you’re like me, sometimes you buy things without really thinking about them beforehand.
I’ve got shirts that I thought were fantastic at the store and then when I get
them home or out in the sunshine I discovered that I hated them. I’ve bought books
based upon the description on the back or how appealing the cover art was only
to find out the story was a dud and the book was totally unable to read.
said all of that, I think the thing that galls me the most is buying things I
can’t use or don’t need. Perhaps I need to rephrase that, things I will never
use, for any reason.
Take cameras for instance. Several years ago when
digital cameras came on the market I bought one of the first ones. It had several
million (zillion?) mega-pixels or something which assured me that the photographs
were going be first quality. These could be enlarged to fit a billboard if need
be. Not that I would ever want to have something enlarged this size, but I felt
better knowing I had a lot of capacity if I ever wanted it. The only problem for
me was that this was not a point and click type of a camera. No, it has or had,
until I gave it away, more buttons than I could count along with an instruction
book that weighed in about three pounds. Needless to say, I kept looking for something
smaller and more practical for my needs. Something that did not take me twenty
minutes to figure out how to set before I could take a photo… so much for ‘snap’
The other day I loaded a CD into my stereo. It jammed and wouldn’t
play. I worked on it for about two hours before I gave up and called a repair
shop to see if it could be fixed. They told me the minimum charge for something
along this line would be $100. I took the thing apart and couldn’t find the problem.
So I put everything in the trunk of my car fully intending to drop it off at the
repair shop in a day or so. In the meantime I looked at new units on the internet
and found exactly what I wanted for $125, brand new. Now the new one sounds as
good as the old one to me but the best thing is that I don’t have another thirty
or so buttons to adjust to get the sound ‘equalized’ or to move from rock to arena
to movie to room effects, whatever that means. Also if I need to adjust the clock
on the new one, the buttons are easier to see and I don’t need a magnifying glass
to tell me which one I need to punch to adjust the setting. My life just got easier.
about your cell phone? I use mine for texting, talking, photos and e-mail. I don’t
need it to tell me the weather in Moscow because I don’t need to know what the
weather is in Moscow. I don’t need it to make funny noises or calculate the amount
to add for a tip on a meal, I can do that in my head. I still carry the instruction
manual for my phone and my camera (the simple one) in my briefcase, but even that
seems rather stupid to me, but I can’t be perfect.
Take a look at the
appliances in your home today. Who needs forty different settings to cook biscuits?
I don’t. I need an oven that can bake and broil and a microwave with an on/off
and minute timer…everything else is superfluous ( I love that word).
we come to the mother of all buttons for things we’ll never use… and that’s our
computers. I have 24 of those little icons on my screen saver when I open up my
computer. I think I use a total of 4. I’ve looked at all of the programs that
are installed and I have no clue what they are or how they got there in the first
place. I have things labeled Panorama Maker, Sonic and Modem on Hold. I haven’t
the slightest idea of what these are used for. I am loathe to erase them as I
did this once a year or so ago and one of them must have been used for something
important that I didn’t know about. Once I hit the old ‘erase’ now button….everything
stopped working. I had to get an expert (at least he said he was) out to get me
up and going again. My motto is not to mess with it if it seems to be working.
Make it simpler, seems to be a good plan for this New Year. Out with the
old…in with the new….only if it has less buttons and settings.
From North America - January 13, 2010 column
in 80 newspapers
Comments go to email@example.com