Every once in a while I get a check for some miscellaneous activity of life. It's usually a rebate or refund, or a friend paying up for some group activity I organized. And every time it makes me angry because I have to take that stupid check to the bank and deposit it. It feels so 1990s.

I am frankly amazed that checks still exist. And you know how happy you are when standing in line and the person in front of you whips out a check.

I will have limited time to blog for a few weeks, so today I'm just wondering what else you encounter in your daily life that seems like it should have gone the way of buggy whips ten years ago.

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Mar 22, 2009
I couldn't read through all the comments for this post, but being a banker, I came across this fact: Banks in the US, in general, charge you more for sending money through online accounts, than by cheque. This when, it costs banks more to process cheques (because of the number of people involved), as compared to online banking.

In the UK, on the other hand, the charges are the other way round, that is, it is cheaper to use your debit card at stores, and transfer money online than using cheques. In fact, most stores in the UK have stopped accepting cheques because of this reason.

I wonder if there is a catch somewhere. Do the banks earn more interest on the money kept in limbo, in between transfers by cheques, which they lose out on when customers take to sending money online? Maybe somebody could enlighten us on this.
Mar 18, 2009
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Mar 11, 2009
At "Chris Tann, LAWNMOWER MAN"

Tipping? REALLY?

There are so many things that we rely on daily that are completely outdated and in serious need to facelifts, and your gripe is TIPPING? I guess that person who is waiting on you and your friends while making $2.14 an hour should just suck it up, huh?

Wow. I mean... just...WOW.
Mar 6, 2009
I work on cutting edge laser diode research at a University of California campus, and some of our lab equipment is run on computers that use floppy disks. One of them even runs Windows 3.1.

I think the most backwards thing I deal with is paper time cards. I have to walk to another building on campus just to pick up a piece of paper, write my initials on it, then walk it over to my professor's office, wait for him to sign it, then walk it back. I'm basically walking a piece of paper between two buildings every month in order to get paid. Why? Does an actual signature mean anything anymore? Can't we use the power of the internet to make this so much easier?
Mar 6, 2009
Spam and Telemarketers. Seriously, when are we going to band together as a people and pledge not to buy anything from people who call us or e-mail us out of the blue?
Mar 6, 2009
Docking Stations. Every single time I get a new user, I order them a laptop, and they request a docking station. "Are you sure?" I ask, "You know your machine is going to lock up every time you dock, right? I mean, I've been doing this job for 10 years, and that's the way it has always been." They demand the docking station and then complain endlessly when their machine locks up docking and undocking. We have three popular brands of computers here, so it's not just one manufacturer that can't get it right.

Everybody here uses wireless, even when they are docked. They could plug in a power cable, a USB cable, and a monitor cable when they sit down - and be done. Instead they want to clunk their machine into a docking station and then reboot to fix it, and whine and moan to me the whole time.
Mar 4, 2009
I should be able to change my last name after marriage without having to go to every single government department and show them that I have changed my name. Why can't I just pick up my marriage license and have the information trickle down to social security, DOT, licensing, passport, property taxes.... Also, why does it take so long for people to be entered into insurance companies databases so they have to pay cash for their expensive prescriptions until it is straightened out or have to wait for a prior authorization on a much needed drug (i.e. Lovenox)? Technology should allow for quick entry. And what is with having to provide proof of prior insurance coverage and the only way I can get this information is by snail mail and told it could take up to 2 weeks to receive? The healhcare system (not talking about socialism or universal coverage - that is its own topic) is very outdated with paper files and how most things are processed or handled. Sloppy doctor signatures need to go too.
Mar 4, 2009
Waiting 7-10 working days for a cheque to clear. For the love of God, why?

For that matter, I used to be a member of the armed services. I have had to wait the 7 days for my per diems cheque to clear.

They had to check that the Reserve Bank of Australia had enough money?!?
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 3, 2009
1 and 2 cent coins and paper bank notes. I can't believe people still use them.

in Australia, we got rid of 1 and 2 cent coins years ago. Items are still priced as $1.97 etc, but the way it works is when you buy a number of things, the actual price goes into the register and it is then rounded up or down to the nearest 5 cents at the end.

We also got rid of $1 and $2 notes years ago, and use coins instead, which last a lot longer. The notes we do have are not made of paper, but a polymer that lasts for ages and can go through the washing machine in your pants pocket without turning to mush.
Mar 3, 2009
I have a bizarre exception to this. Recently, when checking in online the night before a flight, I was given a new paperless option: the airline could send a glyph of some sort to my mobile phone, which would be scanned at the security check at the airport, and I'd be waved right through. I was very excited at first, but then it hit me: security requires you to put your mobile phone through the X-ray machine, and to have your boarding pass in your hand as you walk through the metal detector. Since my my mobile phone and my boarding pass would be one and the same, there was an apparently unresolved conflict. So I did both - I printed a boarding pass, and I had the glyph sent to my phone to try it out. Sure enough, when I entered the security line the next morning, there was chaos. The security people clearly were NOT prepared for the people who were trying to cut down on the use of paper, and instead of gliding smoothly through the checkpoint, those using their mobile phones as their boarding passes were instead stranded and passed back and forth multiple times. So much for the death of paper and the inevitable onslaught of technology, eh?
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 3, 2009
In defense of some things people find outdated:

QWERTY - I've been using this for 25 years. It's not really efficient to have to learn something new and unnatural (to me) if I can already use the existing item very well. If there truly is something better, run it in parallel and let a standard evolve naturally.

Fax: A large portion of my job is auditing. A lot of smaller businesses use this to fax documents to me. There are plenty of people out there who aren't using e-mail or scanners.

Escalators: A bit silly, but I like them because if you do walk up them like stairs, it's the fastest way to go up or down a floor. Unfortunately, you're usually stuck behind 2 fat people who get winded lifting their legs 6 inches.

Paper printouts: Again, the audit thing bites me - our A/P department only accepts "original" receipts, or printouts (order confirmation plus bank/credit card statement). The purpose is to ensure people don't get reimbursed twice for the same expense. While you could use electronic scans, people would have to scan them and it would be a large amount of code to cross-check millions of payments for duplicates. I also happen to like working with paper: I have a small workstation for bill payments and filing my receipts, and the physical mess is a better cute and a better incentive for management than a giant email in-box littered with other messages that have to be sorted. Not to mention, the IRS wants their paper if you take deductions, so until you kill the personal income tax, this is never going away.

Checks: I still pay bills with checks, but I never use them in stores. A few small things I do only take checks (golf league fees, for instance, or my rent check to my private landlord). Also one should keep in mind that when you use online bill-pay, there are usually terms and conditions authorizing the creditor to make future withdrawals directly from your account if they deem you delinquent. This scares the hell out of me, so I don't use much direct debit at all, just my student loans (and probably a mortgage in the future). Also, I like having a physical thing I get in the mail; it's just a better reminder for me personally than an e-mail, and I keep a physical paper budget book (again, because it's SO much easier not to forget things when the piece of paper is in right front of me). What I do is pay everything that I can on a credit card (to get the rewards!), and then just write them one check to pay it all off.

The down side was the one company (whoever issues the US Airways MasterCard) who gave me an official policy a while ago: you have 21 days to pay your bill. But they don't mail the statement until 2-3 business days after the closing date, you're supposed to give it 7-10 business days after that to get to you, and 7-10 more business days for your payment to reach them. Last time I checked, 23 > 21... and that's not even counting the weekends. I stopped using the damn card after that argument.

So for things that ARE obsolete: allowing credit card companies to screw consumers with illogical terms, or change their terms with virtually no warning on a tiny insert of stuff only a lawyer can completely follow, printed in a 3-point font, that doesn't even bother to give you a bullet point list of the major changes. Companies should be required to give a long notice, let's say 60 or 90 days, and it should be a ballot of choices of terms to accept/reject and a buyout for closing the card. If you call them up and argue, they usually give you good terms anyway (trust me, if you _politely_ threaten to close the account and tell them you have a lower interest rate on another card, you WILL get better terms than the policy-change notice 95% of the time), so all what they are doing now is exploiting people who are too overwhelmed to keep up.
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 2, 2009
One thing I've noticed as a teacher, and wish wasn't so, is the dictionary. All the kids I teach have (English~Korean) dictionaries in their cell phones. I use one myself. When I bust out the big book dictionaries, they look at them like they're from another planet. And they're right. I keep telling myself that alphabetical order is a useful skill to learn, but with the internet, I'm probably kidding myself. Now I use them as punishment.
Mar 2, 2009
Paper receipts & paper warranties in most cases. If you pay for something with a credit card, the
paper receipt should not be required for a return or exchange.

BTW: I lived in a different state from my bank for over a year. I just mailed checks in with a deposit slip.
Never had a problem, but it cost me a few stamps. Of course you can put multiple checks in one
Mar 1, 2009
dare I say it: comic strips. Most of them, with the exception of the few like Dilbert, are tired, dull and not worth reading. They should make it more of a free-for-all. Print the best entries from the ones submitted by random artists all over. That way it would be surprising and fresh and funny every day. Whoever is funny enough to get printed gets paid for that issue.
Feb 27, 2009
Say I am tooling along at 40 MPH, down a hill or a slope. In Oregon, it is legal to turn right at a red light, after stopping. I'm approaching the intersection, and the light changes, due to a car that just pulled up to the cross street at the light in front of me. Traffic is VERY light, so he could wait 5 seconds til i pass, then turn right. Instead, I have to slow from 40 to zero. Wait for 60 seconds idling, and then start from a full stop, and work my way back up to 40 MPH. The other driver had to come to a full stop anyway, since he is on a side street. He would have had to idle for 5 more seconds. Multiply this scenario by 100,000 times per day, and it adds up to significantly more gas used and pollution emitted. And what about having to wait for ANY red light 2 AM (how is a guy supposed to get home in a blind drunk AND watch out for red lights)? If I, as a conservative republican, am concerned about this needless waste and added pollution, what is the excuse of the self appointed saviors of our planet? If they can't tax me or erode my freedoms, it's not worth their trouble.
Feb 27, 2009
Quizblorg's comments on fax machines were good. We still have one in our office, but it's rarely used. When it was used frequently in pre-computer days, I was always puzzled by my boss's habit of taking the original document, making a copy of it, faxing the original, then putting it with the photocopy. He never seemed to make the connection that the copy being faxed didn't really go into never-never land, but was actually still there in his hot, little hands! In the long run, it didn't matter if he had an original document and 1, 2, 3, 4, or whatever copies of it. Most of the time he managed to lose all of them!
Feb 27, 2009

I know what you're thinking, "I love baseball!" But come on, it has had a good run, it is time to move on.

It is 2009 and think of all the much more entertaining sports that have been invented since baseball. Not to mention they have strikes and steroids and other stuff that sucks.

Obama doesn't even like baseball. Well, I don't know if he's ever said that - but it is pretty obvious that a guy that can become president wouldn't be a baseball fan. Yeah - time to end that horrible baseball.
Feb 27, 2009
1. Printing anything out (and I do mean ANYTHING) from your computer should be obsolete. You can post digital photos on line, you can post a PDF of any document. Online forms should completely replace any printed form from any government agency.
2. I'm in a cover band that plays clubs around my metropolitan area. I used to play with a drummer who would type out his lyric sheet in *insert your favorite word processor here*, print it, scan it back in, then save it as a JPG. We'd always ask him, "WTF are you doing that for?". I don't recall what his answer was, but it made no sense. We eventually fired him because he did a lot of things that didn't make sense.
Feb 27, 2009
I have to briefly respond to a few of Warren L's moronic points :

* -anything with wires
Anything? Anything at all? Anything without wires requires power to transmit / receive whatever the wire was conveying. So everything that has a wire now needs a battery, and that battery either needs to be charged or replaced all the time... this doesn't seem wasteful to you? Wires are perfectly useful and sufficient in most of their applications.

*-manual input devices (not voice-activated)
You really can't think of a single place where non-voice activated input would be needed or at least preferred? Let's say... at a press conference. Everyone in the audience should be dictating their notes into their computers, huh? Awesome plan.


*-non-organic food
Tell this to a starving kid in Africa. Organic food is expensive for a reason. Pesticides are used FOR A REASON. It's not ideal, but until you can find a way to feed the entire world WITHOUT the use of pesticides and additives, this dream goes bye bye.

*-commuting to work
Obviously you have a cush office job. I'd love to know what percentage of people HAVE to commute to work, I'm guessing... 90%?

*-writing instruments

*-garbage (it should all be recycled/used for fuel)
If it were efficient or cost-effective to use garbage for fuel, wouldn't we do it?

*-cameras (they invented something 100 years ago - it's called video and it's really cool)
C'mon, now you're just messing with us, right?

*-watches (it's called a cellphone)
Watches look nice, and not everyone has a cell phone or likes to pull it out all the time.

Seriously, what planet is this from?
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Feb 27, 2009
My company has tried to go paperless for years but ony "technical" people do it, others still print stuff all the time and they have tons of cabinets to store papers. It's one of the big WASTE that should be eliminated.

yep I still see people paying at stores with a check . These people do look like they don't own a computer.
Maybe in the 2020s checks will be collective items.
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