June 19, 2008
Remember my mental note to check out products myself instead of relying on other’s recommandations? This time I got lured into a retailer’s shop cause they advertized a bargain on one of those car mp3 CD players featuring an USB slot which would finally save me from having to burn my own mixes to CD-RW. Since they assured me it could play more than a puny 500 tracks from USB and I had ample time to test and compare it to others mounted alongside the wall in the shop, what could go wrong? Unfortunately I didn’t realize the flaw until I drove home that night:
The USB slot faces the stick’s LED towards the driver!
Thus you always have this distracting blinking light in the right corner of your eye while driving at night. The clip I made of this effect doesn’t quite convey the annoyance it causes:
Yeah, I know, Sony
The company that always thinks to know better thus flooding the market with proprietary technology like ATRAC, Mini Disc, Memory Stick, UMD and so on despite consumers ignoring these schemes. Was I too stupid despite being warned by Sony’s track record? Afraid so…
A friend of mine who was riding shotgun in my car made a good point: why does the LED have to blink in the first place? But since this apparently is agreed upon by manufacturers I tried to verify my suspicions which turned out to be correct: all USB-sticks I’ve seen so far (which is a lot) do have the LED on the same side in reference to the connector and only Sony has the slot facing inwards, all other players I’ve checked (by Kenwood, Alpine, JVC, Blaupunkt, Clarion) have their slot installed the other way round so the stick’s LED blinks facing outward. This can’t be due to left-hand traffic in Japan either cause this would require the main controls (volume, skip, source) to be placed on the driver side too.
Sony knows best… not!
P.S. Aren’t you just thrilled by the caution alarm the front panel makes to keep you from forgetting it in the car?
June 13, 2008
The small company I mentioned in one of my previous articles had recently been incoporated into a bigger one and their office been demoted to a mere depot which resulted in several cutbacks including a phone lines switch from ISDN (2 lines, 3 phone numbers) to analogue (1 line, 1 number), 2 phones to 1 and no fax. Since reality however refused to abide by company policy they still needed to receive faxes on a daily basis so I replaced their busted printer/fax anyway. Unfortunately it also came with an unexpected flaw:
Fax receive ring delay limited to 4 times!
Again the ladies were less than thrilled having to sprint from the other room to reach the phone in time to prevent the fax from taking the call. Since fax and phone had to be connected to a an All-In-One router/telephone system rather than an external phone jack there was no way to switch the fax to one of it’s other modes.
Still, why not allow a higher ring delay in the first place? I was irritated enough to call the expensive Brother support which instructed me by fax (go figure) on a lengthy procedure to unlock the device’s hidden maintenance mode to increase the ring delay to 10 times max. I didn’t get any satisfactory answer though as to why these options weren’t available by default.
So much for Brother Solutions!
May 18, 2008
As an IT freelancer I spend my spare time between projects on small jobs for SOHOs in my area. This does not only require configuring their Internet access, LAN and servers but occasionally involves buying and setting up stuff. So when I was asked to install an inexpensive analog corded phone (and a fax machine, more on this in my next article) on short notice, I just stopped by at the next retail chain’s store and bought according to specs skipping previous research and product comparisons. I wish I hadn’t, as it turns out the Euroset has an unexpected flaw:
one has got to press OK to confirm the number dialled!
Being used to phones I simply hooked it up, dialled a number, lifted the handset to my ear and waited for the call to get through but nothing happened. I tried it a few times checking chords, power and number in the process but to no avail. Of course I didn’t expect anything to be wrong with my method of dialling, after all that’s the way I’ve been doing it with all the phones around me over the years, that’s how it is supposed to work, right? Wrong!
I hadn’t taken into account the ingenuity of the Siemens engineers when it comes to breaking usability and coming up with new and exciting ways to improve best practice. As explained in the manual one has got to dial the number, press OK and only then lift the handset (and – for whatever reason – wait two secs) before the call is made! Of course they didn’t pay attention to consistency. When you want to use the speakerphone instead, you simply dial and press the loudspeaker button skipping the OK button entirely. Now where is the sense in that (assuming of course this is a criteria in the development process)?
Dialling with the handset on the hook you can easily add pauses, R-key functions or correct ciphers and then lift the headset thereby confirming your choice of making the call. Why the heck is it required to give an extra confimation with the OK button ()? Needless to say the ladies at the reception were less than thrilled having to adapt to the weird way of Siemens engineer thinking to get on with their calls.
Siemens Euroset 5035: OK by me… NOT!