Pet Peeves

My Pet Peeves

This list is my cure for frustration. When something or someone bugs me, I take my revenge on the list instead of them. Perhaps one of you bright entrepreneurs might glean an idea for a business from one of the implied needs for the human race listed here!

  • Bank telephone systems. You need to be a cross between a spy and a thief to speak to a real person instead of a robot. Dialling zero sometimes works.

  • The way Colgate toothpaste congeals aroung the top of the tube. My favourite toothpaste is Aquafresh

  • Transformer/rectifiers for electronic gadgets. Most small electonic devices operate on low voltage DC, and come with a small black thing that converts mains power to DC. Problem is that different DC voltage levels require different converters. I have a stack of such converters which are relics of defunct devices. None of them identifies the device it was sold with. Why can't they include some description, like Sanyo DVD, or Toshiba telephone? The manufacturers are just plain lazy in not labelling their products properly. The labelling they do have, such as 'output 3.6 v' is always in bass relief black plastic just like the device, so hard to read without a flashlight.

  • Automatic downloading of software I don't want. Whenever there is an Adobe Flash update, it downloads Google Chrome and the Google Toolbar as well, without asking me if I want them. Toolbars are a potential source of problems and take up space on the desktop. The fewer the better.

  • Windows 7. I use it on one machine and Windows XP on another. XP is far more user friendly. One area of particular frustration is in the audio settings, where the perfectly good system on XP has been abandoned in favour of a confusing and complex mesh of software controls where a single volume control is used both for playback and recording volume, and where the volume of the recorded signal changes dramatically if headphones are plugged in (I realize part of the blame here is Dell's for the hardware). It is frustrating to me not to be able to contact the design authorities and point out such things. My guess is that the software designers were probably hot-shot teenagers not sufficiently experienced in actually making recordings - which takes years to learn to do well.

  • Grocery carts left in the place where I was about to park. What kind of a person would do that? Someone who's attitude in life is 'I don't care about anyone else as long as my convenience is secured.' Ug!

  • The current fashion in newspaper and magazine layout to place a bold text version of key text in a box in the middle of the column. This practice was fine when they took the trouble to write a summarizing sentence in the bolded box, but just repeating text the reader has read anyway is aggravating.

  • People who don't keep pen and paper by their phone, so often when they receive a call, have to go search for them. You would have thought they would have figured this out by now, but I have to tell you that most people haven't!

  • "Plaxo" contact network. If one of your friends has e-mailed you on this you'll know what it is. I am just tiring of filling in my home details for everybody's database.

  • Bell Call Answer allows the setting of the number of rings by keying *94 N, where N = number of rings. The problem is that if you opt for long distance calls to have double rings, there is no way round your long distance callers going to call answer in about half the time your local callers do, exactly the opposite of what most people would want (if somebody calls long distance, most of us would prefer to speak to them on their dollar!) I discussed this with Bell and they said I was the first ever to comment on this.

  • People who own huge houses but won't give even a dollar to a charity collector (the ones who do give are always more pleasant, relaxed and contented than those who don't - I wonder if there's a connection).

  • Pedestians who deliberately walk slowly across roads in order to assert themselves by holding up traffic.

  • People who try and talk to you when you are programming a VCR.

  • Movies with consumer goods (eg cars) blowing up all the time, and where special effects are the mainstay of the movie. The only fully satisfying films are about human relationships, not destruction.

  • The book 1984 warned of it and now it's here - the design and production of unnecessary goods, such as video games, expensive cars, gaming machines, hand-held internet devices, ridiculously fast personal computers, ridiculously high fibre-optic bandwidth that no-one can appreciate, because everything else we really need has been produced and we need to keep companies growing (or they'll die) and keep design engineers employed. The younger generation think that these goods are necessary and spend big money on them.

  • Movie soundtracks in mega-cinemas with never-ending bangs, whooshes, explosions and other sound effects that are unnaturally loud. Also the fact that such cinemas only play first run films, ignoring the wealth of cinema excellence that was released more than a month ago. I would love to see re-runs of great movies in a modern cinema with surround sound.

  • Kevin O'Connor, founder of Double-click Inc., which makes those pop-up web page ads you have to double-click to remove.

  • E-mail messages from strangers telling me I can make huge amounts of money...particularly those promoting bulk e-mail...and particularly those for which my replies saying "remove me" are undeliverable.

  • The local practice of naming roads with the same name in the same area. There are two Terry Fox Drives in Kanata. The Terry Foxs are not even in line. If you ever find yourself searching the wrong one, you'll know what I mean.

    Failure to understand the principle of redundancy in communication. All words which cannot be confirmed by context must be clearly ennunciated.

  • Cereal packets where the inner wrapping is designed not to open easily, but to split vertically, therby ensuring spilt cereal throughout the life of the pack. Some well established manufacturers are the worst offenders.

  • Canadian banks will not facilitate payment to to other banks by telephone or internet banking, neither can you ask a teller to make a transfer to another bank from your account except by expensive wire transfer. In the UK such transfers are normal and free.

  • Canada Customs in general, but in particular the slapping of a $5 flat handling charge on any item couriered into Canada with any value that attracts a GST payment, even if the amount of GST is only a few cents. This customs charge must be paid, even if it can then be reclaimed. (BTW, they are far less likely to charge on mailed goods than couriered goods.)

  • The practice of the MoT to scrape the surface off major roads, and then leave them in a rough and dangerous state for months before resurfacing (eg the westbound Ottawa Queensway at Acres Rd Summer 1999). They said it was essential to scrape because potholes were dangerous, and then they scraped even more of the eastbound Queensway in midsummer, and it had no potholes!

  • The NRC time signal broadcast by CBC Radio. Trying to set your watch on a pip 10 after seconds of silence is frustrating. Take a tip from the BBC and the Greenwich time signal: 6 pips.

  • The use of the nominative case instead of the accusative, as in the sentence I heard from an educated lady on the radio: "One of my staff met he and his family." If you don't know what's wrong with this you are probably an offender. Just stop the sentence after the word "he" and see how it sounds. I can only assume some English teachers are teaching such bad grammar in school. Here is another example I shuddered at:
       Effective Friday March 29, Carl and I's new phone number and address will be..."

  • Guests who fill kettles to the top to boil water for one cup of tea. (I theorise that if people were taught not to do this in school we could cut national energy bills by 20%)

  • Apples with price stickers stuck on so they won't come off.

  • People who toss gargage into the bin without placing it inside the garbage bag in the bin there to receive it.

  • Ontario female teenage lilt.

  • Houses street numbers that can't be clearly seen from the road on a dark night.

  • Stores without street numbers. This should be a civil offence, since accidents can be caused by drivers with eyes off the road searching for a number.

  • The shrinkwrap packaging around CD's and blank cassette tapes; drives you crazy taking it off. However, I have now found that you can strip it off a CD by sharply scraping it (the CD) on a hard metal edge.

  • People who remove web sites without leaving a link to the new address.

  • Traffic calming measures and speed bumps (particularly in UK where they are twice as vicious).

  • Popcorn, particularly in huge containers in cinemas, (spilling all over). It's bad for you and it smells awful.

  • Airplane PA sytems. How come multi-million dollar aircraft use PA systems that would have been considered inadequate 50 years ago? For foreigners, trying to understand whether an announcement is important or trivial, they must be a nightmare. Why do announcers in airports speak so fast, making it virtually certain that foreigners will not get the message?

  • Airplane audio systens. They give us a stereo headset, often free these days, which must cost $1,000 for 200 passengers, but on most flights only one or two audio channels are stereo, and the movie soundtrack is always mono! Why not use stereo sound sources exclusively, and pipe the movie stereo tracks (all movie videotapes have stereo soundtracks).
    Its now more than a decade since I wrote that, and I must say aircraft entertainment systems have improved out of all recognition! Maybe t