Things that shouldn't exist, but do: products with tiny compasses on them


I moved house this weekend, and my new keys came on a fancy keychain made out of some sort of high-density nylon. No doubt designed for the aspiring urban woodsman, it also featured a tiny compass.

And it got me thinking: why in the Hell do product designers put tiny compasses on things that don't need tiny compasses? Actually, scratch that. I know exactly why they do this. Some people, mostly men, possibly including myself, are really in love with things that are "rugged" or "technical". I don't get particularly enthused about candle sconces, but cover those suckers in impact-resistant rubber and I will take every one you've got. Any idiot can light a candle. But can they do it outside, in the rain, while riding a full-suspension mountain bike? No sir.

But there are limits. I may not actually need impact-resistant grippy candle sconces, but they'd damn well work as advertised. The big problem with tiny compasses embedded in everyday objects is that they're totally useless. Real compasses are designed to work with maps, and for use by people who understand orienteering.* The only thing a compass in a watch band is going to do is tell you vaguely where North may be, or possible the location of the nearest large magnet or set of high-tension wires. They will not help you get around. They will not attract members of the opposite sex. Tiny embedded compasses must therefore be considered a waster of time and plastic.

So yeah. Take the compasses out of the keychains and into the hands of the backcountry hikers where they belong.

Also, it's Monday, aka "The Day Where Inconsequential Stuff Really Bugs Me".

* Oddly enough, I acquired this skill in Grade 10 gym. When given the choice between Lacrosse and Orienteering, I opted for the latter because it meant I didn't have to change into dorky gym shorts and/or be hacked at by my over-testosteroned classmates.