Min Jee Love/Hate [exercise5]

March 9, 2011

Love:  Electronic dictionary is truly one of my favorite gadgets to use because it helps me look up definitions of new words efficiently and saves me time from flipping through the pages of a paper dictionary. My dad purchased this electronic dictionary from Korea for my birthday gift four years ago. It is a black and white CASIO dictionary. The only inconvenience is that you would not be able to see anything in the dark since it does not have a self illumination feature. At the time when I first received this electronic dictionary, I had no idea how convenient and helpful this would be. When I first came to Canada and started school, I found the dictionary very helpful as it not only allowed me to search every word in an English based dictionary, but it also allowed me to look up definitions of new English words in other languages such as, Chinese and Korean. Another specialized feature is the calculator, which has all the basic components an ordinary calculator would have.  Considering the Trade-Off between flexibility and usability, my electronic dictionary has less flexible design than any other recently released electronic dictionaries, but it is specialized so that it functions very effectively in one particular area: finding words and translations. Therefore, it is more usable since it is simple and less complex than the newer electronic dictionaries with more bells and whistles. Contemporary dictionaries, as shown in the picture, require larger sets of design, complexity, longer time, and more money for development. Also these are being developed as multipurpose devices that can be used for games, videos, and also serve as cameras or mp3 players. They function almost like cell phones without the ability to text messages and place calls. Since I only use my version of the electronic dictionary mainly for translations and looking up definitions, I only need to recharge the device once or twice a year. More recent electronic dictionaries have features that allow to be recharged through a computer USB adaptor. However, the recent electronic dictionaries require more battery power to support various features, and thus, it needs to be recharged more frequently as people are tempted to use it for many other entertainments. In this sense, recent dictionaries have more flexibility, but are less usable for people who use electronic dictionaries mainly for looking up the words.  Also, according to the principle of Forgiveness, a design that helps prevent errors and provide sense of security is also built in to my black and white dictionary. There is a “history” section where you can go back to find which specific words you have searched before so that you do not need to search for them again.

Hate:  I have always had a hard time using this remote controller for my dad’s old audio. This is something that I hate, and yes it might be because it is too old, ugly, and is the only audio remote controller at my house and it is hard to recognize what is written on the remote controller; white letters are written on a grey background. So every time I try to use the remote controller, I press the wrong key and the audio functions in a totally different way. For example, it would randomly turn up the volume when I want to mute the audio. Visibility is an essential factor of usability. Usability of an object will improve if the status and method to operate the object is clearly and visibly stated. In this remote controller’s case, it is not very usable because the letters written on it is not visible and does not indicate clear status.

An object Reid loves and an object Reid hates.

February 23, 2011

I hate this computer. My “family’s” computer, the one we all use has not been a “normal” or up-to-date version since I was eleven years old. Since then, our family computer has been a combination of hand-me-downs from my father’s office. Once our last hand-me-down PC finally died my dad decided to purchase an Apple computer/Mac. He decided to get a Mac computer but not a whole one just this little disk man size version (Mac Mini). The Mac portion of the computer isn’t that bad but we didn’t get any other Mac hardware so the quick keys and short cut keys don’t work. For example when copying and pasting this is problematic as the user must use the top menu bar or attempt to drag the information. This combination of a keyboard/computer therefore does not afford its intended function, to make information quickly accessible through the use of shortcuts, specialized buttons etc. This problem with the keyboard functions is also a constraint in the use of the computer as it limits the amount of actions that can be performed as some of the keys found on Mac keyboards not only do not work on the non-Mac keyboard but also some don’t even exist. Also the way in which the (non-Mac) monitor is lit is horrible as it puts out this weird glare that hurts my eyes. Because the effects I expect from this computer (like being able to use keyboard shortcuts) are not fulfilled I feel the mapping of this combined Mac/Pc desktop computer is very poor. I am already someone who doesn’t like computers very much but having to use this and share it with my parents really makes me hate them its part of why all my blog posts are always late.

Something I love is my Dewalt drill I bought this six years ago when I started my carpentry apprenticeship. At that time there weren’t really any other drills to compare it to, it was the best. It has regular drill settings and a hammer drill setting, it also has three different gear ratios for screwing and drilling. Everyone told me it was a waste to buy such an expensive drill because on a job site it will get broken or lost and that batteries don’t last more then two years.  The batteries ended up lasting five years and the only problem I had was the trigger broke after four years and it took me all of ten minutes to take the drill apart and fix it myself. That’s something else I love about it is how easy it is to service when cleaning it or when it needs repair. Overall the drill was designed well, and affords its intended function, to work as a drill. The constraints of the drill are primarily physical, the battery life and what I experienced with the trigger, both of which were not seen as particularly “constraining” and were expected after the years of use.  This object is mapped well, when it is expected to work, it does, and it reacts to the commands (trigger commands) as it would be expected to (drilling and reverse etc).

An object Melanie loves, an on object Melanie hates.

February 11, 2011


One object I have slowly began to love more and more is the Magic Bullet. I use it mainly for making smoothies with fruit and ice. This device comes in 3 seperate parts; the cup, the blade, and the base. Each part has affordances that make it easy to determine how it is used. The clear plastic cup is obvious that it holds the items you would like blended, it also has a flat bottom, and a screw top indicating that it is a container. The blades have a corresponding screw top making it obvious that it fits on top of the cup. The base is much heavier, and has a power cord indicating that it will generate the power to spin the blade.

Physical Constraints on the device include the screw top cup only fitting with one side of the blade part. Furthermore once blade is attached to the cup, the entity only fits into the base in one way. There are small notches on the circumference of the cup that correspond with indents on the base. They only fit in one way and it is logical that the blades would be at the bottom of items being pureed.

After cup and blade are attached and set on the base, there is no indication of what happens next. This requires some thought, unless you have seen the commercial where it is demonstrated that the cup must be pressed down in order to start the process. A symbol such as an arrow on the side of the base, or possibly a word on the bottom of the cup would make this device more efficient for those who have never seen it before.

There is auditory feedback once cup is pushed down that the Magic Bullet is going to work. It starts as an aggressive grinding sound, to a gentler hum which helps in assessing how long food should be chopped.


Electric pencil sharpener. I find these difficult to use as they only work with certain types of pencils and most of the time they break the lead, or over-sharpen your pencil. The affordances of the electric pencil sharpener  are it’s shape and placement of the hole that your pencil goes in. It is placed at the top which tells us where the pencil goes in, and underneath is a clear plastic case where the pencil shavings collect.

The physical constraints of this object include the hole size which is only big enough to fit a standard sized pencil, and the collector is shaped so that it can only fit in the device one way. It is also flat on the bottom which sits the device upwards, and makes it clear that there is only one way that it can be used.

The auditory feedback you receive is the sound of it sharpening your pencil. I believe this device could be made more efficient if there was an indication of when your pencil has been sharpened to a perfect point, such as a light illuminating or the machine automatically coming to a stop to avoid breakage of the pencil lead.

An Object Josef Loves, An Object Josef Hates

February 11, 2011

An Object Josef Loves

An object I love is my wireless XBOX 360 controller. I recently acquired it when I bought the game platform it goes with. The controls present on the object are; two thumbsticks, a crosspad, four letter buttons, left and right shoulder and trigger buttons and three center control buttons. The affordances of this object are both effective and clear; the ergonomic shape of the controller instantly tells the user how to hold it and immediately settles into a comfortable position. The designed grip places the user’s fingers in the ideal locations to utilize the controls; the thumbs are poised over the thumbsticks and letter buttons and the index fingers rest on the shoulder and trigger buttons. The important buttons on the controller are labeled to provide visual feedback on their functions. In addition, the controller contains an internal vibrating mechanism, which can provide tactile feedback when one is playing a game on the platform.

An Object Josef Hates

An object that I well and truly hate is my old SHARP television set. The screen is less than 12 inches wide and extremely low resolution, impeding clear visual feedback from the object. The affordances of the TV are no better. The TV does not come with a remote control and the control buttons are located at the very bottom of the set, crammed right below the screen. A combination of the buttons’ small size, their identical color to the main shell and the visual distraction of the screen above them create a visual constraint against me easily locating and using them. In addition, the miniscule labels for the buttons are located immediately below them, making them impossible to see unless the buttons are almost at eye level

Laura’s objects

February 11, 2011

An object I love is my Magic Mouse by Apple. The affordances I found in this mouse was that its very easy and comfortable to my hand to use.

First, the scroll down motion with the mouse can be done by physically doing so with our finger touching the smooth surface rather than a wheel. There is no set spot as to were we can scroll the page; it can be done anywhere in the surface so that makes it extremely accessible to a lot of people.  The mapping of the finger actions is also very well done. One can simply swift their fingers to the left of right as well to go back (left) and to go forward (right) to navigate through internet, images, etc instead of having to move the computer’s arrow to the back button. In this sense it is also extremely accessible because one does not have to have precise hand coordination in order to navigate through the computer. I find that there are no physical constraints since the mouse fits so perfectly in my hand. It would be interesting to see what people with bigger or smaller hands find with this shape.

An object I hate is OCAD’s doors. There are a lot of physical constraints for me since I am not very strong. I often find that I have to put my foot in an opening of the door, then sort of kick it to open a little and pull it very hard to open it. I don’t have this problem going out; just going in. The mapping is good I suppose one pulls the handle because there is a pulling action but I feel that for me these doors should be automatic since most of us usually carry large pieces or assignments in our hands so we cannot use the handles to open the door. The affordance of the automatic door opening is terrible, even though (I think?) there is a ”handicap” button to open the door for the ”handicapped” sometimes I find when I’m carrying a lot of stuff I can’t even press this button and thus I have to get someone else to open the door or drop everything.

An Object Katie Loves, An Object Katie Hates

February 11, 2011

An object I love is my electric kettle. It’s probably the most used appliance in my kitchen. I use it a fair bit as I tend to drink 4-5 cups of hot beverages per day as well as using it for other meals on a regular basis. It’s affordances add to it’s ease of use. Its designed so that it’s comfortable for the average person to hold onto and pour. It’s evenly weighted so it doesn’t feel like it’s going to fall in the object you’re pouring the water into. The visibility is clear and is pretty direct when attempting to put to use. The opening mechanism for the lid is easily identifiable and simple to open; theres a wide opening for pouring water into the kettle; the spout is efficient and makes no mess when pouring; and the tab on the back of the kettle which initiates the starting of the boiling is very clear and visible. The rate at which it actually boils water is very efficient which is a thumbs up. Although this kettle is simply designed and easy to use, there is a certain constraint worth pointing out. A physical contraint would have to be that you cannot remove the kettle from it’s cord while filling it up with water, you have to take the kettle along with the cord and hope that you do not get the plug wet while putting water in the kettle. This could pose problems if one is careless. Other than that, it performs as well as a $25 kettle should!

An object I hate is my Brita water filter. It’s affordances? It filters the water. The physical constraints are much more apparent. First of all, to take the cover off to fill the container with water is a battle in itself. You have to try to literally dig your fingernails (if you have any) underneath the rim of the lid and pry the cover off as best you can. Second, the filtering area itself holds a minimal amount of water. You have to fill the filtering area and wait for that to filter into the filtered area and fill the filtering area again and repeat until you have a decent amount of filtered water just to enjoy a simple glass of it. Third, the weight of the object is so poorly distributed that most often I have to use both of my hands to pour a glass of water so that it doesn’t crash onto the glass. Not to mention the handle being very uncomfortable. Brita has since come out with a few other (hopefully higher functioning) models of water filters.

An Object Heejae Loves, An Object Heejae Hates

February 11, 2011

An object that I absolutely *love* is my 15-inch MacBook Pro. This is my first laptop in my life and got this last summer to prepare for university because I thought I would need a laptop to work on. (This is how my desktop looks like right now :D)

(Not only this one, but all laptops have limited affordances depending on the age groups of users.) To me, Mac has high affordances, and one of the reason is the keyboard. The depth of each button and space among them are very suitable for me as they are personalized for me. I couldn’t find any keyboards that fit me this well because my hands are small. This makes me keep typing and I don’t feel tired of typing at all.

Also the trackpad is very lovely because it has less physical constraint than other laptops; in other words, it allows more space to move around the arrow and to click anywhere I want to on the trackpad. With other laptops with regular trackpads, I had to use at least to fingers to move around the arrow and click something fast since there was a button to click something. However, for this one, the pad itself is the button. Mapping is very well done based on human behavior because the trackpad corresponds to my expectation like moving my finger on it making the arrow to move to right. Also it gives audible feedback when I click it; therefore, I know whether I’m actually clicking and dragging.

However, one thing that makes it difficult to use for some people is the lack of visibility about how-to-use trackpad or shortcuts on the keyboard. It doesn’t clearly indicate what they do for all different inputs before I take time experiencing them.

But other than that, I love everything about my MacBook Pro because its simple design and elegance.

An object that I *hate* is my lighter that I use everyday to lit up my candles. This type of lighters have a high physical contraint and are extremely hard to lit up for me because my thumb is not fast enough to turn the wheel thing on the top. That has to turn fast enough so that it creates the spark. Also they doesn’t have any visible instructions or images on themselves which make first-time users ask to others how to use these lighters–I didn’t know how to use it until I learned from my friend.

These have a poor affordance as well because it doesn’t have any features that make me want to grab this often. I use them because I need to; the don’t attract people to grab them just because they are physically affordable.

Also these don’t have any mappings involved since I would not associate turning the wheel with fire sparks if I did not have these lighters. Therefore, I can’t lit them up based on my behaviors. They don’t have any meanings written on the surface that they lit up, and I need to press the black part down so the fire lit up.

I just don’t like these lighters, but they are the cheapest, so I guess I will keep complaining every time I used them.

Exercise5: Objects that I love and hate.

February 11, 2011

The object that I LOVE,

iPhone 4

This is my first product from Apple and I’ve realized why people obsess over this phone so much. The size and shape afford perfectly to fit and comfortably hold it in one hand. For constraints, there are both physical and phycological constraints. Apple uses these limits clearly to eliminate errors that might occur during the interaction of their products. There are physical paths on the phone that users know how to control it right away. I think it is really smart of them, because they’ve actually made these physical pathes, also phycological. Because of their universal design, we receive these buttons as signs, conventions, and mapping. (ex. the button on the bottom centre does what and what..) Mostly, I love iPhone because of its great mapping design. We don’t need any instruction manuel for this phone. Just with my finger tips, I can press either of the buttons on the front or on top to start the phone. Then I can swipe to turn pages and press applications. Its all very intuitive so no one hardly gets this interaction wrong or confusing.

The object that I HATE,

WordPress Blogs

I know it is not an object, but I hate this blog very much. The mapping, as in buttons (links?), is very chaotic. the arrangements of these buttons are horrible. First of all, I  expected to see a “post”  button somewhere in our class blog, but I had to go all the way back to my OCAD email and click the link that got sent in the beginning of  semester and log  back in and then write this post. Second, the “add new post” page is really confusing. There are no hierarchy. When I was uploading a photo, I couldn’t find the right button for minutes. And then I find these little “grey texts” above all the”colourful” square buttons grouped together in the bottom, which it got all my attention. Also the photo does not show right away in this text box. There is another step, you have to press the “Insert into post” button. It does not catch any attention, and just sits there in a irrelevant  place with tiny texts mixed with all of the other “text” informations.  If there were phycological constraints in this interactions, it would have been a more pleasant experience, but there aren’t any. I  am a very visual person. And for most humans, it is way easier and faster to perceive in graphic or visual signs and symbols than texts and words. This overall website is horrible with visuality. When I am surfing trough OCAD WordPress blog, nothing really stands  out. they are all in texts and its can get really boring and tiring to read all these information.

Ainura Nifdalieva- Exercise 5

February 11, 2011

Love: Blow Dryer.

I totally love my blow dryer!!! I have it almost for 2 years and it hasn’t  disappointed me yet. I used to buy a new one almost every half a year before. But not only a quality, but also affordance is great since it corresponds with its intended function! The handle in a curve shape allows to carry it easily and tightly. The joint section between blow dryer’s body and cable is covered with additional wide short cable which prevents the thin long cable from entanglement and electric locking. Also, the special narrow cap distributes warm air evenly.In addition, my blow dryer contains  physical and psychological constraints. Because it has only 2 paths (physical constraints) , the interaction with the blow dryer is not confusing and complicated at all.The conventions (psychological constraints)  are easy to read and apply; the convex symbols allows to regulate the necessary temperature without looking at the conventions on the keys.

Hate: Drill  

I hate using my drill!!! It is very hard to interact with  because its affordance same as constraints are poorly organized. The button/key at the top,which is responsible for changing the speed of  the drill doesn’t move smoothly.The  hardest action is to change  screws because a lack of the constraints makes a user wonder which way to pull/turn/push the drill in order to achieve expected results.Finally, there is no any visible signal which would alert the user that drill’s battery is low and it’s time to charge it.

An Object Dayna Loves, An Object Dayna Hates

February 10, 2011

I HATE the ceiling fan in my room.

There are three chains hanging from the ceiling fan. The mapping allows me to assume, with some certainty, that the chains will directly affect the ceiling fan in some way. The variation in the baubles that hang off the ends of the chains are the only attempt the designer made towards good visibility. The physical constraints are clear; each chain can be pulled along one path, and can only be pulled to a certain distance. It also seems as though a hierarchical organization might have been employed, since the chain with the largest bauble is for turning the light on and off, which is likely to be the chain used most often, and therefore the most important, but there is still too much guesswork.

I had to pull each chain to figure out what it did, and even still, I’m not entirely sure. Immediate consequence is not always possible when it comes to a spinning fan, so there should be some sort of status indication of the current speed, as well as the other speed options.

Ease of use is negatively afforded due to the fact that the short chains hang from above and are just high enough that I have to stretch to reach them. The chains are inconvenient, so instead of using them as intended, I hang mobiles off them; an improper use which is afforded due to the nature of the chains.

The only thing I like about this this ceiling fan is the satisfying audible feedback when a chain is pulled.

I LOVE my Destination carry-on bag.

My purple carry-on bag is the perfect size. It is compact, therefore easy to carry with me on various modes of transportation. The design affords many ways to customize the bag, and has simple mapping with its direct control-effect relations. It is clear as to what pieces can be removed or adjusted, and there are both physical and psychological constraints, due to the variety of materials used for attachment (zippers, snaps, clips, velcro). The only problem with the ability to remove pieces from the bag, is the possible consequence of losing them, hence the missing velcro divider.

The fact that there are two flaps, one on each side of the bag, affords extremely easyaccess to everything in it. No digging required.

The only problem I have with the two flaps is that they are the same size and shape, so I can only tell if I’m opening the right side after I’ve opened it. This is poor visibility.

I have used this bag multiple times. I’ve never felt the need to use it in any way that was not intended, and I have always been able to fit in everything I could possibly want, for any length of plane ride.

LOVE, HATE – Josephine Lam

February 10, 2011

LOVE- Steve Madden Handbag

This is one of the objects in my room that I absolutely love. I have many handbags, but this one is my favorite.

In terms of affordance, the bag is designed to be worn either over the shoulder or hand held. One can easily tell the functions of this bag because of the straps coming out. The shorter straps are iconic signs of a handbag. The longer strap suggests that it should be worn over a longer part of your body- your shoulder. I personally prefer carrying it over my shoulders when the bag is more full. The design of the straps connecting to the rest of the bag is made out of metal, making it hard to rip off from the bag itself.

In terms of physical constraints, the bag is actually very effective for me because it is very spacious- I can wear it when I’m going to school, shopping, or even a night out with my friends. Because it is 15” by 11”, it is not designed to hold anything bigger or longer than that. Also, because it is not a backpack, I would avoid putting too much weight in it because the bottom may tear.

The way that the bag is mapped out can be improved by having more dividers or pockets. There is only one main pocket, which makes it hard to look for things in the bag, especially of its height. Organization will improve if there are more pockets or even a single divider because the bag is so big.

The mop is the object that I hate.
Its affordance is quite obvious, one will assume to grab it by the long handle and start cleaning the floor with it. The problem with my mop is that the handle is too skinny, making it hard to grip on to. The things coming out at the bottom of the mop is another physical constraint because they hang so loosely together, which makes it harder to clean all parts of the floor. Something more solid would be better.

An Object Jessica Loves, An Object Jessica Hates

February 10, 2011

I like: My Cast Iron Teapot

Being a lover of loose- left tea, one household item that I like is my cast iron teapot. This teapot affords boiling water for both loose- leaf and bagged tea. Like mine, most cast iron teapots now come with a stainless steel mesh infuser that is inserted into the boiling water just enough so the leaves sit overtop of the water but don’t sink into your tea.

Since the teapot comes with the mesh infuser, someone who drinks loose- leaf tea would understand that it could be used as well as not. Another good aspect is that the cast iron is covered in black enamel on the inside in order to prevent it from rusting and allowing it to last for a long time.

A psychological constraint that could occur with my cast iron teapot is that there is no indication that the lid shouldn’t be touched after the teapot has been on the stove. Some steel or ceramic teapots indicate a change in material with the lid, like a heavy plastic, that allows the person to touch it when the teapot is hot. However, with the cast iron teapot, the heat travels evenly throughout it, including the lid, which could cause a slight shock or burn.

I hate: My Central Vacuum System

An object that I absolutely hate using in my house is our central vacuum. My parents seem to think it’s the greatest thing but I long for one that is more convenient and is easy to move around the house.

The physical constraints involved in using this vacuum are enormous. Not only does it not allow you to reach certain areas of the house due to the lack of hose length and wall vents, but the hose is constantly tangled and is difficult to store. Also, the large, rectangular, steel base that attaches onto the end of the hose (used to sweep while sucking up the dust) is much too big to fit under certain furniture.

An object Jane likes, An object Jane hates

February 10, 2011

by Igyeong (Jane) Kim


An object i like is Hype Hair® Ceramic Instant Ultra-Hot Straightener, model number CS25HCS. I have had a lot of hair straighteners in my life, but this works best with my hard-to-straighten hair. A lot of people own a hair straightener at home. In terms of affordance, even for someone who are not familiar with hair straighteners can easily assume to hold it in their hands and squeeze the handle to make each sides come together. When it is on, the heat coming out from the surface of the heater warns the users that it is hot. Instead of using a hair dryer, this allows me to straighten my hair more easily without an annoying sound. When each sides of the heated irons clicks together with my hair in between, the hair is straightened. Just like brushing a hair, from top to bottom, it brushes down the hair while straightening it.

There was no physical constraint. Perhaps its limitation in how far I can walk around when it is plugged in could be the problem. Except for a washroom, sometimes the cord plug ins are not attached closely to the mirror, this gives the users hard time. The straighteners need to be used in the presence of the mirrors, or else the users can get an unexpected outcome.

The visible feedback of the on/off buttons and the temperature settings of the heat controls helps the users to easily use the straightener without reading the directions. It is also simply mapped out, similar to other hair straighteners. Some hair straighteners’ cord lines get tangled after curling my hair, but this allows 360 degree rotation. The temperature setting is hidden between each sides, making it look clean.


An object I hate is Shark® Cordless Pet Perfect™ II Hand Vac. This hand-held vacuum allows the user to easily carry it around the room. When not in use, it sits on the charging board. At first, I was impressed with how it is mapped. It is cordless and small. Everything it sucks in shows through the head of the vacuum, giving the user sense in how much they’ve used it and when to change the filter. Its affordance is clear to the users. The handle of the grip is evenly spaced out and the filter can be easily detached. However, because it is small, I have to filter the vacuum every now and then. Because it is designed to be an easy-to-carry vacuum, this flaw is expected to the users, but still it bothers us a lot. This physical constraint is critical.

When the battery is low, the sound of the vacuum is different than when it is charged somewhat. The sound will become weaker and the power of the vacuum will eventually get weaker also. This audible feedback gives the user an idea that it is useless to use it, so just waiting it to be fully charged is better. I didn’t want to wait for it to be charged and kept using it, but it didn’t suck in any wastes at all. It was better to just give up in the beginning.

An item K8 loves, and item K8 hates

February 9, 2011

The item that I love is my Wacom Bamboo tablet. It’s the original Bamboo, before the bamboo fun, or bamboo craft, or pen and touch or any of those things; just the good old basic one.

I love this tablet because it’s fairly intuitive to use, once you get it set up with your computer. The affordances are pretty clear. You know how to hold a pen, so you know how to hold the tablet pen because it looks like a pen. it becomes pretty clear that how to orient the tablet in relation to the computer.

The visible feedback is one of the things that make tablets easy to use. When positioning the pen over the tablet, the movements of your hand are directly mimicked by pointer on the computer screen.

The constraints of the tablet, are mostly psychological. You see that there is a square defined on the tablet and realize that when the pen is outside of the square, it will not function.

One of the downfalls of the tablet I’ve found, is when using newer operating systems, the tablet driver malfunctions and has to be reinstalled over and over again. Luckily, I’ve recently gone back to using Windows XP, so this isn’t really an issue for me anymore.

The item that I hate is the ghetto, old, gas stove that came with my apartment. Not only is it hard to use, but because of it’s firey nature, it’s a real health hazard.

The most obvious problem is the mapping of the elements in relation to their controls. They’re all just slapped on the front of the stove where not only do they have no real relation to the elements that they control, but you have to bend down to read them… not that reading them informs you of much. Low, Medium and High are the only words on the dials. No instructions on how to light the stove.

The auditory feedback is also lacking in the lighting department. The quiet “click” of the lighter can only be heard is the rest of the apartment is dead quiet. I often find myself bending down to look under the pot to see if the flame is on. This is especially a hazard, because if you just assume it’s lit, the stove will just pump gas into the tiny apartment.

My final major issue with the stove is that the dials don’t really correspond even with their function properly. when the dial is positioned at “low” the flame actually goes out, though the gas doesn’t completely turn off. Again, I find myself bending down to check whenever I adjust the dials. An easy way to fix this issue would be some kind of physical constraint stopping you from turning off the stove all the way or at least some kind of feedback letting you know that you’ve done so.

I do a lot of cooking and this stove just seems to have it out for me.

Exercise 5 Love/Hate – Tanya Ilina

February 8, 2011


Magnetic Glass Surface Aquarium Cleaner

I absolutely love my magnetic glass cleaner. It is a great tool for aquarium keepers. For those who are not familiar with aquarium keeping, any aquarium needs to be cleaned at least once a day from the green algae which grows on the inner surface of the aquarium glass. It was a very long and dreadful procedure since I’ve been using a scraper.

But the magnetic cleaner offers a better affordance for cleaning glass surface in terms of effectiveness and easiness.

First of all, I do not need to put my hands inside the tank, and that affords easy manipulations with the tool. The tool can clean at any depth since it is controlled from outside, and you are not constrained by the length of the tool handle or the length of your arm. The shape and the textured surface of the handle provide a comfortable grip and give a tactile sense of a better position of a hand.

You cannot confuse which part should go inside the tank and which should be outside; the handle is well recognized. There is, however, one more clue to this point: a part with a handle has a velvet fabric on the inner part which is no use in cleaning algae and would be a very weird choice of material which should perform in aqua medium. Whereas a part which goes inside the tank has a plastic coarse texture which consists of tiny hooks; they do a great job in cleaning the algae.

The inner block of the cleaner dose not scratch the surface of the glass since it is made of a soft plastic. Scratching was quite often with the scraper since it had a metal blade for cleaning. The magnetic cleaner is also safer for life stock and the inhabitants since it has no sharp edges.

I’m also happy with the cleaner in terms of visibility because I can see everything I’m doing. I can see where the glass is cleaned and where it is not; I can manipulate the cleaner with more confidence. Whereas when I am cleaning with the scraper, I usually look from above and cannot really say if the glass is clean and how far is the scraper from the rock or the coral.

In the end, another great feature of this tool is that the part which is inside the tank will come to the surface of the water if you take the handle away from the glass. But I usually keep the cleaner in the tank so it is always at hand.


LG Dishwasher

The object that I hate is an LG dishwasher. It looks really clean and crisp especially in our kitchen where all the cabinets are white so it adds more cleanness to it.

Flaws in the principles of visibility are the most obvious. One can never guess what is going on inside; it is even a problem to tell if the device is on. How long will it take to finish? Has it finished yet?  This dishwasher is also extraordinary silent which is good, but if you do not have any other signs to determine if the machine is on or off that is also a disadvantage. The only way to check its status is to open it. It is not very pleasant when the dishwasher goes through the drying stage and all the steam goes into your face the moment you open it. In this case physical constrains could be a good addition to the design.

The dishwasher has an audio feedback as it finishes its dirty job. The sound, however, is very hard to hear and very similar to the sound that our cook top has for the timer settings. So at first I was rushing to the cook top to check if there was some food that needed to be removed from the burner. It took me a while to figure out where the sound came from.

There are some issues with mapping as well. I’m still more attracted to the LG logo on the left as I am used to reading from left to right. I presumably read it as the first button I should press. Moreover, it looks more like an ON button in comparison with the actual ON button on the far right which does not attract too much attention. I found the ON button after reading all the buttons from left to right and trying to press them without result. The most used buttons from this panel are 6 buttons (see the picture) on the left and the ON button; it would be more convenient if they were closer together.

Above all, the dishwasher does a great job washing dishes (its primary function) and I appreciate the silence during this process as my bedroom is right next to the kitchen.

An Object Anna Likes, An Object Anna Hates

February 6, 2011

An item that I own and love is my Anna Sui wallet. Unlike my previous one, this wallet is much thinner and generally has a nicer aesthetic appeal to it.

Although sleeker in appearance, the Anna Sui does not disappoint in providing enough pockets for all my important cards, cash, etc. – a fantastic method for organization. Also, the fact that the wallet does not bend to close, means my dollar bills will thankfully stay flat – I hate awkwardly folded bills.

As well, I find that the way the inside is mapped out is ideal. Looking into the wallet’s interior, there are a set of four card-holders on both ends, optimizing the amount of cards one can hold. The pocket dividers next to those also have one clear card-holder (on each side) for more important items, like I.D.’s and driver’s licenses. And in the centre, the change pocket is clearly defined. I found that this symmetry within the wallet was a useful tool in figuring how to best organize my things.

The main flaw I find when using the Anna Sui, is trying to remove my cards as needed, from the cardholder. Due to the close proximity the slots have to the walls of the wallet, it can be quite tricky to retrieve a specific card without struggling.

An object that I hate is the Radioshack Colour-Changing Weather Forecaster that my brother owns. It is meant to act as an alarm clock as well as a weather forecaster, but there are a number of problems with the product – all of which make me want to throw it out a window.

It is important to note that our bedrooms are directly beside each other, so I can essentially hear what goes on in my brother’s room. This is problematic when the alarm goes off since we both have a separate sleep schedule. Unfortunately, the alarm clock will not only wake my brother, but me too. The sound the alarm makes can be easily compared to a ticking time-bomb sound effect heard in movies. The audible feedback is seriously disorienting and irritating, especially at 6am.

As well, I find that its shape is somewhat misleading. Other than the flat bottom, the product is largely spherical; this makes one assume that buttons can be found on the bottom of the item – if there are any. However, the product designer placed two buttons on the surface behind the display screen that do not aid in the visual feedback. One of them is actually used to turn off the ticking time-bomb alarm, and I continuously struggle for minutes on days the racket doesn’t wake my brother. I think that visibility plays a significant part with this issue, however, the problem also lies in the fact that the designer essentially removed the tactile aspect of the clock. The buttons are placed at the same level as the rest of the curving clock so you can’t tell where the clock surface ends and where the hidden buttons begin. I can’t even begin to explain how infuriating this is.

But the problems don’t stop there; I also came to notice that the item completely fails as a weather forecaster. It is meant to change colours that correspond with the weather, but almost everyday, it’s entirely wrong. On rainy days, it claims it is sunny; on a cloudy afternoon, it says that it is snowing . This is an entirely unreliable feature and frankly, I believe it to be a useless addition to the product. However, the colours are pretty and make a cool effect at night when all other lights are off.

An Object Jesse Loves, An Object Jesse Hates

January 28, 2011

An object I love is my STAEDTLER Mars technico 780 C lead holder. I have 4 of them. One I’ve had since 1996, and the rest I’ve acquired later. In each I keep a different weight of lead: 6H, 4H, 2H and HB.

Affordances are subtle yet clear. The knurled end gives a tactile indication of where to best hold the lead holder; the clip keeps it secure in my pocket protector (ha, ha). As we expect, the end serves as a push-button to advance the lead. More unusually, it also serves as a sharpener, a possibility subtly suggested by its size (the same as the lead) and clarified by a diagram on the Staedtler website.

When the end is depressed, the lead advances. One problematic aspect of the design is that unlike most lead holders, the lead does not advance incrementally. Instead, the push-button opens the jaws at the end that grip the lead, potentially allowing the lead to fall out of the pencil (an expensive error, at 2 bucks a lead). Once learned, it becomes natural to guard against this with your other hand when advancing a lead, and the infinite adjustability allows the lead to be sharpened to both a sharp and rounded tip, but perhaps a physical constraint could be introduced that prevents the lead from falling out completely.

There’s no way to automatically differentiate between the different weights of lead, as the only available colour is blue. I’ve added an ugly label made of masking tape to each, which provides crude visible feedback, but it’s an ugly solution at best.

[Disclaimer: I’ll concede that I don’t actually use a lead-holder much anymore. So perhaps there’s some wistful nostalgia in my praise.]

An object I hate is my Sony Ericsson W810i mobile phone. It seems clever, at first: I’m impressed with the fact that the camera elements are mapped to a conventional camera. To operate the camera, you turn the phone sideways, which places the shutter button exactly where you expect it to be. By taking advantage of my existing camera interaction model, Sony has made it easier to take pictures. . . if I could figure out how to turn the camera on. There are no physical constraints to keep me from pressing the buttons when the phone is in my pocket, and these affordances are way too small in the first place: I’m forever turning the walkman on when I want to answer a call, as the buttons for these functions are right beside each other.

The audible feedback is excruciating: why can’t mobile phones come with a normal ring tone? Why does my phone have to sound like a cat? I know, I know, I can download new ring tones – perhaps one of you can show me how.

[Disclaimer: As you’ve all seen, I now have an iPhone. RIP, W810i.]

Exercise Five: An Object you Love, an Object You Hate

January 28, 2011

In your home, find two functional objects: one that you love, and one that you hate.

Make a brief post to the blog where you describe your love/hate relationships, using (as much as possible) the tools and vocabulary introduced in the Basic Principles of Interaction Design presentation. Before you post, download and review the following terms in Universal Principles of Design: Affordance, Constraint, Mapping and Visibility.

Be sure to include photographs of your objects in your post. Make sure the photographs adequately represent the sources of your love/hate relationships.

Exercise Five is due at 12:00 on Friday, February 11.