Design Critique: Products for PeopleAuthor: Timothy Keirnan
26 Feb 2017

Design Critique: Products for People

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Encouraging usable products for a better customer experience.

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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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    DC117 Critique: Never10 and GWX Control Panel Defend Against Windows 10 Upgrade Trickery

    Microsoft hit a new low in their obnoxious campaign to upgrade customers' PCs that were Windows 7 or 8 to Windows 10. The user interface is almost impossible to say "no" to when the dreaded Win10 upgrade message appears.

    Anecdotes about affected customers Tim knows and a critique of two freeware utilities that can keep a Windows machine under the user's control are featured in this short episode. When will Microsoft learn to respect customer's private property and offer an honest UI to upgrade to Windows 10? Never, probably. The brand is suffering as Microsoft demonstrates contempt for their paying customers and tricks customers into forced upgrades.

    Hypnotically cool documentary of Lenny's Shirts:

    Lenny's Shirts store on Etsy:

    Paul Thurott's excellent article explains the whole mess:

    Steve Gibson of GRC created Never10 to let owners regain control of their Windows PC:

    GWX Control Panel is not as easy to use as Never10, but offers more configuring options:

  • Posted on 26 May 2016


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