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Friday, June 24, 2011

User experiences with HDTV and (not) hating users

A couple of days ago, a picture post on reddit turned into a massive comment thread where people ranted about others not using their TVs properly. Besides the initial complaint of "they watch SD channels on their HD set", there were many more things. All of these complaints are things which have only appeared in the past couple of years, as TV has changed from a fairly stable state to the mess that it now is.

Now you have to worry about aspect ratios, zoom buttons, letterboxing, whatever you call letterbox type bars on the left and right, content providers who screw it up and make it even worse, and so on. For a while, all of this just worked out. You had your 525 lines of analog NTSC stuff, and for the most part, you'd watch it and worry about the content, not the presentation.

There's more about this reddit post. It's possible to learn something else from it. Basically, you can look at these posts and take the position of "heh, yeah, those people are stupid for mis-using their TV like that". That puts you in the same bucket as most of the user-hating engineers of the world, and you're done. You should never attempt to interface with actual humans.

Alternatively, there is the angle where you see all of this pain and suffering and you think, "someone should do something about this to make people happier". You have to start from the position where these people are not being deliberately dense, and certainly aren't coordinating their actions. If it turns out that a bunch of people have similar problems with technology, then that tech is probably broken.

Long story short, if issue X brings pain to person Y, and if the fact that it happens doesn't "reach" you emotionally, don't even try to compete in a service industry. Just go back in your cave and grunt when you want some more meat.