For instance, if the phone computerized recording tells me, “Remember, you must first dial ‘1’,” why couldn’t a program have been written that just inserts the “1” automatically? Or, when I key in my library ID number, with spaces as it appears on my card, I get, “please do not use space.” Then, why do you issue the card with the spaces (or, why not program to accommodate or ignore the “spaces”)? I am computer illiterate, so I am sure I miss nuances about programming. However, from a user’s point of view, my queries stand.
When reaching the programmed temperature, my hot water dispenser merrily plays a bungled Bach tune. How cute! But when we want something with an automated function, wouldn’t we want to be left alone? Isn’t that the definition of “automation?” My refrigerator beeps at me if I leave it open longer than it’s programmed to tolerate. The car beeps at me for numerous reasons, significant or otherwise; the washer and dryer beep at me. Gmail informs me every that I can “activate notification.” Why?! If I forget to put the gearshift in “P” as I get out of my car, it beeps. Someday, we are going to ask each other, “Can you hear that beep in my head?”
Modern technologies certainly have given us plenty of conveniences, but also seem determined to deprive us of peace much of the time. For a little while, I was enamored with Apple products. Currently, I still have “i” of everything made by Apple. Given my woefully inadequate computer background, I am very thankful for my resident computer guru; however, he has now more than occasionally sworn, “No more Apple!” Not that he thinks other brands are necessarily better.
Recently, my guru decided to authorize all our Apple products under the “cloud” feature. In the process, we learned that we had to update this rig and that device. So, we did. But then, our desktop Apple was deemed so old that the latest OS would not be available unless we purchased it. The price for OS is a pittance compared to the cost of the hardware. However, the point is: Why is that decision made by the corporation? And not by the customers? A couple of years ago, when we brought our desktop to the Apple store for what should have been a minor repair, the Apple “genius” commented that we probably should update our computer soon. Really? Of course, in the Apple universe, everyone can afford it. The point is: Shouldn’t that be the customer’s decision, without being forced by all the updates?
This week, I found out that in order to use my new SD card for my camera, I had to update the “raw camera” program in my Photoshop. My laptop is new enough to have the latest OS, but not our “old” desktop. We finally raised the white flag and ordered the latest OS for our still sleek-looking Apple desktop. And speaking of camera, all people in my circle who use SRL have a UV protective filter. Logically, I wonder why don’t camera companies build that into the lens?
Hard to say how many complaints about Apple products are “out there;” evidently not nearly enough to so disturb Apple as to actually address them. So, I have another fantasy. If we can organize a consumer boycott, postponing all purchases of Apple products by just one month with the message that the company really needs to zap away all these annoying bugs … A loss of 5 million purchases a month would surely catch the company’s attention.
Someday, maybe, only maybe, someone can finally figure out that for a truly superior software system, every update means less storage space required, faster operation, no need to learn additional features that you didn’t want in the first place, total compatibility with other software including everything that ran under the older operating system. Oh, and a truly superior software system should need updates only very infrequently. And not require you to spend more money.
I wonder, do airlines pilots have to respond to “Are you sure you want to raise the landing gear?” “Are you sure you want to raise the landing gear?” “Are you sure you want to raise the landing gear?” before the software responds to their command? Hopefully pilots don’t have to respond repeatedly, but then why do the rest of us have to repeatedly reassure our computer’s operating system before we can even shut it off?
And I have naively thought that the “free” market is supposed to provide customers what they want.
Now I feel little better. Till next time,
Staying Sane and Charging Ahead.
Direct Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor’s note: Dr. Yang has a PhD in Management from the Wharton Business School of the University of Pennsylvania. She taught at Wharton for a number of years, and consulted for small groups and small organizations and on cross-cultural issues. Her professional worldview comprises three pillars: 1. All organizations are social systems in which elements are inter-related. 2. To improve organizations, the focus should be on the positive dimensions on which to build. This philosophical foundation is Appreciative Inquiry. 3. Yang subscribes to the methodological perspective that she is part of the instrument from which to gain quality data from respondents, and with which to compare and contrast with others’ realities.