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Maes

Stuff that just doesn't work.

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There's some stuff (intended as consumer products) that regularly fails, disappoints, or malfunctions on several levels. It may be an ordinary everyday item, a more specialistic item, or something under the hype spotlight. Sometimes they fail so miserably that you wonder WTF is the point in using them.

My list is:

  • Toilet rim blocks. Several times, when I tried installing one, the hook ended up breaking during installation, if I was lucky. If not, it broke during use or at a random time, blocking the whole fucking toilet. At best, I had to "fish it out" :gross:, at worst I had to call plumbers to hack the drain tube open -_-
  • CFL lamps. I normally advocate their use, and I am using them in most of my fixtures and table lamps for years. Sometimes however, the premature failure rates are just too high, and they may malfunction within a few hours of use without even being in closed luminaires etc., fucking up any "ecologic" and "economic" aspect they might have had. This has happened both with brand (Osram) and noname CFLs.
  • Wireless mice and keyboards: novelty battery suckers, 'nuff said. Especially optical wireless mice suck up batteries like no tomorrow,
  • Cheap earbuds/earphones: in the past I could find a lot or reasonably good quality noname earphones, but now the market seems flooded by immense batches of a particular make of chinese earbuds that seem to be optimized only for telephone frequencies and have a distinctive bassless and trebleless sound, which I call "bucket sound". They sound FUCKING BAD even with cassette walkmans, hell, even with portable FM radios. Even worse is that they're everywhere. 9 out of 10 cheap earphones will unmistakably be "bucketsounds". Upon disassembly, they proved having lacquered iron or aluminum cabling (!) that snapped after a couple of twists, some extremely thin, weak, and fragile magnets and so on. Total shit. What's worse is that they bundle them with many new MP3 players and walkmans.
  • Car seat covers: I've yet to find one with a good method of attachment that isn't either too hard to install or fucking expensive. The cheapest ones use like 2 dozens of dangling hooks that are supposed to cling on to nooks and crannies under the seat, but the shitty elasticized bands they're attached to tear and snap by the dozens. Plus, no matter how solidly you manage to attach the hooks, there's always too much play and they become detached every now and then.
  • Those small foamy 2-channel RC helicopters like the Picoo Z or Air Hogs Havoc, as well as other flying RC toys built with more or less the same technology. OK, these are more of a novelty toy/gadget and are not everyone's cup of tea. However what they have in common, no matter how much you pay for them (anything from $10 to $50, usually) is the ephemerality and flimsiness of components such as the micro LiPo batteries and micro motors: in general they wear out and die within a couple of months of normal use, and can't be replaced. Considering that $25 on average ain't cheap, you'd expect something better. Plus you're left with a bunch of useless remote controllers.
  • Those chinese-made electric rechargeable lanterns that have both an incandescent flashlight and a CFL tube. They usually work great while new and are dirt cheap, but their built in sealed gel lead battery sucks ass. Their mains charging circuits are extremely crude (often they are just a capacitor dividing mains voltage directly!) and they do not exactly provide optimal battery charging condition such as precise voltage. As a result, the battery degenerates quickly and after a couple of uses you have a worthless POS.
[/rant]

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Maes said:

  • CFL lamps. I normally advocate their use, and I am using them in most of my fixtures and table lamps for years. Sometimes however, the premature failure rates are just too high, and they may malfunction within a few hours of use without even being in closed luminaires etc., fucking up any "ecologic" and "economic" aspect they might have had. This has happened both with brand (Osram) and noname CFLs.

  • Wireless mice and keyboards: novelty battery suckers, 'nuff said. Especially optical wireless mice suck up batteries like no tomorrow,


  • CFL Lamps: These things tend to take a poop if you put them in a photo sensor lamp. I think it has to do with dimming, which seems to fuck up the electrical ballast in them.

    Wireless mice and keyboard: I tried using once, I was severly disappointed with battery life. Tried using rechageable batteries and it sucked em up even faster.

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    KuriKai said:

    windows (the OS)

    On the flip side, Linux. I'm not saying that everyone has a terrible time with Linux but it was super shitty when I was using it.

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    r_rr said:

    CFL Lamps: These things tend to take a poop if you put them in a photo sensor lamp. I think it has to do with dimming, which seems to fuck up the electrical ballast in them.


    Well, that's not quite normal use "within specs" though. I'm talking about just plugging then in a normal open air, unballasted, undimmed fixture and them pooping out after maybe 10-12 hours of use.

    To be fair, I recently learned that above a certain wattage (18-21W) you're supposed to only mount them base down or else the base will overheat and "life will be reduced".

    However life being to the level of Edison's first incandescent lamps is fucking unacceptable. Then again you can't be really certain of anything, with those crappy electronics (many manufacturers don't even use mains-rated caps, wtf?!)

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    The best are those lamps that are made of a bunch of LEDs.

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    Maes said:

  • CFL lamps. I normally advocate their use, and I am using them in most of my fixtures and table lamps for years. Sometimes however, the premature failure rates are just too high, and they may malfunction within a few hours of use without even being in closed luminaires etc., fucking up any "ecologic" and "economic" aspect they might have had. This has happened both with brand (Osram) and noname CFLs.


  • Never had any problems with them. You must be doing something wrong.


  • Wireless mice and keyboards: novelty battery suckers, 'nuff said. Especially optical wireless mice suck up batteries like no tomorrow,


  • Rechargeable batteries help overcome this problem quite efficiently. I've been using wireless mice for years. I have to change batteries every 2 weeks but since it's always the same ones that's not a real problem. I've got 2 wireless phones on my desk that I can use as rechargers.





    Can't say much about your other issues.

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    Gez said:

    Only use them for lights that are meant to be turned on or off infrequently, and remain on or off for long periods. For lights that are meant to be turned on often but for short periods, it's better to use an old bulb; or the best is one of these lamps that are made of a bunch of LEDs.


    I'm already familiar with all this stuff, yet there are so many gotchas that it's mind boggling. E.g. most of these CFLs have an AC voltage rectifier circuit using a diode bridge and an electrolytic cap, which is rated just for 300 or 400 VDC and is totally unsuitable for the high ripple currents and heat...a disaster when coupled with a peak AC voltage of 325 V or more (for 230 V mains). No matter how often you turn it on and off, unless it's actively cooled it won't last, and the whole CFL depends on a single component that may or may not cut it.

    More components = more stuff that can break.
    Many shitty componenty = many reasons to crap out early.

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    Maes said:

    Car seat covers: I've yet to find one with a good method of attachment that isn't either too hard to install or fucking expensive. The cheapest ones use like 2 dozens of dangling hooks that are supposed to cling on to nooks and crannies under the seat, but the shitty elasticized bands they're attached to tear and snap by the dozens. Plus, no matter how solidly you manage to attach the hooks, there's always too much play and they become detached every now and then.

    Get some of the oversized ones that mechanics put on your car when they are working on it. Snap-On do a good set.

    The way the world works and almost all of the people in it are such a massive disappointment to me, a few poorly-executed consumer items here and there don't really bother me in comparison.

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    Graf Zahl said:

    Never had any problems with them. You must be doing something wrong.


    I have installed and used many of them during the years, and I am aware of their limitations and intended uses. Some you just screw on and last for years, and some are just failing prematurely.

    Can't get much wronger than screwing on a new one, can it? Just face it, there ARE cases of premature CFL deaths, and given how much they cost (you need a few months to even get even with the money you spent), having one dying in a few days is always a loss. If that never happened to you, well, congratulations and keep it up.

    I read somewhere that if you weed out the "early deaths" the average lifespan is still quite high, but I've witnessed far too many early CFL failures, often in the very same luminaires that another CFL had properly functioned for years. The worst case was a batch of Osram we had bought from LIDL to rebulb my sister's studio: out of the 8 bulbs we got, 2 were totally DOA, and a couple more failed within 1 week. The remaining four worked properly for years, OTOH. Same house, same wiring, same utility company, same luminaire types.

    Graf Zahl said:

    Rechargeable batteries help overcome this problem quite efficiently. I've been using wireless mice for years. I have to change batteries every 2 weeks but since it's always the same ones that's not a real problem. I've got 2 wireless phones on my desk that I can use as rechargers.


    2 weeks? Depends on how often you use your mouse and how much it consumes. I have an old energy-guzzler that is optical and drains 55 mA. The best rechargeable AAAs are 1000 mAh, so even those would be ~20 hours max of continuous use (a few less before you started experiencing problems). Making it last two week would require less than an hour a day. Even with 2500 mAh AA batteries or LiPo of a resonable size, it still would only last 40-50 h at most, that's a week of intensive daily use. Granted, it's a shit-old model, but even if you half the power consumption, it's still a far cry from 2 weeks.

    Optomechanical wireless mice are much better, 2-10 mA and so it's plausible that they can last for more than a week with intensive use (I've seen even a month of continuous daily use on one of those) but optical? No fucking way. I don't know about laser wireless, but they should fall somewhere in between.

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    Maes said:

    2 weeks? Depends on how often you use your mouse and how much it consumes. I have an old energy-guzzler that is optical and drains 55 mA. The best rechargeable AAAs are 1000 mAh, so even those would be ~20 hours max of continuous use (a few less before you started experiencing problems). Making it last two week would require less than an hour a day. Even with 2500 mAh AA batteries or LiPo of a resonable size, it still would only last 40-50 h at most, that's a week of intensive daily use. Granted, it's a shit-old model, but even if you half the power consumption, it's still a far cry from 2 weeks.



    Actually, I use my mouse for several hours each day. But yes, when the batteries are fully charged they'll last up to 2 weeks.

    This is for my optical mouse. The old mechanical one lasted for well over a month until the next recharge.

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    I actually didn't have that much of a battery life problem with the wireless keyboard and mouse I had. The signal itself degraded, which pissed me off. After a couple months the mouse would jump around or the keyboard and/or the mouse would become completely unresponsive. Wired is the way to go.

    I would try using Bluetooth wireless peripherals though. I would trust those a lot more, considering my experience with the PS3. It's hard to find Bluetooth recievers for PCs though. They're usually only built-in to laptops.

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    Certain types of square metal 'cans' (like corned beef hash I think? Kinda like spam cans only the one I tried was worse) where you pop a metal handle up, then peel back the metal top. Its like its designed so the metal edge end will spring back and cut you (has happened at least twice to me).

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    Maes said:

    I'm talking about just plugging then in a normal open air, unballasted, undimmed fixture and them pooping out after maybe 10-12 hours of use.

    That happened to me about 3 weeks ago. I bought a bunch of bright white 27W CFLs, and one of them decided to die the same day I put it in.

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    gggmork said:

    Certain types of square metal 'cans' (like corned beef hash I think? Kinda like spam cans only the one I tried was worse) where you pop a metal handle up, then peel back the metal top. Its like its designed so the metal edge end will spring back and cut you (has happened at least twice to me).

    Heh, those types of cans are indeed lethal. It's also virtually guaranteed that the top will spatter some of the content everywhere - if you let go, it will spring back, and if you remove it entirely it will pop off violently.

    I agree that Shamwow sucks. Badly. Any cheap spongecloth works about 1000% better at drying things.

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    Windows Picture Viewer is the easiest and therefore best program for my purposes to look at my pictures, but it tints everything dark and green!! Is it broken in this respect for anyone else?

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    Toilets that flushes half of what it should have flushed.
    Apple toys that can’t play ogg.
    My wife’s f***ing XP that can’t read some USB disks anymore.

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    CFLs: Their light is terribly unnatural, and distracting when you're trying to draw. I'll stick with good old fashioned argony goodness.

    Wireless Mice: I had one once and it ate batteries like popcorn. I even switched to rechargeable batteries and it ended up killing all of those after about a year. I hear they make wireless mice better these days, but I'd rather not get another.

    Earbuds: They never stay in. Maybe I just have freakishly large ears or something. Also, they all have terrible sound quality. Give me some good old fashioned studio headphones, thank you very much.

    Zip-loc bags with the zipper: Those zipper things usually fall off the second or third time you open the bag. They're more expensive than normal zip-loc, so they're a huge ripoff.

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    Danarchy said:

    CFLs: Their light is terribly unnatural, and distracting when you're trying to draw.

    The ones that I have look a hell of a lot more natural than any incandescent bulb I've ever seen. I can't tell the difference between the CFL light and the outside light. Not all CFLs are equal, though. I always get the "bright white" or "daylight" ones because I can't stand yellow light.

    ducon said:

    My wife’s f***ing XP that can’t read some USB disks anymore.

    You haven't forced her to use linux?

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    Stuff about Windows and Linux

    Anything by Apple; they have an integrated fag-o-meter on them and if it thinks you aren't fag enough they'll refuse to work at all.

    My wireless keyboard lasts over two years on two AA batteries.

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    Jodwin said:

    My wireless keyboard lasts over two years on two AA batteries.


    Plausible, with alkalines, also because all types of rechargeable batteries will self-discharge way before that.

    This is only possible thanks to the much smaller and sparser amount of data generated by the keyboard in comparison with the mouse. Less data -> less communications -> less energy.

    Compare it with a mouse that has to broadcast positional data continuously and at a high frequency. And also power a high-intensity LED...not quite the same, and not good ;-)

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    ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING ON INFOMERCIALS THAT HAVE A NEVER ENDING SERIES OF "BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!" and "IF YOU CALL IN THE NEXT 15 MINUTES WE'LL THROW IN SOME MORE USELESS SHIT, ABSOLUTELY FREE...!"

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