Technology Induced Insanity

Alan Cooper released the book ”The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Why High Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity” in 2004. In it he notes that when we make things ”smart” by adding a computer, what we get is a computer – with all its quirks and poor user experiences. It was written in the pre-iPhone era, but the bad examples are still with us, and on Friday I was a victim. I have a Samsung Smart TV which is a beautiful and well performing TV. Even the 3D, which I thought would be a gimmick, works really well. But, the ”Smart” part isn’t…

The user interface on my Samsung Smart TV is absolutely awful. On Friday I was trying to pay to watch some movies (I am stupid that way), using the SF Anytime app in the TV.  The first bizarre surprise when I bought the TV is that I cannot attach a keyboard to it. This really becomes an issue when setting up user accounts and finding URLs etc, since that requires input of long text strings. The remote and the remote apps work poorly to solve the problem. The remote app can sort of bring up a keyboard, but the keys have random functions (keying in an ID and then hitting return does not move to the next field, instead it inserts the random character that the on-screen keyboard happens to be on). The process becomes slow, random and very cumbersome.

The help for setting up SF Anytime does not mention that I needed a Samsung ID too. It sort of described the association process, but that was of course inactive since I didn’t have a Samsung ID. And why should I need to?

So, Instead of just logging in to SF Anytime, I need to associate the SF Anytime ID to my newly created Samsung ID. But that process does not work. I can log in to SF Anytime in a browser, so it is that really unnecessary step that doesn’t work. And with Carrier IQ in fresh memory, why does Samsung do it that way?

Other gripes are that the Samsung ID does not autologin. It takes 5 extra clicks on the remote each time I want to log in on the ”Smart TV”, and that Skype does not work without a special camera which isn’t officially supported on the Skype website (but should work), and is relatively expensive. Since experience has made me not trust the TV system, I would have loved to verify the function with a camera+mike combo I already own.

I tweeted about this in a very upset state, and people have asked ”should you really write stuff like that” being an occasional spokes person for IBM and all, and to that, all I have to say is: a) Nothing on my personal blog or tweets are the words of my employer. b) My experiences are not from a professional encounter. This is my private equipment, bought with my own money, used on my personal time. c) Sorry, Samsung, but it’s your own fault. Your poor user experience drove me nuts. Shape up. We are in a post-iPhone launch era, and I have an AppleTV-box to compare with.

9 responses to “Technology Induced Insanity

  1. Naja Wessel Jacobsen

    Hi, I just read your blog and I have the same problem with connecting my SF anaytime accout to the Samsung TV, so I was wondering if you came up with a solution?

    Naja

  2. Naja, Not yet. It seems broken.

    • SF Anytime support says that the association process/the app is broken, and that they/we are waiting for an update from Samsung that has been delayed (again), and should be available ”soon”….

      • Naja Wessel Jacobsen

        Hmm, I tried to contackt both Samsung and SF anytime, but until now I only got a response from Samsung with was: ”Prøv venligst at kontakte SF Anytime i dette tilfælde. De har for nylig opdateret deres software, som i nogle tilfælde skaber problemer med registrering af nye konti.” So what we have is two companies that both want the other one to fix it…

  3. I also contacted support from SF-Anytime, and they told me to registrate at old.sfanytime.com and that worked for me. (Denmark)

  4. Opening and using an account from old.sfanytime.com solved the problem. For now at least. Thanks again Hans! And the sfanytime application only crashed once during playback of the first rental…

  5. I Have the same problem. My Log and pass are so long and hard that it is impossible to write it with a remote control. SF Anytime is useless. It used to work fine with associated Smart TV ID – or whatever it was.. I do not have patience to wait for fix. SF Anytime’s customer service is poor and slow. Apple TV costs about 120€. Tell me one good reason why I wouldn’t buy something that works right out of the box. After iPhone, iMac and MacBook Pro – I have a strong belief AppleTV will work without any problems. I am sorry I bought Samsung ue55d8005. Any other would have done the same. There is nothing smart about these TVs.

    • Agree. If iTunes had a better selection of movies to chose from for the AppleTV, I would never use the SF Anytime app again.

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