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Rage inducing everyday items which simply refuse to go away

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Poorly designed, and rage inducing, products which have been around for decades - and which seem destined to last forever

It is so often the case that an item's shortcomings catch the attention of the user for more than the good aspects of a design. This is infuriating, since many of the poor designs have such blatently obvious shortcomings, and yet no attempt is ever made to improve or replace them.

Here are some examples of rage inducing items which have gone on forever and yet somehow have somehow managed to escape any semblance of improvement or innovation. This is all the more surprising since in many cases the problems are so blatantly obvious to all. There are many everyday products which beggar belief in an age which we can send rockets to the moon. In most cases they provoke anger and resentment as well as frustration, but a handful of them are actually dangerous. In many cases anyone with the solution to the problems listed below I would automatically have nominated for the Nobel Prize.

In today's high stress world of graduate debt, extortionate house prices, insecure employment, and gridlocked roads, we really should not have to worry about the most basic everyday items letting us down. But plenty of them do so, and they do so on a day-to-day basis. For every fine example of modern engineering, there are no shortage of everyday items such as containers that will never get completely empty, Christmas lights that get tangled up and waste your time every year, pelican crossings which do not really help pedestrians cross a road, the list goes on and on. Here then is a list of examples of rage inducing everyday items which somehow manage to escape any semblance of improvement, replacement or innovation.

Mixer taps: Mixer taps I believe were first patented back in 1880 and yet in 139 intervening years it seems that hardly anybody produces a standard design which has a long enough reach to allow you to get your hands under the taps without bumping into the back of the sink. Why!?

Separate British taps: One question foreigners so often asked about Britain is, why we insist on having separate hot and cold taps. In the post war years most British homes were designed in such a way that you had a standing tank holding water in the attic which was waiting to be taken to the boiler to be heated and then pumped into a hot water tank, since you couldn't guarantee that this water was free of contamination it was decided not to mix it with the cold, because the cold water unlike the hot water supply came directly from the mains and was deemed safe to drink. Nowadays modern houses have a boiler which heats the water on demand and no holding tank, so gone are the excuses. Somebody once famously remarked, you choose, you lose. But we're not talking about an election, but about separate British taps - you can choose either freezing or boiling - there's no option of water you can actually touch.

Product packaging: Amazon have taken the initiative and produced what they call frustration free packaging. you know that packaging is a nightmare when a whole new affliction has been coined (wrap rage) to describe the diabolical struggle it is to open it. It beggars belief that one requires knives, scissors even power tools to open packaging. And yet it happens on a day-to-day basis, plastic clamshells, when you use a knife or scissors to open them produce plastic edges so sharp they can tear through flesh, indeed people have actually been admitted to hospital after trying to open packaging. Is it really necessary to use packaging which requires the tool it contains to open it!!! Not only is far too much packaging used in many cases, for example plastic clam shells which are many times the size of the product they contain, but also they are totally non biodegradable meaning that once they find their way into the bin they sit in landfill for evermore.

Supermarket checkouts: Why are the bags always located in a position where they cannot be reached until the previous customer has finish packing their shopping? This just causes needless delay to people wishing to get out of the shop as quickly as possible, and holds up the queues.

Serial wired Christmas lights: A nightmare which haunts me every festive season, there are two basic problems here, one, no matter how tidily you put them away in January, come the next December they are always tangled. I suggest that you open a bottle of whiskey to make slightly more bearable the task of untangling that rat's nest. And secondly, the bulbs are wired in series, so if one bulb blows the lot go out, and you have to go through the whole chain painstakingly one at a time trying to find which bulb is failed, when you've done all this, Christmas is probably over. Thank heavens traditional bulb sets are being replaced with more modern LED sets which use far less energy are more reliable and what is more, are not wired in series. That still doesn't provide a solution to the tangling problem though.

Automatic hand dryers: Automatic hand dryers seemed like a great idea in theory and there are a few designs, for example Dyson's airblade which actually manage to get the job done, however most of the machines just spend two minutes blowing air over your hands without really drying the moisture - and heaven help you if the motion sensor is faulty.

Pelican crossings: These just sit there all day every day advertising their uselessness, in the sense that they're at their most useless just when they are most needed. At 3 o'clock in the morning when the road is empty you and you are drunk (and why else would you bother) you can press the button and you'll see that the thing works instantly. Do the same thing in the rush hour, when you in a hurry to get to work, and it's pouring with rain, you press the button and you wait and wait and wait and wait forever as the thing makes a futile bid to find a gap in the traffic before finally timing out and stopping the traffic anyhow. But why in god's name couldn't the sodding thing have just done that in the first place!? What's more, pelican crossings also have the distinction of holding up traffic needlessly, because the pedestrians are long gone and the lights are obstinately red. In my opinion there's no need to have a pelican crossing anyway - what's wrong with a good old fashioned zebra crossing, which is responsive to pedestrians and only holds up the traffic when someone's wanting to cross!? It doesn't require energy to operate and very little maintenance either, apart from repainting the crossing every 10 years when the paint wears off the road. Pelican crossings are so rage inducing to pedestrians that they just encourage them to take risks.

Umbrellas: Umbrellas I do believe were first invented at least 2000 years ago, yet it it's jaw-dropping that after two millennia and half a century after we put a man on the moon, nobody designs an umbrella which doesn't turn inside out or fall to pieces at the first breath of wind. Hundreds are abandoned on the streets of London every time it rains.

Door handles: One very easy way to make everybody look like a buerk is to fit ambiguous handles to public doors. Whether you try to push or pull you somehow always end up getting it wrong.

Wine glasses: Whoever came up with the standard wine glass design had obviously had far too much wine to drink already. Given that wine glasses are intended to hold an expensive liquid which stains everything it comes into contact with, why design them with a small base, a very high centre of gravity so that they are inherently unstable and the fragile stem in the middle which snaps very easily, just making breakage and spillage needlessly likely.

Hospital entrances: Well, actually this complaint would cover quite a lot of buildings, but it is especially pertinent when it comes to hospitals, I worked in one! Why design them with huge entrances, wasted space at the front so that elderly and infirm people can only be dropped 30 yards from the entrance in all weathers, if only things were designed for functionality in preference to appearance it would make life a lot easier. Ergonomics always seems to be last on the list of priorities unfortunately. Indeed we live in a world where things seem to be designed for looks not functionality.

Toothpaste tubes: Like many people, I'm economy conscious and therefore conscientious about squeezing the tube from top to bottom, but there comes a point when you're left with a rage inducing bit of toothpaste at the end of the tube which you just can't get out. If anyone has a solution to this problem they deserve to get the Nobel prize.

Ditto, soap and shampoo containers, for instance. In particular those which use a pump handle dispense the contents. This mechanism always fails completely as soon as the level in the bottle gets low leading to wasted soap or shampoo every single time.

Ketchup bottles also fall into this category - it's quite impossible to use the entire contents of the bottle.

Cereal packets and crisp packets have a similar problem - not only can you never close a cereal box once you have opened it in the first place (and that's true of many other boxes too), but the bag inside requires so much force to open that the contents end up on the kitchen floor. The same is true of crisp packets; what's wrong with the good old approach of using a paper container which requires far less force to open, the paper can come from a recycled sauce and what's more it's biodegradable once it's finished with.

Milk and juice cartons: Again if you attempt to open the zone the way they're intended to be opened you either can't get them opened or you end up using scissors- if you get frustrated and try to open them the way they're intended with a lot of force they split right down the middle with the contents of the carton ending up all over the kitchen.

Modern cars: Nowadays the fashion seems to be having everything from the sound system to the air conditioning controlled from a touch screen, in mid priced too high end vehicles. It may look good, and it may look 21st century, but here is the problem: in the olden days when you had physical buttons to accomplish a job you got to knew where they were and you could operate them without having to take your eyes off the road. The same thing cannot said of the controls operated on a touch screen. Again surely should safety not come before appearances!?

Television remote controls: Given that the majority of people really only use the power, volume and channel buttons, why do so many remote controls come with an additional 30 ambiguous buttons which nobody knows the function of, and for that matter why do so many modern televisions allow you only to adjust thing from the remote control!! This means that if the remote control gets lost down the back of the sofa, the batteries run out, or it simply stops working it makes the television impossible to operate!!

Microwave oven keypads share this problem: again all you really need is a control to set the power level and timing, so why on earth they come with another 30 additional buttons which are different on every single model is beyond me. Perhaps this is what motivated Amazon to produce an Alexa controlled microwave oven?! If they want to impress me, they should produce an Alexa controlled wife. "Alexa, shut mouth..."

Last but not least I have to make a mention of toilets. Given what we know today about toilet germs, it's astonishing that most toilets in the 21st century still use a primitive and germ laden handle to flush them, instead of a far more hygienic foot pedal, sensor or automatic flush. What's more, most of them have no short flush; they indiscriminately send gallons of water crashing the down the drain every time, which is outragious in a world where billions lack a supply of clean drinking water.


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