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Subject: Re: Putting the user in the loop (Was Re: len0x: apps settings.c, 1.310, 1.311)

Re: Putting the user in the loop (Was Re: len0x: apps settings.c, 1.310, 1.311)

From: Neon John <>
Date: Fri, 04 Nov 2005 14:47:29 -0500

On Fri, 04 Nov 2005 15:39:34 +0100, Frederic Devernay
<> wrote:

>Dear all,
>I remember having taught human-computer-interaction to masters students for a
>while (those reading French can take a look at
><>), and one of the most important
>principles you learn is to put the user in the loop when you do interface
>design. The user has to take part in user interface conception and this usually
>improves the final result a lot. You also learn that developpers themselves are
>very bad at improving the UI, simply because they know how it works.

Very true. We only need to look at the product of far eastern
programmed consumer electronics (most of 'em, particularly digital
cameras) and Windows to see that.

>The rockbox interface is already very good, but couldn't the users have a way to
>express the fact that they're not happy with something without getting flamed?

This is a serious problem, IMO. I'm going to express frustration and
not anger in the following. Of course, each reader will take it as he

I probably use my JBR more than anyone on the list. I punch it on as
I kill the alarm in the AM and punch it off as the last thing I do
before going to sleep. I'm listening any time during the day that I'm
not actively conversing with a customer. About the only way I could
use it more would be to play it while I sleep.

I'm almost frustrated enough to install the dev system and make the
changes myself. I just don't feel like tracking all subsequent
releases with my patches.

Following are changes and additions that would make my life easier, in
no particular order.

* Most frequently used settings available with the fewest keystrokes.
I change sound settings more than anything else, yet I have to
navigate two layers deep to get to the settings. Difficult to do when
driving or otherwise occupied. I'd like to see the sound settings on
the initial F1 menu.

* One key lock/unlock. I carry my JBR in a custom-made leather pouch.
I can reach in and operate the controls with one finger without
looking but not two. Despite the pouch I'm constantly bumping the
buttons as I work, skipping tracks or turning the unit off. Skipping
a song isn't that big a deal but losing one's place in a 1.5 hour long
audio book file is.

The current two finger keyboard lock is useless unless the unit is
held in both hands in front of the user. The original firmware has RB
whipped in this one area with its push-and-hold one button lock.

I've asked for this feature numerous times and to date have been
ignored. If the developers are wed to the 2-key method, then why not
make it a config option?

* Related to the above, partial lock, where everything except the
volume control buttons are locked. Changing the volume is the most
frequent control manipulation most of us do. I'd love to be able to
turn the thing down without having to unlock the keyboard.

* The cue feature mentioned earlier this week. The ability to fast
forward or back through a file while listening to the "chipmunk"
audio. This would make, say, skipping to the next chapter in an audio
book so easy.

* A more aggressive charging algorithm. I'd like to see the batteries
hit with as much current as possible without getting into thermal
problems. It should start charging immediately when shore power is
attached. That way, one can do "opportunity charging" whenever there
is a 15 minute or so block of time available.

I'd trade overall battery life (number of cycles) for speed in
charging. The cost of AA NiMH batteries is trivial these days so if
they have to be replaced every year, big deal.

I have an Eveready 15 minute charger that hits each battery with >4
amps. I've seen no detrimental effects to date and I process a LOT of
batteries through that charger. I'm sure the JBR can't get anywhere
near that rate but an amp, if that's possible (yeah, with a larger
wall wart) would be nice.

At one level I hate to complain at all, for I Love my JBR/Rockbox
combo. OTOH, if I don't state my desires, nothing will ever get

Another idea comes to mind. To analyze how we users use our 'boxes,
why not write a keystroke logger rock and ask users to send log files
to a specified address? This is a common development tool for desktop
software. One could quickly compile statistics as to which key
sequences are used the most and then UI changes made to cut down on
the strokes of the most frequently used commands.

John De Armond
See my website for my current email address
Cleveland, Occupied TN
Received on 2005-11-04

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