I hit raw nerves across the board last week. Almost everybody identified with at least one or more of the tech irritants, #techpeeves trended on twitter and almost everybody requested that I should write my columns only when I’m in a bad mood. Thus a sequel to last week’s column was almost guaranteed. Further blood boilers from the world of technology.
Fully paid up Beta Testers
It’s announced six months before, huge hype and buzz is created, the release is all glitz and glamour, a big star holds it and smiles for the camera and we all stand in line to get it first. Only to realise it’s a total clunker. More and more companies release unfinished products and use us as beta testers. That too after we are made to pay the full price. In this new era of very short product cycle and quick to market strategies, customers are used as guinea pigs for all sort of devices. Dear companies: we would rather wait an extra six months so that all the batteries, antennas, power buttons and software that are going to explode, drop signals, not power up and freeze do these things in your labs rather than in our hands.
Yes, it can be used as a Rocket Launcher
It is 100 per cent compatible; it will give you a 20-hour battery life if you dim the screen; at home, the colours will magically look better; it has a lifetime replacement guarantee; the unbranded Chinese knock off is much better than the original. Clueless, uninformed and ignorant salespeople at tech stores are now the stuff of legends. Most are untrained, a large percentage do it part time for pocket money and the amount of misinformation they dispense is almost tragic. Most people save up for months to buy their dream gadget and get completely misled by the uninterested boy in a sharp suit and swanky tie who knows as much about digital cameras as the guard at the showroom door. This is one category that needs a highly skilled and trained workforce and retailers need to wake up to the fact.
It has been a problem for years. The printer industry uses the classic razor and cartridge business model, where the printer itself costs very little but the cartridge is incredibly expensive. Most people went for local refills or non brand compatibles. Now, ‘new’ technology has been introduced where the cartridge itself has a smart chip built inside and the printer refuses to work without handshaking with this smartypants chip. Thus no refills, no cheaper alternatives, no nothing. Yes, it might be state of the art and developed in a top lab but it’s just ink! Don’t spend all that money on the smart chip and don’t waste huge sums on advertising about how the fake cartridge will ruin our printer. Reduce the damn price of the cartridge – all else will fall in place on its own.
The World’s most expensive commodity
Give it a thought. What could it be? The world’s most expensive commodity is International roaming. Whether it’s data or voice, touching your mobile phone when you’re out of the country means bills that can reduce a grown man to tears. And there is no real logic to it. It’s just sharing of your business between two companies – one in India and one abroad – and yet, premiums can go up to almost 5000 per cent! It’s just a phone call and an email I sent. Why would I have to rob a bank to pay it off? It’s the reason why International roaming card companies that hire a number out to you are thriving. If they can do it cheap and at prices that don’t bring down a small country; then why can’t our normal service providers?
Look at me Tech
You buy a Blackberry but never even consider a data plan. You use your state-of-the-art supercomputer-level laptop only to play solitaire. You set up a home theatre with a projector, 7.1 audio and cables worth a king’s ransom and haven’t ever seen a complete movie. Yes, there is a term for it and it’s called Look At Me Tech. Gadgetry bought with the sole reason to show off to others without a thought to the specs, utility, what use you’ll get out of it or even whether you know what all it can do. Tech bought for bragging rights is generally the lowest you can crawl to at the bottom of the barrel. It’s not about what technology you own and how much it cost – it’s how you use it.
As always, I’ve timed out on the column with a huge number of peeves still to go. Needlessly complex technology that wasn’t thought out properly, keystrokes and hidden features in a product that you don’t know how to reverse, people that grumble and criticise but never read the freaking manual and some massive irritants on Twitter and Facebook. Lots to go. But I’ll take a break. Enough whining – for now. We’ll go back to regular programming and start saving the world from blood boiler technology after a short break.
Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3. Follow Rajiv on Twitter at twitter.com/RajivMakhni
- From HT Brunch, February 13
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