Bushwhacked: Sometimes, more is not better

WE were clearing out some stuff stored in the cellar the other day, putting together a pile of very valuable and highly desirable items for a little car boot sale. It was just a bit of social fun.

Two thoughts occurred.

A) Where the hell did we get all this cra… um, stuff which had accumulated over the past two decades?

B)  Who was the dimwit who decided that every single electronic device should have its own unique transformer or charger?

Rummaging around among the cobwebs, dust and valuable items, I think I found about 18 old transformers. There were about 30 dead electrical things, but none of the 18 transformers matched any of the devices.

There was an extremely desirable 1980s Yamaha keyboard with (almost) every key functioning. It possibly even makes a sound, but we’ll never know because the 9-12 volt transformer with a tiny little pin socket had gone AWOL.

About a dozen old mobile phones which might have been useful to someone are now mere paperweights (except one) because to charge them you needed a dozen utterly unique chargers. Some had pin sockets. Some had tiny USB-like slots. Some had double-pin sockets.

You never throw them out because… well, because who knows, one day they might be handy. Just like that huge tub of old drill bits in the shed, and the just about good bike wheel you found beside the road in 1987.

As far as I know, transformers all do – or did – the same thing: allow electrons to buzz out of our wall and into a battery or into a device to make it go. 

So who decided they all had to be different?

Imagine the savings in global terms if say the United Nations had ordered Casio, Yamaha, Nokia and all the others to have just one standardised charging or powering system.

It would’ve saved billions of dollars, and kajillions of kilos of plastic wouldn’t have been needed, saving the environment.

I once read about a bloke who bought devices which ran on AA batteries only, just because he was so sick and tired of having to have 17 different transformers and chargers on his desk. His argument was that no matter where you were in the world, you could almost always get AA batteries.

But see, if I did that, I’d do something stupid like buy rechargeable AA batteries.... which needed a transformer.

It’s the same with batteries. Why did we need eleventeen hundred sizes, shapes and voltages when we started inventing mobile phones, bike computers, watches, electronic toys and such delights? Some look like silver buttons. Others look like biscuits.

Up until then, the world had managed pretty well on a solid AA diet. Or sometimes we had AAAs, and as a kid I remember everything ran on big fat old Ds. Cs were for cheap torches.

You would keep all the dead Ds and use them to bowl over your Matchbox toy cars. Or chuck them at feral cats. Very handy, they were.

Who decided we needed greater battery variety?

Possibly the same dill who thought that every supermarket should have 345 different breakfast cereals.

Sometimes, more is not better.

Now, anyone want to buy a Yamaha keyboard? No? A 1995 Nokia? How about a slightly used toy robot dog that used to waddle and say Woof?

There’s no pleasing you lot.

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