I’m well on my way to being old, and the curmudgeonliness is coming out. But I’ve started to notice a pattern in the things that bother me. See if you can figure it out:

  • A lot of folks like Bluetooth for audio, including AirPods and pairing their phone to speakers in their house or vehicle. It’s really convenient not to have to deal with wires. Until the Bluetooth pairing fails, or it connects to the wrong speaker. Then troubleshooting invisible connections is a lot harder than checking a cable.
  • TypeScript provides type safety for JavaScript, and I definitely agree it’s great for large teams and large systems. Some folks argue that it’s better for every system, even solo projects. TypeScript makes things faster and easier to understand, until you get an obscure type error that doesn’t make sense. You understand the code, you know it’s right, but now you have to put in extra effort to convince the type system it’s right.
  • Visual Studio Code has a lot of powerful autocomplete, pop-up help, and extension features. But when it enables them by default, or automatically prompts about them, then it gets in the way of me getting things done.
  • Video chat app virtual backgrounds are a useful way to hide things you don’t want others to see, or to make your video calls more fun. They’re advanced enough that you don’t even need green screens anymore; they can detect the outline of your head. That is, until they make your coffee mug disappear, or cut out part of your head, or show part of the background.
  • GitHub Copilot can help by suggesting code to do the thing you’re trying to accomplish. Except when it gets it wrong, in which case as you type it keeps suggesting the wrong thing, and you waste mental cycles on each keystroke evaluating it and deciding it’s not what you want.
  • ChatGPT and other LLMs can answer any question you ask, like magic. It’s often the right answer! Except for the times when it’s the wrong answer, and the LLM strenuously insists it’s correct, and it’s an answer that has real negative impact on someone’s life.

A common thread is that I was doing just fine without all these technologies, and although they do add some benefits, they also add costs and inconveniences and problems as well. I’m not at all convinced that the benefits are worth it for me.

This might suggest one reason that other folks are drawn to them: if they haven’t already figured out how to do something, then the help these provided is appealing. Then they get used to the downsides and navigating around them, so it’s still a better experience for them to use the tools they’re used to. That’s a real difference between my experience and others’, and I’m not discounting that.

I think another factor going on is enthusiasm: if you’re excited about the technology in and of itself then you don’t mind working through the challenges; it’s a fun game to get it working! But if I’m not excited about the technology and just want something to work, then the problems immediately sour me on it.