Plastic packaging, initial setup waiting times and a few other things that annoy me at home

We all have them, and we wish we didn't: annoyances that just don't seem to go away. For some they come in the form of husbands or wives. For others, annoyances come in the form of technology. Sadly (or is it gladly?), mine are the latter.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
4 min read

We all have them, and we wish we didn't: annoyances that just don't seem to go away. For some they come in the form of husbands or wives. For others, annoyances come in the form of technology. Sadly (or is it gladly?), mine are the latter.

My fight against plastic packaging

Sure this point may have been belabored before, but it needs to be said again: hard plastic packaging is awful! Just yesterday I made my weekly trek down to my local electronics stores and decided to buy a few tech products for my home. While it would have been nice to open the package in the car because patience knows its limit in my world, I realized it would have been a bit dangerous on the ride home, so I put it in the trunk to hold off any desires. But as soon as I got home with the products, the gloves were off and I was ready to use them. Twenty minutes later, I finally got the packaging off.

Does this annoy you as much as it does me? It seems every product around -- even the most trivial and useless -- seem to sport this chastity belt to enrage those of us who don't like to be enraged. Why should I buy a $10 battery pack and be forced to come home and spend twenty minutes opening it up? I'll be honest with you, I think the packaging costs more than the product itself. And one more thing, what does this packaging actually accomplish? While some companies will say that it keeps the honest people honest, it still doesn't stop bad boy Bill from cracking out his handy swiss army knife and cracking that thing open in broad daylight. In a conservative estimate, I would say plastic packaging has caused me two scars, 500 bloody knuckles, $50 in band-aids and $350 in super high-quality knives I bought specifically to get these things open. OK, so maybe I didn't do the last thing, but the rest are true.

Plastic packaging must be done away with. Can't we invent some kind of anti-theft device that once the product is taken out of the store, it spews acid all over the hand of the unlawful shoplifter? Now that would stop crime.

The Queue

Here's the big one: waiting and waiting and waiting for your nice new device to be setup. Just yesterday I ran down to Time Warner Cable to pick up another HD cable box and upon connecting it to my TV, I was forced to wait about twenty minutes until it was setup. But it doesn't end at cable boxes. iPhone: five minutes (although some of you had days of waiting); Wireless device on a network with WPA encryption: two minutes; HDTVs: minutes or hours depending on how well you want that picture to look; Windows Vista: 45 minutes. The list could go on, but for my sanity, I thought I would stop it here.

As you can see, I'm not a patient guy. And while I understand setup takes time and without it, I wouldn't have anything working, it still annoys me. Why should I have to wait to use a product that I just spent some hard-earned money on? I want it in an easy-to-open package and working as soon as I plug it in. Apple's products come closer than anyone else, but you still need to wait a little while. And you know what is most frustrating? There's no end to waiting times in sight. We are a society that is governed by waiting in lines. I saw Live Free or Die Hard last night -- waited in line for ten minutes and paid $10 for a movie that went soft on obscenities and even softer on realism. Great. We all know waiting for something stinks, but we still do it and expect it. Life is good huh?

My last annoyance of the day almost goes beyond annoyance and borders on hatred: incompatible chargers.

As I sit here, I am looking at about four cell phones and yet none of them have the same universal charger. Why? Is there any plausible explanation for this? Of course not. I especially enjoy when a company will release a device today and in six months will announce an upgrade. When I ask them if it can be charged with the charger that came with the previous device, mumbling and topic changing quickly gives way to a solid answer: "um, well, uh, no, not exactly." I especially enjoy it when I get the new product home and it has the EXACT SAME CONNECTORS, but for one reason or another, will not charge unless it has the "correct" charger. You see this quite a bit on cell phones, but it's slowly becoming more prominent in other mobile devices like Bluetooth headsets and other "chargeable" devices.

I've had enough of this. I think all companies should be forced to create products with one standard charging port and charger. Not only would it preclude me from finding nooks and crannies around my house to store chargers, it would mean I can finally throw those old ones out. And while some may say that it could kill the charging accessory market, I don't believe that for one minute. Every device needs to be charged and they would all come with the same charger. Instead of having ten different chargers around, you can have one type that is found in every room. Now that's living.

Have some electronics annoyances yourself? Let's hear them in the discussion.