Thursday, June 14, 2007

And People Look Down On Me For Not Reading This Shit

“We found that how people use chargers is very different,” she said. “For her, she wants it to be instantly understandable.”

from a NYT article on women and technology. (via Shrub)

Yeah, because all the guys I know are looking for any excuse to do more work.

Oh, wait, was she instead implying that women are stupid?


Since the paragraph immediately preceding this little gem was:

....the $20 Easy Charger, is aimed at women, who usually end up managing the household’s batteries....Large light-emitting-diode readouts spell out what the countertop charger is doing at every phase of the charging cycle. Focus-group testing indicated that men were turned off by the Easy Charger, especially in how its readouts appeared to tell them what they thought they already knew, said Mandy Iswarienko, the brand manger for rechargeable products.

Not only would that appear that she was indeed implying that women are stupid*, but it also looks as though she may be right.

Or it would, if it wasn't for the little bit that Marriott (the author of the article) managed to mention without bothering to note that it had any significance.

Let's read that first line again.

...the $20 Easy Charger, is aimed at women, who usually end up managing the household’s batteries.

(emphasis mine)

So, let me get this straight, men don't need all those 'readouts [that appear] to tell them what they thought they already knew" - but it's women who manage the apparently tricky task of managing household batteries?

(ps - how do the men think they know what phase of the cycle the charger is in without a readout - psychic energy?)

Here's the charger in question, by the way.

Note how the "readouts" are vastly different from half the chargers I've ever used, what with the words "done" and "charging" printed right on the two light covers and everything, rather than a changing picture of a battery. That's just....revolutionary!

In all seriousness, I do think it's a pretty smart design choice, but I fail to see how printing words on the little lights suddenly means that the charger is "spell[ing] out" what phase it's in. Except in the literal sense of actually using letters, of course, but I don't think "spell it out" was meant literally in this case.

Although mostly I'm still gawping at the idea that they spell out "every phase of the cycle." There's two "phases" - "charging" and "not charging." It's not, um, like a dishwasher or a washer/dryer, which actually do have several phases.

For comparison, here's the "guy" charger, the Dock and Go:

So, they did technically "spell it out" in the sense that the "guy" charger has just a light, no words. Presumably the light changes color and/or blinks. Which means that "spell it out" really means "you don't need to know some special code to figure out if it's done or not." (The phone chargers at work do this, and I can never remember what is supposed to mean what. Except that red means that nothing is working.)

So really, it's not that guys like stuff to be hard, it's that 1) the guys they tested like to pretend stuff is harder than it is and 2) the women they tested were less likely to be familiar with the semi-standard flashing light code that many chargers use.

Which reminds me of the time I wanted to recently smack some sense into a co-worker...but that's a story for another day. Or the next post anyway.

In any case, this is pretty typical for the article.

“If a man brings home a big whooper of a television, the woman is going to say, ‘That’s stupid; it’s too big for the wall,’ ” he said.

Mr. Brady said that men and women tended to have radically different approaches to televisions in the home. “Men want the TV to dominate the room,” he said “Women look more at the TV to not be the centerpiece of the room, but more of an accent piece.”

Um, maybe it's just me, but I think my Dad's and my brother's big screen TVs are stupid because the are too big for the room in the sense that the rooms they are in are not big enough to let you sit far enough away to be comfortable, not that they visually dominate the room. (And I have excellent peripheral vision. And I love architecture.)

That, plus the fact that they are way too high a quality for a lot of my older DVD box sets, which end up looking supremely crappy on them. (Yes, I'm talking about you, Buffy Season 1.) It's like the time the whole family went to go see Fantasia 2000 at an IMAX theatre (yes, I'm serious. and yes, you can stop laughing now.) I could totally see the pixels on all the computer animation. Bigger is not always better.

The combo TV-DVD players, which usually cost $800 to $1,000, are equipped with auto wake, permitting users to turn the television on by simply slipping a DVD into it. Knowing that one does not have to fumble with a multi-button remote control becomes a subtle signal to buy.

Plus there's that little bit about not having to go searching for the magically disappearing remote just to watch a damn movie. Now if only they'd stop being idiots and go back to putting all the basic buttons onto the actual TV/DVD player as well as the remote, I'd be so much happier.

“Women are busier than men,” she said. “I don’t love technology enough to sit down and spend two hours with a manual like it’s some great puzzle. Men get great gratification out of that. I’d rather read a book.”

Again, you think maybe it's not so much the men liking it more, but the men being less likely to be stuck doing it when it is no longer fun? Seeing as how it's "women, who usually end up managing the household batteries" and "women [who] are busier than men" and all.

But alas, how quickly we forget the humorous anecdotes of Dad going not so quietly ballistic late into the night on Christmas Eve - when his tinkering is made less fun by the practicalities of actually having to get shit done.

*possibly the writer was, but that drivel sounded like it came straight from some idiotic marketing/PR press release.

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