More Curmudgeonly Smartphone Bashing

Published at 11:47 on 28 June 2017

A few months ago I had the opportunity to use an iPhone. Unbelievably, the thing took eight keystrokes to simply hang up an in-progress call. Eight! I am not making this up:

  1. After 30 seconds or so of idleness, the phone locks itself due to security measures. (The phone for some reason considers itself to be “idle” even though it is actively in use for a call at the time.)
  2. Given virtually all calls last longer than 30 seconds, that means you must first get the attention of the now-locked iPhone. Press the one and only actual mechanical button offering tactile feedback the device has (1 keystroke, 1 in total).
  3. It is now time to enter the unlock code for the phone (4 additional keystrokes, 5 in total, and counting).
  4. Despite the device being a phone, and a phone call being actively in place, for some reason you are now in the phone’s default mode, which has nothing to do with making or managing telephone calls. Tap the icon that puts the phone in phone mode (1 additional keystroke, 6 in total, and counting).
  5. Despite there being a phone call actively in place, when you enter phone mode you are placed in the mode where you can make an additional call, not for managing the existing in-progress call. You must manually select the current call (1 additional keystroke, 7 in total, and counting).
  6. You are finally now presented with the desired icon to click on that will end the call. Click on it (1 final keystroke, grand total of 8).
  7. Congratulations! You have at long last managed to hang up.

By the time that’s all done, odds are at least 50-50 the other party has long since hung up already and the call has timed out before you could hang it up.

Why would I want to have a device that packs so many non-phone duties into itself, and implements its total set of duties so poorly, that using it for its primary intended purpose is then severely compromised? The nearly 40-year-old 2500DM set on my desk never has firmware to update, will never radically and unexpectedly change its user interface, and has a set of hook switch buttons that are always there waiting for me to use them on a moment’s notice whenever I want to hang up on a call. Even the cheapest flip phone has an END button that’s always there waiting for me to use it. Neither phone decides in the midst of an in-progress call of all things that it’s “idle” and now needs a password to be unlocked.

The killer came when I realized that this is an iPhone, and Apple has a well-deserved reputation for the best-designed system software. That is how the best smartphone on the market implements its user interface. The other smartphones are almost certainly worse.

Why I Dislike Recruiting Firms (One More Example)

Published at 19:39 on 16 June 2017

So, I see a job listing. It’s obviously posted by a recruiting firm, but it’s a distinctly better than average match, and I haven’t sent anything to such people on a long time, so I decide to give it a try.

It almost immediately prompts a callback. There’s just something sleazy about the level of eagerness in the guy’s voice, and how it’s hard to get a word in edgewise. Finally he calms down enough to where I can ask a few questions.

At that point, it becomes clear that:

  • No such job actually exists; he just crafted the job description to prompt responses and pad his list of existing contacts (he even admits as such), and
  • Most of his clients are in Bellevue, despite his listing the job as being in “Seattle.” Bellevue is an unacceptably long commute for me, so I deliberately ask Indeed to search for jobs “only in” Seattle proper.

And that’s why I have such a dim view of recruiting and consulting agencies, and as such generally shun them. They misrepresent.

Two Incompetent Plumbers

Published at 08:37 on 8 June 2017

So, I’m in this basement where a washing machine has just been installed. Two plumbers are there, having just added the supply and drain lines for the machine. There is also a washtub sink in the basement.

The basement lies below the level of the sewers, so both washtub and washing machine drain to a small tank which has a lift pump in it. Note I said small: the tank was intended to serve the washtub sink only and has not been upgraded to reflect the new washing machine. I point out to the plumbers that it’s almost certain to overflow and flood, and they both dismiss my claim, pointing out my lack of professional experience as a plumber.

The first load of clothes is loaded and the machine started. When it reaches the end of the wash cycle and drains, sure enough, the tank overflows. The plumbers express surprise about this mystifying and unexpected (to them) outcome, and propose solutions that fall short of expanding either the tank and or pump capacity sufficient to prevent further such incidents.

I point out that at minimum, the tank needs to be able to accommodate the maximum volume expected to be drained from the sink at any one time plus the volume of water from the machine, or the pump must be able to accompany the sum of the two corresponding flow rates. My objections are dismissed; there is insufficient space for a large tank and it is considered too costly to replace the line from the pump with a larger one.

At this point I wake up.

Getting Inked?

Published at 21:55 on 3 June 2017

I was at the grand opening of BARN today and a woman first commented on my style (or would that be my anti-style) then asked me what tattoos I had. “None” was my answer. I’ve never managed to come up with a design I’d want to have permanently on my body, you see.

To which she suggested the text of some quote that was meaningful to me. At that point, I knew immediately what the quote should be. It’s somewhat long, and would have to coil around my arm a bit, but I’ve seen tattooed texts that do that on other people and they are often very attractive. (I am not going to divulge the quotation ahead of time.)

It’s all very early in the process, so this is something that may well never happen. The process is so difficult to reverse that it must be considered irreversible. The regret from a little extra delaying and consideration pales in comparison to the regret for having it done at all.