Recently, readers of Wired Magazine were asked to compile lists of the most annoying examples of technology that we just can’t seem to escape. They came up with an impressive list of gadgets and software that they’d like to blast into cyber-oblivion.
See the full list here.
A few of them in particular would have made my list, too.
I understand the need for captcha, those scrambled, hard-to-read words that fools spambots while simultaneously making life difficult for real people. But it’s that latter part that’s the problem. One of the greatest plugins I found to combat captcha requirements when leaving a comment at someone’s blog is called the Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin. Instead of captcha, it simply requires users to click a check box to prove that their human.
2. Credit Card Machines
My biggest beef with them isn’t directly mentioned in the real list. My problem is that I often use my debit card; I always use it, however, as a credit card, never as a debit card, and every machine I encounter has a different way of handling that. Sometimes, I have to press a button to select credit or debit before I swipe the card. Other times, I have to wait for the number pad graphic to appear and then click “Cancel,” so it knows I mean credit. Once in a while, I’ll hit that cancel and it’ll cancel the transaction altogether because there’s actually a smaller “credit” button elsewhere on the keypad. There needs to be one way to address this option, and once the powers that be in creditland decide what that one way is, every credit card machine needs to adopt that same method. It’d save everyone a lot of time.
3. “Touchless” Bathrooms
In theory, motion-sensing faucets, soap dispensers and paper towel dispensers are a great idea to conserve materials. In practice, they suck. The water never comes on long enough, and once it comes on the first time, you practically have to execute a ten-syllable word in sign language before it activates again. The soap dispensers sometimes misfire, but tend to be more reliable than the faucet. Then there’s the paper towel dispensers: really, how big are the people they’re programmed to serve? The narrow little strip of paper they shoot out would be enough to dry a few fingers. And like the faucet, once it has stingily dispensed its initial blast, you have to do some sort of interpretive dance to get enough additional paper to dry the rest of the first hand.
4. Automated Telephone Attendants
The article lists this as “voice recognition software,” which, in and of itself, isn’t a bad thing at all. But the focus of the complaints directed toward VRT are the computer programs that answer the phones in place of receptionists and give you endless lists of menus to choose from, then promptly misdirect your call anyway. Any company that resorts to VRT just to avoid paying operators should lose any tax benefits they have. That would get some people back to work!
What technology do you find most annoying?