my sextant works though


Look, god dammit, it’s 2008 and there’s still so much shit that doesn’t work right. Let’s make this real simple. I’ll use a list so that people in charge can understand:

1. DVD Menu Navigation – Yes, I’ve said it before. But that was three years ago and finding the Director’s Commentary or Deleted Scenes on DVDs is still as cumbersome – and slow – as playing Myst on a 1994 Mac Quadra.

2. Universal Remotes – You can spend $300 on a Harmony 1000 or $19.95 on a piece of shit from Radio Shack, and you’ll wind up with the same thing: a plastic brick that doesn’t know how to turn on your stereo and switch to VIDEO 1. The option is having seven remotes on the couch, and then when the phone rings, I might as well answer my frickin’ shoe.

3. Flat-head Screws – I put together things. You know, I attach wood pieces to other wood pieces. I even attach metal pieces to other metal pieces if I’m feeling saucy. So why, oh why, companies? Why do you still use screws with technology from the John Quincy Adams administration?

4. Red-eye Reduction – I guess it’s cool that we’re just animals, really, like cats in car headlights, but is there some other technology for red-eye that doesn’t involve a blinding flash, and then a picture of someone who thought the picture had already been taken? Oh, and “The Red Eye” meant something else in high school, just FYI.

5. Gas Pump Handles in New England – In the West, you can squeeze the gas pump handle and it’ll lock onto three different flow levels, depending on your car’s esophagus. This allows you get away from the toxic fumes, or, say, tend to the toddler that is eating a whole tube of ChapStick. Not so in New England: there, you are forced to hold the pump handle THE ENTIRE TIME, especially if it’s 40 below zero outside in a blinding snowstorm and the gas pump handle in question is approaching ZERO KELVIN.

6. Hi-Def Video Sync – You pay for a big flat-screen LCD television, pony up for the HD channels on cable or satellite, connect it to your stereo and sit back for the big game. But guess what? Because audio is pretty simple, and video takes so long to process, ESPN HD has about a half-second lag between the sound and the picture. Call Comcast or DirecTV to complain… I dare you.

7. Cell Phone Service – Really, don’t you just want to roll down your window and frisbee the fucking thing out of the car?

15 thoughts on “my sextant works though

  1. Matt

    Great list although I’m a big fan of my cell phone, ever since I left Sprint.
    “‘The Red Eye’ meant something else in high school, just FYI.”
    I went to HS in Iowa, so I missed a lot of things. What did it mean?

  2. CM

    Why in this era can’t anyone make a program that allows you to recall your own e-mail, besides AOL? We’ve all sent e-mails we regret….

  3. Bud

    Dude, I’m totally with you on most of those, especially cell phones and flat head screws.
    I did fork over about $100 (at Radio Shack) for a Harmony remote and it works great. Pain in the ass to set up, but worth it.
    You can get around the New England gas pump thing by simply stuffing something in the space (gas cap itself works fine).
    And Matt — really?? Never had Chinese eyes, not even at 4:20?

  4. Anne

    YAYYYYY! Great list, Ian. I’m with you on everything except the screws (don’t get it; not a carpenter) and the cell phone… mine is simple and works well.
    I am beyond annoyed at the need for multiple remote controls to operate our TV and its accessories. I can’t find my way around a DVD to save my life. (Thank God I have children who do it for me.) I still don’t know how to play a DVD on our new system.
    After years of insisting I wouldn’t do it (stubborn), I finally began pumping my own gas last year. I didn’t realize we in New England were the only ones deprived of a locking mechanism that would allow us to let go of that damn pump handle. Plus, half the pumps I go to have some defect, like they keep shutting off arbitrarily and I have to keep squeezing the handle until the tank is filled up. GAAHHHHHH. Too many annoyances. Consumers (most of us) want SIMPLE things that work. And yeah, that sound-lag on HD television is crazy.
    OK, thanks, you’ve gotten me riled up, and it’s not even 9 am yet! MAD AS HELL! (lol)

  5. Ehren

    I have a pet peeve along these lines (though not exactly what you’re talking about), which is that I want my computer to operate really quickly, yet the software companies (even my beloved Apple) insist on continually adding meaningless animations, fadeaways, sound effects and other assorted bells and whistles that gobble processor speed and prevent things from being really snappy. I don’t want icons in my dock to resize themselves as I scroll over them, and I’m unimpressed by swirling icons in the corners of programs, or watching my windows get sucked down a little gravity well as they disappear into the bottom of my screen. I just want crisp, zippy minimalism.

  6. jersey

    How can you be so angry when we’ve been blessed with DVR (or TiVo)?
    I’m still in the honeymoon phase being able to watch my shows whenever it suits me.
    Point #6 is interesting though.
    I thought the sound/picture synch was “off” because I was drunk.

  7. Tanya

    I’d like to add a section (b) to #6: Some gizmo that will synch radio with television so that I can watch the Heels and listen to Woody without going bananas. The delay is maddening. I mean, I love me some Woody Durham, and so I put up with the fact that he gets the players and the calls wrong about 20% of the time. But when you couple that with the delay…*shudder* I sometimes prefer Packer.
    p.s. I know they DO make the gizmo, but according to user reviews, it still doesn’t work.

  8. Dave

    Just to respond to Tanya .. I have the device that you are talking about and it works great. It’s called delayplay radio (or maybe just delayradio), and the only problem I’ve had is when the radio starts trying to delay their signal to the point where it takes most of the time before the first tv timeout to get it in sync. But it works great – Woody, Jones and Eric/Steiney but no dookie v or packer!

  9. Bud

    Ehren — yeah, me too. I turned off most of the new “features” in Vista and now it’s mostly tolerable.
    It’s as if software makers today have to gild the lily to justify their overpriced upgrades. Mostly, software already does what we want it to do, so what else can they do?

  10. janet regis

    Ian i think you need to become an inventor and then you will never have to be stressed by all that …create the thing-i-me-bob and you will never look back…by the way you would make an absolute bloody fortune ” the thing-i-me-bob that always gets it spot on ” …could that ever exist ?…..wouldn’t we get a little bit bored…..and so the dilemma goes on ! xx.
    PS ( we are now also considering ireland as a new base…..has alot to offer with jobs and land….we will keep you posted….love to everyone ………hope you are all recovering from your bugs…xxx

  11. ken

    1) The DVD menus are still slow but not that bad. The problem I’ve been having has been with our Sony Blu-Ray DVD player, it takes FOREVER to load and then to open the tray to accept a DVD. I will literally power it up, leave the room for a few minutes, come back, load the DVD, leave the room again and then navigate. It totally sucks.
    2) I too have a Radio Shack Universal Remote which kicks ass. It’s not a Harmony but it does have a fancy name, like Genie or Wizard or someting like that. It runs everything but the DVR but I can deal with two remotes.
    3) I love the square-head screws, can’t believe it took so long to invent those. They don’t slip or strip.
    4) Our Red-Eye Reducer on our Canon is just a medium intensity burst of light, not a blinding flash. And in Junior High, our Red Eye was a bit more bawdy (not druggy).
    5) Not a problem in Chicago but I do hate when the card readers at the pump don’t work or don’t print receipts.
    6) I’ve found if you pause the event for a moment, the synch usually rights itself. And it only happens when the show is still recording, rarely when it’s already ‘in the can’.
    7) Can’t help you there. I have AT&T and work in a cinder block bunker-type building and still get three or four bars most of the time.

  12. T.J.

    Aagh! DVD menus! Perfect example tonight: my wife and I settled down to watch a few episodes of Weeds, Season Three, Disc 2, from Netflix. We’d already seen and returned Disc 1. But as it turns out, we’d only seen the first 3 out of 5 episodes on Disc 1, because the other two were hidden on a second page. Why didn’t they list all five on the “Episode Selection” page? I haven’t the foggiest idea. So now we have to get Disc 1 AGAIN.

  13. Bozoette Mary

    I have a dead cell phone area in my OWN HOUSE. It doesn’t matter which service we have. We still cannot make cell phone calls from home. On the other hand, one things that works PERFECTLY is my combination toaster/egg poacher. Egg McMuffin, anyone??

  14. Stephen

    Red-Eye is caused by the flash reflecting off the blood in the back of your eye and the first flash is an attempt to close your pupil. (doesn’t usually work)
    The only options I know of are not to use a flash or do not fire the flash directly into the eyes.
    I suppose with the new face detection software, eventually they’ll be able to locate the eyes and auto correct them.


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