Does the tool adapt to the user, or does the user adapt to the tool?

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by NamelessPlayer, Aug 4, 2015.

  1. NamelessPlayer

    NamelessPlayer Mobile Deity

    Messages:
    1,831
    Likes Received:
    46
    Trophy Points:
    223
    For the sake of this discussion, the "tool" is a modern computer, be it a smartphone, laptop, tablet, or even a desktop for enthusiasts like myself who still build them for demanding purposes (gaming, 3D rendering, etc.).

    I generally don't frequent this place like I used to because when it comes to smartphones, I already have the perfect tool for me: a Galaxy Note 4. It does just about everything I could ask for, while still offering me the flexibility I ask for with things like microSD cards, removable batteries, the Wacom pen that no other smartphone manufacturer has bothered to offer, etc. (I still come back for old times' sake, though. Lots of good people here!)

    However, I don't expect the Note 4 to last forever, as much as I'd love for it to. Lithium-ion batteries age badly, and new replacements may be hard to find after a while. Android system updates cease after about two years, and AOSP ROMs that pick up the slack afterward might have issues with things like the camera, NFC, the Wacom digitizer and especially the Gear VR down the road, going by how such ROMs usually work out for other phones. Go far enough into the future, and cellular network support might also be an issue.

    This normally wouldn't be an issue; I looked forward to every Note iteration that Samsung saw fit to churn out. All until the S6 bucked trends by removing the microSD slot and added a fixed glass cover you can't remove without a heat gun, sealing the battery inside. The Note 5 is poised to pick up both of these undesirable traits, and I'm not sure Samsung will have the sense to restore them with the Note 6 onward, even after all the public backlash. There's a lot of apologists going around the Internet, saying we don't need these things.

    Some say that instead of microSD, you could use cloud storage. Well, that works all fine and dandy...unless your Internet connection cuts out, in which case your cloud storage is as good as useless. Same if the cloud services you use go down for any reason, or worse, get hacked and leak any private, valuable data you may have stored on them. Oh, and you'd better have an unlimited data plan if you take that route, too, because you're bound to get hit with overages on your bill or throttled if you don't!

    Using the USB port for an external drive might be a workable stopgap solution for backing up data, if a bit inconvenient should I need to charge, use an MHL cable, or do anything else with the USB port. (Funnily enough, none of the commenters or forum posters out there even think about that while they hawk cloud solutions instead.) It also presumes that the internal storage has sufficient capacity to begin with, and knowing me, I wouldn't settle for anything less than 128 GB if I can help it.

    For non-removable batteries, they suggest external power banks. I don't like having to tether my phone to an external battery using a fidgety USB cable, nor do I like having to wait for the internal battery to charge up before I can disconnect them, even with fast charging.

    It's still slower than popping the back off and swapping, and being able to pull the battery has other perks, like powering off a frozen phone when holding the power button won't work or removing the main source of power if the phone takes an unexpected swim before the water can get anywhere that might short voltage and ground to catastrophic effect.

    A lot of the arguments in favor of dropping these features seem to revolve around having the users just adapt to not having them because most new devices don't have them to begin with. It's rather disturbing for someone like myself who uses his hardware the way he wants to and doesn't like being coerced or nagged otherwise, and especially doesn't like being told he's using his hardware wrong because it's used in a way that a lot of current devices are completely unsuited to.

    As for the desktop and laptop side of things, we have Microsoft's push to cram cloud services and unwanted telemetry down our throats with Windows 10, even moreso than Windows 8 before it. While I can at least opt out of most of it with a fresh install, it's still annoying for me to have to do so.

    Android annoys me enough with that as it is for anything that ties into Google, between gallery apps that constantly ask me to sync with a G+ account I never asked for, game services that want a G+ profile with a publicly visible real name (but which I can thankfully fudge with an alt account and a psuedonym), and all sorts of unwanted, automated integration that's supposed to make my life easier but is all too frequently done without my permission. These things used to be opt-in, not opt-out!

    I don't need to deal with that on Windows too, which always nags me to turn my local account into a Microsoft account if I use most of the Modern/Universal apps or the Windows Store they're tied to, every single time I log into my Microsoft account for each app. All that serves to do is make me stick with the existing Win32 apps I've depended on for older versions of Windows, which don't nag me with that crap.

    It reminds me all too much of how @JRakes felt a decade ago, actually. He wanted a workhorse PIM powerhouse without any overdependence on cloud services or anything like that: just him, his data, and his own hardware under his full control. The Palm PDAs of the era that he used (pretty sure it was a T|X) were more than sufficient at that. Now, the market's only gone increasingly in the other direction, Palm's long out of business, and it makes me wonder if he's still using that old T|X, perhaps after a battery replacement or two.

    I may be willing to embrace new technology (and even a select few cloud services like Dropbox, which is a great file syncing tool), but not at the cost of my old-fashioned sensibilities. I just hope I don't have to give up one or the other going forward, because I'm not the tool here; I'm the user. I use my tools however I see fit, and I only buy tools fit for how I use them. The real question is whether those suitable tools continue to be available, or if they're phased out due to market trends.

    Certainly, I'm not the only one here who feels similarly, and perhaps in a bind for what to go with in the future because of it when the market has largely abandoned us.
     
    Hook, EdmundDantes, r0k and 1 other person like this.
  2. r0k

    r0k Dazed

    Messages:
    9,753
    Likes Received:
    1,267
    Trophy Points:
    288
    Yesterday I went on the Slow Roll which is a few thousand bikes riding very slowly around Detroit. It's like the annual 4th of July fireworks with everyone in a good mood and people of all ages and all walks of life together enjoying themselves. I decided to play my music and I discovered some ugliness about my iPhone. Apparently my music isn't really on my phone. It's on the cloud somewhere. So I told it to download it. Epic. Fail. Apparently the neighborhood we were riding through is a great big giant At&t dead spot. More like a dead 10 square miles. I armwrestled with my phone and finally wound up resetting it which caused me to lose my mileage and gps data for the ride. To me this felt too much like the user being forced to adapt to the tool. I don't really want to bring three boxes with me: a bike computer, a music player and a phone. But the iPhone performed terribly trying to do all 3 at the same time. Granted now that I've been "trained" to download my music within range of wifi and I know what the obscure little "yes it's on your phone now" icon looks like maybe for the next ride I can listen to my music without skipping and without having to go through some sort of debugging to get it to just start playing.

    I've also faced this with Windows, with Linux and with OSX and even to a lesser extent with Android (because I barely use it). Windows is like a bamboo forest under my fingernails with its freezes (likely caused by my company IT software mismanagement). Linux gets on my nerves with the requirement that I micromanage software updates. The desktop OS which seems less obtrusive is OSX but even that gets on my nerves. Most recently Apple made a unilateral decision to disable the "delete" function in their "image capture" program. What I have been doing is plugging my iPhone in about every 6 months to clean off a few dozen gigabytes of movies and photos by uploading them to a folder (despite the fact Photostream already allegedly backed them up) and then deleting them. The removal of the delete button felt rude to me. But the story had a happy ending. After some time in chat support with Apple I found an obscure little toggle in the iOS photos app to "save storage on device" and that automagically does the delete thing for me. I just have to remember to launch either iPhoto or Photos every 90 days or so to make sure everything makes it to my desktop. Not an issue as I've been doing that already. Still hiding the delete button felt to me too much like forcing the user to adapt to the tool.

    On Android I feel like I'm constantly facing an onslaught of force the user to adapt because I've gotten used to the iOS way of doing things. I click on a number in my recent calls list and it starts dialing. No need to go to a useless info screen and find that same number in a sea of minutia and click on it a second time. Another area is notifications. Recently Android finally got the Do Not Disturb feature. Finally. I struggled to put my work phone to sleep so I wouldn't get calls from people in other time zones waking me up at odd hours of the night. Until Do Not Disturb came to Android I felt this was yet another case of forcing me to adapt to the tool.
     
  3. RickAgresta

    RickAgresta Peanut, leader of the Peanutty Forces

    Messages:
    21,022
    Likes Received:
    16,406
    Trophy Points:
    288
    iirc, this little bit of PITA is the work-around for not paying Apple royalty fees for the feature enjoyed by iDevices; fwiw, Jeff, I think of you often, when I need to attach my S5 to USB, because it sports a 3.0 connector -- the fast charge is nice, but the connector is a major pain in the sit-down to connect; I recall you not being happy with the microUSB connector (and compared to the lightning connector, I totally agree).

    I have no experience with any OS on a lap or desk top than with Windows, but I understand your feelings...
     
  4. questionfear

    questionfear Google'd.

    Messages:
    5,101
    Likes Received:
    1,372
    Trophy Points:
    288
    I think this is true to some extent, but I also think this is the case for literally everything related to technology-eventually some aspect of the technology will evolve beyond your needs, and you have to decide whether to keep it as-is or adjust to the new features.

    Here's an example: my parents just got new cars (fairly tricked out ones). My dad is thrilled, because it has every bell and whistle known to mankind. It knows when cars are near you! It tells him if there's bad weather nearby! He can sync his iPhone music over Bluetooth! It has heated and cooled seats! He's like a kid in a candy store with it. My mother, on the other hand, has forbidden my dad from adjusting or touching any of the features she doesn't understand. It gets her from point A to point B, she can use the bluetooth, GPS, and backup camera, and everything else is just intimidating and useless to her. Unfortunately, to buy a new car means you HAVE to get some of those features, regardless of whether you need it.
     
    RickAgresta likes this.
  5. NamelessPlayer

    NamelessPlayer Mobile Deity

    Messages:
    1,831
    Likes Received:
    46
    Trophy Points:
    223
    It's funny you bring up that "Do Not Disturb" feature, because while I recall Samsung phones having a similar "blocking mode" since the S3 at least, a lot of Android veterans HATED the Lollipop none/priority/all notification system because it threw out the old silent mode that still let alarms through. "None" means NONE, not even alarms to wake them up in time for something. It completely screwed with the way they'd been using their devices, and in general, Lollipop was a much-reviled update until 5.1.1 for so many other reasons that there's still a few KitKat holdouts here and there.

    It's also interesting that you mention being so used to the iOS way of doing things, especially after the last two paragraphs about having to get around their abstracted cloud storage system and removal of delete buttons. Those two things would frustrate me beyond belief because I'm always used to digging deep into the file system and managing stuff myself. If it's locally stored, it's on one folder; if it's on a network somewhere, it's in another folder, nice and straightforward.

    It's for that and so many other reasons that I could never picture myself using iOS. It's too closed-off for my liking when Android gives me more options and more control, especially once I've got root access and a ton of custom ROMs over at xda-developers to choose from, but I'm technically-inclined enough to know how to make the most out of those things in the first place. Even if I were to jailbreak iOS, I'd still feel held back by the hardware.

    Bringing up modern cars raises another good topic, since I've heard modern cars are so electronically integrated that you can't even remote the stock radio or console without also removing the ECU and other really important electronic components with them. That's a bit distressing to me, especially after recalls of cars with electronic throttles not being able to stop even after you've let go of the pedal and all.

    Not that my family would really know, we still have decade-old vehicles (if not older) that still use old-fashioned key ignitions and FM radios with CD and casette players. Interestingly enough, I don't really feel the need for an elaborate built-in car computer because a smartphone with a dash mount is more than up to the task (to the point where I've taught my parents how to get driving directions using Google Maps on their phones), and more readily upgradable at that.

    All in all, I'm still thinking a bit about how my tastes in technology can't be easily categorized just by timeframe. I mean, I'm the guy who builds a new desktop out of whatever high-end parts I can afford to cram in the case, then hooks up old peripherals like IBM Model M keyboards (still can't beat that buckling-spring feel), last-generation FD Trinitron CRT monitors and vintage electrostatic headphone setups to these modern systems. I suppose it helps that the old stuff that actually works better than the new stuff tends to sell for a lot cheaper, too.
     
  6. RickAgresta

    RickAgresta Peanut, leader of the Peanutty Forces

    Messages:
    21,022
    Likes Received:
    16,406
    Trophy Points:
    288
    throw in carrier mods, and it gets even more interesting...

    uncharacteristically for me, I rooted my Verizon Galaxy S5 the first week I had it, simply to avoid the upgrade to 5.whatever, as Verizon had FUBARed it up so badly. I'm on 4.4.2, and expect to stay here until I have to change.
     
    scjjtt likes this.
  7. NamelessPlayer

    NamelessPlayer Mobile Deity

    Messages:
    1,831
    Likes Received:
    46
    Trophy Points:
    223
    Verizon? Ouch, your bootloader's probably locked. (Except for developer editions, but you have to go out of your way and pay full price for those.)

    That means no custom ROMs and a lot of waiting for updates on top of whatever crapware Verizon loves to dump into their ROMs, which presumably can't be removed without root and Titanium Backup.

    At least with Sprint, they don't lock the bootloader and their crapware's easily uninstalled. T-Mobile's the same, as I understand. Quite a refreshing contrast from AT&T and especially Verizon.

    You'll inevitably have to upgrade at some point just to keep getting software support, but by that time, Android M should be out and much less of a mess than Lollipop in general, since it's more of a refinement and less of a radical reworking of the OS, the Windows 7 to Vista, as it were.
     
  8. r0k

    r0k Dazed

    Messages:
    9,753
    Likes Received:
    1,267
    Trophy Points:
    288
    I do get frustrated by the iOS way of doing things, no doubt. But I am busy enough that I need a data "toaster." Data in. Results out. Every now and then the toaster needs to be repaired or an important button disappears. In this case the delete button disappeared around the same time we had a death in the family and I was too distracted to figure out why. Once I found out why, I found the delete button disappeared because it was truly no longer needed and the toaster works better and with much less intervention than I had to do before (by auto deleting photos as my phone storage fills up).

    As for the awful way iTunes tries to keep everything in the cloud, I'm frustrated. The next time I go on a bike ride and my music starts skipping because I'm between cells, I'm switching off iTunes Match and going back to Amazon cloud player which obeys when I tell it to cache music for offline playback. Apple's loss if they screw this up again but overall I appreciate Apple as a hardware more than a content company. I use Amazon as my content company and if they start to screw up I'll move on to somebody else such as google or whatever. I retain raw files of my media whether it's photos I took, movies I bought or music I bought so I can change content providers whenever the mood strikes me. The only exception is books but Amazon has a proven track record of working on all platforms including Windows, OSX, Linux, iOS, Android and even Blackberry.

    I try to resist changing the way I do things to fit the tool I'm using but I also value the results more than the principal of never having to change the way I do things. This willingness to adapt allowed me to move from Sharp organizers to PalmOS to Blackberry and finally to iOS as well as to move from Windows to OSX and Linux. I drove Chrysler cars for years. The scan button allowed me to find new stations in strange cities. GM leaves that button off. Oh well. I don't return a car over one missing button (unless it's to start the car!).
     
  9. NamelessPlayer

    NamelessPlayer Mobile Deity

    Messages:
    1,831
    Likes Received:
    46
    Trophy Points:
    223
    I'd say that first sentence actually fits me pretty well. It's not that I'm entirely resistant to change or anything, but I want the change to actually benefit me in the end rather than being change for change's sake.

    I mean, I've already had to drop Palm OS for Windows Mobile, and in turn drop that for Android when it comes to pocket-size devices. I'm hoping I won't have to do another major ecosystem shift yet again, but I can't rule it out entirely knowing how things tend to be with mobile devices in particular. Always gotta have a contingency plan, after all.

    I suppose what's bothering me right now is that instead of being offered new ways of doing things, manufacturers and their shills are trying to cram it down my throat, say it's actually better for me, get with the times or go extinct, etc. like my way of doing things isn't valid anymore just because it's considered old-fashioned, even if it works, so they think they should take away the choice of doing things the way I liked to do them as a means of "moving technology forward".

    Except I firmly believe it's moving backwards every time options are taken away from the user, no matter how much anyone tries to tell me otherwise.

    Note 5 griping aside (you've heard it all before, no microSD/removable battery/IR blaster/etc. with the "bonus" of Samsung coercing retailers to stop selling the Note 4), I just had an issue where Windows 10 forcefully installed a new Wacom driver on the T902 through Windows Update despite me specifically setting it up to NEVER install drivers from Windows Update.

    This caused the pen to not work at all and multitouch gestures to also stop working, so I had to dig through the file system for the uninstaller (it wasn't listed in Programs and Features), run that, re-install the working driver version, and then download a third-party Windows PowerShell applet and change the execution policy so I could use said plugin to hide the offending update. I've NEVER had to touch PowerShell until now, just because of these usability regressions founded from the misguided policy that newer is always better!

    Thankfully, I still had the option to hide updates as needed, but it's definitely hidden in a way that you'd have to be a power user and know that such a utility exists on the Internet just to circumvent a deliberately dumbed-down interface.
     
    Hook, scjjtt and RickAgresta like this.

Share This Page