29 June 2023

Old fart experience with new toy.

I am reasonably handy with tech stuff on a consumer level. Was a relatively early adopter of personal computing. Waited a bit on smartphones but got one before 2013. Can usually make stuff work, even semi-experimental music software like Jamkazam, which I used a lot during COVID to play music over the internet with close to zero latency. Which statement in and of itself proves my point, since most folks have no idea what that even means. 

But I bought a Sonos smart speaker on sale to play music from streaming, primarily, through WiFi rather than bluetooth. I spent an hour or so following the instructions but it didn't work through WiFi and sounded only fair through bluetooth. So I packed it up and am sending it back. Satisfaction guaranteed; I ain't satisfied. 

My only reason for this little rant is the observation that high tech appliances these days are not really very user friendly (too often), and, in particular, are just not designed for older people who didn't grow up with computers and can't easily read 5 pt. sans serif type on a booklet 4" x 4" that contains about 3000 words, some of which are actually important. Usually I power through all that; I'm pretty good at intuiting control designs and making stuff work through trial and error. But this thing just didn't work as intended after numerous tries and careful reading of the instructions, and to the extent it did work, it was difficult to find the music I wanted to hear using their App and the sound was just OK. And the damn thing kept losing connection to WiFi and had to be "found" again. I'd heard one of these in someone else's house and I thought it was surprisingly good, but in my own home and the best I could do to get it working, it was crap. 

I have to admit I sometimes pine just a little for the old days, when you took something out of the box, plugged it in, and it worked. Or, even setting up a stereo system with all the speaker wires and everything... that was a bit of a hassle, but it was easy to understand and after 20 min., it was fine, worked completely intuitively, and didn't involve deciding to "live with" unsatisfactory half-measures. I find that phones, laptop computers, tv streaming devices, etc. almost all work with some issues; some frequent glitches and need to restart, relocate wireless connections, etc. My verdict: there's a way to go to make the "internet of things" that we keep hearing about actually workable. 

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