Doug Toppin's Blog

My thoughts on technology and other stuff

Developing Products as Appliances (Rather Than Computers)

Some days I hate computer crap so much it is hard to put it into words. One of the reasons that Apple has been so successful has been an appliance aspect to products such as the iPod and iPad. You generally don’t have to know what or how it works, it just works when you turn it on. This morning we had to trouble shoot a Cisco VPN issue on my wife’s laptop (MS Windows). The app would try to start and then just minimize and say “status disconnected”. There was no other useful information of any sort at all nor any way to get any useful information about what was happening. The solution (after reading a number of potential fixes via a google search which included “restore from backup”, “reinstall this app”, “edit this file”, “delete this file”) turned out to be just maximizing the window. Then it just worked fine. There, I feel better now. Of course I vented using other language quite a bit more at home. I also have to admit that Apple products are not entirely safe from issues like this.  Right now, after having moved to iCloud and iOS 5 (which included some me.com type stuff) we are both having problems with a few things (such as our Time Capsule) which I still do not have a handle on. My primary point on this is that by far and away most users would prefer a increase in stability and ease of use over new features in software/systems.  It is very much like electricity, they just want it to work when they turn it on.  They do not what to know what makes it work.