Ten Tech-Related Things I Hate

Certain things about technology make me mental.  I constantly get asked, “What is your problem with x?” or “Why do you hate y?”  I figured it would save time if I could just link to an article that explain what makes me crazy about tech-related services and concepts.

This is the mind-numbing technology that I would change in a heartbeat if I were In Charge(tm); in no particular order.

10. The Closed Ecosystem

If I used Apple products, I'd feel like these guys ...

If I used Apple products, I’d feel like these guys …

Yes, I’m talking about Apple and iTunes.  Yes I’m talking about iPhone with iOS.  I’ll even include Amazon (to a lesser degree) and Google (to an even lesser degree).

Nothing pisses me off more than closed ecosystems – that is, ecosystems that REQUIRE I purchase and/or constrict my rights to use purchased content the way I want.

This isn’t about piracy.  This is about letting me have the content I paid for in a manner conducive to my needs.  I shouldn’t have to buy a tool to de-couple my media from my purchasing agent.  I shouldn’t have to convert audio or video to get it in a format I want.  That I paid for.

Amazon figured it out; I want MP3s.  Google figured it out – I want to watch my videos on any browser without goofy Silverlight plugins on ANY device (screw you Amazon – where is my Instant Watch Android app?)

You want to know why people turn to piracy?  It is because people like me cannot legitimately purchase content in a format we need.

9. Exclusivity

Sword & Poker is still not on Android

Sword & Poker is still not on Android

I’m tired.  I’m tired of this tug of war, cat and mouse game where the consumer never wins.

I’m not opposed to first party franchises.  Let Nintendo keep Mario.  Let Microsoft keep Master Chief.  Sony can have Kratos.

What I’m tired of is paid exclusivity of third party franchises.  I’m tired of developers supporting the MINORITY mobile OS instead of producing content for the world’s most popular one; sometimes to the tune of NEVER supporting the latter

Amazon is a prime example of a company that pisses me off; by not allowing a native app for their Instant Watch video service on Android.  Remember, the meaning of Exclusivity is to EXCLUDE.

Let’s not forget the part where brick and mortar chains are paid to spot light product while looking at you like you’re crazy when you ask for something like New York Times Crossworld Puzzle on the DS.

8. Requires Internet Connection

Dead Trigger 2 requires always online connectivity

Dead Trigger 2 requires always online connectivity

This is becoming an alarming trend.  Everything requiring an internet connection.  This got a huge booster shot from the Microsoft Xbox One’s original announcement that it would phone home every day or shut off all your purchased content.

Not because they NEED it. Not because it offers the CONSUMER any benefit.  But because it tethers you to their servers where they can collect data, stop piracy (which it doesn’t) and otherwise control you and your use of paid content.

Tons of content blatantly plays in this field; computer games, mobile games (I’m looking at you Dead Trigger 2) and coming soon – console games; with titles that REQUIRE connection 100% of the time you’re playing.

Oh, and if I fail your “License Check”, instead of assuming I stole your game/movie/book/app – maybe you should assume I’m on a tablet with no connection at the doctor’s office – or maybe I’m on a plane to California?

7. Login With Facebook

I ordered three ...

I ordered three …

I loathe Facebook.  Yes, I understand it is popular.  But how about not crippling the crap out of your content if I refuse to sign up with Facebook and/or give you access to spray my wall full of stupid ass, blow by blow accounts of my progress through the game?

While we’re on the topic of “login with …”, let’s make sure I get to control what goes on there, mmmkay?  I’ll tell YOU when I want to share the dungeon I just cleared with my friends.  No need to keep asking me.  Google can show you how to do it properly with Google Game Services if you need a refresher on learning how NOT to be a tool with my social network.

6. Virtual Ownership

I’m glad you don’t like to collect discs or have to store DVDs – and that digital-only ownership works for you.

"Buy"?  I don't think so ...

“Buy”? I don’t think so …

But let’s not mince words.  You own nothing you purchase digitally.  What you have is an extended rental – at best.

I still have the first DVD I ever purchased.  Blade.  Ten years from now – I’ll still have the first DVD I ever purchased.  Blade.  God willing – in twenty years, I’ll still have the first DVD I purchased.  Blade.  In 20 years, the content you “purchased” will probably no longer be available to you.  In 1995, we were pretty sure Microsoft would own the planet forever.  There are people out there that believed MySpace would be the #1 social media site forever (they say the same thing about Facebook – natch).  The folks that “bought” music from Wal-Mart Music Store probably sold all their CDs and “went digital” (we know what happened there).

Anything that requires an existing service or company to exist and be doing business as they are today in order for you to use what you’ve paid for?  You don’t own it.  Your content has an expiration date.  You own nothing.

I’ll make room to store my discs/cartridges/whatever.  At least then I only have to buy them once to own them.

Hint of the Day: If you want us to “buy” product we’ll never truly own, it needs to be cheaper than if we ACTUALLY bought it and could keep and use it forever.  You work out the logistics with Gamestop and Target.

5. Requires a Steam Account

Apparently, I'm not the only one ...

Apparently, I’m not the only one …

“Gee Shane, what’s your beef with Steam?  It seems ok.”

I hate Steam.  You should have a pretty clear vision of WHY by now.  It violates pretty much every tech methodology I have already mentioned above.

a) You never get to own anything; it’s on lease.  And if you believe that if Steam ever goes away they are going to give you keys to unlock your games and uncouple from their servers?  You’re one gullible person and I immediately want to do business with you.

b) When I pay $60 for a game (cough – Skyrim), I should NOT be REQUIRED to use some online service to play the solo game.  Thank god for hackers and crackers; lest I would have been out $60.  Apparently it is easy for pirates to nuke Steam connectivity in games – meaning they really didn’t need them to begin with – and I can get an ‘archival backup’ that I can actually use while my $60 sits in a box on the shelf.

c) I’d rather pay $30 for a game I can OWN than a Steam-Special-Deal game for $10 that I’ll never be able to own. Steam “good deals” mean nothing to me.  I’ll go to GOG or GamersGate and get the same deals but not have my ass strapped down to Steam.

I don’t need you, Steam.  I don’t want you.  Third parties  …?  How about putting a big sticker on the front of the box that says REQUIRES STEAM ACCOUNT instead of 6 point text on the back of the box nearly obscured by the barcode telling me that I can’t play your game?

4. Ad Blocker Blockers

I left the site in 10 seconds...

I left the site in 10 seconds…

If you have chosen to monetize your website with advertising, respect my choice to block your ads.  Giving me a lecture about how my ad blocker is taking money out of your pocket doesn’t endear your site to me – then denying me the content I came to your site for – will seal the deal that I will be going elsewhere.  Oh and I’m not coming back.  I’ll be missed?  Great attitude.  I have 1,789 other search results from Google to check out while you’re enjoying your moment of smugness.

It is a big ass internet.  The chances that YOUR site is the ONLY place to get what I’m looking for is akin the the closed-minded thought that we are alone in the universe; the statistics are greatly against you.

So how do you earn?  Not my problem.  I’ve already invented a means to monetize the internet that is fair and equitable, but unlike my invention of Red Box in the 1980s – no one has stolen THAT idea from me yet.

Consider the concept that if your content was THAT compelling and worthwhile, you could get people to pay for it.  In fact, I believe people SHOULD pay for what they consume.  Ads aren’t the answer; give me a means to compensate you without them, and if your content is compelling?  I will.

This “free with ads” officially jumped the shark the first time a Tacoma truck drove across the article I was reading and parked itself there until I closed it.  The evil ad genie is out of the bottle.  Back to the drawing board.

3. Anything But RSS

Imagine consuming 300+ stories like this ...

Imagine consuming 300+ stories like this …

RSS is the perfect technology.  Lightweight, fast, easy on bandwidth and gives me EXACTLY what I want; high volume, high speed consumption of news and information in a preview-then-open-if-I-want environment.

This insane push to turn RSS into electronic magazines makes me FRIGGIN’ CRAZY.  Flipbook and its ilk ruin information consumption to me.  Why do I need my list of 1000+ headlines converted into a slow, bulky magazine?  I could see if you read like 20 articles a day – this would be boss.  Maybe if it was all entertainment based news like movies, TV and music – I could give it a pass.  But I’m not “flipping through” a 1500 page magazine every day to consume my regular news and information.

I think RSS is being systematically dissolved because it is harder to slather it with ads and garbage consumers don’t really want to see.  Out of 1000+ article headlines a day that travel through my RSS reader (Tiny Tiny RSS, BTW) – I may actually consume 20% of them.  If they were all stuffed into Flipbook or Google Currents, I couldn’t avoid the ads.

2. Blatant Lies Never Called Out

MS just gets away with this?

MS just gets away with this?

The tech industry is filled with lies.  Outright, bold-faced lies.  Some are revealed by the public, some are admitted AFTER the fact – but it’s all filthy lies (as Norman Bates’ mother would say).

What sort of lies?

It started with “implied lies” – like showing cut scenes for video games and passing it off as “actual game play”.  I remember a famous story where Apple Macintoshes were shown at a World of Apple show – but hidden under all the tables?  Commodore Amigas were actually producing the content on the screens.

Then it just got flagrant.  Nintendo showing 360 footage when demoing the Wii U.  Microsoft showing PS4 footage of COD: Ghosts as demo of the Xbox One.

Ever heard the term Vaporware?  That’s industry term for “lie”.  Lots of lying going on.

Telling you that you can OWN a movie for $4.99 you buy on iTunes is a blatant lie too.

Why do we allow all the lies?

1. Animated GIFs

This is what I see when I see AnimGIFs ...

This is what I see when I see AnimGIFs …

These have plagued my life for the better part of two decades.  In the beginning, this sort of evil was limited to stupid internet tripe like Dancing Baby and Peanut Butter Jelly Time.  AngelFire and Geocities sites were loaded with this horror – and people hated it.  Animated graphics were shunned, hated and spat upon.

Then .. suddenly … people accepted this horrid crap.  They used them in forum avatars.  They made signature blocks with them.  Visiting your local discussion group was like visiting a 1990’s Geocities site.

After that, on come the stupid concept of the meme.  I am so … f’ing … sick … of memes (maybe if they had a better name, I could learn to be more tolerant) and with that come the further abuse of animated GIFs in the form of ANIMATED MEMES.

Once people started embedding these horrid things into emails – I called it a day and aggressively and vehemently struck out a campaign to destroy these ugly creations.

To this day, I fight tooth and nail to have AnimGIF removed from the internet – but now even GOOGLE is letting these goobers into Google+ with NO WAY TO SHUT THEM OFF.  Frankly, once I see someone has posted these things regularly, I remove them from my circles.

Look, I’m not against the TECHNOLOGY – beats using a plugin to display video.  What disturbs me is the incessant need to shove these in front of my face – whether I want to see them or not.  They are distracting, they eat memory in mobile devices – they are – rude.  Imagine if every page that had a YouTube video embedded in it, forced the video to start before you clicked on it.  A whole internet of auto-starting YouTube videos.  That is what AnimGIF is to me.

There you have it .. the ten things that piss me off.  What pisses YOU off?

About Shane Monroe

Shane R. Monroe has been doing technical and social commentary writing for over 20 years. Google+