Tuesday, December 11, 2007

It's people like me who make the world complex

Stardate 61121.1
Jeff Atwood posted a while ago about microwave controls being too complicated (A Lesson in Control Simplicity). Basically, he prefers the old knob to the digital pad. I added a comment that I liked the digital design, and I cook with mine. Several replies to that comment stated I was one of those who made it hard for the rest of world. Thinking about it, I supposed there is some truth to that. I enjoy figuring out how to work things. I have a couple of universal remotes. I fit into scott adams (of dilbert) model of the guy who looks at a remote and wonders if he can make it do other things. you known, like mute the kids or better yet the cat, open the door when the dog wants out, etc. I was trying to find a wi-fi enabled lawn sprinkler controller (no luck).

At least a microwave with a digital interface is consistent. you have number buttons and you enter time in minutes and seconds. the start button takes a second or ten to find. the other 'preset' button can be ignored. these were added by marketdriods to try and get an edge on the competition.

Take the controls on a vehicle. the steering wheel pedals, and speedometer are all pretty much in the same place . but on my van, the light switch is where the wiper controls are on the car, so I am constantly turning on the wipers in the car when I want headlights.

I've come to the conclusion long ago that no matter how simple or complex the controls, most people will find fault with some or all of it. in star trek the next generation Picard could just say tea, Earl Grey, hot, and he would get exactly what he wanted(assuming no plot device to mess it up). he never specifies how hot, which is an ambiguous amount. i sometimes imagine he clicked some sort of 'remember my preference on this ship' box. even then, it would not satisfy all the time. perfection is unobtainable because human beings are so variable . at any one moment you could crave a particular food or just anything to fill the stomach.

End of Entry

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