Monday, February 11, 2008

I want to fiddle with my knob.

My nickname is Tekno_boy because I like technology. But I'm a bit disappointed that in this day and age, it seems, a man is discouraged from playing with his knob. I'm talking of course about the trend towards buttons and away from knobs.

Computers are prime examples. We could really use a few knobs to fiddle with on our keyboards for example. Some already have wheels for volume control, but a wheel is not a knob. Sure it's convenient to 'wind up the volume' with a wheel, but I always miss the ability to go straight to maximum or minimum, or anywhere in between while knowing exactly how loud that would be.

Your average knob could be used for allot of other neat things.

Wouldn't it be cool for example to be able to 'wind' through your applications instead of using alt-tab? Or have a knob (in this case I'd at least settle for a wheel) to make home video editing easier by being able to fast forward and rewind and know exactly how fast by how much you turn the knob? I'd certainly like to see keyboards like that.

It's worse with cars, far worse. Cars are going backwards. I have two cars, both Peugeot diesels, they are about the same model, but they are about 4 years apart. In the newer car, the volume knob has become a "+" and "-" button. This means while your driving you have to lean over and spend more time to turn the volume up or down by pressing the plus or minus repeatedly. This starts to become a safety issue.

Actually the later model has volume control on an additional steering wheel lever. I admit this is a big improvement, but lets talk about the heater for a moment. The newer car has done away with a switching knob for changing the heater vents selection, the temperature setting and also the fan strength. One starts to wonder if the designers understand the concept of functionality as an integral part of design. Perhaps they're ex Microsoft programmers.

In my old car, you can jump in, turn the heater straight to whichever setting you desire, wind up the fan, and bast it through whichever vent you desire, all in a matter of seconds. In the newer car, you have to first turn the heater on. In the old car this is achieved simply by winding the fan knob up. If the fan knob is on zero, the fan is off, ergo the heater is off. In the new car, you start by turning the heating on by pressing the "off" button (I kid you not!) and then pres "++++++" to finally achieve your preferred heat setting, the same is then done for fan setting, lastly you need to select your vent setting which is done be repeatedly pressing the vent selection button. Of course you almost always go past it by pressing the button too often and only ever get the right setting after you've been through so many times that you learn the sequence.

If you need to change the heater setting while your driving, it's a nightmare because it requires so much concentration.

I think were doing this all wrong. We should be thinking of more ways our knobs can be used to improve our lives, not trying to do away with them.

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