October 18, 2005

When Ikea just isn't good enough…

What is it about the male psyche that when confronted with something that isn't good enough or doesn't do what they expect it to do, we have the urge to pull it apart and redesign parts of it so that it DOES do what we want?

I bought some under wall-unit lights from Ikea yesterday with ridiculously bright halogen lights in them. These things (in typical Ikea fashion) are magic. You can just clip together loads of them and power travels along the chain from the end and powers them all. Now you can also get a block that sits with them and gives you extra plug sockets underneath your cupboards! Cunning I thought, "It must be able to power the lights as well since the plugs obviously have power and the light plugs into it"

Plug the plug component into the wall, plug the light into it… nothing. Not a sausage. Interesting… Then I notice the cryptic hieroglyphics on the instructions that have a variety of pictures, some with crosses through and others without. Eventually I got the gist of the thing – the lights needed to be connected to a separate plug by themselves. Balls to that I thought; half an hour, a pair of wire cutters and a screwdriver later I now have power running straight from the socket!

Damn it, when I buy something I want it to work how I want it to work, not how they wanted it to work. Yes, yes, so the reason it was done was because the lights are on a 3A fuse instead of 13 that is on the plug socket but how likely is it that the lights are going to draw that much current!? And if they do, the fuse box will detect it and trip.

Of course this is just one of many instances where I’ve not been happy with something I’ve bought and had to hack something together to make it do what I want. But I’d rather do this and invalidate the warranty than “make do” with something not doing quite what I expect. How many people do this? Is it a male thing? Is it an Engineer thing? Or is it just me being weird?
Hacking things together is something I’ve always done and probably always will, it makes you wonder though why these products are designed in such a way that leaves people wanting more since the majority of people wouldn’t do this!

Tinkering is fun… house fires here we come!


- 3 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. I like tinkering, though I'm not very good at it. I've got a soldering iron, a multimeter and a box full of components at home for this very purpose.

    I like messing around with my car, too, though I want to learn more about it. I might buy a Morris Minor to cut my teeth on next summer.

    18 Oct 2005, 10:37

  2. Never messed with my car, its too vital for me to risk ballsing it up… However once my house is decorated (or at least the majority of it) I'm going to start my next project. Getting my Dad's old motorbike (1980 Triumph Bonneville, beautiful machine) back on the road and running. He gave it to me for my 21st but it needs a lot of work to get it running again. Should be seriously good fun and a good learning experience.

    The only way to get better with these things is to keep on tinkering and not worry (too much) about the possible consequences!

    18 Oct 2005, 10:56

  3. Yep, as with anything the best way to get better is to do it.

    I broke an old PC when I was 13 because I took it apart and couldn't put it together again… but no problem, because (even at the time) it was near-worthless. And now I feel confident taking apart any PC.

    Good luck on the bike… if you've got time to blog about it, I for one would be interested.

    18 Oct 2005, 14:40


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