Wednesday, February 10, 2016

UI Design

Lately I've had several experiences that make me wonder if we've made any progress in hardware and software. Yes, things run faster and are more powerful. Yes, they are more capable. But are we, the other end of the equation, finding it easier or harder to interact with all these gadgets?

Take this blog. Right now I'm composing during a break at work, on a machine running Internet Explorer. I am composing in a mode which gives me "what you see is what you get". I am putting one hard return between each paragraph.

However, when I get home and use a different computer with the same exact operating system (in theory) but using a different web browser (Chrome), I will see that some of the hard returns don't seem to exist. Or are doubled. In other words: what I see (here) is not what I get (there). Why is that? How can I, a relatively experienced but still (not by any means completely) technically educated user know what is wrong?

I have an Apple iPhone. It's a wonderful device. Why is it, however, that occasionally when I plug it in to synch (usually to load music from my hard drive) I get a pop-up telling me I've experienced an "unknown error" and the iPhone can't synch? Why is it that it actually does synch? Why is it that if I synch again it works and there is no unknown error?

There are known knowns. There are unknown knowns. We know there are unknowns.

When I plug the iPhone in to synch the iPhone asks me "Trust this computer?" Yes, iPhone. It's the same computer that it was yesterday. It will be the same computer tomorrow.

I can't find any obvious way to tell the iPhone to turn that warning off unless I plug it into a completely new (and strange and untrustworthy) computer.

My daughter has an iPod. I have an iPod. We've had these for years. However, recently, iTunes (occasionally, not every time) will give us an error message when we synch. It's not a known error message. It's not a unknown error message. It's just an error message. Or it won't allow the iPod to eject. The time before it did, the next time it might or might not. Why? I don't know. It's a mystery.

I sometimes plug a headset into the computer to record podcasts or participate in a play-by-Skye roleplaying game. Every time I plug the headset in (the same headset for years) I am told that the computer is first searching for, then installing, device drivers. Why is that? Don't the drivers stay on the system to save time?

The same with the Kindle. I plug the Kindle into the computer to "sideload" non-Amazon eBooks. Every time I am told that device drivers are being searched for and installed. Once I plugged, ejected, plugged, ejected, etc. five times in five minutes.

Every time I did this...the computer searched for, and then loaded, device driver software. Five times. Five minutes. And failed, by the way, two of those find times to "find" the drivers. Until I did it again. So in reality: seven times in five minutes, failing twice.

Shouldn't something as simple and constantly used as a device driver remain around?

And speaking of Kindles...I have several gadgets with a Kindle "app". I have three physical Kindles. Why is it that two of these constantly crash and spend anywhere from a few minutes, to over an hour, to reboot? Why do they load up with 24MB+ sized error messages that I must erase by (hah) plugging the Kindle into the computer...opening Windows Explorer to look at their drives (assuming the device drivers has loaded) and then erasing those error message files?

I called Amazon about this once and after working through several layers of help desk people and ending up actual technicians, I was told: "Well, Mr. Kiesche, we don't know why this happens and by the way you seem to know more about the system and the error messages than we do!"

I can only assume that since Amazon doesn't make this model of the Kindle anymore and they seem to be changing software formats once a year, everybody from that "era" has been fired and those of use with this model Kindle must just make do.

And constantly try to install our device drivers. Again.

My mother has a computer. She has (mostly) the same software I do, especially when it comes to things like a firewall. I do this so when she has an issue, I can try to figure out what the issue is, since (in theory) I have the same setup.

So, why is it that she has been plagued with a series of alarming warnings and alerts from her firewall about her anti-virus software? I have the same two programs. I haven't seen any alerts. Are these real alerts? Or are they just trying to drop one for the other and "upgrade" her level of service (in other words, are they trying to scam her)?

We have a new television. A "smart" television. Which means we have new headaches. We switch from the "broadcast" (well, FIOS) service to a DVD. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. We activate one of our streaming services. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. The streaming service "app" doesn't seem to be constantly kept around so we must...wait for device drivers to update.

Have we made any progress here, folks?

1 comment:

  1. Yep, I'm with you on this one. And let's not talk about Blu-ray coding either.