I used to regularly walk into public bathrooms in which someone had used the toilet and simply not flushed it. That doesn't happen much any more. I'm willing to deal with a lot of phantom flushes to not deal with someone else's literal shit.
I used to regularly find public bathrooms where someone (I'm assuming a vandal, although it could just be a distracted or careless person) has left the water running. A fully open faucet can erase the gains of more judicious human usage pretty quickly.
The author waxes nostalgic about those cloth towel roll dispensers. His experience does not match mine. I generally see those things in old gas stations where the cleanliness of the towel is deeply suspect.
Automatic soap dispensers are much less persuasive to me, though. There was no "just open" state to get rid of, so the flakiness is offering much less benefit. You have to touch pump-dispensers, sure, but that's also done before you wash your hands.
I do share the article's vague irritation at trading user convenience (the dispenser works) for owner convenience (the dispenser doesn't break), but it's hardly a huge deal.
My pet hate of public toilets now are the airblade style hand dryers. My hands are seemingly too big, so to dry the top (closest to my wrist) I need to bend my fingers to avoid touching the puddle of water and dirt in the bottom.
dirty hands touch them a lot and you have to touch them multiple times during handwashing, re-dirtying your hands
if the stream actually lasted a reasonable amount of time it would be less of an issue but i dont think i've seen that ever
Company-promised volume claims ~78dB with spikes to 90, but a couple of studies suggest all hand-dryer companies are lying (or rather, using favorable bathroom layouts). It looks like the Xcelerator has hit 97dB in studies, and I could swear bad layouts are worse than that - they sound about rock-concert loud.
Which isn't a huge threat to users, it's just aggravating, but is actually enough to break labor laws if you have a bathroom attendant working in there.
Airblades are truly awful.
Traditionally, one washes one's hands before using a drier rather than (as the test in the story did) dipping them in a bath of viruses.
I do wish the stream was a bit longer - thorough non-surgical handwashing might take 30 seconds, longer with very dirty hands, and the usual push faucet is perhaps 10 seconds. But the idea is great; my core desire isn't for motion-sensing sinks but automatic-shutoff ones.
I share the airblade problem. The basic model is brilliant, they work far better than traditional hand dryers, but the hand space is perhaps 30% smaller than it needs to be for large hands.
I confess I don't care about the toilets flushing multiple times. With how little water toilets use per flush now, it always takes multiple passes to do the job properly, anyway.
Being tall, I usually have to hunch over to activate airblades placed somewhere south of my waist, which would be viable for anyone over about 4'. Apparently there's not much consensus on how to place those things.
I've seen one recently that was attached to the sink, which was better for being able to reach it, but the place where the water dripped was maybe 6 inches below the air output, so water went -everywhere-.
Not my favourite tech!
In almost all cases, it's possible to optimize to make both parties happy; when this doesn't happen, it demonstrates a power asymmetry: the people who use these mechanisms (usually installed by an institution: public bathrooms, office coffee machines) matter less than the owners.
I use public restrooms once ever two days (sometimes even more) and I very rarely see that. Maybe people in your part of the world are less educated when it comes to using public toilets, or the janitors are not doing their jobs properly (if it matters I live in an Eastern-European capital city).
As for the automatic toilets, I hate them. I only had the displeasure of using them once or twice, and let me tell you, to have that flush of water invade your lower exposed parts all of the sudden while you're doing your toilet-related stuff is not at all nice, quite the contrary. Those toilets are the work of the devil.
I mean, I spent a month traveling there, and had no problems using public restrooms on a regular basis. If I'm traveling here (mostly West Coast US) I have to make multiple stops before I find a clean restroom.
It could be that NZ relies a lot more on tourism, so people try harder to keep things nice. But hey, hope you enjoyed my anecdotal story.
It occurred to me (and people I know) more than once that I did flush, multiple times, and that the damn toilet just refused to suck up everything I put in there. And for some reason this was always in public bathrooms, across Western Europe. Hypothesis is that due to being used a lot and possibly not cleaned in the correct way there's to much deposit of bicarbonates limiting water flow and the force/pressure of the water being flushed isn't high enough to flush everything in there. Not much an automatic toilet could do about that btw.
The author was talking about hand-cranked dispensers for paper towels, not cloth ones.
Autocorrect incorrectly assuming the word you want to use replaced that message taking three days to arrive at its destination. Content wrapped in DRM replaced that content not being available at all. Unwieldy knobs and dials in hotel room showers replaced... unwieldy knobs and dials in hotel room showers. Amazon's tyranny of choice replaced being price gouged because the thing you wanted was only stocked by one retailer in town.
This folksy techno-luddism is quick to point out the foibles of what we have now, but almost never points out how shit things used to be.
At least it doesn't end in the same place as most of these pieces, with a vacuuous assertion that we all need to start living 'in the moment.'
Seems like you don't remember email on your PC.
> Content wrapped in DRM replaced that content not being available at all.
Seems like you don't remember Napster either. Where were you in the decade 1995–2005?
Or simply sms without autocorrect. OP has a point, but this indeed is a bad example. As far as I can see autocorrect for messaging being wrong didn't replace anything, it's something new which just doesn't always work properly. Which is exactly the point of the article.
Not that I'm too happy with it: for some reason my SwiftKey's gesture-recognizing algorithm seems to be getting worse over time, while next-word prediction becomes better.
The golden age of digital music ended in 2016 with the death of what.cd
But this is very much an example of the author's point.
Without researching it yet, I bet you can find simpler, better designed bathtub and shower controls from the 1930s with better usability than what we find today.
We have an old oven in our basement, and our current upstairs oven broke recently. It was very pleasant to have a single, analog nob I just had to turn to "400" to start the oven heating to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. The new oven has a numeric keypad, and requires finding the "bake" button in the matrix of identically shaped buttons.
If you imagine the modern version being invented first, the nob version could be marketed with a Johnny Ive style video talking about the relentless focus of simplicity and usability of this innovative new design!
For some reason, the style fell out of favor. Not even to high-tech showers, just to single axis systems which blast water at high heat and trickle it for cold.
This sort of thing really is a usability failure, providing a slightly cheaper and simpler product for the median consumer while harming anyone with vaguely non-standard intentions.
Most of the light switches in my house are wired up through Z-Wave. Those z-wave boxes are in the electrical box in-between the normal, everyday, traditional light switch and the power.
100% of the time, if i flip the switch a direction, it changes the state of the light. It never fails. Power just came back on? still works. Z-Wave controller down? Still works. Internet out? still works.
Then, I can "add on" automation using that zwave network to do things like turn lights on/off from my phone.
If anything were to cause issues, have bugs, have problems, etc... I can unplug the controller and it goes back to fully functioning light switches.
While I'm working on my own system similar to yours, and I'm designing around the same concept, most IoT manufacturers aren't. I get why people's default reaction to IoT stuff is to run away, because they are mostly very poorly designed.
The issue I see is that there are many things that are designed like that, but they often require professional installation or are significantly more expensive, which leads to many just getting the cheaper option which works in the best case scenario.
I think the easiest solution for now is to just keep my blinds open a bit more and just use the sun like people have been for thousands of years.
Then I realized I could just program my old one to turn on in the morning and evening when I am home on my set schedule. It works just fine, and I know enough to think that replacing it with a complicated machine-learning process might cost me more headache than occasionally turning the heat up.
We are most of the way to the wonderful goal of being able to use the bathroom without touching anything anyone else has touched, and all this person can do is complain that it isn't quite perfect.
Do you remember the 80s solution for public faucets? They used springs to turn off the water after five seconds. You had to press a button really hard, then wash really fast. The electric things aren't perfect, but they are a big improvement.
The complaints about auto correct are especially funny. I had a palm 5 and a wonderful folding keyboard and a cdpd modem. But only one serial port on the palm, so it was connectivity or keyboard, not both. Graffiti was terrible compared to any modern input system. The smartphone in my pocket is amazing. Swype is what it took to make me abandon thumb boards, and Swype is amazing.
Even mundane objects that nobody (I hope) is ever going to try to put a WiFi card in are not-so-subtly more terrible than they used to be. My favorite example is the five-gallon gasoline can.
This nails it. It's not that things couldn't be implemented in a way that serves the users, it's that they're optimized to serve the interests of other parties first.
I've had an iPhone since iOS 2 and I never realized the key's touch area could change size. If you ask me the iPhone keyboard works perfectly.
Outside of that, the author nailed it. Especially the phone system, though he could have taken it further in saying that the humans after the recordings is also taught to not serve the user, but rather be an obstruction with just enough "give" to prevent legal action. The exceptions to the seem rare, but I definitely cling to them.
BTW I'd be fine looking at some ads, turning off my blocker is not an option though as the third party ads always track your behavior and often store personally identifiable data without user consent.
- Keeping your pc free of malware.
- Keeping people from trying to aggressively promote lies, half truths, and nonsense in your own home.
- Making the web work both better and faster.
From my own experience (I did various research projects on this working with journalists) the data usually ends up in places where it's not supposed to be and might cause a lot of harm in the future, hence by blocking this content I'm trying to protect myself as good as I can.
I'd accept ads if the following conditions are met:
* They are served through a trustworthy CDN, which guarantees that my IP information will not leak to the ad network operator.
* They do not execute JS and consist of elements whose safety can be (reasonably) proved, e.g. images and text.
* They do not blink, move, break the page or hide the content that I want to read.
* They do not try to "contact the mothership", sending back personally identifiable information to their overlords.
Sadly, I have not seen a single serious effort to implement this, instead websites just ask me to disable my ad blocker and expose myself to privacy risks. No.
If no one caught the soap, it fell past the sensor, triggering another soap release, and so on.
I'm sure it was a special case, some obscure failure of the repeat-dispense lockout or something. But I couldn't help marveling at how much effort had gone into making such a singularly crap product; it was behaving worse than would even be possible for a lower tech device.
This is all subjective, but I feel like the end of the 90's and early 2000's was the low point for PC's and computers in general.
Viruses were everywhere it seemed. Things would break all the time. Shit was never compatible. You had to have detailed knowledge of how software worked in order to fix it.
I remember the day I was trying to fix my PC when I finally looked some of the more under the hood files and programs, and was blow away at the complexity. It was very humbling.
Then, somewhere in the late 2000's, something changed and I feel like computers have been working better.
I don't have to fix my computer nearly as much. It just sort of works.
Sure, there are issues, but the frequency and intensity are much less (knock on wood).
It was a pain trying to explain to a toddler why they couldn't watch Sesames Street right now because it wasn't currently airing.
Generally, explaining anything to a toddler is a pain.