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Techno Rage


old man emu
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Yesterday I dealt with two separate instances of Techno Rage. "Techno Rage" is that display of anger and frustration caused when an item of everyday technology fails to respond to its "easy-to-use" control system.

 

In the first case, I mollified a bloke who believed that the operator of a mobile phone shop had hacked the bloke's mobile phone when the shop fellow was fixing an operational problem with the menu page icons. It was clear that the bloke wasn't a world authority on the control functions of mobile phones. In fact, he seemed  to be a transitor short of a circuit. The shop fellow was obviously expert at managing mobile phone controls systems. The unfortunate part about the situation was that the shop owner was not able to "dumb down" his technical expertise in order to put the phone's owner at ease. There was much shouting and crowd-drawing by the bloke, and his size suggested that he could go troppo any moment.

 

The obvious root of the problem was that the phone is a piece of technology, designed by people with expertise in these things, but lacking the ability to understand that the rest of the community does not have that level of expertise. As I said to the shop fellow later, he knows more about mobile phones than I do, but I could bamboozle him when working on the engine of his car.

 

The second case had a similar cause. Someone had pressed one of the buttons on one of the four controllers we have for the TV/Foxtel box/ sound bar/ Apple TV converter. This caused the sound to stop coming out of the sound bar. (I know, the techno term is "muted"). After a session of random button pushing, message box watching, yelling and screaming, we still had no sound. The only solution was to call our Millennial technophile son who, looking at the sound bar control via Facetime, was able to direct SWMBO to the correct button to push.

 

The icons on control systems form part of modern-day language, as do emojis. Unfortunately it is a language that the majority of pre-Millennials did not learn during their formative years. Much the same was a Millennials have never learned much of our culture from literature and mythology, except where it involves the adaptation of Gods and comic book heroes into Fantasy.  

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2 hours ago, old man emu said:

...In fact, he seemed  to be a transitor short of a circuit.

Excellent! I know a few...

Quote

The shop fellow was obviously expert at managing mobile phone controls systems. The unfortunate part about the situation was that the shop owner was not able to "dumb down" his technical expertise in order to put the phone's owner at ease. There was much shouting and crowd-drawing by the bloke, and his size suggested that he could go troppo any moment.

 

The obvious root of the problem was that the phone is a piece of technology, designed by people with expertise in these things, but lacking the ability to understand that the rest of the community does not have that level of expertise...

So true, OME. Despite quite a bit a training and decades of working with computers, I'm still bamboozled by a lot of technology, particularly poorly-designed interfaces. (I just spent an hour on the RAA site renewing my flying ticket and rego and it sure wasn't easy.)

 

A family member has done very well in IT. He seems to one of those rare people who not only possess impressive expertise, but who can also explain it to the layman.

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I find the interface between modern equipment and a sane person to be absolutely lacking in intelligent design. In fact I find the design of just about everything nowadays is resulting in things that do not work, or otherwise break down when needed most.

Just think what gave up on a piece of electrical equipment. Nowadays it is the switch. In the good old days nothing went wrong with the switch, it was the windings or the brushes or some other high tech part of the device.

I blame the Bunnings syndrome. Cheaper is better, at least until you try to use it.

Edited by Yenn
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I reckon the problem is that the designers have lived with their thing for a long time. They forget that others do not know what they do. 

A really good design has been tested on old ladies and all before being released.

The same thing is true for movies and songs...  In the really good ones, you can actually make out the words.

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Come to think of it, even if you could obtain a working VCR, where would you get an analogue video signal to feed it?

 

Just think how much hard earned product specific knowledge has been rendered totally worthess by the march of technology......

 

No doubt, in a few short years, the current batch of techno experts will probably be crying the same tears as me.

 

I noticed that every great step in technology is imposed upon us with the promise of 'making life easier, simpler or more productive'. But doesn't come with a readable instruction book.

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Don't get me wrong, I do sometimes drift towards techno rage but only momentarily.   My wife and I sometime ago committed to keep up with technology as we get older for a few reasons. Firstly I think it gives you more options and a better life as you age.   Secondly it is important as we age to not only keep up physical activities but also mental activities such as learning how to get the most out of new tech.

 

30 years ago we built our own house. Being non builders we needed to learn a lot which usually involved the local library. This often ended in the frustration of not being able to find the information that specifically applied to our situation.   Now we are doing our own renovations and when we plan a new job we can read many articles and watch many video clips of people undertaking similar work.  

 

Yesterday I did the following:

 

As a keen amateur photographer I processed some photos.  Back in the day I did have a little darkroom which was costly to equip and relied upon costly materials and took a long time to produce a small number of photos.

 

As a musician who at the moment cant get together with other musicians I am doing some recording using powerful but free multitrack software.   When I get stuck with the software my first port of call is not an instruction manual but I can consult the resources of user groups who are happy to give advice.

 

I have been using low cost video editing software to make videos for my recordings.   I don't always know how to do what I want to do but again there is a community ready to help as well as numerous how to youtube clips.  Most recently we made a tribute video for my fathers funeral.     

 

Yesterday I started to investigate a steam leak in my coffee machine. This machine is about 18 years old and going strong.  I have replaced some parts over the last few years with the advice of online enthusiasts.   The manual that came with it was next to useless.

 

I arrange music for myself and my students. Back in the day this meant spending considerable time writing parts out by hand.  Now this can be done much quicker and it is more adaptable. Again free software and loads of help when a problem arises.

 

I have a childhood memory of lying underneath the black and white TV hitting the bottom surface repeatedly to make the picture come back and also the numerous visits by the tv repair technician.  Today we have 2 TVs both about 10 years old I would think and they both continue to work well without any repairs.

 

It is quite common to have an overly  rosy picture of how things were in the past and also to take for granted what we are able to do now. I look at the past with some nostalgia but I find the present much richer in terms of things I can do and learn.  I guess I may be the odd one out here.

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18 hours ago, Bruce Tuncks said:

I reckon the problem is that the designers have lived with their thing for a long time. They forget that others do not know what they do. 

A really good design has been tested on old ladies and all before being released...

Good point, Bruce. It's said that Phil Spector, who made so many musicians into superstars, used to walk out of the studio and listen to a new song on his car's radio so he could hear it as the buying public would.

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I love techno stuff having spent 30 years in the IT/IS industry retiring in 2005. Since then of course the change has been massive & I try to keep up. I enjoy bamboozling Millennials in particular Gen Zers. They are really good at using technology at the top end but most can't work out details of the operating system. Most operating systems like Apples iOS, Googles Android/Chrome and Microsofts Windows/DOS all have their origins rooted in UNIX originally developed by AT&T in the 60s/70s & the code eventually being written in C programming language. Unix became Open Source which meant anyone could use it and modify it for their own purpose.

 

So I always find out how to access the root directory structure of anything I have like my mobile phone to get rid of bloatware installed by the brand & free up storage space. When I retired I was given a new Dell D600 laptop which was a top line Laptop in its day 15 years ago. Most of these have now been scrapped as they can't run current modern software & got to be so slow as to be virtually unuseable. But yes they can. I installed Lubuntu a light version of Ubuntu which is a version of Linux which is a version of UNIX. I now have a 15 year old laptop that runs as fast as the latest Apple or Windows or Chromebook laptops with a complete Office suite, web browsing, email, messaging, games, the list is endless & it is all free. There is a huge Ubuntu/Lubuntu group of enthusiasts and forums for troubleshooting, tweaking and application development.

 

But then most people are not like me and struggle with a lot of new technology. The most frustrating thing is with Government systems where they develop an on line application for the general public and don't (or appear not to) do any User acceptance testing by their target market. An example is Centrelink with it's Superannuation/ Pension software. Clients are at least 65 & they have bug ridden software with hopeless user interfaces that even their own staff can't use properly. How the hell they expect 85 year only Auntie Flo to use this stuff is beyond belief especially when it fools Centrelink staff as well.

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I like to think I'm reasonably IT savvy, but occasionally I need help. I have no deep-level IT training, but I did get some good grounding in a TAFE course.

Surprisingly, I learnt a considerable amount of the basics of computing on a Canadian childrens programme on ABC TV in 1986, when I was operating gold tailings leach vats in the W.A. Goldfields.

Looking after the vats was easy after they were built, it was merely a matter of maintaining a little diesel Lister centrifugal pump, and the piping, and keeping track of cyanide levels.

This gave me time to watch childrens educational TV programmes in the caravan at 11:00AM!  :cheezy grin:

 

I do detest the many websites that are badly laid out. Some websites are brilliant in their user-friendly layout, good colours, desired features, and smoothness of operation. Others are just a bloody disaster.

If I come across a really bad website that is user-unfriendly, I click it off, and go on to another. Life is too short to become frustrated with really bad websites. Many businesses must lose a lot of trade due to exceptionally bad websites.

 

One thing I'd love to be able to do is produce some godawful virus that I could send to scammers and spammers to destroy their HDD's. I have one scammer now, continually sending me crap about Bitcoin, Viagra, and a dozen other scam products.

He sends me about 20 scam emails a day. I report the emails to the authorities (including the FBI) and nothing happens. They probably come from NK.

I bounce the emails back to him, using Mailwasher, blacklist his address, and he still doesn't learn. He tries different sender addresses and I still spot them, every time.

 

When the BIL was doing his Masters in IT, he reckoned the Asian laddies were amongst the best at writing code. He told me one little Asian bloke had produced a virus so bad, it actually burnt holes in HDD's!

I dream of being able to send something like that to the low-lifes who fill email inboxes with crap. 

 

I did catch out a Romanian scammer once. He set up a fake ad to rip people off, I spotted it, and I replied to it to draw him out, and got his email address (it was a hotmail address, anyway).

I sent him a return email with a GIF image of a fearsome face jumping at him from the screen, and HUGE red text exploding onto his screen, telling him he was nothing but a XXXXXX XXXXXX XXXX.

He replied by sending me a virus!! - which I spotted and deleted, anyway.  LOL

I trust I made him crap himself when he opened my email. We should have better internet weapons available to us, to fix these scumbags.

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What a lot of small businesses don't realise is that website design is an evolving thing. What sufficed in 2010 won't cut it in 2020. 

 

My biggest turnoff are sites that don't have prices. If I'm looking for a wigwam for a goose's bridle, I want to be able to compare prices between suppliers. Even worse are sites that have the facility to include a price display, but the default price, zero dollars, is displayed. Those places don't get my business unless they are the only supplier of wigwams in the correct designer colours. For many businesses that sell Men's Stuff, the prices hardly change at all throughout the year, and maybe longer. So once the pricing information is in the database, it does not take much to keep it up t date.

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13 hours ago, onetrack said:

I do detest the many websites that are badly laid out. Some websites are brilliant in their user-friendly layout, good colours, desired features, and smoothness of operation. Others are just a bloody disaster.

If I come across a really bad website that is user-unfriendly, I click it off, and go on to another. Life is too short to become frustrated with really bad websites. Many businesses must lose a lot of trade due to exceptionally bad websites.

Several hundred thousand website developers need to read this.

 

3 hours ago, old man emu said:

What a lot of small businesses don't realise is that website design is an evolving thing. What sufficed in 2010 won't cut it in 2020. 

 

My biggest turnoff are sites that don't have prices. If I'm looking for a wigwam for a goose's bridle, I want to be able to compare prices between suppliers. Even worse are sites that have the facility to include a price display, but the default price, zero dollars, is displayed. Those places don't get my business unless they are the only supplier of wigwams in the correct designer colours. For many businesses that sell Men's Stuff, the prices hardly change at all throughout the year, and maybe longer. So once the pricing information is in the database, it does not take much to keep it up t date.

When you go on a website where the pricing is a State secret, it immediately tells you that they are probably more expensive than their competition. And when they try to get customers to commit to entering personal details and jump through hoops before they will reveal the price, most viewers will just mutter "idiots" and click off.

 

The companies must not be too bright to fork out cash to these inept website developers. It's like the Dumb and Dumber partnership.

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I had that problem yesterday. Hungry Jacks are advertising a couple of new burgers for a limied period. No prices on their TV advert, just "Free delivery on orders over $25." How many burgers do you get for $25? Look up their website and you have to submit an order to see the prices. I must admit I like Hungry's burgers. Much better than McRubbish.

 

Another thing that annoys me (thread drift) is the "Buy one, get one free" nonsense. I don't want two, they're just charging twice what the thing is worth. I guess it means the thing is crap, and when the first one breaks, you have one to fall back on.

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3 minutes ago, old man emu said:

That's what happens when you don't employ mature aged persons who themselves expect to get good products for their money.

 

I don't think it is the employees but rather the business model of supplying low quality food.  As I understand it people who work at these places are pretty much just cogs in the machine with little power.  I don't imagine  a 15 year old worker  has much control over how long food is kept hot before it is sold or what quality of ingredients are used. 

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On the subject of websites, I started working on one about five years ago but never got to finish it as life got in the way. Looking back on the early version, it was a cringeworthy nightmare, and thankfully was never published. It was cluttered and cumbersome, non intuitive, and burdened with complicated cascading sub menus. A real rabbit warren, so to speak.

 

So I've restarted the project lately, with a different perspective on it. I've figured out the basics that the type of site, being an information resource, is one where visitors are there to access information, so they want to get in and get out without tearing their hair out. They're not there to be entertained or frustrated. As the finished site will have a couple of hundred pages, the big challenge is ease of navigation. Attached is a rough draft of the home page, using text category links as well as image links. The intention is keep the style clean and simple. As I will be using quite a few image links, I need to learn how to position them more accurately than the present method of head butting them around the page with the mouse. Making templates might be a good start. The programme I'm using is Wysiwyg web builder.

 

I've gone for minimal decoration and banners etc.. The home page draft has only two themed non link images. The top one on the right is a rarish helmet, the ShL-60. They were really a transitional helmet between leather helmets and the two part leather helmet/hard shell combination. They're hard to find because they were only produced for about 12 months and issued to test pilots and the Cosmonaut Training Centre, and didn't see general issue.

 

The helmet on the lower right worn by Madame MiG is a very rare helmet, the ZSh-2. These were another test pilot and Cosmonaut training helmet  that never saw general issue. They were based on the American P-4 helmet with significant Russian improvements like the occipital bladder system. I don't know what happened to her helmet, or if it still exists. In her older years before she passed away, she still had a considerable collection of memorabilia from her career, so maybe it's still in the family.

 

 

 

web.jpg

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