Exhibit A


I’ve been reading Neal Stephenson’s essay (from 1999) about the history and future of the Operating System. It’s a mixed bag. A bunch of his predictions were hilariously wrong, and he lays the cleverness on too thick, but he dialouges on E Unibus Pluram and has just about convinced me to learn Unix.

So this afternoon I read the chapters dealing with GUI and its impact outside strict computing platforms. One of his major complaints was that GUI and touch screen is becomming a default interface for any device that wants to seem current. He has a funny riff on how ludicrous it would be to try to drive a car with one.

So then I put the book down and go to the gym. At a new location, for me.

Their stationary bikes are almost impossible to use.

The Resistance buttons and the Time buttons are afterthoughts in an HUD with a rendered racetrack graphic in the middle, a cgi of a skinny brunette rider on one side, and a "heart rate meter" graphic on the other.

Your heart rate has entered the Danger Zone

I can see how to control the plasma screen televison above the handlebars, and how to plug in and control my ipod using the HUD … instead of the buttons already on the ipod … and I can see the brightness control for the goddam LCD on which all of this non-excercise, non-bike bullshit is displayed.

But it takes me ten minutes to figure out how to make it start a clock, and let me push pedals.

Well played, villian from the Command and Conquer games.

Well played.



One thought on “Exhibit A”

  1. wait til you read the bible!

    I loved that essay though. Read it my freshman year and immediately went to install RedHat (back when it still was RedHat) on my computer. And immediately wiped every paper I had written in HS and all the porn I had collected up to that point.

    I agree that he misses the point, though. command line programs have interfaces just as much as GUI programs do – and if possible, a poorly designed command line program is worse. (wait, the program has 45 different switches, 15 of which are mandatory? wtf…). I doubt that exercise bike would have been any easier to use if you had to hop on and type at the keyboard

    exerbike -t 60 -w hills -c NBC -m random


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