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New-Time Tech Literacy—Examples?
Old 03-21-2019, 03:22 PM   #1
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New-Time Tech Literacy—Examples?

Related to the thread on old-time tech literacy, this one is about new things with interfaces that are problematic for older people.

Here are two examples:

1. Once, I got the LEAF stuck in a ditch. I called a tow truck (free for LEAF owners). When it was time to pull it out, I couldn't figure out how to get the car into neutral. It turns out that you have to push the knob to the left and hold it there for several seconds.

2. Years ago, I showed my daughter that the CD player in the truck had a button to go the next song, but no button for fast-forward. She showed me that if I held down the next-song button, it acted as a fast forward.
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Old 03-21-2019, 03:50 PM   #2
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When bike touring across the rolling hill country of Missouri in 1978, a guy riding an unladen Schwinn '10-speed' went whizzing by me on a downhill, made it most of the way up the next hill before hopping off and running the final yards, remounting and continuing on.
After several more cycles like this, I finally caught him near the top of a rise when he looked over at me, shrugged and said "I never could figure out these multi-speed bicycles".
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Old 03-21-2019, 05:48 PM   #3
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A few years ago my brother got a new car. After a few months I rode with him and commented on his choice of radio channels. "How can you listen to these crappy stations?"
He said (highly indignant) "Well, that's what they gave me on the push buttons!"
He had no idea that he could change the channels on the push buttons!
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Old 03-21-2019, 06:13 PM   #4
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I think the hard thing about tech, for older generations, was that they were accustomed to carefully following instructions from a manual.

Today's interfaces are intuitive - you are supposed to just "know" what icons represent, and what to do next. And if you don't "know,"you just hack around until you land on the right setting. This kind of thinking drives/drove some people of earlier generations crazy.
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Old 03-21-2019, 09:56 PM   #5
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I just had two 85-year-old house guests visiting from Ohio.

I picked them up at the airport. Fortunately everything went smoothly at the airport, as late the next day, they both had questions for me about their cell phones.

Her iPhone had the ringer turned off (who knows for how long?) and she had no idea how to turn it back on. His LG flip phone ALSO had the ringer turned off (for who knows how long, as well) and he had no idea how to turn it back on. I managed to get his ringer turned on by Googling for his phone's manual. Her phone was a bit trickier, as I have zero iPhone experience (and not being an Apple fan, prefer to keep it that way).

Luckily, there's an Apple store at the mall across the street, so the "store genius" was able to show her the little switch on the side that turns the ringer off and on.

It's a shame that they don't have similar phones, so they could pool their (limited) knowledge and help each other.

I can't imagine how it would have gone if I had needed to call them at the airport and neither had a phone with an operational ringer.

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Old 03-21-2019, 10:24 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by omni550 View Post
I just had two 85-year-old house guests visiting from Ohio.

I picked them up at the airport. Fortunately everything went smoothly at the airport, as late the next day, they both had questions for me about their cell phones.

Her iPhone had the ringer turned off (who knows for how long?) and she had no idea how to turn it back on. His LG flip phone ALSO had the ringer turned off (for who knows how long, as well) and he had no idea how to turn it back on. I managed to get his ringer turned on by Googling for his phone's manual. Her phone was a bit trickier, as I have zero iPhone experience (and not being an Apple fan, prefer to keep it that way).

Luckily, there's an Apple store at the mall across the street, so the "store genius" was able to show her the little switch on the side that turns the ringer off and on.

It's a shame that they don't have similar phones, so they could pool their (limited) knowledge and help each other.

I can't imagine how it would have gone if I had needed to call them at the airport and neither had a phone with an operational ringer.

omni


My FIL was talked into some kind of cheap Samsung phone at the AT&T store, without me or DW there. He could never figure how to use it. His ringer was turned off, couldn’t get email to work, and basically gave up on the phone. DW and I are iPhone users, so we’re going to get him an iPhone 6s next week. That we can help him with.
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Old 03-22-2019, 06:10 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by omni550 View Post
I just had two 85-year-old house guests visiting from Ohio.

I picked them up at the airport. Fortunately everything went smoothly at the airport, as late the next day, they both had questions for me about their cell phones.

Her iPhone had the ringer turned off (who knows for how long?) and she had no idea how to turn it back on. His LG flip phone ALSO had the ringer turned off (for who knows how long, as well) and he had no idea how to turn it back on. I managed to get his ringer turned on by Googling for his phone's manual. Her phone was a bit trickier, as I have zero iPhone experience (and not being an Apple fan, prefer to keep it that way).

Luckily, there's an Apple store at the mall across the street, so the "store genius" was able to show her the little switch on the side that turns the ringer off and on.

It's a shame that they don't have similar phones, so they could pool their (limited) knowledge and help each other.

I can't imagine how it would have gone if I had needed to call them at the airport and neither had a phone with an operational ringer.

omni
NBD. I went through this yesterday. Sound was off on the ringer and my Ring doorbell alerts but I could play music. Looked at various settings and couldn't figure it out and eventually I had a duh moment and looked at the switch.
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Old 03-22-2019, 06:16 AM   #8
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I go through this all the time in my new car. For example, I installed the hitch rack and loaded my bike and started backing out of the garage: BAMM! the anti-collision system slammed me to a halt. I hit ever button I could think of and nothing. I was in to much of a hurry to look it up so I had to creep back out. Later, the same thing happened on the street and people were beeping at me because I was so slow. The ultimate solution was simple but no millennial would settle on it by the intuitive interface. This one required the manual.

Lots of new tech is like this but no one gives you a manual. Thank God for Google searches and YouTube DIY videos.
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Old 03-22-2019, 06:26 AM   #9
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Not a new time tech but still confusing anyway for the newbie. The SAAB ignition key area is between the car seats. The poor guy I worked with, looked all over the steering wheel area and said there was nowhere to put the key to start the car.
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Old 03-22-2019, 06:27 AM   #10
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I’ve noticed that some manufacturers have taken to including only “quick start” documentation for their products in the box and pointing customers to the Web for full manuals.

A recent example for me is a Bose speaker. Those who don’t have one might be surprised to find that there’s no way to adjust the EQ on many of them, which is odd if you’re used to having that available. But you can adjust bass level for soundbars. Go figure. Instructions in the manual.
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Old 03-22-2019, 04:21 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Amethyst View Post
I think the hard thing about tech, for older generations, was that they were accustomed to carefully following instructions from a manual.

Today's interfaces are intuitive - you are supposed to just "know" what icons represent, and what to do next. And if you don't "know,"you just hack around until you land on the right setting. This kind of thinking drives/drove some people of earlier generations crazy.
Intuitive - pure BS - laziness on the part of the designer to write up the manual and/or do proper user testing.....they use their customers as beta testers. Iconization is not standard - there are exceptions. And many times some basic configuration settings are buried in sub-menus or there is an assumption you will fiddle around to find it. I find that type of thinking on the part of designers arrogant. If I see that and they don't give me a manual or some sort of resource to tell me how to work their product, I don't buy it.

I worked in a large healthcare organization and we tried to standardize on our technology platform for all patient monitoring. We didn't want the clinicians to get lost trying to find out how to manage the settings. We trained them and then re-trained every year. Each vendor had a different way adjust the settings - one through menus, another a 'trim knob.' We also had a standard configuration built for us---*and* there were manuals available.....so one type of interface was what we had so the clinicians could focus on delivering healthcare and not fighting the technology.

I nearly broke a vendor's device once in their 'showroom' showing them how a clinician could screw up the controls by just spinning the knobs around an inadvertently pushing the buttons - the product managers freaked out, but the point was made. People can and will find ways to screw up a device and if you don't account for that in proper user testing, you might end up on the bad end of a lawsuit depending on what the device in question is designed to do.
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Old 03-22-2019, 04:25 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by donheff View Post
I go through this all the time in my new car. For example, I installed the hitch rack and loaded my bike and started backing out of the garage: BAMM! the anti-collision system slammed me to a halt.
Was there an error message anywhere saying that the anti-collision system had been activated?
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Old 03-22-2019, 04:28 PM   #13
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Intuitive - pure BS - laziness on the part of the designer to write up the manual and/or do proper user testing.....they use their customers as beta testers.
Once had a boss who was a top MIT grad.

As laptops, cell phones and such were just coming out he forbade us to read user manuals! "It's intuitive and self-explanatory! Figure it out!!" If he caught us with a manual, he'd flip out big time.

We eventually did figure it out, some of us faster than others.
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Old 03-22-2019, 04:56 PM   #14
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DW's 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe has a push button start feature (no ignition key). I'm pretty tech savvy for my age.

I wanted to run a system diagnostic on the car to see why the traction control warning light was "on" when it wasn't supposed to be. My tester needs to have the car in the "run" position with the engine off. In other words, if you have a key start, turn to the run detent just before you engage the starter motor.

OK, how do you set this (ignition on) with a push button? I was stumped.....then I Googled it.....Aha!! Push start button two times without your foot on the brake pedal.
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Old 03-22-2019, 05:12 PM   #15
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Figured out that my new "Smart TV" is much smarter than me. Seven button pushes to resize the picture.

Not "mechanical" tech, but I've given up on trying to read anything that has acronyms. I wonder if they teach that in grade school now, instead of reading.

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Old 03-22-2019, 05:26 PM   #16
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I don't think you meant my comment was pure B.S. - just that the so-called "intuitive" controls aren't intuitive; that is partly gaslighting on the part of lazy designers, who will point at you and call you "old" if you complain! (But so will some young people, who have never seen a well-crafted manual).

I stand by what I said, that the notion of "hacking around until you find the right setting," as I have long since resigned myself to doing, is anathema to many older people and drives them away from tech (or generates the dreaded "Oh, I let my grandkids do that for me" helplessness reaction).

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Intuitive - pure BS - laziness on the part of the designer to write up the manual and/or do proper user testing.....they use their customers as beta testers. Iconization is not standard - there are exceptions. And many times some basic configuration settings are buried in sub-menus or there is an assumption you will fiddle around to find it. I find that type of thinking on the part of designers arrogant. If I see that and they don't give me a manual or some sort of resource to tell me how to work their product, I don't buy it.

I worked in a large healthcare organization and we tried to standardize on our technology platform for all patient monitoring. We didn't want the clinicians to get lost trying to find out how to manage the settings. We trained them and then re-trained every year. Each vendor had a different way adjust the settings - one through menus, another a 'trim knob.' We also had a standard configuration built for us---*and* there were manuals available.....so one type of interface was what we had so the clinicians could focus on delivering healthcare and not fighting the technology.

I nearly broke a vendor's device once in their 'showroom' showing them how a clinician could screw up the controls by just spinning the knobs around an inadvertently pushing the buttons - the product managers freaked out, but the point was made. People can and will find ways to screw up a device and if you don't account for that in proper user testing, you might end up on the bad end of a lawsuit depending on what the device in question is designed to do.
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Old 03-22-2019, 05:29 PM   #17
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I made a career of helping people figure out devices that claimed to be intuitive but were not, except to their designers.
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Old 03-22-2019, 05:38 PM   #18
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I don't think you meant my comment was pure B.S. - just that the so-called "intuitive" controls aren't intuitive; that is partly gaslighting on the part of lazy designers, who will point at you and call you "old" if you complain! (But so will some young people, who have never seen a well-crafted manual).
Yes - hence the bolding and rant :-) Not on you - and your interpretation is correct...

Time is short - if I have to hunt around to find out how to use something correctly, that's 5-10 minutes or more I won't get back.

As you can tell, this whole idea of intuition is a pet peeve of mine as I consider it poor excuse for bad design :-)

There are some great books written on great design - it is difficult to do correctly, but when it is, it is a beauty to behold and 'hold.'
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Old 03-22-2019, 05:42 PM   #19
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Once had a boss who was a top MIT grad.

As laptops, cell phones and such were just coming out he forbade us to read user manuals! "It's intuitive and self-explanatory! Figure it out!!" If he caught us with a manual, he'd flip out big time.

We eventually did figure it out, some of us faster than others.
Sigh - how arrogant of him - most people don't have his intelligence. A truly good designer wouldn't assume people want to 'figure it out' especially if it was a complex or dare I say crappy design. And being a top MIT grad doesn't necessarily mean he was a good designer - he was possibly good at what he majored in.... :-) Designing for the common man is difficult and when done well shows true talent.
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Old 03-22-2019, 07:45 PM   #20
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Once had a boss who was a top MIT grad.

As laptops, cell phones and such were just coming out he forbade us to read user manuals! "It's intuitive and self-explanatory! Figure it out!!" If he caught us with a manual, he'd flip out big time.

We eventually did figure it out, some of us faster than others.
This may be relevant to the 737 Max 8s. The pilots didn't have time to futz around and figure out that throwing two switches would solve all their problems. Maybe.
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