People expect technology to suck because it actually sucks @ tonsky.me

Jay Sitter in his article People expect technology to suck writes about people who keep using tech despite heavy annoyances like very dim screen or constant popups and not doing anything about it. He concludes:

If my screen were at 5% brightness, or if I couldn’t use my phone without hitting “Cancel” every five seconds, I’d spend hours or days on Google trying to find a solution if that’s what it took. That these people mostly just lived with it means that these problems couldn’t have been markedly worse than technology has already been for them historically.

These examples are a bit extreme, but it is important to remember that they are real. This is not an exaggregation. This happened.

In discussion on Twitter people keep replying that those users should’ve:

  • do something about it,
  • look for a replacement,
  • or are just being lazy.

And I would agree: if it was just a single case, of course, they should’ve done something about it! The point is, this happens all the time, every day, multiple times a day, and one person can dedicate only so much time to dealing with it. The stream of minor annoyances is so large people just got tired of dealing with it! And no, there’re no better alternatives.

To prove my point, I decided to record every broken interaction I had during one day. Here’s the full list I wrote yesterday, September 24, 2020:

On iPhone:

  • iOS 14 discharged phone battery 80% to 20% during the night (no activity, much worse than iOS 13).
  • YouTube.app randomly scrolled to the top.
  • Instagram reset scroll position after locking/unlocking the phone.
  • Race condition in keyboard in DuoLingo during typing.
  • AirPods just randomly reconnected during use.
  • Shortcuts.app stopped reacting to touch for ~30 sec.
  • Wondered why my apps were not up to date, found nine apps waiting for manual button click.
  • Workflowy cursor obscured by Workflowy toolbar, typing happened behind keyboard:
  • AirPods showed connected notification, but sound played from the speaker.
  • Passcode unlock worked for the third time only.
  • Overcast widget disappeared while switching to another app.
  • YouTube forgot video I was just watching after locking/unlocking the phone.
  • YouTube forgot the resolution I chose for the video, keep resetting me to 360p on a 750p screen.

On macOS:

  • 1 hour lost trying to connect 4k @ 120 Hz monitor to MacBook Pro.
  • Workflowy date autocomplete keeps offering me dates in 2021 instead of 2020.
  • In macOS context menu, “Tags” is in smaller font:
image
  • Transmission quit unexpectedly.
  • Magic Trackpad didn’t connect right away after boot, showed the “No Trackpad” window.
  • Hammerspoon did not load profile on boot.
  • Telegram stuck with one unread message counter.
  • Plugging iPhone for charging asks for a software update.

Web:

  • Dragging an image from Firefox doesn’t work until I open it in a separate tab.
  • YouTube fullscreen is disabled in an embed.
  • Slack loaded, I started typing a response, then it reloaded.
  • Twitter was cropping important parts of my image so I had to manually letterbox it.
  • TVTime failed to mark an episode as watched.

Apple TV:

  • Infuse took 10 minutes to fetch ~100 file names from smb share.

This all happened on a single random day! And not a particularly busy one. And I didn’t include anything I did for work that day (VirtualBox alone can produce a list like this in 20 minutes). And I am a professional software developer with 20 years behind the screen every day, learning how to tame it. I imagine I have my setup already organized way more thoroughly than an average person. I am also using the most expensive Apple products and staying strictly inside the Apple ecosystem.

If I decided to invest time into thinning this list down, I could theoretically do what? Update some software somewhere so I can charge my iPhone without a popup showing every time? Buy a new MacBook that works with the monitor? I guess I can do something about Hammerspoon, although I already invested two hours into it and didn’t solve it. But I have a feeling it’s solvable.

Anyways, that will reduce this list from 27 down to 24! At least 24 annoyances per day I have to live with. That’s the world WE ALL are living in now. Welcome.