Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Stupidity Factor: Why Can't People Design Things Properly Any More?

(Finally, here is a post! I wrote most of it on 11/4. I'm just now getting back to speed after that nasty, nasty flu. If you get it, be good to yourself, it can really lay you out. I will try to get back to posting something once a week. Thanks for your patience.)

This is going to be a bit of a rant. I clean houses and hand mop large areas of hardwood flooring. I am not complaining about the task. With my low vision doing a floor on hands and knees gives me a chance to 'feel' where the dirt is. Using a mop, I just glide over the stuck-on stuff, never the wiser.

About eleven years ago I bought some serious knee pads. They were thick rubber with two sets of attachment straps. Due to wear, they no longer attach properly. So, I went to the local hardware store to replace them. After carefully describing what my needs are to a clerk, he came back with one choice. An unbelievably badly designed, thin rubber atrocity that I had to assemble. So ten bucks down the shoot. I mean, these things just don't work. The one strap is placed incorrectly causing the pad to drift downward while walking. But what really made me angry was the total lack of protection this device gave my knees. I would have been better off folding up one of the bathroom rugs and sliding around on it!

That last idea is also sold by my hardware store. It is called a kneeler. After trolling the Internet, I got a good look at said device. It is designed for GARDENING! Where crouching gets you to the perfect height. Now, friends, there is a design problem here. People who are up and down, on and off their knees all day long don't want to have to worry about moving their kneeling platform. People who are on and off their knees all day need more then 1/4 inch of cheap rubber between their knee and a hard surface. I can not believe my hardware store sold me what they did.

After trolling the net and being relieved of almost thirty bucks my new knee pads will arrive by November fifteenth! One of those secondary sellers on As a California resident, my state government has seen fit to force amazon and this other poor seller to warn me about the dangers from my product. (Knee pads - this I gotta see). Yes, friends this is no joke. Thanks to something called Prop. 65, I was warned that while working in dusty areas, or with wood and construction equipment, I might breathe in something harmful! Perhaps if I hold the knee pad over my nose and inhale, I might also get a rubber buzz! As David Steinberg used to say: thanks for clearing that up!

(Flash! Update. Since I didn't publish this when planned, my $30 knee pads arrived and they are worth every penny! I now can both do my job and still walk the next day. Now, I return you to the remainder of this post)

But, alas, there are mountains of stupidity out there. I own a walker. I love my walker and use it unmercifully through all kinds of weather and terrain. It is held together with various bolts and "#2 Phillips" screws. For those of you who don't know, the Phillips is the screw with a cross type head. it looks like a plus (+) sign. So, every so often one set of screws work themselves loose. The pharmacist who sold me the walker hands me a twelve inch long screw driver and I get the screws tightened up.

Twelve inches long? Yes. See the screws in question are buried deep within the handle assembly. People have difficulty looking at them, not to mention trying to tighten them, due to their insane placement. Since my x-husband worked on cars and TVs, he showed me one of the greatest inventions known to man: an angled, or 'bent' screw driver.

Take a screw driver and bend the end into a ninety-degree angle. (It forms one corner of a square). This is used a lot with wrenches. It is amazingly cool. I now own a little tool about two inches long that is bent at both ends. A Phillips on the left and a standard screw head on the right. Oh, how sweet it is!

But, why do mechanics and the like have to be understudies to Houdini? Somewhere, someone had an idea for, say my walker. After the device made it through the proof of concept stage it had to be built. Proof of concept: can/will it benefit the patient enough so that someone will buy it? Building it involves an assembly-line and efficiency.

Efficiency is in the eye of some of the workers. My troublesome screws probably go in very nicely on the shop floor. What one has to do to them once the product has been bought? Who cares?

We have the same thing within the technical / computer world. Entire careers have been spawned attempting to overcome some one's lousy design which wasn't supposed to stay in "production" for twenty years. There is some VERY bad code floating around from, oh say 1986 that some businesses have "patched" to where it still works on the Internet! Sure, there will be a day of reckoning, but the coding monkey who did the last set of revisions is gone, gone, gone!

I long for the day when people again know more then just their little slice of reality. Apple had a great idea, they'd have their computer talk to you. It would read text from the screen. This was back in the eighties. This was wonderful for the blind, right? Not quite. In order to get the computer to "read" text, one had to use a mouse to "select" the desired text. Huh? So totally blind folks are locked into the PC environment because, at least Microsoft didn't require a blind person to select things with a mouse! Somebody wasn't thinking. Oh how I hate it, let me count the ways.

But alas, I am also capable of being stupid. While acquiring the worst flu bug in years, I felt I could crank out a post on this blog. Oh how wrong I was. I had typing problems. Not because I didn't use a spell checker, but because I didn't proof it after the spell checker gave me a clean bill of health. Bat and bet are both correctly spelled words. However, context determines which one is actually correct. Well, after I thoroughly check this post, I'll go back and re-check my last post!

But, I have one last product lament. Right now, men's deodorants are pretty straight-forward solid stick affairs. But, gentlemen, your day is coming. I present the dumbest innovation I've ever had the displeasure of using.

I won't name the product, to hide their shame. It looks like a regular solid stick roll on. But upon opening it, I discovered a grill work over the top of the container. I figured it was a decorative way of keeping it fresh until I purchased it. After much serious tugging, I removed the second 'top' to discover the 'pond' of product underneath.

Folks, this stuff is like a bad hand lotion in consistency. So, now I comprehend what the grill is for. See, this is a system where I can neatly apply a wet version of what I thought was a stick solid. This is totally inane! You "notch" it up by clicks. One click per arm pit. I have to really fool with this set up to evenly spread this clop. For those of you who wish to avoid all this fun. Don't buy any deodorant labeled "soft" solid.

1 comment:

MacPhilly said...

Alas, the soft solid is not new. But I don't use any of that stuff anyway, I use the natural stuff. Works better AND won't cause Alzheimer's!