Technnoyances

A list of four things in the world of tech that I find annoying, submitted for your approval in no particular order.

Unboxing videos

I’ve ranted about this elsewhere, but it’s worth repeating; unboxing videos are awful.  If there’s anything more pathetic to me than sitting around wishing you had some piece of technology, it’s doing so while also seeking out and watching other people open up boxes with the desired tech inside.

I understand doing research on products you’re thinking about buying, but I don’t see where the unboxing video fits in with all that.  If you want to find out what’s actually inside the box, you can find that info on websites or in stores.  If you want to see little bits of molded Styrofoam, you’ve probably got some in boxes you already own sitting around in your house or apartment somewhere.

If you want some new thing that badly, watching someone open up its box isn’t going to get you any closer to that goal.  Spoiler alert: it’s going to be boxed up the same as everything else you’ve bought: lots of tape, lots of Styrofoam, lots of plastic.  Whoopdy doo.

Purposefully misspelled website / service names

I know that this is probably something that can’t really be helped, considering the ever-decreasing amount of URL’s available, but there’s something that really annoys me about every new website being named in some “edgy” or “cute” misspelling of a simple word.

Flickr.  Digg.  Pownce.  Blippr.  Tumblr.  Mixx.  The lyst goes on.

Have we completely exhausted our reserve of real words for domain names?  Has the well of creativity run dry?  Seriously annoying.

And you can add to this all the various websites with the words “pop”, “crunch”, and “mash” in their domain names.  Not necessarily misspelled words, but still awful.  I don’t think I’ve ever found any site with any of those words in their URL useful in any way whatsoever.

Network searches with Finder

I work in a creative field, and have for years.  Unfortunately, this means that most of the time, my employers equip me with a Mac and by extension OS X, which you probably know, is not my preferred operating system.

I don’t hate OS X, and actually wish one or two of its features would creep into Windows someday, but there are many quirks and problems with it that nobody ever talks about when they’re in the middle of trying to convince you it’s worth buying over-priced Apple hardware for.  One of those things is the fact that, if you’re planning on using it over any type of network, you could be in for some frustration, especially where search is concerned.

The other day I tried searching for a file on our network at work, both of which use OS X.  No results were returned, and the spinning “beach ball” appeared, signaling network wait time.  So I let it run its course and got back to my work.  10 minutes later, the pinwheel was still showing, and Finder wasn’t responding.  So I forced Finder to quit and then tried to re-open it, but no dice; OS X informed me that Finder can’t re-open.  And since Finder handles the file saving functions for all the programs I was running, I couldn’t save any of my work for a restart.  Gah.

And this isn’t an isolated incident.  In all my years of using OS X, the most problems I’ve had with it have involved network problems.  The only advice I can give, if you absolutely have to work on a Mac, is that if you’re planning on doing any major network activity, save your work first.

Organizing media files with Windows 7

I’ve been happy with Windows 7 since I picked it up last year on launch day.  It does just about everything better than XP did, and it’s nice and snappy to boot.  But one thing that absolutely annoys me to no end is the problems I’ve had trying to organize my music files.

Like many people out there, I’ve been collecting digital music files for years.  A good portion of my music consists of files I ripped myself from CD’s I’ve bought, and most of the rest is digital music I’ve purchased from iTunes and Amazon.  The problem is, as I’ve bounced between two iPods and about four computers, all with varying amounts of storage, my music has become a bit disorganized.  With big hard drives being pretty cheap these days, I’ve managed to consolidate most of the recent additions to my collection onto one drive, and now I’ve begun trying to organize it.

Problem is, about 75% of the time I try to move around my music folders, Windows 7 is telling me that there is a file in use and prevents the operation from happening.

After an hour of pure frustration, disabling all music sharing, disabling the folder from being read by Windows 7’s music library, disabling Windows Media Player from scanning the folder, and disabling all folder thumbnailing the OS does, it’s gotten better.  But I still get this error now and then, and it still hurts every time it happens.  The file is in use by the OS that is trying to move it.

Isn’t it reasonable to suspend the OS from reading the file if a move is being requested?  It kills me that with all the great things Windows 7 can do, it still stumbles over something so basic, and so stupid.

So now I have to choose between letting the OS thumbnail my folders, so I can see what’s in them without opening them, or making the whole thing look like some kind of file system ghost town, but with the ability to easily move my music around.  Awesome.

The one good thing about this is that I’ve discovered the Local Group Policy Editor, which offers a lot of interesting customization options for Windows 7, under the hood.

Anyway, it feels good to get all that off my chest.  Some of it may be unreasonable, and you might disagree with me, but there it is.  Sound off in the comments if you have any extreme likes or dislikes in my list, or let me know about some of your own tech world annoyances!  I’m sure I’ll be back with more in the future.

Image courtesy of unpluggd.com

20 comments:

  1. Drazzke - Over a year ago

    I agree with you on most of those things (or at least the ones I’ve encountered). Haven’t run into that issue with Windows 7, though I have hit one that is just as annoying.
    I’m the only user, and administrator, on my recently bought Windows 7 computer. Several times I have attempted to modify some files in my Program Files folder, only to find that I “Do not have permission” to edit said files. If I’m an admin, and the only user at that, I think I should be able to have access to any file I want on my computer. I’ve tried to run a program I just installed only to find I don’t have the correct permissions to RUN IT. What?
    I’ve sorted out the problem (to an extent) by going through countless permission and owner settings (and in one case the registry). And It’s not like I’m trying to uncompile a program or anything. In most cases I just want to run it, or modify some config. files. Really annoying.

    1. Martin - Over a year ago

      I would be really annoyed by that too. Did you do an upgrade or install Win 7 fresh? The only time I’ve ever had any major permissions problems with Windows has been when I’ve tried upgrading old versions or running data from drives from different installations.

  2. Drazzke - Over a year ago

    haha, realized I should have said “not like I’m trying to decompile”, not “not like I’m trying to uncompile” :P

  3. Martin - Over a year ago

    In retrospect, I should have added a fifth thing to this list: the growing number of pointless infographics. It’s like traveling through graphic designer homework hell!

    Oh well, next time, I guess.

  4. Drazzke - Over a year ago

    I bought my computer in December ’09, and I’ve been using whatever version of Windows 7 that came with. I haven’t updated it or anything since then. This computer has only ever used this version of Windows 7.

    “the growing number of pointless infographic”

    I haven’t noticed this particular thing myself, though I find that windows often has too many layers of crap altogether. Windows 7 is a great improvement, but sometimes I feel that all the extra, non-used stuff, is… just a waste of space and just makes things confusing.

    1. Martin - Over a year ago

      Regarding “the growing number of pointless infographic”, that was more a complaint about the internet… not sure if Windows has any infographics included with it or not! :P

  5. kc lc - Over a year ago

    I don’t understand what you’re talking about in the “unboxing videos” section. Are you talking about video-store customers opening the boxes before they buy them? Something else?

    1. Martin - Over a year ago

      Hehe, maybe I should have included an example of an unboxing video! Unboxing videos are video clips (or sequences of images) people take of themselves opening up boxes of new products. I’m not really sure why people watch them.

      Here’s an example of a recent unboxing image sequence from Engadget: http://www.engadget.com/2009/11/11/limited-edition-modern-warfare-2-xbox-360-unboxing/

  6. xot - Over a year ago

    Getting held up by that “file in use” thing has to be my biggest Windows pet peeve. I should not have to reboot to move a file but sometimes it seems like the only thing that works.

    And the unboxing videos are really bizarre. Who would think anyone would want to watch that, and who are these people watching them? I have to confess to watching one myself on Kotaku out of morbid curiosity. It met or exceeded my worst expectations. This is the legacy we are building for future generations of dutiful consumers to marvel at.

  7. Dangerous_Dave - Over a year ago

    Hmm, I use Mac OS (10.5) for files, music, and pretty much everything. I use Windows for games and Game Maker. I have never had the Finder fail to restart, although I have had it freeze. I have never been in the situation where I could not save work. I have never had a problem with Windows 7, although I haven’t moved many files, and I don’t have any music on it. In fact, compared to other people, my experience with both OS’s seems to be above average. I quite like the dual setup, and it takes less than a minute to boot between. Best of both worlds, none of the worst.

    1. Martin - Over a year ago

      Well, don’t get me wrong – most of the time I spend with Windows 7 and OS X is problem-free. I’m primarily running Windows at home, but I’ve got a Mac Pro at work, so I spend plenty of time with both.

      I’ve fiddled with a Hackintosh at home, but haven’t ever needed it for anything except maybe iPod management via Senuti (great program, btw). I do games and design work in Windows, and it works well. Aside from the occasional want for Exposé, it’s pretty similar to my work flow in OS X at work.

    2. Dangerous_Dave - Over a year ago

      I longed for Expose in Windows as well, so I went out and found a program that did it. This is switcher: http://insentient.net/
      It seems to work ok. I had to edit the settings a bit to set it up like I have on Mac OS, but I had to edit the Mac OS settings to get it how I wanted as well.

  8. Dangerous_Dave - Over a year ago

    Where did my…Oh that’s right, WordPress thinks I’m spam if I post a link…

    1. Martin - Over a year ago

      It’s there now!

  9. SunnyKatt - Over a year ago

    I’ve never had windows yell at me about moving a file on my computer, but it has on other people’s. I just pop in an ubuntu disk, boot from it, access the hard drive, move all the crap while windows isn’t even “awake”, then take the disk out and boot up again.

    This also is wonderful for deleting a virus that tries to prevent you from doing so (even though I haven’t gotten a virus since I switched to windows 7…)

  10. xot - Over a year ago

    Just came across this utility called Unlocker that seems to free up files so that drives can be removed and files can be moved or deleted. Can’t vouch for the author but it seems to work.

    http://ccollomb.free.fr/unlocker

    1. Martin - Over a year ago

      I might have to try that – in the worst case scenarios, I usually end up force-closing Explorer and then deleting everything with the command prompt…

  11. kc lc - Over a year ago

    Who would think anyone would want to watch that, and who are these people watching them?
    — xot

    Apparently, it’s you and Fred.

  12. SoulRed12 - Over a year ago

    I’ve never actually seen the unboxing videos, but the whole idea of watching someone else unwrap an electronic you want kind of reminds me of single guys going online and downloading a bunch of…well, you get the picture. (LOL PUN)

    In regards to the networking thing, I can’t really comment because I don’t network with my mac. But it is my primary comp and my favorite OS (running 10.5), at least in regards to that for which I need it. I’ve never had any major problems, whereas windows (all versions, though I haven’t really tried Win7 yet) tends to give me grief at least once a week.

    As for the moving files thing, that’s one thing I really like about OSX. In my experience, it’s been quite understanding in that area. Aliases tend to get automatically updated to point to the new locations (as do dock icons), and I can even move files while they’re loaded in a program (like a video in quicktime or a doc file in MSWord), something that would NEVER fly in many cases on windows. I also never (okay, not never, but VERY rarely) get “in use” errors like I always do on Windows when I’m trying to “safely remove” USB drives or external HDs. It’s quite nice.

    And LOL at the purposefully misspelled websites thing. I never really thought about it, but they’re starting to bug me now too =p There’s also “pixlr” and “resizr”, two websites for editing and resizing photos. >_<

  13. Sabriath - Over a year ago

    I agree with everything you said except for the problems you are having with win7. I honestly have not come across that error ever (are you using it under admin rights? and have you done a full sweep of the drive for privies? *shrugs*).

    Someone has already mentioned it, but the whole “you do not have permission” is a little bit excessive in my opinion. I understand the protection aspects of someone possibly “stealing” someone else’ harddrive and stealing their work, but really? All you have to do is say “take over permission” and bam, you are privied to the data. I got a virus in my old computer and switched it over to this new drive, decided to buy win7 for the upgrade and piggy back the old drive…had to do a full sweep (took half an hour) to privy myself for use, and STILL once in awhile, I get the message on some of the data. O well, it’s only a small price to pay for it.

    While I’m at it, there’s actually 1 more area I dislike….mspaint! ARG!! I can’t do pixel art anymore with this version of it, I have to download an older version just for that alone….o well.

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