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'[OT]: designmuseum.org '
And after visitng their website, you'll know why Donald Norman grumbles
"Must have won an award" when looking at some designers stuff.
PS - Donald Norman wrote "The Design of Everyday Things" - a definite read
for anyone designing equipment. Has a whole chapter on tap & door
>Donald Norman grumbles
>"Must have won an award" when looking at some designers stuff.
I've just been down to the reprographics dept here where I spotted an
issue of Design Week which had daringly been printed in a slightly
different format than usual and had an excitingly stylish look to it due
to it's 'lower than your average magazine' aspect ratio.
Guess what.... it was too wide to fit in the magazine rack!
I made my excuses and left the ranks of mac operators wondering what
was so funny :)
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I'll second that. Too many designers emphasize form
over function. Its amazing what kind of drek gets
foisted on the public under the guise of "designer".
I just want the thing to do what it supposed to do
with a minimum of suprises or side-effects.
I was listening to an NPR interview of an author (Dan
Pink) going on about a designer toilet brush being an
object of desire?!!? Puleeze.... One of the few
times I've ever been tempted to call into a radio
show. The book is about left brain/right brain but
frankly, I think the guy is lame-brained.
--- Tony Smith <rivernet.com.au> wrote: ajsmith
James Newtons Massmind
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> I was listening to an NPR interview of an author (Dan
> Pink) going on about a designer toilet brush being an object
> of desire?!!? Puleeze.... One of the few times I've ever
> been tempted to call into a radio show. The book is about
> left brain/right brain but frankly, I think the guy is lame-brained.
Are you sure you caught what he was talking about?
Let me lay out a few points:
- there are lots of bored, lonely, frustrated, 30 something housewives. Or
working wives who are bored when their husbands are off on business trips,
- many (most?) husbands would be deeply hurt to find that they had been
replaced in bed.
- good wives don't want to hurt their husbands feelings, while at the same
time, would like to have something to fill the void, so to speak.
Take a look at the handles of the toiled brushes in the attached picture.
Another good one is the handle of the toilet plunger. The local supermarket
has one that is clear plastic, molded with bumps for the first 7 inches or
so and just about so big around...
Time to face the facts, guys. Certain products sell better because their
shape reminds people of things that they want. Ok, ok, not YOUR wife, of
Then think about those new power toothbrushes. Some of them come with tongue
cleaners or rubber "polishing caps."
If you want to get rich quick, build a rotary to linear motion adapter for
kitchen-aid mixers. It would be small, easily hidden and no one would have a
clue what it was for if it was found. Combined with the mixer and one of
Now, notice that nothing in this email would make sense to someone who
didn't already know what I was talking about. Let's keep it that way? And if
you are offended, it is only because your mind has filled in the blanks.
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yes, I did follow what he was talking about which is
that both left and right brain are important in the
"new" economy but he kept going on about how this
toilet brush was an object of desire because it had a
designer's name on it. Maybe he was being some what
sarcastic or ironic but I did not detect any in his
tone. Still sounds lame brained to me.
Form should follow function. Some designer's name
adds zero to the function.
Haven't read the book, probably won't. I think he's
out in left field (in more ways than one). Did you
listen to the broadcast? it was on a Seattle NPR
affiliate (i.e. not a national broadcast).
--- James Newtons Massmind <massmind.org> jamesnewton
> > --
>Now, notice that nothing in this email would make sense to someone who
>didn't already know what I was talking about. Let's keep it that way? And if
>you are offended, it is only because your mind has filled in the blanks.
Meijer's here in indiana carries a pen that has a motorized massager.
IMHO, we create a big mess when we hide these things, as a society.
But I certainly agree that this, in and of itself, is not really a
However, someone might be working on specific patterns and such,
implemented in a pic (or AVR!) to improve such products.
> Now, notice that nothing in this email would make sense to someone
> didn't already know what I was talking about. Let's keep it that
> way? And if
> you are offended, it is only because your mind has filled in the
Not offended. More disappointed.
(You can add an optional ":-)" to that, if it helps).
But I'm pleased at this clarification of the rules. I must now hurry
away and examine various apposite examples of persuasive literature
relating to origins and destinations and reword it so that it may be
safely posted to list. I just know that Bob and Peter (to name only
two) will be immensely pleased now that it is able to be freely
promulgated in an acceptable and wholly inoffensive form.
I imagine that a retreat from this dangerous ruling may be in order.
(Another optional :-) ).
On Thu, 12 May 2005, phil B wrote:
> I'll second that. Too many designers emphasize form
> over function. Its amazing what kind of drek gets
> foisted on the public under the guise of "designer".
> I just want the thing to do what it supposed to do
> with a minimum of suprises or side-effects.
Form is what the 99% of the users who are not engineers will ever see
out of your equipment. Unless you want to sell to engineers only, you
probably care a *lot* about form. If it takes a top designer to define
what form is, and the public accepts that, then imho you should pay
I don't remember any products from 'fortune 500' *consumer* product
companies emphasising function over form over the last maybe 60 years or
so (as far as I can read back in relevant literature). Chrome and
ton-heavy ornaments sold far more cars than horse power and suspension
technology combined afaik.
William Chops Westfield
On May 13, 2005, at 11:30 AM, Peter wrote:
> orm is what the 99% of the users who are not engineers will ever see
> of your equipment. Unless you want to sell to engineers only, you
> probably care a *lot* about form.
Yeah, maybe. The sad point is that this is an attitude that we, as a
have CREATED; a sort of self-fullfilling doom, if you will.
There is/was assorted science fiction that attempted to guess what
when, through the advance of technology, goods became so cheap to
that anyone could afford "fine" clothes or high technology. But I
we've been there an done that, and the answer is 'fashion' and 'constant
upgrades' (not so different from each other!) Too much of human
is about being conspicuously "wealthy" rather than meeting ones needs.
So people wear the $80 designer jeans instead of the $12 costco jeans,
queue up their pre-orders for MacOS Tiger. And designers end up working
their butts off trying to make their products look cool, so that people
can justify their decisions using better tasting logic than "I spent
than I had to to show people that I *can*." Not to mentions so that
everyone can TELL you spent more.
Human nature basically sucks. But I guess I'd rather be here than back
in the days where social pecking order was determined by battle..
Actually, the big sellers are the ones who get both right, current example
is the Apple iPod.
A car that is just chrome soon gets a name as a pile of junk. You still
need that big engine in there. Matching suspension and brakes are optional,
Consumers buy chrome (often by comparing feature lists, biggest wins). They
then grumble a lot (why'd I buy this piece of crap?), and then buy something
else. In one of life's bizarre mysteries, they buy chrome again.
Manufacturers don't learn either. Read 'The inmates are running the asylum)
by Alan Cooper (also wrote 'About Face' and the visual half of Visual
There's a story of designing a scanner for Logitech. Became famous for its
very few tech support calls. The reason was the software was very simple.
Did Logitech learn? No, their current drivers are feature packed pieces of
crap, (and so are those by Canon, HP, etc).
I found the perfect replacement remote control once, 6 big buttons (power
volume +/-, channel +/-, mute), nice shape. Apparently had a matching video
one. Most replacements are chrome, ie feature packed, control 16 devices
with our 67 button remote (real example!).
And don't trust engineers to get form right.
> Human nature basically sucks. But I guess I'd rather be here than back
> in the days where social pecking order was determined by battle..
Wait, it could come back any day ...
> Actually, the big sellers are the ones who get both right, current example
> is the Apple iPod.
Maybe. The man who designed it has a page there:
> A car that is just chrome soon gets a name as a pile of junk. You still
> need that big engine in there. Matching suspension and brakes are optional,
> of course.
;-) Flamingo Bertoni has a page there. Then there is F. Porsche,
Pinninfarina, Ghia etc. It was not always chrome that sold the cars ;-)
> Consumers buy chrome (often by comparing feature lists, biggest wins). They
> then grumble a lot (why'd I buy this piece of crap?), and then buy something
> else. In one of life's bizarre mysteries, they buy chrome again.
There is an interesting discussion I ran into on the internet about why
household implements and cleaning liquid bottles etc. which are
typically bought by women share a certain shape. I suppose chrome is the
male equivalent of whatever psychological button that shape pushes ;-)
Now, the *engineer* equivalent of that button has lots of buttons, many
dials, shockproof matte black hammer laquer and minimum 1000lbs and
100HP. If some part of the workings is exposed and visible then it can
cause fainting and obsessive-compulsive behavior. No ? ;-)
> There's a story of designing a scanner for Logitech. Became famous for its
> very few tech support calls. The reason was the software was very simple.
> Did Logitech learn? No, their current drivers are feature packed pieces of
> crap, (and so are those by Canon, HP, etc).
If it had been bought by a lot of people they may have repeated it. They
probably did not (not enough chrome ?). The skin system in the Mozilla
and Firefox browsers (and in KDE) is called Chrome. Since this is GNU
stuff that could be a joke in itself ;-)
> I found the perfect replacement remote control once, 6 big buttons (power
> volume +/-, channel +/-, mute), nice shape. Apparently had a matching video
> one. Most replacements are chrome, ie feature packed, control 16 devices
> with our 67 button remote (real example!).
Here is a man who got it right combining form and function:
another three (?) are those who design for B & O.
> And don't trust engineers to get form right.
> so that people can justify their decisions using better tasting logic
> than "I spent more than I had to to show people that I *can*." Not
> to mentions so that everyone can TELL you spent more.
Shades of Thorstein Veblen's "Conspicuous Consumption" written in 1899!
(chapter four of the theory of the leisure class)
"Tony Smith" writes:
>Actually, the big sellers are the ones who get both right, current example
>is the Apple iPod.
I have thought a lot about the philosophy and technology of
design. As one who was born blind in the early fifties, I well
remember life before things got as electronic as they are now. It is
certainly a mixed bag. Before the mid seventies, I knew I could
always use a telephone, tune a radio or television to the right
channel or operate any sort of home entertainment gear or AV equipment
since the controls and us formed a nice closed loop. The TV channel
selector clicked once for each channel with the only possible problem
being that of finding the position at which one went from the
highest-numbered channel back to the lowest one. In North America,
that was VHF Channel 13 with the next click being the UHF band or
Channel 2 on ancient television sets.
AM and FM radios weren't any harder to work because the tuning
dial stopped at each end of the band and one could quickly get used to
where the stations were in town in relation to how far to turn the
knob. One just tuned past all the dull stuff and found one of Tulsa's
two rock-and-roll stations and listened to the good stuff.
I think the first time I ran across a piece of modern
electronics that had what would later be called accessibility problems
was in the early to mid seventies when I examined a VHF amateur radio
transceiver using a digital synthesizer and a primitive control
interface to set the operating frequency. One pushed either the Up or
Down button and watched the display until it got close to the desired
frequency at which time, one needed to give the button a tap or two to
get it exactly right. If one reached the high end of the band, the
next tap reset the counter back to the low end so there was absolutely
nothing to tell you what frequency the display was on at all.
Unfortunately, that type of design has survived through 30
years of growing complexity and lots of gear uses that model. It is
absolutely useless if you can't see the display and there is nothing
audible or tactile to let you know what just happened. When the
device in question gets old and the buttons start failing to make good
contact or begin to bounce more than the de-bouncers can handle,
forget even trying to use it.
Most televisions and VCR's do have direct numerical channel
entry and that is great, but there is the odd hotel television with
an Up and a Down button on the remote so it makes it hard to return to
say, CNN which may be Channel 43 if you don't know what channel it was
Digital thermostats in houses are a study in these kind of
human engineering problems if you can't see the display. I beat that
one in my house by buying a thermostat that can be controlled via X10
Control systems that blind people can use don't have to be
outrageously expensive or complex, but they do have to replace the
feedback we used to get from clicking wafer switches and pots whose
travel directly related to their settings.
The biggest problem is that nobody ever thinks about these
issues until they bite.
Where I work, we have some rooms protected by magnetic card
readers. Some require both the mag card and a PIN number to be
entered on a touch pad. Before the year 2000, our card readers had a
grid square pattern molded in to the plastic of the touch pad. I
could enter my number with no trouble at all since the squares stood
for numbers in the same arrangement as those on a telephone key pad.
If they had been like a calculator, that wouldn't have been any worse
because it would have just meant counting in that order instead of the
The readers, however, had a piece of firmware in them that
wasn't Y2K compliant and we had to replace them all. The new readers
were made by the same company but the touch pad was now a featureless
square of plastic with no hint of where the buttons were except for
When cheap meets ignorance in the engineering world, stand back!
Martin McCormick WB5AGZ Stillwater, OK
OSU Information Technology Division Network Operations Group
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