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Archive for September 2009

IX. Internet Piano

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Nowadays, everything can be done through the internet. For example, last year I ended up ordering Dominos pizza through the internet. The internet even allows you to play piano now, too! Yamaha has actually released an Internet piano that connects to the Internet and plays any song that you want it to play. All you have to do is pop a cd in and the computer will recognize the song and bring up the sheet music and will play it for you too! I find this invention to be absolutely ludicrous. Okay, ordering pizza at Domino’s is pretty absurd (not to mention lazy) but having a piano automatically play that Elton John song you listen to all the time is pretty ridiculous. It even shows you exactly what keys to press just in case you wanted to learn the song; the keyboard presses the key down for you. As a former piano player, I’m actually a little offended by this invention. Whatever happened to building muscle memory and actually learning how to read music and play? I feel that because our world is so technologically advanced nowadays, we feel that we need to keep churning out more inventions that “teach” us everything and help make our lives easier. If a piano’s going to play for you, then why bother learning the piano or buying it for that matter since you can probably just find the instrumental piano version to that song on YouTube anyway. This leads to the question of “what’s going to be next for us?” Will we see a new invention of a car driving for us? Will we just use robots and computers for everything in the future? Will we no longer need to learn information because we’ll just have something doing it for us? I fear this all. I fear that our dependency on technology is getting us in too deep. Whatever happened to the good ole days when we used to just learn for fun?

If you want to see this creation, go here for more information.

Written by minjikwon

September 30, 2009 at 3:43 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

VIII. Misinterpret

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In Chapter 5, To Err is Human, Norman discusses how humans tend to “misinterpret” or not connect certain clues to certain scenarios. For example, in the beginning of the paragraph, Norman quotes a reformed thief who claims that if he got 100 dollars every time he heard a dog’s owner telling their dog to shut up, he’d be rich (Norman 127). Norman claims that we often don’t pay attention to the “minor” things such as a dog barking randomly or a car making funny noises. We don’t pay attention to these things because they have just become the social norms in our society. We as human beings have concluded that these situations are normal and happen by chance all the time. “Norman also brings up an interesting point that if a disastrous event takes place, people’s explaining away the signs of impending disaster always seem implausible to others” (Norman 128). He then gives the example of the Three Mile Island incident and Chernobyl. While people tend to throw the blame all on the engineers, Norman reasons that each error was logical and understandable. This then relates to Norman’s thought that human error stems all from bad design. I agree with Norman that everything can simply just be linked to a bad interface. As humans we make mistakes and shrug off small signs that may seem like warnings but aren’t too suspicious because we believe that it’s too “normal” to link these things to disasters. For example, I don’t find it odd or unusual to see a dog barking while no one’s around because I’ve connected this event to being part of the everyday life. I’ve noticed that people don’t seem to notice the “little things” until something goes wrong. It’s like the famous saying, “you don’t know what you have until it’s gone”.  A dog owner isn’t going to pay attention to every single dog bark and find it unusual unless he gets robbed or something happens. I’ve noticed that people don’t react unless something negative happens. Also, I find it funny that if people tend to pay attention to every little detail, then others would see that person as a paranoid individual. Well maybe being this “paranoid” or careful individual will end up leading a more successful life in the end or they’ll just end up being a social pariah.

Written by minjikwon

September 30, 2009 at 3:30 pm

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VII. Show & Tell

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The iPhone might be upgrading again but this time with a physical keyboard.  The iPhone is known to have a virtual keyboard but may soon resemble the Blackberry. Many iphone users frequently complain about difficulties of dialing or texting on the virtual keyboard and have voiced an interest in pressing physical buttons. I understand their frustrations because my cousin’s phone, although not an iPhone, also has a touch screen keyboard and it confuses me every time I try to text a message to someone. I’m so used to physically pushing the keys that the touch-sensitive keys end up annoying me. It then leads to frustrations and questions such as how hard or sensitive do I need to push the buttons?  Mike Nykoluk, a founder of Mobile Mechatronics, realized the growing nuisances of the touch screen board and decided that the only way that users could get used to it is to install a physical keyboard add-on. Actually it’s interesting to know that the beta testers of the keyboard chose to keep using the physical keyboard over the touch screen board. This new product will be out in markets around November at the price of $30 with an extra $5 shipping charge. Hopefully now iPhone users won’t grow so frustrated to the point of wanting to throw their phone.

iphone_homenow-iphone

iphonekeyboard.190after with physical keyboard add-on?

Written by minjikwon

September 23, 2009 at 3:38 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

VI. Mac Mouse

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So in one of my earlier posts, I discussed the interface of Apple’s Itunes and it’s effectiveness. This time I’ll be discussing the poor, confusing design of the standard Mac Mouses. I can say that in my honest blunt opinion, I am not too fond of these mouses. They frustrate me and other users who may not have any experience with macs at all. It’s very aesthetically pleasing but there’s nothing on the mouse that indicates how to use it. It’d fall into the category of procedural knowledge which is when you must gain experience to understand and use it effectively. The mac mouse has a sleek white exterior with a single moveable round button in the center. Unlike PC mouses which contain both a left and right clicker, this mouse only has the little scroll button.  When I encountered my first mac mouse, I was confused and frustrated and wanted to give up just using it. I’m pretty sure I had to google how to right click with a mac mouse. In the end, I felt defeated and later stupid because I thought it was my own fault for not being able to use the simple looking mouse. Norman mentions falsely blaming yourself in chapter 2 and even goes on to say “designers should take special pains to make errors as cost-free as possible” (Norman 35). I agree wholeheartedly. I mean what’s the point of making a product that’s going to make you feel worse about yourself in the end and give you more of a headache when the intention was to simplify and make the task easy to do? I am not the only one who seems to be frustrated with the mac mouse. This site writes a whole entry telling mac lovers to get a real mouse. According to Wired Magazine, “even Apple seems aware of the shortcomings of the one-button mouse ” (Kahney 1). If the head execs. at Apple even realize that the one-button mouse isn’t working out and it’s coming to an end, obviously that’s a sign that it’s not as efficient as they thought it was. 

Mac Mouse

confusing one-click mac mouse.

Written by minjikwon

September 23, 2009 at 2:22 pm

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V. Common Knowledge

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Norman discusses how humans have common knowledge about certain things. He’s talking about how memory ties in with the human thought process. For example, he brings up how many typists may not have memorized the keyboard but with experience and time the typist can type with accuracy, speed, and ease. He then states that “the knowledge is still mostly in the world, not in the head” (Norman 56). As a skilled typist, you just start to type whatever letters you need to type subconsciously. It’s similar to breathing as it comes naturally to you over time. For instance, I know that when I type I don’t use a lot of my brain to indicate where each letter on the keyboard is since it just flows naturally to me. Instead, I just think about what I’m going to write and then I type it out without straining my brain or eyes. Norman then goes on to explain the sub categories of knowledge which are the knowledge of and the knowledge how. “Knowledge of –of what psychologists call declarative knowledge–includes knowledge of facts and rules like knowing to stop at a red light.  Knowledge how is what psychologists call procedural knowledge or the knowledge that enables a person to perform music, to stop a car smoothly with a flat tire on an icy road, to return a serve in tennis, or to move the tongue properly while saying the phrase “frightening witches” (Norman 57). The knowledge of  is easy to write down and teach while the knowledge how is easy to demonstrate.  Basically, the knowledge of  is common knowledge known just by living everyday life while knowledge how is knowledge you must learn through experience.  Thankfully, visual aids help us with these everyday inventions on top of our knowledge of the world. Norman uses the example of how a keyboard lights up every time it’s in use. For example, when I’m driving in a car, a green square surrounds whatever position the car is in whether it be in P(ark), R(everse), D(rive), N(eutral) etc. and serves as a reminder to me. I think it’s interesting how certain things have become “common knowledge” such as stopping at a stop sign, going at a green light, knowing there’s 4 seasons in a year, knowing new york city is a major city in the united states and so on. What exactly makes something common knowledge or how long does it take for something to become common knowledge? I guess only time and the people influenced will be the only deciding factors. Well for now, I know that it is declarative knowledge (of) that the _____ for Dummies books are for people who want to know more about that specific topic which makes the book a procedural knowledge (how); pretty interesting if you ask me.

Written by minjikwon

September 23, 2009 at 1:57 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

IV. False thought

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Norman mentions folk theories vs. reality and relates it back to human thought.  He uses the example of a thermostat and an air conditioner. If you turn up a thermostat all the way to keep warm in a cold room, will the room generate heat more quickly? If you blast the ac to the max with the lowest possible temperature, will the room get cooler faster?  Actually these preconceived notions prove to be false. According to Norman, if you believe that these ideas then you hold a folk theory of thermostats; He then goes onto explaining that the thermostat is just an on-off switch and there are no in-between states (Norman 39). The thermostat works at full power once it’s turned on; there is no extreme to making it work any faster or more efficiently. This example relates to mental theories which are “our conceptual models of the way objects work, events take place, or people behave, result from our tendency to form explanations of things” (Norman 38).  Everyone makes assumptions and  mental models to discuss and explain the outcome of their experiences and observations. Norman then goes onto explaining how the design of the objects sometimes can’t give you the answer you’re looking for. This is particularly interesting to me because design is supposed to help you understand the function of object but in the case of the thermostat, it can’t always provide certain answers. Sometimes human imagination and experimentation are the only way to answering the questions that can’t be solved by design. Next time I’m in my car, I’ll be sure not to blast on the heat or air conditioning, depending on the temperature, because I’ll know that it’s just a “folk theory”.

Written by minjikwon

September 16, 2009 at 3:28 pm

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III. False Blame

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Norman’s little anecdote about the “return” key and “enter” key switch up was interesting because it relates to sociology.  It talks about where humans put the blame depending on the situation.  The secretaries in the story hit the “return” key when they should’ve hit the “enter” key but shifted the blame to themselves.  They decided to not blame the faulty design of the keyboard because they thought it was just simple human error; they thought that it was their fault for not remembering which key was which.  However, the case of he matter is the creator expected the users to read the manual and remember the correct placement of the keys.  As Norman says, “complex devices will always require some instruction and someone using them without instruction should expect to make errors and to be confused.  But designers should take special pains to make errors as cost-free as possible” (35 Norman).  He then goes onto talking about how “the designer must assume that all possible errors will occur and design so as to minimize the chance error will occur and design so as to minimize the chance of error in the first place, or its effects once it gets made” (36 Norman).  This observation takes me back to the time that I used the first model of the EnV, a phone, and kept missing the space key.  ON a normal keyboard or even a regular QWERTY [phone] keyboard, the spacebar is usually located on the bottom middle.  However, for the EnV the designer decided to place the spacebar on the right where the enter key is usually placed.  I kept forgetting that the spacebar was in a different location but just blamed it on myself thinking it was simple error.  Now reflecting back on the passage in Norman’s The Design of Everyday Things, I now know that the switch up I made was due to a bad design..  Honestly, what’s the point of designing something that takes hours to figure out?

lg-envthe first model of the EnV and the space key is all the way under the return key on the right.

Written by minjikwon

September 16, 2009 at 2:15 pm

Posted in Uncategorized