Tuesday, July 3, 2007

SWMBO Compliance Certification

Weighting the priorities is the most delicate task there is.

On one side, you have a bunch of unhappy people, some of them complaining of being hot, some of being cold.

On the other hand, you have The Other Decision Maker which notifies you in no ambiguous terms that those blue wires on that ivory wall (beautiful combination, if you ask me) won't be tolerated. At least no longer than a week. Or a month. Or a year. Or two.

Depending on how well and how fast you can silence the unhappy gang. You do it fast, you're forgiven.

Until the time when you're not home, but Someone Very Important feels a need to change the setpoint. Right there and then.

Which brings you to the point of explaining that you have to take that remote, press this button five times, that button three times, then... wait, you've just run out of their attention span - one of the kids fell into the pool.

So much for advanced user interfaces.

Squeezebox Black

I'm still toying with the idea to use my Squeezebox, along with a SlimServer plugin, say, xAP for SlimDevices, but by now it is painfully clear that the only person who would be able to ever use that interface, and/or willing to use it, would be me. Though scratch that, I'd probably go directly to web interface. More about that later.

Honeywell T87 Round®

So apparently the Honeywell Round® is still the best thing since sliced bread. Granted, the mechanical one had a drawback that caused the worst kind of thermostat wars: one could swing it all the way up or down in one swift motion, and people on both extremities of the age span could have trouble applying controls in moderation - but it was cheap and simple.

Honeywell CT8775 Round®

And, no matter how badly does a digital thermostat in a round body freaks you out, there are decades of usability research behind it. It solves the task at hand perfectly.

Until you run into something as simple as a heating/cooling schedule. Which shatters your interaction model completely. Not even talking about zoning.

Carrier Infinity control panelHoneywell TH8320

Now, you either have to add more buttons (left), or use soft keys (right). The former solution makes the design more expensive and less durable, the latter makes ergonomics more complicated (but at the same time, more flexible).

In other words, you probably can't get the best of both worlds (simplicity and flexibility) in one package, a compromise is required. Most sensible compromise seems to be in a form of arbitrarily complicated master panel that one has to spend a week programming, and a very few critical functions and overrides exposed to the end user.

To be continued...

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