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My Top 5 PC product peeves!

Warning… rant follows!

I love my computers and all that goes with them BUT, why oh why do manufacturers insist on perpetuating the awful design flaws which tend to irritate and frustrate most users. Here are my top 5 pet peeves:

1) Grey or black text/symbols on black plastic cases, buttons and knobs.

What are they thinking of!! For example; I have a very nice Asus laptop with all the usual connection ports along both sides. The body of the laptop is black and the manufacturer decided to identify each port with a … wait for it … black symbol. Now, many of these ports are identifiable by their shape and size but there are also identical ports for things such as audio in and out – in for microphone and out for headphones. I can never remember which is which and identifying each involves a lot of tilting and a magnifying glass and torch. I wonder if the geniuses ever considered that a lighter color on black would probably be much more easily discernible… obviously not.

 

2) Optical drive eject button placement.

I wonder who decided that the eject button for optical drives fitted to desktop towers should go UNDERNEATH the extended tray? Maybe a contortionist? Why in heavens name can’t they be positioned ABOVE the extended tray? Oh, sorry… because that would make life just too easy!

 

3) Power adapters.

Why don’t manufacturers place stickers on AC adapters which identify the product they are supposed to be connected to? We buy a new PC and it is covered in stickers with useless information; yes I know there’s an Intel inside, that’s one of the reasons I bought it in the first place. Oh look, it’s running Windows 7, fancy that. Duh! Manufacturers seem to have a really skewed idea of what information we need and don’t need.

Why can’t power adapters all be a size and shape so they fit easily side by side into a power board?  And why the heck can’t they make adapters where the cable exits out of the TOP of the adapter instead of to the side which always gets in the way regardless of the size of the adapter. You know — the way they make most plugs!!

4) USB cables and connecters.

Which way is up? There’s a 50/50 chance of getting it right but if you’re anything like me, you always manage to somehow get it wrong. For goodness sake, why can’t they just make both connections so there is no up or down to worry about?

 

 

5) Power cords that are built into the body of the device.

How much more convenient is it when devices include power cords which disconnect both ends? Point in case; my computer desk is positioned close to the wall, obviously for space saving reasons. I cannot push a normal power plug through the gap between the wall and desk, but I can comfortably push through the other end, the smaller end which plugs into the device. Manufacturers take note; we do not want power cords built into devices. What’s that you say? You can’t have every Tom, Dick, and Harry just being able to replace broken power cords themselves… hmmm.

 

Okay, that’s the end of my rant. Not that I’ve run out of material, but my lovely wife just delivered a nice cold beer, so I’m chilling out. Besides, I don’t wish to bore you too much. I’m sure you’ll be able to add your own favorite peeves, please feel free to do so via the comments.

Cheers!

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About the author - Jim Hillier
Managing Editor/Contest Coordinator of Daves Computer Tips - Jim is the resident freeware aficionado at DCT. A computer veteran with 30 years of experience. His first computer was a TRS-80 in the 1980s. He progressed through the Commodore series of computers before moving to PC's in the 1990s. Jim currently uses both XP and Win7. Jim has a passion for free software and hopes to share that passion with others during his tenure here!
 
Comments

Well put, there is plenty of room for improvement – these are multi national companies with hordes of designers or design teams and yet they get it so wrong ..case in point :- Wife has an Acer desktop that the cat can easily turn on by climbing on it – what were they thinking?

My pet peeve is related to your number one. The promotion of illiteracy by the computer industry use of those stupid “international” hieroglyphs. I am not a 4000 year old pharaoh to be able to read symbols. Who knows the difference between the USB / 2 / 3 symbols? I read english which consists of letters and words. Along with millions of other consumers. Label things with WORDS!

Yes, I too hate power bricks. Put them on a 3-6 inch cable so the bricks don’t get in the way. And YES, the manufactures should label them! I do it, when I remember. Actually, I label both ends. Nothing like having a tangle of half a dozen cables to plug into a computer you have just moved and trying to figure out where each one goes.

How about those user guides that are only published online…but you can’t get online because THE COMPUTER DOESN”T WORK??? Or all the initials used for stuff that you have to look up because you have no idea what they’re talking about!!!

Well Mate you have nailed most of them, especially the naming of Power Adapters, but what about Power leads into Laptops ?
Or other connected leads Left side, Right Side, Rear ,Front [Audio] in fact why Rear connections at all , they are a Bloody nuisance , you have to practically shut the Lid on laptops to get at them and depending on your Power settings more than often they go to sleep or turn off just so you can plug something in ! And while I’m at it why are USB outlets spread all over the place it maybe for Left or Right hand users , maybe someone can answer me that! ……… Cheers from an Ozzie.

My biggest peeve is the usb ports on the side!! I like an external mouse and anything plugged in is in the way. I know dimwits used to forget and put their laptops on the back side and break them off, but just because they are dimwits, do I have to suffer. Also while I am at it, why don’t the hire a real person to write the manual for real people to use. We are not all IT administrators. I bought a Toshiba back up system and it does not have a manual at all and there is no tech support from day one. If I wanted some tech help it is available at a $$$ per hour. I have backed it up, but can’t figure how to see what is backed up. It also does not tell me when it is complete. I gues when it stops humming or the tiny light goes out or stops blinking.

Well I do agree with everyone of these annoyences We must remeber that these products are sold world wide and that in order to keep the cost to manufacture low the companies cut back on everything they can. Cost too much to change the die that is used for DVD & CD drives face plate not to mention changing the assemly line. You don’t want to confuse those third world workers now do you? To think it is cheaper to make a power cord unplugable from both ends is cheap more parts are needed and assembly time and to remember to put a cord in the packing box? Now to hightlught the symbols ohh my that would slooowww down production the factories would have to hire hundreds of children who would sit there with a paint brush and color each letter & symbol ohh my but then it would create more jobs in China and other countries. Laughing just my 2 cents worth

Jim I am *SO* right there with you!

I was trying to figure out the problem with the Optical Drive Button placement and it dawned on me that your Tower is probably on or near the floor. Makes sense now that I figured that out. I’ve got mine on a short bookcase next to the computer desk and both of them are at the same approximate height. It is quite convenient for me but I can see what you mean if your tower isn’t where mine is. It is also convenient for cleaning and adding or removing external devices and whatever else might need doing.

Actually HisSon, my tower is placed on top of the desk at eye level, I keep it that way for the sake of convenience. BUT, the vast majority of customers I visit have their towers positioned on, or near, floor level. In fact, almost all computer desks sold here come with a little compartment specifically built-in to hold the tower and it is invariably at floor level.

Cheers… Jim

I have a laptop..so #2 is my favorite to bitch about..it’s on the side and g*d forbid u don’t have a finger nail..it’s almost impossible to click on.

Right-on! Had all of these and a few more. Like, why does every laptop manufacturer put the “Del”/”Delete” key at a different location? Why isn’t there a disconnect laptop battery button for when you go long periods of being plugged into the charger? No, you need to physically flip the laptop over and pull the battery. And many more.

Tom

Also Dell (and perhaps others) laptops which do not have a way to screw in the printer cable. Id I move either laptop, I have to reinsert the printer cable

My printer cable is USB so that’s not a problem.

My older laptop (Acer) has a broken screen and we’re using a separate monitor but there’s no way to screw in the Ethernet cable. It’s just pushed on tightly with a hope it doesn’t come loose.

OOPS -I said printer but meant external monitor

OMG, I loved this!!! It had me laughing good and I agree with EVERYTHING! I love 2 and 3!!!

Amen! You covered it. Not identifying the power adapters tops my list. I do try and label them myself if I don’t forget. If they standardized them according to input and output, all being sized accordingly it wouldn’t matter whose adapter you used if it had the same input/output.

I used to own a H.P. desktop which was very narrow and therefore the disc drive was fitted sideways. This is fiddly enough to use at the best of times but with more software coming on mini discs it makes it impossible to put them into the drive without them slipping falling down. At one time there were sliding pieces there to hold mini discs in place but not any more. I got round this problem by either putting my pc on it’s side or giving the disc to my son who copied it to a flash drive. Still annoying though!

You sir, are a Genius! And you are BANG ON! Thank you for having the guts, ant eh technical ability to write down, and publish on the web, that which I could not!

I also agree with the point about the power adapters. You never know which one goes with which device. They should lable it with the device it goes with.

Andrew Partridge

Regarding #2: you don’t need to press the eject button to retract the tray, just push the tray and it will retract. So placement of the eject button above or below the tray isn’t an issue – it’s accessible in either location when the tray is closed. But the button cannot be moved anyway, because many case manufacturers cover the front of the actual DVD drive with their own fascia and rely on the button being in a standard location.

The “standard” location could be above the tray, could it not?

The main reason manufacturers will not change it is because of the costs involved with re-tooling.

Andrew Partridge

There’s another reason the button is on the bottom: the tray is on the top and you can’t put both the button and the tray on the top. Why is the tray on the top? So that in a typical desktop machine (as opposed to a tower) a typical coffee cup will fit in under the tray i.e. if the machine automatically ejects the disk it is less likely to knock your cup of coffee (or your stapler, or your mouse) onto the floor.

Another argument for buttons on the bottom: the disk naturally goes into the drive with the label side up, so the laser and motors must go under the disk, and it’s a lot easier to pair the electronics with the laser and motor, so the electronics goes on the bottom. It’s cheaper to put the micro-tact eject switch on the main circuit board rather than connecting it with a cable, so it goes on the bottom with the electronics.

Besides, my original argument stands: the whole tray is your retract switch when the tray is open, so it doesn’t matter where the eject switch is – you can reach it easily when the tray is closed whether it’s on the top or the bottom.

Except that continually pushing the tray to close it will wear down the mechanisms that operate the tray. Eventually the tray won’t even open.

My thoughts exactly Murray. I’ve always been reluctant to push the tray to close.

Here’s a snippet I picked up off a tech site:

The tray eject mechanism is operated by a small motor and plastic gears (and occasionally a rubber belt). The motor operates at a significant gear ratio advantage, and there normally is very little stress on these parts. However, when one pushes on the tray, the situation is reversed and the unpowered motor is forced to turn through a gear DISadvantage. If done gently so the motor has an opportunity to accelerate slowly, it can work out okay; but if done more abruptly, the inertia of the motor prevents it from starting instantly and it’s relatively easy to crack a gear or shuck off a tooth. Sure, it usually doesn’t happen, but it is a higher-stress mechanical situation that I choose to avoid.

How about video cards where the fancy logo or picture is on the underside? Not fair.

I have a new Asus laptop and I love it..except.. the power cord plugs in a third of the way down the right hand side, the USB slot I use for the external mouse is a third of the way up the right hand side. The othe ports, DSL, etc. are between them. The laptop is on an elevated stand but still, the mouse is constantly tangling in the wires, I cannot move the mouse closer than four inches to the right of the machine, requiring extended open right hand desk space. The disc drive is on the left side, requiring not only an ambidexterious user, but extended left side open desk space. My handy-dandy, computing-on-the fly machine needs the width of a piano keyboard to operate. When I sit down in front of it I feel like a giraffee at a watering hole.

I have a huge cache of pet peeves regarding PCs, but my #1 gasket blower is having to completely dissemble a laptop to replace a ubiquitously failed fan. How hard would it be to have a fan access door on the bottom of the machine which allows access to the fan and its 3-pin plug?

This really had me LOL! The disc drawer was the best! I have to turn my laptop almost upside down, push that d*** little button…..frustrating to say the least. Thanks you made my day!!

Bring on more rants, I love’em!!

What about a Laptop mouse pad that’s off centered? I know the logical reason behind this…but I’d like it to be center.Am I crazy? Or maybe what about Audio/Mic ports on the front of the Laptop? I look closely to avoid having anything on the front side on My Laptop.Thanks!

I suggest that You Label ALL your power cords with something like nail polish in different colors so to not confuse them.Ditto as far as USB plugs go.Color=Plug it in.Yeah I’m a 80′s glam kid! lol

Buy a White-Out pen. Put a dot on the top of every USB connector you own.
My pet peeve was the eject button on the CD/DVD drive on my laptop. It is flush with the case and very hard to find. I put 2 dots on the top of my laptop, aligning them with the edges of the button. Problem solved.
You’re welcome.

How about the practice of putting the entire Product Manual on the CD/DVD and then, OMG, “now we don’t need to print out the manual so that you can figure out how to use the device before you plug it in”. Too bad that you have to turn off the computer and install the device before you can use it and therefore can’t read the manual until you have installed the device incorrectly and now the computer doesn’t work so you can’t read the manual now anyway. Well just go get another computer and use that to read the manual, right? Sorry, the CD/DVD only works if the new device is installed and working in the computer that is trying to read the manual. AAAAAARGHGH!!!! What do they think I am, some kind of Techno-telepath?

Why oh why is the dot beside the comma on a keyboard?

I work on 3 different computers and a 4th external keyboard on one of the laptops. In one case the Ctrl doesn’t line up with the Shift as expected. There’s a blue Fn button there instead.

Very funny and truthful article. I enjoyed….

One of my many pet peeves is when a laptop dies a week or so after the warranty expires.

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