Tuesday, March 29, 2005

All Alone, Coping, Nearly

Oh woe is me. BetterArf and Offspring departed for Engerland last night. BetterArf will return on Saturday, Offspring will be staying in England indefinitely (for reasons too complicated to explain).

My instructions are:
1) Feed the fish (a little bit every day, not the whole lot at once).
2) Water the plants (ditto).
3) Eat food (ditto).
4) Don't drink too much (ditto).
5) Try to wash some clothes.

The last point brings me to the topic of the extreme user-hostility of most of the gadgets that we stash in our kitchen. I can work the kettle, the toaster and the fridge without needing to read the manual. The washing machine, even after extensive consultation of the manual, remains a mystery, because it fails to explain the basic stuff like what kind of stuff needs a hot or a warm wash. I can intuit that boiling nylon is probably not a great idea, but beyond that I just don't know (and I suspect the engineers who 'design' these things don't either, which is why they avoid the subject).

But my favourite bugbear is the combi microwave / grill / convection oven. This beast is so complicated that the manual for it is permanently positioned on a shelf underneath it, and believe me it is referred to frequently. Let's run through the process for defrosting something. The manual says:

'Adj'? 'Code'? This is completely anti-intuitive. What I need is a big button that says 'DEFROST STUFF' - you click it and then you set the time to defrost for. How hard can that be to implement? Ach well, these are the same kind of people that gave us VCRs. It amazes me how they keep their jobs. No, it doesn't. It amazes me that big, well-known companies allow this stuff to hit the market, and that people actually buy it and never complain about how difficult the products are to use. Hmmm.