eInstruction "clicker" remotes

I’ve been on a hating fest lately, so I’ve decided to document my peeves about the eInstruction CPSrf remotes, commonly known as “clickers.”

Money

  • The remote costs $16. And, apparently, it costs $12, paid to eInstruction, to be able to use my remote for one semester. Which brings total student cost (or, at least mine) to $28. For an extremely simple RF device that probably cost 99 cents to make (probably cheaper if it was made in China; I can’t find any “Made in” label to tell, though). Where is the other $27 going? The University also presumably has to pay for the receiving devices; I’m sure it’s not a flat fee. After $80 on a book and the something-hundred dollars I paid for the class I’m not happy about paying more.
  • Batteries. I HATE BATTERIES. I’m generally not a fan of wireless devices because of batteries, they are such a pain to deal with. Especially with dumb devices, like computer mice and… remotes like this one. When the batteries begin to run down, most dumb devices don’t simply stop working–they half-work until you’ve noticed, usually when it is too late. At least the device (as I bought it) came with batteries preinstalled.

Security

  • Passwords: eInstruction’s account creation system required that I enter a password of alphanumeric characters only–no punctuation allowed. Which is the types of characters I tend to have in almost all my passwords. While decreasing the domain of allowed characters does not necessarily compromise security, it can lead to user unfriendliness. User unfriendliness leads to bad security. Does it really matter what characters are in a password?
  • Password sent plaintext in an e-mail: When I signed up for an account, an e-mail was sent to the containing my username and password. Yes, password. As if I could forget it after just registering–and if I had, as if I couldn’t request a new one by calling their technical support. Contrary to other software I know that does this, such as GNU Mailman, no indication was given that my password would be sent like this. E-mail is an inherently insecure medium, and this password and username can easily be seen by anyone who has (or does not have) control over an e-mail system. I used my academic e-mail address; any student administrator who has control over the machines that handle my e-mail can simply read off my account information easily.
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