Technology Is Child’s Play

Monday 16 July 2012

Throughout my career, I can remember the many times I have shrugged my shoulders or shook my head in astonishment as a more “experienced” member of the team struggles to come to terms with finding the next and previous buttons on PowerpPoint, double clicks frantically when something is slow or seems incapable of getting the projector to show their screen… or (and I could go on for hours here) can’t work out how to transfer a file in skype… drag and drop perhaps?

As a former hardcore developer turned manager, turned company founder, I now see in myself some of the things that have annoyed me so much in the past about others…

I look back fondly at Windows 3.1.

I remember with affection the joy of File Manager and the ease of navigating from folder to folder.

I have good memories of Windows XP. Much better than NT as my PC games had a better chance of working — which was a major plus! Bad memories of Vista (a disaster) and a growing like of Windows 7 Professional.

My first proper phone was a Blackberry. Great for email, great keyboard, not bad at all! Then there was my first iPhone — a revelation. How easy is that! One button, touch screen, synchronises with my laptop. Great…

Then something happened… either I’d turned overnight into a technophobe, old age had caught up with me, or as I would like to think, I had become a grumpy perfectionist who wanted the best of the best, not the latest.

I can trace it back to my dalliance with Mac.

I went for the sexy looking, lightweight MacBook Air. Being familiar with Unix, the idea of having access to a Unix shell was appealing. Also, I had heard how good the software was on a Mac and you never get viruses. What could be better than not having to de-install MacAfee Antivirus when I boot up my new laptop for the first time?

Unfortunately, it all went sour the first time I tried to get some software to run as a service. Sure, I knew how to do this using “cron” but I wanted to do it the easy way. What do I click on? Alas, I have to create a workflow script. Not impossible but annoyingly tedious and less than obvious.

On a day to day basis, I open and close files and navigate around my desktop. Who on earth came up with “Finder”. I hate it with a passion! Bring back File Manager, bring back Windows 3.1

I then thought I’d try a Samsung Galaxy and test out Android. I like Google for its sheer simplicity so what do I get with my new Android phone? 3 buttons, not one. I plug it into my laptop and I need to “mount” the phones file system? OK, I can handle this but what the? Things stop working so I’m forced to upgrade my OS to “crispy biscuit” or “ice cream sundae” or something. Afterwards, I end up with a load of trial apps on my machine I never wanted. I feel conned and ripped off even though it cost me nothing.

Things have changed. Us consumers want the best and expect it. If we don’t get it we move on. It’s no longer about loyalty it’s about freedom of choice, best practice and value for money.

As an owner of a software company, I am increasingly aware of the demands of the consumer and focus they put on usability and ease of use. We have just ported our Business Intelligence software onto the iPhone (and Android I hasten to add) and iPad and have tried hard to make things easy enough for an 80-year-old to use.

We have to make things easy because I’m getting to that age when anything that is remotely irritating to use can go in the bin.

I’ll leave all the new wave stuff to the kids! Bring back File Manager that’s all I can say!

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