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Jason
2004-12-28, 15:25
I think it applies a little more than you realize. I agree with you that
the Slim box is a very easy to use piece of equipment that most consumers
can figure out in a fairly short amount of time.

However, when you factor in all of the plugins, internet radio,
troubleshooting network configuration issues and diagnosing audio dropouts,
it is no longer a "simple" piece of gear for everyone who purchases one.

Look at the number of people who are obviously intelligent yet have been
stumped by things as simple as failing to remember that they made their wifi
network access controlled and didn't add the Squeezebox MAC address to the
access point control list. Look at how many folks have had wireless issues
without realizing how many of their neighbors were using the very congested
2.4ghz radio spectrum.

How many folks complain about dropouts only to find after they are assisted
in troubleshooting that the problem is with a Windows machine that is
running firewall or virus scanner software which chews up the CPU/RAM
resources?

I agree that the basic operation with remote is pretty simple, but even then
my girlfriend has had to ask me many times how to do things that I take for
granted as being a piece of cake to get going. She couldn't figure out why
an internet radio stream wasn't playing after she selected it from the list
because it simply didn't occur to her that she had to hit "play" on the
remote. I believe her exact words were "why do I have to hit play, I just
picked it from the list, doesn't it know I want to play it?".

I don't consider the average consumer to be an idiot, but considering how
many friends, neighbors and family can't do basic setup of a TV/VCR/DVD or
even connect a couple of audio components together properly I think when
folks expect that the typical consumer will configure an email client or
NNTP client for threaded browsing of an email distribution list I just have
to shake my head in amazement.

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces (AT) lists (DOT) slimdevices.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces (AT) lists (DOT) slimdevices.com] On Behalf Of Jack Coates
Sent: Tuesday, December 28, 2004 12:35 PM
To: Slim Devices Discussion
Subject: [slim] Discussion list overload and Gossamer Forum

Jason wrote:
> Yes, I can surely think of my mother, brother or girlfriend setting up
> and configuring an NNTP client all on their own without any help.
> It's childs play for any joe 6 pack consumer to configure a newsreader
> versus typing in a web URL and clicking their way through something
> (it's very clear that some of you just don't get it).

Whatever. I just have one question:

I'm used to the "Joe Sixpack is a drooling idiot and will never be able to
use this so the sky is falling and we're all heading straight to hell in a
handbasket" argument. It's very common on Linux mailing lists and lots of
time is spent in arguing about how low the lowest common denominator really
is.

My question is, how does this argument apply to such a simple and
easy-to-use device as the Squeezebox? I mean, honestly.

Performance and stability: I've had a few problems with dropouts a year ago,
which turned out to be interaction between a switch and a bad firmware. I've
seen a number of people having problems with wireless networks and blaming
it on the Squeezebox. There are definite, real problems with performance if
you've got wireless interference, insufficient system resources, more than
10-20K songs in the library, or a combination of these. In other news, many
products require that you provide the correct operating environment.

User Interface: There are people out there who are going to have problems
with the UI -- the same people who can't set the clock on their VCRs or
figure out how to use the car stereo. It's not that they're stupid, or that
the UI is bad, it's that they don't care enough to learn. My parents fall
firmly in this camp, they're pretty much incapable of discerning OS from
application on a computer and are convinced that many electronic devices are
alive with gremlins. But you'd better believe my dad knows how to work his
Tivo and satellite dish tuner backwards and forwards. It's not that the Tivo
has a better UI, it's that he wanted to know how to use them. I'm not going
to give them a Squeezebox, because they don't care about music. A better UI
isn't going to make them care enough to learn how to use it.

--
Jack at Monkeynoodle dot Org: It's a Scientific Venture...
Riding the Emergency Third Rail Power Trip since 1996!