Archive for the ‘Complicated’ Category

Service of Built-In Obsolescence

Monday, August 8th, 2022


Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Built-in obsolescence has always infuriated me. Is it because I love antiques? In any case, I’m a victim again. 

I’ve written before about this kind of waste as in celebrities who make the news for tearing down a $12 million house to build a new one in the same spot. Can’t they buy property to build on and not destroy what is probably someone else’s dream home? The fancy makeup cases of my youth are the first examples I recall. Subsequent iterations didn’t accommodate refills forcing me to buy a new case and toss a perfectly good one. I wasn’t thinking about the environment then. My gripe was about feeling ripped off.

So how is this impacting me now? My perfectly good laptop, inherited years ago from my nephew, still works like a charm. My miracle IT man has helped maintain it perfectly. He gave it a good bill of health a few months ago. 


Image by Pexels from Pixabay

But it needs to go. Why? Because the Microsoft program it currently uses can’t be upgraded and doesn’t meet the requirements of a crucial vendor that soon is moving platforms. So I must buy a new laptop. Grrrrrr.

I have a historically terrible experience with upgrades and updates. I was forced to change a gizmo for one of my phones. It took weeks to be activated and now, every few days, needs to be disconnected because it cuts out so my phone goes dead. The original gadget wasn’t persnickety, lasted a decade and never once did it have a bit of trouble.

An upgrade on WordPress, the platform on which this blog reaches you, caused me fits until I figured out that I needed to format posts in Google Chrome not Firefox [the latter had worked for years]. Once simple changes or inserts require more steps.

I dread learning where documents will be tucked and my fingers are crossed that crucial documents, emails and photos on granny laptop can be transferred. Based on previous experience I anticipate many moments of stomach-churning YIKES and towel-tossing.

The media celebrated and applauded restaurants when they deep-sixed plastic straws and claimed they were saving the world by using paper ones instead. I’ve not read a word about the waste we make by force-tossing millions of perfectly good laptops, computers, tablets and phones–have you? Hmmmm.

What are other examples of built-in obsolescence?  Does it bother you? Should I take a deep breath, shrug, get over it and move on?


Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Service of Who’s the Boss II? Social Security, A Bank & A Museum

Monday, July 1st, 2019

The answer to “who’s the boss?” often muttered as a rhetorical question, isn’t always negative, though in two of the three following examples it is. Sometimes a decision-maker deserves praise and other times, he/she doesn’t seem to be watching the ball. In either case, you really may want to know.

I’ll start with a happy surprise.

Feeling Secure

I’ve recently needed to make countless calls to ask for documents and information. I lucked into Mr. Gopaul who picked up the phone at the West 48th Street NYC Social Security office. He didn’t pass me on to someone else as seems to happen increasingly these days, but quickly answered my questions, some relating to recent correspondence. I asked for his name so I could write a letter to recognize his exemplary service. His voice, at first impatient so as to get on to the next call, softened and he ended our conversation saying, “bless you.”

Who’s the boss? I took to Google.  My letter to the regional Social Security director went out that day.

One + Zero=Five

In the private sector, I had a different experience. A bank handling my husband’s pension—Bank A–needed to take back a direct deposit payment I wasn’t entitled to.  My retail bank—Bank B–said it happens all the time and would handle the request from Bank A.

But Bank A didn’t take that one simple step. Instead, it sent me three documents, each one with different information and dollar amounts about upcoming payments. Two customer service people couldn’t figure it out any more than I could. To pay itself back Bank A has instead given itself five steps–that many more times to mess up—instead of one. I’m neither a banker nor a numbers person but this doesn’t compute. Who’s the boss?

Water, Water Everywhere….

I received a sell piece from a major museum for a five day trip to the Berkshires accompanied by the institution’s curator of American paintings and sculpture. I know this area well and have been to most if not all of its museums—there aren’t many–but was tempted by an excursion not too far from NYC with a knowledgeable curator. The fee got my attention–$5,999 per person double rate or almost $12,000 for two—but the charge is not why I ask “who’s the boss?” The “Rate Includes” section on the sell piece was the reason. You get “bottled water and coffee/tea with all meals.” For $12,000, I wouldn’t call this out any more than I would put on a dress’s price tag “$175 includes thread and zipper.” The program director should have deleted this and created some toothsome or valuable perks for the sell piece. [I also noted that not included are “meals not specified.” Let’s hope participants get all meals.]

Do you sometimes wonder who’s in charge and if the person is focusing on the work? Do you take time to find out who’s the boss to credit people who have done a superlative job as well as to gripe about those who don’t?

Service of Too Complicated

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

New York morning drive radio personality John Gambling loves cars, is a NASCAR fan and from hearing his conversation over the years has owned his share of, I would suspect, mostly if not exclusively luxury autos. My ears perked up when he admitted, in September, that the new Fisker–an electric car–was too complicated for him to drive.

The Fisker Karma was introduced last December and it has won all sorts of awards. According to a press release about it: “The Fisker Karma is the only American car to win the Top Gear Luxury Car of the Year award; Automobile magazine named the Karma its Design of the Year; TIME magazine listed the Karma as one of its 50 Best Inventions; the Fisker Karma also received an Edison Award for Innovation and is a finalist in Fast Company’s Innovation by Design competition.”

All nice, but what’s the point if it’s too complicated for a car-enthusiast to drive?

Similarly, my nephew, who owns an auto body shop and has flirted with, owned and loved countless cars over the years, and knows them inside out, just bought a 2010 BMW-in perfect shape. He volunteered, as we sat in the lap of his luxurious leather seats, that he’d have to go to school to figure out all its bells and whistles.

So for who are these vehicles designed?

When it comes to cars, I’ve never opted for luxury [NYC roads and garages make mincemeat of them] and as long as I know how to turn on the AC, the heat and the radio, lock and unlock the door and put the gear in “drive,” I’m set. With cheap cars it’s been easy up until now. Fingers crossed.

It’s not only cars that daunt and are overcomplicated. I admit dreading something I must face: buying a new office computer. It will take a few weeks to find anything in it and I can look forward to learning to do in six steps what now takes me one. I should be excited at the thought of a new computer, not overwhelmed and dismayed, but my experience sends out warning signals.

Would you pay more for simple versions of the many things we rely on? Why don’t manufacturers take note?

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