Putting the “human” back into human interfaces

In the latest QST, Frank Columbus, WA2KWR, writes the following:

“— I find the current lot of handheld and mobile Amateur Radios to be overly complex.”

1951 Muntz TV (Steve McVoy Wikimedia Commons)

Frank goes on for a page describing the failure of modern radios to provide a workable human interface.  His words echo mine of a decade or so ago.   Those who design these multi-menu-messes argue “Look at all the features! You never had it so good!” Well, I don’t want infinite features, I want easily understood, easily implemented   functionality.

Way back in the early days of television there was a man called “Madman Muntz” who advertised that his TVs were the best because he featured “One Knob Picture Control!” He was brilliant, but 50 years behind the technology to do it well.  It took Steve Jobs to use modern technology to create a truly modern human interface to Apple’s products.

I thought of this while struggling to install a DVR to work with my Satelite TV.  And, again, when I tried and failed to install my new ICOM 706MKIIG with my homebrew Power Amp and my ancient TELREX 20m YAGI.  Eventually I got the DVR working, tho now I have three remotes to search for whenever I want to change something. The ICOM is still on the workbench connected to a dummy load.

Need I say more?

Some very many years ago I organized a conference on  Speech Recognition at which IBM gave a good explanation of the problems they were encountering in trying to replace the “Typist” with a computer.  It had to do with “entropy” and the bottom line was that the computer would have to contain the entire language, grammar and slang and all, in order to truly translate each spoken word into bits.

Human Engineering!!!   ICOM interface vs Apple’s.   How long does it  take you to find a DX  on the Cluster and go to that band and frequency and that split, and set the correct PA Drive and tuning? We need a new spec and measure of Human Interfacing!!!


Did you enjoy this post? Why not leave a comment below and continue the conversation, or subscribe to my feed and get articles like this delivered automatically to your feed reader.


No comments yet.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.