Things Old and New That Do Not Work

In this age of modern computers and amazing gadgets, it would be right to assume that most of the fundamental problems regarding technology should have been fixed already. After all, these problems have very straightforward solutions and it doesn’t really require ten Albert Einsteins’ to fix them.

One age old problem is the absence of a universal standard for the wall plug. This problem already borders on the ridiculous. I remember owning a cell phone charger whose plug is as big as the plug that goes with my 2 horsepower air conditioner. Yes, plugs come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. What works in one country does not work in another. Good thing most chargers accept a wide range of voltages. Imagine the mess if chargers only work in one voltage (i.e. 110 volts only) and when you go to Europe, you find out that you couldn’t charge your cell phone because the current over there runs on 220 volts. Steps are being undertaken in the right direction. Nowadays, most cell phones and digital cameras can be charged using a USB connection. Still, there are six types of USB plugs and there is no set pattern that dictates whether a Type A connector should be used or Type B. Cell phones and compact digital cameras have roughly the same dimensions because they need to be held with one hand. So it would be safe to assume that because of similar form factors, they would use the same size of USB connector. But, as you may have observed, your cellular phone’s USB cable won’t fit in the USB socket of your camera. Standardization of the USB standard needs further work. Because of the rapid rate of obsolescence of electronic gadgets, managing the ever growing heap of incompatible power cables with different plugs is becoming a serious environmental problem. If plugs were standardized they could just simply be reused as is, which is a far better deal than getting them recycled.

» Read more