20 or 30 -- an age I'm well removed from now -- I imagine I'd shrivel up and die if I didn't stay totally connected all the time. But for me, now, totally connected just doesn't wag my tail.

You know what else bugs me? Those little AC adapters that nearly everything comes with nowadays. Why can't they be standardized, at least a little bit? I've got a box of 100 or so in my spare cabinet -- I learned early in my IT career not to throw functional equipment away, even if it's not needed -- and every dang one of them has a different tip or output-current rating or output-voltage rating.

Gordon Pegue
received by e-mail

The not-so-user-friendly USB port bugs me. There are two problems with them. First: The fit is so tight that if you're having a problem inserting the connector, you don't know if the issue is due to your hands not being as dexterous as those of a surgeon, or if you have the connector upside down.

This leads me to the second problem with them: There's no clear indication to tell you which side of the connector should be inserted. Lest you think this is trivial, consider that my 81-year-old mother uses a memory stick and often tries to insert the connector in the USB port located on the side of the PC out of her view, only to feel frustrated at how difficult it is. The electrical socket in comparison is light years ahead of the USB port in its ease of insertion. It's time the USB and connector manufacturers recognize that everyone uses USB ports, and they should therefore make them easier to use.

Something else that bothers me is the occasional article on the Web that shows no date of publication. I hate it when I'm doing a Google search on how to do something or learn about a subject and the date of the article is nowhere to be found. If information is old and out of date, it could be wrong and misleading -- but the user would have no idea it's wrong. I believe every article posted to the Web should be required to share the date it was written and published.

Elliot Semmelman
received by e-mail

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