Posts tagged “dlr”

The “Runnin’ With The Devil” UI

The Diamond Dave soundboard (updated link) is getting a lot of heat in the blogosphere lately. Taken from a recently unearthed isolated vocal track of David Lee Roth singing “Runnin’ With the Devil” in the studio, this website provides clickable buttons that trigger various DLR vocal stylings. If you listen to morning radio (and hey, who doesn’t) and hear DJs making prank phone calls to pizza joints using clips from Rocky movies, this is the type of thing they are using – a soundboard.

I really love how the interface takes a fresh, honest (and hilarious) approach to foreshadowing, i.e., giving an indication of what’s going to happen (you might also think about this as feedforward, the complement to feedback). What will happen when you press a button that says “Whoo!”? The first time you try it, you learn very quickly what happens. Once you grasp the basic model (which takes one risk-free moment), the button label descriptions accurately (if cryptically) indicate what the result will be.

I love the idea of a UI with the following controls:

The ahh-hahs:
The whoo-hoos:
and of course my favorite

Sure, it’ll take more learning to distinguish between AHHH HAAAA and AHHHHHHH YEEEEEEAAAHHH and maybe the buttons should be clustered rather than alphabetical, with HHAAAAAYAAAAAAHAAAAH and the similar-sounding AHHHHYAAAAHH near each other. So it’s not perfect, and I doubt there will be a dot-one release to improve the UI along those lines, it’s still a fascinating example of breaking some rules (i.e., number of letters on a button) in order to deliver a better experience, in this case, one that stays very true to the brand promise.

Learned Behavio(u)r

One of the fun yet challenging aspects of spending two weeks in another country was stumbling over all the little things that I know how to do back home but didn’t work. I paid for a snack using pocket change, and eventually had to hold the pile of coins out to the counter dude so he could take the right amount. The coins say their value, in English, but in order to complete a transaction in the normal amount of time, you have to be familiar. It was an interesting feeling, to be such a foreigner.

At another point, I was riding the DLR (train) with my Oyster (smart card). A conductor comes along to swipe the card and there’s a small interaction where the passenger holds out the card and the conductor holds out the wand (yes, it was a wand, not the usual credit-card-swipey-slot thing). I wanted to put my card on top of his wand, but he wanted to put his wand on top of my card. I was just supposed to know the gesture. Sounds like a bit of a dominance issues, actually.

In using the self-check at Tesco (a grocery store), I realized the software was the same as what I’ve seen here at Home Depot, etc. but when it came time to pay, the voice prompt told me to insert my card into the chippenpin device. Turns out this was Chip-and-PIN, where credit cards and/or ATM cards have extra security via an embedded chip, and an associated PIN. These readers use a different swipe gesture, with the card going in the bottom of the keypad. Anyway, I stood there with my non-chipped credit card, putting it in and out of this bottom slot, to no avail. After I surrendered and paid cash, I realized there was the familiar vertical swipe slot along the bezel of the monitor, a different piece of hardware than the chippenpin.

And this one was subtle but confounding:
This is the TV remote from my Paris hotel room but the London hotel had a similar issue. In my experience, the red power button turns the TV on and turns the TV off. But in both these hotel rooms (and maybe this was a hotel issue more than a Euro issue) the way to turn it was to press the channel buttons. Enter a channel and the TV would go on and display that channel. The power button was actually on “off” button. You can imagine me sitting in front of the TV with a remote and trying to turn it on, in vain, until frustrated random button press gave me the result I wanted.

I often look around at local transit and marvel at how much the cues and other information in those systems are designed for people who already know how to use them; but I was able to plan for and learn about transit enough to be come a fairly comfortable user. It was these small interactions without cues, and under time pressure, where I found myself bemusedly incompetent.


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