More on User Experience

HCI was a faculty in the University I attended and I remember the seat I chose in the lecture theatre they used for the module I took with them.

I don't remember much else.

Aside from the fact that Human Computer Interaction wasn't of as much interest to me as the raw adrenaline fueled hours in the OOP Practical Labs, the course was almost entirely of the "I WILL SPEAK AT YOU, NO DIAGRAMS" variety. For me, learning about the way you interact with technology should be all about doing.

I've used computers for many hours a day for the best part of 2 decades now, and I think we're only just starting to get this HCI stuff. I know that designers and developers and theorist have been talking about it for a long time, but regular, normal people are starting to take notice.

I bought myself a Macbook Pro two weeks ago because I want to learn to develop apps for my iPhone and my eventual iPad, and although there are probably ways to do it on my Linux or Windows box, I'm pretty sure you can't do it without jailbreaking your iPhone and I'm just not into that.

I love my new Macbook and I am a complete convert.

I wrote this blog post because I wanted to share a specific experience I had about an hour ago:

At Christmas time, I like to treat myself to something I've been eying up for a while, I usually hold something back from the ideas I give others so I have something nice to buy myself. This year it was a pair of atomic floyd hi-def drum headphones. Made for the iPhone they incorporate a microphone for handsfree calling. Once I'd gotten the correct sized rubber inserts on them, they sounded amazing and I was dead pleased with them.

I wanted to do some voice recording a month or so ago, so I was looking for an adapter for my old laptop that would allow me to split the microphone from the headphones so I could plug it in both jacks on the laptop and use them for the task. Alas I couldn't find one (briefly toyed with the idea of making one but couldn't be bothered).

When I unpacked my Macbook, there was a brief, fleeting pang of disappointment when I realised that it only has a single multipurpose audio jack, so I'd never be able to use the 'phones for video chat or whatever. I got over it very quickly and carried on learning how to drive OS X - a process that took less time that it took to fully charge the battery.

I plugged my shiny earphones in two days ago, to listen to some music. I decided I'd try recording something with the mic to see how it sounded and opened up the sound settings and lo and behold: I'm listening to music, and there's an input volume indicator for the mic!

My Mac just works.

It got better about an hour ago. I was listening to music, mooching about the web, when someone spoke to me. I automatically reached for the little dongly-buttony thing and pressed the pause/answer button and as the thought "Fool, they're plugged into the laptop not your iPhone" formed in my head, my music paused.

This is how computing should be, things should behave exactly as the user expects them to, based on all the other things that they've done in the past, except that this isn't completely correct.

About two days after unboxing my prize, I had installed a few bits and bobs and decided that I didn't want one of them anymore. I spent over half an hour fruitlessly searching for how to uninstall software on the Mac. I simply didn't believe, based on my previous experience with Windows, that it could be as simple as dragging the program icon to the dustbin!

I think this kind of learned behavior is one that will plague the iPad - it will just do things but I think people will mistake its simplicity for immaturity, until they get their DING! moment.