Standardization, please!

Some things really should just be standardized already.

Seriously? I’m 24 and starting to get crotchety in my old age.

And if the world could somehow come together on a couple of these things, I would be eternally grateful.

  • Electronics cords. I cannot for the life of me figure out why there are so many little attachment do-dads out there. You can have two cell phones from the exact same manufacturer, and the jacks will be COMPLETELY different. And even when the bloody things LOOK the same, sometimes the voltages are different. To the naked eye, my two laptops have the same power cord… but unless I’m careful I could blow one of them up, because the voltage is significantly different. Yah, okay. Maybe I shouldn’t own two laptops and avoid that problem from square one, but still. It’s ridiculous.
  • While I’m on the topic of power cords, let’s talk plugs. Why why WHY do we need to have different types of plugs between North America, Europe, the UK… and beyond? I gather it has something to do with the infrastructure and less with general flighty-ness like the power cord conundrum, but you’d think we could come up with a better solution than converters and adapters, in this day and age.
  • Security procedures. Okay. So you go through security in Canada and you have to remove your liquids and gels and laptops/camcorders. In the states, it’s your shoes. In Europe, you are allowed to bring in liquids with more than 100 ml as long as it’s been sealed in a duty-free bag. Not the case in North America.
  • Airline rules. Same deal. If they are going to make such a big deal of what you can and cannot do when on board, couldn’t they see to make it a general code of practise? This one isn’t even standardized by country! West Jet allows you to have pets on board, Air Canada doesn’t. You can use your cell phone as soon as the plane lands on United Airlines, not until you get into the terminal for others. Air Canada lets you use earbud earphones (to enjoy their on-board entertainment system, of course) at all times, but no other airline I’ve been on recently lets you wear them during takeoff/landing.
  • Debit Cards/Interac: everthing else is so fluid across borders, but the rules about bank account access cards just don’t follow from country to country, it seems. Maybe it’s just that Canada doesn’t have bank cards linked to major credit cards, or the right security chips… but it seems so odd to this debit-card addict that cash or credit seem to be the only option when travelling.

Can you tell I’ve been flying around a lot??


Anonymous June 10, 2009 at 2:24 AM  

Part of the reason I use cash is because every store has different credit card machines. People like to complain about how you have to insert the card a different way each time. It does not matter which way the bills go in the register when paying with cash.

Way Way Up June 10, 2009 at 9:35 AM  

I suspect that one day there will be quite a bit more global standardization for many things. The convenience would be great of course but I"d really hate to see our world turn into one mass ball of sameness as already appears to be happening.

Anonymous June 10, 2009 at 10:05 AM  

Standarization is key to alot of things, totally in agreement with you on the airline rules/ security procedures ones. Electronics have to have different voltages for pretty simple reasons.

Say you have a laptop 1, which needs enough wattage to drive a 14 inch LCD and a low voltage CPU (The LCD and CPU have the biggest power consumption). Now take laptop 2, which has a healthy 17 inch LCD and a more powerful CPU. The wattage requirements to drive each of these laptops will be different. Generally between 75 and 90W will be required to run it but it varies. Now, the vendors could easily just ship all laptops with the largest wattage power bricks but then you'd have to carry around a massive say 90W supply when you only need 75 or so. Why the manufacturers require such specific voltages i.e. 13.5V or 12.6V or why my phone charges at 3.6V is beyond me, probably something to do with the specification of the battery charging apparatus.

Another reason is vendor lock in. Specifically, if you buy a HP laptop then HP doesn't want you to be able to buy an EEEEVIL Dell power brick and hook it straight to your laptop because then they couldn't get away with charging you 100$ for a power brick that costs less than 15$ to manufacture.

The most likely reason for differing plugs between NA and Europe is probably that thats the way its been done and it'd cost more to retrofit all the places to deal with our style of plug. That and how do you decide who's right? i.e. why should they adopt our standard, why should we adopt theirs? Regardless, it could also have to do with safety so you don't inadvertently plug your 120VAC hairdryer into a 220VAC slot and fry yourself. Even in canada you'll notice the 120VAC plugs look different than the 240VAC plugs that you plug your oven or dryer into. That's because the 240VAC plugs carry enough power to seriously disintegrate that hairdryer and probably your hands as well whereas shocking yourself on 120VAC is like a day at the spa! well not really but its fused to alot lower amperage than say the circuit your oven is on so the chance of you starting a fire is less. So yeah the reason you need a converter is because alot of those foreign countries 50Hz AC electricity and we use 60Hz AC electricity. So think of it as a sine wave with frequency 50Hz and 60Hz. So the converter will basically do the conversion for you and waste buttloads of energy in the process but whatever!