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Gadget backlash? July 30, 2007

Posted by Michael Sensiba in Cell/Mobile, Gadgets.
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From Pew Internet and American Life Project:

Don’t Blame Me: It’s the Phone’s Fault! Many Internet and Cell Phone Users Find Devices and Applications Too Complicated or Hardly Worth the Trouble

http://www.pewinternet.org/pdfs/Typology.ObDeck.Final.pdf

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Overheard on the elevator November 12, 2006

Posted by Michael Sensiba in Gadgets.
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How do people learn about new technology? The Web? User manuals? Third party books? Well, in many cases, they talk to their friends and acquaintances about it.

Three people on the elevator, admiring a new mini MP3 player:

Q1: “Can you recharge it through your computer?”

A: “No it just takes batteries.”

Q2: “How many songs does it hold?”

A: “About 50 to 55, I think.”

Q3: “How do you turn it off?”

Elevator door opens and the group leaves. Informal learning is very important, and even tech-savvy millennials have trouble with technology usability.

It’s Easy! Just Hit the Button! October 24, 2006

Posted by Michael Sensiba in Gadgets, Usability.
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I was helping a friend today by taking her picture with her digital camera. By all accounts, this is a VERY easy camera to use–when you know how, that is. As our gadgets grow greater in number, smaller in size and increasingly more complex, even the most tech-savvy people are prone to occasional fumbling of the George Jetson variety (“Jane, how do you stop this crazy thing!?!”). Many more controls are crammed into smaller spaces or have numerous “Transformer”-like functions. Labels, if they exist at all, employ tiny print and cryptic symbols. On top of all this, no two brands, makes or models operate in the same way. If cars were like this, we’d all crash (at least moreso than we do already).

We have often berated computer manufacturers and software designers for their lack of attention to usability. Perhaps it’s time to shift some of the heat onto the makers of cameras, phones, music players and TV remotes. Hello, hello? Is this thing on?

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