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.
Ganged log-taper pots have something like +-3 or +-6 dB ganging mismatch even for relatively high-end (10-15 € ea) units.
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.
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.
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).
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  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...
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 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.
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 . 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.
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. :)
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.
One tesla website has a thread hundreds of pages/thousands of comments long of complaints.
Depends on how you define lossless, but for a sufficient informal definition, CD audio definitely is lossy.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Sure the situation might exist, but it's exactly the kind of bad engineering I'm calling out.
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.
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).
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
When it comes to cars a touchscreen definitely isn't the best way to control things
I guess you only need to understand ~50% of the course material to get your degree though.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
(It's possible I've only ever encountered crappy induction cooktops...)
Again, I don't know the safety characteristics of induction so maybe I did something really stupid...
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.
One of those little traps that it's often hard to know about in advance.
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.
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.
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.
Cleaning melted plastic off of the vast majority of surfaces, including glass, is hardly easy.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
But ovens with controls in the front are definitely available in the US. So you can have whatever style you want.
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.
Still, those are better than buttons.
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.
(Never got the point of a touchscreen on a smartwatch. The surface is too small to be useful.)
Why has UX regressed so much in these areas?
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
The big advantage is that it provides separate fan and light controls without needing to run new electrical wires through the wall and ceiling.
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...
The version on the original site now links to here:
for those who haven't played it yet.
Google Wifi is one of the worst offenders. They might as well market it as a wifi-repeating lamp.
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
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.
Funny that I didn't see one from surefire. They should be cleaning up.
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-...
In other cases its usually to double dip on input components.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Is there something I’m overlooking here?
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 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).
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.
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.)
I think they forgot the "consumer" part of "consumer electronics control".
It really takes away from the appeal of a convenience feature if it requires periodic battles to beat the equipment into submission.
I have experienced the pain of broken CEC with my previous Hisense TV though.
But you’re spot on. Even my techie friends struggle getting it right with audio over Discord
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Half of those unplanned triggers will cause the system to lock up. Samsung Support's solution: unplug the oven.
Not as efficient or cool, but nobody wants the newer stuff.
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.
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.
>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:
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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/...
> 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.
I wish more people knew this tradeoff.
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.
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.
Why does a coffee maker even need a touchscreen? There are literally three options!
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...".
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.
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".
When Jobs had to choose a washing machine for his family, he chose a Miele with plenty of words on it:
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
What’s the takeaway here?
A group of spoiled adults couldn’t be bothered to read an instruction manual or clean something?
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
What’s the option besides on and off, keep warm?
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.
And for 3 options, most classic home espresso machines have 3 buttons: (a) on/off toggle, (b) coffee/hot water toggle, (c) steam toggle.
Yes but that’s not relevant, I’m asking specifically what the third option would be in a or with 3 options.
That said, most classic home espresso machines have 3 buttons: (a) on/off toggle, (b) coffee/hot water toggle, (c) steam toggle.
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).
This is particularly shameful in devices that are so simple. Basically finite-state machines, something that everyone in CS should learn in 101 classes.
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.
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.
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!