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5 Annoying Misuses of Technology

5 Annoying Misuses of Technology

By Steven Romano

Numerous tech blogs reported last week that select theaters in China have been test-driving a questionable system called “bullet screens." An unholy marriage between social media and cinema, patrons can watch their tasteless text message commentary flood the screen in real time. But if you think this corrupt twist on Mystery Science Theater 3000 sounds bad, there's plenty more technological abominations living among us at this very moment. Read on for five annoying misuses of technology!

1) BD-Live Commentary

BD-Live is to Blu-ray discs what, in a sense, Xbox Live and PlayStation Network are to video games, allowing viewers to enhance their movie experience accessing extra content through the Internet. The release of The Dark Knight included a unique feature that let anyone hook up a webcam to stream and upload their own 153-minute commentary for fellow fans to enjoy. This sounds great until one realizes this essentially gave an open invitation to all those snarky message board critics who can “do a better job.” In the end it boiled down to this: Would you rather listen to insightful commentary by the production crew or the YouTube-quality rantings of some self-proclaimed Batman authority living in a trailer park?

2) Speech Recognition Systems

The speech recognition system on your iPhone: Good. The speech recognition system on a customer service hotline: Burn and fester in the fires of Hades! Calling customer service in general is never a pleasant experience, but interacting with a machine (supposedly in place for the sake of speedy, no-hassle convenience) incapable of understanding simple words like “yes” and “no” makes speaking with a hate-filled rep far more enjoyable by comparison. So if you’re reading this, Irma Spitz of Allstate Insurance, we appreciate you and that massive chip on your shoulder. Expect a call from us real soon!

 3) CAPTCHA

CAPTCHA’s (Completely Automated Public Turing Test To Tell Computers and Humans Apart) is a good idea in theory: Protecting websites from spam-flinging robots via the input of warped numbers and letters recognizable only to the warm, benevolent eyes of human beings. In practice it tests our nerves. What good is this program if we ourselves can’t even decipher what amounts to the incomprehensible scribbles of a four-year-old? Sorry, but innovation isn’t staring at a monitor straining to read “vomit gopher.”

4) Pop-Up Ads with Sound

They’re for the most part frowned upon, though when it comes to getting your product or business noticed on the Internet, pop-up ads are a virtue. Obnoxiously effective, there’s no better way to let the world know about two-for-one specials on bottles of FDA-unapproved diet pills, but many insufferable scabs have found a way to up the annoyance factor. What’s worse than a pop-up ad? One with sound. Even worse than that? One so loud it’s more than your speakers can handle; these types are also, by nature, infuriatingly small and difficult to find. That’s the inverse property at work: The smaller the ad, the more likely it is to cause temporary hearing loss and tick off everybody within earshot.

5) Self-Checkout 

The day we stopped manually punching prices into a cash register and scanned barcodes was the pinnacle of modern civilization, so as long as someone else had a handle on it. Then why on Earth complicate such efficiency with—*shudder*—self-checkout? Back then, waiting was the worst part about standing in a long line, but nowadays this gives that overly helpful store attendant the chance to single one out from the safety of the group as a lion would a sick wildebeest, dragged against your will towards self-checkout and expected to do what takes clerks an hour of onsite training. The machine will go great lengths in making you come off as an inept clod, working properly ONLY when the attendant takes pity and steps in.

Which technologies do you find the most irritating? 

Tags: technology, science, computers, annoying tech, things that drive us crazy

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About the Author
Steven Romano

Like Captain America, Steven Romano is just a boy from Brooklyn. When he isn't contributing to The MindHut and other geeky websites, Steven's hard at work writing his first novel and comic book scripts. Follow him on Twitter @Steven_Romano, and swing by his blog: stevenromano.tumblr.com

Wanna contact a writer or editor? Email contribute@sparknotes.com.