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                                                             on Gopher (inofficial)
   URI Visit Hacker News on the Web
       
       
       COMMENT PAGE FOR:
   URI   The benefits of “low tech” user interfaces
       
       
        civilized wrote 3 days ago:
        Car touch screen UI engineer is the third worst job, right behind 737
        MAX MCAS designer and the guys who faked Volkswagen emissions.
       
        mc4ndr3 wrote 3 days ago:
        I detest touch screens. The feedback, durability, reliability,
        discoverability, and general focus of an application can often be
        maximized by selecting more traditional hardware user interface
        components. The ROC curve for gesture based volume controls peaks at
        false positives and again at false negatives.
       
        eucryphia wrote 3 days ago:
        It would make low budget SciFi movies look realistic too
       
        WalterBright wrote 3 days ago:
        > When a user interface can get away with only icons in place of words,
        a low-tech user interface can work particularly well.
        
        Icons just mean nobody can use it. Heaven help the poor user who loses
        the manual that has a chart to decode the icons.
       
        WalterBright wrote 3 days ago:
        > such as silk-screened button labels becoming faint after extended use
        
        Becoming faint? On my Microsoft keyboard, the letters on the keys soon
        wore off  completely. I had to re-learn touch typing.
       
        nelgaard wrote 4 days ago:
        low tech can provide control and persistence.
        
        I want a real hardware volume dial on my phones and laptops.
        Mostly so that I can turn them down and be sure that that I will not
        embarrass myself by making noises at events where silence is expected.
        
        And I miss DIP switches. It is just brilliant that you could configure
        it once and for all. E.g. I have smoke detectors that could all be
        linked together by pressing some buttons in a weird ritual, but when
        you change a battery they forget and run down the battery in no time
        trying in vain to sync.
       
        Unbeliever69 wrote 4 days ago:
        I was one of the first few Ux designers for a large defense contractor
        that made data-link communication devices for the military. Prior to my
        arrival all the GUIs were done in Matlab. Think 80s VCR-level
        complexity. Needless to say, these GUIs were not well received by the
        boots-on-the-ground soldier that had to operate the equipment.
        Furthermore, they were a complete mystery to the top brass who funded
        these projects.
        
        When I arrived, some groups in the organization had begun to refactor
        these Matlab interfaces into WPF applications with slick new updates to
        the widgets, but it was really lipstick on a pig. After listening to
        all the stakeholders and users our proposal was to develop a
        skeuomorphic radio interface (green box with a bunch of dials and
        frequency display). Only the critical controls were featured on the
        radio face. All of the configuration options were buried. Now, I get
        all the eye-rolling when it comes to skeuomorphism as a fad, but it
        really resonated with our target audience and their superiors. This
        "Virtual Radio" soon became the defacto style for all communication
        devices throughout the organization. Because of the animation
        capabilities of VPF we were able to mimic both the look and feel of the
        various analog radio controls. It was super realistic. More importantly
        it allowed us to more easily communicate our designs to a broad
        audience, including: soldiers, contractors, technicians, and top brass.
        It has been nearly a decade since I left the company. I hope that this
        design has gone away. Not because it was ineffective (or trendy), but
        rather these communication systems needed to evolve to be
        self-configuring and self-operating, requiring little if any
        interaction by a soldier other than monitoring. After all, the best
        interface is one that doesn't need to exist.
       
          bee_rider wrote 4 days ago:
          I wonder how it evolved over time, after you left.
          
          Most soldiers are in their early to mid 20's, right? They might have
          never encountered an analog radio at this point! On the other hand,
          those old physical UIs did have a certain intuitiveness to them that
          might just be easy to learn, even if it isn't familiar.
       
        kylehotchkiss wrote 4 days ago:
        Today I was running some errands in my car. The AC was too cold.
        Without taking my eyes off the road, I felt around for the temperature
        knob. My car has large, grippy knobs. It's an off-roading focused model
        and the knobs were made to be usable while driving on bumpy roads. I
        found the temperature knob, I figured where it was set with the
        easy-to-feel tactile indicator, and I adjusted it down, all without
        having to use my eyes. I love tech but never want to lose my big,
        rubbery AC knobs in the car. There's enough distracted drivers on the
        road to watch out for, I don't want to be another one.
       
          vel0city wrote 3 days ago:
          > Today I was running some errands in my car. The AC was too cold.
          
          This literally never happens on any of my cars. I'd rather not have
          to be distracted with an uncomfortable car in the middle of driving
          and then have to feel around navigating a few different knobs and
          buttons to make my car comfortable, my car should just automatically
          be comfortable.
          
          > There's enough distracted drivers on the road to watch out for
          
          You were more distracted having to think about the climate, take your
          hand off the wheel, feel around for the knobs, and adjust them
          properly than someone using automatic climate control where they just
          never have to make that adjustment in the first place.
       
        JoeAltmaier wrote 4 days ago:
        Curiously, for some people low-tech is not better. I.e. used to have an
        Amana RadarRange which had two knobs - one for power and one for time.
        You turned them until you saw what you wanted on the display.
        
        But my pre-reading children couldn't operate it. I'd say "nuke it for a
        minute and a half" and they'd twist the knob and ask "Is that enough?
        Which way should I turn it?" See they couldn't do the math to know if
        45 seconds was more or less than a minute and a half.
        
        If it'd been buttons I could have said "Press 90 seconds" or whatever
        and they could do that. Later when we got a different microwave they
        had a better time.
       
          natdempk wrote 4 days ago:
          Looking at the dial I feel like if you told them to move it to 1:30
          or move it to the 30 past the 1, it would be pretty obvious? Wouldn't
          you have the same issue of having to convert 1:30 to 90 seconds with
          the other microwave design? I don't understand how the two are
          different.
       
            JoeAltmaier wrote 4 days ago:
            one you just type in the number. The other requires a knowledge of
            counting and ordinality etc.
            Is 90 seconds greater than 45 seconds? Is 9 bigger then 5?
       
        cosmotic wrote 4 days ago:
        This article misses the point of software controls: The designs can be
        changed up until the release of the item, sometimes even after the
        release using post-sales software updates. This allows companies to be
        more agile. The lead time for physical controls and custom LCDs is
        months if not years and costs tens of thousands of dollars, where
        software can be updated in days with near-zero cost. Also, most humans
        are easily wooed by the glitzy animations during the pre-sales period
        and aren't cognizant of the problems they suffer later due to bad
        controls.
        
        Though the author did hit the nail on the head about tactility.
       
        outworlder wrote 4 days ago:
        The main advantage of the modern GUI is when you need to perform wildly
        different tasks on them. Physical controls may not be appropriate to
        every task. This was the pitch when Jobs unveiled the iPhone, and it
        makes sense.
        
        However, if you have a device with a single function, there's no need
        for that. Your physical controls will always match the device's
        function. Use those.
       
        sfink wrote 4 days ago:
        This article strangely undersells the advantages of low tech. It's true
        that they're not better for everything, but they have advantages well
        beyond the basic things mentioned.
        
        A tactile button has far fewer accuracy issues with positioning: if you
        can feel the button, you won't start pressing 2/3 off and then get
        further and further off until you're triggering something else, as
        happens all the time on touchscreens.
        
        A knob provides a richer communication path between your brain and the
        device. With touchscreens, you can basically just poke and swipe, with
        some unintuitive nuances like long press or multi-fingered gestures.
        With a knob, you're using separate muscles and so can associate muscle
        memory based on the size, texture, and granularity of "click" feedback
        as you turn. We also have the ability to finely modulate the rate of
        twisting something—compare that to tapping frantically on a
        touchscreen left/right icon to control a quantity.
        
        Knobs don't share space in our muscle memory with buttons. To some
        extent, different knobs and different buttons are distinguishable too.
        
        Physical sliders are good for fine-grained control, but are also good
        at just smashing them all the way to min or max. When I try that on a
        touchscreen control, it might not make it all the way to the extreme,
        or my angle is wrong (no physical constraint to keep my hand/finger in
        place!) and it doesn't register at all because I veered off of the
        control.
        
        Even when I'm looking at the screen already, using a directional pad
        means I'll always gradually get further and further off until it stops
        registering. Either because my attention is on a different part of the
        screen, or because my fingers are in the way of seeing the displayed
        pad. Not a problem with a physical stick or knob.
       
          Affric wrote 2 days ago:
          Right?
          
          Modern computers, GUIs, and even the TUI, provide flexibility for a
          device. They're good at manipulating many different types of
          information.
          
          If you have something that is meant to do something very well and it
          is critical then it makes sense to have a machine with purpose built
          physical controls. Controls which enable you to manipulate that one
          critical type of information accurately and easily.
          
          The dedicated machine with physical controls will have to be correct,
          complete, and durable. But it will always work better because the
          controls are designed for real human bodily movement. They become
          truly enmeshed in muscle memory. You know where a control is relative
          to the others. It's just different.
       
          DarylZero wrote 2 days ago:
          All very good points.  I'd like to add that several of the advantages
          you list also apply to the old-school mouse vs. the touchscreen &
          touchpad.
       
          daniel-cussen wrote 3 days ago:
          > A knob provides a richer communication path between your brain and
          the device. With touchscreens, you can basically just poke and swipe,
          with some unintuitive nuances like long press or multi-fingered
          gestures. With a knob, you're using separate muscles and so can
          associate muscle memory based on the size, texture, and granularity
          of "click" feedback as you turn. We also have the ability to finely
          modulate the rate of twisting something—compare that to tapping
          frantically on a touchscreen left/right icon to control a quantity.
          
          That gives me an idea, which I credit to you sfink.  To make a
          product with knobs, buy knobs of slightly different makes with
          variations that feel slightly different, slightly different texture,
          different roughness, different give, despite being all of them
          supposedly the same jelly bean part.  This helps muscle memory
          because despite appearing basically the same the muscles and spine
          know the difference right away, secretly.
          
          What that means is for a 6-knob device you need 6 suppliers.  What
          that means is there's room in the market for many companies, and less
          economies of scale, despite being formally a commodity.  What that
          then means is there's more diversity in the marketplace, and more
          companies that can each stay afloat, competition is less cutthroat. 
          The other thing that then means is American and Chinese companies can
          coexist in what is otherwise a bitter-fought market.  In fact, one
          good way of getting subtly different knob feels is in fact making
          them in different countries with different regulatory environments
          dictating how not to make the knob.
          
          And what that all means is we reduce the final stage of economies of
          scale--wars and empires.
       
          yourapostasy wrote 3 days ago:
          I expect if lo-tek UI’s become a popular way to interface with
          software, it won’t be long before someone is codgering up a 3D
          printer to create baroque monstrosities. Like say a colicky knob that
          acts as a button in both push and pull directions with multiple
          different clicky depths, and slides.
          
          That reminds me of many Asian web site UI’s: they’re very dense
          by some Western market standards because many Asian markets’
          Internet users apparently want dense information transfer in their
          user experience, which seems to be eschewed by many current Western
          site designs.
       
          stjohnswarts wrote 3 days ago:
          One reason I'm hanging on to my car for now. I prefer knobs and
          buttons. I can adjust my radio, ac, heat, defrost, etc without ever
          taking my eyes off the road.
       
          UniverseHacker wrote 3 days ago:
          Your post is really reassuring... I have all of these problems with
          touchscreens and find them almost unusable... yet I thought I was
          alone, because people seem to love them.
       
            picture wrote 3 days ago:
            I think it goes to show how people are surprisingly willing to
            settle for sub par experiences. Nearly everyone in the united
            states use terrible paper mate pens that scratch and skip, and use
            composition notebooks with cover that looks like tv static, made of
            center-stapled tissue paper that don't open flat.
            
            (If any of you are suffering from terrible stationary, I would
            recommend trying out Midori MD Paper notebooks or Rhodia Rhodiarama
            notebooks. Midori makes beautiful and functional notebooks with
            precision ruling that satisfies the engineer in me, and Rhodia uses
            luxurious Clairefontaine paper suitable for fountain pens and
            stuff)
       
          WalterBright wrote 4 days ago:
          I find it harder to accurately position a physical slider than a
          knob. The reason is pretty obvious once you realize which muscles are
          involved in each movement.
       
            ZoomZoomZoom wrote 3 days ago:
            Well, it depends on the length/circumference. Knobs are usually
            more satisfying to tune, but faders are not only as precise, but
            give better visual feedback and you can move multiple at once.
       
              WalterBright wrote 3 days ago:
              Oh, sliders do provide better visual feedback. But they are less
              imprecise because your gross motor muscles move your arm to move
              the slider, whereas a typical knob uses the fine control muscles
              in your hand.
       
          tomtung wrote 4 days ago:
          So true. This is one reason why I really miss my Pebble watch with
          its physical buttons, which allowed me to perform a lot of operations
          by touch without looking (e.g., play/pause/forward/rewind for media
          control). In comparison, fiddling with the small touch screen of my
          Fitbit Versa is such a poor user experience.
          
          Not to mention Pebble's "low-tech" screen was so clearly visible in
          direct sunlight, while I have problem clearly seeing the fancier
          screen of Fitbit when it's slightly bright outside.
       
            mjcohen wrote 3 days ago:
            Pebble Times (and others) are still available on eBay. I am wearing
            my third - the batteries died on my other two.
       
          aimor wrote 4 days ago:
          I remember when my phone updated to Android 10 and soon after I
          received a call and, well, there's a video that shows pretty much
          exactly how things went: [1] I can't believe we're asking software
          developers to recreate the world on a screen. It's an incredible
          amount of work that never gets done, leaving us with unintuitive
          interfaces.
          
   URI    [1]: https://youtu.be/UzpEHwZ-s-M?t=9
       
          joe_the_user wrote 4 days ago:
          I agree with you but in response to:
          
          A tactile button has far fewer accuracy issues with positioning: if
          you can feel the button, you won't start pressing 2/3 off and then
          get further and further off until you're triggering something else,
          as happens all the time on touchscreens.
          
          I gotta mention that I have a circa 2000 Japanese luxury car and the
          dials that control the stereo and the air conditioning are actually
          remarkably unpredictable. Turning the knob at all quickly will
          disorient the system and you can have a large increase in value or
          no-increase-at all (it seems to be an artifact of the knob changing a
          digital value). If you look carefully and move slowly they work but
          they essentially have all the drawbacks you describe with a touch
          screen - except you can't do something else entirely, thankfully.
          Obviously, better design would fix this so one does have to say
          "properly designed knobs are better".
       
            olyjohn wrote 3 days ago:
            Have you used the touchscreen in a 2000's-era Japanese car? It's
            horrific.
       
            closeparen wrote 4 days ago:
            My 2017 Subaru has perfectly nice tactile controls for the radio,
            except that they’re disabled when the car is in reverse.
       
            marcus_cemes wrote 4 days ago:
            I guess the "digital but with physical buttons" is the
            middleground. It still gives the designers the ability to mess
            around with acceleration curves that amplify fast movements, or to
            not sample the value fast enough to get coherent digital readings.
            I don't understand why they do this. As a university engineering
            student, I have a great love for linear systems, which usually is
            anything analogue. It makes everything easier.
            
            For example, the focus ring of a consumer digital camera lens
            drives me nuts, it's practically impossible to do a pull focus
            reliably between two objects. If you do it a little faster or
            slower, it will be off, regardless of the travel distance. On the
            other hand, professional cinema lenses usually have actual
            mechanical focus wheels attached to ensure perfect reproducibility.
       
            frosted-flakes wrote 4 days ago:
            That's a bad implementation. Implemented well, a radio volume dial
            allows for predictable fine- and coarse-grained control. All of my
            cars have had good volume knobs that respond instantly and
            predictably, but I'm not surprised that there are bad ones.
            
            There are no good implementations of touch screen buttons. However,
            there are some good implementations of touch sliders though,
            particularly on some LG microwaves (which someone else also brought
            up[1]).
            
            I've written about these microwaves previously on HN, so I'll just
            quote myself[2]. [1] [2] 
            
            > Regarding microwave oven ergonomics, the best one I've seen
            doesn't have old-school dials, but a touch-sensitive slider bar.
            You may think this is bad, but it works very, very well. The front
            of the microwave has the time display, the time slider bar, and two
            buttons: stop/cancel and start/+30sec. Open the door and there are
            a few auto cook options and power level options. There is no number
            keypad at all; the slider bar gives you both very fine and
            coarse-grained control, depending on how fast you slide across it.
            It's all very intuitive, and I was very impressed with it.
            
   URI      [1]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=31506358
   URI      [2]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=30873016
       
            sfink wrote 4 days ago:
            I agree! I could rant endlessly about all the bad physical
            interfaces I've used. My house is full of them. All the new
            appliances come with the flat buttons—are they capacitive or
            something?—they may or may not register when you press them, that
            often don't work when poked with a gloved elbow, etc. And dials
            like you describe that change random amounts or aren't debounced or
            whatever. There are probably more possible ways for physical things
            to go wrong than the small but common set of problems with
            touchscreens. It's more that they can go more right, too. (Or at
            least have their problems and benefits better matched to a task.)
       
              porknubbins wrote 3 days ago:
              Now that you mention it all applicances I’ve ever seen have
              those annoying flat buttons. If they made a microwave or oven
              control panel with the equivalent of a satisfying mechanical
              keyboard it would pretty well differentiate itself with a premium
              feel, though even the feel of a decent tv remote would be a huge
              improvement.
       
                psd1 wrote 1 day ago:
                My microwave has four interface elements:
                
                - rotary knob for function (microwave power level, defrost
                mode, some never-used oven modes)
                - rotary knob for time; this turns itself back towards zero as
                it unwinds
                - audible "ting" when timer elapses
                - physical press button for the door latch
                
                I can heat food with a single turn of the timer knob.
                
                Most microwaves require you to navigate. You can fuck off with
                that shit, not in my house.
       
          kingrazor wrote 4 days ago:
          I can't count how often my left or down swipe has been interpreted as
          a left or right swipe on touchscreens
       
          justsomehnguy wrote 4 days ago:
          Oh, it is actually worse.
          
          The amount of times when I swiped down from the top (to open the
          notification shade or whatever it is called now or to refresh the
          page), the UI shows pulling down the thing fully... and when backs
          off. I repeat the gesture, but again it goes all the way down and
          retracts back and nothing happens.
          
          And of course when I don't need that, I just swipe down to go top of
          the page - it thinks what I actually want to refresh the page. Many
          comments were lost that way.
       
            allenu wrote 4 days ago:
            Or worse, those UI affordances may change over time. With the swipe
            down behavior you mentioned, on iOS, I used to just swipe down from
            the center of the top of the iPad to see the notification shade. A
            recent iOS behavior made it so swiping down from the center now
            causes the app window to be dragged. Ugh! Now I have to relearn to
            find a spot slightly to the right to pull down to view the shade.
       
        AdamH12113 wrote 4 days ago:
        I feel like a lot of people have forgotten that before the iPhone,
        touchscreens were widely regarded as a terrible interface only suitable
        for niche applications like kiosks. There were good reasons for that,
        and latency and lack of tactile feedback were high on the list.
        Touchscreens have proved effective in situations where you need a
        highly-flexible interface in a small space, but an awful lot of devices
        (like appliances) have more space and don't need the flexibility, so
        they end up taking all of the downsides with none of the benefits.
        
        A lot of designers (or marketers) seem to be trying to copy the look
        and feel of Apple devices without understanding the factors that led to
        their design.
       
          tomtheelder wrote 4 days ago:
          Although I'm very much on the side of using more low-tech interfaces,
          it's important to remember that pre-iPhone touchscreens were a VERY
          different beast. Resistive touchscreens, in particular, were awful.
       
            AdamH12113 wrote 4 days ago:
            This is very true. Resistive touchscreens were slower, less
            reliable, and IIRC had coarser position sensing. Since we're
            talking about history, it's also worth noting that early opinions
            on touchscreens tended to assume they would be desk-mounted or
            wall-mounted, which leads to the gorilla arm problem.
       
          pcurve wrote 4 days ago:
          I agree.
          
          I get why the trade off is worthwhile on smartphone.
          
          But I hate the push in automotive application.    Yes, I'd like a big
          screen for navigation, but don't replace HVAC controls.
          
          It's not just about touch screen.  There is overuse of capacitive
          buttons in cars.  And it is all about dollars.
       
        dehrmann wrote 4 days ago:
        > Depending on how the controls are organized and differentiated by
        size or shape, users might also be able to distinguish between and
        access the controls without needing to look at the user interface
        
        I'm reminded of the big red button almost everything in a machine shop
        has.
       
        layer8 wrote 4 days ago:
        I still wish smartphones had physical PgUp/PgDn buttons. Much easier on
        the thumbs when you do a lot of scrolling.
       
          is_true wrote 4 days ago:
          Maybe the volume button could be used for this
       
            layer8 wrote 4 days ago:
            That might be possible on Android. But dedicated buttons would be
            better, to avoid having modes, and because sometimes there are use
            cases where you want to use both functions (e.g. scrolling through
            playlists while trying songs with different volume levels).
            
            Electronic consumer devices like Minidisc players and PDAs used to
            often have a multitude of buttons to directly access all commonly
            used functions.
       
        igouy wrote 4 days ago:
        “solutionism”
        
        "Touch Screens in Cars Solve a Problem We Didn't Have" Jay Caspian
        Kang, NYT May 23 2022
        
   URI  [1]: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/23/opinion/touch-screens-cars....
       
        motohagiography wrote 4 days ago:
        The comment about the marketing person saying users would feel like the
        lower-tech UX was archaic was interesting because of the insight it
        implied.
        
        The value a product expresses really is the product. The user has to
        feel something about it. A medical device in a hospital setting used by
        nurses on patients needs to express professional sophistication to the
        patient and reliability to the RN. The simple LCD display makes sense
        for expressing something purpose-built, e.g. for a doctor doing a test,
        but for the RN, who does most of the care and patient interaction,
        things like rapport, trust, and familiarity go a lot further, hence
        asking for a touch screen.
        
        Once as a PM on a security product, I entered into the UX development
        with the perspective of producing a consumer product that just told you
        the thing you needed to know, believing that the value we were
        providing was from our ML  analytics back end we had invested so much
        in. What came back from enterprise sales was, "we want more widgets on
        the screen, can you just make it look like it's doing something?" My
        reaction was, "find smarter customers," which of course was the the
        most uniquely and profoundly wrong response in almost every way at
        once. After going out on some sales calls, what customers wanted was
        our data. They didn't care about our huge ML pipeline with a calm and
        decisive consumer oriented UX, because in their environment, having
        smooth products was not what made them express power to their own
        stakeholders - they expressed their own value by showing whizzing
        screens of data. What they really wanted in hindsight was a private
        telemetry and surveillance API for fleet devices, like a more
        featureful MDM, but scriptable so they could demonstrate their own
        value - and not an ML model that did that for them. A low tech command
        line or API was the real product they wanted. Customers who did like it
        were enterprise managers who wanted to show they were hip to silicon
        valley driven tech change.
        
        I'd wonder if we could make a radial web chart of the values a customer
        really has and the result would indicate the design language elements
        the UX of a product should have. You'd have to figure out what things
        like "powerful" mean to your customers, and what would equip them to
        become that through using your product. Other sub values are things
        like authoritative, safe, precision, virtuotic, calm, belonging,
        competent, inventive, hidden depth, compliant and aligned, elevated,
        the exception, etc. Based on these, I'd design a product UX around a
        stack ranked set of values like these.
        
        Makes me think there is a future in new kinds of input devices though.
       
        twobitshifter wrote 4 days ago:
        One of the best low-tech interfaces is the honeywell round thermostat.
        Change the dial to point to the temperature you want and the internal
        indicator shows you the current temperature. All without requiring any
        transistors. Go shop for a thermostat, look at other options, and be
        amazed at how complex the layers of technology can make things.
       
          vel0city wrote 4 days ago:
          So how to I set my away temperature? How do I set the return
          temperature? How do I set the sleep temperature? How do I set the
          wake temperature?
          
          How can I make it change based on my schedule, as I'm home most of
          the day on the weekends while I'm often out during the week?
          
          Seems like its not that great of a UI given the requirements I have.
       
            twobitshifter wrote 4 days ago:
            Turn it up and down when you come and go? In my opinion all those
            features are a catastrophe in that your body will end up being in
            your house at the wrong time or your clothing will be warmer or
            hotter than typical or your spouse will, and you will want to play
            with the temp anyways and end up fiddling with things to get it
            right. The learning thermostats try to solve this, but it’s at
            great cost and complexity and experiences vary and habits change.
       
              vel0city wrote 4 days ago:
              > In my opinion all those features are a catastrophe in that your
              body will end up being in your house at the wrong time
              
              You're trading sometimes being in the house at the wrong time to
              every day being in the house at the wrong time. Then your other
              statement doesn't matter if its programmable or not, if you're
              constantly in disagreement of what the thermostat should be
              you're going to be fiddling with it regardless of if its
              programmed or not.
              
              I realize people's experiences vary greatly, but that's kind of
              my point about looking at the basic Honeywell thermostat and
              declaring its a great user experience. To me, its a terrible user
              experience and far worse than my basic 7 day 4 stage programmable
              thermostat which I touch once a season and otherwise let it be.
              In the end I save energy, reduce my bill, have on average a more
              comfortable house, and I rarely have to interact with the
              thermostat.
       
        titzer wrote 4 days ago:
        I just started getting into embedded programming (Arduinos and Pi's)
        and one of the most exciting things is the possibility to make physical
        thing with custom buttons, toggles, and LEDs to do a thing. E.g. I
        prototyped a metronome (for practicing music) with an animated LED
        light bar (out of PVC pipe!) and pushbuttons to program it. Thing can
        be huge and robust, like throw-against-the-wall robust. And I like that
        there are only so many buttons and they don't move!
       
        glonq wrote 4 days ago:
        I spent the first several years of my career developing low-tech user
        interfaces for parking and payment kiosks that had little more than
        piezo buttons and HD44780-based text-only LCD's.  It certainly helped
        me appreciate that for UX, sometimes "less is more".
       
        tiffanyh wrote 4 days ago:
        I use to have a 2006 Saab. I LOVED how it had mechanical buttons for
        everything on the dash. [1] It's no surprise given that Saab has a
        history in aerospace.
        
        I totally get why car manufacturers are moving to essentially a big
        iPad as a replacement for the overall dash (it's like when the iPhone
        came out and people loved their Blackberry keyboards), but from a
        function vs form perspective - buttons are way easier.
        
   URI  [1]: http://images.gtcarlot.com/pictures/48277419.jpg
       
          michaelrpeskin wrote 4 days ago:
          I still daily drive a Classic 900 (1987) and not only is everything a
          real button or knob, but it's all controlled by vacuum, not
          electronics.  It's fun to hear the hisses when you change the vent
          settings.
       
            tiffanyh wrote 4 days ago:
            Re: vent
            
            I still think the HVAC vent knob on my Saab was the most innovate
            knob I've ever seen and nothing compares today.
            
            It allowed you to redirect the air in a fluid full 360 degree
            (semi-circular) position seamlessly. All other cars it's 2 separate
            horizontal and vertical controls.
       
              michaelrpeskin wrote 4 days ago:
              Yes, it goes from "0" at the bottom to defrost at the top and
              every step in between makes perfect sense.  Just twist the knob
              and it works.  No thinking.
       
        Aperocky wrote 4 days ago:
        imo a lot of benefit claimed are not 'low tech', they are just the
        natural result of simple > complex.
        
        The philosophy of simple > complex isn't low-tech or high-tech, it just
        is.
       
        guessbest wrote 4 days ago:
        There are "low tech" interfaces are on handheld ham radios and can be
        pretty annoying to have to read the manual to change basic settings,
        like from step from 2.5k to 25k or somewhere in between. A touch screen
        would make handheld transceivers so much easier to use especially
        considering the number of features in it.
       
        jupp0r wrote 4 days ago:
        My favorite example:
        
        Microwave controls. One dial for power and one dial for time is all you
        really need and much better than numpad controls.
       
          twobitshifter wrote 4 days ago:
          I have an LG microwave with a simple touch strip on the front for
          setting the time and it’s actually amazing. all the more
          complicated never used features are hidden behind the door and not
          seen until opened. The touch strip is ribbed and clever enough to
          start jumping ahead by whole minutes or more as you scroll.
       
        danans wrote 4 days ago:
        The Awair Element indoor air quality monitor has an interesting
        low-tech yet information dense physical display.
        
        It's a low resolution matrix of LEDs behind a plastic facade that
        displays current air quality measurements pretty simply but
        effectively.
        
        It's a clever design choice for many reasons, not just because it
        lowers the BOM of the device, but because people already have enough
        computer/phone/TV high resolution displays in their living spaces, and
        in contrast the Awair looks somewhat elegant in contrast.
        
        There are some reasonable critiques regarding the accuracy or
        effectiveness of these consumer indoor air monitors, but I get far more
        questions about the Awair than I do about any other devices I have. 
        Some of that is its novelty, but some of it also is the minimal UX.
       
        DoubleDerper wrote 4 days ago:
        A certain "smart" speaker company replaced their expensive device's
        single functional button with capacitive touch.  The product is worse,
        now less accessible.
       
        incahoots wrote 4 days ago:
        Biggest offender are automakers. A giant touch screen that replaces
        physical knobs and switches is incredibly backwards thinking.
        
        The ability to make quick changes to HVAC, radio, or heating/cooling
        settings is now requiring drivers to take their eyes off the road to
        drag a greasy finger across a virtual dial, it's pretty inane all
        things considered.
       
        Zachsa999 wrote 4 days ago:
        Project Idea: low tech consumer goods website. Rate ovens microwaves
        washing mach ines etc by low tech high quality.
       
        mLuby wrote 4 days ago:
        Are after-market retrofits replacing touch screens with low-tech
        controls possible?
       
        CivBase wrote 4 days ago:
        > Many consumers judge product qualities based on superficial
        impressions and studies have shown that these impressions can cause
        users to perceive a product as less usable than it actually is.
        
        I'm genuinely amazed that touch screens are still seen as "high tech"
        by so many people. They've been common for a decade and most people
        should be very familiar with their flaws. They're harder to use, more
        susceptible to defects, provide little or no feedback, and add expense
        to the product. The only real advantage touch screens have is that they
        are dynamic, so you can cram multiple interfaces into a small physical
        footprint - at the cost of only being able to display interface at a
        time. And I guess you could theoretically update the interface after
        sale... but I don't know if I've ever seen that done in practice other
        than to fix bugs.
       
        nicbou wrote 4 days ago:
        The most important lesson I learned in engineering school: define the
        problem then look for a solution.
        
        Most people have a solution in mind before they even look at the
        problem, and that solution is usually "build an app", or "slap a screen
        on it". With bureaucracy, it's "put the form on the internet".
        
        There are a few low tech devices I much prefer:
        
        - A kitchen timer vs. my phone. I don't need to unlock the phone and
        navigate to the timer app. I just twist the knob until I see the
        desired number. Hell, it's probably set to 3 minutes already, because I
        mostly use it to make tea.
        
        - My microwave has one knob for time, and one knob for intensity. Best
        microwave interface ever. It doesn't tell time, so I never need to
        adjust it. I had microwaves so complicated that I turned to social
        networks for help.
        
        - Stoves. I refuse to buy a stove without knobs. I have hated every
        stove without knobs I've ever used. Touch-sensitive buttons don't work
        with oven mitts, but get triggered by a wet rag, steam and spilled
        spaghetti sauce.
        
        - Car infotainment. Each knob controls one thing. It's always in the
        same place, and I can find it while keeping my eyes on the road.
        
        - Wired audio. This device is paired to the device it's physically
        connected to.
       
          Too wrote 3 days ago:
          We got a new fancy coffee machine at work. Obviously with a big shiny
          touch screen attached. Best case, it requires 3 touch actions to get
          a standard coffee. One modal to select drink, one modal to select
          strength, one modal to confirm start. Some times, even more if it
          went into presentation mode where it brags about how good coffee it
          produces, requiring yet another touch to dismiss.
          
          The old model. One physical button for coffee, one for cappuccino,
          one for espresso, one for tea water. Single press instantly gives you
          want you want. For more custom mixes you can optionally change the
          strength with another button on top before making your choice.
          
          How is this progress? I don't want "engagement" with my coffee
          machine. I just want it to give me coffee with as little effort as
          possible. It's exactly like you say, someone was given the task to
          solve a coffee app, instead of looking at the actual problem first.
       
          artificialLimbs wrote 4 days ago:
          > "A kitchen timer vs. my phone"
          
          Having to LOOK at the number? ;)
          
          I can talk to the phone while I'm slicing: 'Hey Siri, set a timer for
          x {timeunit}"
          
          > "Wired audio."
          
          Hoping this one doesn't keep disappearing...
       
            nicbou wrote 4 days ago:
            It's still nice to see the time left if you're cooking things.
       
          marcosdumay wrote 4 days ago:
          > My microwave has one knob for time, and one knob for intensity.
          
          I don't think a knob is the optimal interface for time. In microwaves
          you need to input both low values of ~10s and very high values of
          ~600s with good precision on both cases. Sure, a logarithmic knob
          will give you that, but I don't think it's what you would expect.
          
          For power it's good. It's even a much better interface for the power
          level than the usual. But then, anything is a much better interface
          than the usual microwave power level one.
          
          > Wired audio. This device is paired to the device it's physically
          connected to.
          
          There used to exist those wireless speakers with two pieces, one you
          physically connected to the audio output on the device, the other had
          the speaker. The transmission was analog and sucked due to noise, but
          it was much more reliable and had less lag than bluetooth.
          
          For some reason, instead of fixing it into a digital transmission,
          everybody just stopped manufacturing the device.
       
            sfink wrote 4 days ago:
            >> My microwave has one knob for time, and one knob for intensity.
            
            > I don't think a knob is the optimal interface for time. In
            microwaves you need to input both low values of ~10s and very high
            values of ~600s with good precision on both cases. Sure, a
            logarithmic knob will give you that, but I don't think it's what
            you would expect.
            
            I definitely disagree. I had a stove once that had a perfect knob
            for setting time. The rate of increase/decrease was determined by
            the speed that you twisted it. Turn slowly for fine granularity,
            fast for large changes. I think it may have done something clever
            when you started fast and then slowed down (the natural thing to
            do), since I think the naive thing probably wouldn't work that
            well.
            
            It felt *awesome*. It sounds silly, but it's been just over a
            decade and I still miss that control knob. I think about it every
            time I'm faced with the latest way of adjusting some quantity. It's
            definitely not just because it was a physical knob—plenty of
            physical knobs are irritating and only good for either small or
            large changes, or feel unpredictable, or don't have good tactile
            feedback (too smooth and too chunky are both bad).
       
            strix_varius wrote 4 days ago:
            I'm just curious what you cook in a microwave for 10 minutes.
       
              MajorBee wrote 3 days ago:
              It's not really cooking, but I find it useful to defrost frozen
              meat in the microwave if I have forgotten to leave it out of the
              freezer overnight. Defrosting in a microwave usually means
              letting it run at low power for a long time (> 10 minutes
              depending on the type of meat and weight). Of course, I use the
              presets that come with my microwave to figure out the right
              time/power combination, so I definitely find that feature useful.
       
              danans wrote 3 days ago:
              Large thick skinned squashes with hard flesh like butternut,
              kabocha or spaghetti.    Probably not on max heat, but on medium
              so they cook evenly.
       
            nicbou wrote 4 days ago:
            I rarely need an exact amount of time. In fact I generally leave it
            with the door ajar and a few minutes on the timer.
            
            Even then, a knob works perfectly. It does not need to set the
            value linearly. The first quarter of the timer could be 5 second
            increments, and the second half minutes.
       
          the_snooze wrote 4 days ago:
          >Most people have a solution in mind before they even look at the
          problem, and that solution is usually
          
          "put it on the blockchain"
          
          But to your point, you're absolutely right. If you want to actually
          deliver valuable solutions, you need to have a good understanding of
          what unmet need you're trying to address. Otherwise you end up with a
          bad problem-solution match, and you waste everyone's time. Too often,
          technically minded people put too much emphasis on what's novel
          instead of what's valuable.
       
        ChrisMarshallNY wrote 4 days ago:
        I have always been skeptical of many "new-fangled" interfaces, like
        touchscreens and HUDs.
        
        I know that, many years ago, cars started to display speed and tach
        displays as digital, and that was fairly quickly reversed, because
        people kept seeing their speed as a jumble of characters (look at
        digital displays that change rapidly).
        
        I know that a number of auto manufacturers are starting to ditch
        touchscreen, for knobs.
        
        I've found that haptic feedback is helpful. I use it (as well as a
        "retro-style" LED display) in my latest little timer app[0]. The
        earlier versions of that app were a lot more complex, and I ended up
        removing a great deal of the flexibility. So far, people have given me
        good feedback on the new "Fisher-Price" interface.
        
        [0]
        
   URI  [1]: https://riftvalleysoftware.com/work/ios-apps/ambiamara/
       
        tablespoon wrote 4 days ago:
        IMHO, user interfaces generally are better the more buttons and knobs
        they have (scaled for compactness requirements).  Obviously some
        thought must be put into those buttons and knobs, but I've never
        personally ran into a UI that had too many.
       
        amelius wrote 4 days ago:
        All the laser printers I have used have a low-tech user interface, with
        an LCD screen and a bunch of buttons. The problem is that the buttons
        that the user can press (the "active" buttons) are dependent on
        context. Imho it would be much better if laser printers had a
        smartphone-style interface (touchscreen).
        
        Same for office phones (which have a plethora of buttons e.g. for
        conference calls that are not useful in many contexts).
       
          infinityio wrote 4 days ago:
          Maybe that's the distinction - if you are making a product that needs
          to do exactly one thing (or category of things), it should not have a
          touchscreen, it should have a button and a dial (eg toaster, oven,
          hob, clock). If you cannot map all common uses of the product to a
          single button press and instead rely on context, a touchscreen might
          be the better option
       
          nicbou wrote 4 days ago:
          I used a few office printers with touch screens, and they were much
          better.
       
        jopsen wrote 4 days ago:
        Is "low tech" really cheaper?
        
        Curious, because I thought the reason nobody did buttons anymore was
        that printing a pattern on a touch capacitive surface was dirty cheap.
        
        Whereas I assume tactile buttons require a lot work when
        mounting/building the product.
        
        Am I wrong?
        
        I guess an 8 digit display is still cheaper than a touch screen :)
       
          tremon wrote 4 days ago:
          Cheaper, how? Are we looking only at production cost, or total
          lifetime? How much energy does a button use over its lifetime, vs a
          checkbox on a LED screen?
       
            infinityio wrote 4 days ago:
            In this context, I'd imagine cheaper from an R&D + Manufacturing
            side. But equally this probably is the case - if adding a screen
            requires adding a much more powerful microcontroller to drive it,
            it probably adds a fair bit of cost
       
        etiam wrote 4 days ago:
        Does anybody have sources they want to share for getting components for
        classic interfaces like these today?
        
        I'd imagine production has plummeted since the glory days, but there
        ought to be stock of some things around still and people salvaging nice
        parts?
        
        I don't do any hardware work worth mentioning, but I hope to get around
        to amending that soon, and I'd find it attractive to use interfaces
        appropriate to the task (which, as people here have noted, will mean
        the ones on topic in a very substantial share of the cases).
       
          joshvm wrote 4 days ago:
          For hobbyists in the US, Sparkfun or Adafruit are a good start.
          Otherwise go to the big suppliers: Digikey, Farnell and Mouser. China
          (Aliexpress) supplies pretty much everything else. Many dropship on
          eBay and Amazon too, if you want convenience.
          
          You shouldn't need to salvage unless you really want some vintage pot
          knob or slider that you can't find elsewhere. Industrial hardware
          usually needs to be tactile (eg operated with gloves).
          
          Some modern stuff is better anyway, like mono OLED displays which are
          far more readable than LCDs.
       
            etiam wrote 2 days ago:
            Thanks! That's very helpful, and I'm glad to learn availability
            today is much better than I had imagined.
       
          ntoskrnl wrote 4 days ago:
          Digikey and Mouser
       
        analog31 wrote 4 days ago:
        A few days ago in these very pages, I dissed the UI of an oscilloscope.
        But using one yesterday, I realized an advantage: I could operate it
        with one hand while holding the probe with the other. Even software
        interfaces for instrumentation, that use the keyboard and mouse, are
        physically awkward and your computer has to be positioned just right.
        
        A couple more advantages:
        
        * A small interface makes small things small. A voltmeter doesn't need
        to be as big as a computer, and there are lots of gadgets that are
        smaller.
        
        * One-foot operation, such as the page turning pedals that musicians
        are now using for their sheet music.
       
          eddieroger wrote 4 days ago:
          I have a 2017 Honda Civic. That particular model year, they chose to
          remove the volume knob for a capacitive little slider thing (in
          addition to the buttons on the wheel). The very next year, they put
          it back. Turns out it's pretty useful to be able to control the
          volume of your stereo without taking your eyes off the road when
          operating a car. They did a similar thing for the air controls,
          except they left some of them as actual knobs and buttons.
          
          Sometimes the old ways are better and have lasted so long for a
          reason.
       
            vel0city wrote 4 days ago:
            > Turns out it's pretty useful to be able to control the volume of
            your stereo without taking your eyes off the road when operating a
            car.
            
            I do agree the volume slider is a terrible choice of interface, but
            TBF there is a tactile, physical volume control on your car within
            reach of your hands while they're on the wheel. There is a volume
            adjustment on your steering wheel, so theoretically you shouldn't
            even have to use the volume control on the stereo while you're
            driving.
       
              analog31 wrote 3 days ago:
              I still prefer the knob. Among the myriad of buttons, levers, and
              paddles on the steering wheel, with tiny symbols on them, I have
              to look down and figure out which ones are the volume control.
              It's much better on the other car where there are fewer buttons.
              
              The slider is a bad idea because the car is bouncing up and down,
              so your hand isn't stable unless you pin it down with your thumb
              or something like that, and you have to look away from the road.
              The car doesn't roll as much, so a knob is inherently more
              stable, and can be found by peripheral vision plus feel.
       
                vel0city wrote 3 days ago:
                Why is it a collection of physical controls literally in front
                of you all the time while in the driver's seat somehow
                impossible to remember but a collection of physical controls
                further away from you easier to remember? I would think the
                controls you're literally holding constantly would be easier to
                remember than the controls further away and farther from your
                normal vision when driving.
                
                Why would you have to look down at the wheel but not the
                dashboard?
       
                fomine3 wrote 3 days ago:
                I'd like to have volume knob for a rental car because I don't
                remember everything at once, but I think button on steering is
                fine for my own car.
       
            thomastjeffery wrote 4 days ago:
            The volume knob is gone as early as the 2015 model, at least in the
            EX-L variant; but the steering wheel buttons are still there.
            
            If I didn't have physical buttons on the steering wheel to press, I
            wouldn't bother using the stereo at all.
            
            Driving is the absolute worst environment for touch screens. Not
            only am I unable to look at where I am touching at the same moment
            I want to touch, the whole car is moving unpredictably in relation
            to my finger.
       
        danybittel wrote 4 days ago:
        I think it's not only "low tech". The bigger issue I see, is that
        everything tries to be an Assistant.
        
        For example, the Oculus Quest, there's a on / off button fine, easy to
        understand. Except, it magically turns itself on if it assumes, you may
        use it, and turns itself off if not used anymore. Unfortunately that is
        often not correct, so you start counter acting, holding it carefully so
        the sensor does not react and double checking if it turned off or just
        on again, when switching it off. Congratulation, they made a simple on
        / off switch unintuitive.
        
        I see this pattern everywhere. It seems ux designers are trying to hard
        to be clever. Just give us a Tool, that does one thing and always acts
        the same. If it doesn't make sense, let the user learn from it's
        mistake.
       
        resters wrote 4 days ago:
        In the case of cars, why can't the UX be a replaceable module so that
        third party options can be chosen?
       
        orbit7 wrote 4 days ago:
        Interesting read, I certainly think there is a lot to be said for
        minimlism where a system can be controlled with physical controls/
        buttons without an instruction manual, fancy screens and UI are often a
        complete overkill for a product.   The Design of Everyday things is an
        essential read on these topics and generally a book I'd recommend to 
        anyone working in tech or design.
       
        TacticalCoder wrote 4 days ago:
        To anyone designing low-tech user interfaces: I'm all for something
        simple but please, oh please, use something with a better feedback than
        the membrane "keyboard" shown in the article.  Membrane keys are the
        absolute shittiest piece of shit ever produced.  I use three everyday:
        my safe has one.  My projector's remote control and my LED strip light
        (I use a LED strip to give a "home cinema" feel to the room) has one. 
        The one on the safe, thankfully, at least emits a "beep" every time a
        press registers.  Doesn't make it great by any means but there's that. 
        On the projector there's a delay between any press and the projector
        giving you any feedback, so you don't know if a press registered or
        not.
        
        I do honestly think, and I'm not a big smartphone fan, that a virtual
        keyboard on s smartphone's screen with haptic feeback (where the phone
        vibrates a bit when you  "press" a key) is infinitely better than
        membrane keyboards.
        
        Now I'm not saying everything should be replaced with screens+haptic
        feedback: what I'm saying is membrane keyboard are the worst piece of
        shit man ever invented.
        
        On the other hand my alarm system has buttons (zero screen): one
        button, one function.  And the feedback on these buttons is perfect. 
        It's bliss.   Same in my ultra high end, but thankfully nine years old,
        car: one button, one function.    And when you press that button you know
        it's been pressed.  Perfection. (I say "thankfully nine years old"
        because the very same car brand/model now uses screens everywhere
        instead of buttons).
        
        So you can have two exactly identical looking user interface and,
        without trying, it's impossible to tell if it's a complete piece of
        shit or not (well, these membranes things: you kinda spot them from a
        mile): you need to actually press the buttons to know.
        
        Membranes are the opposite of perfect user experience: they're mediocre
        turds.
       
          treis wrote 4 days ago:
          > On the projector there's a delay between any press and the
          projector giving you any feedback, so you don't know if a press
          registered or not.
          
          This a related issue with slow response times of modern UIs.  I spent
          a decent chunk of my career replacing AS-400 systems with ones
          accessed through the browser.  Those AS-400 systems were often hosted
          in the building and were written to run on servers from the 80s or
          earlier.  With modern hardware they rendered screens within single
          digit ms and I think the emulator did some input queueing.
          
          Users would know that to, as an example, change someone's address
          they'd have to hit 7, 3, enter, 3, tab, tab and start typing.  With a
          browser interface they couldn't do that because the latency was
          unpredictable and the page might not be ready for their input. 
          Usually we ended up slowing the users down significantly.
       
          joezydeco wrote 4 days ago:
          So your complaint isn't really about the membrane itself but the lack
          of haptic or other feedback that comes with a press.
          
          I worked on controls with one company and their solution was to put a
          membrane overlay on the panel but place low-travel physical buttons
          behind it. You had the advantages of a membrane overlay (sealed from
          dust/moisture, better artwork on top) and the higher reliability of
          the button. And if the overlay tore or wore off the system still
          worked.
       
        reacharavindh wrote 4 days ago:
        The place where I feel this the most is cars. 
        I drove a Tesla Model 3 that belongs to a friend and had used a rented
        VW Golf mark 8. The touch screen and touch sensitive panels with haptic
        feedback were horrible. I now appreciate my VW Golf Mark 7 even more.
        It is glorious to have knobs, physical buttons, and levers for all
        things that needs to be controlled while driving. It's intuitive, and I
        can use them without looking at them(taking attention off of the road).
        I wish and hope that a modern car gets this "old fashioned" interface
        when I am in the market for a new car in a few years.
       
          bombcar wrote 4 days ago:
          Touchscreens look great on spec sheets and to those who buy them, not
          necessarily to those who have to use them.
          
          And those that buy them are loathe to admit they suck until after
          they've sold it off (because admitting it sucks means admitting you
          made a bad purchase).
       
        memorable wrote 4 days ago:
        Frick Medium again. Cannot find an archive for this one, so take a
        Scribe instead.
        
   URI  [1]: https://archive.ph/YgElI
       
        dontbenebby wrote 4 days ago:
        Before I transferred to the University of Pittsburgh, I was pursuing a
        minor in graphic design. I could have taken one of the last darkroom
        photography courses offered at La Roche College, but chose to take a
        digital course since I had extensive experience in that area dating
        back to saving snaps on floppies at the Duquesne Multicultural Computer
        Academy in the City of Pittsburgh.
        
        I agree with you WRT tactile interfaces, the only reason things like
        the iPhone work are a combination of text prediction and over-reliance
        on rare ingredients like rare earth minerals to make that super strong
        glass and super thin, long lasting batteries.
        
        (China controls a lot of those mines now, because Obama was a weak
        leader who handed Africqa and SE Asia over to totalitatians.)
        
        I hate how many things were taken digital rapidly, classic example
        being I read about Nordic countries ditching AM/FM radio.
        
        It is cool and good to be able to buy a twenty dollar radio and set of
        rechargable double AAs, and then have access to news via folks like NPR
        + some classical or whatever to flood a room with noise when you need
        to go full cyberpunk at the library, but the library was closed due to
        COVID.
        
        I can't tell if the generation after millenials are all what that
        hentai loving sci fi guy from boing boing warned us about: unable to
        use the command line or understand the value of general purpose
        computing, but on my end I'm about to go stand outside with a sign and
        a cup rather than waste energy and resources standing up a website,
        writing out a bunch of "creative nonfiction", and then having folks
        pretend that if they send me something like "Monero" (that might be
        secure in a technial sense, but is literally sold only in one physical
        location in my city.)
        
        (A long time ago, I considered being a designer, but that's subjective,
        and it seems like the field is structured so they mostly invent ways to
        steal ideas from the technical folks who make it possible for them to
        have the serenity first to think up cute designs.)
        
        So many designers forget that "low tech" designs were planned after
        years or generations of iteration and shouldn't be changed lightly --
        that might be a load bearing lorus ipsum ;)
        
        (For context, the reason you're getting this type of reply is that
        around 2010 I offered to work for a major FFRDC codeing up custom
        forensics tools that would be more usable so they wouldn't need to pay
        millions for training and licenses, but I never even got a reply to my
        email despite being referred to that person by someone who founded an
        entire conference on my area of research.
        
        Then again, we were also discussing whether I should join the FBI at
        the time.
        
        (My take was they hadn't figured out how to navigate the conflict of
        interest between the counter intelligence mission and the criminal
        division, just like the NSA hadn't figured out how to navigate offense
        and defense or the secret service never learned to navigate the dual
        mission of offense and defense)
        
        Later on, at Defcon an SS agent (using THAT acronym on purpose) told me
        if you want to know what it's like to be in the secret service, go
        stand in a suit on your front lawn in 80% humiudity for twelve hours,
        but to be fair I didn't check if I could apply and ONLY focus on things
        like counterfeiting, since I've made it clear for over a decade I won't
        kill the president, but I'll absolutely pull out my phone and arch my
        eyebrows at the corpse as I take a photo if someone else does.
        
        This poster paid 150 dollars on a nonprofit salary to go see Obama
        gaslight him on encryption after.
        
        This is like the fall of the USSR.
        
        Post better.
        
        Be Better.
        
        TL;DR: Great article, thanks for sharing Marban. I agree that low tech
        interfaces are cool and good.
       
        qwerty456127 wrote 4 days ago:
        As kid I obviously was thrilled by futuristic touchscreen stuff but now
        I can't help but hate that and want all the controls analog.
       
        vortico wrote 4 days ago:
        Reminded me of my favorite article. [1] I'm willing to pay extra to
        avoid touch screens in my cars, washing machines, door locks, and
        personal computers. I can't be the only one!
        
   URI  [1]: http://worrydream.com/ABriefRantOnTheFutureOfInteractionDesign...
       
          forsythe_ wrote 4 days ago:
          Wow, excellent article. And it sent me down a deep rabbithole reading
          the rest of Bret's blog. Thank you.
       
          user_7832 wrote 4 days ago:
          Thanks for that article, it was a great read.
       
        wiz21c wrote 4 days ago:
        Maybe it just costs less to build LED screen cars than those with knobs
        ?
       
          mateo1 wrote 4 days ago:
          Unfortunately that's true. These days it's just cheaper and easier to
          place everything on a screen rather than using anything physical.
          Imagine that voice recognition gets even better, then it would be
          even cheaper to have nothing but a speaker and a microphone.
          Touchscreens and capacitive buttons have a number of issues that
          physical controls don't, but (unfortunately?) they're usually
          cheaper, last longer and are much more convenient for the
          manufacturers so they're not going anywhere. Tactile feedback, a
          fixed spatial position and being "always on" are now luxuries.
       
          etiam wrote 4 days ago:
          Could well be, if nothing else in workforce competence.
          
          I like to claim the development the last few decades seems to be
          going from specialized tools that performed their task beautifully to
          generic tools that performed that task (or some semblance thereof) at
          all.
          
          Case in point: "Desktop evolution"
          
   URI    [1]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CI3ojKxhy-4
       
        omega3 wrote 4 days ago:
        One only needs to look at how professionals operate to find already
        iterated to a close perfection user interfaces. Take a professional
        kitchen at a restaurant and compare it with a gadget filled home
        kitchen.
       
          MajorBee wrote 3 days ago:
          That's not always the right way to go either. A professional using a
          particular device on the daily will be proficient in its usage
          regardless of how terrible the user interface, simply on the basis of
          how often they use the thing. On the other hand, how quickly an
          amateur can pick up a device and start using it will be heavily
          dependent on how intuitive and instructive the interface is. These
          two can often be conflicting, though not always. For a product that
          has a lot of "amateur" users (many home appliances), a touch screen
          can often be the right paradigm to choose.
          
          A classic example of this is the situation where an experienced
          cashier on an "analog" system can just fly through the buttons and
          complete transactions in no time, while at the same time a rookie
          would take that much more time to ramp up, figure out, and
          internalize the various button mappings. A darker interpretation of
          this would be that the system is optimization for fungible workers,
          where swapping out one cashier at will for another has negligible
          impact on productivity.
       
          nicbou wrote 4 days ago:
          I had a similar experience with accounting software recently. The
          ugly software is built for someone entering 20 invoices in a row, and
          automates as much of it as it can. The shiny startup software was
          designed by a very  skilled designer who never had to do accounting.
       
          thfuran wrote 4 days ago:
          I work on software for professional use and while I'd never say our
          UX is near perfection, we do get a bunch of tickets if things change
          and some process starts taking an extra click or two. We're at least
          pressured to avoid UX regressions and needless changes.
       
          tunap wrote 4 days ago:
          My dinosaur 5 Star Range cannot be beat. Despite the large knobs, it
          does everything I want it to do, how I want it done. No UX getting in
          the way to "assist" in deviating me from my intended settings.
       
        flashingleds wrote 4 days ago:
        It can go both ways of course. The first edition of Norman’s classic
        ‘design of everyday things’ was 1988, and it’s interesting to
        read that book today and see how a lot of the hard problems he was
        discussing were completely solved by the advent of touchscreen
        interfaces (specifically, the ability to reconfigure the interface
        according to what tasks are relevant at that moment). Done right,
        touchscreens are a huge boon for usability (I mean, look at what the
        iphone did). Done poorly they’re a disaster, but that’s been true
        forever with UI design regardless of the tools at hand.
        
        (I haven’t read the revised edition (2013) of Norman’s book, I
        guess he must address touchscreens)
       
          Frost1x wrote 4 days ago:
          >a lot of the hard problems he was discussing were completely solved
          by the advent of touchscreen interfaces (specifically, the ability to
          reconfigure the interface according to what tasks are relevant at
          that moment). Done right, touchscreens are a huge boon for usability
          (I mean, look at what the iphone did).
          
          Eh, reconfigurability and dynamic interfaces are great for developers
          because it allows you to change things later and fix mistakes.
          Context sensitive UIs assume my brain can switch spatial contexts as
          well and for some interfaces, context switches are expensive on my
          brain. I want to rely more on muscle memory so I can focus on higher
          cognitive tasks, I don't want my UI to be one of those higher
          cognitive tasks.
          
          Touch interfaces have their place but too many fall prey to the
          allure of sexy and try to slap it on every problem. On phones it
          ultimatelt makes sense, even there jumping between apps and updates
          on apps I find myself spending time figuring out interfaces far more
          than I should need to. This hurts usability more than helps it. I
          understand the goal is typi ally continuous improvement but I wonder
          for how many the goal is simply continous new shiny
       
          blackhaz wrote 4 days ago:
          What are the examples of touchscreens done right besides the iPhone
          which is also on a UX downhill since, probably iPhone 4 or 5 era?
          
          Cars? Motherfucking abysmal. 
          ATMs? How many times we tried to press a button realizing you're
          missing it completely because there's a 3-inch think screen? 
          Laptops? Only those who like fingerprints.
          Cameras? I think if you are seriously using it, you prefer tactile. 
          Signature pads? This should not even exist. 
          Vending machines? I think they're more confusing with buttons jumping
          on screen and changing their labels than without. 
          Handheld video games? Still rely on buttons.
          
          I wish designers would not try to stick them in everything. They're
          only good for small handheld devices to cram lots of functions in,
          and they're always a UX compromise. They can only improve the number
          of functions you can squeeze in a device.
       
            samatman wrote 4 days ago:
            Watches, phones, tablets.
            
            What these have in common is that they are touchscreens. I can't
            think of a case of something else which just happens to have a
            touchscreen where I wouldn't prefer some other interface.
       
            eimrine wrote 4 days ago:
            > touchscreens done right besides the iPhone
            
            I prefer devices with qwerty to be honest, and if you already have
            a qwerty input plus sensor "joystick" w/ pressable button under it
            - I am talking about Blackberry - you quickly realize that you
            don't need sensor input except of for apps w/o proper support of
            joystick and webpages w/ GDPR.
            
            > Signature pads? This should not even exist.
            
            Drawing pads?
            
            > I wish designers would not try to stick them in everything.
            
            I wish designers and MARKETINGers stop to place them in anything,
            except of mentioned higher.
            
            > Vending machines? I think they're more confusing with buttons
            jumping on screen and changing their labels than without
            
            I have a vending machine from Porsche auto salon and buttons
            doesn't jump. Sensor is needed for adding kind of luxury mood if
            you already have a display which is needed for jumping Porsche
            logo.
       
        jansan wrote 4 days ago:
        OT: I have never before read the word "aughts" and had to look it up.
        Turns out this describes the first decade of the 21st century (or of
        any century?), i.e. the years 2000 to 2009. The British seem to use the
        word "noughties".
       
          2143 wrote 4 days ago:
          I too learnt of "noughties" recently. Never heard "aughts" before.
          
          But then again, English isn't my first language.
          
          Now that I think about it, I've heard people here say, for example,
          "1 nought 1", "1 nought 2", "1 nought 3" etc for 101, 102, 103, and
          so on.
          
          Of course, I always thought they said "1 'not' 1", and not "1
          'nought' 1", and didn't ponder too much into it, even though neither
          of them made sense to me.
       
            jansan wrote 4 days ago:
            Here is some advanced stuff from Monty PythonÄs Flying Circus:
            
            "Good afternoon and welcome to Lords on the second day of the first
            test. So far today we've had five hours batting from England and
            already they're nought for nought. Cowdrey is not out nought.
            Naughton is not in. Knott is in and is nought for not out. Naughton
            of Northants got a nasty knock on the nut in the nets last night
            but it's nothing of note. Next in is Nat Newton of Notts. Not
            Nutring - Nutting's at nine, er, Nutring knocked neatie nighty
            knock knock..."
            
            Here at timestamp 0:32
            
   URI      [1]: https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x6dl8og
       
        _trampeltier wrote 4 days ago:
        If there is an analog bar, you know about where you are in the whole
        range. If there is just a number, you often have no idea how good or
        bad it really is.
       
        h3mb3 wrote 4 days ago:
        Reminds me of modern stoves. All of them have touch controls which
        means every time a friend of mine is presenting me their new kitchen, I
        have no idea how to use the stove. They always say "No, no, it's really
        easy to get used to" but it's still frustrating because the touch
        controls never bring any new features to the table. They are just knobs
        abstracted into separated buttons and sliders, of which the latter you
        are not quite sure if you should drag them or just point to the wanted
        value. With a physical knob, the intuition of the laws of physics tells
        you how the knob can be turned.
        
        They are easier to clean for sure but I can't believe the current
        "click this, slide that" UX is the best the manufacturers could come up
        with.
       
          Too wrote 3 days ago:
          The worst model of this i used only had a single set of + and -
          buttons. Then a single selector-button for which area of the stove
          you wanted them to control.
          
          Have fun cooking with 2 zones, any time you need to adjust the heat
          of the next zone you need to press select 3 times to circle the whole
          stove and then adjust several times with plus or minus. Add the
          mandatory touch-delay to each action and by the time you reach
          desired temperature your food is burnt already. How can anyone think
          this is a good idea?!
       
          vel0city wrote 4 days ago:
          > the touch controls never bring any new features to the table.
          
          1. Far easier to clean (you even mention this despite saying it
          brings no features...)
          
          2. Easier for a lock function to help prevent kids/accidental turning
          on of the stove
          
          3. Take up less space, makes the stove top a flush surface making it
          more reusable as a counter top
          
          There are pros and cons to knobs vs capacitive buttons on a stove. In
          my kitchen I do not have a lot of spare counter space, so having the
          entire stove practically flush with the rest of the counter with
          absolutely nothing protruding is a big positive feature to me. I've
          never personally encountered any misunderstandings of the on/off or
          up/down buttons, and I've never had issues with boil overs or
          something triggering buttons unwantingly or been unable to make
          adjustments while cooking. So for me, the flush capacitive buttons
          are a huge selling point; having knobs would be worse in my use case.
       
            Too wrote 3 days ago:
            Never seen a stove with knobs on top of the stovetop. They are
            usually on the front of the bench. Removing point 1 and 3.
       
              vel0city wrote 3 days ago:
              There are tons of stoves which have their controls on the top. It
              is an incredibly common feature. You're practically arguing there
              aren't cars with four doors because you've only personally driven
              coupes. [1] Lets compare two pretty similar stoves and see how
              they compare to my 3 points above:
              
              Electric stove with knobs: [2] Electric stove with touch
              controls: [2] 1. Which one looks easier to clean, the one that's
              literally a flat plane of glass, or the one with six protrusions
              which would need to be removed to clean under, which then need to
              be individually cleaned themselves?
              
              2. It looks like this one actually has some kind of lock
              function, so that's nice. Not all knob-based stoves have this
              idea. Looking around at other stoves this feature is somewhat
              uncommon, but not ultra rare.
              
              3. Once again, one is truly a flat plane of glass, while the
              other has six protrusions on it which you then have to deal with
              when moving things around the counter. Its nice not having those
              dials in the way when you're just trying to use that space as a
              counter in a pinch.
              
   URI        [1]: https://www.bestbuy.com/site/searchpage.jsp?st=stove+top
   URI        [2]: https://www.bestbuy.com/site/ge-profile-36-built-in-elec...
   URI        [3]: https://www.bestbuy.com/site/ge-profile-36-built-in-elec...
       
                Too wrote 2 days ago:
                Must be some American thing. Here the knobs are always on the
                front, usually because the stove comes integrated on top of the
                oven, but even for glass tops the knobs come in a separate
                module that you mount under the stovetop and protrude out on
                the front. Except knobs in the first place are rather unusual
                now due to the touch-trend.
                
                Having knobs on the top sounds like an incredibly stupid idea.
                For all the reasons you posted and more. No wonder people look
                into touch solutions if that’s the baseline comparison.
       
                  vel0city wrote 2 days ago:
                  > usually because the stove comes integrated on top of the
                  oven
                  
                  In the US this is the norm in cheaper, smaller kitchens and
                  especially rental units but becomes less common in larger
                  kitchens with built-in ovens. Its not like counter top stoves
                  are the "baseline", its just a common arrangement as well as
                  all-in-one ranges. Sometimes cars have two doors, sometimes
                  they have four.
                  
                  See these kitchens with a separate stove: [1] [2] [3] And
                  these kitchens with a combined oven+stove: [4] [5] [6] Both
                  styles are pretty common in the US, it all depends on the
                  layout of your kitchen. In my home, the oven is built in to a
                  wall higher up off the ground with multiple drawers
                  underneath. The stove is separate and on top of a large
                  counter with lots of drawers underneath. Having knobs on the
                  face of the range is less safe in a house with kids, its way
                  easier for them to manipulate the knobs on the face than
                  knobs on the top. Plus, having knobs on the face would mean
                  I'd lose the wide, shallow drawer with all my quick cooking
                  utensils right at the very top of the stove area. It would
                  have to be several inches lower, making it less convenient.
                  The controls on the top also make it easier to see and adjust
                  the controls instead of having the controls be lower and
                  pointed at my crotch. So there are positives to having the
                  controls on the top. Like lots of things, there are tradeoffs
                  either way.
                  
                  Having touch controls on the top of the range is a nice
                  feature for my kitchen. My experience would be worse if the
                  controls were dials mounted where my most used kitchen drawer
                  is currently, and would put my house in more danger from kids
                  having easier access to them.
                  
   URI            [1]: https://irp-cdn.multiscreensite.com/6e40a3a3/dms3rep...
   URI            [2]: https://i.pinimg.com/originals/ac/2e/78/ac2e785c29d9...
   URI            [3]: https://imagesvc.meredithcorp.io/v3/mm/image?url=htt...
   URI            [4]: https://hips.hearstapps.com/hmg-prod.s3.amazonaws.co...
   URI            [5]: https://cf.ltkcdn.net/interiordesign/images/orig/273...
   URI            [6]: https://static.onecms.io/wp-content/uploads/sites/37...
       
          duxup wrote 4 days ago:
          I'm remodeling my kitchen, all my appliances (except the microwave)
          has nice big knobs on them, big display on the oven to show the
          results.
          
          I LOATH my current oven  / cook top that has up and down push button
          arrows and a tiny screen that is pointed at my waist ...
       
          pkorzeniewski wrote 4 days ago:
          I despise touch controls in almost everything, from cars to home
          appliance, in my opinion the only reason they're replaced physical
          controls is because it's simply cheaper to make and people just got
          used to them because manufacturers convinced them through marketing
          "it's the future! be modern!". For example an induction hob at my
          wife's parents home - recently my mother-in-law couldn't turn it on
          because some cryptic key icon was flashing, I had to look into the
          manual to find out it's a children protection mode that is turned on
          and off by holding the key icon for 3 seconds, I didn't even know you
          can press it and it's so easy in general to accidentally press
          various things when cooking, sometimes you don't even notice that you
          have accidently changed the temperature.
       
            lloeki wrote 4 days ago:
            You don't even have to touch them, water (even slightest amounts),
            metal, or anything like that can trigger a "press". It's like the
            thing hasn't even been field-tested in an actual kitchen.
       
            grayclhn wrote 4 days ago:
            TBH, a “child protection mode” does seem like legitimately new
            functionality, even if it was unwelcome for your in-laws.
       
              gen3 wrote 4 days ago:
              My parents electric stove with knobs also had a child lock on it.
              Like the rest of the controls, it’s also a dial. It’s just
              harder to turn
       
            the_gipsy wrote 4 days ago:
            Touch controls are also cheaper to iterate, soft-update, or reuse
            across models.
       
          dec0dedab0de wrote 4 days ago:
          This is the only reason I don't have a Tesla yet.  I want physical
          buttons for almost everything.
       
          TT-392 wrote 4 days ago:
          Pretty sure this is often a cost saving measure, capacitive buttons
          can be less expensive than knobs, especially if they have to be
          waterproof.
       
          Macha wrote 4 days ago:
          Also home appliances love to use icons without any seeming
          standardisation. On one oven, the fan icon means fan assisted cooking
          and is basically the one you want 90% of the time, and then on
          another it means turn the fan on without applying heat. Also various
          half open rectangles with squiggly lines which may or may not have
          anything to do with grill modes depending on your specoific oven.
       
            bqmjjx0kac wrote 4 days ago:
            As I've gotten older I've become very anti-icon. Just use text!
       
              Aaargh20318 wrote 4 days ago:
              Text means that you need different versions for different
              international markets, which causes a lot of additional SKUs and
              associated logistics costs.
              
              And it's not just that, but words with the same meaning can have
              vastly different lengths depending on language, which may or may
              not fit in your original design. To name an example: If you have
              an fan-assisted oven, you can have a small round button labeled
              'fan'. In Dutch, however, the word is 'ventilator', which would
              require much more space.
       
                KronisLV wrote 4 days ago:
                >  Text means that you need different versions for different
                international markets, which causes a lot of additional SKUs
                and associated logistics costs.
                
                If only we could all decide upon a "default" language to use
                globally, much like a lot of software out there is available
                only in English which seems to be good enough (almost all
                programming languages included) for most cases.
                
                Then again, I'm the kind of person who finds most localizations
                in my native language to be uncomfortable to use and attempts
                by the academia to force people to use translated IT terms
                pointless - that will only lead to more confusion.
                
                Of course, not everyone knows multiple languages so maybe
                that's not the best argument, since we should be accomodating
                to many people if possible. And then there's the fact that I
                might have to learn Mandarin eventually if such an initiative
                came to pass.
       
                  bqmjjx0kac wrote 3 days ago:
                  Honestly, text in another language is nearly as useful to me
                  as inscrutable icons. Maybe even more useful as long as it's
                  a romance or Germanic language.
       
              tuxie_ wrote 4 days ago:
              While I agree, I assume that the reason behind it is that icons
              don't require translation which allows them to sell the equipment
              worldwide without modifications to the interface. Not saying it's
              a good reason, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's just economics
              behind.
       
          jraph wrote 4 days ago:
          I was at a friends' and they had touch buttons on the hotplate.
          Nothing really hard to understand, but it would not register touches
          with my index finger. After fighting, I figured I would try to use my
          thumb and that worked.
          
          One vote for the physical buttons. If you want to act quickly,
          tactile buttons are really annoying.
       
            neoberg wrote 4 days ago:
            Lick your finger and then try. It usually helps.
       
              RickHull wrote 4 days ago:
              Your hosts love that
       
          deskamess wrote 4 days ago:
          Everything seems to be done for looks rather than utility these days.
          Appliances have to 'look good' and 'fit' in the kitchen scheme. Knobs
          are apparently too 'protrudy'.
       
          jameshart wrote 4 days ago:
          On the other hand, literally last night the physical knob for one of
          my stove burners came off in my hand leaving me having to use a pair
          of pliers to turn it off. So, your mileage may vary.
       
            pahae wrote 4 days ago:
            I'd rather have some physical knob that I can use to turn something
            off, even if I have to bust out the pliers. Good luck shutting off
            some touch control that's on the fritz.
            
            The stove at my parents place has some touch control to activate
            another heating ring(?). Not only is that hard to activate with wet
            or greasy fingers, but after a couple of years of use it keeps
            turning itself off now. Thank god that thing fails "closed" and
            does not (yet?) spontaneously activate effectively doubling the
            heating power.
       
            couchand wrote 4 days ago:
            But you could put the knob back on, right?  I mean, it slides off
            to make it easier to clean or replace, and you just need to slide
            it back on...?
       
              jameshart wrote 4 days ago:
              In this case, weirdly and confoundingly, no.
       
              eimrine wrote 4 days ago:
              or put a neighbour knob if you have already realised that you can
              dismount and mount them again.
       
              tunap wrote 4 days ago:
              Or, replace the barrel and molex, or maybe solder a couple wires,
              but where's the fun in that? You could instead replace a high
              dollar board & / or controller(s) to get back your otherwise
              basic functionality.
       
          tremon wrote 4 days ago:
          how to use the stove
          
          I've been using an induction stove for years now, and I still can't
          get over the fact that I don't have stepless control over the output
          power. When I have to keep something on a simmer, I'm continually
          adjusting the controls because keeping the pan on 2 will eventually
          get off the boil, and if I keep it on 3 it boils too hard.
          
          Give me back my continuously-variable controls, please.
       
            fold3 wrote 4 days ago:
            I was looking at new models lately and they have way more refined
            range, you could even do succesful bain-marie and butter caramel
            risk free of burning. Still don't know why they won't do a touch
            knob for quick actuation of the temperature (when you wanna make
            fry rice or things like that.)
       
          sshlocalhost98 wrote 4 days ago:
          Yup definitely on your side, it’s frustrating to see button less
          interfaces, buttons make many more sense.
       
          NikolaNovak wrote 4 days ago:
          None of my friends say their stove touch buttons are great. They are
          not just unintuitive, most implementations are painfully slow.
          
          (my own pet peeve though are microwaves - they are a positive
          monstrosity of horrible interface bearing no connection to actual
          typical usage. I'd like one with a massive "add 30s and start
          button", and anything else is a nice optional extra for me :-D
       
            Zak wrote 4 days ago:
            Last time I had to buy a microwave, I intentionally sought out one
            with two knobs: time and power. It would be very hard to improve on
            the UX that provides.
       
            marssaxman wrote 4 days ago:
            The best microwave I've ever used lived in the break room at my
            last job. It had one big knob, which worked like a standard kitchen
            timer: you would just twist it right until it pointed at the amount
            of time you want, then let it tick back down to the left until
            cooking was done. Want more? Just twist it right a little more, and
            let it keep ticking.
            
            I have no idea why domestic microwaves come with a maze of buttons
            when such vastly superior knob technology exists.
       
              Too wrote 3 days ago:
              Such knobs should be the most obvious interface but sadly most of
              the analogue models on the market lack a lot of accuracy. Some
              times even up to 30s-1min range. Enough to be the difference
              between cold or over-cooked food.
              
              The best are often a big knob controlling a digital LCD timer.
              Started with a single start button doubling as +30s.
       
                marssaxman wrote 2 days ago:
                > The best are often a big knob controlling a digital LCD
                timer.
                
                That's exactly how this one worked. I wish I could recall the
                brand, but I don't; it felt more like an industrial device than
                a home appliance.
       
              dmitriid wrote 4 days ago:
              Samsung Solo Microwaves are one knob for time + start
              immediately. One knob for power (that you use once a year): [1]
              They iterate over the design bits (black knobs on black microwave
              -> silver knobs on black microwave -> current design), but the
              microwave remains the same
              
   URI        [1]: https://www.samsung.com/uk/microwave-ovens/solo/mw3000am...
       
              Macha wrote 4 days ago:
              Yeah, I've got a cheapo microwave, but honestly it's UI is pretty
              good as appliances go.
              
              Turn the knob for time, hit ok, get power prompt, hit ok again
              for 100% (or adjust using the knob for less), microwaving starts.
              
              There is also specific program functionality to tell it you have
              200g of mince meat to defrost or whatever and it figures out the
              time/power setting, but I personally never use them.
       
            zelos wrote 4 days ago:
            My microwave pretty much has that - press start and it sets the
            timer to 1 minute and starts. Then spin the dial to add time while
            it’s cooking.
       
              xnx wrote 4 days ago:
              I find it even better when they just have a dial
       
            dsr_ wrote 4 days ago:
            Commercial heavy-duty microwaves and the cheapest plastic
            microwaves share the same interface: two dials. One is time, the
            other is power cycle. Sometimes it's just one dial for time.
       
              bschwindHN wrote 4 days ago:
              > two dials. One is time, the other is power cycle
              
              This is the ideal design and no one can convince me otherwise.
              Same thing goes for ovens. All I care about is "how hot do I
              cook/bake this?" and "For how long?"
              
              Two dials is perfect.
       
                vel0city wrote 4 days ago:
                Personally I really like the sensor modes of my microwave. For
                most of my leftovers, I can toss the plate/bowl in the
                microwave, hit REHEAT, and it figures it out. If it thinks I
                need to stir/rotate, it'll beep at me to do so while its
                cooking. Seems a lot simpler as a user than thinking about how
                long to cook it, what power level, etc.
       
              cinntaile wrote 4 days ago:
              This is why I buy the cheapest ones. They don't break and their
              buttons are intuitive, I don't need a Bachelor's in microwave UI
              to use one.
       
            unwind wrote 4 days ago:
            Get a Whirlpool with Jet Start [1], it's a big-ish button that does
            exactly that. Easily the nunber 1 used button on our microwave
            (which, unfortunately, has loads more buttons).
            
            A pretty good idea, I'm sure other manufacturers have the same but
            I don't know the marketing lingo.
            
            [1] 
            
   URI      [1]: https://www.manualslib.com/manual/972967/Whirlpool-Jt469.h...
       
          tobr wrote 4 days ago:
          I’m hopeful that we will see less and less gratuitous use of
          “hi-tech” UI in consumer electronics in the near future. It seems
          that many manufacturers still believe consumers think blinking LEDs
          and touchscreens and beeps and chromed plastic spaceship shapes are
          cool. Despite most of us using high resolution touchscreens many
          hours per day.
          
          A good physical knob or button usually feels much more luxurious and
          expensive.
       
          XorNot wrote 4 days ago:
          Cleaning is what I spend far more time doing with a stove, and is
          more important, then the very brief period I'm involved in setting
          the temperature during cooking.
          
          So it seems like a fairly good trade-off to me.
       
            tobr wrote 4 days ago:
            In my experience they’re not great for cleaning. They get
            confused when they get wet and start blinking and beeping and
            turning things on and off randomly. A set of well-designed physical
            dials could be made in a way that’s easier to keep clean.
       
              crowbahr wrote 4 days ago:
              You can't keep physical dials clean by their nature. They have to
              connect to something, which means you have holes. Holes +
              aerosolized grease = sticky 100% of the time.
              
              There's no way around it. I do my best to clean under the knobs
              of my stove but they don't come off. Don't even get me started
              about how much of an ass pain burners are.
              
              When I'm not renting I'll definitely install an induction system.
              If I never deal with cleaning burners, and knobs again it'll be
              too soon.
       
          usrn wrote 4 days ago:
          >No, no, it's really easy to get used to
          
          Says everyone on Linux with their ridiculous custom setup on an
          obscure window manager. The difference here being that you can change
          things to make them more comfortable and don't have to wait for some
          "designer" to have the idea first.
       
          Gigachad wrote 4 days ago:
          My parents have one and I think it works really well. There is a
          physical power button, start button, as well as a physical knob. For
          the basic usage, you press power, turn the knob to select the mode,
          press start, then turn the knob to select your desired temperature.
          
          No use of the touch screen for the basic flow. But if you want to do
          something else like start self cleaning or turn steaming on, you use
          the touchscreen rather than pull out a manual that tells you to press
          button 1, 3 and 4 for 4 seconds.
       
          christophilus wrote 4 days ago:
          Having had one of these, I just want to say: “Never again.” Mine
          would turn itself on when you washed it and turn itself off when
          something splattered (like 50% of the time when I boiled water).
          
          It made me wonder if anyone actually tested the damn design before
          approval for mass production.
       
            pawelk wrote 4 days ago:
            My oven has touch controls on the front that are rendered useless
            as soon as I open it and heat/vapor is released onto the front
            panel. Luckily the touch interface is only for secondary features
            like setting timers, the important ones - temperature and mode
            selection - are physical knobs that can be pushed in flush with the
            front.
            
            From my limited experience with touch operated stoves - these would
            be just as reliably operated by randomly throwing darts at a board.
       
            alxlaz wrote 4 days ago:
            These ideas aren't born in the actual product design teams, where
            "don't put touch control near things that get hot" or "no
            unprotected touch controls on surfaces where spilling can occur"
            are not concepts that need to be explained. The way this usually
            happens is that product management hands down the requirement from
            down top, either on their own or after contracting some expensive
            industrial design agency (i.e. a mixed team of engineering and art
            majors who never had to sell, service and especially provide tech
            support for, any of the products whose outside they designed) to
            help "refresh" their product line.
            
            Then, when in a shocking twist of events it's absolutely miserable,
            the tests are slightly mangled to highlight the usability gains
            ("easier to wipe", "looks modern and integrates well in a modern
            kitchen") and ensure no one's yearly bonus is endangered.
            
            Surprisingly, it works out really well despite competition because
            everyone's doing it pretty similarly.
            
            If your next question is "but why on Earth is it done like that!?",
            well, there are many reasons for that. But the tl;dr is that making
            kitchen appliances with universal, "boring" features, which last
            for 20 years, would spell disaster for a lot of companies in a lot
            of industries, from home appliances to furniture, and for smaller,
            specialized suppliers in these fields. The market has fine-tuned
            itself for frequently replaceable junk that's just good enough to
            that someone can plausibly say "well ackshually" when I refer to it
            as junk. Anything better would inherently result in much longer
            growth cycles, which Western management and stakeholders are not
            capable of handling anymore, and would disrupt "fashionable"
            trends, which would further prolong growth cycles in both home
            appliances and connected industries (furniture, home decor, cooking
            vessels believe it or not, and so on). It would also make it
            difficult to outsource mass production to cheap factories with poor
            quality control processes, thus driving prices up even more than
            the better materials and design would warrant, but that's more of a
            second-order effect than a cause by now.
            
            Sauce: I used to work on consumer products years ago -- not kitchen
            appliances specifically but I know people who did those, too.
            Attending meetings was a lesson in cognitive dissonance and
            doublespeak and it's one of the least rewarding tech jobs you can
            imagine.
       
              synu wrote 4 days ago:
              I get that it's better for the producers if everyone agrees to
              make throwaway appliances that need to be replaced every couple
              years, but how do they prevent someone from entering the market
              and selling high quality equipment that lasts? They would have
              fewer repeat sales, but more of the market share presumably.
       
                alxlaz wrote 4 days ago:
                It's a combination of factors but the gist of it is that
                they're not preventing anyone from doing it -- nobody wants to
                do it because they can't justify it.
                
                Designing and selling long-lived consumer products is a
                tremendous effort in terms of regulatory activity and
                logistics. And if you're just entering the market, you're
                entering a market where established players have been sitting
                on standardizing committees, lobbying regulatory bodies, and
                have had special deals with manufacturers, transporters, TV
                channels and shopping malls since Jimmy Carter was in the White
                House, and have been able to leverage them when dealing with
                online shops since the days of the dotcom boom.
                
                Furthermore, getting that "more of the market share" requires
                actual first sales to happen in the first place. Selling fewer,
                better, and inherently more expensive products by claiming that
                yours are really good and last a long time is not very
                straightforward at all: it's not like everyone else is openly
                advertising that they're selling cheap junk that's worse than
                their 1980s versions in every way except maybe power
                consumption (because we can make better power supplies now). If
                you're selling kitchen stoves that last for twenty years, it's
                gonna be at least seven or eight years before anyone really
                believes you.
                
                So all this requires tremendous initial investment in a pretty
                hostile environment. Consumer markets are already perceived as
                low-yield and under tremendous price pressure. But, worse, some
                segments -- household appliances in particular -- also suffer
                from a "marketshare = dead market" problem: if you sold someone
                a washing machine that lasts fifteen years, you're not going to
                sell them another one for fifteen years. So if you're selling
                things that last for fifteen years, you gotta convince the
                folks whose money you're depending on that you can keep selling
                things at a reasonable pace for fifteen years from now, and you
                won't really know if you've succeeded at your basic value
                proposition ("we make better things that last longer") for at
                least seven or eight years into it.
                
                That's not just pretty risky, it's on a timeframe that's about
                an order of magnitude higher than companies/investment
                funds/people willing to throw that kind of money into things
                that run on electricity are able to work with.
                
                That's not to say no one has been entering these markets. They
                have, but they've usually done it through other value
                propositions -- stuff that's even cheaper, stuff that's
                ethically sourced and so on. New premium brands do pop up but
                they either target prosumer/super premium markets (slang for
                "super rich people who want to brag or impress"), where the
                rules are slightly different, or go straight for the
                professional market first, where the rules of the game are very
                much different, and use whatever reputation they can make there
                to start selling home appliances too.
       
            brozaman wrote 4 days ago:
            On the other hand they are extremely easy to clean. Just get some
            cloth and ceramic stove cleaner and you're good to go.
            
            The knobs are more convenient to operate, but they tend to
            accumulate grease in the joints and other parts where you cannot
            reach. And if you want to clean them thoroughly you need to
            disassemble the knobs and that's annoying as hell. For me being
            easier to clean compensates everything.
       
              sethammons wrote 4 days ago:
              Every stove knob I've ever interacted with easily pulls / slides
              off its peg and can be hand washed if it gets too dirty. Changing
              a lightbulb is an order of magnitude harder.
       
                matwood wrote 4 days ago:
                Yeah...when cleaning I take off the knobs and soak them while
                cleaning the rest of the top. Then finish by hand washing the
                knobs and then putting it all back together.
                
                The other thing is you can buy new knobs which can
                update/change/refresh the look of an older cooktop.
       
                  corobo wrote 4 days ago:
                  I just used to bash them in the dishwasher with everything
                  else
                  
                  Got the touch buttons now and am forever turning stuff off
                  randomly. It's like my hand meats are drawn to pressing more
                  than one button at a time
                  
                  I guess the idea is if the water overflows it'll 'touch'
                  multiple buttons and turn the heat off but I've only ever
                  turned it off by accident so far haha
       
            gonzo41 wrote 4 days ago:
            In my house, my electric stove has a master isolation switch for
            exactly this purpose.
       
            LaputanMachine wrote 4 days ago:
            I think this is a safety function. You may not be able to turn off
            the stove yourself if something boils over, and the buttons get
            covered in hot liquid.
       
              paganel wrote 4 days ago:
              I used to always have some kitchen rags around for exactly that
              type of situation, in fact I still have one that I've purchased
              from Ikea. I just wrap my hand/fingers with said rag and
              manipulate that button accordingly (or get a hot dish from the
              stove itself etc).
       
              ridgered4 wrote 4 days ago:
              Seems like a poor safety feature to have it also turn on when
              you're cleaning.
              
              I've never seen one of these soft touch control designs on a
              cooktop but I did hear they existed and at least one cat had
              turned one on by standing on it resulting in a house fire. The
              only dumber idea I can think of is a touch screen, which I'm sure
              they're hard at work integrated right now.
       
                LaputanMachine wrote 4 days ago:
                > Seems like a poor safety feature to have it also turn on when
                you're cleaning.
                
                Right, that's bad design.
                
                The cooktop I'm familiar with always turns off and beeps if
                something (metal pots or a liquid) covers a part of the button
                area.
                
                To turn it on, you have to press two different buttons within a
                certain time limit, with a pot standing on the appropriate
                cooking zone. Most cats probably won't manage to do that.
                
                > The only dumber idea I can think of is a touch screen
                
                Oh, don't get me started. We own an oven with a touch screen.
                It's pure idiocy. But the cooktop is actually very good IMO.
       
                  tpmx wrote 4 days ago:
                   [1] Cats responsible for 107 house fires in Seoul in past 3
                  yrs ... According to the Seoul Metropolitan Fire & Disaster
                  Headquarters, cats are believed to have started the blaze by
                  turning on the electric stove in the kitchen with their paws.
                  ... Electric induction cookers often come with
                  touch-sensitive buttons, which can be switched on by the paw
                  of an animal.
                  
   URI            [1]: http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=2021123000050...
       
              cbm-vic-20 wrote 4 days ago:
              Sounds like these stoves could use an "oh shit" / "Big Red
              Button" that's easily accessible when this happens.
       
                corobo wrote 4 days ago:
                Is there not the switch on the mains where you are? In the UK
                we have a quick-off* toggle switch for electric ovens. Usually
                near the oven but could be elsewhere in a bigger kitchen
                
                That'd be my go-to panic resolve anyway
                
                * For folks unfamiliar by this I mean it takes almost zero
                effort to turn the switch off, but takes a little bit of force
                to switch back on
       
                  Macha wrote 4 days ago:
                  I have a isolation switches near my oven (and also for my
                  fridge, and a combined one for my washing machine and dryer)
                  here in Ireland, which I believe are required on new or newly
                  renovated properties by planning laws, but there's nothing
                  asymmetric about the force required, it's just a relatively
                  stiff switch whether turning on or off.
       
                    corobo wrote 4 days ago:
                    It's possible that the resistance part isn't even a thing
                    
                    If I'm honest I only noticed it because the last one I came
                    across seemed to be wired upside down (easy on, resistant
                    off) and I'm almost certain the house before had the same
                    but wired the "right way"
                    
                    Could just have been some rogue grease or something either
                    lubricating or gunking up the switch haha
       
                  ryukafalz wrote 4 days ago:
                  I’ve never seen this here in the US. Sounds like a good
                  idea!
       
            sshlocalhost98 wrote 4 days ago:
            Haha that’s true! I am an electrical engineering student, if I
            have to guess it may be due to random electric charges, probably
            grounding was not done properly.
       
              jraph wrote 4 days ago:
              I know nothing about electricity but water always seems to
              confuse those hotplates... or laptop's touchpads FWIW.
              (how do I know??)
       
            tobr wrote 4 days ago:
            Often they’re also too damn close to the heating elements, so you
            risk burning your fingers when you operate them.
       
              zikzak wrote 4 days ago:
              And this heat degrades the component. And it is almost never
              worth replacing a control board over buying new. There is, of
              course, no hidden agenda.
       
        lucidguppy wrote 4 days ago:
        Humane Interface by J. Raskin had some interesting points about how to
        make low tech interfaces.
        
        You need essentially eliminate "modes" - like the clock/set time/radio
        mode buttons on your alarm clock.  I'm not saying he's right - but he's
        worth reading.
       
          jccooper wrote 4 days ago:
          While great in the hands of a competent designer, the "low-tech"
          interface gets a bad rap because it easily becomes a maze of
          inscrutable modes and dual- or triple-use buttons in the hands of a
          careless designer.
       
          ratww wrote 4 days ago:
          That's a great point about "modes".
          
          Even 40 years people already joked about the alarm clock you
          mentioned: everyone knew how to use VCRs, but the damn clock was
          never adjusted. Since it was neither intuitive, nor something a user
          would memorize how to do, most VCRs just sat there saying 12:00 or
          00:00 forever. For the alarm clock, of course, we had to learn since
          it was its main function.
          
          I see this in music equipment a lot, too. To program something with
          modes you need significantly more time than something with just
          knobs. And the performance possibilities are also much limited as
          soon as you bring in menu-diving.
       
            couchand wrote 4 days ago:
            That's a great point about looking to music equipment for UX ideas.
             If you want to see what happens when a design team puts serious
            effort into building a satisfying and effective interface, look at
            electronic music devices.
       
              bombcar wrote 4 days ago:
              Those mixer boards you see are horribly complicated, but with the
              thousands of knobs and buttons most anyone can figure out how to
              mute a microphone in a few minutes or less.
              
              The touchscreen versions can be more complicated - but since they
              also have the ability to change the knobs to presets they may be
              more useful to actual sound engineers.
       
                ratww wrote 4 days ago:
                Good points. Some mechanical version can also change the
                buttons, faders and knobs positions to presets when they have
                automation circuits, this has been a thing since the late 70s.
                So you get the best of both worlds.
                
                One important aspect is that with tactile controls one barely
                needs presets, though, except for recall. Mixing done from
                scratch is quite fast, even when compared to presets, so I
                would argue that there is a significant tradeoff when going
                digital.
       
        arky527 wrote 4 days ago:
        Modern cars seem to be moving towards all controls on a touch screen
        somewhere. I suppose this allows for more frequent updates, but in my
        experience it just leads to more bugs and more painful factory updates.
        
        Not to mention using a touchscreen to adjust the temperature while
        driving is incredibly dangerous compared to a dial you can feel for
        without taking your eyes off the road.
       
          CoryAlexMartin wrote 3 days ago:
          I'm thinking some manufacturers might be catching on to the downsides
          of touchscreen controls. I did a test drive of the previous
          generation Honda Civic, and it had touchscreen climate controls. I
          wound up getting a 2022 Honda Civic which has physical dials for all
          climate controls.
          
          Though, as an aside, dials for temperature and fan speed are fine,
          but they also use a dial for changing which vents the air comes out
          of, which makes no sense. Also, the dials rotate infinitely, even
          though the ranges are finite. It means I still have to look to see
          what the setting is at, instead of being able to tell by feel.
          
          By comparison, the 1992 Honda Civic climate controls are way better:
          
   URI    [1]: https://i.imgur.com/r8JjjNw.png
       
            antisthenes wrote 3 days ago:
            > Though, as an aside, dials for temperature and fan speed are
            fine, but they also use a dial for changing which vents the air
            comes out of, which makes no sense. Also, the dials rotate
            infinitely, even though the ranges are finite. It means I still
            have to look to see what the setting is at, instead of being able
            to tell by feel.
            
            Yikes. I know I'm just a nobody on the internet, but if I worked at
            Honda in any position of power, I would do everything in my power
            to get the people responsible for rubber-stamping this fired.
            
            This is unacceptable for a modern vehicle.
       
              CoryAlexMartin wrote 3 days ago:
              Regardless of how bad it is, it's a step up from touchscreen
              interfaces, which means it actually is acceptable by modern
              vehicle standards.
              
              But I agree that by objective standards, it's unacceptable.
       
          waynesonfire wrote 4 days ago:
          It's a cost cutting strategy and it sucks. A screen and software is
          cheap at scale.
       
          99_00 wrote 4 days ago:
          >Modern cars seem to be moving towards all controls on a touch screen
          somewhere
          
          They aren't. Your car may be a poorly designed exception.
          
          The things you need to use need to do while driving can usually be
          done with controls on the steering wheel.
          
          If you need visual feedback while using your steering wheel controls
          you can glance at the dashboard screen.
          
          >using a touchscreen to adjust the temperature while driving is
          incredibly dangerous compared to a dial you can feel for without
          taking your eyes off the road
          
          Your car is poorly designed. You can adjust the temp on MANY new cars
          without the touch screen with simple up down buttons and very clear
          temperature with its own always on display.
       
          Animats wrote 4 days ago:
          Screens are not the real issue. The real issue is whether you have to
          look at it to set it.
          
          There are annoying devices which have a very small number of tactile
          buttons, and overload them with multiple functions. Monitors,
          watches, and clocks tend to be especially bad, because the user
          interface is not used much. So you get some tiny unlabeled buttons,
          and have to consult the manual to find out when you need a short
          press, a long press, a press and hold, a two button press, or a paper
          clip.
          
          Another class of annoying devices is point of sale systems. Some say
          they're ready for your card but really aren't - the store's system
          and the credit card terminal are not sufficiently aware of each
          other's state. Some have a RFID sensor, but it's not clear where the
          sensor is. Or when it's listening. Some are just really slow.
          Probably because they're doing too much in a busy "cloud".
          However, POS systems do work better today. I haven't had a
          transaction totally fail to be completed in several years.
       
          Melatonic wrote 4 days ago:
          Yeah I hate this. Part of the reason I do not like the interior of
          all Tesla vehicles. I test drove one and asked the salesmen what
          happens if the screen breaks - he told me that it actually happened
          to his Tesla and that because of parts shortages it took months and
          months to get it fixed. When this happens all you can do is drive the
          car and open and close the windows essentially - no sunroof, no AC,
          nothing.
       
            frosted-flakes wrote 4 days ago:
            I'm surprised that Tesla's cars even have window buttons. They've
            eliminated everything else.
       
          wgx wrote 4 days ago:
          Totally agree. Despite the move to touchscreens in cars over the
          years - they're acually terrible for usability and safety. The lack
          of tactile feedback and the fact that buttons can move position and
          appearance from app-to-app means that they require much more
          cognitive load than physical buttons.
          
          Putting a trimmed-down Android tablet into a car is cheaper for
          manufacturers, but it's bad for usability.
          
          There's been some research done that finds touchscreens are more
          distracting than drink or drug driving:
          
   URI    [1]: https://www.ala.co.uk/connect/in-car-touchscreens-more-dange...
       
          CogitoCogito wrote 4 days ago:
          I wonder if there's a list somewhere of "dumb things you need to
          check when looking into a new car"? Most of these issues are things
          that are hard to notice ahead of time or during a test drive so it's
          kind of extra worrying to me.
       
          StillBored wrote 4 days ago:
          Its not just touch screens vs physical controls. Far to many of the
          recent cars with buttons are designed by people who apparently never
          drove the automobile in question. For example, AC fan controls were
          in the past simple sliders, or knobs, you could crank it to max when
          one enters a hot car, then put it at the 25% (or whatever speed)
          without taking your eyes off the road, in a matter of a fraction of a
          second placing, what was usually a unique control, in a particular
          position.
          
          These days the digitization of everything means that modern cars with
          physical controls usually have up/down buttons to change the fan
          speed or temp. So like the Ford Flex I rented recently, you can't
          tell from touching the physical control whether the fan is at max
          speed, so the sequence is, look on the console for the right button
          (because there are were a half dozen or so identical buttons next to
          each other), hold it down, while listening to the fan speed until it
          sounds like its stopped getting faster. Then when you want to slow
          down, one has to look/feel for the button, hold it for a second or
          two until it seems to be roughly at the right speed, try not to
          over/unershoot because its laggy/etc.
          
          Some of this is the result of climate controls designed to hold a
          given temp rather than setting the fan speed directly, where the
          assumption is the fan will run at max until it reaches it set point.
          But that is annoying in a whole other set of cases, including the one
          where the car isn't doing a good job of circulating the air causing a
          hotspot on the sunny side/etc. On my wife's car I find myself pushing
          the climate controls to max cool when I get in because its trying to
          run in "silent" mode, or waiting for the AC to come up to full
          pressure and I want it to cool down faster, then I have to look at
          the controls to reset it back to something reasonable when it finally
          starts to reach a comfortable temp.
       
          dontcare007 wrote 4 days ago:
          License agreement screens to use a vehicle you have purchased. I
          despair that our profession has brought this to fruition. Plus,
          'features' locked behind pay walls. Crazy town.
       
            wrycoder wrote 4 days ago:
            And agree to accept the nag screen before the car will start.
            
            Soon:
            
            “You need to return the call from your mom before the car will
            start for home.” Etc.
       
          elliottkember wrote 4 days ago:
          I did a car stereo design question during a job interview once.
          "Design your ideal car stereo" was the prompt. I said that all I
          wanted was a bluetooth button and a volume knob. They pressed me for
          details, and I said the volume knob needed to have a minimum and
          maximum threshold. I guess that worked, because I got the job.
          
          I ended up giving this exercise to a lot of candidates. About 30%
          said they would project the UI onto the windshield.
       
            rurp wrote 3 days ago:
            I actually test drove a car last year that projected the
            speedometer onto the windshield in an attempt to make it look like
            it was overlaying the road. It was terrible! Before even leaving
            the parking lot I clarified with the sales rep that this "feature"
            was optional, because there was no way I was buying a car with it.
       
          martin_a wrote 4 days ago:
          > using a touchscreen to adjust the temperature while driving
          
          I've read this argument again and again but I wonder: How often do
          you people change the temperature in your car? Mine is set to 21°C
          since two years, never felt the need to change it.
       
            bombela wrote 4 days ago:
            Probably because you have an expensive enough car, that actually
            does a good job at regulating the cabine temperature.
            
            In my cheap pickup I have to constantly adjust temperature and fan
            speed. In my old German "ultimate driving machine", it's set and
            forget.
       
            kingrazor wrote 4 days ago:
            Constantly.
       
            hnbad wrote 4 days ago:
            Multiple times a year, mostly in late spring and autumn, and that's
            infrequent compared to some people I know.
            
            People use cars differently. Your experience may not be universal
            just because it is consistent. Besides individual variation people
            also differ in whether and how many passengers they regularly
            transport and how many drivers share the car (e.g. my wife and I
            share one car and often drive together).
       
          izacus wrote 4 days ago:
          > I suppose this allows for more frequent updates, but in my
          experience it just leads to more bugs and more painful factory
          updates.
          
          What is allows for is: cost cutting. Not having to install a mask, a
          button, wire harness and QA everything is a massive manufacturing
          cost saving. It speeds up production and lowers the amount of
          components that need to be sourced, installed and later made
          available for replacement as part of a service.
          
          This is the same situation as with Electron apps - the savings aren't
          for YOU the USER, the savings are for person MAKING the thing. They
          get all the benefit at the cost of your user experience.
       
            warble wrote 2 days ago:
            But it's not cheaper. And the car companies make money off
            aftermarket parts. QA just moves to software, so you're not saving
            anything there either. Plus so far, screens are less reliable than
            analog controls, so instead of replacing a cheap knob, you're
            replacing a top quality screen with special manufacturing
            requirements due to the environment of the car cabin.
       
            stjohnswarts wrote 3 days ago:
            Yep, it also gives a rather encompassing single failure point that
            will be very hard to replace and very expensive >10 years. Possibly
            more than the car is even worth at that point in time.
       
            zepearl wrote 4 days ago:
            > What is allows for is: cost cutting. Not having to install a
            mask, a button, wire harness and QA everything is a massive
            manufacturing cost saving. It speeds up production and lowers the
            amount of components that need to be sourced, installed and later
            made available for replacement as part of a service.
            
            I tend to have the same opinion, but at the same time I'm not
            convinced:
            
            - I bought 1 year ago a new car for 80k $ => that's not cheap and
            in my opinion putting 4 extra buttons (up/down) or 2 extra knobs to
            control the temperature of the two front seats wouldn't have been
            an incredible engineering challenge that would have added hundreds
            of $ to the cost (which was anyway high).
            
            - we have ~100 buttons that all work reliably on our keyboards,
            which are connected to our PCs/notebooks with just a single cable
            => I admit that in a car there is the extra challenge of
            temperature variance (car parked in the Sahara or somewhere in
            Iceland), but I cannot think that that's an engineering wonder
            (worked fine during the last 100 years).
            
            Therefore maybe the trend is driven by designers: make everything
            shiny & slick, risk of having the own work thrown into the trash
            when taking a step back to do usability tests vs. physical controls
            so let's just forget about that.
       
              joe_the_user wrote 4 days ago:
              we have ~100 buttons that all work reliably on our keyboards,
              which are connected to our PCs/notebooks with just a single cable
              => I admit that in a car there is the extra challenge of
              temperature variance
              
              I wanted to mention that. Sure, the way auto electronics were
              traditionally installed was expensive but a keyboard is $20 by
              itself, a midi music keyboard designed for wear and having
              buttons and knobs is ~$150. A modular system of instruments and
              controls that fits around the steering wheel and has a single 
              cable coming out could not be that expensive.
              
              Changing to something like would require a lot of adjustment of
              electronics processes - different chips and voltages to allow the
              modularity and single cable, I would guess. But touch-screens
              also need this I would imagine.
       
                StillBored wrote 4 days ago:
                The US backup camera fiasco was informative, because IIRC one
                of the domestic auto manufactures testified it was going to add
                $800 or some such to the price of a car (can't find a link
                about it). Which back then was still like 3x or so the cost of
                an aftermarket system. The law passed anyway, and for years its
                remained a high priced option, until there were lawsuits about
                the feds failing to enforce the law and require all cars to
                have them. There are various links on the web about how even
                the NHTSA estimated it would be ~$40 added to the price of a
                new car, something many found high considering the costs of the
                cameras and how many cars already had LCDs that could be
                repurposed.
                
                Although I suspect the addition of backup cameras has given
                automakers excuses when it comes to rear visibility.
       
            m463 wrote 4 days ago:
            I always hope these kinds of situations would lead to a market
            opportunity for someone to come in and do it right... but it rarely
            does.
       
              CogitoCogito wrote 4 days ago:
              I think what really is needed is for these displays and
              interfaces to be replaceable like old car stereo decks.
       
                astrange wrote 3 days ago:
                The display in my car is a double DIN stereo that just happens
                to have a display on the front and a USB port. You might still
                be able to replace it.
                
                It does take way too long to boot up.
       
                m463 wrote 4 days ago:
                Speaking of car stereos, I've always thought they should be
                rack mount and then they went away completely.
                
                I wonder if someday we'll have an open-source car, sort of like
                the framework laptop.  I think it would be amazing.  Think of
                the robust market that has cropped up around custom PCs and
                custom bicycles.
       
              Spivak wrote 4 days ago:
              You can't create a market opportunity for something without it
              being a differentiating feature.
              
              2022 Honda Civic but with physical buttons probably doesn't move
              the needle because car buyers are price sensitive and because
              2022 Honda Civic with screen is still better than alternatives.
       
                Pasorrijer wrote 4 days ago:
                Funny you should mention the Honda Civic...
                
                I had a 2017 Honda Civic Hatchback. First year of the new model
                design, it had a touch sensitive volume control... After that,
                I think it was the 2019 and up all Honda's came with a volume
                knob AS A DIFFERENTIATOR because the UX was so bad without it.
       
                  Spivak wrote 4 days ago:
                  Right but that's a different market force! Customer feedback
                  is really effective at redressing provably bad UX but it's a
                  lot harder for that same change to happen in response to a
                  competing manufacturer because in aggregate such a small
                  thing isn't enough to get someone to switch away from Honda
                  entirely.
       
                    Pasorrijer wrote 4 days ago:
                    I mean, it's the driving cause behind me selling the car
                    and moving to a VW...
       
            lostgame wrote 4 days ago:
            >> This is the same situation as with Electron apps - the savings
            aren't for YOU the USER, the savings are for person MAKING the
            thing. They get all the benefit at the cost of your user
            experience.
            
            I hate Electron as much as the next average HN user, but isn't the
            benefit of Electron actually kinda for the user as well as the
            developer, in the sense that Electron is basically a one-stop shop
            for porting to other platforms?
            
            For instance, Microsoft Teams is written in Electron. This means
            the application is pretty damn well identical whether users within
            my company are using Windows or Mac computers. There are advantages
            to that.
            
            I'd say for myself, Unity is a great example of where, basically;
            if I went 'native', I would really only be supporting one platform,
            like I used to when I did game dev in the late 90's and early 00's.
            But Unity gives me the power to flip a switch, and then all my
            friends can play pretty much the same copy of my game on any
            platform of their choosing.
            
            It also means if there are bugs on one platform, they usually show
            up on another as well; making QE and addressing bugs a little bit
            easier, making for a better user experience.
            
            Not a fan of Electron, just saying that there are benefits to the
            user for using such a system.
       
              basisword wrote 4 days ago:
              >> This means the application is pretty damn well identical
              whether users within my company are using Windows or Mac
              computers. There are advantages to that.
              
              Disadvantages too. Unlike a website, I want the software on my
              computer to take advantage of the native UI and other features
              unique to the OS. If Electron didn't exist MS would still build
              teams for multiple platforms. It would disadvantage small
              developers but the majority of users (who use well known software
              developed by large companies) lose out on the prior mentioned
              benefits thanks to Electrons existence.
       
            0xdeadbeefbabe wrote 4 days ago:
            They get the cost of a costly user experience, which isn't nothing.
       
          RyEgswuCsn wrote 4 days ago:
          Agreed.  I feel people should start replacing touchscreens with
          physical buttons/dials with small LED screens on them --- their
          functions and behaviours can be programmed to change on demand while
          retaining tactile feedbacks.
       
          woopwoop wrote 4 days ago:
          My toyota Corolla has a touch screen for interacting with audio. It
          has the following delightful features:
          
          - latency
          
          - it has a boot procedure when you turn the car on. While this
          happens, the controls have quite substantial latency. However the
          first thing that happens is it begins playing audio.
          
          - there is a knob for adjusting volume, but it's still part of the
          same system as the rest of it. There is still substantial latency to
          this control, especially immediately upon turning the car on. However
          even a little latency here is really annoying, because one naturally
          adjusts volume via trial and error.
          
          - if you've paired the car with your phone via Bluetooth, it
          immediately sends a message to your phone to start playing whatever
          audio was played most recently at whatever the current volume is. I
          wrote a tasker routine to intercept this, but an android patch a
          while back helpfully broke this and I haven't bothered fixing it.
          
          All of this combines for a user experience dramatically worse than an
          aux cord. It's kind of spectacular in its terribleness. And this is
          an otherwise great car.
       
            d136o wrote 4 days ago:
            Hah our Subaru does this where it defaults to playing the radio at
            some volume whenever you “boot up” the car. I’ve got no idea
            what station is selected as the boot up station but every time I
            turn on our car it plays static.
            
            How about no sound? How about defaulting to silence? Nope…
       
            White_Wolf wrote 4 days ago:
            >>> "However the first thing that happens is it begins playing
            audio."
            
            Yeah. In the same boat and my wife like to play pranks when she
            uses the car. Turns the volume to max right before removing the
            key. When her phone is not found it defaults to radio. That "saved
            me" from having to drink my morning coffee in the office on more
            than one occasion + it's good training for the heart.
            
            Edit: Forgot to mention that the volume knob is ignored until the
            system fully boots up and the audio starts as soon as you twist the
            key.
       
              olyjohn wrote 3 days ago:
              This is what I used to do to torment my mom when I was a kid.
              Except with the physical knobs she had in her car (in the 80s), I
              could crank the volume without having to turn on the car.
       
            CSSer wrote 4 days ago:
            My VW Jetta has Apple Carplay and similar issues abound.
            
            > it has a boot procedure when you turn the car on. While this
            happens, the controls have quite substantial latency.
            
            I've got one better. Controls during bootup in my car are simply
            ignored, and the bootup duration for Carplay in particular is so
            bad that it makes the bluetooth delay seem acceptable.
            
            > However the first thing that happens is it begins playing audio.
            
            This is ironic because I wish mine would start playing. There's no
            setting for playback behavior either. The only setting, in fact, is
            the ability to reorder and add/remove third-party apps.
            
            Oh, worse still, sometimes audio doesn't play even when you
            manually select something. The UI will register it as playing but
            the audio doesn't come through. When this happens, you have to
            disconnect and reconnect your phone, which is dangerous in motion.
            It's a joke. It makes me wonder what the deal is, and I have no
            idea who to report the bug to.
            
            > All of this combines for a user experience dramatically worse
            than an aux cord. It's kind of spectacular in its terribleness. And
            this is an otherwise great car.
            
            Yup. My beater in college that came with some random aftermarket
            radio was better. Carplay is pretty but beyond that it feels like
            an afterthought as an experience.
       
            speedgoose wrote 4 days ago:
            I understand your critics against touchscreens and they are
            justified. Your car doesn’t have a good touchscreen interface
            from what you say and also from my experience when I drove the
            corollas from the car pool. However it’s not because many cars
            are bad that the technology is bad.
            
            A touchscreen from an 20 years old Archos MP3 player is extremely
            bad  while an iPad Pro M1 is very good.
       
              CSSer wrote 4 days ago:
              I don't think it's really about the touchscreen. I think very few
              manufacturers, if any, are putting very much thought into this.
              Apple Carplay, for example, is just a jumbo, uber-simplified
              version of ipadOS/iOS. In my car it has a great, high resolution
              10" touchscreen but a very lackluster experience. It's pretty
              damning if even Apple, a tech company at heart, is doing it
              poorly. It doesn't autoplay audio, store memory of what you were
              doing when last connected, or have any available preferences.
              "Car" is right there in the name but nowhere to be found in the
              experience based on everything drivers have expected from
              vehicles for the better part of a century.
       
              bobthepanda wrote 4 days ago:
              Some tools are just not good for the job.
              
              At least to me, I haven‘t seen a compelling reasons that
              touchscreens replacing analog car controls isn‘t a square peg
              going into a circle hole.
       
                burnished wrote 4 days ago:
                I'm wondering if part of that is that the companies producing
                these awful interfaces don't see themselves as 'software'
                companies, so they put these things in but no one has the time
                or passion or interest to make it a better experience.
                
                Not saying they'd definitely be good if only some one loved
                'em, but judging from the car touch screens I've used I believe
                no one has tried yet.
       
                speedgoose wrote 4 days ago:
                Well, analog controls are not very good to control a gps map or
                browse a music collection.
       
                  massysett wrote 4 days ago:
                  I find that a round knob with a push-button click, when
                  coupled with a non-touch screen, is far superior to swiping
                  around on a touchscreen to browse a music collection.
       
                  formerkrogemp wrote 4 days ago:
                  Why do we need screens on everything when we have a phone? A
                  mobile computing device.
       
                    speedgoose wrote 4 days ago:
                    The last gen Citroen Ami uses the phone. You can check how
                    it looks.
       
            Arrath wrote 4 days ago:
            The wild variability in boot times for the entertainment center is
            what gets me. Sometimes, my bluetooth will start playing
            immediately, other times the car company's logo will grace the
            screen for a good 30 seconds before I can interact with it at all.
            There doesn't seem to be any relation to frequency of starting it
            up, time since the last drive, etc.
       
              kevin_thibedeau wrote 4 days ago:
              Running fsck. We're now in the era of low effort embedded
              systems. Just slap Linux on it and don't bother tuning for
              usability in non-desktop use cases.
       
            SCNP wrote 4 days ago:
            This is another benefit of truly analog manual controls: Memory.
            Used to be your stereo volume knob was just at a certain level;
            when you turned it on it was at that level. Now they're all
            software controlled. At least some stereo equipment maintains this
            paradigm but I'm with you on the phone volume as it's dictated by
            your phone and the volume for one device could be drastically
            different than another.
       
          LocalH wrote 4 days ago:
          This is where I think regulation works, to a degree. Most states in
          the US already ban using handheld devices in a non-hands free
          capacity (which excludes almost every usage except for navigation and
          voice-activated messaging and calling), and this should also apply to
          auto manufacturers with regards to touchscreens in cars. The
          liability would rest with the manufacturers, since they are the ones
          installing the touch screens and requiring drivers use them.
       
          d3sandoval wrote 4 days ago:
          We have a PHEV from Chevy (the Volt) and it has the best dashboard
          ever. Knobs for the stuff you want (A/C, Volume, Skip, etc.) And
          touchscreen for the stuff you don't (GPS, Apple/Android Auto, etc.)
       
            rstupek wrote 4 days ago:
            Teslas have the same knobs and buttons (A/C, volume, skip, pause
            resume) on the steering wheel
       
          gompertz wrote 4 days ago:
          Cadillac driver here (2021 model). I believe it's one of the very few
          new vehicles that have a physical button for every feature. Granted
          there is a lot of buttons, it's very nice you don't even have to use
          the touchscreen ever if you don't want. I theorize this could be due
          to the age demographic of majority of their buyers, that they have
          retained all physical buttons.
       
            corrral wrote 4 days ago:
            IMO the UI preferences of people (yeah, often older people) who are
            bad with technology are often the best for most folks—the rest of
            us have just learned to work through the pain of other interfaces,
            rather than demanding better. Most of the stuff they don't like
            slows down or confuses me, too, it's just not a show-stopper
            because I know how to get past it.
       
          zippergz wrote 4 days ago:
          I don't consider more frequent updates to be a good thing, either.
          Yes, of course, I want things to be fixed if they're broken. But when
          automakers take the route of smartphone apps, where they're updating
          once a month or more, changing UI, moving things around, adding
          unnecessary features, it's really not what I want in a car. I don't
          want touch screen control at all, but if I must have it, I REALLY
          want the UI to stay the same and the controls to stay in the same
          place. I don't want some random over the air update to be able to
          break what little muscle memory I might have built up to use the
          touch screen interface effectively.
       
          30944836 wrote 4 days ago:
          >Not to mention using a touchscreen to adjust the temperature while
          driving is incredibly dangerous compared to a dial you can feel for
          without taking your eyes off the road.
          
          I understand this concern and opinion. I just wish that people who
          had this opinion realized that their car has a very modern voice
          interface that can reliably understand commands for temperature
          changes.
          
          I know, I know, it's not the buttons you're used to, and these
          systems used to be very bad. But give it a shot sometime. I was
          impressed with Tesla's implementation, and I imagine the rest of the
          industry has caught up too. The best part is, it's the safest method
          of all, because it doesn't require taking either your hands or your
          eyes off the road. So if safety is your jam (and it ought to be!),
          this is really the best solution.
       
            0x0203 wrote 4 days ago:
            > voice interface that can reliably understand commands for
            temperature changes.
            
            Unless...
            - The radio is playing.
            - The windows are open.
            - You're driving in heavy wind/rain/hail pelting the car or other
            driving conditions making an awful racket. 
            - You don't drive a super expensive car, but one designed by
            marketing, bean counters, and summer interns. 
            - Other people in the car are talking/conversing. 
            - Other people in the car are sleeping (long road trips aren't
            uncommon for many). 
            - You have an accent.
            - You don't speak a language supported by the car maker.
            - You have a speech impediment. 
            - You have a physical disability preventing clear or any speech. 
            - A software update breaks the system.
            
            So what exactly is the benefit of moving to touch screens / voice
            control? I'm pretty sure physical buttons and dials don't suffer
            from any of those problems except for maybe physical disabilities,
            but at least with physical buttons/switches/dials, you or a third
            party could modify and/or tie into them to suit the specific needs
            of the disabled driver. Good luck getting the auto makers to let
            you modify their software for a similar purpose. I just don't see
            the point in moving from something that works well in the vast
            majority of scenarios to something that works measurably less well,
            with virtual no real benefit. Fine if voice control is in addition
            to physical, tactile interfaces, but the trend toward replacement
            doesn't fill me joy.
       
              30944836 wrote 4 days ago:
              >So what exactly is the benefit of moving to touch screens /
              voice control?
              
              When it works -- and it works in most of the situations you
              mentioned (spoiler alert: I work in this space) because it's
              designed to -- it's safer than using any physical controls at
              all.
              
              I get that adoption of the half-ass solutions is frustrating. But
              if we are truly targeting a future where being able to manipulate
              car features is to be as safe as possible, voice is the best way
              to do that, at least until we have a solution to beam thoughts
              directly to the car's computer.
       
            corrral wrote 4 days ago:
            > I understand this concern and opinion. I just wish that people
            who had this opinion realized that their car has a very modern
            voice interface that can reliably understand commands for
            temperature changes.
            
            Very new, expensive cars, sure.
            
            Meanwhile, most cars are shifting at least some controls to touch,
            because they have to have a big screen anyway (backup camera
            requirements).
       
            gentleman11 wrote 4 days ago:
            I’ve never used a voice recognition app that can tell what I’m
            saying and I’m a native English speaker. I’m not about to start
            speaking differently to make an app happy
       
            Miraste wrote 4 days ago:
            I haven't used Tesla's implementation, but I've suffered through
            Android Auto's voice controls. I've never had to retry a physical
            button four times because it needs a hearing aid.
       
            tomc1985 wrote 4 days ago:
            As someone who has a physical condition that makes speaking
            sometimes very unpleasant, the last thing I want in my car is a
            voice-only interface.
            
            Also, cue the skit about the thick scottish-accented guy trying to
            activate a voice-activated elevator...
            
            Buttons, please. And only buttons.
       
              me_smith wrote 4 days ago:
              Had to look up the skit. Thank you for the laugh.
              
              The link for those wishing to watch and skip a google search:
              
   URI        [1]: https://youtu.be/NMS2VnDveP8
       
            DoingIsLearning wrote 4 days ago:
            In my opinion all voice interfaces I have used (with the exception
            of very especialized software like Dragon Naturally Speaking) seem
            to have terrible locale settings for anything other than American
            English.
            
            So sure if you are willing to talk to your car like you're a CNN
            news anchor, then yes voice interfaces are great and far safer than
            touch screens.
       
            nvrspyx wrote 4 days ago:
            I don't think it's as prevalent as you think. My partner's car
            interface is almost all touch, including the temperature controls,
            but there's no voice interface. Luckily, my vehicle has no touch
            interfaces at all and everything is much more reliable than
            their's, not even including the time when half their screen stopped
            responding to touch.
       
          usa-name wrote 4 days ago:
          I think car manufacturers will ultimately move towards voice
          assistants for these sort of tasks.
       
            adwww wrote 4 days ago:
            Which is useless when you have regional non-us accents, or have the
            windows open, or a crying baby.
       
              _notathrowaway wrote 4 days ago:
              Thank you, voice recognition systems suck when you have an accent
              or too much background noise.
       
                ncpa-cpl wrote 4 days ago:
                I hope they do that with non-cloud voice recognition
                
                My family tried an Echo Auto for voice control in one of our
                cars last year, but we ended up disconnecting it.
                
                We drive through hills and mountains often, and it was common
                for voice commands to be ignored or to have seconds in latency
                because of spotty mobile network.
                
                It worked OK in cities, as long as you were not on an
                underground parking lot, which was a common occurrence.
       
          causi wrote 4 days ago:
          It seems that Star Trek was incredibly prescient when they depicted
          literally every interface as a touchscreen.
       
            Izkata wrote 4 days ago:
            Well, TNG-era and afterwards at least.    The original series was all
            knobs and buttons.
            
            (Aside, in the novels they came up with a reason for this:  During
            the Earth-Romulan war they had to go partially low-tech to avoid
            the Romulan telecapture technology, a technology they'd just
            developed to remotely hack into and control enemy starships. 
            Apparently the design kept for ~100 years up through TOS when they
            finally learned more about the Romulans.)
       
            QuercusMax wrote 4 days ago:
            And the reason of course, was because it was super cheap and easy
            to modify.
            
            In the 32nd century, tho, they use programmable matter because
            people like tactile feedback, it turns out.
       
            Syonyk wrote 4 days ago:
            It's more the case that Star Trek's lack of budget has driven the
            modern world in that direction, because that was clearly "the
            future."
            
            Apparently they wanted the Apollo style space-age interfaces with
            all the knobs and switches.  Just, they didn't have the budget, and
            paint was cheaper. [1] > According to Michael Okuda, original Star
            Trek art director Matt Jefferies had practically no budget. "He had
            to invent an inexpensive, but believable solution," he told Ars.
            "The spacecraft of the day, such as the Gemini capsules, were
            jammed full of toggle switches and gauges. If he had had the money
            to buy those things, the Enterprise would have looked a lot like
            that."
            
            > What could be simpler to make than a flat surface with no knobs,
            buttons, switches, or other details? Okuda designed a user
            interface dominated large type and sweeping, curved rectangles. The
            style was first employed in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home for the
            Enterprise-A, and came to be referred to as "okudagrams." The
            graphics could be created on transparent colored sheets very
            cheaply, though as ST:TNG progressed, control panels increasingly
            used video panels or added post-production animations.
            
   URI      [1]: https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2016/09/how-star-trek-arti...
       
          nkrisc wrote 4 days ago:
          The touch screens are the only thing keeping me on dino juice cars. I
          want to go electric, but they all have these awful touchscreens! I
          don’t want to navigate a menu to change the temperature or turn on
          a seat warmer.
          
          I’m just not buying an EV until there’s one that doesn’t rely
          on a giant touch screen for everything or I can’t buy an ICE
          vehicle anymore.
       
            olyjohn wrote 3 days ago:
            In the US, all cars will have screens now of one sort or another.
            Laws were passed requiring the installation of backup cameras in
            all cars. So, you will never see a new car that doesn't come with a
            screen of some sort. And if it's going to be required to have a
            screen, they're not going to make it a single use only for backup
            cameras.
       
              Tiktaalik wrote 3 days ago:
              I don't necessarily disagree with you in general, I do think
              we're going to continue to see touch screens dominate, but I
              thought I'd point out a significant outlier to anyone who like
              the OP doesn't like touch screens: The Mazda 3.
              
              On the latest Mazda 3 (2019+) it does seemingly only use the
              screen for info and back up camera. There's a big wheel in
              between the seats to move about the menus. I test drove one
              recently and it is very nice and intuitive.
       
            potatochup wrote 4 days ago:
            My chevy bolt is a nice mix I find. It has physical buttons for:
            climate controls, cruise control, media volume, media channel, lane
            keep assist, sport mode, gear selection, park brake. There are also
            voice commands, which I use for selecting navigation destinations.
            
            Touchscreen for other things: android auto, apple car play (which
            provide maps) and more complicated user settings (such as whether
            you want the lights to stay on after you turn off the car for a
            while)
       
              wcfields wrote 4 days ago:
              I fully agree, the 2019-2021 Bolt [1] has been my gold standard
              for the right combo of touch and tactile. Climate and radio
              preset buttons fully separate and easy to see/touch.
              
              It's a shame they went more "slick" with the 2022 refresh, still
              tactile, but just more flush and less accessible without a
              glance. [2] [1]
              
   URI        [1]: https://cdn.motor1.com/images/mgl/OYAqe/s1/2020-chevy-bo...
   URI        [2]: https://electrek.co/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2021/02/2...
       
                jrussino wrote 4 days ago:
                Wow, I'm jealous of the control panel in your first link. In
                contrast, my 2014 Chevy Volt-with-a-"V" has an absolutely
                aweful interface. It's a combination of small, laggy
                touchscreen and a bunch of also-laggy, haphazardly-arranged
                touch-sensitive buttons: [1]
                
   URI          [1]: https://www.automotiveaddicts.com/25445/2012-chevrolet...
   URI          [2]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x73W4jZpkf0
       
            jws wrote 4 days ago:
            For a Tesla at least, you can use voice commands for the common
            functions and keep both hands on the wheel.
            
            That said, people I know have a strange resistance to using voice
            commands with their cars and phones.
       
              frosted-flakes wrote 4 days ago:
              Also, what if you have the windows open or the roof down? Or what
              if you're using your radio the way it was intended to be used?
       
              malfist wrote 4 days ago:
              Because voice commands have insane latency, require you to
              memorize a certain syntax, and hope the computer processing your
              audio understands you.
              
              Like if I want to tell my alexa to turn the temperature up on the
              thermastat I have to remember this exact phrase: Alexa, tell the
              ecobee to turn the temperature [up, down], [ecobee name].
              Anything else and alexa tells me "ecobee doesn't support that".
              And alexa/siri/google are all top of the line, offline processing
              inside a car's CPU is measurably worse, and syntax is even more
              esoteric.
              
              Ever try to use voice commands to tell your car to give you GPS
              directions to the nearest walmart? Basically impossible unless
              you have the street address memorized, and even then it's a 10
              minute ordeal with a lot of stops and starts because the
              processor wasn't listening as soon as you started speaking to it
              so it only caught the end of an address, or it misheard a number
              or street name, etc.
              
              Voice control is far from being an acceptable alternative to
              physical dials and switches.
       
              aidenn0 wrote 4 days ago:
              Two reasons to resist using voice commands
              
              1. Do not want to talk in the loud-clear voice needed for them to
              work (e.g. someone else in car is on their phone, kids are
              sleeping).
              
              2. Completely soured on the experience due to things like this[1]
              
              1:
              
   URI        [1]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NMS2VnDveP8
       
            foobarian wrote 4 days ago:
            Nit: oil formed way before dinosaurs from simple marine organisms.
       
              nkrisc wrote 4 days ago:
              You mean "dino juice" isn't the scientific term?
       
              typon wrote 4 days ago:
              How come we find it underground then?
       
                t-3 wrote 4 days ago:
                Geography and sea levels have changed over the course of
                Earth's history. Perhaps you've heard of things like Pangaea,
                or found fossils while digging in the dirt as a child? Many
                areas now inhabited were below oceans at points in the past
                billions of years.
       
                hnbad wrote 4 days ago:
                Is this a sincere question? If so: "underground" was "above
                ground" (or sea floor in this case) at the time. Additional
                layers formed and became the new "ground". Tectonic shifts
                moved places up or down (or on top of eachother), canals were
                formed or drained, water evaporated or froze, and so on.
                
                What I think is a lot more weird is that archaeology works:
                i.e. you can dig in old European cities and find the remains of
                older cities underneath. The short answer is that stuff like
                dust, decaying plant matter, erosion from nearby mountains and
                debris from the buildings themselves can effectively create
                this new layer on top, but it still feels counter-intuitive
                because we're not used to thinking in these timeframes:
                
   URI          [1]: https://www.straightdope.com/21341986/how-come-archaeo...
       
            akeck wrote 4 days ago:
            I believe Mazda has a policy of no touchscreens in their vehicles.
       
              nkrisc wrote 4 days ago:
              Funny you say that, because a 2018 Mazda3 is what I currently
              drive. It has a screen, a small one, and every common cabin
              control is still a physical button. The only exception is the
              radio, which is software, but can be controlled with a knob. But
              I just leave the radio on the same station always so it's not a
              problem for me.
       
              malfist wrote 4 days ago:
              They have touch screens, but it's minimal, pretty much only
              usable in the GPS view.
              
              They do have a rotary dial and push button that controls the
              display, so no touching it. Makes it a lot simpler when your UI
              designers are restricted to left/right movement and button push.
              Can't hide things all over the place and under deeply nested
              menus.
       
                windowsrookie wrote 4 days ago:
                The new Mazdas have no touchscreen and in my opinion it's
                worse.
                
                Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are designed to be touched. 
                Navigating either without a touchscreen is a horrible
                experience and requires significantly more steps than just
                touching the item you want on the screen.
       
                  izacus wrote 4 days ago:
                  I found no serious issues using Android Auto with my Mazda,
                  what kind of things are you doing during your drive that are
                  so impossible to do with the rotary controller?
                  
                  The only thing I can remember might be the address entry, but
                  that can easily be done with the keyboard on the phone itself
                  (click "phone" icon in the on-screen Auto keyboard to
                  handoff).
       
                tanjtanjtanj wrote 4 days ago:
                The 3 2021 Mazda models I test drove had no touch screens at
                all, I believe they included an option between the two for a
                couple years but have now phased out the touch screen.
       
            rob74 wrote 4 days ago:
            I think that's true only as long as the only electric cars you have
            driven are Teslas. The BMW i3 has pretty much resisted this
            tendency. Ok, it's already a pretty old design at this point and
            getting phased out, but it has lots of physical buttons (even for
            the seat warmer!). And I don't think electric cars that are
            variants of existing petrol cars (which are more and more common)
            will eliminate the physical controls just because they put an
            electric engine into the car. Or, otherwise said: if you buy an
            electric car from a tech company (or somebody trying too hard to
            emulate them), you get a touchscreen. If you buy an electric car
            from a car company, you get physical controls...
       
              yakshaving_jgt wrote 4 days ago:
              > If you buy an electric car from a car company, you get physical
              controls...
              
              Not sure I agree with that. Even Porsche are doing touch screens,
              unfortunately.
       
              sfink wrote 4 days ago:
              Musk created a battery tech company and used it to power giant
              cellphones on wheels.
              
              I don't want to drive—or negotiate with AI to drive—a giant
              cellphone on wheels.
       
              franga2000 wrote 4 days ago:
              I regularly drive a variety of electric cars (renault, smart,
              bmw, ford, VW) and besides the Smart For* series, which is
              cost-down so much that it doesn't even have a touchscreen, all of
              the cars have at least one feature available exclusively through
              the touchscreen. One of the most infuriating is Reanult's ZOË,
              which has really good physical controls for absolutely
              everything, except volume. That's the one not-driving-related
              thing I need to be able to adjust while moving! Even the 2008
              Scenic dinosaur-burner that I stupidly bought during the pandemic
              has better controls than that...
       
                pnw wrote 4 days ago:
                The Tesla Model S has a physical volume control on the steering
                wheel. I’m not sure about the other Tesla models.
       
                  speedgoose wrote 4 days ago:
                  The Model 3 and the Model Y has one two. I would expect the
                  Model X to have one as well. I’m not sure about the old
                  roadster but the lotus interior was not high tech.
       
                    olyjohn wrote 3 days ago:
                    The Lotus interior was one of the most glorious interiors
                    of all time. Simple, light and somehow it was so ergonomic,
                    you can road trip in it and not get sore and tired. A true
                    driver-centric design.
       
              tomxor wrote 4 days ago:
              Made me check that one out, it's actually not an insane price, it
              competes with most new normal-person petrol cars... I mean I
              still wouldn't buy one new, and that's still a bit of a dodgy
              range, but maybe in ten years there will finally be an affordable
              2nd hand market and some infra to make it reliable. In the mean
              time I will continue to run my petrol car into the ground like a
              good holistic environmentalist.
       
                ThunderSizzle wrote 4 days ago:
                Would anyone trust a 2nd hand market for an EV when the battery
                is basically guaranteed to be dead long before more affordable
                ICE vehicles?
       
                  digisign wrote 4 days ago:
                  They are replaceable, are they not?
       
                  tomxor wrote 4 days ago:
                  It's a good point, a 2nd hand market assumes the availability
                  of a cost effective battery replacement or serious
                  maintenance scheme... it's not exactly on the same scale as a
                  cam belt change which is the common todo upon acquiring a 2nd
                  hand petrol car.
                  
                  Also worth acknowledging that the battery makes up a huge
                  chunk of the car both physically and in terms of cost, and
                  yet is a consumable, so I guess this lowers the resale value
                  of EVs significantly? I wonder if it's even worth any of the
                  remaining savings on the rest of the car after fitting a new
                  battery. Maybe the next stage is scaling up lithium-ion
                  recycling to drive down battery replacement and general
                  battery cost to a point that "everyone else" can join in the
                  EV game.
                  
                  It would be a big step backwards for society if a new wealth
                  gap is created when oil becomes too expensive to continue
                  running cheap ICE cars and only moderately wealthy people can
                  afford cars priced exclusively at "new" values without a 2nd
                  hand market.
       
                    antisthenes wrote 3 days ago:
                    > It would be a big step backwards for society if a new
                    wealth gap is created when oil becomes too expensive to
                    continue running cheap ICE cars and only moderately wealthy
                    people can afford cars priced exclusively at "new" values
                    without a 2nd hand market.
                    
                    That's coming whether you want to or not.
                    
                    Once we start pricing in the externalities of climate
                    change into road vehicles (which is beginning to happen,
                    slowly), cars will become increasingly unaffordable to
                    those in the bottom quartiles of income.
       
                  speedgoose wrote 4 days ago:
                  The old EVs used market is dynamic in Norway.
       
            baobob wrote 4 days ago:
            Luckily the tide seems to be turning:
            
   URI      [1]: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/23/opinion/touch-screens-c...
       
              musesum wrote 4 days ago:
              This! Was fiddling with a Tesla touch screen to do something
              basic. During those few seconds, autopilot decided to steer me
              off the road - with no shoulder - at 80 MPH (it was during a
              sunset). Fortunately, I caught it in time.
              
              After the panic subsided, I decided to learn the voice commands.
              It seems that each device, now, has its own language, which we
              have to learn in order to function. A modern tower of Babel.
       
                digitallyfree wrote 4 days ago:
                Speaking of Teslas, the SpaceX spacecraft also use touch
                screens heavily in the cockpit (maybe it's just something the
                company prefers) and only have a very small button panel. This
                is in comparison to the large array of controls normally seen
                on most aircraft and spacecraft. Obviously they state that the
                technology is well tested and that the astronauts train a lot
                with them, but in my mind you simply won't have the muscle
                memory and response you can get with a tactile interface.
       
                  frosted-flakes wrote 4 days ago:
                  Astronauts are passengers though. There is very little they
                  can do to control their spacecraft during launch, as the
                  flight path is complex and cannot really be flown manually.
                  Rockets have always been this way, it's just that before they
                  had no choice but to put everything on toggle switches.
       
              tablespoon wrote 4 days ago:
              >  Luckily the tide seems to be turning: [1] We can hope, but
              there's reason to be pessimistic:
              
              > With traffic fatalities spiking over the past few years and
              with no real plan for how to make screens less distracting, we
              seem to have entered into the type of brutal acquiescence
              that’s common in the tech era; car manufacturers will keep
              putting bigger and more complicated screens in cars without much
              thought to safety or even functionality, and we, the consumers,
              will continue to buy them.
              
              > ...
              
              > The incentives of carmakers are pretty clear: Touch screens are
              cheaper than designing and installing a mechanical panel. And
              given that most cars today are reliable, come with lengthy
              warranties and an array of mostly uniform features, a big screen
              becomes a way for a car brand to distinguish itself from its
              competitors, especially on the showroom floor before potential
              buyers have a chance to really immerse themselves in just how
              annoying the screen will be.
              
              One of the weaknesses of the market is that it doesn't
              necessarily give consumers what would work best for them, it just
              lets them pick from what they're given.  Barring regulatory
              action, I don't see device-makers moving away touchscreen
              maximization.
              
   URI        [1]: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/23/opinion/touch-screens...
       
                _jal wrote 4 days ago:
                > we, the consumers, will continue to buy them.
                
                Who's this "we"?
                
                I'm in the pre-buy stage, it looks like my record of
                non-car-ownership will end at 23 years. (My last car was stolen
                from a SOMA lot in 1999.)
                
                It does look like I'm buying used and IC, because I will not
                have a touch screen. I've driven basically every model of car
                you can rent, and some of them are less offensive than others,
                but they're all ass. Backup assist is vaguely nice, but I
                learned to parallel park before they existed, so I don't really
                care. And everything else about them is actively worse.
                
                The UI is such a weird thing to cheap out on. As far as I'm
                concerned, keep your butt warmers and solenoid-driven seat
                adjustment, I want physical knobs I don't have to look at to
                use.
       
                  nkrisc wrote 4 days ago:
                  > As far as I'm concerned, keep your butt warmers and
                  solenoid-driven seat adjustment
                  
                  My car has these things, controlled by physical buttons and
                  knobs. They're nice features and they don't require a
                  touchscreen to use.
       
                  ClumsyPilot wrote 4 days ago:
                  ' I'm buying used and IC, because I will not have a touch
                  screen'
                  
                  That's not a solution - you have to look at market of brand
                  new cars, as whateber is avaliable now will replace all the
                  used cars.
       
                    _jal wrote 4 days ago:
                    Of course it is a solution. I end up with a car that
                    doesn't have a touch screen.
       
                      tablespoon wrote 4 days ago:
                      >> That's not a solution - you have to look at market of
                      brand new cars, as whateber is avaliable now will replace
                      all the used cars.
                      
                      > Of course it is a solution. I end up with a car that
                      doesn't have a touch screen.
                      
                      The point is that solution is only a band-aid.    Cars wear
                      out.  New cars turn into used cars, which turn into
                      "classic cars", which then turn into museum pieces. 
                      Especially with the later two steps, supply drops and
                      maintenance becomes harder.
       
                        _jal wrote 4 days ago:
                        And my point is, humans wear out. They stop driving
                        cars and eventually die.
                        
                        There is a reasonable chance I won't buy another
                        vehicle, so I don't care what the rest of the market
                        does.
       
                          tablespoon wrote 4 days ago:
                          > There is a reasonable chance I won't buy another
                          vehicle, so I don't care what the rest of the market
                          does.
                          
                          Good for you, but why do you feel you need to weigh
                          in on the new car market when you have no intention
                          of ever participating?
       
                            _jal wrote 4 days ago:
                            Why do you feel the need to play conversation-cop?
       
                              tablespoon wrote 4 days ago:
                              >  Why do you feel the need to play
                              conversation-cop?
                              
                              Because we're discussing a complaint about modern
                              cars, and "always buy used ones that predate the
                              change, and plan to die before those become
                              unavailable" doesn't really address the
                              complaint.  It's a rather idiosyncratic and
                              radical way of avoiding it, and bends the
                              conversation to discussing that personal
                              idiosyncrasy.
       
                                _jal wrote 3 days ago:
                                I suppose you now know better than to waste
                                your time talking to me in the future, then.
       
            spaniard89277 wrote 4 days ago:
            Some korean brand was moving to physical buttons again, but I can't
            find which.
       
              kube-system wrote 4 days ago:
              Hyundai/Kia have had some horrible interfaces lately.
              
   URI        [1]: https://youtu.be/EREg2XtohTg?t=7m
       
                tomtheelder wrote 4 days ago:
                My 2022 Kona EV has an amazing, mostly physical button based
                interface fwiw.
       
              zwirbl wrote 4 days ago:
              I guess it was Mazda, so Japanese instead of Korean [1] Though I
              don't know if they followed through
              
   URI        [1]: https://www.motorauthority.com/news/1121372_why-mazda-is...
       
                meristem wrote 4 days ago:
                Between 2019 and 2022 Mazda improved the truly atrocious
                latency linked to screen operations. All operations are
                physical, but you still need menus to find what you want. The
                latency was quite impressive. 
                The 2022 has less latency and seemingly different menu trees to
                go with the ultrawide ( but narrow height) screen.
                
                HVAC is screen-independent. So is volume, thankfully.
       
                  fomine3 wrote 3 days ago:
                  Except MX-30. They use touchscreen for AC for unknown reason.
                  Maybe because the car is designed to be weird on their
                  lineup?
       
                frxx wrote 4 days ago:
                As far as I know they're sticking to it.
       
                neogodless wrote 4 days ago:
                 [1] > Like most modern Mazdas, the CX-5 uses an ultra-wide,
                non-touchscreen infotainment system.
                
                Buttons and knobs for HVAC
                
   URI          [1]: https://www.autoguide.com/manufacturer/mazda/2022-mazd...
   URI          [2]: https://www.autoguide.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2022...
       
              sosull wrote 4 days ago:
              I think Honda have returned to at least partial physical controls
              for heating, air, and music for the Honda e. But it still has a
              lot of screen.
       
                thfuran wrote 4 days ago:
                Backup cameras are legally mandated on new us vehicles. The
                screens are not going anywhere so they're going to get used for
                other stuff too.
       
                  ThunderSizzle wrote 4 days ago:
                  My backup camera screen is embedded in my reear view mirror.
                  You wouldn't know when it's not on. Sure, it's small, but
                  sufficient, considering it's not a replacement for mirrors
                  and area awareness.
       
                  nkrisc wrote 4 days ago:
                  I don’t mind a small screen that isn’t involved in common
                  cabin features.
                  
                  I have a 2018 Mazda3 and I like the backup camera. But I can
                  control the climate control and temperature with physical
                  buttons. The seat warmers have buttons. I can control the
                  volume with a knob or on the steering wheel.
                  
                  The radio, unfortunately, is software. Seems like that much
                  is unavoidable. But the small screen that is there is
                  secondary to everything else I want to control while driving
                  and I don’t ever need to use while driving. I’m typically
                  using Apple CarPlay (or previously Android Auto) so if I do
                  need to do something, I can use voice controls and at least
                  keep my eyes on the road.
                  
                  I don’t mind small screens, as you said, they’re not
                  going away. What I don’t want is a giant screen that
                  controls everything.
       
          undefinedzero wrote 4 days ago:
          More bugs definitely, but car manufacturers put so much effort into
          QA for the essential features that they really just short on never
          are released broken.
          
          Changing the temperature while driving on a good touch interface is
          trivial and incredibly far from incredibly dangerous. Besides with CC
          systems nowadays people look at the set temperature just as often.
          More advanced features like toggling internal air circulation do
          require a peek, but so do the buttons on most classical cars where
          you have multiple buttons in a row with unlit icons.
          
          I still prefer buttons for the tactile feel and feedback, but the
          downsides you listed are pretty much made up.
          
          The great benefit of a touch screen is unlimited update capabilities.
          It seems absurd to me that there are still cars rolling off the
          factory line that have unupdatable software in 2022. Your car is
          basically outdated and replaceable by something better within a year.
          That’s great for the manufacturers, but not for the customer.
          Compare that to a 3+ year old Tesla which works almost as good as a
          brand new one despite big upgrades to their internals, largely thanks
          to regular updates.
       
            AlexandrB wrote 4 days ago:
            > The great benefit of a touch screen is unlimited update
            capabilities
            
            You say this like it's a good thing. It's bad enough when apps get
            non-optional "updates" that make the experience worse. I don't want
            my car interface to go to shit because a designed wanted to add
            more padding to everything.
            
            More realistically though, this means cars will stop getting
            updates after a few years but the remote access system will still
            be there providing a juicy attack surface for hackers.
       
            agent008t wrote 4 days ago:
            A 3+ year old car still working as intended is an extremely low bar
            for a car.
            
            A car from the 70s, with proper care, would still work today just
            as well as it did when it was brand new.
            
            In my view, a car should only require software updates in very rare
            circumstances. It should come with hardware and corresponding
            software that is fit for purpose and works. Most definitely I do
            not ever want any over-the-air updates. Requiring updates is a sign
            that the software was not properly engineered in the first place. I
            do not want that in my car.
            
            If, for example, we are talking about upgrading the entertainment
            system, then it should just be made modular, like it used to be.
            Want to get an improved entertainment system with a better screen /
            better navigation system etc.? Take the old one out and install a
            new one. But the old one must keep working as well as on day one 20
            years in the future, without any required software updates, even if
            the manufacturer goes bankrupt.
       
            Pasorrijer wrote 4 days ago:
            I also find that many of these touchscreens are designed with
            California in mind. Sure, touchscreens are great when it's sunny
            and 22C. But when it's -25 and the car feels like a freezer, the
            touchscreen is sluggish and won't accepted gloved inputs, I start
            swearing and think about selling the car.
       
              ridgered4 wrote 4 days ago:
              A buddy of mine said the touchscreen on his Chevy Cruz (I
              believe) didn't even work in the winter until the car was warmed
              up.
       
            usrn wrote 4 days ago:
            Changing the temperature on a touch screen will always suck even
            the UI is completely modeless (imagine that!) On my car I can just
            press my hand against the console without looking and feel around
            for the controls. You can not do this with a touch screen no matter
            how good the interface is.
       
            arky527 wrote 4 days ago:
            > Changing the temperature while driving on a good touch interface
            is trivial and incredibly far from incredibly dangerous
            
            Looking away for even ~3s at motorway speeds is 100m driven without
            looking at whats in front of you, I'd say that's fairly dangerous
            
            > The great benefit of a touch screen is unlimited update
            capabilities
            
            It also introduces a single point of failure for any features on
            it, at least with physical buttons you stand more chance of
            operating other parts of the car if one breaks.
       
            Joeri wrote 4 days ago:
            I still prefer buttons for the tactile feel and feedback, but the
            downsides you listed are pretty much made up.
            
            Or, maybe your personal experience doesn’t translate to everyone,
            and touch controls are indeed dangerously distracting for most
            people. What we need here is evidence (user studies) and not
            anecdote, but anecdotally I can say operating a touch screen
            without looking at it directly is not something I’m capable of
            doing, even for things I use often.
       
          h3mb3 wrote 4 days ago:
          I also imagine this trend is bad from the ergonomics / RSI
          perspective. For generations, we've been using various kinds of
          per-appliance controls, with various shapes, sizes and stiffnesses.
          Since the past 10 years almost all of them have been replaced by a
          flat piece of glass. People are increasingly doing only a couple of
          motions with their hands throughout the day without any variety
          (tap/drag without any tactile feedback).
       
            meristem wrote 4 days ago:
            I recall a Car Talk episode many years ago where the discussion
            about BMW’s big knob for multiple functions was filled with
            negative statements. Tactile feedback and navigation were issues.
       
              bombela wrote 4 days ago:
              I have a 20y old BMW with the idrive knob. I find it excellent.
              This is because the knob contains a motor to simulate various
              detent and other virtual stops. So you actually have a really
              fine tactile feedback. You can navigate menus without looking the
              screen.
              
              It can act as a spring, a rotary encoder, a joystick, small
              detent, big detent, etc.
       
            rambambram wrote 4 days ago:
            Agree! The fine sensitive movements of fingers (or better, lack of
            movement) that are required by touch screens can become very
            annoying. No possibility to rest your finger on a button.
            Accidentally touching somewhere else in the UI. Et cetera. These
            kinds of things are small, but add up pretty quickly in a world
            getting filled with capacitive touch screens.
       
          ratww wrote 4 days ago:
          I really wonder if the possibility of updates alone can make software
          worse. Because you don't have to "get it right" on the first try. And
          the updates always contain something more than bug and security
          fixes, which often help keeping the quality of the experience low,
          despite fixed bugs.
          
          All the smart TVs I ever had lasted a long long time physically, but
          after a couple years they invariably started being noticeable slower
          than when I bought. The same happened to a guitar effects unit I had:
          changing patches became somewhat slower after update. And the battery
          of a wireless guitar transmitter I had now only lasts half the time
          it used to after the update. I honestly can say I dread updating
          almost any software today.
       
            dmckeon wrote 4 days ago:
            > patches became somewhat slower after update.
            
            Could this be a form of assisted obsolescence, in which a user who
            has owned a device for a few years is being subliminally urged to
            buy a new model?
       
              ratww wrote 4 days ago:
              In this specific case I think it was just incompetence, but at
              the same time, one of the selling points of the device was
              “lasting longer” because it was able to receive updates.
       
            SCNP wrote 4 days ago:
            I purposely NEVER connect smart TVs to the internet for this
            reason. I'd like to get a "dumb" TV but the ones in the sizes I'd
            like are prohibitively expensive.
       
            corrral wrote 4 days ago:
            > I really wonder if the possibility of updates alone can make
            software worse.
            
            Absolutely does. You see this in console video games. As soon as
            online updates became possible, game-breaking bugs at launch became
            practically the norm, instead of incredibly rare (minor bugs were
            common enough before ["I AM ERROR"], sure, but game-breaking ones,
            while not unheard of, were rare). Charging $60 for a
            late-alpha-quality product.
       
              CliffyA wrote 4 days ago:
              I agree with what you are saying, except that "I AM ERROR" isn't
              actually a bug. The character is intentionally named that in
              Zelda II, even in the original Japanese.
       
                fzzzy wrote 4 days ago:
                And "Bagu" is mistranslated; his name is supposed to be "Bug".
       
                corrral wrote 4 days ago:
                Huh, TIL. I even had the game back in the day, and had no idea
                that wasn't an actual oversight.
       
                  fzzzy wrote 4 days ago:
                  Programmer joke. See my sibling comment to yours.
       
              gigaflop wrote 4 days ago:
              Many modern AAA titles have day-one patches, and with some games
              pivoting to a 'Live Services' model, additional content is often
              put on an arbitrary 'roadmap'.
              
              If it was all executed well, it would be fine. The problem is, it
              isn't.
              
              A public beta used to actually be a mostly-finished product, but
              is often used now as a 'preorder for early access' period. The
              last one I participated in was for Elder Scrolls Online, and it
              was kind of funny with how broken things would be. It wasn't as
              funny when the game launched with a few of those bugs still in
              place.
       
              dontcare007 wrote 4 days ago:
              "Fail fast" in action, to the detriment of drivers everywhere.
       
            fendy3002 wrote 4 days ago:
            Not to mention that corporates have incentives to downgrade the
            devices the older it gets.
       
            sanitycheck wrote 4 days ago:
            Yes. It'll have more bugs to begin with because the software team
            has no hard deadline to meet. Then it'll accumulate more bugs over
            time as "features" are added (while existing bugs are ignored).
            Then after 2-4 years nobody will be working on it any more and
            within 6-8 years it may no longer function at all or it may have
            well known never-to-be-patched security holes.
            
            I try to avoid buying tech that can be updated, and tech that can
            connect to the internet in general.
       
          PartiallyTyped wrote 4 days ago:
          I have grown to heavily dislike the whole smartify everything.
          
          Haptic feedback is a core part of how humans process the world, and
          to remove it in favor of more frequent updates seems like a naive
          decision at best.
          
          Flatness in phones works because we can use our full attention -
          which is also why car accidents happen when people use it while
          driving.
       
            AlexAndScripts wrote 4 days ago:
            4th (last) gen fighter jets have "MFDs", or multi function
            displays. They're similar to ATMs, there is a set of buttons
            (usually 20) around the display that are assigned to different
            things based on context. They display stuff like:
            Radar contacts 
            A map
            Received radar signals (e.g. From an enemy aircraft)
            A infrared image from a targeting pod
            Armament status 
            Etc
            
            4.5th and 5th gen aircraft are touchscreen though, with full tiling
            window managers. They're still highly classified, so we're unlikely
            to get any more info on them until the 6th gen in the 2030s.
       
            Mordisquitos wrote 4 days ago:
            > Flatness in phones works because we can use our full attention
            
            I very much agree with you, and would like to add that flatness in
            phones is a feature because today phones are pocket computers, and
            computers should be able to provide any arbitrary UI to function as
            such. Cars on the other hand are not a computer nor are they
            intended to function as one.
            
            The fact that modern cars expose part of their on-board computer to
            the driver is no excuse to treat any capability that may be handled
            by said computer as something exclusively accessible via a
            touchscreen UI, especially when its something that is expected to
            be interacted with while driving (audio playback control, climate
            control, windscreen wipers, etc.). A touchscreen is fine for
            features that should not be done while driving and did not exist or
            were not easily accessible prior to the ubiquity of touchscreens in
            cars. For all intents and purposes those are computer features.
            However, subjecting anything that was previously available via
            mechanical interaction to it is an unacceptable regression.
       
              DonHopkins wrote 4 days ago:
              I've heard Teslas described as "iPads with Wheels".
       
                meristem wrote 4 days ago:
                And an iPhone as a computer that can also make calls.
       
                  wrycoder wrote 4 days ago:
                  Who makes calls anymore?
       
        acd wrote 4 days ago:
        Physical car buttons and knobs vs touch screens
       
        eimrine wrote 4 days ago:
        > During the recent home device project I mentioned earlier, one of the
        biggest supporters of a touchscreen-based solution was the team’s
        marketing specialist.
        
        Why am I not surprised?
       
          Gigachad wrote 4 days ago:
          I don't buy it tbh. Most home appliances are sufficiently complex
          that physical buttons are not intuitive. Ask someone to change the
          clock on their oven vs on their phone. Most could do it on the phone
          but not the oven. And there are countless more practical examples of
          this issue.
          
          My Breville coffee machine only has buttons and knobs, which works
          fine for the basic flow since everything has a dedicated button. But
          once you want to do something like run a cleaning cycle you will have
          to read the manual every time because there is nothing intuitive
          about holding double shot + single shot and then power for 3 seconds.
          Or holding program and then power to open temperature adjust then
          clicking one of the buttons to set a temp which isn't labeled and
          needs the manual to decipher.
          
          While on the touch screen model, the basic flow might be slightly
          less nice, but the most complex flows are also reduced to about the
          same complexity and can be intuitively worked out while using the
          device. Combining physical buttons for basic flow with a touch screen
          is the best of both imo. I have used some ovens which use a normal
          knob like it would on an older oven, but if you want to do something
          like start a self clean cycle or adjust steaming, its done via the
          touch screen.
       
            danparsonson wrote 4 days ago:
            > Ask someone to change the clock on their oven vs on their phone.
            Most could do it on the phone but not the oven.
            
            I'd argue that's not an example of touch screens being better than
            buttons but rather the button interface in question being poorly
            laid out, and as for the phone, it's not the lack of physical
            buttons but rather the on-screen guidance that makes life easier.
            My grandparents' cooker is a button-free wonder and I couldn't work
            it out the first time I tried to turn it on.
       
              Gigachad wrote 4 days ago:
              For the coffee machine, it would be shitty UI if every function
              had a physical button. You don’t need a dedicated button to run
              the descale cycle since you do it twice a year, but it’s also a
              bit crap to have to pull out a manual to work out which order of
              buttons to press and for how long and what all the blinking
              lights mean. A touch screen executes this perfectly. It doesn’t
              have to blink led 2 to tell you of an error, it can just show the
              error on the screen.
       
                danparsonson wrote 4 days ago:
                Yeah a hybrid setup can work well although the decision is not
                necessarily between lights and a touch screen - a non-touch
                display with navigation buttons is also perfectly reasonable.
       
            watwut wrote 4 days ago:
            The absurd part is the one where I have to set the clock on the
            oven in the first place
       
            cmrdporcupine wrote 4 days ago:
            If one is going to go into the effort and cost to put an SoC
            onboard that can run a touchscreen, one should just have the device
            communicate with the touchscreen computer in your pocket instead.
            
            Common basic functions: knobs dials switches.
            
            Extended functions: there's an app for that, or suffer through
            modal button changes like you describe.
            
            Save on BOM costs, less points of failure, and does not require an
            SoC with display controller and a software stack running a (usually
            janky and slow and non-standard) UI.
       
              my69thaccount wrote 4 days ago:
              This is an awful idea in practice. For example, an update to my
              Anova precision cooker required I logged in with a Facebook
              account to continue using it.
       
              Gigachad wrote 4 days ago:
              This does happen on a lot of devices. It’s ok for stuff you
              expect to last a few years but anything longer and the app stops
              working before the device does.
              
              I have a bike gps which has some functions as a phone app but the
              phone app no longer works.
       
                cmrdporcupine wrote 4 days ago:
                Yeah, this is a potential downside but also an argument for
                open protocols and specifications for managing and controlling
                these kinds of devices.
       
            bandie91 wrote 4 days ago:
            > change the clock on their oven
            
            it's really easy. grab the clock. turn the hands to the desired
            position. optionally wind it up. put back on the oven.
            the only thing i dont understand why would anybody put his clock on
            the oven?
       
              Too wrote 3 days ago:
              How else would you know if the clock on the micro is not correct
              if you don't have the oven to use as reference?
       
            nicoburns wrote 4 days ago:
            > Combining physical buttons for basic flow with a touch screen is
            the best of both imo
            
            This. But if I have to choose, then I'll have physical buttons over
            a touch screen. Why? Because I use the "basic flow" every damn day.
            Whereas I only need to set the clock every few months.
       
          mro_name wrote 4 days ago:
          I came to write my official paper letters with vi :hardcopy in 70ies
          RFC typewriter style.
          
          Helps to focus on the content. That's exactly what marketing dreads.
       
            mro_name wrote 4 days ago:
            meanwhile found the template:
            
   URI      [1]: https://darknet.mro.name/pub/brief-dina4.txt
       
       
   DIR <- back to front page