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The worst volume control UI in the world (2017) (uxdesign.cc)
763 points by yankcrime 75 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 477 comments



I think the worst UI is simply the Teams one, because it presents as an app volume control but then simply controls the global device volume. Fuck off, you are not the only app running.

But that comes second to the microphone gain control, which Teams similarly exerts unilateral control over - only this time through an automated algorithm that for some microphone types just ends up muting them entirely. It's wild, you can go into the Windows gain control settings and see the slider wiggle around.


Teams is the reference for bad UI. Paste a code block. Select a word in the code block. Copy and you get the whole block copied not the selected word.

I could write a page of the issues like this. Maybe it would not be so bad if you only used Teams but when you use slack at the same time it is like someone is wacking you in the back of the head every few minutes.


I was grading an online exam yesterday. You're lucky.

This program used an SPA. The core workflow is hidden and split over multiple "tabs". Tabs include: question, given answer, score awarded. That's right, none of those are available simultaneously. Yes, 70% of its window goes unused when full-screen.

Going through all students can be done in (at least) two ways. In the first, you can press a button to proceed to the next student, but you cannot go back a student. In the other, you click "save" after grading each answer. This returns you to the overview of students.

The overview displays 20 students per 'page' (tiny font, tiny rows), irrespective of your window size. There is no "next student" button, you have to click the student you want to grade. If you're grading past the first page (e.g., student #21): surprise! You're back on page 1. Clicking the student's tiny row requires more precision than you'll need the rest of your work week on modern desktops.

I could go on. I will, actually. Apparently, standard workflow is you can never go back to an already graded answer and points awarded become final; I accidentally used a workflow that didn't have this idiocy).

In short, there is no way this product's core functionality was tested. Any tester would have exclaimed "are you kidding me?!", and have walked out. Or inflict physical violence on their computer. Or whoever hired them.

In short: setting this product on fire is the best reason for bringing back floppies in 25 years.


Could this by any chance be Blackboard [1]?

[1] https://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2014/01/christ-i-hate-b...


I don't think Blackboard is an SPA (it's just very slow server rendered), but it's UI really is terrible. I wrote a script to scrape my course materials when I was at uni, it was that bad.


> I wrote a script to scrape my course materials when I was at uni, it was that bad

Pass!


Blackboard has to be the worst software I ever had the misfortune of having to interact with. How come universities spend millions of dollars every year on such a steaming pile of crap?



As a student, I've never had any edtech site or "online textbook" that had good UX. It wouldn't be so offensive if I didn't have to pay $80 per semester per course for the privilege of using something that is never as good as a real textbook.


If it's an SPA, can't it be greasemonkey'd to display things properly?


I had a hiccup pressing a button once. Was kicked back to initial screen and the student was "locked" - which requires an admin to reset.

So: maybe, but the back end is probably too flakey. Official recommendation is to use IE for grading and only one grader may be logged in at any time.

Really, fire is too good for this mess.


Curious, how would you do that? Would it be a long script or is there some sort of mini Library for this?



> Paste a code block. Select a word in the code block. Copy and you get the whole block copied not the selected word.

I feel like this used to work properly until a month or so ago.

The worst bug I've seen, and this is also something that only started happening in the last several months, is select messages simply not appearing! So basically I open my computer in the morning and look at Teams and it'll have messages from overnight. EXCEPT some messages did not make it, like, at all. There was a whole thread that had replies that were simply not visible to me. I even replied to that thread and on my screen the reply appeared right after the last visible message whereas for everyone else it appeared after the 40 or so messages that came in overnight.

I haven't been the only one to run into that issue either. Restarting Teams is the only thing that brought the messages back.

Now that's what I call a critical bug! Who knows how many things I've missed.


Outlook also has had this problem of emails just not showing up. Sometimes it takes a whole day for an email to arrive. Amazingly low quality for such a wide used product.

MS in particular has the habit of actually introducing small bugs like this regularly through their usual updates. It's infuriating. One day something works the next it just doesn't. I know people who never update their machine because of this. Can't blame them. Once it works, why take the chance of breaking it with updates? It it is a certainty that at some point MS will break some functionality of your system with an update. It's just a matter of time. So turning off auto update is the most sane thing to do for most people. I recommend it myself, and if you update your Chrome or Firefox automatically it is safe enough to use an unpatched Windows for most people anyway.

Once MS started introducing new bugs rather than actually fixing old ones I knew the last MS machine I will service is a gaming machine for my family. As long as that needs to run, I will make it run. All my other systems are on linux now. Once the gaming craze is over I will ceremoniously burn the Windows license key that I used, and I will never, ever, run any software from Microsoft ever again.

Except at work of course, but I don't mind getting paid to be frustrated.


> I know people who never update their machine because of this.

HA!

I was just testing a VR app that has a Windows component when things started failing in VR. I took off my headset and noticed my test machine going through power-on self test.

"Oh crap!", I thought, "a bug caused the system to reboot".

Nope. Just Microsoft deciding it's time to apply some updates. Doesn't matter that I scheduled for a time that I wouldn't be testing.

I've NEVER been able to successfully gain control of this, despite reading up on it and doing all the recommended things.


This way has always worked for me

    %windir%\System32\Tasks\Microsoft\Windows\UpdateOrchestrator
rename Reboot files and add them as folders (you'll need to override file permissions).

https://www.joe0.com/2019/10/17/how-to-prevent-windows-10-au...


I'm convinced the "schedule" thing doesn't actually do anything. It worked in Windows 8, and that's the last version of Windows where updating was (almost) tolerable.


I spend too much time sitting waiting for people to join meetings that have been cancelled or moved - and Outlook / Teams don't know yet. I'm connected - I know this because I'm sitting there 'in' the meeting. I'm receiving emails. I'm talking to people on Teams... Argh.


On the same note, it takes practically all day for the iOS outlook app to update my email. My organization doesn't allow for the default mail app to work anymore, so I am stuck with this worthless email app.


I've had that happen on Slack mobile so much I just don't trust it anymore. I always tell people (even if it seems counterintuitive) to email me when things are urgent because very rarely (or not, since I can't tell), it's decided not to show me critical messages.


I get that a lot. A DM arrives, there's a red blob with a number next to the sender's name, but the actual message doesn't appear.


Everyone I've talked with has experienced this, yet it's been a bug for years. I don't understand. Do Slack not use their own product?!


It absolutely did, it's only just started doing it recently. Drives me freaking nuts.


Mine is doing a variation of this now. If I’m on a call, messages stop coming through but I’ll see them on my mobile. When I end the call, they still don’t come in until I restart the app!



> While many users would at first glance conclude that the "arrow" on the topmost button is an indicator that this is the currently selected button, it is used to indicate that this is a "special" (a.k.a. inconsistent and undesirable) type of button. Clicking on the arrow causes the button to "open" (downward) to reveal a variety of folders. Why the designers chose to use an arrow pointing to the right to indicate downward movement is one of the many mysteries of this program.

And now the expand/collapse UI pattern with right/down arrows or triangles is standard (e.g. https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/HTML/Element/de...). Don't get me wrong, the example button is terrible UI, but an interesting example of how norms change.

On more than one occasion I have misinterpreted the upvote icon on HN to be "collapse thread".


An IBMer once explained to me that Lotus Notes was intentionally not improved; it was purposefully bad, a form of coordinated sabatoge. The bugs provided employees with an excuse for why troublesome directives or wasteful meetings were lost.

To this day, I still am unsure if they were joking.


Hah, that’s great. Maybe there’s still saboteurs inside still fighting the (good?) fight:

https://www.theregister.com/2021/06/30/ibm_email_outage/


The "Enter Password" at the bottom of that page is simply great.


So without defending Lotus Notes in any way, there was a meaning to the symbols: they were defined by some oneway function from what you were typing. So you would get used to the little symbol dance, and know if and when you’d mistyped


Wouldn't it also allow any onlookers, if they are able to memorize the symbol dance, to derive your password one character at a time by trial and error?


No because it also depended on your computer . I remember when you switched computers it would change


I seem to recall the password was client-side too. So if you had Lotus Notes in a VM and you restored from a save point you needed to remember what your password was when you did the save.


Currently used at my workplace.

A day never goes by without a delight.

Edit: IBM Notes


What the heck! What were these “designers” having when they made that monstrosity? Hahaha.


The "too many windows, you need to close one before opening another" message is also present in current versions of Adobe Acrobat.


as an ex-IBMer, tragically yes...


We've been using Teams since the pandemic started and we switched to WFH. It started off awful, and in that time, it hasn't got better in any material way.

Interactions still feel like your mouse pointer is moving through molasses. Notifications are misbehaved trash. Video calls make your CPU beg for mercy (useful if you want to fry eggs on your laptop though). Switching between multiple organisations is still miserable (although at least now you get notifications for other orgs instead of them just getting lost in the aether, never to be seen).

The funny thing is, none of these problems exist on the mobile apps, which are actually quite well-behaved. I guess that's because they have to use system APIs.


>It started off awful, and in that time, it hasn't got better in any material way.//

That's not my experience at all. It's not great, but it has improved a lot.

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/office/what-s-new-in-mic...


Perhaps saying it hasn't got any better was uncharitable—thinking back, when we first started using it I don't think you could even have more than four people visible on a call at the same time.

But the basics—the things that I mentioned in my previous comment—have remained all but unaddressed for the lifetime of the product so far, and it's utterly miserable to use because of it. They're just piling new features on. I understand why, it's just frustrating.


Yeah, Teams is notoriously bad for software engineering related messages. It wastes a shit ton of horizontal space and every code block/log snippet that you send is horribly displayed with big font and scrollbars. Of all the things compared to Slack this infuriates me the most.


My the most favorite one is when someone pastes link in a chat to MS Office document on Sharepoint/Onedrive. It is opened in Teams and when you close the document you might naively assume you will be back in the chat you came from but no, you end up on the main screen and you need to search for the chat window again.


Which is impossible because it throws meetings with chats all in the same list so you have 3000 things going on. Not to mention that meetings that ended 3 weeks ago still have active chats. Or if you were invited once now you’re forever attached to the chat of all the meetings that come after, even if you’re not invited.

Teams started ok, but it has become worse than Skype, which is something I didn’t think was possible.

From the company that made MSN messenger it’s hard to believe they didn’t have any lessons learned


Ahh, but MSN messenger was not the best of all chat clients in its day either. I remember advertisement aplenty, spam, terrible "candy bar" UIs and a password reset system that basically let others steal your account easily. I think I used the official client maybe twice at an upper limit.

Honestly, the best UI Microsoft ever invented were always those inside their video games. I still think AoE2 is hard to beat.


I mean it was pretty cancerous but it was stable and simple to use. A list of your chats sorted by last activity. Towards the end you could even play games. Voice messages, gifs, etc. It was a free ms product from the early 2000s, in 20 years we should’ve gotten much further ahead, instead we went backwards


And don't even think about looking at the document and commenting something about it in the chat, and then looking again... because it seems impossible to have the document and the chat open at the same time.

I tend to just ignore the links and download everything because of this.


We had network issues the other day and a few minutes into the meeting we realised my audio stream was delayed by a whole minute. There was no indication on the Teams UI this was happening. I'd hear a question about a window I'd already closed on screen share, type a response, and they got it a minute after asking. As someone who uses Discord at home, Teams is pain.


LOL. I wonder where that data was physically sitting for a whole minute.


I don't really know how these things work but it was quite crisp while my outgoing was very choppy so I hung up the mic and resorted to typing. I was assuming a lot of packet loss and it was rebuilding a little behind the times, the network was very slow that day in general but the voices were clear.


You can check your packet loss in the call health info I think.


Paging Animats... Animats to the HN courtesy desk...


At Rest.....


One thing that always bugged me in MS Teams is that when you do the shortcut for :thumbs-up it always presents 20 thumbs-down emojis first instead (due to alphabetical order)... but people are way more likely to use thumbs-up! Why not put that first!!!

A small thing, but one that would annoy me almost every day...


This reminds of something that aggravates me to no end and cannot turn off: emoticons / emojis. I never use those but it keeps offering those by switching typing focus to the popup.

The issue comes from my main language being French. And in French, for some reason, there has to be a space between the word and the colon.

But in Teams, and even Outlook Web, whenever I put a space and colon to introduce a list on the line below, so I type <space><colon><enter>, I end up with a freakin' smiley, so I have to go back, delete it, and put a colon in again.


This floored me: when the app decides you typed an emoji, you can undo (ctrl+z) to get back to what you actually typed. That never would have occurred to me to try, simply because the mental model I have of "undo" pertains to things I did, not the app.


Anyone tried quoting a message in a reply in teams? For a messaging client, this should be the most important since everyone in the group wants to know which message you are replying to... But ofcourse msft has to screw it up.. https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/microsoft-teams/quote...


"48,477 votes Reply to specific message in chat on desktop app" Now that is a quotable quote when it comes to being told something has a bad UI and choosing to do nothing about it.


stupid teams chat doesn't even have a 'reply with quote' but yeah, it's got lots of edgy emoticons and gifs.... stupid.


> stupid teams chat doesn't even have a 'reply with quote'

Don’t worry guys, it’s on the roadmap for this month! https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/roadmap?featur...

Next maybe we can fix issue where if you have the iOS app, you randomly appear available for hours?


Amazingly, the mobile app version does!


Consistency, the one weakness of MS. Like when their own official OneNote app for Windows Phone 8 had fewer features than the Android version.


Because why would your app have consistent functionality for such basic features between web/desktop versions and mobile!


Even worse than Teams is Teams on GovCloud.


I think the success of Teams was a surprise to MS. It was ingenious to copy slack and push it on enterprise users though.


It's no surprise, that was classic MS strategy. Sell the thing everyone actually needs (Office, because they smothered the competition), but bundle it with something sticky which will also hoover up data about your workers - no need for the product to be any good, execs in charge of purchasing won't have to suffer with it for a fraction of the time employees spend. Oh also, I happen to have $200k of Azure credits here for you - no pressure but if you do start using Azure we'll make the bill for all this productivity software go away...


I feel like this aligns with the cartoon of big tech in my head, which goes something like this:

- Apple is the designer: I want to make everything beautiful and perfect. Sometimes that pesky messiness of reality gets in the way, but if that's the case, it's reality which should change.

- Google is the engineer: Yeah cool this project sounds good, let's replace that old technology with this new thing that will be so much better! We'll release the prototype in a month, and six months from now we'll have the whole thing done. Hmmm 4 months later, some of those details that took years to refine in the old version are actually pretty tricky, and these weird users like actually want to keep them... Yeah details are hard, let's put this project on back burner because now I'm excited about new project!

- Microsoft is the MBA: Products don't matter! They're just interchangeable widgets the grunts working below me have to concern themselves with. The important thing is what I can sell to upper management with my power-point presentation. We're data-driven, so as long as my KPI's improve, that means I have made the morally correct decision. If I can leverage or trick users into using the product the way I want, it means I'm good at my job!


Pro tip: don't press Ctrl before release mouse button

This is annoying.


Just in case an MS engineer is reading these Teams gripes…

On Mac, Teams does not honor system-level Do not Disturb. So when I turn off notifications during a presentation at work and my friend sends me snarky comments about our boss…


Teams’ notifications on Mac are an ongoing debacle. Because they are Microsoft’s own implementation, rather than using the system API, not only do they not respect DND, they also helpfully get lost behind other notifications that come in from properly designed applications.

According to the Microsoft admin updates I’m subscribed to, native notifications on Mac have been in a beta channel for months, with a full rollout pushed back repeatedly for no reason that I can discern.


Developers stubbornly refusing to utilize the tools provided by the operating system because they think they can do it better (90% of the time they can't) is one of my greatest pet peeves.

You should ONLY ever use your own engine for things like notifications if the particular OS doesn't support them (pre-10 Windows)


I believe that in this case it's simply convenience/laziness to have a single notifications codebase across both operating systems? That and Windows didn't have native notifications when it was first developed. Not that it excuses a big chat application from MS behaving this way, just saying that they probably didn't deliberately choose to re-implement notifications just because they didn't like the OS ones.


Windows has had balloon notifications since Windows 2000. These show up as toast notifications by default in Windows 10, so compliant applications would be transitioned automatically.


Some software also presents that in the settings as the choice between "native notifications, which don't have as many features" and "custom notifications, which have all bells and whistles". And the default of course is the one with more features, not the one that respects your settings. I think Mattermost was where I've seen that distinction.


This is what happens in an Electron world. Lots of experts around to make some JS+CSS notification boxes because they keep reinventing those for every SPA anyway, but.. integrate with the native system notifications? They don't even know how Electron works so how would they begin to do any of that.


overall I agree, but tbh I'm quite happy for Telegram Desktop having its own notifications - the system ones in my Ubuntu Gnome (went through a few LTS upgrades, but not heavily customized) are really messed up, especially when Firefox sends something


AFAIK, every native app can subscribe and read all notifications, at least on Windows. So, sending notifications to the OS is a huge privacy issue.


To add insult, the notifications are a separate window on macOS. So when you use cmd+tab to switch _to_ Teams, you might end up in that notifications window. Even when there are no Teams notifications, that window remains. This is very painful when in full-screen mode, as cmd-tabbing to Teams simply doesn’t work.

I’m on the beta where you can switch to native notifications, but they’ve only implemented that (poorly) for chat notifications. Calls still use their own notifications. Poorly you ask? Well the notification doesn’t show the sender when posting in a group channel; it uses the group name as the notification title.


They're registered as a separate window on Windows too. When I alt-tab, I frequently end up in the notification window.

My main question is, why are people still doing desktop apps in JS? (Yes, I know, cross-platform... There are other ways to do that.) They always end up breaking with the native UI conventions on the host OS, and they're stupidly resource hungry.


If you’re on a 2nd space in macOS, typing CMD-TAB to switch to the Teams window in 1st space will NOT display Teams and will keep you in 2nd space.

Breaking the native CMD-TAB shortcut is breathtaking…

(Workaround: switch to any other app in 1st space first, then switch to Teams…)


Well another workaround actually: CMD-TAB until focus is on Teams, DOWN, DOWN, RETURN does the trick as well. But, how embarassing...


Could be worse. In outlook for Mac, there are native notifications but the only button on them is “delete.” I thought it was dismiss for quite some time.

And when you use command-tab to delete search terms, i what it actually does is delete the highlighted email.


Microsoft ignoring default shortcuts or even assigning different behaviour in their various macOS apps is driving me insane. On Teams one cannot even discover shortcuts from the menubar as the menubar doesn’t contain any actions beside undo/redo.

Electron must be the new embrace extend extinguish of macOS.


It makes me wonder how they manage to get it so wrong. Is there nobody at Microsoft who uses teams that they can ask for UX feedback? Does all the user feedback they collect go straight to the bin?


It's a competition among the sub-groups to see who can inflict the most damage...


You would think its better on windows, but it's not. The notifications ignore the global notification settings and pop up even when you only allow notifications with priority. And they are using their own implementation as well


I see there is a setting in teams for using windows' notification vs using teams' notifications. I haven't tried it, so it probably doesn't actually work, but I figured I'd point it out.


They also get lost when you're in fullscreen. If I wouldn't get them on my watch, I'd basically be unreachable on Teams.


Exactly. I have one screen and I am nearly always working in full screen. My mac is often muted at the same time. Like that I am able to miss many calls because MS Teams shows the notifications on a space which I am not using. This would be no issue if they used system notifications.


Also the sound seems to register itself as a media sound, so it will hijack your play/pause functionality. If I'm playing music and get a call, pressing play/pause to stop my music will just stop the ringing while continuing to play the music. Additionally, if I get a call and pick up, later on if I hit play/pause it'll continue playing the Teams call jingle instead of my music.

It can even be seen in Big Sur with the new playing media icon in the top bar. If I click that I can see that there's an item for my music, and an item for Teams sounds.


I have native mac notifications? Menu / Settings / Notifications / Notification style / Mac.


My company was a fairly early adopter of Teams. I remember there being a user feedback forum that was such an optimistic place. Fixing notifications was one of the highest voted issues and the MS rep promised work was being done on it, but it never got fixed before we finally accepted the increased cost and moved to Slack.


If it makes you feel any better they use their own custom notifications in windows as well and it suffers all the same issues (doesn’t respect dnd, gets covered by/covers native notifications, etc)


Pro-tip: make a second user account on your system exclusively for presentations. There's nothing more unprofessional than some stupid notification popping up during a presentation.


In the company I work at, there are telepresence screens in each conference room that appear in Teams.

Projecting something onto the screen is done using Teams, so I can't disable Teams during the presentation. People often connect in from other conference rooms or their desks, by joining the call.

ICT probably wouldn't allow us to make another user account.

I agree that making a second user account is good practice for IoT meetups, church groups, or other presentations, but it might not actually work well in this company. Teams has plenty of other issues though, such as screen sharing in a group call after unplugging HDMI, or microphone input selection issues.


That's a valid workaround that shouldn't be needed.

FWIW I turn off all contact apps (email, chat) entirely if it's important.


Is that easier than just switching user account? Essentially all we're talking about is having a separate environment. Maybe desktop environments could support multiple environments per user more easily, but it's not too bad to set it up with a separate user account.


That doesn't really work when the app you're presenting with is actually MS Teams, as for whatever reason, during a call when you're screen sharing, Teams still shows notification pop-ups.


And when you share your screen the entire meeting window is minimized, helpfully showing your entire chat window.


Also, please make an M1-native version ASAP. Teams is my second worst app when it comes to memory pressure.


I don't think an M1 version would make much difference. It's just a horrifically bloated, sluggish garbage fire.

VS Code and Teams are at complete opposite ends of the spectrum for what an Electron app can be.


Fair enough.


Teams, Google Meet, Webex, Zoom -- on Chromium, they all hijack and increase your microphone volume without you knowing. It's infuriating. Just thinking about it pisses me off. You have to have the volume control open and have a live tug-of-war with the app while you're talking.

Firefox, either intentionally or unintentionally, does not let Meet do this. I say Meet, because none of the others work on Firefox anyway.

But the recent Meet update is broken on Firefox, so yeah, there goes that.


Skype has a checkbox to stop it from doing that, but then ignores the setting and does it anyway. Ruined a few podcast recordings for me.


Zoom works without problems on Firefox here (Linux). The browser version tends to be much better than the app, which crashes for me consistently.


Krisp, a noise cancelling application, is able to lock the microphone levels. I believe this works even without it on / without the trial timer counting down.

But yes, going to that kinda length to prevent those applications from messing with the gain control is absurd


What I find perplexingly awesome about how terrible Teams is is the fact that now people don’t keep bothering me all day with useless messages. The software is so terrible that like a gas station bathroom you just get in, do what you need to, and get out.


OMG, this is so damn accurate! Thanks for that gas station analogy!


Try to zoom any document, it zooms the whole app. I'm surprised it doesn't zoom the whole operating system honestly, or change my screen resolution.


Try to zoom a document and it zooms an image file of your entire hard drive.


I understand the motivation. A user might set an app's volume low and raise the system volume very high to compensate. But then audio from another program, likely Teams, might blow your ears out when it starts. In a vacuum, I like the idea, but given that the standard on Desktop is in-app volume control Teams' behavior sounds worse.

In iOS I've never seen an in-app volume control (I assume its forbidden) and all volume adjustments affect the system volume.


> In iOS I never seen an in-app volume control (I assume its forbidden) and all volume adjustments affect the system volume.

Typically games will have them so you can balance out music and interface sounds relative to in-game sounds.

In my opinion a volume mixer is a requirement for a decent user experience. To reuse the game example: if I want to listen to a podcast while playing, I'd better be able to hear the podcast clearly while also hearing the important sounds from the game.


I will say I find the inconsistency in whether a game will obey the physical Silent switch on iOS to be annoying at times. I'll know I have my volume turned up but oh, this game is being silent because Silent is on. At the very least that should be an option.

While I'm on the Silent gripe, mild tangent, but Facebook on Android refusing to follow the Notifications volume and instead following the Ringtone volume is one of the shittiest pieces of UX I have to deal with daily.


I'm confident it's intentional at this point - they probably A/B tested alternatives and realised this gives them the highest engagement.


Oh, it's painfully obvious that it's intentional, and that's what makes it truly infuriating. I can tolerate a genuine mistake from a developer, no biggie, we're all human, yadda yadda, I *cannot* tolerate Zuckerborg condescendingly ignoring my own decisions and autonomy with my device and asserting that his stupid app is more important than anything else in my life at any given moment.


Gaming with friends online.

1. Upon first open of the game, turn the music volume to off or 10%.

2. Make any other game noise 30% max.

3. Enjoy being able to play and hear game, while also being able to hear friends on Mumble at reasonable volume.


Seems that, since the right volume to adjust is dependent on so many contextual variables, the right thing to do is to display two sliders, one for app & one for the system volume, and let the user adjust the appropriate one.


Cap every app's local volume setting at lowest in use by any app & only allow user to raise volume above this threshold explicitly for currently focused app


Also nice that it controls playback of other apps. Intended as a nice feature: your listening to music, accept incoming call, music stops, hang up, music starts again. Sounds nice, in practise it starts randomly music during calls. Or you stopped music for hours, accepting a low level call and raise your volume,hang up and get blasted away by your loud music starting to play.


Or my favorite. Accepting a call, manually pausing music using media keys, call ends, I try to resume my music using media keys, resume Teams ringing sound instead. Thanks teams, I really wanted to here that tune again!


Yea, if I have Spotify paused - having not listened to it all day - after a call it starts it playing again.


Microsoft‘s UX incompetence to market dominance ratio continues to baffle me. I’ve pretty much settled on blaming this on MS winning some race to first OS/Office software useable enough for mass adoption and just forcing all the rest since. If you think of productivity hours destroyed because of Excel quirks and Windows rebooting at the worst possible time, this is maybe the most damage a monopoly has ever done to the economy. But the people who had the power to stop this probably use Word and own Microsoft stock. We’re stuck.


OT: We used MS Teams and Slack and management recently decided to close our Slack workspace and switch to MS Teams. Most of our devs are unhappy with Teams so we switched to a selfhosted zulip instance and we're very happy with that.


But wait! there's more (Google Meet and Microsoft Teams): https://neil.computer/notes/oh-sorry-i-was-on-mute/


Users can complain but they cannot switch. :)

Why isnt Teams open source. Microsoft supports open source, blah, blah.


The +4 people icon still gets me after a year as I click it to see who else is in the meeting.

Luckily it doesn't do anything bad, it just does nothing.


It's OK, they're fixing it soon by having Teams be part of the OS :D


Yeah, also, sometimes my volume buttons are not controlling my headphone, the headphone that I'm using and is the only thing producing sound at that time. It takes some time but you'll learn that you need to set the sound output differently in the Windows taskbar itself. And then later of course, you need to set it back because you don't want all sound to go through the headset you just wear while in a meeting and put down as soon as you end a call...


I literally had to install a virtual microphone device with a fake driver and make teams use that - otherwise it would keep adjusting my real microphone gain despite it being perfectly fine. The virtual microphone cannot have the level adjusted at all, so teams can't do anything, but it's just SO STUPID. Just have an option to either auto-adjust or not, don't force it on everybody.


Oh, it could be much worse. You could be using Teams on OSX. Nothing behaves properly. I've spent at least a day of work time trying to get rid of the hidden window for notifications which prevents keyboard focus from ever working.


I just don't think there's a good answer.

Audio settings in every app is it's own source of frustration for me. I pretty much test them each time I join a different conferencing or audio related app...


Microsoft Teams UI is so bad in so many different ways. And in worst way possible - where it works enough for management to not ditch it, but doing something ridiculous on every occasion.


What's your uservoice suggestion URL? Will vote for it.


Alas Teams is far from the only app to control the global volume, and it doesn't happen only in Windows.


BTW, the most ridiculous instance of this that I've met is when a game fiddled with the OS-global volume when I adjusted the volume in the game's options.


Zoom does the same thing with my volume. Seems kind of an odd design choice that is pretty malware-y.


I think Zoom does the same thing on macOS, or at least it did last year.


Do you know Teams also adds white noise globally?


This is the new volume control in windows 11 (some insider version they've randomly thrown at me): https://imagizer.imageshack.com/img922/786/aIfxKh.png

It's atrocious. No slider, clicking on it "blips" the speakers so you can hear how loud it is. You have to hover pointer on top of it which enlarges the green circle by about 10% to show "Hey, you're hovering me, in case you missed it!" and then scroll so the the tiny tiny dot gets slightly more enlarged (which clearly indicates new volume, duh). Then it shrinks to a smaller size back when stopping the hover.

Oh, the arrow to the right? Does that open the customary volume slider? No that's the sound device picker. Speaker to the left is the mute. To make matters worse it's in the same "group" as the network symbol is (although there's no network settings when clicking), and sometimes clicking the thing doesn't work at all, depends on how much explorer.exe decides to hang at the moment.

But surely I just got some broken alpha/beta version.


It’s a plain bug expected of beta quality software.

No need for any drama.

https://www.reddit.com/r/Windows11/comments/ogchx7/volume_ba...


Looks like the volume slider has no minimum width and is compressed down to a single blip. When there are other widgets in the container, it expands to a usable width. Reasonable bug for beta software.


The thing is, nobody needs a beta quality volume control (or anything else) in a legacy desktop OS in 2021.


I wonder if it has something to do with your language. I know they've had other random UI issues if your language wasn't set to english. Here's my volume setting for reference: https://i.imgur.com/PwW0SwI.png

It's still frustrating though. I can't just click the volume icon and use the mouse scroller to change the volume. It takes two clicks now.


It's humbling to realize I never knew the scroll wheel would adjust the volume slider once I'd clicked the speaker icon.


The wheel does work when just hovering over many sliders, at least on Mac and in Firefox. However, whether that works in any particular app or a site is a gamble.

In some apps and sites with a specific purpose the wheel is often mapped more generally: e.g. to volume control in video players regardless of the position, unless it's over the time slider.


Hmm, where do you need two clicks to change the volume by scrolling? I can just click on the volume icon (or any of the three icons there, since they're all a big button), mouse over the volume slider, and scroll to change it. I think this is essentially the same flow as before.


That's so hilariously misguided, it's like some student's experimental pet project. It gives zero visual hint as to how to use it (i.e. ‘affordances’). From the looks, I'd guess that it's a horizontal slider with the range of like fifty pixels. If this was any kind of an established control, you'd surely just use the speaker icon itself as the ‘handler’ to grab—the fact that they needed the separate green dot says enough about whether it was a good idea. How it passed any kind of review at MS is a baffling mystery.


I actually thought the image hadn't loaded correctly when I first opened it. I would have no clue what to do with this the first time seeing it.


This should be used as a case study for bad UI in courses. You can even tell from just looking at it that it's nonsensical.


So you have signed up for insider builds? Then claiming that they have "randomly thrown" it at you is just odd. You explicitly told them you wanted early builds.


Not OP but I'm in the same boat. I signed up for insider (dev) builds to get X support in WSL2, then set it to switch me back to insider (beta) builds on the next opportunity. But they didn't do another beta or any other insider built really before rolling out Win11 to dev so that's what I got on the next update. There also wasn't any notice this would happen despite my machine apparently not meeting the requirements for Windows 11.

I'm not complaining but it was definitely unexpected for me despite being in the insiders program. Especially given that Windows 11 is being promoted as the "next version of Windows", not just another Windows 10 release.

FWIW my volume slider is still a slider. I have no idea what's going on in that screenshot but either they're A/B testing, this is a weird language-specific UI variant or there's a bug.


It's actually mind-boggling just how bad UI/UX in general has become. Like, there are things which are bad because it's hard to get right, but this trend to me sinks even lower than that, it's actually spectacularly bad.

Everywhere I look: Windows, Android, websites, mobile apps... it's all so terrible. Confusing interfaces (indecipherable icons with no text), ridiculously small or ridiculously large text (either I can't read it without zooming or so large that it fits 3 lines in a 15" screen), endless whitespace, no visual feedback about how to interact with the interface, such as what is clickable or not, etc.

I chalk this up to designers not giving a rat's ass about actually designing their interfaces carefully and thoughtfully, and simply optimising for one things: looking good on screenshots. If you think about it it explains everything about this.


Huh. For me, on build 22000.65, that’s a normal full-sized slider.

I’ll file a bug just in case it’s not already known.


It's not all roses over in Mac land either, look how terrible this icon is for "External Headphones"

https://pasteboard.co/Kb9u3OY.png

Apple is slipping. (Probably an oversight because of Airpod-centric thinking.)


My guess is that icons distinguish between local devices and Airplay stuff.


"External headphones" should be a headphones icon, not a computer icon, is my complaint, to be explicit. It used to be correct in a previous version of macOS but regressed at some point.


Fuck me that’s just stupid.


I've specifically went and downloaded the latest ISO of Windows 11 preview to see this monstrosity, but no, it seems like a completely normal slider to me, just like in Windows 10.


I wish UI designers would stop re-inventing things for no reason.


And I bet it still uses a linear rather than logarithmic scale. Can't even do audio right.


please, tell me this is a joke! what's wrong with a good ol' slider? I honestly don't know what these people are thinking...


You've GOT to be kidding. That's the new volume control "slider"?!


Top talent on display. That's why these people earn hundreds of thousands per year, meritocracy at work.


I find Apple's suggestion to use Siri to control the volume on the AirPods Pro [0] to be worse than some of the ideas on that page. The idea of having a spoken conversation in public in which I must request a volume change via a branded AI (and then repeat that request multiple times if necessary to reach my desired volume) just feels humiliating.

[0] "To change the volume, say 'Hey, Siri,' then say something like 'Turn down the volume.'" -- https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT212203


I discovered you can say ‘hey Siri volume N’ where N is the volume percentage. 70 usually works out for me for normal listening.

Not that I disagree with your main point; I refuse to use Siri in public, like you say, it’s humiliating.


It's like how redbull reps tell the barkeep to only pour half the can In the drink and give you the can to hold and carry around. It makes you into a billboard for the product talking to Siri in public.


Wow, that’s on purpose?


"Please drink verification can" doesn't sound too far-fetched now, does it?


One of the teens in the house has discovered you can say “Hey Alexa shut the fuck up”.

I’m afraid the joyless Siri just ignores you when you say that.


I actually really like that feature - it works with any _strongly-worded_ “stop” command: Alexa detects user annoyance and swiftly stops whatever it’s doing with the minimum of back-and-forth.

The best part is that whereas with most commands, if Alexa has any doubt about what you said or you weren’t clear it always asks you to clarify or disambiguate, even various stop/pause/volume-down/mute commands - but when spoken with an angry tone or with an f-bomb or two then she defaults to stopping without question, even if she didn’t hear you clearly.


I would like the Alexa team to reward politeness.

Like if you say "Alexa, please mute", you could unlock a new voice or a funny joke or something.


Creating a better world, albeit one spy-device at a time.


We laugh, but in all seriousness, what evidence is there that Amazon is acting unethically with the Echo devices?


Counterevidence: some of them (perhaps all) have a hardware switch to mute the microphone, a requirement allegedly set by the CEO.

Parallel evidence: the Ring acquisition has aggressively integrated itself with police forces.

Partial evidence: some of the devices are known to retain data even after being reset to factory settings (I presume it's a bug).

It has to be listening all the time for its activation command and we have no idea what it's doing with the data that comes in and is determined not to be the activation command.


I believe Google assistant has some optional mode where it makes children say please.


Hey Geo shut the duck up


Ha, I've been doing the same thing with google assistant. Try it politely once, and then if it doesn't work or understand change to "shut the fuck up" and it somehow always gets it.


I just reach into my pocket and press the physical buttons on the phone. Works pretty well.

I do wish there was a way to do it by touching the headphones though. I held off on buying AirPods for a few years mostly for that reason.


But you still ended up buying them? I didn't know it's not possible, glad I went with Jabra Elite Active instead. Cannot imagine trying to muck around with that crap while out running.


I did end up buying them.

Apple's ear buds are the only ones that fit comfortably in my ears so it's sorta my only choice. (The pros do not, which is unfortunate.)

I don't typically run with headphones in so that's not an issue, but even if I did, it's pretty easy to hit the volume button on my phone unless it's in a backpack or something.


Does seem odd they couldn't have squeezed another switch in there, or let you lower volume with the switch in one ear and raise it with the switch in the other ear.


Crying out for a slider interface like the unlamented Touch Bar. The stems are long enough for the gesture (not absolute positioning).


Time to bring back the click wheel via earring or nipple accessory.


Brilliant. Address the problem by selling a dongle!


Yea, I actually thought that’s how they worked when I first got them, I remember seeing a demo where that was done, but it was probably either concept art or a different product.


This was the correct decision.

iPhone has squeeze your pocket to change the volume adjustments.

Apple Watch has volume control just using a crown.

AirPods Pro too small to handle a moment or twist.

AirPods Max trials on-head crown and whole better than other product physical controls, quality fine physical gradient control on even a large mounted device is tricky.


Not as humiliating as on Android, so there's that.


What makes one better or worse?

I'm always a bit embarrassed when I'm in public and a buddy calls me over to look at something on a MacBook. Like - "No it wasn't me who fell for Apple marketing."


Well, at least Apple's assistant has a name. "OK Google" is just directly praying to the overlord :D


Can't you squeeze the sides or something? I don't use voice search much because I prefer accuracy. But when I do, I don't use "ok Google"


Powerbeats have physical rocker buttons


Those are still all better than mobile phones that have a dozen "volumes" and when you press the volume up when a video is just starting you might get lucky and lower the media volume, or you might have missed it for one microsecond and now you are stuck on ring or alarm or whatever volume while the video plays.


Those never have enough increments for me. I'm always on the quietest end of the slider, and when I want to go quieter I always end up accidentally muting the sound. I have to resort to dragging the slider with my finger - I don't know what I would do without that ability.


On Android I installed an app that lets me scale the global volume for this. It's called "Precise Volume" and seems to work well. I wish I could tweak the "gamma" of the volume slider though: I want to make quiet side quieter without making the loud end quieter so that it works both with headphones and with other devices.


That's a compressor/limiter. A simple feature that for some reason no one seems to ever implement in any consumer app/player/device. There may be some android apps for that on XDA and for rooted phones only.


You can disable changing the ringer volume with the buttons. Then the volume buttons only ever control the media volume for apps, videos, etc. It’s so much nicer.

It’s in Settings > Sounds & Haptics > Change with Buttons.

I never want to change the ringer volume. I just set it to maximum in Settings and use the physical vibrate switch when I want silence.


depends on: android version. manufacturer customizations. and probably other things.

likely 90% of people will not even have that option.

i see it on android11+ with the samsung UI extras. There's no such option in the other 12 devices i looked at just now.


I cannot figure out how to adjust my iphone volume half of the time. I think there are two, one is the ringer, one is for the speaker? dunno.


I'm guessing it's probably similar to Android: it's context-specific; with nothing going on, you're controlling your ringer settings. Then you need to wait until music/a game is playing, then you can control the speaker volume. Want to get to the master volume controls? Have fun menu hunting.


That "context aware" concept has been changed for a while now, current versions of Android always have the buttons control the media volume. (If you are in a call, they control the call volume).


But now they changed it so it always controls the media volume by default on Android.


I've got an annoying thing - not sure if it's a bug, probably) where the media volume on my iphone maxes out. So there's a nonzero chance now of shitting myself when hitting the unmute buttons on autoplaying videos.


Which pairs great with autoplay videos in text based news articles you made the unfortunate choice to read on your phone in a quiet public place.


oxygenOs now by default always does media volume, you have to switch for ring tone volume. best change ever


funny thing. This WAS the default on android 2. go figure.

cyanogen always had this as an option.


add to that a Bluetooth complication where vendor X earphone volume increments don't match the mobile platform. On Android you need to enable a Developer Mode setting (Disable Absolute Volume) before you get back control. I don't think that scores well on UI design either!


Hell yeah. I have unreasonable amount of rage against that one haha



Yep, millennial smartphone devs took that «master volume is bad» saying too serious.


Nearly all volume controls suck because by and large the software world is ignorant of the fact that loudness scales logarithmically. 99.9% of volume controls scale the output linearly.


This is in the same category of error as most programmers thinking that sRGB uses a linear light model. They try to do arithmetic like blending or blurring on the raw image data this inevitably does the wrong thing.

Similarly, most non-AAA game engines ignore the sRGB tone curve and treat all inputs and outputs as if they were linear, which results in unexpected brightness shifts in textures.

Up until very recently, Blender used linear light internally, but output that as sRGB without converting it to the appropriate gamma curve. There's guide after guide online on how to fix Blender by using "filmic" mode, which should be renamed to "not broken" mode.

Same thing as the colour picker in image editors like mspaint or Photoshop. They all have the same rainbow picker that has very visible discontinuities in the colour gradients, like a rippled curtain. It should be smooth, and it is, if using a perception-based colour model instead of linear light output straight to an sRGB monitor without any kind of colour correction.

This kind of thing has been going on for decades, and will continue for decades more. Programming is still a growth industry, so the average developer is inexperienced and doesn't know about these subtleties.


I think more people are aware of gamma correction now.

The best way to do that, if you are using shaders, is to have "fragColor.xyz = pow(col,vec3(1./2.2))"* on your last line. If it looks bad, look elsewhere, you are not allowed to touch that last line. The opposite should be done just after reading textures, if they aren't already linear.

*: sRGB actually has a weird transfer function, but it is closely approximated by a gamma of 2.2


For OpenGL, it will perform conversions automatically when sampling from texture with SRGB type, and opposite when writing to SRGB rendertarget (on desktop GL_FRAMEBUFFER_SRGB also needs to be enabled). I guess other APIs have similiar features.


This doesn't work for alpha blending since even if you output the color in the right space, the GPU might do blending in sRGB space and mess things up.

Best is to properly declare the target framebuffer as sRGB (if it is) and output linear colors while letting the GPU deal with it.


There be dragons. First, you're assuming the target display device is sRGB! There's a decent chance it isn't these days.

Second, this will prevent HDR.

Most games render to a linear HDR target surface with a very wide dynamic range, and then will tonemap it to the display gamut as the final step. This was common as far back as Valve's Half Life game. I think even the first one did something along these lines!

This is especially important for modern engines that are used by AAA games. E.g. Unreal engine and all similar engines are commonly used for XBox and Playstation games where the output display is a wide-gamut HDR television, not an SDR sRGB computer monitor.


>This is in the same category of error as most programmers thinking that sRGB uses a linear light model. They try to do arithmetic like blending or blurring on the raw image data this inevitably does the wrong thing.

Relevant: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKnqECcg6Gw


I thought Blender did convert to the sRGB gamma properly, the problem without “filmic” is that the highlights clip so badly without a roll off that lighting becomes very difficult and encourages bad workarounds.


I think Elite Dangerous Odyssey recently had this problem. Any ice planet at release was literally blowing out the sun in terms of brightness a thousand fold or so it seemed.


Could you provide good documentation about such thing?


I really liked this article: https://bottosson.github.io/posts/oklab/

OKLAB is a perceptual colour space, which is really useful for things like colour-picker tools, image editor controls, web development, CSS styles, etc...

You can use this kind of colour space to make two colours that are equally bright and equally saturated, but exactly 180 degrees apart on the colour wheel. If you use this instead of RGB hex codes, you get much better looking results. It'll make your app or web page "pop" with minimal effort...


There was a great post about gamma and sRGB from 2016 on HN a couple weeks ago[0] with some discussion[1]

[0] http://blog.johnnovak.net/2016/09/21/what-every-coder-should... [1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27721094


The classic video for this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKnqECcg6Gw


Charles Poynton has good references on this. His website is very 90s, but his books (a la Digital Video and HD) are the best clearly explained introduction to color science and gamma vs linear light coding that I've ever read.

https://www.poynton.ca/Poynton-color.html


> 99.9% of volume controls scale the output linearly.

Wrong. Windows's volume output is the percentage squared, and Linux PulseAudio's volume output is the percentage cubed. Nonetheless I would prefer that the volume output was exponential (2^(slider position / constant)). This way, pressing the "volume up" key 3 times always increases the volume by a constant factor, regardless if you're on loud or quiet speaker/headphones. Additionally, on loud headphones, you won't have to fine-tune the volume in the very bottom of the slider (eg. 1 is too quiet, 2 is a bit loud, 3 is painfully loud).

On Windows, I hide the default volume control and instead use Volume2[1] set to exponential mode. On Linux, I haven't found a good solution for getting PulseAudio to use exponential volumes.

[1]: https://irzyxa.blogspot.com/p/downloads.html


Pretty sure Android's volume control isn't linear either. At least perceptively I find the steps relatively even (which implies it's not linear).


When probing my Android phone's output in an oscilloscope, I also saw that it was not linear, and the volume increased more per level when louder. However I have not attempted to compute the exact curve. And I suspect it also differs between different versions of Android or different phones (my Android 11 phones has more volume levels than older phones), or with different audio APIs (some phones use tinyalsa, some use XML files to configure hardware volume gain, some don't).


You've given me an idea for a volume control - enter a function like x^2 or x^3, which is graphed (on a linear scale). Then pick an x. The y value will be your volume. (The component should reverse any platform specific non-linearity first.)


How would you compute the current volume level? You would have to either store the current x value (which could desync if you change the volume level using the OS volume control), or derive the nearest x from the current y value (which may be possible on PulseAudio, but I haven't checked if you're stuck to the nearest 1% or if you can get a more precise or dB level).


Well if the function you put in is continuous, single-valued , then you can invert it and compute x(y). At the end of the day if the volume is represented as a syscall with a float between 0 and 1 you can play arbitrary games with any bijective function to make setting that number arbitrarily complicated.


I used to own a BlackBerry 10 phone running BB10 OS. At the time, the dev team accepted suggestions on how to make the OS better, and I suggested they make the volume controls logarithmic instead of linear, and they did! I loved how quiet that phone would go while still remaining clear—I used to listen to audiobooks as I fell asleep at night, and rather than use headphones I would just set the volume to level 1 or 2 and put it on my pillow beside my ear. I haven't been able to do that with any other phone since because the volume doesn't go low enough, or if it does the audio is muddy.


I still have my old BB10 Passport. Weird form factor but that was an awesome device. It's too bad Blackberry really shit the bed with their OS and its lack of apps.


I still use my BB Classic as a daily driver. Really not looking forward to next April when 3G is switched off in Australia...


The Classic supports 4G, you know.


I know, mate. But no VoLTE. You still need 3g for voice.


On every iPad I've seen, only the lower 3-4 (of 16) steps are normal indoor range. Even the 1st step is too loud at night. I need half-steps.

Is this due to linear vs logarithmic scaling? Or are people throwing wild parties where the iPad needs to fill a room with sound?


You can go to the control centre or whatever it's called when you pull down from the battery side of the screen and tap and hold the volume widget, you can then drag your finger up/down to change the volume in small increments. I have the same issue as you when I'm listening to stuff at night.


I agree - when trying to watch something next to a sleeping partner even 1 step above muted is too loud. Annoying. I often watch Netflix muted and read subtitles because of this. I guess I need headphones.

But I do really think a volume one half of the current lowest would be useful for me.


Headphones really are the solution. I used to have wired ones and these were quite uncomfortable to handle - cable messed up all the time, and even when you untangle them you have to avoid pulling it, so I used speaker most of the time anyway. I finally bought wireless buds a year ago and I really understood why so many people have these and talk about it - it's just too easy


> Or are people throwing wild parties where the iPad needs to fill a room with sound?

I’ll often use my iPad as a portable media player and max volume is nice for things like music while showering or cooking in the kitchen.


Literally no one wants a logarithmic scale to interact with though. '50% volume' should definitely be in the middle of the slider. The OS should translate that in to decibels. The maths behind it has no place in the UI.


I think no one argues for having it visually. They argue for having the GUI linearity converted to appropriate perceptual linearity, which depends on the medium.


It’s weird how I nominally know this but never really thought about the implications... How does the hardware world do it? I’d expect the normal way to make a volume control would be to have an adjustable-gain amplifier using the standard opamp circuit somewhere, but those aren’t logarithmic in any resistance you could wire to a knob, are they? (Yes, I am deeply ignorant about electronics.)



Probably at least as far back as WW II we had linear taper pots and audio taper pots. Bam. Done.


It's exactly as you sugggest/doubt - in audio hardware you use potentiometers (the thing under the knob that has different resistance depending on the rotation) that are designed to have logarithmic scale.


A lot of digital audio applications just do programmable gain in the digital domain. My main rig extends samples to 42 bits and attenuates in the digital domain, then dithers to 32 bits for the analog conversion.


Same for brightness control, at least on my Linux computers. I vaguely remember it feeling right when I used a Mac.


The volume controls in Tuxguitar are legitimately worse than some posted here. To adjust the volume of a track, you choose "View > Show Instruments" and then the unlabeled first circle in each row is the volume "knob". It's a "knob" because it is basically a circle with a dot with the 6-o'clock position indicating 0 and the 3 o'clock position indicating maximum. To adjust it, you click and hold (with no visual feedback that you have clicked anything active) and then drag up and down. Not side-to-side or in a circle, up and down.

I'm sorry to whoever designed this control for this very useful Free OSS. But goddamn that is bad.


Circular knobs in audio contexts that don't support circular mouse movement need to not exist. If you want to have the user drag their mouse up and down, just use a vertical slider.


Back in the kde 3 days, there was this applet called "knob" for volume control. For me personally, its circular knob UI is actually the best.

Firstly, you can place the applet at a corner of the panel, e.g. at the bottom right, such that you now have an infinitely large target [1] to hit.

Then, once you have the mouse pointer hovering above it, you can:

- scroll up/down to increase/decrease the volume

- middle click to toggle on/off the sound

For those who possess precise control of the mouse pointer, of course they can still click on an arbitrary spot on the knob to set the volume.

For bonus point, because it is a knob, you always know what is the current volume level. All that for maybe 40x40 pixels of screen real estate only.

[1] https://blog.codinghorror.com/fitts-law-and-infinite-width/


And for those of us on laptops with no mousewheel abs no middle button? Trying to make the mouse move in an arc …

Knobs are great in the physical world, never met one on a screen that wasn’t hard to use.


On laptop, supposedly the simplest thing to do is to use the dedicated volume keys?

Again, this was back in kde 3 days, where desktop usage was more prominent than laptop, and even on laptop, a mouse with a scroll wheel was still a common accessory since touchpad gesture wasn't really a thing yet.

> Knobs are great in the physical world, never met one on a screen that wasn’t hard to use.

Well, I just gave you a perfect example where a knob on the screen was immensely useful. Of course it will be silly to try copying the physical world as-is, but with a little bit of creativity, applied in the right context, a knob on the screen can absolutely be useful.


It comes down to space, a knob can represent more points than a slider for less screen space


Yeah but sometimes that same knob correllates with a knob on an actual piece of hardware, so maybe the design compromise was this instead of changing the UI on the fly


That's commonplace in audio production programs/plugins actually.


It is, and it kind of sucks. Worse yet: in different VST plugins, for instance, sometimes you're supposed to click the knob and drag up and down, sometimes you're supposed to move the mouse in a circle as if you were rotating the knob.


Yep,every VST seems to be a learning exercise. But the variety of layouts and colours can also be inspiring. That said, the most garish were rarely keepers.


Was going to say. It saves screen space - should you need to save screen space - while allowing fine control. A slider would take much more screen area.

This is a bigger issue on synth VSTs that have tens or hundreds of controls. When screen resolutions were smaller it was a toss-up between hybrid vertical/rotational scrolling, horizontal/vertical window scrollbars to get the controls to appear at all, and multipage UIs.

Some designs, like Korg's MS20 VST, had all of the above.


You could keep the vertical "out-of-box" dragging but use a little vertical bar to show the current level.

Humans are terrible at reading angles quickly.


Humans may be terrible at reading pie charts quickly, but I think we do fine with visualizations such as clocks, gauges and circular controls. I wouldn't even be surprised if a circular gauge can be read more quickly or with less attention than a linear one (size/area being equal).


When staring at a mixer with 60 or more knobs you can see the difference in reading speed very quickly:

◐◑◒◓◐◐◒◒◓◐◓◓◐◐◑◐◒◓◓◐◐◑◒◓

(oops, HN is not showing the unicode rectangles but you can imagine that they look like a barchart and you can easily spot the highest and lowest)


It's to replicate audio disks - missing the opportunity that a different interface requires different interaction mechanisms.


I don't know, I've used these and I think they're actually kind of ingenious. Perhaps not the most intuitive thing, but once you understand how it works, it's pretty easy to use, and having the entire vertical area you can move your mouse for granularity is probably superior to moving a circle back and forth on a tiny bar.

I imagine this was originally implemented just because they wanted the UI to be a 1-to-1 matching of a soundboard, but it actually has the advantage of what I mentioned (granularity), as well as being able to display the level within a circle, AND you can fit a ton of them on screen without taking up much space. They're actually very functional.


dragging UI knobs up and down (like a slider) is the standard though and anything that makes me drag it in a circle is infuriating because of how hard to control it is.

Yes, sliders are better, but if all the controls that should be sliders were sliders then I'd have so many I couldn't see shit. I agree that it's bad to not label controls and hide volume of all things behind a checkbox in a menu.

So yeah, it's not ideal, but that's actually the least worst way for it to work.


I'm not usually a fan of capital punishment, but whoever said "no, it needs to look like a real instrument knob" is on track to change my stance there.


If it's FOSS maybe you can make a feature request to the creator?


Moving a round volume control in a circle would be even worse.


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