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Works at Dinosaur Comics Lives in Toronto TOTALLY MARRIED Speaks all of the languages ever Born on October 20th
I feel like the people in charge of user experience for microwaves don’t get very many fan letters, and that is too bad, because they do some good work, so this is mine.
A HISTORY OF MY MICROWAVES AND THEIR USER INTERFACES.
Our first microwave microwaved food well (I remember my dad, an engineer, testing that it was as powerful as it should’ve been with a glass of water and a thermometer, running it for a few seconds and then measuring the temperature change) but the interface was, in retrospect, incredibly crappy. Let’s say you wanted to microwave something for two minutes! You would press:
COOK TIME
2
0
0
START
Five keystrokes! SHEESH. What am I, made of keystrokes?  Am I a collection of keystrokes walking around??  Our next microwave came about 10 years later when we moved, and this one I really loved because it had a QUICK MINUTE button.  It was a revelation.  Press that and you don’t have to press COOK TIME or START! So two minutes became
QUICK MINUTE
2
Down to two keystrokes! And though I was legitimately happy that the keystroke burden had been reduced (I was a nerdy kid; I still use a HP 41-CX calculator not just because they WENT TO SPACE, but because it uses Reverse Polish Notation and RPN saves you keystokes which allows for more efficient calculation!) But if you wanted 2:30 of cook time, you’d have to hit
COOK TIME
2
3
0
START
which means we’ve made some progress by patching a new interface on top of things, but the old problems still remain.
In our new house *I* got to choose the microwave, and I spent some time looking at the boxes, imagining what sort of interface could be built into them given the options available on their keypads, and only after checking to see if the boxes mentioned how good their UIs were (they didn’t).  And Massive Props to the people at GE who designed my microwave, because it is just about optimally efficient. If you want to cook for two minutes, you press this:
2
and you’re off to the races. Yes! Finally a microwave that recognizes that 99% of the time all you’ll be using a microwave for is microwaving things! No ‘cook time’ nonsense. AND, for bonus points, this is entirely intuitive AND could reasonably be discovered by accident by someone who just wants to warm up their food.  NICE.
But what if you want 2:30 of cooking? WELL. You can punch in 2:30 with extra keystrokes but for POWER USERS / UI NERDS like myself, they have a +30 button, which I love for a lot of reasons. So you can type
2
+30
and you’ll get 2:30 of cook time. I have some magical thinking in me that microwave popcorn cooks best when it’s not interrupted while cooking, so +30 is a lifesaver there too: press it at any point in the cooking process and you get 30 more seconds of time. And yes, press it alone and you get 30 seconds of cooking RIGHT OFF THE BAT.
Perfection.
My only quibble is that the kitchen timer function assumes you’ll be timing for 10 or more minutes, and so to time for 7 minutes (which is the perfect amount of time for macaroni and cheese) you have to hit
KITCHEN TIMER
0
7
START
instead of just 7, because if you did that you’d get 70 minutes. BUT I recognize that it’d be hard to allow for 70 minute timing if you did it otherwise, and it only bothers me because I cook macaroni and cheese a lot (ladies).
Anyway. Just about every time I use my microwave I’m sincerely happy to see such a refined, efficient, but still flexible user interface, and I wanted to share. If you’re interested, it’s a GE microwave, but I dunno the model.
THUS CONCLUDES THE NERDIEST TUMBLR POST I HAVE EVER MADE, AND YES, I HAVE REBLOGGED A 16-BIT ANIMATED GIF OF THE ENTERPRISE D BEFORE

I feel like the people in charge of user experience for microwaves don’t get very many fan letters, and that is too bad, because they do some good work, so this is mine.

A HISTORY OF MY MICROWAVES AND THEIR USER INTERFACES.

Our first microwave microwaved food well (I remember my dad, an engineer, testing that it was as powerful as it should’ve been with a glass of water and a thermometer, running it for a few seconds and then measuring the temperature change) but the interface was, in retrospect, incredibly crappy. Let’s say you wanted to microwave something for two minutes! You would press:

  • COOK TIME
  • 2
  • 0
  • 0
  • START

Five keystrokes! SHEESH. What am I, made of keystrokes?  Am I a collection of keystrokes walking around??  Our next microwave came about 10 years later when we moved, and this one I really loved because it had a QUICK MINUTE button.  It was a revelation.  Press that and you don’t have to press COOK TIME or START! So two minutes became

  • QUICK MINUTE
  • 2

Down to two keystrokes! And though I was legitimately happy that the keystroke burden had been reduced (I was a nerdy kid; I still use a HP 41-CX calculator not just because they WENT TO SPACE, but because it uses Reverse Polish Notation and RPN saves you keystokes which allows for more efficient calculation!) But if you wanted 2:30 of cook time, you’d have to hit

  • COOK TIME
  • 2
  • 3
  • 0
  • START

which means we’ve made some progress by patching a new interface on top of things, but the old problems still remain.

In our new house *I* got to choose the microwave, and I spent some time looking at the boxes, imagining what sort of interface could be built into them given the options available on their keypads, and only after checking to see if the boxes mentioned how good their UIs were (they didn’t).  And Massive Props to the people at GE who designed my microwave, because it is just about optimally efficient. If you want to cook for two minutes, you press this:

  • 2

and you’re off to the races. Yes! Finally a microwave that recognizes that 99% of the time all you’ll be using a microwave for is microwaving things! No ‘cook time’ nonsense. AND, for bonus points, this is entirely intuitive AND could reasonably be discovered by accident by someone who just wants to warm up their food.  NICE.

But what if you want 2:30 of cooking? WELL. You can punch in 2:30 with extra keystrokes but for POWER USERS / UI NERDS like myself, they have a +30 button, which I love for a lot of reasons. So you can type

  • 2
  • +30

and you’ll get 2:30 of cook time. I have some magical thinking in me that microwave popcorn cooks best when it’s not interrupted while cooking, so +30 is a lifesaver there too: press it at any point in the cooking process and you get 30 more seconds of time. And yes, press it alone and you get 30 seconds of cooking RIGHT OFF THE BAT.

Perfection.

My only quibble is that the kitchen timer function assumes you’ll be timing for 10 or more minutes, and so to time for 7 minutes (which is the perfect amount of time for macaroni and cheese) you have to hit

  • KITCHEN TIMER
  • 0
  • 7
  • START

instead of just 7, because if you did that you’d get 70 minutes. BUT I recognize that it’d be hard to allow for 70 minute timing if you did it otherwise, and it only bothers me because I cook macaroni and cheese a lot (ladies).

Anyway. Just about every time I use my microwave I’m sincerely happy to see such a refined, efficient, but still flexible user interface, and I wanted to share. If you’re interested, it’s a GE microwave, but I dunno the model.

THUS CONCLUDES THE NERDIEST TUMBLR POST I HAVE EVER MADE, AND YES, I HAVE REBLOGGED A 16-BIT ANIMATED GIF OF THE ENTERPRISE D BEFORE

In this post: microwaves  user experience  love letters  
  1. hugsnot--ughs reblogged this from ryannorth
  2. silversunfrenzy reblogged this from ryannorth
  3. thiagovscoelho reblogged this from ryannorth
  4. doktorgun reblogged this from ryannorth and added:
    THANK GOODNESS I’M NOT THE ONLY ONE WHO CARES ABOUT STUFF LIKE THIS.
  5. cathrine-shaw reblogged this from ryannorth
  6. theholyranga reblogged this from ryannorth and added:
    other year. Lovely device,...Quick Start button (but apparently
  7. whyamikeenan reblogged this from ryannorth
  8. varjoenkeli reblogged this from suckmyrichardgrayson
  9. ch5nel reblogged this from ryannorth
  10. mydarlingbenedict reblogged this from ryannorth
  11. anoddhue reblogged this from ryannorth
  12. inscarletsilence reblogged this from ryannorth
  13. radiationpals said: Ryan! I have this microwave too, and have been thinking for years what an excellent UI it has. Thanks for sharing with the world. But I still think a straight-up analog dial and start button is a better solution. Twist, punch, and go.
  14. hermitjoel reblogged this from ryannorth
  15. bruvark reblogged this from ryannorth and added:
    This analysis of the User Experience design of microwaves is priceless. (via rupertmurloch)
  16. shawnbeen reblogged this from ryannorth
  17. void1984 reblogged this from wendel
  18. wendel reblogged this from ryannorth
  19. anattractiveweird reblogged this from louddetective
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I create a comic called Dinosaur Comics and I a run an awesome network called Project Wonderful and I even have my own Twitter account

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