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Abusive Appliance Interfaces|
Abusive Appliance Interfaces
I had previously reviewed the Holmes One Touch
heater to point out its user interface flaws. Here are several other
newer appliances that make me just want to facepalm, puke, and gouge my
eyes out. This is more of a rant than a review.
Honeywell Air Purifier:
This is an air purifier/filter that I obtained a while back. Unfortunately
these days there is no way to try out a product before buying it. You get
whatever feces is in the in the box, and the retailers bet that you don't
find it quite bad enough to return.
Right off the bat, bright-ass blue LEDs. At least it does have a "dimmer"
button. You can turn the lights off after selecting the operation mode.
Still, painful to adjust during the night. And just dumb looking.
Functionally, the bigger issue is the flat tactile-less set of buttons.
Because, you know, we have to make everything look and feel like iPhones.
It is a bit difficult to operate without looking directly at the controls.
The buttons also activate a tad too easily when something else brushes
Ok, obnoxious, but as we will see, it could be worse.
I bought this dehumidifier to pick up the slack for a defective air
conditioner. More on the AC later.
No blue LEDs, but instead it is loaded with ulta-bright white LEDs that
are almost just as bad. Worse yet, this has no dimmer option like the air
purifier. Leaving it running at night requires that you let it light up
your entire room!
Well, Light-Dims to the rescue!
Light-Dims are semi-tanslucent stickers that reduce the brightness of
blue and ultra-white LEDs.
Even if you are already blind to blue/white LEDs, the fact that a commercial
product exists to correct this awful design should tell you how bad it
Like the air purifier, the dehumidifier has flat buttons with little
feedback. It would be impossible to operate in the dark - although the
ultra-bright LED display pretty much prevents any kind of darkness.
At least since the controls are flat and level, and not too sensitive,
I can put a book or something on top of it so I can run it at night.
On a more functional note, it is kind of hard to tell what some of the
buttons or readout lights are for. The numeric display doubles as both
a humidity gauge, and the setting readout. It switches to setting readout
for a few seconds after pressing the + or - buttons and then returns to
displaying the current humidity, which can be a little confusing.
Ms. Chinese Nazi Lock:
A while back the mechanical keypad lock on our complex's garbage dumpster
gate broke and was replaced with this monstrosity.
It is an electronic lock, with a cell phone-like touch screen. I don't
know off hand if it is internet connected, but at this point it would not
- It has a non tactile user interface. I don't know if there were any
vision impaired people around here taking out their own garbage, but that
that is now one less thing they can do themselves. I have to squint at
it myself each time to make sure my finger goes on the right "button".
- Which raises another issue: In an environment like this, one really
needs to keep their eyes on their surroundings, not a tiny little screen.
- As if that were not enough, the thing TALKS. "Password incorrect!",.
"Wrong number of digits!", "Code accepted!", "Time expired!", "When you
complete this test there will be cake!", all in a female voice. Whoever
designed this needs to learn what the place of these devices is - seen,
and not heard. I swear, the "Code accepted!" or alternate sound effect
makes me think it really wants to say "Please enjoy your trip through this
door" with a smug sense of satisfaction. Genuine People Personality doors,
as seen in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, were supposed to be a JOKE!
- Where does it even get power from? There is no direct wire, so I'm
guessing it must also have a battery that will wear out. What does it do
in the event of a power failure?
- I don't know if this one is Internet connected, but there was actually
an article where a manufacturer
bricked their smart locks over the internet. I fully expect devices
like this to start bombarding me with advertising, or get hacked and make
everyone pay some Russian hacker before you can dump your garbage.
Over all, this is an over-enginerred piece of garbage that should be
thrown in its own dumpster.
I was right about how fragile this thing is, because Ms. Nazi Lock has
broken several times already. Someone tore it to pieces and threw each
piece in to a fire.
Trane ComfortLink II XL850:
In summer 2017 I got a new air conditioner. What a fiasco! If you want
to read all the details, see Reliable
Heating and Err.
This bit of rant is just about the insane thermostat.
Quite frankly these "smart" thermostats are a scam. They force you to
buy one of these overpriced pieces of garbage, but when you complain that
you need a less complicated, more usable, one they happily replace it with
the cheapest possible piece of garbage without refunding your money. Despite
what the dealer may tell you, these Trane thermostats use a proprietary
"communicating" protocol and the "modern" Trane AC units don't really want
to work without it,
First of all, this is all touch screen. Because, you know, everything
must look like an iPhone.
Next, you have to jump through menus to get to commonly used features
(On, off, fan, heat, cool).
And the screen is full of stupid animations.
Thanks to the digital nature of the thermostat, I get to select warm
(76), usually comfortable (75), and cool (74). No in between. At least
they didn't make me use the Celsius system. Then it would be a choice between
way too hot, and way too cold.
And then there is this: It constantly flashes a "Get Connected" message.
Because some thermostat designer somewhere is an Internet Of Things
sadist, this thing actually has WIFI built in! Yes, it will connect to
your wireless LAN, and do who knows what to it, for no good reason. W,
T, and F.
Beyond even that, it wants you to sign up for a "Nexia Home Intelligence"
subscription, some dumb cloud services so people can change the settings
from their toy cell phone? Why? Does nobody really see potential security
issues with this? Of course not, its in "teh magical clowds" where everything
is happy and safe. Consumertards eat this stuff up.
Get Connected, Get Connected! Basically an ADVERTISEMENT.
It's like those VCRs that blink 12:00 forever, except now you have to
pay to get rid of the message.
I thought I did get it to shut up briefly, but the message came back
after I happened to switch the circuit breaker off and back on.
After a few minutes it flips to a screen saver that bounces around
the temperate. What does it think it is, the Windows XP screen saver?
Wait a minute, this is not a CRT! You are not going to get screen burn
in! Keep it in one fucking place. Or move it around in much smaller increments.
On top of this, the display is so ultra-bright, this lights up the entire
room at night!
Come on, at least give us flying toasters with random sound effects!
(Ooops, I probably should not give these idiots any ideas).
BOUNSY! BOUNSY! BOUNSY! BOUNSY! BOUNSY!
And here is the control panel. Yes, a control panel on a freaking thermostat.
Buuuuut, the Screen Settings has no option to disable the screen saver!
Oh, but there is an option for completely turning off the screen. Never
mind I would actually like to see the temperature, just not bouncing around
or so bright.
The Wifi account page is in here, but only gives you the option to "cancel
and remind later". No, no option to shut up an go away forever. It is like
their user interface designer is reaching through the screen and telling
me to suck his dick.
The "Setup wizard" also expects you to have wifi in order to do anything.
I am not connecting this piece of crap to any network wired, or wireless.
It has no business being connected to one. And what are you going to do
when the Internet, web, or "cloud" services changes and becomes incompatible?
Oh, time to buy another air conditioner!
Finally, this screen has a "reboot" option. I'm sorry, if a thermostat
has to have a "reboot" option then you have done something... well many
things, horribly wrong.
So how do I actually get control of this thing? Recompiling the kernel,
creating my own distribution, cracking the DRM probably breaking some laws,
and flashing my own firmware? I just paid a pile of money, why should I
have to do that?
A simple embedded 8-bit Z-80 with no network could do everything that
is actually NEEDED here.
Let us not forget data logging.
Sure, lets send all of your usage data back to Trane so they can analyze
it and determine when you are not home so they can break in to your house.
Or disable the entire thing if you have not scheduled your "yearly maintenance"
But seriously, how do blind people use this? Are people with poor eyesight
not allowed to use air conditioning any more?
Hell, I had a hard enough time in the middle of the night squinting
at this shit and being bombarded by GET CONNECTED! GET CONNECTED! GET CONNECTED!
GET CONNECTED! GET CONNECTED! GET CONNECTED! GET CONNECTED! GET CONNECTED!
GET CONNECTED! GET CONNECTED!
Asking around, it seems that some people with these kinds of thermostats
place covers over them. Its like a page out of the surreal dystopian 1980's
TV show "Max Headroom", where people covered their TVs to prevent the network
2-way sampler (and Max) from watching them, and off switches were illegal.
Will I get in to trouble for switching this thing off? There is literally
no "off" switch!
I did eventually get it swapped out with non "smart" thermostat, but
literally everything on the market with humidity control also has a touch
screen instead of buttons. I still want to know how blind people are supposed
to use "modern" air conditioning.
At least it didn't talk or have bright blue LEDs.
For comparison, I previously had a simple mercury switch thermostat
similar to this one.
If I wanted to switch from "on" to "off" or "circulate", just flip a
single simple switch. If I wanted to switch from "cool" to "off" or to
"heat", just flip a switch. If I wanted it hotter or cooler, just nudge
the temperature control up or down with infinite resolution. No need to
even turn on the lights at night, it could be operated in the dark!
No humidity control, though.
Nothing Runs Over You Like a Trane.
And just a BTW, this photo was floating around while back as a funny
"fail". But I can only think of one purpose for this device. Abuse. Probably
I swear, at the rate we are going, in another 40 years, appliances will
transform in to robots, physically rape people up the ass (they monetize
that somehow), and everyone will just quietly put up with it.
We already have every consumertard on the planet unquestioningly bringing
large talking microphones in to their houses to listen to everything they
We already have "Minority Report" type advertising, sex toys that send
personal information back the company, we already have massive data breaches
over and over.
Dare I ask what is next?