Remotes for Grandma


Yes! This would make my half-dozen remote controls much easier to use! Come to think of it, we may have just discovered why I don't watch much TV anymore. From the book Designing Interactions by Bill Moggridge. Link -via Divine Caroline

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Great story, Nicholas!

My problem is that the labels are too small to read.

I had a remote from a cable company one time that I thought (at first) was a paragon of simplicity. There was no numeric keypad, since there were only 12 or so channels. But wait! There was one button for "on" and another for "off". Duh. There was a "channel up" button and a "channel down" button. You don't need both of those unless you have enough channels to necessitate a numeric keypad.
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I should have tried that! Years ago, I lived a few km away from a very old (90+) lady who constantly needed people to open jars, rake leaves, etc. One time she was interviewed by a local cable station. It took a lot of explaining afterward to get her to understand that, since neither she nor her friends (nor I) had cable TV, we couldn't watch her interview as it was broadcast. But they would give her a videotape of the interview. This resulted in me explaining videotape to her, then driving her to a store so we could shop for a VCR. (I picked out one that was very basic, with a simple remote control.) I hooked everything up for her, showed her how it worked, and wrote simple directions with pictures.

Not simple enough! She'd click random buttons without looking, not have any idea how to turn things on/off/down, and I'd get calls from her in which I could hear deafening static roaring in the background. Then I tried painting circles around the buttons, but since she insisted on looking at the TV while poking buttons it did no good. I got a really simple universal remote for her --- still no improvement.

Eventually she got tired of watching her one videotape (Not being a movie person, the concept of renting videos was anathema to her) and decided the VCR was more trouble than it was worth, since I seemed to be the only person she knew who could get it to work properly. So she had me unplug it, wrap it in a bag, put it in another bag... wait! It turned out she didn't want anyone to know she was throwing away a VCR, because they might take it, plug it in and watch her! Although she could use an audio-cassette recorder/player just fine, I could not explain that the VCR worked on the same principle --- unless the cassette is in the machine, nobody can watch her interview. Anyway, my family acquired a rather bare-bones "new" VCR that day.

To her credit, I must add (because it really sounds like I'm bad-mouthing her although I'm just relating a humorous anecdote about "future shock"), she spoke five languages fluently and at one time had run a service whereby one could learn a foreign language over the telephone. We all have our strengths & weaknesses!
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This is too, too funny, but quite accurate.

I used to put stickers on the remote for mom, and tape over the channel up/down on the TV. She never could figure out why she had to have the TV on 3 to watch from the cable box.
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