When Technology Goes Bad

Two nights ago, kellyv and i were awakened out of a sound sleep by the smoke detector in our bedroom, which started chirping to complain that the battery was going dead.

The smoke detectors in our house are powered by line voltage and by batteries. They’re “smart” detectors–all of them are networked, so if any one smoke detector detects a fire, they all go off.

And if any one detector has a dead battery, they all start chirping.

This is really, really, really, really, really dumb.

The engineer who designed these smoke detectors, who obviously couldn’t catch a clue if he dressed up as a female clue, doused himself in clue musk, and went out during clue mating season, forgot one teensy-weensy little detail about the way people use technology:

If all the smoke detectors are chirping, you can’t tell which goddamn smoke detector has the dead battery!!

It was 3 AM. We have six smoke detectors, and had two replacement batteries. The onlt way to shut the things up, short of taking an hour to try replacing the battery in each one individually, was to rip ’em all off the walls and bury them under a pillow, which is what I did.

People who work in the field of consumer electronics and computer engineering really piss me off. They never think about how their technology is used.

Like the car stereo in my del Sol–whose controls are unlighted and labelled in six-point type. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

Or PCs that have the USB ports and headphone jacks in the back. Stupid.

Or my cell phone, which makes me press six buttons (Menu, scroll, scroll, scroll, menu, menu) to access the phone directory. Phone numbers are seven digits long. Doesn’t really save you very much does it? Idiots.

And then, of course, there’s Microsoft, the undisputed reigning champions of idiotic design and poor user interface. Take, for example, this delightful little gem, an actual screen shot of an error from Microsoft DataLink: