They were supposed to make everything better. And maybe they did, a little. But it's time for them to go away now. Sorry, QR codes. It's been real.
1. QR Codes
Imagine a hyperlink, except instead of actual readable text that you can type in, it's some weird ziggurat that gives no hint of where it's going. Also, instead of clicking on it, you have to take a picture of it with your camera, and you're probably going to have to take that picture three or four times before it works, and a lot of the time it's going to send you to either a non-mobile site or a dead link. If they all disappeared tomorrow, not one person in the entire world would care, not at all.
For some reason, they all look like they were made in 1995 and most of them act that way too. Everything they do would be much better in a scaled down, Airport-Express-style dongle. Time to burn this one down and start again.
3. Browser plugins
Flash is pulling out of the mobile world (after years of trying to break in) and Silverlight is ruining lives on a daily basis. Soon HTML5 will replace them entirely — browser plugins don't exist on the iPhone or iPad and they won't exist on Windows 8 RT — but in the meantime there are a lot of websites with gaping holes in them, like a newspaper attacked by old lady clipping coupons.
4. Traffic cameras
The rule was, if a cop caught you speeding, you got a ticket. It was a great system, both for the Smokey-and-the-Bandit factor and because, if you were only a little bit over the line, the officer would usually let it slide. Mailing tickets to people just because they got from point A to point B a little ahead of the curve is cheating, and it moves us towards a creepy automotive panopticon where the force of law is both intangible and omnipresent. But mostly, it's just lame.
5. Inductive charging
Another idea that's been kicking around for a while without ever taking off. If it's not built into the phone, like the Palm Pre, it's not any easier than plugging it in.
6. Bluetooth audio
This started out as a good idea — especially the speakers — but it took 15 years to produce a decent product. Time to call it a day. We're better off with speaker wire.
7. The remote control
True story: I recently visited a friend who was housesitting, and it took us 10 minutes to figure out how to turn on the TV. There were three remotes, and each one had 40 buttons on it, except for the Apple TV remote, which didn't have a power button. Just put it in an app.
8. The cable box
Speaking of which, here's a strange box that requires another remote control. Destroy! Or get it over with and shove it inside of an Xbox or Apple TV already.
9. Software license keys
Hard to enter, easy to crack. Authentication shouldn't be this difficult.
10. Cables For everything
Too many cables. Toomanycables. Too many, cables. Too. Many cables.
11. The printer/scanner/fax
A surprising number of people still get one of these when they buy a computer, even though there's no reason to do any of these three things, and if you ever run out of ink or toner you will suffer the tortures of the damned. The sooner we stop expecting paper copies of things, the better.
A lot of loose copies of Transformers 3 were handed out trying to make this one happen. And the movie looked great! Unfortunately, nobody you know owns a Blu-Ray player, and nobody wants to make a computer that deals with them. You're better off streaming.
13. The power brick
It's enough to make you wish we'd stuck with direct current.
14. Facebook comments
Designed to bring civility to web comments by attaching real people's names to them. Because if you know Richard Morris here is the person saying crazy things, he won't say them, right? Wrong. It continues to be a bottomless will of spiritual death and plain-old web-design misery.
15. Standalone anti-virus software
It's crazy that this still exists. Just bake it into the OS already.