Sometimes the tools we use contain bits that either contribute nothing to the tool's usefulness, or actually detract from it. For some reason this seems more acceptable in software than in physical, tangible tools.

Windows Media Player's default interface has large, empty slabs of window that do nothing. Imagine a hammer with flaps of plastic dangling off its business end.

Realplayer's interface contains a plethora of advertisements, controls, and wasted space that span about three times as much space as the media-viewing area. Now, you can get a free wrench, but it is four feet long in order to fit all the advertising.

An AOL Instant Messenger or MSN Messenger window is about ten times as large as it needs to be in order to display your friends' screen names. Your tweezers weigh three pounds, because they now feature a stock ticker. Also, they will make cute noises before and after you tweeze anything.

Usefulness and elegance still exist, though, if you know where to look...

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