The horror of blue LEDs!

The devil is in the details and when it comes to electronics, that's what's annoying Gibbs.

Modern electronic products are amazing. If you cast your mind back to when you were young (some of us need more casting than others), the fact that any of these things exist at all is just short of miraculous.

But along with this cornucopia of technical delights come some serious irritations. For example: Blue LEDs.

I hate blue LEDs. It's not the color - I have no aesthetic problem with the color blue - it's the brightness. I have pieces of equipment with blue LEDs so bright, if I turn out the lights I can still read a book.

In my bedroom there's a blazing blue LED on my DVD player that sears your eyeballs if you look straight at it and another in an aftermarket power adapter (or, as I prefer to call them, "wall warts") for an iPod that bathes the entire bedroom in an eerie glow. And walk into my office; there are blue LEDs in most gadgets and or their wall warts. It seems that everything now has a damned blue LED!

In the kitchen, there's even a blue LED in the coffee maker! Enough, product designers! Enough! It's gotten so bad I've started putting pieces of tape over the LEDs. Couldn't we have a change of pace? Maybe a nice dull, friendly green LED or a cheery, muted cherry red one? Is that too much to ask?

While I'm on the topic, wall warts! They breed like metal coat hangers! And they're all different with the majority being great, lumpen things that take up as much socket real estate as possible.

And why can't manufacturers label the damn things! Come on guys, it's easy. Just a little sticker on the side of the adapter would make everyone's life so much easier.

I have this huge box full of wall warts which have accumulated over the last four or five years. Given there are no working devices without wall warts and there are so many in the box - at least 100 which has to be more than the all of the discarded gear - the only reasonable conclusion is that they do, in fact, breed.

And you know what happens ... should you fail to label your wall warts and then be so careless as to allow a piece of gear and its adapter to become separated for more than about 10 seconds, you'll find yourself in an episode of Mission Impossible. Something like your phone will be dying and you'll be looking for the one adapter with that weird, almost but not quite mini-USB-style connector that is, like every other connector you can lay your hands on, matt black.

Of course, if you can find the right adapter, you can never figure out which way up the connector should be inserted. I have a cell phone where unless you get the insertion angle just right, the connector won't go in. So I always wind up turning the connector over and trying again but now it certainly won't go in because that's the wrong way up! So I turn it over one more time and wriggle the connector into the socket and it turns into an exercise of grind to fit. Pah! What ever happened to design?!

So, I'd like to ask for your nominations for equipment with really annoying details whether it be blinding LEDs, dorky wall warts, lack of labels, or poorly designed connectors. Perhaps we'll award a prize ... I'm thinking my box of unlabelled adapters would be perfect.

Gibbs is geared up in Ventura, Calif. Your nominations to backspin@gibbs.com.

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