"What Were They Thinking?"

To make any consumer product, thousands of decisions must be made. Inevitably, no one can get all of those decisions right. Even the best-designed gadget or toy will still have some mistakes in design or execution.

Despite this, there are certain moves some companies make that go beyond bad, into the realm of the bewildering. If I was feeling snarky – and let’s face it, when am I not? – I might use this space to take some cheap shots. For instance, I might opine that having Civilization IV – a turn-based strategy game played, largely, by old, slow people– require the latest, cutting-edge 3D video cards, was one such decision.

But there are better targets for my ire tonight. Because tonight, I screwed up. I tried to watch a DVD.

Over a year ago, psu wrote convincingly in this space about the stupidity of DVD menus. And that’s all still true: film companies still spend tens of thousands of dollars producing fancy animated DVD menus that nobody, anywhere in the entire world, since the very beginning of time, has ever wanted. The animated menus serve one and only one purpose, and that is to make me want to fly to Los Angeles so I can strangle whoever designed them.

But the people who come up with the animated menus might as well be saints compared to whoever designs the parts that come before the menu.

Look. I’m a fair-minded man. I am a capitalist. You want to put an advertisement before the main menu? Fine. You want to put two ads before the main menu? Be my guest. You want to put sixty-two ads before the main menu? Knock yourself out.

But if you disable the buttons on my DVD controller while you’re playing those ads, then it’s all over. The terrorists have already won. Don’t come crying to me when people all across the world are bittorrenting your movies. You deserve it. I hope they steal your stuff. I hope you don’t make any money at all. I hope you starve to death.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a DVD I need to take back to Best Buy.