Logic’s Last Stand

March 29, 2008

10 Random Annoyances

Filed under: Computers, Life — Tags: , , , , — Zurahn @ 3:38 pm

The following is a list of random annoyances, some topical, some not, that I have put in no particular order.


If it wasn’t apparent enough, there are many who, while they may appear to speak english, do not understand its usage. For example, the word “free” and similar terms regarding licensing and cost. If something is not a stand-alone product, it cannot be “free” nor come with something “free”. If the only way to buy that new crock-pot is in an offer that comes with a “free” saucepan, it’s not free. It’s a crock-pot and a saucepan for a certain package price.

Similarly, if your software has any limitations, or is a trial, or forces you to sit through an add. It is not “freeware” — it is shareware. I’m looking at you, Toad “Freeware”.

Teen males controlling the Internet

I like sites with a lot of content, either gathered or created by users; however, that comes at the price of sorting through the inevitable pile of “OMG BOOBS!” stories. Take a look at Youtube’s Most Viewed page for the last 24 hours. I’ll wait. I didn’t need to take a screenshot, because it’s a guarantee that one of the first four will have a thumbnail of a girl’s chest. The same general idea follows the likes of Digg and it’s rather annoying.

Old news pundits on technology

I understand that these mouthpieces want to try to relate to the youth who really don’t care about the news, but this really isn’t helping, unless the attention they want is ridicule and offense. Not only is their typical interpretation of what’s cutting-edge or popular inaccurate, but also their descriptions of functionality, userbase and dangers. Getting people who don’t understand technology to explain it to another confused group is like using The Bible as a science text. Yes, I went there.

Stating the obvious in list form = Amazing advice

Before calling out the hypocrisy, blogging is an outlet, and don’t claim to be helping people with my venting. However, many do and many somehow think it’s this amazing, insightful advice. Well, here’s my advice: save your time. Either it’s so obvious that we’ve been doing it for years, or so obtuse/vague/unrealistic that it’s not going to be practical. If you’re still insistent, I’ll save you some time
1. Exercise
2. Eat healthy
3. Avoid clutter
4. Priorize tasks
5. Simplify

There. That’s the gist of every one of theses lists you’ll come across.

College Requirements

I’m nearing the completion of my computer programming tenure at college, and the most prominent requisites for program was math. Universite math, math math math. I took all that math, and the closest thing to math was rudimentary statistics with a professor who wouldn’t pass an elementary class, and I had covered prior in its entirety and much more in Grade 11. Pre-requisities create the illusion of advanced education without the necessity of properly trained teachers or useful course content. I also had a professor mischaracterize an integer. I wouldn’t complain, but again, I hate math courses, and I took many.

“You can just buy ______. It’s only $_______.”

This is not a solution. Not everyone is willing to spend x amount of dollars on every little fix. Things add up in price to those without infinite cash. GameCube controls broken on SNES games? Just buy a classic controller: it’s only $20. Out of space on you Wii, just buy SD cards, they’re “dirt cheap”. You know what? No. Aside from the simple cost problem, we don’t all live in the same market. We don’t all have the same access to retailers, or shipping, or localization, regardless.

PC Hardware

I would be described as rather knowledgeable about computers. I’ve rebuilt computers, I spend way too much time on them, it’s the foundation of my education. So why do I have such a hard time trying to figure out whether RAM will be compatible? Or the relative quality or practicality of a video card, processor, motherboard or power unit? These things are needlessly cryptic. And while I’m at it, PC snobs aren’t helping matters, either. The crap spewed about building a gaming computer for some minimalist cost, how everything’s overpriced, constant beligering of any question one might pose, and most certainly you better not have a PC with lesser specs than the ones in his sig.

Browser Standards

For those who aren’t web developers, you may find this a mystery or trivial. For me, who am one, finding it completely enraging. Here’s a quick briefing: All browsers display web content (primarily HTML, CSS and JavaScript) using an engine. There are four main browser engines: Trident (Internet Explorer), Gecko (Firefox), Presto (Opera) and WebKit/KHTML (Safari/Konqueror). Virtually all other browsers use one of these engines. Firefox and IE eat up ~90-94% of the market, with Opera and Safari taking most of the rest, but significant enough to be a concern.

Where am I going with this? Because they all have differences. And these differences can easily result in a page being broken in one or several browsers while fully functional in others. So not only does this mean debugging code for a browser, but repeatedly for all of them.

Strangely enough, Safari, which the BETA 3.0 on Windows was arguably the buggiest pile of crap browser ever released on Windows, has now been fixed with 3.1 and can pass the Acid3 standards compliance test with the latest WebKit build. Thumbs up to that, though I still don’t think much of the browser.

Politically correct religion

At my college, there are pointless electives we have to take on occasion. I took World Cultures this term, and there’s a lot about cultural “taboos” and things to know to keep yourself acting properly in other cultures. While the quirks such as the North American use of the middle finger as an insult as opposed to Australia and the thumb, that’s all fine to suggest. But I take issue with one particular issue I found in our textbook, which is a common theme with religion and it’s public immunity. Multiple times it makes suggestions about the social placement of women in muslim society. Well, I’m sorry if treating a women as a human is offensive to your religion–wait, I’m not sorry. I don’t care what the reason, I’m not going to condone oppression.

Microsoft PowerPoint

I. Hate. PowerPoint.

At the least at my college, PowerPoint has replaced teaching. The only requirement to teach is the ability to put text into a PowerPoint and operate a presentational wireless mouse, and even that you don’t have to do well. Every teacher lectures with PowerPoint at one point or another, to varying degrees of effectiveness. In the spirit of PowerPoint, I’ll detail my complaints in list form.

-It’s not interactive.
Lectures on theoretical principles or opinion are well served to a lecture format, but opionitive ones are better off with interaction with the audience anyway. Anything practical needs to be just that: practical. If it’s not, then you’re ignoring that fact that each element builds on the next, and having not experienced even the first, the rest is lost.

-It’s hard on the eyes.
Projection screens are terrible for reading. I’ve had pregressive myopia since ~12 years old, and have had many variances in sight from prescriptions during that time, and projectors, whether overheads or from a computer screen strain the eyes.

-Most fail at proper utilization
There are three uses for PowerPoint: Summarizing a point, visual aid, and maintaining audiance attention. Summarizing means no paragraphs. There should, aside from quotes, never be a paragraph on a PowerPoint slide. Visual aids to visualize a concept touched on in lecture, not to detail specifically on screen. And the last is really just comic relief. Keep things flowing to maintain attention. The lecture should basically stand on its own without it. The main idea is making the lecture more interesting.

Why is that the main idea? Becuase PowerPoint is not a learning tool–it’s a marketing tool. PowerPoint is meant to help sell an idea, and education is not persuasive.


1 Comment »

  1. Re: Powerpoint

    Comment by yarcofin — March 31, 2008 @ 3:37 pm

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