Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
We need physical audio kill switches (rubenerd.com)
453 points by stargrave 10 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 433 comments

Nothing will ever come close to convenience of analogue volume knobs. They give both immediate action and infinite granular control. Same goes for kitchen stoves. All the modern touch controls with step-based control is the absolute nightmare in terms of UI.

With one specific exception - stereo volume knobs often - virtually always - suffer from stereo imbalance, where the volume of the left and right channels are slightly different.

Some high-end amplifiers offer a relay based volume system where the knob simply switches resistors in and out of the audio path using relays to adjust the volume, and although this does result in "steps" of volume, it does mean the stereo balance is always perfect.

That's a problem mostly caused by using passive log-taper circuits, instead of alternate active volume control circuits that use linear-taper pots, which have sufficiently good tolerance and ganging in low-cost dual units. But these circuits require 1-2 op amps per channel and those 20 cents are too much in three-figure hardware.

Ganged log-taper pots have something like +-3 or +-6 dB ganging mismatch even for relatively high-end (10-15 € ea) units.

I've seen/heard this in $100 units from Schiit. Not to mention the poor hand soldering job that cost more money because a human did it in America.

You get what it says on the packaging

Send 'em an email.

Their $100 units are some of the best testing amps/dacs in the price range, so even from a purely subjectivist standpoint they make stuff that generally works pretty well. If you're encountering issues, then they will usually make good on it.

The stereo imbalance is just something you're gonna see at basically every amp at that price point.

I got the Modi2/Magni2 set for my HD650s when they originally came out. Total disappointment: pots had static when inc/dec vol, and had balancing issues. The headphone amp on my macbook didn’t suffer from any of that, was indistinguishable in sound quality with a blind test, and was way less hassle. Only difference was that it didn’t get as loud, but since I don’t listen past the macbooks max, I put them in the closet and never looked back.

That's unfortunate. I use planar headphones, so a dedicated amp is pretty much a requirement due to the power draw vs. regular dyamics. I opted for a Schiit Bifrost/Asgard stack (they didn't have the magni/modi combo at the time) and had great experiences with them. I opted to perform one of the upgrades for the Bifrost myself, and after that had some issues with the DAC resetting and audio cutting out - emailed Schiit, told them what I had done to troubleshoot, and they shipped me a replacement upgrade part the next day.

You can also just use an ADC in the sound chipset, since your average consumer electronics Class D amplifier is going to be adequate at any digital level, provided the circuit is not designed by a lower primate.

I feel personally attacked

I don’t mind if it uses volume steps under the hood, as long as it uses ~100 steps, not 10.

Adding to formerly_proven's reply, back in the analog era we usually had balance and tone controls to compensate for the deficiences in both the recordings and our listening environments and equipment.

Balance and tone controls are still useful. You can treat your listening environments to be neutral (bass traps, absorbers and diffusers, etc); but when you have a few friends over to listen you need to compensate for the sound absorption by their bodies. Or if it's a nice day and you open the window. Or you have a recording made by a friend on their phone. All sorts of reasons.

There are even more solutions to this problem:

One is to convert the L/R Stereo image to Mid/Side do the volume control and then convert it back to L/R. This way any mismatch of the potentiometer would translate into a change in stereo width instead of shifting the image around.

Another solution would be to use one pot as a voltage divider, buffer that voltage and use the resulting current to drive two Blackmer VCA ICs (e.g. THAT2181).

Things like this make me glad I'm not an audiophile. What you describe seems very annoying, but thankfully I've never noticed anything like it.

I don't think there's much benefit to being an audiophile, unless you're so rich you can actually enjoy your insanely expensive setup in your sound-proofed room with your specially-purchased lossless audio sources. Luckily, very few people who claim to be audiophiles can actually hear the difference in a blind test.


Don't judge all of us audiophiles with a blanket statement. Yes, measured hearing capacity is definitely a key metric to know (why invest in super tweeters when you can't hear past 18KHz for example), but room acoustics is probably the very next thing I'd look at.

I've seen so much "expensive" gear in rooms that are absolutely horrid in terms of sound reflections. Just a carpet, curtains or a couple of cheap sound panels can make wonders in improving sound if you know just a bit of the physics of sound. You don't have to invest in super expensive equipment to do that.

Furthermore, there is a healthy DIY community these days, where you can build your own speakers, cables, amplifiers, etc, with very little effort, and get a lot of enjoyment in the process and with the product. I built a set of LX521.4 and LX Mini speakers from Siegfried Linkwitz [0] and it changed completely the way I listen to audio now for an order of magnitude less money that what I'd had to pay otherwise...

[0] http://linkwitzlab.com/

Thanks for the reminder -- I have an unassembled LX Mini kit in my closet that I should really build.

I was fortunate enough to meet Siegfried at one of his listening sessions about a year before he passed away, and we had a fun conversation about physics and electronics. Very nice man, with the right mix of formal (with his super nice diagrams) and informal (with his scrappy, clever, practical designs).

I cannot agree more. I also had the pleasure of meeting him at his home in Corte Madera. After an hour of conversation and listening, of course I was really impressed with his creations, but during just a moment, I saw a glimpse of why he was really sharing his living room with a total stranger: it wasn't about the speakers or the tech. It was about music. He ultimately wanted to share his love of music.

Can you provide some more detail about your experiences with these speakers? I’ve seen the designs before, but they’re so exotic they seem like a gimmick.

I want to make two sets of speakers. First, a two channel set up for my home office, to play high-quality music while I work and handle conference call audio. Second, a monitor for my synthesizers. They produce a crazy range of detailed sound, and I want something that reproduces all that detail across a full range, even at lower volumes, and ideally without strict placement/listening position constraints.

I dream of building a battery powered custom speaker bank for synth busking / disturbing the peace.

I wrote about my experience with the minis first [0] and then with the LX521.4 [1].

The posts are old and I moved since then, but my experience has not changed. The minis are unreal. The quality of the sound you get in such a small (and cheap to build) package is to my knowledge, unmatched. Actually, I had them in my home office until recently [2]. As long as you have 1 to 1.5 ft of distance from the walls, they'll work like a champ.

The LX521.4 will go down to 20Hz, but the dipole open baffle bass is not "punchy" in the sense of pressurizing a room, but rather, you feel it all around. So it depends on the kind of music you listen to. I prefer classic rock and jazz, and some electronica, and so far I find them very rewarding.

The community in Oplug Support is very friendly and will help you in anything you want to know.

[0] https://ramirosalas.com/2016/02/on-my-lxmini-speakers/

[1] https://ramirosalas.com/2017/11/complete-linkwitz-setup/

[2] https://oplug-support.org/viewtopic.php?f=33&t=4941&p=44858&...

Being an audiophile literally means you like audio.

It doesn't require you to purchase overengineered or overhyped technology any more than being a cycling enthusiast requires you to weigh your accessories in grams. :)

This may be true, but /u/Judgmentality just described to a T the one self-described audiophile that I am friends with.

You know, one thing I learned from getting interested in stereo equipment was the concept of overengineering.

I always thought... how can there be such a thing? maybe you let the non-recurring costs get a little high, but don't you end up with a better product in the end?

Turns out overengineering is a thing.

I had a friend who was a real sound engineer.

You just need a good (not overpriced) set of earbuds.

In-ear headphones or over-head ones?

Any recommendation?

Heh, back in the day we purchased those "CD" things and they were lossless. Actually, they didn't employ any compression at all!

What's interesting is that you can play back lossless recordings via USB in tesla - I believe FLAC and ALAC - but the USB playback software is basically unmaintained.

One tesla website has a thread hundreds of pages/thousands of comments long of complaints.


> we purchased those "CD" things and they were lossless

Depends on how you define lossless, but for a sufficient informal definition, CD audio definitely is lossy.

I assume you're referring to bit depth and sampling. In that case, any digitization is lossy, because where do you draw the line?

> where do you draw the line?

You draw the line at the limits of human hearing, which turn out to be about 20 bits from softest audible sounds to "hearing damage inside a minute"and a sample rate of around 48 ksa/s.

CDs weren't quite there. Modern stuff recorded with 24 bit depth and high bit rates is effectively lossless.

One of the goods things about the limitations of the CD format is that we learned a lot about masking noise via dithering (deliberately introducing more noise) and noise shaping.

I've heard studio noise floor is typically about 15-20 dB(A), and typical quiet living room is usually more than 30 dB(A). In my previous appartement in the city I measured something in range of 45-50 dB, which was actually pretty high and surprising to me - and funny, I didn't hear that noise live until recording and hearing back.

Dithering gives about 120 dB of useful dynamic range, so I can't imagine a case where someone wanted more. You can't go much lower than the noise floor of the environment and you don't want to go too far above 100 dB, because this already isn't pleasant (nor good for your ears; 85 dB is considered the upper safe SPL limit for longer exposure). I'd risk stating that even without dithering, the default 96 bit depth is good enough in typical listening conditions.

Shaped dither can increase dynamic range, and anyway 120dB range is rather unnecessary for music.


> In that case, any digitization is lossy

Yep, that’s part of my point, but CD audio in particular isn’t that great of bit depth or sampling rate, even by standards of the time for uncompressed digital audio. There’s also the point that the “audio wars” era covered the era of CD audio and that’s certainly another major audio quality factor.

Only one of these points is a thing. Even if you could find some situation where the dynamic range of a CD was inadequate, shaped dither or even complete garbage uniform dither would render that moot.

No producer or technician has any basis to complain about CD audio quality for listening by humans; the deficiencies of their CDs are entirely their fault.

> No producer or technician has any basis to complain about CD audio quality for listening by humans

Ok, so since I can still identify sound frequencies >22khz despite being now 40yrs old, I’m not entitled as a human to critique the CD audio format, especially as I can tell you the exact moment when the audio range is being clipped in the songs I enjoy?

It is highly unlikely that you can hear difference with >22kHz when listening to music. It could be just intermodulation distortion introduced by playing near-ultrasonics on normal equipment.


Okay, even if you could hear frequencies in that range in an actual released musical recording, and not just at near-pain-threshold levels in isolation, 48kHz has become more popular since it's a more convenient "computery" number. Tell me you can hear frequencies above 23kHz, below the pain threshold, let alone not in isolation.

I think you’ve gotten off track here. I’m not claiming higher bit rates and sampling rates than CD audio are inherently better in every case, just that CD audio is not what I’d call lossless.

Do we need to cover the Nyquist frequency again? Do you think that all of the audio engineers that designed the CD audio standards were tyros who were just making shit up and guessing?

> Do we need to cover the Nyquist frequency again? Do you think that all of the audio engineers that designed the CD audio standards were tyros who were just making shit up and guessing?

Do we need to cover the site rules again? Is it assuming best intent to try and straw man my argument to serve what purpose, boost your ego?

1) of course the audio engineers knew what they were doing who created the CD audio standard.

2) of course they also had constraints from picking “best”, cost among them, and designed something that satisfied the demands placed on them as best as they could.

How does any of these tangents y’all have went on disprove the only point I made, that CD audio is not lossless (close, but no cigar) in the audio sound quality sense.

Well, you might want to read this:


I noticed it in my first Sony walkmen 30 years ago and it really pissed me off.

The advent of touchscreen technology and its subsequent ubiquitous adoption replacing physical controls of all kinds across devices of all kinds is easily the single most ruinous thing to happen to UI in the modern history of design.

For many people, the convenience of touch controls outweigh the negatives. They're easier to clean and they can look nicer. Not that it's always a good idea to use them though.

You can have both. My old microwave had physical buttons (upraised so you could find them by touch, and that 'clicked' down when depressed) under a wipe clean plastic coat. It worked very well.

It is technically possible to build touch controls offering comparable UX to their analogue counterparts. Smartphones have done it since 2007. Why do stoves still force users to sequentially step through 14 settings using shitty +/- buttons in order to get what they want?

Capacitive touch controls and grease do not interact well, as I am reminded every time my touch only stove hood goes to maximum ventilation until I forcefully clean the touch surface with a paper towel.

If the controls become greasy isn’t that just an issue of placement?

When I adjust the temperature in the car, change the volume on the stereo or change the heat output of a gas burner - they can all be done by touch controls, but the closest to something that might provide as good a UX I have ever experienced is the touch pad on newer macbooks.

The biggest problem with "modern" digital controls, the lag, is completely avoidable. One can easily design a system using a microcontroller that responds within 10ms, which gives the appearance of being instantaneous. It's all just shoddy software engineering using bloated frameworks and poor languages, and consumers that don't know any better. Somehow we've had this problem going on a decade, and nobody has seen fit to shape up their development process.

What languages and frameworks are people using in consumer electronics?

I have no idea these days, but it's clearly something that takes 100ms+ to process an input event (java? html? flash? all of the above?). Responsive encoders/buttons/displays were doable 15 years ago with 5 MIPS microcontrollers in C. Driving an HD44780 character LCD is easier than a full raster display, which explains the appeal of the bloat, but quick sprites etc should be completely doable after two decades of progress.

I have two thoughts. One is an overloaded CAN Bus. Some process is polling the switch every 100ms. The second is the process itself isn't allowed to run very often because it's sharing CPU time with a bunch of critical stuff.

Either way, a car ought to have two separate systems. One for critical functionality, and one for controlling the radio, climate controls, windows and the like.

No switches should be getting polled over a CAN bus. If there's enough of a processor to be a CAN node, there's enough processor to debounce a button and transmit state change events.

Sure the situation might exist, but it's exactly the kind of bad engineering I'm calling out.

Autosar for automotive. The delay is a requirement and not really due to the framework.

Um, what? What kind of requirement of that? The UI lag on modern cars is a safety hazard.

I’m not sure what lag are you refering, but on physical buttons there is a minimum of 50ms - 100ms required by the customer.

I guess is the same as on iPhone where if you hold backspace, it will not zap all the text, but go one by one with a visible delay. These companies simply treat end users as babies.

A good rule of thumb is that anything over 10ms response appears laggy (not instantaneous) to a user. This is especially dangerous on touchscreen inputs, as they lack tactile feedback and therefore require the user to focus on the display until their input has been acknowledged.

I can't tell the specific concept you're talking about though. If it's the auto-repeat rate (your iPhone example), then of course there needs to be a delay before that kicks in, and a steady repeat rate. I'm talking about single button presses.

If you're talking about the requirement to debounce buttons, the proper way to do this is to act on the button press immediately, while setting a timer that disallows further button state changes while waiting for the contacts to settle. This time is a balance between how long it actually takes the contacts to settle, and how rapidly a user could possibly push a button (missing a deliberate button press is also extremely frustrating and dangerously demanding of user attention, even with tactile feedback).

What I was saying is that the way you debouce a button comes from the customer (mercedes, ford etc.).

For sure you don’t act on a button press imediately. If you do that in automotive, all the electric noise will trigger the button randomly.

Every microwave I have ever owned have been under $30, purely because I didn't want to go digital. Analogue egg-timer knob - good enough accuracy, and instantly pliable

At least microwaves with digital controls actually have full numpads. Every digital-control oven I've ever had the misfortune of using only has increment/decrement buttons. Want to set the oven to 450F? Have fun pressing the increment button twenty times for five degree increments starting at 350F. It's an abomination.

The best microwave I've ever used didn't have any numpad at all. Instead, it has a horizontal sliding touch pad. It sounds stupid, but it works SO WELL. Move your finger slowly and it increments one second at a time, move it quickly and it jumps faster. On the front there are only two buttons (stop/clear and start/+30sec) and the touch slider and screen.

If you open the door there are a few more buttons for setting power levels and a timer, and the only useful preset button (popcorn), but none of the useless ones.

This LG NeoChef model: https://www.lg.com/ca_en/microwave-ovens/lg-LMC1575BD

Just got one of these, and after an initial learning curve agree it is super intuitive (now) and works really well.

This is such a weird thing that we accept as normal. Completely agree it's absurd that on the microwave we have a numpad and on an oven we have up/down arrows with an arbitrary starting point (mine is 350 degF).

I'm on my phone, so it's a bit difficult to look up, but 350 isn't actually arbitrary. It's a temperature that is hot enough to allow you to get a maliard reaction without being so hot that you easily burn food.

350 degF might not be so arbritarily chosen, it's probably a good starting point, then the user would only have to press down or up a few times to reach the cooking temperature they want for their food.

Every digital control oven I have ever used continued to increment or decrement as long as you held the appropriate button down. No need to press the button twenty times. Some of them even increased the rate of increase/decrease the longer you held the button down.

Oh yeah and the button will probably give out after 3 years, at which point you have to replace the entire "timer" (control panel PCB), which is about half the price of the oven.

I selected our oven specifically because of the sensible analogue controls (large knobs) for selecting the function and temperature.


My oven has a rotary encoder on it for temp adjustment. It works pretty well.

My oven has a numpad. I punch in the temperature I want. It's great! GE Profile dual oven circa 2000.

Yeah. It's one thing that does not need improving.

My parents bought a new microwave with all kinds of fancy digital features that nobody uses 99% of the time. In addition to being really difficult to use, it also makes a very loud BEEEP on every button press. Insanity.

Beeping appliances is one thing I can't stand. They're always too loud and rarely offer any adjustment or mute functionality.

I got a new microwave recently. It beeped on every button press, 5 beeps after a cook cycle, no way to mute (yeah, I checked). Within a day of owning it I took it apart and ripped the beeper off the board. Problem solved.

Some day we’ll collectively learn to replace all the crude beeping with less abrasive, natural sounds like the gentle and informative clicking of the iPod’s touch wheel. Think the crunch of a fallen leaf, the satisfying zip of a sweater, the subtle scrape of a ceramic mug being hastily lifted—distinct and deliberately applied to build conventions like we have with e.g. red/green colors. Shrill beeps will be the tell that dates an antique.

I recently went on a crusade to pull the piezo buzzers out of all my UPS... because, when the power's out, i don't need a sound to tell me, do i?

Weren't you worried about damaging the microwave shielding?

Not at all.

In my experience (3 out of 3 microwaves that I tried this on), there is usually an options or settings menu that lets you turn off the beep.

I have a €400 microwave and it’s great. It has one big rotary button that will set the time, press start and it goes. You don’t need any of the other buttons to simply microwave stuff. What those buttons do give me is an oven and steamer. It’s not my main oven but having an extra oven can be convenient and the steamer function is great. Zero effort perfect rice every time. Toss some veggies and spices on a tray, steam for a couple of minutes and you have an easy, healthy and tasty side dish.

Another great feature is that it doesn’t have a rotating platform, I have square plates so that’s also super convenient.

I get buying a simple microwave if that’s all you need it to do, but don’t dismiss the models with more bells and whistles, they have their place as well.

I've never understood why microwaves have an alarm that can't be disabled. They actually make me angry every time I fail to stop it manually at <10s.

On the other hand, I used to have a microwave with a "nag timer" that would continue nagging you until you took your food out.

Saved (fallible) me from a lot of cold meals.

My current microwave doesn't have that and in ascending order of silliness I have 1) forgotten food and eaten it cold 2) gotten hungry and gone to heat up something only to find there was something already in the microwave 3) (worst) opened the microwave to find something there from the night before.

Why wouldn't you just reheat the food if it was cold?

I have a cheapo digital that suits my needs well enough. It is ancient and keeps working, which is all I ask of it.

But the UI is utterly absurd. The default presentation is to select timer or cook. Who uses a timer anywhere nearly as much as the cook function? It is like a car always first asking if you'd rather drive or pop the hood.

One more button press has never been enough to annoy me anywhere nearly enough to replace it. But I wonder how many times I've pressed it.

Interestingly enough, many commercial microwaves are like this, with detents at 1 minutes increments. Being able to load and set a microwave in under 5 seconds without paying much attention is really crucial in a busy kitchen.

I went the opposite way and bought a $240 Panasonic commercial microwave, because I also wanted it to last. It's just a little big.

I have never seen or even heard of a microwave breaking.

Consumer level microwaves in shared areas, like in workplaces or schools, tend to break real fast. I've seen some not last a year.

my parents have gone through about 4 microwaves in the last 15 years. the one before that they had for about 15 it was only replaced because the dial broke off while they were moving.

Yep, our current microwave actually has a really well thought-out digital interface. Probably the best digital microwave interface I've ever seen. Still inferior to the analog twist-knob on the one we had when I was a kid.

I'm a young person: I used an analogue washer/dryer for the first time after moving out of my parents' house, and I was impressed by how well designed they were compared to the digital piece of shit my parents had. Plus the digital washer had several software bugs which made it sometimes stop washing mid-cycle, but the analogue ones have never failed.

And it's in my opinion doubly-important in a car, where you must put all your attention on your surroundings. The tactile feedback of buttons and knobs is paramount, and touch screens are awful to operate while driving.

I've got an "older" (~12 years?) car atm, a Ford, and it's got pretty beefy controls for the radio as an extra lever on the steering wheel; it's got buttons for volume control but I can operate it without thinking or taking my eyes off the wheel at least.

I have a newer Ford and they still provide physically controls for the radio by the touchscreen as well as on the steering wheel.

When it comes to cars a touchscreen definitely isn't the best way to control things

My Topping DAC/Amp has an optical rotary encoder for volume control and it is awful, it will randomly jump 10x the amount of steps you have rotated it, sometimes even in the opposite direction. There's something to be said for a good old fashioned potentiometer.

It's kinda ridiculous that seemingly three quarters of the people who write graycode decoder firmware get it wrong, despite the correct methods being publicly available with sample code since 15-20 years at least.

It's also an assignment that close to every electrical/computer engineer would have had to do as part of their degree.

I guess you only need to understand ~50% of the course material to get your degree though.

Sounds like clicky 3-pin A/B bi-phase type though. I’ve done stupid things and tried to read that and two buttons with single ADC. That jumped around when Vref fluctuates.

An "optical rotary encoder"? I doubt it. I bet it's a mechanical rotary encoder. And that it randomly jumps means their code for reading the encoder sucks. Something like that should not happen if properly implemented. I will take a rotary encoder over a potentiometer every time.

Potentiometers have that problem too when they get worn, which they always do if they also double as on/off switch like on most cheap radios.

They could use something like an AS5048A for 14-bit (effectively analog to humans) magnetic position sensing instead of a potentiometer or variable inductor.

Considering they already need digital control circuitry to interface to a touch screen it shouldn't be significantly cost-prohibitive to use that to make knobs that are immune to oxidization.

Kinda costly? I wonder if a dead simple 10kΩ B-curve potentiometer would do, though they drift a lot

Just about every analog lighting board I've ever seen has huge dead zones on the end of the linear pots on some channels.

I'm surprised the potentiometers work at all given the abuse they go through. Early desks had no memory, so it was often a huge rush to set the next scene in the fader bank before it was needed.

Yes, I keep a can of contact cleaner around to get rid of the oxidisation.

until it wears off or catches something between the slider and the base

I loathe touch controls. We had them on our last stove and our cats would repeatedly walk across them.

They had a lock button, but every now and then one of their paws would stand long enough on the lock/unlock touch control to activate the entire panel.

We resorted to flipping the breaker any time we left the house. Guess none of those engineers had a cat.

I've actually had the same happen to my gas stove, but then, it doesn't seem to have a temperature lock-out like better designed ones do. Came home one day and the house smelled of gas. It was on low but still, it could've ended very badly. Not sure if I accidentally did it or the cat managed to.

Cooking on gas is much more pleasurable than most electric stoves. There's much more "feel" to control the heat

I use an induction stove and it is even more pleasurable than gas in terms of the speed of response of the pot. Response is literally instant because the pot is the source of heat, and not something external. They are also by far the safest since the hottest thing in the entire system is the bottom of the pot, which is usually at about 100-200 C depending on what you're cooking, which is usually not hot enough to start a fire. Compare to a electric stove whose element reaches upwards of 800 C or a gas stove which has an actual open flame which can easily catch nearby flammable vapors, hair, or clothing on fire if not careful.

Gas stoves are the next most responsive because the fire doesn't "store" heat; only the grill does.

Finally electric stoves are the slowest-responding because the coil stores quite a bit of heat even after power is cut, and that heat continues to transfer into the pot. Conversely, when starting them up, it takes quite a while to heat up the element hot enough to only then transfer some of that heat into the pot.

You do want a quality induction stove with an analog knob for the best experience, though. The low-end induction stoves typically have touch-step controls and pulsating simmer, which IMO is still way better than an electric stove if you're on a budget, and still responds faster than gas stoves but lacks the fine-grained simmer controls that some of the higher-end models do, if that is important to you.

I cook on a 30 yo gas range with all high capacity burners and regular knobs. The response is nonlinear: there's a big jump in flame intensity as you pass through nominal "low" to "medium". In practice I don't look at the knobs at all, I can fine tune the heat by looking directly at the size of the flame. My visual judgement is instantaneous. The results are stellar throughout the range.

When I travel, for instance to cook for the inlaws on holidays, I have to spend time physically correlating how hot each of the burners is for its particular settings. It seems to vary between each individual burner, which are different sizes. The way I correlate is to use my bare fingers to quickly touch the bottom of the pan. Or I lift the pan up and touch the bottom there. This seems suboptimal. When I travel to AirBnBs, induction ranges are all the rage. Same process. I suppose if you're boiling a pot of water, the induction speed is great. If you're making something sensitive like a hollaindaise, lordy what a PITA, in my experience.

I make delicate sauces like hollaindaise reliably and speedily on my nominal 15,000 BTU gas range. I have had the family twiddling fingers more than once waiting on me to get results from an induction burner. Same burner is an outstanding large volume frier.

Now I get that the induction technology is safer, but then I use a big chainsaw with a real chain to cut down trees on my property. Chainsaws are highly dangerous and exceptionally useful. Similarly I raised up a child that learned to cook quite sophisticated things on that big gas range. She was also using very sharp 12" knives from an early age. There can be a deep pleasure in "be here now", paying attention to your tools, using them competently and safely.

I have always believed in the adage that 'a dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp one.' Good for you for making sure your kid learns to use a proper tool correctly and thus safely.

I don't mind cooking on induction but I like to manage the heat by moving the actual pan i.e. if I am cooking bacon I will hold the pan edge up to catch the oil and concentrate the heat up

There exists modular cooktops where you can mix and match and thus get both gas and induction.

I hate induction stoves (cooktops) because they seem to hit intermediate temperatures by cycling the power on and off rather than having a continuous intermediate setting.

(It's possible I've only ever encountered crappy induction cooktops...)

I have no idea if this poses some safety risks, but it worked when I was a student with a cheap induction stove. You can simply put a pair of kitchen clots under your pan to "dampen" the induction and use higher levels that do not cycle between on and off.

Again, I don't know the safety characteristics of induction so maybe I did something really stupid...

Mine pulses for the lower settings but has continuous control for the higher settings.

I believe higher-end stoves will either not pulse or pulse fast enough to effectively be continuous when you factor in the thermal inertia of the pot.

This is sadly a problem with cheap and/or crappy induction cook tops. And it is quite annoying.

One of those little traps that it's often hard to know about in advance.

I kinda like step-based control of my stove. It makes things predictable. Although I'd probably prefer knob with numeric indicator to exactly what value it is set.

I kinda like step-based control of my stove

I hate it on my oven. It defaults to 200 degrees, and to change it to 450 takes almost a full minute as it plods along in five-degree increments.

That's a different problem from the typical rotary encoder used on most modern knobs that can respond instantly but still has discrete steps.

Did you RTFM?

Every oven for the last 65 years has been easy to figure out by reading the labels on the controls. It wasn't until the javascript generation started designing them that you needed to read a manual to preheat it to a temperature and set a timer.

What does it have to do with Javascript?

One of my favourite features (if you could call it a feature) of gas stoves is that you can immediately tell if it's on or not.

It's a lot easier to accidentally melt a plastic chopping board onto an electric stove than a gas one, and much harder to clean off when you do.

> much harder to clean off when you do

That's only true for the type of electric stove that is still (bizarrely) popular in the US, with exposed spiral heaters. At least in the EU electric stoves are all glass. And many of them are induction heaters, which means your plastic chopping board wouldn't even notice being on the heater.

I'm not sure where you got that idea? Radiant and induction cooktops are by far the most common here in my experience.

Cleaning melted plastic off of the vast majority of surfaces, including glass, is hardly easy.

Induction hobs tend use 3 phase lanes 230v/400v, around 7kW. The US suffers from low voltage mains. It'd take around 60A to get 7kV.

OTOH, leaving a plastic (PP or some other thermoplastic) board on non-induction glass heater top would smear in a horrific way, close to impossible to clear it. The heaters do have LED illumination, though.

Residential power in the US is universally (to the best of my knowledge) three pole single phase 60 Hz 240V. The (common) wall outlets are certainly 120V, but large appliances are 240V. (A typical electric dryer is ~5kW at just over 20A.)

As long as I'm ackchyuallying, I'll also point out that radiant cooktops don't have LEDs in them (at least I've never come across one like that). The red light (which I assume you're referring to) is just what happens when the element in an infrared heater (space heater, toaster, etc) gets hot.

Parent is writing about induction, not radiant. In either case, they usually have additional indicator of residual heat after the heater is turned off. But yes, that's likely not a LED either.

A residential cooktop in the US would be using 240V single-phase power. 7,000W / 240V = 29.167A.

Three legs come into the house, two hots and center tap neutral. Either hot to the neutral = 120V. Either hot to the other hot = 240V.

I don’t get why stoves don’t have some more obvious visual indicator for this. Could imagine a circle of red LEDs around each stove.

Touch screens in cars are really a bad move. Having to navigate it while driving down the freeway, or even your suburban streets is unbelievable risky. Knobs and push buttons with tactile feedback are still the best options.

I've been surprised for years that the NTSB hasn't forced a recall on those.

I was careful to buy a benchtop oven and microwave with mechanical knobs. They just work instantly and intuitively as well as being cheaper than all the stupid electronic button and display nonsense. I can even use the oven's timer to time other cooking things because it's clockwork and works without the oven being turned on.

I used to be able to control every element of the audio and HVAC in my old pickup truck by feel without ever taking my eyes off the road. Now, half the vehicles I sit in require taking eyes off the road to even find the control let alone locate the visual-only position of that control's feedback.

This is something I'll rant about whenever given the opportunity. Car UI is completely awful.

This. I recently had to buy a small 15€ USB sound card because, as it turns out, my new Dell laptop's built-in audio card doesn't work properly on Linux(×). Not only is the sound orders of magnitude better, it also comes with a handy volume knob! It's so much fun to use!

(×) I can't believe it's 2020 and I'm writing this. I haven't had any significant hardware issues on Linux in almost a decade. What's even worse is that Dell specifically claims that the laptop is fully compatible with Ubuntu.

I have a big round audio knob that is insanely handy. I can move it around wherever I'm at. A mouse and audio knob makes watching or listening to something very nice.

Products are unfortunately designed to sell, not to be used.

For hobs/stove tops, touch controls are way easier to clean. I spend more time cleaning than adjusting the controls so to me it’s a better trade off

For most analog knobs you can pull the knobs off and throw them in the dishwasher.

digital is not all bad... if I could type 3 numbers to get a temperature on my stove, I would be happy... but they went a different route where you need to push a button 20 times to get the temperature that you want or you need to hold it for x seconds...

To add insult to injury, my oven has membrane buttons, and of course the temperature/time up button has gotten the most wear, so it doesn't work quite right.

If I want to set a timer for an hour, theoretically I hold it and it repeats and jumps in increments of 5, but it's too flaky sometimes. So I alternate between trying to get that to work and just pressing the button a zillion times.

Talking about knobs on stoves and UX - I never understood why American stoves have the knobs on a panel at the back of the stove instead of at the front. Isn't it inconvenient having to reach over hot, frying, steaming pots and pans?

Most likely for safety reasons. They are less likely for children to play with them or people to bump into them.

But ovens with controls in the front are definitely available in the US. So you can have whatever style you want.

That's a very broad generalization, I have used dozens of stoves in my American life and the knobs are often at the front.

I agree, though, it is stupid when they are in the back. Presumedly this is just to save money by putting all the controls and displays in one place.

Yes. It is stupid but cheap, IMHO.

Still, those are better than buttons.

The one thing I like about the Touch Bar is sliding rather than step based controls for volume and brightness. Still woefully inferior to tactile knobs / wheels though.

Same goes for car audio and climate control

Maybe a fader.

I don’t trust anyone except Apple to do touch screen experiences well.

Go buy a fancy Apple Watch and jump in a pool. You won't be able to start or stop the timer with wet fingers.

A limitation of capacitive touchscreens in general. A resistive display would be worse in just about every other application though.

Incidentally, you can press both the crown and the side button at the same time to pause and resume a workout even when the display is water-locked.

Now imagine that another company designs that experience.

Ny Pebble is fully operational when wet, or even underwater. Oh wait, that's because it has physical buttons.

(Never got the point of a touchscreen on a smartwatch. The surface is too small to be useful.)

I've been thinking the same about power switches lately. If I turn a flashlight, or an old radio on or off, I flip a switch and get the result I want. With my 65 EUR gamepad, or 300 EUR headphones, I hold a button and wait several seconds for the result.

Why has UX regressed so much in these areas?

My rented apartment has switches that presumably use radio to turn on and off the lights.

There is no further integration, or smart app etc.

I can't see which light switch is on or off, so even after years living here I mix up some of the switches.

Sometimes the radio pulse doesn't register, so I have to go back to the switch and press it again.

After pressing the switch, there's a perceivable, variable delay for the light to come on.

Guests are confused.

There are only downsides with such a system.

At work we have a few rooms that have 4 buttons organized in what normally is one light switch. Each button controls different parts of the rooms. I call them Heisenbuttons, you never know what they'll do until you've pressed them.

Tried operating them with your eyes closed? Real Heisenbuttons change their behaviour depending on whether or not they're being observed.

The upside to wireless switches are how cheap they to install and remove.

I'm in a 40 year old apartment with a lot of switches that now affect nothing, because they broke and no one fixed the wires ('cause landlords are cheap). I wouldn't want to change this for a bunch of wireless switches but it's easy to imagine landlords of the future wanting nothing but glue on fixtures - routing wires costs significant money.

Are you saying the switch is broken? Those can be replaced in about 15 mins and cost very little. The wires in wall rarely break and if do that could be a very dangerous situation.

There are switches that literally don't go any fixture or outlets at all, there's not even a visible sign of a fixture being removed. I assume the fixture was removed sometime during buildings life.

Waiting for “yeah there is a circuit that trips the breaker even with nothing plugged in”

These kinds of switches are perfectly analogous to technical debt. Doing things the right/straightforward way involves costs that we don’t want to pay (holes in the wall/labour to run a new circuit) so we shoehorn a complex hack using some new tech (RF control). The cost savings are moderate and the price paid is amortized over every further use of the system.

A few years down the road, the radio switch transmitter breaks down and is no longer manufactured. The receivers, wires and the mechanical switches blocked in the ON position are hidden somewhere under multiple layers of drywall.

But the functionality of the switch can be emulated with with a software defined radio attached to a 1GHz Raspberry Pi running Linux. It works great, but an out of date kernel enables a virus that spreads from light-switch to light switch and performs a light show on the evening of 4th of July in any calendar year.

Wouldn’t the switches just be placed in the boxes for the old switches? Burying a switch as you describe is against code in the US and I assume other countries.

He's taking the ball and running with it

also he seems to think that people put up multiple layers of drywall like it's wallpaper?

That sounds very frustrating, but I'd like to put my two cents in.

All our lights in our rented apartment are ikea TRÅDFRI smart lights, we have the ikea 5 button remote in a lot of the rooms and google home's spread around.

The whole system works with zigbee -> mqtt and home assistant and it took me a year to iron the bugs out. But generally it seldomly takes over half a second for the lights to respond to a command. If something breaks down it's almost always because I changed a config, not by itself. And it's really fun and nice to be able to make any button do any action by just editing an UI :) Or automate something we feel should happen by itself.

I like to think of it as it being a system that we can fit around our own lives and how we like things, instead of having to accept the situation as is (button is here and controls this light at this brightness). And it's not overly expensive either!

In terms of fixing the immediate problem you have, I wonder if maybe the frequency being used by the switch would be in the 2.4Ghz range and your WiFi using the same channel.

I don't know if that's possible with remote switches, but with zigbee there's overlap possible. (https://www.metageek.com/training/resources/zigbee-wifi-coex...)

Or maybe the batteries in the remote are running low?

And if you would like to also control that light using an app on your phone or voice commands if you use "Ok google": the Broadlink RM Pro could maybe allow you to control the light using an app.

I installed a wireless (RF) switch and I like it. It lights a tiny LED when it's on, and it is as reliable as a hardwired switch.

The big advantage is that it provides separate fan and light controls without needing to run new electrical wires through the wall and ceiling.

You are living in the little hell we created. Sorry.

And even if there is a physical switch, it is not clear what that switch is doing. My bluetooth headset has a hardware on/off switch. However, when the switch is turned off, it plays a sound to say the words "power off". If it were a physical switch across the battery, then I would expect the power to be immediately cut, and it shouldn't have the power to say that the power has been cut.

But then how would you know it's really off!

I sense sarcasm, but I'll answer anyway.

A power indicator light would do the trick...

But in all seriousness, your bluetooth headphones should have a sim card built in and be an IoT slave to the cloud. So that when you turn them off, they send a message to Alexa, Google, and Siri, so that all of your devices can tell you "YOUR HEADPHONES ARE NOW OFF" at the same time. Like a tiny choir of angels informing you of the new state of your device.

But of course, there will be one slow/older device that lags 0.3 seconds behind and says "HEADPHONES...OFF", completely out of sync with the rest, like a rebel.

Damnit, toilet! Get with the times...


This reminds me of that one dystopian text adventure game the verge put out a while ago.

The version on the original site now links to here:


for those who haven't played it yet.

The way I've been able to learn that devices are off since the early 2000s is that the blindingly bright blue LED light is replaced by a blindingly bright red LED light.

I really hate those. When your house is dark and it's calm and all you see are little eyes of Sauron floating in the darkness. I've gone around my house with masking tape and covered every unnecessary visible light.

Google Wifi is one of the worst offenders. They might as well market it as a wifi-repeating lamp.

You can adjust the brightness of the light ring from the Google Wifi app (all the way down to "off"!).

Thank you. This helps a lot. I didn't think to look for it.

I have always wanted a flashlight with a brightness knob, that clicks to off.

It is incredibly hard to find this. I have one somewhere, but the knob was a little silly:


I think a better design would be a ring around the circumference that you twist.

But I agree - when it came to putting a good stereo in my car (when you used to be able to do such a thing) I always kept looking until I found one with an actual volume knob. In a moving car - grabbing a knob and finding the right volume level is immediate and doable.

By the way, schiit hel: https://www.schiit.com/products/hel

> I have always wanted a flashlight with a brightness knob, that clicks to off... a ring around the circumference

There is one: the Jetbeam RRT-01, at least certain iterations of it. Most designs use a separate power switch.

This isn't more common because there's a patent covering using a Hall effect sensor in a ring around a flashlight body for this purpose, and the patent holder, Surefire has sued several manufacturers and vendors over it. A well-funded challenge would probably succeed on obviousness grounds, but patent challenges are expensive and I don't think the flashlight industry is profitable enough to justify it. The patent expires in three years, so this will probably become more common then.

maybe when the patent expires in a few years this will become common then.

Funny that I didn't see one from surefire. They should be cleaning up.

They've made a couple using mode selector rings, but not infinite dimming. The UDR Dominator does have an off position on its dial, but that's not intended to be the main switch. You don't see those often, as the market for $1200 flashlights, especially relatively outdated ones is small.

Schiit audio is quite good, I have had the Magni 2 and Modi 2 for about 4 years now and they work really well. And they're small enough that I can throw in my backpack when I go somewhere for longer (>2 months) period of time.

I have one of those flashlights (Sunwayman V25C), I love the UI. It's quite old, not sure if they're sold anymore.

You can try searching for "infinitely variable" flashlights. Jetbeam RRT01 is one such example.

For a little extra "oomph", there's also https://skylumen.com/collections/v54-lights?sort_by=created-...

Maglite flashlights behave as you describe - you turn the head to turn on/off and change intensity or pattern


Unless something's changed since I bought my big maglite, the outer ring only controls the beam pattern, and the button just gives you on and off. Things might have got fancier in the meanwhile, but mine still does what it needs to.

Modern ones work as you describe, but you can also press the button multiple times quickly when first turning it on to control the brightness. One press for bright, "double-click" for average, "triple-click" for dim.

Probably because you actually don't want your gamepad to turn off as you fumble a combo or your headphones to turn off as you operate buttons you can't see.

In other cases its usually to double dip on input components.

I don't want a button, I want a physical switch with two positions in a place where I am not likely to switch it accidentally.

And when I switch it, it should turn on or off fast enough close to instantly: this should not be a high-cost operation which requires a UX mitigation.

If I toggle a light switch accidentally, I'm not concerned about it, because it's so easy and fast to correct my mistake.

That's one of the reasons why I love my good old Bose QC 15 headphones: they have a physical switch that turns off the noise cancelling and also acts as a reliable no-delay audio kill switch. Some people would complain that you can't turn off the NC and keep listening to music, but I think the switch is actually more useful this way...

>> "mute buttons on keyboards shouldn’t need to go to software, they should immediately send a signal to the motherboard’s DAC"

I don't have a lot of knowledge about this, but audio is often streamed via USB or HDMI or Bluetooth or WLAN to another device, like headphones, an AV receiver, or wireless speakers and then uses the DAC in that device.

So the blog posts wish would result in the mute button not doing anything for many users, because it controls only a very specific hardware, but the users expect the function to work against all sound emitted by the operating system on any connected hardware, right? This guy actually wants a switch on his headphones. Or am i wrong and all sound goes through the motherboards sound card at least once, even if it is sent somewhere else?

I was working as a video/audio engineer for a bit and for Bluetooth especially the latency is insane. For some devices it was around half a second. I don't think I have seen two seconds though. The main thing was that we would need to stream the audio first, wait for the latency duration, then start showing video frames. If you press pause, the audio would stop after that much time. I haven't checked if some devices allowed sending of start/stop commands through less latency methods though. My job was mainly concerned with playback.

> I don't think I have seen two seconds though.

The obscenely priced Bose SoundSport (GBP 180) in-ear headphones have around 2 seconds of lag. That is when I press stop and when the music stops, it's around 2 seconds. Same for start and skip.

Even worse, by default, video and audio do not sync up. If you try to watch a youtube video with these headphones connected, your sound will lag by about 1 second. Nothing can be done about it. "The fix" is to use special apps that apply a delay to the video, to obtain a semblance of audio-video sync (no solution for PCs).

Again, you have to pay GBP 180 for this experience.

I received these headphones as a gift, so at least I didn't spend money directly. I still feel bad for the person who gifted me these, complete waste of money.

That could even be an incompatibility between the Bluetooth & codec implementations in your player device and headphones. APT-X-LL was meant to be a "low latency" codec but I think there's some obscene per-device fee to implement it.

If you can be bothered, it's possible to enable a Bluetooth debugging mode on Android and see which codecs are being selected by dumping a file into Wireshark (!)

The lowest common denominator codec will be SBC, and I don't think there's any latency guarantees there.

Yeah, Bluetooth, totally simple.

I have stopped using Bluetooth audio altogether. I feel like it’s a major step back in audio quality, but maybe you may be the best person to ask: for someone who appreciates high quality music codecs on eg spotify, what can I do to make this work over Bluetooth? I have some Bose QC2 headphones and as far as I can tell it’s pretty much impossible to get anything over 128kbits.

Is there something I’m overlooking here?

Quality wise, you could not buy Bose. I can tell the difference on my BT Sennheiser headphones depending on the bitrate. However the latency is real.

> This guy actually wants a switch on his headphones

He specifically addresses that, and then compares it to unplugging a keyboard that gives electric shocks, which is a completely different thing. He kind of lost me at that point, i just immediately get my headphones off my ears when something like this happens. It’s a simple and powerful solution and doesn’t require the complexity for the reasons you just mentioned.

I don't know either but I think you're right anyway - the device closest to production of sound should probably have these physical controls. I agree with the article and hate having to find or fumble with a software based mute/unmute or volume controls. Like many people I have to work from home and I love my Sennheiser headphones because they have a physical microphone mute as well as a physical volume control that gives me immediate fine-grained control over my volume (no mute though, in extreme cases I physically remove them as someone else said).

Since the user is complaining about the way Mac OS handles the audio buttons, I'm surprised that he doesn't mention the problems with HDMI.

I don't understand why the OS disables the audio controls of HDMI outputs. If I press the volume down button, I want the volume to go down. Instead, I get a "I can't let you do that" warning!

This is particularly bad if I have my headphones connected to the display (I have both my desktop and laptop connected to the same display, keyboard and mouse, being able to share the same headphones would be pretty convenient).

macOS disables the audio control of HDMI outputs because that is what the HDMI specification expects/defines.

If you think of all the devices that output via HDMI, Windows PCs are the outlier (afaik, not sure how Linux handles it) in allowing separate volume controls beyond those on the output device.

Satellite set top boxes, media streaming devices (e.g. Apple TV - I realise NVidia Shield and some Chromecast apps do have some software volume control), games consoles, and Blu-Ray players will all output a fixed audio signal, expecting the TV/AV amplifier to handle volume.

This is what HDMI CEC[1] is for, right?

The devices are supposed to coordinate on which device will output audio (TV, sound system, etc.), and they are supposed to send control signals (volume up, volume down, and mute button presses) in a channel over the HDMI connection so that whatever device is playing audio can adjust its volume.

Of course this assumes all devices involved implement CEC (which is optional) and that the implementations aren't full of bugs. But the point is HDMI does have a solution for this in theory.

CEC is how I can punch the volume control on my Samsung TV remote and the volume on my Denon AV receiver changes. (And it's not the TV remote transmitting IR to the receiver. Within the first 5-10 seconds of powering on, pushing volume up on the TV remote makes the TV try to adjust its own volume even though it's not playing audio. Then it comes to its senses and realizes it should be forwarding that via CEC.)


[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consumer_Electronics_Control

Whereas if you'd bought an LG TV you'd punch the volume control and nothing would happen on the Denon. Both devices claim to support CEC. With an older Sony TV, only some CEC messages worked (I think enough for a Chromecast to be able to switch the active input).

I think they forgot the "consumer" part of "consumer electronics control".

Yeah, I don't know if it's my AVR or TV's fault, but every now and then the TV spontaneously becomes unable to control the AVR. I've never been able to pin down the exact steps required, but through some combination of power cycling things, unplugging HDMI cables, and redoing setup menu stuff, it starts working again.

It really takes away from the appeal of a convenience feature if it requires periodic battles to beat the equipment into submission.

I have a Denon AVR and an LG TV and the TV controls the volume on my AVR.

I have experienced the pain of broken CEC with my previous Hisense TV though.

Linux can control volume on HDMI just fine. I guess it’s my expectation that on a desktop, I can control volume that the desktop emits, whereas with some appliance like an Apple TV or game consoles are solely built for streaming to a TV, and don’t have keyboard input etc, and for which it makes much more sense to just disable that control.

And so does Windows 10, BTW. (let you adjust HDMI vol)

It's still a really poor decision, because it doesn't extend well to having multiple sources. For example, my tv is connected both to my media computer, and to a Nintendo Switch. If the computer is active, then the volume should be around 50 on a 0-100 scale. If the Switch is active, then the volume should be around 10 to get the same level of output. I would love to have a way to tell the Switch that it should adjust the volume being sent, such that both it and the computer default to about the same volume.

The average TV owner doesn’t know the phrase “gain structure” - they are going to set the cable box at 5 and the TV at 100, and then call customer service for the TV because it sounds terrible and won’t get loud enough.

For those interested, these days in the Audio world we refer to it as “Gain Staging”

But you’re spot on. Even my techie friends struggle getting it right with audio over Discord

Then those devices are to blame. Disabling the volume control is common for all digital outputs, not just HDMI. There's an absolute scale for volume in the digital domain, so there should be no vast disparity from different devices unless they're doing something dumb.

Analog sources could vary in volume because they provided voltage across an analog input. When CD players came out, they had notoriously "hot" outputs, meaning physically higher voltage. Not so with digital connections.

Ok? The Windows way is better. It just is.

> Satellite set top boxes, media streaming devices (e.g. Apple TV - I realise NVidia Shield and some Chromecast apps do have some software volume control), games consoles, and Blu-Ray players will all output a fixed audio signal,

I genuinely think that statement might be false in more cases than it's true. Certainly in devices I've used personally, the majority have allowed you to control the output volume directly.

The nvidia shield it depends on the app. Kodi you can adjust volume in app and on the sound receiver, while Netflix just shows a message every time you hit the shield volume control. I hate the Netflix option, is my bloody hardware it should be my choice how to use it

Since you mention macOS and HDMI volume control, try Lunar[0], it has a setting to enable that.

[0]: https://lunar.fyi

>Set top boxes

Maybe that's a regional thing, but I think that all set top boxes (and DTV decoders) that I used had it's own remote with adjustable volume.

My Fire TV and my old cable box remotes both had volume controls on them, but they were programmed to emit IR signals directly to the TV.

Yeah that is really annoying.

You can install https://github.com/MonitorControl/MonitorControl with uses Display Data Channel (DDC) to let you adjust volume and brightness on external monitors. It works for my monitor at least.

I let my spouse, who likes the novelty of a touchscreen, talk me into a Whirlpool oven a couple years ago that is controlled by touchscreen. I had no idea it was possible to hate an oven so much. The only saving grace is that the stovetop elements are still controlled by knobs.

Ah yes, the touch screen ovens. I have one. Every time I open it, the steam rushes out and registers the touch screen, doing something random each time. You never know what it'll do, it's exciting.

I have an all glass Electrolux induction cooktop with touch buttons. The idea is not necessarily bad because it allows very easy cleaning in an area where gooey spills are frequent, very hard to clean complex features like buttons and knobs.

However, you know what else reacts to gooey spills? Why, touch buttons, of course. You literally cannot boil anything with a lid on the front areas, since the lid will condense vapor that will drip towards the button area and either startup other areas, or turn-off the device. The same if a pot without a lid boils too intensely. Dangerously, it has other resistive areas that heat up when their respective touch buttons are hit with droplets.

It has a lock button, but the lock button itself is placed in exactly the same area and has the same problem.

We have a Samsung oven. Often I'll lean a pot lid against the back and a random button event will be triggered (like setting the over to Bake). The lib doesn't press any buttons, it just triggers something via proximity (and steam, eh?).

Half of those unplanned triggers will cause the system to lock up. Samsung Support's solution: unplug the oven.

Good grief! I chuckled. We are lucky hand have easily maintained appliances from an older era.

So easy.

Not as efficient or cool, but nobody wants the newer stuff.

I don't understand why people find novelty of touchscreens appealing.

We've got to do a better job of educating consumers. The marketing behind touchscreens is so powerful that it is unanimously considered as a feature, something you must have.

I get angry just thinking about the amount of marketing bullshit around touchscreens. Just go to Garmin Aviation website and now a lot of operation in airplane cockpits is offloaded to touchscreens. What happened to the scratch pad and press an index key in FMCs? Age old UI and it is so crisp and clear, there is absolutely zero ambguity. Write something in a scratch pad, click the button where you wanna insert the data.

This is a cost saving measure disguised as a feature. Public is dumb and does'nt understand UI/UX in the slightest bit.

It is just sad. As long as consumers keep buying, nothing will change.

Touch controls are only warranted when you need to support a large number of varied interactions which can't be supported by physical controls, or if you have to support arbitrary gesture-based input (like a drawing tablet for example). If that's not the case, physical controls are always better. If you're operating a vehicle, or can't look at the display for any reason, tactile controls are leagues better.

I don’t think it’s quite so black-and-white although I agree roughly with where you draw the line.

My car has tactile controls but they control a cursor on a non-touch screen. In this case touch screen controls would be superior because it would be faster and there would be less time looking at the display.

An argument could be made for more controls to get away from the need for a cursor/menu at all, and while I largely agree, at some point you’re likely to have so many controls you end up looking at the controls anyway, even with tactile hints.

Even if not, in this case the major controls are basically shortcuts and they’re the most commonly used and important shortcuts. Adding more buttons and knobs for things used less frequently or of lesser importance would muddy the waters and make these controls more difficult to use.

To muddy the waters further, some controls can do double duty with things like cycling through functions, double clicks, contextual presses, etc.

General purpose computing requires generic control systems. If your device knows its purpose, it shouldn't need a touchscreen.

Another benefit, for kitchen appliances: a flat screen is easier to clean than physical knobs.

Agreed and you nailed it - an iPhone with touchscreen makes total sense.

I disagree wholeheartedly that cockpit touchscreens (as a concept) are worse than physical knobs and switches. What are you doing in an FMC that requires you to split focus between operating the plane and operating the FMC? In what scenario are you going to need to create a new flight plan while pulling stunt maneuvers? When are you going to need to do anything involving navigation if you do not first have control (i.e. straight and level) of the airplane?

>This is a cost saving measure disguised as a feature.

Cost saving is not bad. Cost saving allows thousands of new aviators to enter into a field they otherwise would be price locked out of, and enables them to have a safe and enjoyable experience. Consider the AV-20 and AV-30 touch screen instruments:

https://youtu.be/hhRrNQsBl2w https://uavionix.com/product/av-30-exp/

For $1600 they provide in one instrument what you usually would need 10-13 instruments for. These instruments are not cheap; they all cost multi-hundred dollars to buy on top of drilling the holes in the cockpit and the associated maintenance to keep them all airworthy. If one component of your AV-20 fails? Who cares; throw it away and install a new one. It's dead simple.

As for UX, physical interfaces are not immune either. There have even been fatal crashes attributed to putting a lever in a stupid place, labeling a button incorrectly, not flipping a switch on time, etc. Just because you may see some horrible touchscreen interfaces out there does not mean that touchscreens are horrible.

The difference is that the touchscreen can receive software updates. At any point you can completely rearrange menus and control to address shortcomings in the interface. Doing this is practically free; the only downtime is waiting for the firmware update to complete. Addressing shortcomings in physical interfaces? You're looking at dozens to hundreds of man hours on top of buying the new equipment to replace the old.

It costs Tesla $0 per vehicle to add a new button to their cars. It costs millions for everyone else. This is not a useless capability; it makes a difference every single day.

>It costs Tesla $0 per vehicle to add a new button to their cars. It costs millions for everyone else. This is not a useless capability; it makes a difference every single day.

Complaint #1 about Teslas' from owners that I have spoken to is that the UI/UX requires total re-learning as opposed to other cars, and then when the re-learning phase is complete, it's still difficult to operate without full attention.

Sure, the argument 'Oh, they shouldn't be dividing their attention from driving.' is all well and good; but try convincing normal commuters that they should pull over to adjust the volume on their stereo. I don't think you'll win that one.

Tactile/physical components are just easier to operate without know-how, and without focus being pulled to them in its' entirety. The linear movement of a volume jogging dial is intuitive; there are two diretions on both the knob and the mechanism which is being affected -- it's direct, and obvious.

Touchscreens, usually, are none of these. Using a touch screen telephone is not an eyes off exercises, but dialing and talking to someone on any of my old flip phones or Nokias was. There was a fundamental shift from worrying about being able to do one thing very well to doing all things OK in the cell phone world, and I think that it's a shame that companies like Tesla think that this is a philosophy that should be pursued among auto-makers.

Thankfully, many automakers that were dead set on touch interfaces have begun to realize that they're not good everywhere.

Mercedes/BMW/Audi went away from buttons just to find themselves crawling back... and i'm okay with that. It makes the cars easier to operate, and less focus dividing on the road.

> but try convincing normal commuters that they should pull over to adjust the volume on their stereo.

But they don't have to. On a Tesla you can adjust the volume using the physical knob on the steering wheel; similarly you can activate or deactivate turn signals using the stalks. This is an example of touchscreens and physical controls working together, just like it would be outlandish to expect pilots to touch-and-drag on a screen rather than using a joystick.

> Using a touch screen telephone is not an eyes off exercises, but dialing and talking to someone on any of my old flip phones or Nokias was

Is it not? Can't you use Siri or Google Assistant to call a contact, or in the case of Tesla the on board voice control? Of course the voice control may suck; but that again can be fixed with software updates just as we've seen in the mobile phone space.

> Mercedes/BMW/Audi went away from buttons just to find themselves crawling back...

Because their implementations sucked. Try using an iPad vs whatever you found in their cars; why is the iPad so much better? It doesn't have to be. You could very well have had an iPad-like experience with your car's touchscreen if the manufacturer actually put in the effort to refine it. Instead we got menus in menus in menus: a horrible experience.

In the aviation world, one of the most popular apps is ForeFlight, which enables you to navigate and perform common tasks on an iPad:


It is popular precisely because you can interact with information on the iPad, rather than having to deal with the shitty UX on your on board GPS or weather instrument. ForeFlight is an example of touch done right, as opposed to doing touch for the sake of touch.

Touchscreen (lack of physical response, unable to locate position without seeing) is really bad for while driving cars. I won't saying for other use cases like airplanes, tables. IANAP but I suspect that pilot needs less continuous attention for the air during fly compared to driving a car.

> I don't understand why people find novelty of touchscreens appealing. We've got to do a better job of educating consumers.

You’ve answered your own question: it’s the novelty. Plus people have been educated — by their phones.

Of course HN readers know that other than a few special cases (of which the phone is one) the touchscreen interface is worse. The problem is that white goods (washers, stoves) are cap ex and have a lifetime measured in decades. So there are plenty of people who have learned the hard way, but many more who have not yet learned the lesson.

As gratuitous touch screen is currently a fashion item attempting to differentiate between largely similar items. In another decade or so it will be considered an artifact of the 2020s, much like avocado-colored appliances and fold out stoves (we had one in the 70s) scream “1960s”.

But notice I said “2020s” (though touch screens have been around for a while), and that we had an item that screamed “60s” in a later decade. The latency in this sector is enormous.

Very high-end or professional ovens will not have this. These are gimmicks for people with too much money, and too little sense.

I don't want my toaster posting on Facebook. I don't want to link my refrigerator with my Google account. And no, I do not expect my microwave to post pics of my food to Instagram. I want a toaster that toasts properly and can be cleaned. I want a refrigerator that runs forever, doesn't leak, and doesn't build up frost in the freezer. I want a microwave that won't burn out after a year and will heat evenly.

I've managed to find all of these things, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to find appliances that aren't disposable, favoring internet-enablement to high-quality construction. I'll pay for the stainless steel... leave the wi-fi hardware out, please.

Looks like some connectivity is creeping into the high-end stuff like Gaggenau as well, but at least they still stick to TFT screens and not huge LCD touch displays, and it looks like the connectivity stuff is actually useful for stuff like remote diagnostics.

My Samsung fridge can connect to wifi, but lord knows why. I can adjust the temperature, but why I would want to do that on my phone and not on the appliance itself I do not know.

My recent Samsung washer and dryer units have wifi options because I couldn't find any local available models without, but I'm also confused what the real use case is for it.

If I'm home to deal with them, I can hear them sing. Yes, they play cute little songs when they complete their loads. If I'm not home, it makes no difference to me whatsoever if my dryer can send me artisanally curated messages about the glorious dryness of my garments.

I could see a use case if you had some sort of home SCADA controller that was locally networked and could operate a vent fan based on appliances being in operation or tell your fridge and HVAC to switch to power-saving modes based on the local energy market's posted power prices. But that's invariably not what corporate interests are offering because their incentives are so totally divorced from that of the end users.

We have the ability to design things better. SV folks should get toghether and start a startup in this space - it is ripe with many opportunities. One company comes in uses the truthful marketing to change the tune of GE/Haier/Samsung and others.

Unfortunately, we're battling vicious hardware market forces and whatever you do - it won't beat the cost of existing players who cheapout in parts and UI, especially when mass produced in China. Hardware requires serious funding to get started and ME/EE skills are disappearing from the west.

Physical controls are getting more and more expensive due to dwindling demand. Many encoders from ALPS have been EOL'ed.

I don't think we're gonna get out of this horrible UX/UI rut.

> What happened to the scratch pad and press an index key in FMCs? Age old UI and it is so crisp and clear, there is absolutely zero ambguity. Write something in a scratch pad, click the button where you wanna insert the data.

I am not a pilot but am always interested in seeing examples of great user interfaces. Can you post a link or more information about what this device is? (Bonus: the version you love and the version you now hate)

They look like this: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/RZawxJ6TLuY/maxresdefault.jpg

The amber boxes are required fields and ---- are optional. The bottom line is a scratch pad. You first punch in the data there and push one of the index switches on the side to insert it in place.

Yea its not beautiful to most people (I disagree) but it is very clear in the way it works.

Here is the new one: https://www.aviationpros.com/tools-equipment/maintenance-it/...

Got it. Thanks!

> its not beautiful to most people

I think the same could be said about audio mixing boards, for example. I've found that interfaces for professionals often look ugly to the uninitiated.

I've said many times that you should give an interface two weeks, not two seconds. Interfaces that you love after two seconds, you may come to hate after using it every day. Interfaces that are intimidating on the first day, you may come to love after a few weeks, and even more and more through the years. For me, a great example is vi.

> Interfaces that you love after two seconds, you may come to hate after using it every day

I wish more people knew this tradeoff.

I think people assume it's a step forward without thinking it through. It's a classic example of 'just because you can, doesn't mean you should'.

My work coffee maker has a touch screen and the interface is so laggy it's insane. The manufacturer controls every aspect of the hardware and software so it makes no sense -- either make the hardware more powerful or make the software simpler!

Oh hell on earth, my work coffee machine takes no less than 6 consecutive choices including a scroll through options and questions, with lag at each step of the process to select what you want. To make black coffee. What drink do you want? What roast? What size? How much sugar? How much milk? Confirm your selection. All that for the option than more than 1/2 users are selecting.

I can reproducibly deadlock my workplace coffee machine.

You press the coffee type and immediately hit the "clean" button. Then the machine is dead with no recourse other than unplug. Try that trick on a Makineta.

>The manufacturer controls every aspect of the hardware and software so it makes no sense

Makes perfect sense, the only way you'll get a responsive touchscreen is if one of the engineers behind it actually cares about it being responsive.

Otherwise the job goes down to the designer to try and pressure the engineers into making it responsive which there is a chance they might not even be skilled enough to understand how to make that happen. If they don't want to make it happen there is a hundred excuses as to why its not actually their fault.

To make an actual good, responsive product you need people at every level of the implementation who care deeply about their work.

Most importantly, you need product manager that cares about the UI being responsive. As an engineer it's not produce a responsive UI if you have time only for a barely working product.

This is where NLP would excel or even some nice regex. It doesn’t have to be this hard.

That’d require typing something in though? I’d like a dial for strength and a button per coffee option

Or just a simple “repeat last choice”.

"Computer, Coffee. Black."

Few years ago we were in the market for a new oven. The main criteria was the absence of any "smarts". Ended up getting Smeg gas oven (SF6341GVX if anyone's interested). So simple, so intuitive, and most importantly, so dumb that there's very few thing that could go wrong with it.

My office (well, former office) used to have a touchscreen coffee maker.

Why does a coffee maker even need a touchscreen? There are literally three options!

> Why does a coffee maker even need a touchscreen?

To differentiate it from the previous model so as to sell new product when the previous model that has already been purchased is continuing to perform its designated task. I.e., to convince some segment of their customer base to throw out the working model from last year in exchange for the "new fancy" model of this year.

Humans are often fooled way too many times by "oohhh... shiny and new and different... gotta have that...".

Our old office had a $5k fancy coffee maker with touch screen.

Nobody knew what the hell all the icons meant, and nobody cleaned the milk siphon so it went moldy and was thrown out after two weeks.

I insisted that we keep the old Bunn that had an advanced UI with a red illuminated On-Off switch. Six months later, it was the only one coffee maker still in use.

> Nobody knew what the hell all the icons meant

Still can't figure out how to turn on the defroster in a new car. My old truck was simple - turn the knob to "DEFROST". My cat feeder invented all its own icons, trying to get it set up is a nightmare. I keep the instruction manual next to it.

I hate Steve Jobs for convincing the world that written words are bad and random cute pictures are cool. Please, bring back "DELETE".

Did Steve Jobs really do that? Unless you mean going from a text based CLI to a graphic UI but even those had plenty of words, especially those well thought out.

When Jobs had to choose a washing machine for his family, he chose a Miele with plenty of words on it:


It absolutely was Steve Jobs's fault, although we're talking about the pre-NeXT Steve Jobs the Grey rather than the revenant Steve Jobs the White.

Around the time Walter was working on Datalight C, I was working at a computer game company in Austin that most geeks over the age of about 35 have heard of. All decisions of note at this well-regarded company were made by a figure of equal repute, someone with the tech chops of one Steve and the charisma of the other. This guy wasn't a Mac user himself, but there were a few Macs in use around the office, and he fell for the WIMP paradigm hard.

The games in the series he was known for were historically keyboard-driven, but the one we were working on at the time, the sixth, was the first to be developed on the PC rather than the Apple II and also the first to feature a GUI. So everything was icon-based whether it needed to be or not, because "that's how the Mac does it." Hieroglyphics were hot again, who could've seen it coming? Don't complain, just work like an Egyptian.

At the time this flavor of Kool-Aid was being consumed all over the place, from game companies to office/productivity software companies, and it unquestionably all went back to Jobs, or more accurately the cues Jobs took from PARC. We weren't alone in being ordered by management to Think Different(tm) by ripping off some guys in Cupertino.

> Did Steve Jobs really do that?

Famously, using a trash can instead of "DELETE".

A Mac evangelist came to my workplace shortly after the Mac was released. His entire presentation was about how icons were far better than words. He asserted the function of the icons was obvious, and so needed no explanation. He passed around a sheet of paper with a bunch of icons on it, and said isn't that right?

This all fell apart when nobody could figure out what the box of Kleenex icon was. He was visibly flustered by this, eventually exclaiming that it meant "PRINT".

This was all made worse by the practice of copyrighting icons so every company invented their same-only-different icons.

But, the Mac won anyway and PRINT and DEFROST became hopelessly uncool, unhip and old-fashioned.

I predict that, like all hieroglyphic writing systems, icons will eventually evolve to have associated sounds with them, then they'll morph into simple pen strokes, then we'll be back to a new phonetic alphabet.

Words are better than icons - as long as you speak the language.

You don't need to speak the language. Learning O-I-L is not any harder than learning that squiggle is an ancient biblical oil lamp. It's easier, in fact, because everyone has an English=>YourLanguage translator in their pocket, and who has an icon decoder?

Is it really that hard to figure out what STOP on the international stop sign means?

I know from experience traveling in foreign countries. Even in Japan.

For another example, how long did it take you to figure out that that "hamburger" icon was really MENU?

I'm using Chrome Browser. To the right of the address bar there's a star icon. Sorry, I have no idea what that means and have to hover over it - "Bookmark this tab". I have no idea why anyone would associate a star with bookmark. I have no idea how anyone would look up a star icon on google. But I know how to look up "bookmark".

When I open up my Twitter page, there are 5 icons under my picture:

1. two triangles and a dot

2. GIF

3. three cantilevered beams

4. a happy face

5. a car battery with a clock attached

Sorry, I don't know what any of these do. Hovering over them provides no information. (Maybe GIF means add picture, but my pictures are JPGs, not GIFs. What does a happy face do? Inject me with heroin?) I can click on them and find out - but really, what kind of argument is that for "icons are better!"? It isn't any better than randomly turning controls hoping to turn the damned defroster on so I can see, and hoping I don't hit the ejector seat button.

> Learning O-I-L is not any harder than learning that squiggle is an ancient biblical oil lamp

I fully agree with your points on UI icons and flat hamburgers. It repeatedly violates discoverabilty. But to add to your point, most products will already have some form of regionalization. Software will typically have language specific strings, physical products will have instruction manuals and warranties in the local language. In practice the translation effort already happens anyway for non-anglo markets. So even the reservation you mention of learning a foreign language for non-english users is most of the times a non-issue.

Or if you're a verbal thinker rather than a visual thinker. I can learn enough of $LANGUAGE to operate a control panel in less time than I can puzzle out the average set of Ikea assembly instructions.

> Nobody knew what the hell all the icons meant, and nobody cleaned the milk siphon so it went moldy and was thrown out after two weeks.

What’s the takeaway here?

A group of spoiled adults couldn’t be bothered to read an instruction manual or clean something?

This kind of argument always ticks me off, because it's technically correct, assuming your brain can care and focus on infinitely many things.

But I know that I can't: I can care very effectively about one thing really well (typically oscillating between my job and family). Then there's space left in my brain to be sort-of effective at caring for three or four other things (social life, hobbies, sports, learning, personal growth, etc..). There's a little space in the end for things which are good, but I can't afford to think about more than the minimum amount necessary (voting, taxes, coffee machines, subscription services, recycling, keeping my plants alive, car/motorcycle maintenance, ...).

So the point is, I really really value things which don't require me to care or RTFM, because that frees me up to care and focus more on my job, family and friends. Maybe that's being spoiled, but it feels more to me like a pragmatic approach to mental health and productivity.

I think what’s striking me as being spoiled is using the thing, intentionally not taking care of it, and ruining it.

In a communal environment such as an office, complex equipment that requires maintenance and reading the manual is always going to be problematic without someone who's job it is to explicitly maintain it.

That's why $5000 coffee machines normally come with either a maintenance contract, where someone comes around regularly to restock/clean/maintain it, or you have a designated person or department within your company who's job it is to take care of them.

The takeaway is don't buy something that requires maintenance without a plan for who is going to do the maintenance. Coffee machines that use milk products need to have (at least) daily maintenance; for a commons coffee machine it's better to get the model without automated milk processing, or declare it's not to be hooked up or used.

I guess the takeaway is that everyday utility instruments should not require time invested in studying manuals to operate them. Imagine that every screwdriver you buy requires you to read 20 page document that tells you how to operate it. As a user all I want is "a cup of coffee". Why do I need to read that manual? What if I'm just a visitor, and was told that "the coffee machine is over there". Do I really want to read the manual to get a cup of coffee?

Fortunately, my cheapo coffee machine has only one button - a mechanical rocker on switch. Unfortunately, it uses icons for which side is "ON", so I rock it until it starts getting warmer.

Somebody buys you a $5,000 screwdriver. Do you just use it wrong, not take care of it, and ruin it to make a point about how all you wanted was to turn a screw?

If that screwdriver makes it more difficult to turn a screw than a $50 screwdriver (or a $5 screwdriver) then... maybe?

Another thing being missed here is that the users in the original post didn’t want just a cup of coffee. If that’s all they wanted, they wouldn’t have used, not cleaned, and ruined the milk steaming wand.

You sell it, buy a regular screw driver, and spend the rest on cookies

> couldn’t be bothered to read an instruction manual

The manual for a new car is an inch thick, and flipping through it while driving trying to figure out how to turn on the defroster is BAD BAD BAD BAD design.

Fancy touch screens could potentially tell users how/when to clean stuff?

That the UI was shit and you’re the kind of person who endorses it.

Personal attacks will get you banned on HN, so please don't do that here. Also can you please stop posting in the flamewar style? You've done it repeatedly lately, and it's against the site rules because we're trying for something a bit different on this site. If you wouldn't mind reviewing https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and posting in the intended spirit, we'd be grateful.

Sorry, I caused offence and will be more careful.


I love my coffee maker so much. It has one chunky physical switch and no other controls or moving parts. No wifi, no smart bs, no pointless brew size settings, its not spying on me, or inflicting me with DRM. I've had it for over 10 years now, and have had to perform no maintenance.

Same. About 10 years ago I bought a Jura-Capresso super automatic coffee machine (S7). Very simple. 4 buttons. Small matrix text display with a good UX. Really nothing fancy. I clean it when it asks me to, and that's all the maintenance it needs.

I recently looked at the latest models, and they've basically have not changed. Maybe a bit more silent. That's it. The rest is all connectivity and LCDs. Solutions looking for a problem.

I got a Saeco full-automatic machine. It has no DRM or spyware to speak of. All the features work through physical buttons.

The smartest thing it does is tell me to replace my water filter or that I need to descale. Which is really just a matter of counting.

You'll love this https://www.flairespresso.com/ Besides doing damn good espresso , it isn't even connected to the grid

>Why does a coffee maker even need a touchscreen?

It's probably cheaper than physical buttons and can be used across multiple SKUs where each one would require it's own set of buttons otherwise.

Oh it can show you adverts too.

Objectively worse in every way to the end user than a nice set of buttons.

I love my cuisinart ddc-1200 coffee maker. Has two knobs and an old fashion toggle switch. I realize it's not a pure mechanical switch but at least they're still using a physical switch.


Didn't you hear? These millenials spend all day on their phones! They must love touchscreens.

Had a similar experience. Also, the guy with the desk closest to the machine quickly got fed up of everyone asking “how do I just get a normal coffee out of this?”

3 options? I think on all the coffee pots I've owned it's just a POWER button. How can a company replace that with a screen to be better?

> Why does a coffee maker even need a touchscreen? There are literally three options!

What’s the option besides on and off, keep warm?

Coffee, Cappuccino, Latte, Frappe

All of the above multiplied by small, medium, large.

All of the above multiplied by weak, normal, strong, and double shot.

All of the above multiplied by zone defense, man to coverage, and missile command.

Is it even a coffee maker if it doesn't run DOOM?

That’s not 3 options. I was replying to a message which spoke of 3 options not 12000

Yes, but you still seemed surprised there are could be more than two options -- not just "what would a 3rd, given 3 options only" would be.

And for 3 options, most classic home espresso machines have 3 buttons: (a) on/off toggle, (b) coffee/hot water toggle, (c) steam toggle.

So, four selector dials?

Or one(1) touchscreen

Depending on the coffee maker there can be a dozen or more options. A home espresso maker might adjust how many "shots" to drip, different temperatures, adding milk or not, etc.

> Depending on the coffee maker there can be a dozen or more options.

Yes but that’s not relevant, I’m asking specifically what the third option would be in a or with 3 options.

Yes, but you still seemed surprised there are could be more than two options. You didn't explicitly ask "what would a 3rd option, given 3 options only, would be".

That said, most classic home espresso machines have 3 buttons: (a) on/off toggle, (b) coffee/hot water toggle, (c) steam toggle.

On, Off, Brew. On without (or after) Brew keeps it warm.

Interesting. All the pots in these styles I’ve seen “on” is “brew”, the pot just automatically switches to warm after brewing.

If you shut down the device it tries to brew again, though I expect that it’ll quickly switch to keep warm when there’s no water to boil (I never actually tried).

My mom’s oven requires regular power cycle because it’s touch UI locks up so often.

I think we can't underestimate that one of the biggest problems with all this is the poor quality of the software.

This is particularly shameful in devices that are so simple. Basically finite-state machines, something that everyone in CS should learn in 101 classes.

Is that easy to do?

My oven is hardwired into the mains supply. To power cycle it, I would need to turn off the circuit at the breaker panel. I don't think this is at all unusual.

We have a Thermomix TM4, two models down from the current TM6. It's very handy for a lot of cooking; makes rice pudding in a flash!

Now, I keep getting invitations to upgrade for the new one. The TM6 is a lot less noisy, and that would be amazing as mine is probably audible across the street - but, and this is a massive BUT: It has a touch screen interface, introduced with the TM5.

NO WAY. The TM4's physical interface is brilliant in its simplicity; every button does one thing, and one thing only; the motor speed knob is big and tactile.

I don't need nor want the complexity and latency of a touchscreen, and dealing with crappy firmware updates. Hopefully I'll be able to keep servicing mine for the longest time.

Reading all of these comments, I'm really glad I have a dumb gas stove with no special electronics, just an actual mechanical gas valve. Turn knob -> more gas -> bigger fire -> more heat into pot, and that's all there is to it.

Dials are so much better. Ovens with those membrane buttons always crack and wear out too soon.

Ah yes, all this engineering for a device that has a single control, heat level, and has to function for possibly decades.

What better use for a fragile and overly complicated touchscreen than in a hot, moist, harsh environment?

Please tell me it has to sync with a cloud server as well, lol!

Ovens are OK until you have to clean them after thanksgiving.

Applications are open for YC Winter 2022

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact