I've been stewing on this one for a while, but here's a constructive suggestion instead of a rant. Since around 2.6 or so, GNOME has started to suffer from Windows 98 disease. A GNOME desktop running a decent amount of modern GNOME-y apps tends to have a system tray (sorry, 'notification area') full of crap. It would be very nice if this could be fixed before GNOME 3 has to adopt the Windows XP 'solution' - a little arrow to hide all the crap you never wanted in the first place. (This little arrow has to rank among Microsoft's most laughable kludges ever, which is no mean feat). This is a problem many have mentioned and few have done much about. So, as I said, here's my constructive suggestion.
Half of the crap in my notification area seems to consist of media apps. Rhythmbox has a notification area icon (which you can't disable). Goobox has one (ditto). Then there's gxmms, and I'm sure I'm missing some others.
Now, up until it died, I used my T610 cellphone as a PC remote control via Bluetooth with the neat bluemote app. Does that app have fifteen different menu entries for fifteen different media players? Of course it bloody doesn't. On an awkward to control phone it's painfully obvious why this would be crazy. It has a 'pause' button, which pauses any media that happen to be playing. Doesn't matter whether it's Totem or Rhythmbox or Goobox or xmms or anything else, it just pauses it. This is trivial to achieve via simple shell scripts for any app which does remote control. Having multiple control icons / applets / whatever on a big easy-to-control PC is just as nuts, it's just not quite so obvious that it's nuts, I suppose.
So instead of this pile of media-related notification area icons, why don't we just have one Media Control Panel Applet, with a play button, a pause button, and back / forward buttons? When you click 'pause', it pauses. You don't have a panel cluttered up with different controls for different players and you don't have to click the Goobox pause button to pause Goobox, the Rhythmbox pause button to pause Rhythmbox and so forth, you just click Pause and things pause. This makes everything more easy and consistent, and for absolutely no extra fee, handily cuts out a pile of useless notification area icons. Sensible, no? KDE could do the same, obviously. Comments welcome.