Next Generation Emulation banner

1 - 19 of 19 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,775 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
There's this article which I find interesting although I'm not included in it ;) ! Maybe someone finda themselves here? There it goes....


Hi-tech got you down? Here's...

Why you can't program your VCR

(condensed from The Chicago Tribune Megazine)

You wake up dry-mouthed and perspiring. The house is too hot because you never could figure out how to properly set your two-year-old, state-of-the-art, programmable thermostat.

When you get to the kitchen, you slide a cup of water into your three-yaer-old microwave. You feel a bit chagrined because you never figured out how to use it other than to heat water for instant coffee and to defrost food.

In the car you fumble with the radio, trying to switch from the country station your children have been listening to. Before you know it, you are tilting sideways at a 45-degree angle, trying to drive and figure out the radio's numerous controls at the same time. An urgent, uncomfortable close horn jolts you upright. Chastened, you manage to turn off the radio and drive to work in silence.

You haven't even taken off your coat at the office when your telephone rings. It's the president of the company calling long distance. He has misdialed, reaching you instead of your boss. He wants you to tranfer his call - quickly. You have been using the system for a year, but you never mastered the transfer function. "just a moment", you say as you hit a button and accidentally cut him off.

The above scenario, while exagered, is not very farfetched. At least Laurence P. Feldman, a marketing professor at the University of Illinois in Chicago, doesn't think so, and he has studied how people use their high-tech appliances. Feldman believes the American home is filling up with sophisticatede gadgets that are rarely used to their full potential because they are too complicated to operate.

"People buy these machines in good faith", Feldman says, "fully believing they will learn how to use them. But when they can't understand the instructiuon booklets, they become frightened by the profusion of buttons and switches, operating then just the basic functions".

You don't have to go far to find out how deep consumer frustation runs. Take Mary Pat Hay and her husband, Bill. The Chicago couple recently bought a new stereo TV, stereo VCR, compact-disc player and tuner.

"They each have their own remote control", says Mary Pat. "The one for the CD player has 64 buttons. I can understand a few of them, like AM/FM. But Sea Control? Sea Display? And forget the instructions. They look like the blueprints for Sears Tower(*)".

Mary Pat has found a novel way to deal with the tree remotes. She gets up, walks across the room and operates the machines manually.

The absurdity of the wasted functions is not lost on the couple, but they are not embarrased by their lack of mastery. Bill Hay says that his brother-in-law has a plaque thanking him for his brilliant work in designing the computer-testing programs for the Apollo moon shots. "But he readily admits that he cannot operate his VCR. If he isn't embarassed, why should I be?".

Feldman doesn't blame such ineptude on consumer stupidity. The problem, he believes, is poor design, And many people immersed in tecnology are just as stymied.

In The Psycology of Everyday Things, Donald A. Norman, head of the Department of Cognitive Science at the University of California at San Diego, quotes a men exaspered by his new digital watch. "You would need an engeneering degree from M.I.T. to work this", he says. "Well", says Norman, "I have an engeneering degree from M.I.T. Give me a few hours, and I can figure out the watch". But why should it take hours?

Charles Owen, a professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology, does consulting work on design problems for high-tech companies. Recently he bought a sophisticated 35-millimeter camera for his work. "Every time I have to do something complex with the camera", he says, "I have to spend another hour with the manual".

Owen faults manufacturers for largely ignoring consumers. "Instruction manuals are written almost as an aftertought", he says. "Just to get the jargon out of these manuals and get them translated into plan English", Says Feldman, "would go a long way making products easier to use".

If, as so many charge, the complexity of high-tech is caused by bad design and unintelligible instructions, why do consumers put up with it? Why own a four-event, 14-day programmable VCR if you only use it to play tapes?

"As long as people believe that others are able to use the device", says Norman, "they perceive the fault as their own. Nobody wants to admit having trouble. This creats a conspiracy of silence".

People also buy high-tech gadgets for the status. It is still very important for Americans to keep up with the Joneses. Often buyers are seduced by the high-tech appereance of an appliance as much as its supposed functionality. One woman uses only two of the 17 features on her microwave. She selected that model because she did not want the "cheaper looking" one with a dial.

If people continue to buy high-tech appliances on the basis of looks, that's what the manufactures will provide. If complicated operating procedures don't affect the sales, why would the manufacturer go to the expense of simplifying the design?

Owen predicts that competition will ultimately force vast improvements in high-tech design. "The company that can put out a product that is most easily understandable by the consumer is the company that is going to come out better in the world market", he says.

Until consumers demand high-tech products that are easy to operate, however, Owen's prediction won't come true. And so far we haven't been very demaning. When something new comes on the market, we march out and buy it, probably knowing deep in our hearts that the infernal machine will, in the end, defy our mastery.

If you feel stupid for doing that, you are in good company.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

(*) Sears Tower: the Sears Tower is a skyscraper with 110 stores and 1,454 feet (443 meters) of height. It's located in Chicago, Illinois.
 

·
playing FGO
Joined
·
10,133 Posts
I dunno.... I've always been comfortable working with high-tech stuff.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,307 Posts
My mom has never figured out how to program a VCR, even with only a button that says record (I'm serious).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,775 Posts
Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Originally posted by Ryos
My mom has never figured out how to program a VCR, even with only a button that says record (I'm serious).
HAHAHAHA!! I guess moms are like politicians: they're always the very same, everywhere!! :D

[edit: I miswrote something...]
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,307 Posts
Nah, some mother somewhere must be technologically literate. Sandie is, for one. Sure, trying to find someone like that is like trying to find the lost city of Atlantis, but they're out there.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,775 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Originally posted by Ryos
Nah, some mother somewhere must be technologically literate. Sandie is, for one. Sure, trying to find someone like that is like trying to find the lost city of Atlantis, but they're out there.
At least my mom is normal; I mean, she's out of this list. :)
 

·
(>^_^)> *KIRBY*
Joined
·
2,612 Posts
Originally posted by Shiori
I dunno.... I've always been comfortable working with high-tech stuff.
:) me 2 i think ppl r jus dum :D
 

·
playing FGO
Joined
·
10,133 Posts
Curiously, I only hear this sort of stuff happening only in America. But maybe because there's too much press going on there. :p
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,307 Posts
Shiori: Or maybe because our proportion of clueless idiots is higher. Considering we just had a story about how nightmares increased, according to a study, since September 11, I suspect the press may be a culprit. :p
 

·
playing FGO
Joined
·
10,133 Posts
wow, even I hadn't thought of that :D nightmares increasing huh.... they'll print anything to get readership. ;)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,506 Posts
Funny. I've never had any problems with VCRS ;)

That kinda reminds me of something I heard about windows, that 95% of users only use approx 5% of the code.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,307 Posts
> That kinda reminds me of something I heard about windows, that 95% of users only use approx 5% of the code.

That sounds about right. That would account for one of the reasons Linux didn't take off as much as it should. Windows is the AOL of OSes (eek).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,506 Posts
Originally posted by Ryos
> That kinda reminds me of something I heard about windows, that 95% of users only use approx 5% of the code.

That sounds about right. That would account for one of the reasons Linux didn't take off as much as it should. Windows is the AOL of OSes (eek).
The only difference is that MS doesn't post you endless free copies of its software;)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,307 Posts
Originally posted by Betamax
The only difference is that MS doesn't post you endless free copies of its software;)
AOL stopped sending me stuff. I liked getting those free DVD cases. :(
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,716 Posts
Originally posted by Ryos
My mom has never figured out how to program a VCR, even with only a button that says record (I'm serious).
I do all the programming in my house.

Originally posted by Ryos
AOL stopped sending me stuff. I liked getting those free DVD cases. :(
I still get them :evil:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,775 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
Originally posted by Gk1986
I do all the programming in my house.
Same here, as I'm the only man at home. It's not only moms; I guess the majority of women don't feel any attraction by letters in a screen. :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,775 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
Originally posted by Death Angel
Ok, buddie, so, what is the next subject? Dogs are dumb? ahahahahhahahah
Yaeh, that was a good one...!! But the better one was about the Semi automatic 9mm Walter PPk!! :D :D
 
1 - 19 of 19 Posts
Top