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Batteries not included. Those just might be the scariest three words ever. Especially at this season when dealing with Christmas gifts that require electricity or wiring or some kind of assembly. It’s enough to drive anybody nuts.

I was working on upgrading one of our household computers yesterday. A video cable adapter was required. So I went into my box of long-accumulated spare parts and found the right type of connector. It wouldn’t fit.

The next stop was a Radio Shack at a mall 30 miles away. Yes, they had that connector style. With permission, I opened the package to try it on the spot. No go. Oh, they said. That’s because you have an Apple device. It requires Apple’s proprietary connector, which you’ll have to buy.

So I did. For $19 instead of a $4.95 standard fitting. In for a penny; in for a pound. I was furious.

Installed any sonar devices on a boat lately? Companies such as Humminbird and Lowrance include exhaustive instruction sheets for the installation of such products. It’s easy, they say; just follow all the steps in logical order. Well, if you truly believe it’s easy, I’ve got a bridge I’d like to sell you, too.

There are some good things. I have a Honda outboard that is incredibly easy to service because Honda’s engineers designed it with that in mind. But I also have a new boat trailer in which the trailer-light wiring was left exposed and unprotected against a sharp metal edge in the trailer frame. Idiots!

So pardon my rant. Maybe it’s just me. I know there are some companies that build things right, but I also think there are many more that just don’t care….