Thursday, December 03, 2009

1001 Ways To Tune Up The World, Number Fifty-One

51. Sometimes easier is harder (and dumber.)

Not everything needs to be supereasy. Take my car keys, for example. My car keys have three buttons on a little tab. One button locks the car, one button unlocks it. The third button is an alarm. The salesman sold it to us with this tantalizing tip: If someone tries to carjack you, you hit the alarm button and throw the keys as far as you can. That way, they have to search for the keys and the alarm is going off.

Since then, two things have been true: 1. I've really wanted someone to try to carjack me so I could try that maneuver, and 2. I've hit that alarm button, which is on a hair trigger, over and over and over, causing my car to honk and lights to flash at inopportune times, like 5:45 a.m. or 10 p.m. or when I'm trying to leave work early.

That alarm button doesn't need to be so close to the other buttons, and doesn't need to be a button at all. It could be a switch that must be flipped to work; that would still work in an emergency.

Then there's my home computer mouse. That mouse has, for some reason, tiny, thin buttons on each side (in addition to the two usual buttons and the wheel.) Clicking the right button skips the Internet ahead a page; clicking the left skips the Internet back a page. Clicking both turns on a magnifier-effect.

The buttons are situated so that they're easy to click -- too easy, as they're set up so that your fingers are resting on top of the buttons while you use the mouse. I frequently bump or accidentally press them and skip ahead or back from the page I'm on, which can cause problems if I'm, say, writing a blog post that I haven't saved. And, to make it worse, clicking the buttons slightly out of synch activates all the features, so I can find myself suddenly back two pages with a magnified, distorted computer screen and I have to stop and undo that.

Why are the buttons there? Is it so difficult to move the little arrow pointer up to the top of the screen and click the Back or Forward button? Who decided that computer users should move even less than we already do?

The effort to make everything easier makes things harder and dumber. And it's pointless. All this effort going into reengineering a mouse or keychain when it wasn't all that hard, in the first place, to do those things. Anything that can be done easily can be done accidentally, and some things ought not to be done easily.

Still 5 days left in the contest: Comment on this post! You could win a book or magazine subscription (details here) and you'll be making me happy (details on that here.)

Also: I updated Way Number 3...

Prior entries:

13. Ban driving any kind of automobile, motorcycle or other personal vehicle within 1-2 miles of downtown in any city with a population of more than 100,000.

12. Abolish gym class; instead, teach kids to play musical instruments.

11. Change copyright laws to allow anyone to use anyone else's creative work provided that the copier pay 60% of the profit to the originator and that the copier not cast the original work in a negative light.

10. Have more sidewalk cafes and outdoor seating.

9. When you have to give someone a gift, ask them what they want, and then get that thing for them.

8. Never interrupt or finish someone's jokes.

7. Periodically, give up something you like for at least a month.

6. Switch to "E-money."

5. Have each person assigned one phone number, and then add an extension for the various phones and faxes that person might be reached at.

4. Abolish Mondays and Tuesdays.

3. Don't listen to interviews with athletes or comedians.

2. Have "personal cashiers" at the grocery store.

1. Don't earn more than $200,000 per year.

1 comment:

angela said...

I'm going to have to definitely agree with you on this. Even on laptops my thumb always manages to accidentally hit the mouse and then it'll move something and my page becomes two. Or even when I'm typing away, my hand will somehow manage to hit the two buttons that "replace" the mouse right click and left click and it's just so frustrating. I don't understand why they do this. It's not easier it's just more complications! :D But good post!