Antifeatures: deliberate, expensive product features that no customer wants

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58 Responses to “Antifeatures: deliberate, expensive product features that no customer wants”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Wow the first part was a rambling intro that would be fascinating if we cared about which Debian project he is involved in.

    If you want to watch the video – start at about the 16:58 mark. Seriously.

    He really needs to learn how to talk about an interesting topic. The old teaching technique of ‘list the items that you are going to talk about. Then list them all with more detail. Then list them again with even more detail. Then summarise it at the end’ isn’t terribly riveting.

    Anyway – here’s a guide so you can skip to the useful bit of the video:
    17:00 -> 20:00 * Talking about silent numbers in the phone book
    20:00 -> 22:20 * Talking about Gator spyware
    22:20 -> 24:20 * Sony Freshstart .. Sony insists the user pays them $60 or they’ll put crapware on your laptop
    24:20 -> 29:00 * Market segmentation (Including extra fees to run software on a server rather than on a desktop. Sometimes a registry entry disables features in the software)
    29:00 -> 31:20 * Market segmentation – Variations of Vista

    Then the hardware:
    31:20 -> 35:30 * Canon Cameras & raw image files
    35:30 -> 38:16 * Panasonic locking out 3rd party batteries via a firmware upgrade.
    38:16 -> 40:00 * Atmel & TI’s Battery authentication chips

    I faded out then.

    Someone else can add to the list.

  2. straponego says:

    These deliberately crippled products are hostile not just to their users, but to the environment and life in general. Enforced waste means natural resources are depleted in addition to human time and money at both ends of the transaction. Unless you believe that entropy is a trick of the devil, that a finite system can produce infinite energy, that oil is generated abiotically like water turning to wine– this should trouble you.

    Antifeatures take time from your life as a person, and our life as a technological species.

  3. riotsquad.tv says:

    I hate it when otherwise well designed good products are intentionally crippled for no real good reason. The example that immediately comes to mind is the Fujitsu Scansnap, which is a great sheetfeed duplex USB scanner that they intentionally split into a ‘Mac’ and ‘PC’ version. Of course the hardware is the same other than one simple code, so if you hack the software you can get it to work on both systems:
    http://techenvy.com/hack/mac-osx-drivers-for-windows-scansnap

    It’s infuriating to have to spend time ‘tricking’ your hardware into working the way it should though. This scanner is great now that I have it working on both Mac and PC, but even so I’d be reticent to buy any Fujitsu product in the future after this experience. Please don’t try to trick me into buying two copies of the same product, it’s too easy to find the truth online.

  4. heroic says:

    It’s not strictly speaking true that it’s easier to save a RAW file as compared to a JPEG.

    Many camera ASICs incorporate JPEG compression, and it can be difficult on large sensors to save the large RAW data to the memory card quickly enough to be usable. Also, if the sensor changes, the RAW format also changes; you need to supply software that can read it (since, obviously, there’s no standard for raw sensor data, and many newer sensors differ wildly from their predecessors).

    It can be surprisingly difficult to get NDA authorization from some random sensor chip manufacturer to tell, say, Apple or Adobe enough about their raw data format that they can implement software to read the RAW file from the camera.

    I’m not saying it’s right that Canon should do what they did, just that it’s not quite as simple as Benjamin Mako Hill makes out.

    • Ushao says:

      It’s not THAT hard, and can be much easier, really. All it requires is a dump of straight data from the sensor to the memory card in a file. RAW files are exactly that, the raw data from the sensor with a few EXIF tags added to it to specify stuff like white balance, metering, shutter speed, ISO, etc. There’s custom firmware for Canon PnS cameras that enable them to save RAW files without issue.

      • Anonymous says:

        It’s not THAT hard, and can be much easier, really. All it requires is a dump of straight data from the sensor to the memory card in a file.

        Nevertheless, it’s still a feature that needs to be implemented, however trivial. The absence of a useful feature, no matter how easy it might be to add, is not an anti-feature…

      • Anonymous says:

        “It’s not THAT hard”

        The Canon hardware in specific may well be able to handle saving RAW images — but not all consumer hardware is, or was back in the day at least. As buffer memory gets cheaper and uses less power I suppose this is less of an issue.

        Also keep in mind that developing and supporting a feature costs money, not just in terms of code development time, but also testing, documentation, and tech support, as well as supporting tools to convert the RAW image into other formats. You may say, “but why not enable it as an unsupported feature in a hidden menu?” — but it’s a legitimate strategy not to build in features you can’t support completely. If you put that menu there, I guarantee you’re going to get angry customers calling who can’t open their pictures because they’re in RAW format. This generally accepted as one of the reasons Apple’s products are good. It’s exactly analogous to the discussion of toasters in this thread, really :)

        While I think it would have been a relatively cheap win for Canon, I disagree that disabling RAW save is a classic antifeature. It would have cost Canon more to support it, not less, and I have a really hard time believing the market for people who insist on being able to save to RAW format but are willing to use cheap point and shoot cameras is anything but really, really small.

  5. friendpuppy says:

    Having worked in the printer business on the repair end I can offer some facts. It is true that toner and ink cartridges are keyed to discourage copying. Also ribbons. I have also seen aftermarket ribbons that clog up printheads and were of very bad quality.

    While I believe it is possible that printers could be easily programmed to die after a certain number of pages, printers really do a good job of falling apart on their own. I’ve tuned up all types of printers only to see them fail for strange unexpected reasons. Mechanical stuff breaks. Face it.

    • Ushao says:

      I’ve done my time working on printers as well and I can certainly attest to how shoddy the construction on consumer models are. Brother printers were especially horrid. The laser printers would jam up and break if you used third party imaging drums because the tolerance for torque on them was very low. The plastic that was in the drum drive gear set was so cheap it would break. Sad thing is, the tolerance was SO low that even OEM drums would cause it to break if they were just a little harder to turn than normal.

      Also I meant to sign in when I replied to Jack about the ink pads.

  6. Anonymous says:

    After 13 minutes I have no idea what he’s talking about but he speaks like Quentin Tarantino.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Printers stop because the reservoir that holds waste ink (used when cleaning) is full. It is often a sheet of fibrous paper in the bottom of the printer.

    It is possible to reset that counter witha button combination, but its presence should be made more clear. OTOH this happens when you spend 100 times the printer cost on ink, so economically it is not much of a loss.

  8. Anonymous says:

    This is a really important and interesting lecture, however it is significantly impaired by the lecture’s poor delivery, stammer, hesitancy and repetition of non words like um and er. It makes it difficult to listen to and as a result difficult to comprehend. Please Benjamin Mako Hill, your work is really interesting and challenging, so please transcribe this lecture and then re-record it by reading it slowly and edit out any bloopers.

  9. pelrun says:

    The attack on GitHub and comparison with Gitorious in this lecture is rather unfair, in my opinion.

    When you pay GitHub you’re paying to use some of their hardware to store your source code *privately*, code that is owned either by yourself or by your company. Gitorious doesn’t provide this service, and you can’t pay them for it, because their sole focus is publicly available open-source code hosting.

    That can’t be a true antifeature, because you’re not being prevented from using something you already own, and you’re not paying money to reimburse GitHub for funding they would otherwise get from another source (e.g. ad revenue, or someone who wants access to your proprietary code.) Instead, it’s a standard business transaction, akin to renting a storage unit.

  10. cjb says:

    For the people looking for a more polished lecture on the same topic, you could check out Mako’s LCA2010 keynote on antifeatures.

  11. imron says:

    Paid $7.50 for it brand new from Target after weeks of fruitless hunting for something better.

    For $7.50 what do you expect?

    Oftentimes, you get what you pay for, and if you expect both cheap and high quality, then you’re only going to be disappointed.

    Try paying a little more, and you might find that your toaster lasts a little longer.

    • Jack says:

      I think you miss the point. I was completely willing to pay much more. But the thing is toasters fall into two clear categories nowadays: $7.50 items that are simple/brainless toasters or $50+ digital toasters that do much more than anyone wants or needs. Paying more does not mean higher quality. The toasters my dad purchased coast maybe $20 max and lasted for years.

      I don’t need digital controls or a timer or any other nonsense. If someone can take the simple mechanism in a $7.50 toaster but build it with quality materials, I’ll by that.

      For now, I’m sated but still look for stuff at thirft shops.

      • soap says:

        If one wants high quality kitchen appliances (and are willing to pay) one should not be shopping at consumer discount stores. Shopping at Target, Wal-Mart, etc. and expecting something other than low prices is a failure of realistic expectations.

        Restaurant supply stores are where quality appliances are sold, and finding a quality toaster is not hard at all there.

        • Jack says:

          If one wants high quality kitchen appliances (and are willing to pay) one should not be shopping at consumer discount stores. Shopping at Target, Wal-Mart, etc. and expecting something other than low prices is a failure of realistic expectations.

          So you have bought the idea that modern market segmentation is valid? Where do you think folks bought toasters before the 1980s? Gourmet shops and that’s it. Nope. Folks shopped at Woolworth’s, Korvette’s, Macy’s and other local department stores and discount chains. And the baseline merchandise was made of much better quality. The idea of “get what you pay for” is a sales technique guys. It’s simply not the case in the vast majority of things.

          Misterjuju said:

          No popup mechanisms to fail, it does way more than toast bread, and the one I bought for $10 ten years ago is still working fine! It has three settings: toast, bake, and broil. Bake lets you set a temperature and a time, and toast/broil is full blast heat (you set the timer) applied either to both sides (toast) orjust to the top (broil). It toasts bread or bagels or reheats pizza like a charm.

          Misterjuju, dd you read the title of this thread? It’s “Antifeatures: deliberate, expensive product features that no customer wants.” So you are saying if I simply want 2 pieces of bread toasted in 2011, I need to buy a bigger slightly more expensive machine that has features I don’t want or need for what reason? For decades prior families could just go anywhere and buy a toaster without too much worry, care or concern, but now in 2011 one “gets what they pay for” and should just fork down more cash for a “gourmet” brand not made at Target or Wal-Mart that has a fancier name but is made by the same manufacturer?

          I’ve had toaster ovens. They are horrible. The elements and timers break down as badly as a toaster oven. They take up too much space. And cleaning them is beyond a hassle.

          Speaking of “deliberate, expensive product features that no customer wants” Apple & AT&T might have to win the award there. They sell you a fancy iPhone that can do all sorts of magical things you never thought you needed, but as an actual phone? Fail. Thank you Verizon for giving people what they want.

          • Anonymous says:

            This is essentially irrelevant to the topic at hand, but I just wanted to butt in on the toaster thing.

            I grew up with what you call toaster ovens – to me, they were just toasters. What you call a toaster was, for me, a strange, oddly nifty device seen only on television. I would later befriend someone who had the pop-up toaster, and was greatly disappointed to discover that it was essentially a unitasker. It continued to connote otherness, though, even after a mouse hopped into my friend’s pop-up toaster and promptly electrocuted itself. It was around the same time that I started living alone and supporting myself – I ended up saving myself enormous amounts of time by cooking an incredible variety of meals with just a toaster and some tin foil. And a pot of boiling water. Anyway, digression over.

  12. digibruce says:

    This was an awesome lecture on how not to do a presentation! Thank you Benjamin Mako Hill and The Free Technology Academy, you have inspired me to continue to do a better job at presentations.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Oh man I wish this dude had edited this before he dumped the whole, stammering mess on to the internet.

    I’m slogging through it now but it’s making me wince something awful.

  14. Jack says:

    Also, you know another simple “product feature no customer wants” is? Bags—messenger and backpacks—that have tons of pockets and hype the quantity of them as a selling point. I have never met one person who truly uses those pockets since most anyone needs 3-4 pockets of a varying size on a bag to begin with. I’d complain about hunting for a simple messenger, but my quest to find one was much simpler (went to a few stores) than my toaster quest.

  15. Anonymous says:

    @ shash — Of course the Canon G10 supports RAW as it’s more “prosumer” than one of their point-and-shoot models which are capable of RAW but only save JPEG with the factory firmware… But with the help of CHDK (the custom firmware Ushao was referring to) it’s really a non-issue… And don’t worry, I’m keeping an eye on your personal slice of the “research fail” pie… ;-)

  16. Anonymous says:

    ” (…) $50+ digital toasters that do much more than anyone wants or needs. Paying more does not mean higher quality. The toasters my dad purchased cost maybe $20 max and lasted for years.”

    Are you accounting for inflation? Your dad spending $20 in 1970 would be equivalent to spending over $100 in contemporary dollars.

  17. soap says:

    Fact is the market has segmented. One needs to understand and accept this fact if one is to be happy.

    You’ve repeatedly mentioned you father’s $20 toaster. $20 in 1970 dollars is just about right (a little low) for buying a simple (no digital dohickies) commercial-quality toaster at Wasserstrom. One you can actually get repair parts for!

    • Gilbert Wham says:

      Yeah, more money=better toaster definitely. Now, can we just get the toaster guys and those fuckers who bake the bread round a table, hash some standards out maybe?

  18. Wally Ballou says:

    Waiting for the biggest antifeature of them all – 15%+ ethanol/petroleum mix at the pump, rendering unusable most vehicles more than ten years old. You think buying a new toaster is a waste of resources??

  19. AnthonyC says:

    A $20 toaster 20 years ago is at least a $40 toaster today.
    If you try to sell a $40 toaster that just toasts, most people will just buy the $60 version that does lots of other stuff… or buy the $7.50 one that doesn’t last as long, and replace it. I agree with you, though- I’d rather buy quality, pay more, and keep it a long time, and for small electrics it just doesn’t seem to exist.

    Personally, I use a toaster oven and not a toaster. I bought a $30 toaster oven on clearance, and I’ve been using it to toast, bake (sometimes convection), and broil for about 4 years. Ditto for my $9 3L slow cooker (which has just off, low, high, and warm) and my $20 rice cooker (which just as a single “go” button). So good deals do exist, and they aren’t well correlated with price.

    OTOH for pots and pans, it is possible to buy stuff guaranteed for life- e.g. All Clad, Le Creuset- or that will last forever but isn’t warrantied for life- e.g. Lodge.

    • Jack says:

      AnthonyC, have you ever looked at a toaster mechanism? It’s not complex. It’s quite simple. And I genuinely do not believe a $20 toaster of the past is a $40 toaster today.

      But I really like this thread. The amount of consumer self-justification is amazing. Just let the Lord “Company” make decisions for you. We are but mortal consumers.

  20. kpkpkp says:

    For me, the redesigned menus of Microsoft Office 2007 fall into this category. While the shakeup reorganizes the menus in a way that may be beneficial for a new user, for their existing user base it is quite frustrating, and they left no option for a ‘classic’ menus view.

    I often find myself saying ‘f___ it – we’ll do it live’ instead of searching for a feature I know exists somewhere in Word or Excel.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Hey toaster guys – go for a toaster oven next time. They last a long time, are much more versatile, are easier to clean, and you can watch the toast while it toasts so that you can get it exactly where you want it. Of course, you need some extra counter space to put it…

    (Disclaimer: my family switched to toaster ovens when I was a kid, and we never looked back.)

  22. shash says:

    Just as I listen to this, I’m working on a Canon Raw file saved by my G10 yesterday…

    Interesting points, but research fail!

  23. Anonymous says:

    re:#28 – Thank you, soap for Wasserstrom.
    15 toasters <$100!

  24. NickPheas says:

    Not sure it’s quite ion the sense of the previous discussions, but I’m just in the process of installing RealPlayer on a rebuilt PC. The free version. And no, I do not want emails or news alerts or any stuff like that. And I didn’t on the old build either.

    So WTF do they demand an email address and password? And given that it’s been four years, can you not make the ‘forgotten password’ process quick? If I don’t get the reset in ten more minutes I’m just going to temporary inbox.

  25. polossatik says:

    sorry, but 8 min “intro” about what you will be talking about?

    if you want to get a message out then please learn how to make a talk someone actually can follow, make clear what your audience is, one example is good, 2 example is maybe fine, repeating the same stuff over and over is bad.
    And *prepare*, this was just sounding like a random thought talk .

  26. The Life Of Bryan says:

    Here’s an example almost certainly not listed in the video: The Garmin Forerunner 405. It’s a wristwatch-style GPS recorder used by athletes to track speed, distance, etc. Four years ago I bought a Forerunner 205 and have used the living hell out of it to the tune of over 10,000 miles. Last christmas I was given the latest and greatest version, a Forerunner 405cx.

    The list of the new model’s failings is long and mostly irrelevant to this discussion. But the one that drives me the battiest is the syncing. On the previous generation you put the unit on a USB cradle that syncs and charges it. The newer one “offers” wireless sync via a dongle you plug into a USB port and an extra layer of software in between your tracking app and the hardware. Of course you can’t charge it wirelessly, and due to the different form factor a cradle isn’t really an option, so there’s this ridiculous alligator clip that goes over the unit to hit the contacts on the back of it (usually). So now you’ve got two USB connections to do what you used to do with one.

    What makes it extra special crazymaking is that the older hardware could go most of a week between charges. But the new model, despite being roughly the same size and five+ years newer (to say nothing of more expensive), can barely get through a good Saturday. So you’re forced to charge it every time you use it. Okay, fine, if I’ve gotta charge it, I might as well sync it, too. And if I’ve gotta have it “plugged in” anyway, I might as well just sync it that way instead of fighting with the flaketastic wireless sync. But of course, that’s not an option; even though there’s contact pins on the bottom of the unit, it will *only* sync wirelessly. Which will probably work as long as your laptop hasn’t gone to sleep since you plugged the little dongle in, and the background app is still running, and you’ve got the tinfoil on the rabbit ear antenna situated just right, etc and so forth.

    That’s not even the worst of its issues, either. But it’s the one that applies most directly to this discussion. A phrase I use depressingly often applies pretty well to this screaming POS: Over-designed and under-tested. That and a half dozen other issues really make me wonder if there’s any actual athletes at Garmin who used this thing for more than a day before releasing it to mass production. Because it sure as hell doesn’t seem like it.

    To anybody considering a Garmin 405: Run far away. But buy a decent GPS first to make sure you’ve run far enough.

    • Baldhead says:

      Everything is better done wirelessly, didn’t you know?

      Seriously, I regard wireless (or even wired) internet options on televisions in the same category. More expensive than simply buying a cable to connect your computer to your TV, and you get a crippled internet browser, limited to a few sites like Youtube except without the search option that I can’t imagine trying to use youtube without. Not scrolling through millions of videos in the hopes of maybe finding what I want. I know it’s less of an Antifeature than a useless feature, but these need to stop as well. if a device can’t do a secondary something well then there’s no point in it doing it at all.

  27. Kimmo says:

    Interesting lecture…

    But after suffering through incredibly tiresome stretches of verbal stumbling, I found the bit about unskippable DVD tracks wasting everybody’s time exquisitely ironic.

  28. Daemon says:

    Needs drastic editing. Could be half that length and cover the same material.

  29. mako says:

    Greetings everyone! I’m really sorry about the poor delivery and appreciate that many people seem to have worked through that part and engaged with the core concepts regardless.

    As some people have noticed, the first 10-15 minutes isn’t going to be of much interest to many folks outside of the context of the class which is on issues related to free software and open source. It’s kind of inside baseball and wasn’t geared for a general audience.

    If you haven’t watched this yet but were thinking about it, I would suggesting watching this better presentation of much of the same material. It’s a bit shorter and think the delivery was much better: http://blip.tv/file/4727338

  30. Rindan says:

    This kind of reminds me of Apple changing its screws to some obscure type. There are only two types of people in this case. There are people that are annoyed because they have to go get another ‘security’ screw drivers (often of dubious origin and quality of fit) to get around them, and people who were not going to open the damn thing no matter what.

  31. noen says:

    Product hostility. The Butlerian Jihad will be lead by the iPhone3000.

  32. Anonymous says:

    I thought this post was all about 3D.

  33. Jack says:

    Printers also have a “quality” lifespan. I had a Canon Pixma 1500 that worked great and suddenly died. Found out it reached it’s preset max number of prints and just killed itself. A “quality” feature to make sure the printer isn’t used past it’s “worn out” date. I never hated an object more than when I found out that happened.

    Well, Apple batteries that are hermetically sealed and a pain in the ass to change. iPod shuffles are truly “disposable” you know?

    • Major Variola (ret) says:

      @Jack

      I just finished worked for a medical device company. Gilette model: The $5000 box I was working on was free; the $300 disposables that the client sold were not.

      I implemented features to:
      * authenticate the disposables
      * calendar-shelf-life the disposables (no good after 2013)
      * use-life the disposables (500 actuations after first, then dead)

      One of the reasons is that the devices really, ‘FDA-should’ have shelf lives, and should not be reused (too many nooks and crannies to sterilize) and are not built to withstand more than a certain amount of (electrical and mechanical) stress. That would cost more and you still have the sterilization problem.

      FWIW. I hate extra complexity (no microprocessor in my coffee grinder please), restricted-access, etc. The observation about 15% EtOH is astute.

    • Ito Kagehisa says:

      In the United States I think you can prosecute them for that – unless it was on the packaging or something. There’s a thing called “implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose” under Article 2 of the Uniform Commercial Code, that says if they specifically sell it as a printer, and yet it is purposely designed to not print, the merchant has violated their agreement with the purchaser. Sellers have to disclaim that implied warranty (in the states where you are allowed to do so) very explicitly to avoid prosecution.

      But I am not a lawyer, so don’t trust what I say. I try to stay under the radar of Big Business, especially when plundering their dumpsters.

      • Jack says:

        Well, unless it is a class action suit and if it can be proven over a large swath of printers, there is a consumer case… But since the vast majority of printers are disposable, I doubt that can happen. A stronger suit could be made blaming the printer manufacturers for e-waste increase since they deliberately price printers to be lower cost than ink cartridge replacements. Thus, “inspiring” users to upgrade: Why pay $60 for more ink when for $50 you can get a whole new printer with ink?

        But honestly, my fave revenge is 100% transparent honesty in reviews. If I like something, I praise and recommend. If it fails, I provide detailed info when describing what went wrong and why the product should be avoided. I haven’t done this dozens of times, but I think generally consumers need to speak out more and more about tech failures especially if the products are disposable.

        Another thing folks need to be aware of is hardware warranties are getting shorter because retailers want a cut of the extended warranty market. How this affects the quality of hardware won’t be known for a few years, but I can tell you already I have had two 2TB Western Digital drives show signs of failure within a month. And this is after 15+ years of only having to deal with one measly hard drive failure ever before and that was after a year or so of use.

        Consumers are no longer being sold quality, but rather liability insurance for items purchased with credit that might work.

        • Ushao says:

          Did it just die or did it hit the max number of prints for the waste ink pads/container? Epsons will stop with an error once they hit that limit and need to be reset as well as have their pads replaced. You can override that but there’s a 50/50 chance you’ll have a mess on your hands if you choose not to replace the pads.

          • Jack says:

            The pads were the issue. But the cost for repair eclipse the $39.99 I paid. Thus, garbage. Lots of “soft” obsolescence here.

            Also, might I bring this low tech? Do folks know how hard it is—if not impossible—to find a brainless/simple 2 slice toaster that doesn’t die or literally melt? I’m not too sure if all mechs are teh same, but on the last one I had (brand escapes me) it would toast only if you held the “plunger” down… But it would not lock in place on it’s own. I understand it’s basically an electromagnet hooked up to a heat sensor, but wow. What junk!

            I had TWO toasters my whole life growing up as a kid and my dad got the second because it had a larger slice hole for bagels. I now am lucky (knock on wood) that my current toaster has lasted 4+ years. Paid $7.50 for it brand new from Target after weeks of fruitless hunting for something better. I’m sure my 4+ years is past the expected lifespan because it still acts wonky and sometimes doesn’t lock down unless I whack it.

            It’s 2011! Our toasters suck.

          • Ushao says:

            I’ve got a Wal-Mart special we bought probably 3-4 years ago now that’s not had any issues. Timer, plunger and heating elements work just fine. Not that I advocate Wal-Mart, you may just be having a run of bad luck with them.

            Also, a good mod for Epsons is actually to run the waste ink tubes out the back into jars. It’s a pretty common mod that some smaller companies do if they use a certain printer quite often. I agree that the pads are ridiculously expensive for most printers.

          • Jack says:

            I’ve got a Wal-Mart special we bought probably 3-4 years ago now that’s not had any issues. Timer, plunger and heating elements work just fine. Not that I advocate Wal-Mart, you may just be having a run of bad luck with them.

            But is the quality the same as toasters made 20+ years ago? Back then you could go into a drugstore, plop down $20 and get a basic/decent toaster made with mostly metal parts that would last. And it felt like something; it had some heft to it.

            Practically all of the cheap toasters nowadays are disposable. And I think folks don’t fully grasp this was not always the case.

          • Anonymous says:

            Check any second-hand store and you’ll likely find a toaster from “back when they knew how to make toasters” for < $5.

          • Jack says:

            I’d like to thank you “Anon” for being the umpteenth person to miss the point about the quality of toasters made nowadays versus toasters from 20-30 years ago. Manufacturers are deliberately crippling tech on tons of different levels in favor of disposability. My toaster example is simple a personal example of how a very simple mechanism has been designed to “fail” by modern manufacturers who want to squeeze as much blood out of consumers as possible.

          • archmagetrexasaurus says:

            I’ve actually had two fantastic experiences with 2-slice toasters: a red Dualit belonging to my parents and an Oster that my wife and I bought over 18 months ago.

            The Dualit’s a good example of ‘paying for nothing’ in the sense that every feature known to cause problems on other toasters is conspicuously absent, (dropping/popping toast is done with a lever which directly lowers/raises the toast, with no auto-pop mechanism and the ill-conceived ‘darkness dial’ is replaced by a common kitchen timer), and the price is absurdly high to compensate. Whatever one may think about the price or features, I’ve found it to be an absolute joy to use, and have seen some great toast come out of it. Even the crumb tray is simple and effective in a way I’ve not seen on other toasters!

            On the other hand, our Oster is a great example of the much sought after ‘just expensive enough to work properly and cheap enough to lack most of the things that would turn it to trash prematurely’. It’s got an auto-pop, with electronic cancel and ‘bagel’ buttons, but does go with a numerical variant on the ‘darkness dial’ at least, (no apparent simple relation to units of time however). Even so, it’s held up well for much longer than I might have expected it to, for the price, looks nice enough, and we’re quite happy with the toast it produces.

            With all this in mind, I think it’s worthwhile to note that the price points between these two toasters (let’s say ~25-100 USD), are home to many (>10) extremely disappointing toasters. In fact, it is the case that I have never had a satisfying experience with a toaster in that range.

            It seems to me, most ‘antifeatures’ are either additions/modifications to artificially push a quality cheap product into mid-range price points, (by making it appear more ‘feature rich’/’faster’, or subtractions to drag a potentially good but prohibitively expensive product into this same range, (by avoiding licensing issues, perhaps). I think toasters make for a great example, but this is often the case for many products.

            The whole printers discussion is especially interesting, as I’ve not seen quality expensive printers that are widely available for some time (though I may have just missed them); modern printers seem to be converging on low/mid-range price points of yesteryear, and becoming awkward compromises between user’s desire not to spend time/money servicing printers, and the new printer’s need to perform tasks reserved for rather expensive pro-quality printers in the past.

            ???/i apologize for the extended comment/it’s late-slash-early/i read ‘toaster’ and i just can’t help myself

          • misterjuju says:

            2 words: Toaster oven!
            No popup mechanisms to fail, it does way more than toast bread, and the one I bought for $10 ten years ago is still working fine! It has three settings: toast, bake, and broil. Bake lets you set a temperature and a time, and toast/broil is full blast heat (you set the timer) applied either to both sides (toast) orjust to the top (broil). It toasts bread or bagels or reheats pizza like a charm.
            As for printers, I also got two $10 Samsung laser printers a few years ago at Best Buy on clearance, and the toner refills cost 5x the cost of the printer. So I’m going to sell the old tonerless printer on CL (or just give it away, I dunno yet). II just can’t bring myself to throw perfectly good stuff away!

  34. tylerkaraszewski says:

    Tried to watch the video. Made it through 8 minutes of him saying nothing. Gave up.

  35. turn_self_off says:

    dunno, trying to maintain a independent distro these days seems to encounter big name designed and poorly documented “features” added for no apparent reason.

  36. lecti says:

    Well, an HP printer at work that rejected a full cartridge because it has “expired” made me completely reject buying an HP inkjet for myself. Our lab dumped the “professional” printer. Good marketing strategy, isn’t it?

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