Perfection can be achieved.
Or – at least – it is sometimes the case that there’s no better way to do something. How many different ways – how many better ways – can there be to turn something Off that was On?
Is there a better way than turning a knob left or right to turn up – or down – the volume? How about changing the station?
Arguably, there are few. And fewer that constitute an improvement.
And yet, the car companies continue to try coming up with new ways that are not better ways.
If you have tried to listen to or adjust the radio in almost any new car – there are still, gratefully, a few exceptions – you will already be familiar with this.
Rather than a knob – or a button – or some other self-evident, simple control mechanism – you have a screen with a menu that must be scrolled through. Often there are inscrutable icons the meaning of which must first be deciphered – and then remembered. These vary from car-to-car, adding another layer of gratuitous complexity. (Imagine a world in which you had to figure out which symbol stood for the Men’s room and which for the Women’s. We’re getting there, too.)
When you have finally found the function you want – keep your eyes on the road! – you must then select it and then do some more scrolling. Often, there are a number of intermediary steps that must be performed before you get to the menu you wanted and then the interface helpfully steers you toward functions you didn’t want. For example, sometimes the thing is set up to categorize selections – viz, “news,” “talk” and so on – forcing you to scroll through another menu and plumb the byzantine depths of some programmer’s notion of what seemed “helpful,” by forcing it on you.
A simple process has become a tedious – even enraging – multiple-step ordeal.
We used to have phones. These were used for making calls – and not for anything else. Well, sometimes prank calls (an amusement for kids that was common before phones became “smart” – which is etymology of a piece with “fast” in relation to chargers). The phone may not have had the ability to send a pictures or “surf” the Internet – the latter term an etymological vacuity as this “surfing” is like taking a hike by watching others do it – but it worked for its purpose far better than “smart” phones do.
When you made a call using a phone, the call was almost always completed – and rarely ended until one of the parties to it hung up the phone. Maybe you couldn’t make a call from the top of the mountain you just climbed. But the call wouldn’t drop – and you’d be looking at the view rather than gawping at a screen.
The phone was also a generational device.
The one hanging from the wall of the kitchen in the home you grew up in was still hanging from the wall – and working – when you cam back home from college decades later. You paid for it once – not every two three years – because it never needed an “update” that it could not longer absorb.
Often, while trying to show how “smart” they are.
Now we have cars with “smart” phones built into them – a hilarity lost on stupid people. They are told – and frequently agree with what they are told – that it is not “safe” to scroll through menus and tap and swipe while driving because it is distracting. But it is perfectly ok to scroll through menus and tap and swipe a screen if the phone (for all practical purposes) is built into the dashboard.
It is not merely ok, either.
It is becoming impossible not to have to scroll through menus and tap/swipe screens to be able to perform what used to be done with ease, without any need to take one’s eyes off the road. It is not necessary to look at a knob to be able to deftly turn it left or right. And it is as simple as left – or right. There are no intermediary steps. No frog-hops from this “menu” (oy vey, we’re not at an eatery) to that one.
It works brilliantly – and far better – than scrolling, selecting, tapping and swiping. But a knob seems almost as out-of-place in a new car as an engine soon will be, if another species of idiocy isn’t somehow called a halt to. People rendered not-very-smart by their made-in-Chyna devices think it’s both clever and desirable to make something as easy and simple as changing a radio station by turning a knob to the left or the right a multi-step process are the same people who think it’s “smart” to wait half an hour or longer to recover a partial charge and be unable to drive half as far as you used to be able to do with a full tank that took less than five minutes to pump.
And they ask me why I drink.
. . .
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