Design Critique: Products for PeopleAuthor: Timothy Keirnan
28 Apr 2017

Design Critique: Products for People

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Encouraging usable products for a better customer experience.

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    DC121 Critique: Garmin Nuvi 2598LMTHD, Plus Email from Listener Katie

    Aravindh Baskaran joins Tim Keirnan for a critique of the Garmin Nuvi 2598LMTHD.
    We follow our usual critique structure that includes the following:
    Out of the Box
    Initial Use
    Longitudinal Use

    The Garmin 2598 is an interesting mixture of excellence and frustration. On the positive side, we found that
    * The map screens, both day and night versions, are very well designed.
    * The voice sounds terrific because it is both pleasant stylistically and cuts through the noise of the car sonically.
    * The device is fairly quick in its operation, including finding satellites (unless you are indoors, but why are you driving indoors?)

    On the negative side, we found that
    * The vaunted voice interface doesn't work well at all. Very frustrating.
    * The un-changeable and incessant alarm for school zones within a half mile of the car is extremely frustrating and can make us ignore alarms in general.
    * The unit occasionally freezes and no amount of pressing or tapping the screen will bring it back, forcing the user to unplug power from the unit and restart it.
    * Inexplicable routing can ignore oft-travelled commutes and actually send us the long way around. And sometimes Tim got a different route home if his address was in the Home saved location rather than his address being in the Recent list.
    * The settings don't encourage quickly finding what you want to adjust.

    Finally, email from listener Katie was a wonderful compliment to starting a new year of episodes. Thank you for listening, Katie.

  • Posted on 02 Mar 2017

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    DC120: 2003 Subaru WRX Longitudinal Review

    The Subaru WRX is a legend, and life is too short not to drive legends. The "bug eye" version of this all wheel drive sporty car from 2002 and 2003 was a success worldwide but especially in the North American market where it was the first time we got this car. Later generations of the car delighted owners as well, yet the bugeye models delighted customers in a unique way that the newer cars do not duplicate for all their recent advantages.

    What made the bugeye WRX so attractive then and to this day? There is an analog, mechanical honesty and tautness to the 2002-2003 models, and modern versions are not as "organic" feeling. Ken Mayer and Eric Penn join Tim Keirnan for a longitudinal review of Tim's 2003 Subaru WRX. If it sounds like we recorded this episode sitting in the car, well, we did!

    This episode covers the following items in the following order:
    * The evolution of the all wheel drive niche in vehicle design and rally race history
    * The nature of forced induction, its pros and its cons
    * The superb steering wheel by Momo , the clean and usable instrument panel, the clean and usable controls, the amazingly good seats.
    * The factory boost gauge and short shifter options.
    * The design choices of 2003, with a value on providing the most feedback to the driver, versus modern car designs with their isolated and numb feeling for the driver. Ken's dad's 2015 WRX provides contrast to what Subaru did in 2003. How has the model evolved?
    * The heavy weight and mechanical complexity of an all wheel drive and turbocharged vehicle.
    * Tim's few and limited modifications to an otherwise stock bugeye WRX.
    * We almost forgot to talk about the qualities of a boxer engine and the excellent sound of the stock exhaust with unequal length headers.
    * The oil and transmission fluid dipsticks were poorly designed and those fluids are kind of, you know, just maybe, important.

    Skip ahead to 31 minutes if you want to bypass our discussion of the history of all wheel drive cars and comparisons to front wheel drive and rear wheel drive, and the principles of forced induction.

    Eric promises us a longitudinal review of his FiestaST in 2017! Stay tuned. . .

  • Posted on 31 Dec 2016

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    DC119: Apple iOS10 Upgrade UI Trickery

    2016 has been a bad year of manufacturers trying to force customers into upgrading their devices by user interface trickery. First Microsoft and their Windows 10 deceptions, and now Apple with iOS10 reminders that cannot be refused. In this episode, Tim describes Apple's failure to provide a "No" response in the iPhone's UI and the "nag screen" that repeatedly makes an offer the customer can't refuse.

    It's not quite as bad as the Windows 10 manipulation scheme was, but the increasing lack of respect for device owners is concerning. Tim's proposed Upgrade Bill of Rights says the following:
    1. Respect the owner of the product in all ways. All update dialogs must contain a No response. The owner decides what and when to upgrade, not the manufacturer.
    2. Enable the owner to control notifications of updates. Enable turning off reminders messages for specific upgrades.
    3. Enable the owner to schedule reminders and updates on their own schedule.

    Between family support, new house projects, and other life details, the new responsive website for the show is still not up. Thanks for your patience.

  • Posted on 16 Nov 2016

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    DC118 Critique: Kobo eReaders

    Alvaro Vargas joins Tim Keirnan for a thorough discussion of the customer experience of eReaders, in particular the offerings from Kobo. Tim is the newbie, having recently bought a Kobo Glo HD as his first eReader, and Alvaro provides the longitudinal review of Kobo eReaders, having bought four of them over time. His current model is a Kobo Glo.

    As usual, the discussion follows Tim's list of Customer Experience Phases:
    Out of the Box
    Early Use
    Longitudinal Use

    In addition to critiquing the Kobo software and hardware, the guys discuss the nature of physical books versus eBooks, the reasons for a single purpose device like eReaders over tablets, and the challenge of getting accurately created eBooks from source material. Among other things. It's 90 minutes of commercial free analysis and discussion! The shownotes photo for this episode features shots of the two eReaders.

  • Posted on 30 Jul 2016

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    Mailbag: Listener Email from Brian Shunamon

    Brian Shunamon from the USA sent us a message so on point that I asked him if I could record it and publish it. As an Information Technology professional with corporate clients, as well as a guy looked to for tech advice by friends and family, Brian addresses the concerns of our last several episodes on Microsoft's customer experience mistakes with its Windows 10 upgrade policy and behaviors. He reminds us that enduring patterns of mistreatment is a bad precedent not only in our personal relationships, but also in our relationships as customers of products and services. You don't have to take it! Nor should we.

    Brian's longer written article, "NIXING Windows", about why Microsoft's behavior is a threat to your personal and professional computing life, and how you might consider an personal computer operating system such as Linux, is on his LinkedIn profile at

    Thank-you, Brian!



  • Posted on 23 Jun 2016


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