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This is a question Crap Gadgets

We wanted a monkey butler and bought one off eBay. Imagine our surprise when we found it was just an ordinary monkey with rabies. Worse: It had no butler training at all. Tell us about your duff technology purchases.

Thanks to Moonbadger for the suggestion

(, Thu 29 Sep 2011, 12:51)
Pages: Popular, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

This question is now closed.

Not a gadget, exactly...
I bought a copy of "Getting Things Done" by David Allen.

I'm sure it's a great book, but I just haven't been able to find the time to read it.
(, Fri 30 Sep 2011, 11:15, 38 replies)
I bought an expensive mountain bike recently, the ones with the suspension to make them comfy, rather than the ones I grew up with, which had seats designed to make your cock go numb. They're still fucking shit.

As far as I could work out it seems to be some sort of rain-generating device that ensures that no matter the state of the weather on setting out on your journey, by the time you get where you are going you are wetter than an otters arse. They also have other weather-controlling properties; no matter what direction you are going in, it will whip up a gale going in the other direction, making cycling only marginally faster than walking but far more fucking unpleasant. Fucking seriously. It's something to do with living near the coast and the direction of the wind in the morning vs the evenings.

Finally they attract every scally with a bolt-cutter for miles, so the damn thing was stolen after a few weeks of cycling anyway, in order to be resold the following day by the same bastard shop to the next stupid bastard, so it works out far cheaper to just get cabs everywhere and you still have money left over for daily croissants. Fucking bikes. Fuck 'em.
(, Fri 30 Sep 2011, 11:10, 16 replies)
Crap gadget that I like because of its crapness
This is not a tale of shit quality or poorly designed tat. The item is actually pretty well built, and does what it's supposed to do very well. What's so crap about it is the entire idea, but that's also why I like it so much.

It's my watch. Which is one of those which shows the time in binary. So it's currently showing *-*- **-***

Now I've had it for a couple of years now, so I'm pretty good at reading it, but it still requires thought (some numbers more than others). Which rather defeats the object of a watch, which should be as simple to read as possible.

The other thing which appeals to me is that there are two ways to build such a device: the obvious one would need almost no circuitry, since a very simple set of binary flip-flops run from the crystal could drive the lights directly.

But I can guarantee that in fact a standard watch chip, which goes to great lengths to work in decimal / base 60 / base 24, has been used to drive custom circuitry which converts it BACK into binary. Laughably inefficient.

Yes, I'm a geek. I know that, you don't have to tell me. But I'll tell you one thing: I've never before had a watch which makes complete strangers come up and ask me about it. This happens all the time, often in foreign countries, which does strain my limited linguistic skills... What's "binary" in Portuguese?
(, Fri 30 Sep 2011, 11:05, 5 replies)
A colostomy bag?
The original "crap" gadget.
(, Fri 30 Sep 2011, 9:51, 2 replies)
Dangerous Invention
I'm going to tell you about a household gadget you can find in nearly every home in South Korea. Before I tell you its name, just bear in mind that every single one comes with safety instructions so you will know how to use it without dying. Everyone knows these rules by heart except for foreigners coming to the country, and there will always be a helpful Korean at hand to explain it to you. Even so, every summer the newspapers report on the numbers of deaths attributed to this device. It's possible even you might have one of these in your home, facing you right now.

So, I guess I should let you know what dangerous contraption I'm talking about. Ready? The electric fan.

...Wait, you're probably wondering, how's that supposed to kill you?

Well, there's no one answer, but many theories. To be lethal, you must leave the fan on while you sleep. Also, there must be no windows open, and you're as good as dead. I'm sure you're as alarmed as I first was, as I'd spent every night in Canada sleeping with the fan on, even in the dead of winter, and of course I never opened a window.

So, how does a fan kill you in your sleep? There are many theories. Listed from least implausible to most, they are:
-the fan gives you hypothermia
-the fan consumes oxygen and gives you carbon dioxide poisoning
-the fan overheats, raising the temperature and killing you from too much heat
-the fan creates a vortex over your mouth and nose, preventing air from reaching your lungs
-fan blades are able to chop O2 molecules in half, rendering the oxygen unbreathable

And many more, but this covers the spectrum from pretty crazy to pretty damn crazy.

I was pretty surprised by this, so I asked a medical doctor. He backed up the story, and I believe cited the hyopthermia explanation. Even fan manufacturers, who have a vested interest in not having their product classified as lethal, print all sorts of warnings in the instruction manuals.

A few years ago, there was a newspaper article about a group of guys who made a suicide pact. They rented a motel room and went to sleep with the fan on. They were still alive in the morning, so they rented the room for one more night. Sometime in the night, one of the guys decided he wanted to live, so he switched off the fan. The article quoted the chief of police crediting him with saving all their lives.

Of course fan death is not real. One Korean news station even did an interesting experiment on the topic, and discovered that sleeping with a fan on helps you sleep deeper and improves oxygen absorption. Still, almost every Korean believes in it, and dozens of deaths every year get attributed to fan death, leaving the real cause unknown.
(, Fri 30 Sep 2011, 9:43, 13 replies)
SEGA Game Gear
The colour screen! Just look at the (very small) colour screen! Bought for me one christmas instead of the SEGA Master System (Because, as my mother pointed out, 'those games consoles bugger up the screens on tele's'). I was genuinely excited. I ripped open the batteries that had been wrapped up as an extra present, jammed them in and began my gaming career on my new portable games system! 15, maybe 20 mins later.... low battery... bugger.

This went on for some time until I was able to buy a lead. But this meant I could only play it within about 1 meter from a wall with a plug socket. So many a night you'd find me sat at the top of our stairs, in the dark, playing Mortal Kombat.

Finish Him! Indeed...

Still, the colour screen was miles better than the GameBoys...
(, Fri 30 Sep 2011, 9:29, 15 replies)
This isn't an actual product, just one of the strange and frightening things my partner module comes up with.

A coolerwave is a mircowave that heats your food then cools it for immediate use.

E.G, heating up a bottle for a child? NO NEED TO WAIT USE A COOLERWAVE.
(, Fri 30 Sep 2011, 9:19, 2 replies)
A "Taptool"
This is notable for having a selection of cutouts which don't fit any known nut size in worldwide plumbing. It might work OK as an offensive weapon, but it's a bit heavy to slip into an inside pocket.
(, Fri 30 Sep 2011, 8:39, 1 reply)
I once had a casio organiser.
I got it because of this b3ta.com/questions/greed/post1170141

Three line text in LCD. 30 phonebook spaces. Calculator. Clock. I was in first year in secondary so it served no actual purpose other than to impress school mates. They weren't.

Ninj edit: QWERTY keyboard (smug face)

Edit: fixed link

(, Fri 30 Sep 2011, 8:11, 4 replies)

I think my mother still has her Ronco Buttoneer hanging around somewhere.
(, Fri 30 Sep 2011, 7:40, 5 replies)
I bought an internet but all it had on it was pictures of bob carol gees and people arguing about whether the new millenium started in 2000 or 2001
and how many Ns there are in millennium.
(, Fri 30 Sep 2011, 7:37, 5 replies)
My leg is on fire!
One Christmas I received a very strange gift from my mum and dad. It was a keyring, but on it was a little metal rod that heated up to a high temperature when activated, so that it could be inserted into frozen car door locks and melt the ice.

A handy tool you may think.

However it had an annoying habit of activating the super-heated rod thing while still in my pocket I threw it away after the 3rd time it burnt through the lining of my trousers.
(, Fri 30 Sep 2011, 3:30, 2 replies)
This is just going to be "I bought something crap once" isn't it?

(, Fri 30 Sep 2011, 3:25, 11 replies)
A recurring theme I've noticed, but crap third-party MP3 players..
Before MP3 players were ubiquitous, and Ipods weren't commonplace and cheap, I decided to purchase a KONKA MP3 player.

It was a whole 100MB and ran on a single AA battery, not even being chargeable via USB.

It sounded awful, constantly corrupted the music files and ate batteries like a fat bastard eats pies.

Still, it was cheap and I bloody loved that thing. It died an ignominious death after I forgot to change the battery and it leaked inside the unit.

I now have an MP3/4 player about the same size as a deck of cards, and it's never steered me wrong yet.
(, Fri 30 Sep 2011, 3:14, Reply)
Microwave Egg Poacher
or, as is more accurate...

Plastic box that transforms everyday eggs into incendiary devices that will explode all over the insides of your microwave, no matter how careful you are with the recommended addition of water down to the last millilitre.
(, Fri 30 Sep 2011, 3:11, 13 replies)
Expensive Network Attached Toaster (nickname). Or why you should spend a shit-load of time & effort on research before spending a shit-load of money on something.
A while ago I got 1 of these for about AUD$350. The idea was to put all my music, movies (no pr0n as it was shared) and as a backup on a couple of drives, plug the toaster into the wireless router then I could stream stuff to the clever tv in the lounge room.

Problem 1. - Only works with windows (bleeaugh!) and you have to download software (the install disk had an old ver. which tried to break my raid drivers) to create the partition, format (with a proprietary fs - we'll get to that later) and mount the disk (as in windows can't do that natively).
So the missus' lappy get appropriated even tho the debian server box under my desk could do a much better job. Everything installed, partitions created, formatted, disks mounted and away we go. You never know how much you miss a simple command like "mv" until you have to use cut & paste in windows. Teracopy was a bit better tho.

Problem 2. - Toaster gets seriously hot (sorry) so I had to rearrange the desk because the router couldn't sit on top of the perfectly-sized, flat top of the toaster.

3. - Seriously s-l-o-w file read, write or even access times. I'm talking inability to stream any media. Seriously. (& no that's not when it's setup as raid1)

4. - Unable to mount fs, with complex error about how fs is now corrupted. Remember "proprietary" filesystem. Apparently only these boxes can read zfs (no unfortunately not the solaris zfs - that would have been a doddle to mount, chkfs and repair but noooo!) After much forum searching, installing the google code linux drivers and eventually trying the windows only command-line tools that you really have to search for on the netgear site to no avail - why have a tool to repair a fs if it wont work? The fact that there are sites like this & this speaks volumes...

Throw away years of movies and mp3s (I'm talking back to audiogalaxy on dialup c. 1997). Reformat drives to good 'ole ntfs, put into cheap ext. hdd case, plug into back of router, configure usb page of router to setup file-server - & tada cheap easy network attached storage. :-(
Place toaster on back of top-most shelf in cupboard of crap room hopefully to be never seen again. I'm not even game to risk the bad karma by giving it away to someone let alone trying to fob it off on ebay. & yes - hindsight is always 20/20.

EDIT: formatting and this may contain traces of roasted pea from an archived response.
(, Fri 30 Sep 2011, 1:03, 3 replies)
Anything ever produced
*Cheery announcer voice* BY JML!

Disclaimer: JML products may actually be constructed of pot metal and hope.
(, Fri 30 Sep 2011, 0:58, 1 reply)
Sorry Dyson lovers, I'm nominating our Dyson vacuum cleaner
Can a product be over-designed? I think so. My main problem with this thing, is the hose. Designed to flexible for ease of storage, the hose has a habit of kinking when you go round a corner and the vacuum cleaner that is supposed to NEVER LOSE SUCTION, loses suction! and the bag-less vacuum thing? Great, until you need to empty it -when you end up breathing in a toxic dust/shite-cloud.

And those hand-dryers are fucking over-rated too!

Has anyone tried their bladeless fan? I bet that's shit as well.

Fuck you Dyson, you smug knut!
(, Fri 30 Sep 2011, 0:15, 26 replies)
Fucking Valent wireless battery powered thermostat
What is the point of a fucking thermostat where you have to replaced the batteries every six weeks. Granted you can place the thermostat anywhere in the house but this miniscule advantage is far outweighed by the disadvantages - For example. to replace the batteries I have to prize the faceplate off the front with a screw driver, risking knackering the printed circuit-board inside. Also, when the thermostat runs out of batteries the language defaults to German and I have to go through a 20 stage set-up process to get it back to English again.

There's nothing quite like, every six weeks or so, waking up at 4 in the morning covered in sweat wondering why your radiators are red hot.

Thankyew Valent! Kuntz.
(, Thu 29 Sep 2011, 23:49, 3 replies)
Exercise bike
In a fit of enthusiasm I spent £80 on an exercise bike.
Used it four times.
Currently using it as somewhere to hang shirts I may or may not get round to ironing at some point.
(, Thu 29 Sep 2011, 23:25, 7 replies)
Sega Mega CD
Ever since I saw this video (selotaped to the front of Mean Machines Sega Magazine early 1992): www.youtube.com/watch?v=UhO-4Ymgk0M at the tender age of 12, my single goal of life was getting a MegaCD.

Despite the magazines reviews telling me otherwise, I was convinced that the full motion video and CD quality sound would translate into some sort of futuristic gaming experience where I could control the world. So I was a bit distraught that they wanted £250, knowing full well I could never convince mum and dad to fork out that much for one, I sadly carried on playing with my Megadrive.

About 18 months later at a car boot sale, joy of joys, I found a well used MegaCD for a slightly more reasonable £100. After much persuasion, I finally got mum to get out her cheque book which the chap running the stall greedily accepted, and even threw in a copy of Road Avenger (as demoed here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NXGlQt7s6Q) I swear I could hear him laughing an evil laugh as we walked away.

As soon as I got it home I raced up the stairs, hooked it up and started playing. For the first couple of months, I was amazed by Sewer Shark www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1WEq3dhnnI and an arcade perfect remake of Final Fight (my favourite arcade game ever)

But then I slowly realised the awful truth. 99% of the games were just Megadrive games with a little bit of grainy FMV crowbarred in, or running cartoons that gave you the thrilling option of pressing left or right every so often eg: (Time Gal: www.youtube.com/watch?v=fY6dgxHcSEQ)

I then had a stroke while playing Sonic CD (Collision Chaos Zone Act 3)

(, Thu 29 Sep 2011, 23:25, 14 replies)
My Panasonic Answerphone
It works. It records the increasingly frustrated attempts by my mother to contact me beautifully.

But, when someone's finished leaving a message, it says "Thanks for calling" in a chirpy voice that some talented v/o artist spent ages getting just right, an overworked coder expertly compressed into the tiny amount of on-board ROM and triggered to play when the message was complete.

And people complete their message how?
(, Thu 29 Sep 2011, 22:59, 5 replies)

My butt plug keeps popping out all day. Doesnt plug shit.
(, Thu 29 Sep 2011, 22:20, 2 replies)
A Guiness ultrasonic surger
For the uninitiated, a gadget that enabled you to have a 'proper' pint of alec in your own home. You had to buy special cans of the black stuff (which obviously cost more than usual), pour one into a glass, place it on the machine then press the button. Ultrasonic pulses then separated the head from the rest and 3 minutes later you were left with a supposedly real pint of Guiness..

The head ended up being about 2 inches high and it tasted slightly off. It cost around 25 quid, I used it about three times.
(, Thu 29 Sep 2011, 22:17, 6 replies)
Kitchen full of useless shit
Expresso maker - offloaded by in-laws. Used once, occupying precious counter space.

Tesco Value Steamer - As a steamer this thing does what its supposed to. Sadly the entire concept of steaming is complete arse and easily accomplished through other means. I'm thankful it only cost €20 which is a lot less than some steamers which IMO would be just as bad.

Cheese grater - it's a rotary drum and feeder. You put a hard cheese in to grate except after about 3 rotations the cheese is smeared around the outside and you spend the next 20 minutes cleaning it.

Electric pepper mill - someone bought this as a gift and I loathe it. It's 2x the height of a regular pepper mill and 5x as inconvenient.

Pizza stone - this is my own fault. It's a ceramic dish designed to evenly cook a pizza especially home made ones. I bought this thing expecting to cook delicious pizzas every week. I cooked one and the stone has sat in the cupboard ever since.

Juicer - juicers are a waste of time. Feed a bunch of apples & fruit into 20,000 watts of whirring death blades and you'll be rewarded with half a cup of juice and 30 minutes scrubbing pulp out of the blades.

Electric peeler - the wife bought this and its just bollocks. A peeler blade moves rapidly up and down but manages to do a worse job than a regular peeler.

JML manual food processor and box of plastic attachments - connect one thing and it tosses salads, attach another and you can grate veg, connect another and you can make delicious smoothies, all with a hand operated crank! Except it bloody doesn't work at anything and there must be 20 bits. Don't buy anything from JML even it appears to do something useful. It won't.

Onion chopper - stick an onion in the container, mash the button on the top and hey presto chopped onion. Except you have to cut and peel the onion first so it's more effort than chopping the bloody thing yourself.

Of the contraptions which are moderately to fabulously useful:

Jamie Oliver Flavour Shaker - I'm mixed about this. The concept is good and it's great for pounding peppercorns but the volume is so pissy it's just no use for things like pestos.

George foreman grille - it is useful for grilling and fat does drip away from the food. Biggest issue is cleaning the thing.

Slow cooker - takes up a lot of space but produces some really nice meals.

Toaster bags - my kids are coeliac so these things are invaluable. Stick the GF bread in the bag and toast away without contaminating the toast with crumbs.

Microwave rice cooker - if you buy one gadget in your life get this. It cooks rice and pasta and it can steam veg too. It's easy to clean. It costs £10. Mine has lasted me 15 years and is a little yellow but still works great.
(, Thu 29 Sep 2011, 21:48, 6 replies)
Clothes horses
Part of the joy of living in rented accommodation. Landlords usually provide washing machines, even if they sometimes date back to the 1980s and smell like a particularly foetid sewer. My first flat was too small for a washing machine so I had the tedium of having to go to a laundrette with a handful of coins a couple of times a week. When I moved to a different flat it did have a washing machine but it didn't have any way of drying clothes. It was on the second floor so I couldn't use a washing line in the garden and it had storage heaters which weren't really suitable for putting clothes on. A clothes horse sounds like the ideal solution: a rack you can fit a full load of damp washing on to dry. What they don't tell you is that it can take a couple of days for the clothes to dry so they end up smelling slightly damp, and they end up stiff as a board with creases in strange places. As soon as I could afford it I bought a tumble drier.
(, Thu 29 Sep 2011, 21:31, 2 replies)
Nose/Ear Hair Trimmer
For some reason, every year that I get older my body decides I need less hair on my head and much, much more up my nose or in my ears.

Since plucking them makes me cry and swear like a Tourette's sufferer watching ET after his dog died of cancer, I decided to spend a whole 3 quid on a nose and ear hair trimmer.

The 'trimmer' bit tickles like fuck and makes me sneeze, but I may as well be using a spoon to do the job for all the hair it removes.

Oh, and whoever down their had problems with their BigTrak, all you had to do was build a ramp over the doorsteps. My brother made mine go down the stairs and both it and the ultra fancy trailer broke. I took it to bits and couldn't put it back together again :(
(, Thu 29 Sep 2011, 21:23, 6 replies)
Slow cooker
In my infinite wisdom I thought I slow cooker would ensure that I could eat healthily and easily by shoving a load of ingredients in before going to work and come home later to a lovely wholesome meal............WRONG!

What I failed to include in the above dscription was the 30mins preparation time needed to seal the meat and all the other ingredients before effectively leaving it to bubble over a 40 watt lightbulb all day. I used it once in about the 10 years I had it!
(, Thu 29 Sep 2011, 21:02, 12 replies)
Portable solar panels
Various friends have different makes of these, and they all seem to be shit. One friend insisted hers was brand new and very efficient, so I left my phone with her for an entire day at a festival and it didn't charge one tiny bit. Another one positioned on a van windscreen in full sun for 6 hours didn't charge a friend's battery significantly.

Well-intentioned people being conned by crappy so-called green gadgets. Rah.
(, Thu 29 Sep 2011, 20:58, 1 reply)
Casio Cassiopiea A20E
Is it a calculator? Is it a laptop? Is it a £250 piece of portable junk with the battery life of Jordan's vibrator?

In theory, it was a good idea. At the time, even a crappy Pentium 133 laptop was the wrong side of a grand. With Windows CE 2 installed, including Pocket Word and Pocket Excel, the Cassiopiea was sturdily constructed and had a proper QWERTY keyboard. There was even a CF slot to expand the 8MB of memory.

But in practice, it was shit. It was slow, clunky, difficult to type on and the screen was only readable with the backlight on - which reduced the battery life to mere minutes.

In a vain attempt to make it usable I bought the rechargeable battery pack, and in doing so threw good money after bad.

I've learned my lesson now - though there is this £80 Android tablet in my office...
(, Thu 29 Sep 2011, 20:42, Reply)

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