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Thread: When Newer Tech is Not Better

  1. #1
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Melbourne, Australia

    When Newer Tech is Not Better

    A post by Rocketman on systemshock.org got me thinking of this topic.

    Now obviously going in this is going to be subjective as hell as it is all down to the individual. I'm going to paste Rocketman's post from over there:

    Quote Originally Posted by Rocketman

    To generalize, lots of good things don't exist anymore but you would seem to be suggesting that they should, if they are in fact good. I'm just pointing out that goodness doesn't immortalize something. QWERTY keyboards were designed to slow down typists so they wouldn't jam the typewriters. DVORAK was arguably better but it simply didn't take and now nobody even knows what it is. Windows used to be good and now it's shit but younger people like it. Sound cards used to have hardware 3D reflections and 4 speaker HRTF and now they don't but modern software biased solutions have replaced them. The things that exist today do not always follow the obviously logical evolution, that stuff should improve over time and the best designs will always persist the longest. Instead, other factors like cost and misinformation/propaganda have a pretty strong effect. Maybe my argument isn't cogent enough to convince you but I'm just giving you my reasons for not being convinced that SS1 had a bad interface or that current interfaces are superior because they are found in popular games 30 years later. And since I know there are least a couple of other people who agree, my inability to make a good argument doesn't make the argument itself invalid. In fact it would only support my previous assertion that truth is largely based on how many people you can convince, in most every-day subject matter.
    I think this is a great topic of conversation as we all have various tech which has been forgotten or replaced with inferior tech. For example Sony used to feature backwards compatibility in its consoles, but this fell by the wayside after later revisions of the PS3, with the removal of the emotion chip (which allowed for ps1 and ps2 support) for cost cutting reasons. Windows 7 was far more technical, where as Windows 10 went for a more simplified approach.

    So when is newer tech not better? Was th was typewritter better than the keyboard?

  2. #2
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2009
    Location: thiefgold.com
    It boils down to this.
    As a side note, if you're looking to buy a budget laptop, you're better off buying a refurbished business one. Don't even go near modern consumer laptops, they'll fall apart within a year

  3. #3
    Still Subjective
    Registered: Dec 1999
    Location: Idiocy will never die
    There are mixed issues here. Abandoning compatibility due to cost is a completely different thing to typewriters Vs keyboards.

  4. #4
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2001
    Location: Somewhere
    i always enjoyed beating my clothes against rocks

  5. #5
    ZylonBane
    Registered: Sep 2000
    Location: ZylonBane
    Quote Originally Posted by Rocketman
    Windows used to be good and now it's shit
    Oh how the turn tables.

  6. #6
    I just got an Olivetti Lettera 32 in great condition for only 30 bucks. My mother used to have one, it's a great typewriter. Can't wait to work with it.

  7. #7
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2003
    Location: Darmstadt, Germany
    I'm too lazy to google, but wasn't the QWERTY keyboard invented in order to physically separate groups of letters that are often used together and so prevent jams? That is, not to slow down typists but to enable fast typists to keep typing quickly without jamming the typewriter in the process.

    Anyway, for examples of newer tech being (partially) worse you have to look no further than smartphones. What's with the gazillion-inch displays nowadays? And the 3mm-thick phones with "edge" type displays and curved glass backs that you can't hold properly without interacting with the screen by mistake or dropping the phone because you tried using it one handed and it slipped due to being too wide and too thin? And the missing removable batteries? And the abysmal running times due to tiny batteries due to FUKEN 3 mm THICKNESS?

  8. #8
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Ireland
    Trends are a major cause of it. With smartphones, Apple have a reputation for being the high-end business choice, so when they come up with something, all the other smartphone manufacturers copy them, even when it's a dumb idea.

    One popular manufacturer sets a trend, and then others copy them to try to take a bit of their success.
    (The planned obsolescence is also part of it, as Azaran mentioned, but it isn't the only reason.)

    In the case of smartphones, all of what I consider "anti-features" seem to have come about like this.
    Holes and notches in the screen, the removal of the headphone jack, the removal of the notification LED, weird bevelled-edge screens that serve no purpose other than making it impossible to buy a cover which will properly protect it, and of course the removal of replaceable batteries.
    On the bright side, it's meant I've stuck with my now very old phone for a long time, because any potential replacement seems like a downgrade in at least some areas.


    The other piece of tech which has dis-improved is: laptop keyboards. I've ranted about this before, but hey, always a good time to rant. My oldest laptop, a Thinkpad T43 from about 15 years ago, has the best keyboard, and every further generation just made the keyboards worse.
    We're all used to the standard desktop keyboard layout, and a laptop keyboard should follow that as closely as possible - but instead they now try to squash them as much as possible, by either squashing up keys into random locations to make them more compact, or just straight-up removing essential keys because they were presumably designed by someone who has never actually used a keyboard.
    Prime example: I have a laptop at work, a really high-spec professional developer laptop. It doesn't have Home and End keys. Two keys which any programmer wants to use constantly. Instead, it's a fn+ combination.

    A lot of those laptops also have too-small keyboards because, to save costs, they make one model of keyboard across different laptops, so a keyboard which they had to squash to fit into a 14" laptop just has empty buffer space on the right and left on a 17" model.


    On a completely different tangent: sound propagation in 3D engines. Seems like a really important feature to me, yet almost no engine has it. How is the Dark Engine, from over 20 years ago, still one of the leaders in something so important to one of our primary senses? All the development has gone into fancy graphics, and seemingly no one cares about audio.

  9. #9
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2009
    Location: thiefgold.com
    On the plus side with phones, since there's more and more variety, nowadays you can get a decent one for very cheap. And features exclusive to the high end models invariably end up in the cheaper ones within a year or 2

  10. #10
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2001
    Location: Somewhere
    it also keeps those south east asian wage slaves in work as well!

  11. #11
    LittleFlower
    Registered: Jul 2001
    Location: Netherlands
    For me the keyword is flexibility. The freedom to use technology the way you, the individual, wants to use technology.

    30 Or even 20 years ago, everything was configurable. You could chose what technology you wanted to use. And how to use it. There were options. And with everything new, more options became available. I agree, this can be confusing for a new user. But there are ways to tackle that problem. Chose default values that make sense (for newbies). Make GUIs so that they can present themselves in 3 styles: for new users, standard and for experienced users. Everybody gets what they want. Give your applications "skins" or "themes". Allow plugins.

    This idea of flexibility and customization is slowly going away. Big companies don't want to sell you a product that you want. No, they want you to buy the product they want to sell. They want uniformity. And because the large majority of customers are idiots, they want to make products for idiots. And everybody else will have to adapt. The vendor decides how their product looks. They decide the color. They decide where the buttons are. They even decide what buttons there are. And the trend is to remove buttons, remove options, remove flexibility. Apple does that. Microsoft does that. Mozilla does that. Simple, less, streamlining the User eXperience, those are the keywords.

    I don't like that.
    I want customization. I want plugins. I want flexibility. I'm afraid all of that will go away.

  12. #12
    verbose douchebag
    Registered: Apr 2002
    Location: Lyon, France
    As with a lot of things (politics anyone?), the mainstrem is determined by the lowest common denominator.
    Smart phones come loadwed with useless, sexy features, because that's what works from a marketing & sales perspective.
    Why are Apple or Samsung going to sacrifice their bottom line in the name of better functionality?
    It's not necessarily based on idiocy either, just on which shared aspect of human psychology can be manipulated the most easily to influence sales.
    Being smart doesn't make you immune to marketing.

  13. #13
    LittleFlower
    Registered: Jul 2001
    Location: Netherlands
    Quote Originally Posted by faetal View Post
    Why are Apple or Samsung going to sacrifice their bottom line in the name of better functionality?
    But they don't need to sacrifice their bottom line, to give their users more flexibility. It doesn't cost them anything extra. Well, relatively speaking. Making GUIs with more options is a little extra work. But compared to building drivers and other internal hardcore stuff, it's nothing. If those options already exist in the registry, or somewhere else (config files, internal variables), the cost of just expanding the UI is peanuts. And more extreme: some companies are removing existing functionality and existing flexibility. Doing that requires an effort.

    Being smart doesn't make you immune to marketing.
    I don't understand what you're saying exactly.
    I understand that advertising does have some impact on me. But I am aware of that. I try to make my purchase-decisions so that they go against that. If there are 2 products that I don't know (never used before), and one is the "A brand", then I'll buy the other product. Just because.

  14. #14
    The distraction...the humanity....when ones could enter an establishment, enjoy the aroma of the coffee, perhaps engage in some chat with fellow members of humanity, and seeing them as real people with feelings and not merely as the background of one's next instragram shot.

    I miss flip phones. Old technology may be better but you simply can not isolate yourself when everyone else is using it around you for it changes us all.

  15. #15
    New Member
    Registered: Jul 2020

    Ofcourse there were some good things

    Ofcourse there were some good things in the past that cannot compete with today's latest technology, before there were hard working minds nowadays an AI have replaced those.
    Last edited by taha166; 22nd Jul 2020 at 04:05.

  16. #16
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: Land of the crazy
    Forgive me for stating the obvious, but the answer is that we live in a market-driven economy where the winners and losers are determined by what things people want to make and what price they want to charge for them, and what things people want to buy and what they want to pay for them. Where they intersect, you have winners, and the best technology is not always the winner.

    When it comes to Dvorak keyboards, there's simply not enough people who need or want to invest the time learning to touch type for maximum speed. And manufacturers, distributors, and retailers don't want to take on the cost of supplying a second keyboard type to the same market unless there is significant demand. So QWERTY carries on as the standard because there wasn't a justification to change the standard.

    When it comes to mobile phones and laptops, I agree with Nameless Voice. Fashion is winning over function, and Apple started it. Apple has been responsible for a lot of the major advances in the industrial design of computing devices, but they kind of lost their way IMHO. I haven't see any significant new idea for a smart phone in a long time, so the only way they can keep the upgrade cycle going is through gimmicks that don't advance usability and sometimes hinder it. Samsung's beveled edge displays are a great example. Another example is the fad of curved TVs a few years ago.

    I also agree about 3D positional audio. Audio in games has gone nowhere in 20 years because the market cares all about the visuals.

    On the other hand, there has been something of a renaissance with desktop keyboards. After a couple of decades where they just got cheaper and crappier, an enthusiast market appeared.

  17. #17
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Dvorak itself has been surpassed by the Colemak layout that's arguably more ergonomic, easier to learn, and preserves some important keyboard shortcuts. And even Colemak has now mods to improve on it as well as competing modern layouts like Workman. So, as far as the argument goes, it seems to be that it's actually everyone still clinging to Dvorak what's hindering "technological progress".

  18. #18
    Member
    Registered: Dec 2006
    Location: Berghem Haven
    About 3D positional audio, a software solution IS NOT necessarily a "fake dolby surround solution"

    Problem is: real 3D positional audio requires SPACE volume. Or a compact stereo HRTF solution for a VR headset.

  19. #19
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    Some of the older sound cards completely slaughter what modern equivalents (of having a sound chip on a motherboard vs having an entire card for it) are capable of, and came with some really useful programs.

    I never had one, but the gravis ultrasound sounded amazing. Always wanted one. And on software the soundblasters all came with handy sound recording and editing tools. Super useful. Yes I know there is plenty of free alternatives for sound editing these days.

    Reading a book in paper form is far superior to reading in digital form also. I've tried many times reading a book or magazine in digital form but it's just not the same.
    Last edited by icemann; 20th Jul 2020 at 23:47.

  20. #20
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Completely and absolutely disagree on paper books. I have now used an e-reader for quite a while and it is far, far superior to paper books in my experience. And I can actually list the numerous ways in which it is superior:

    It's more comfortable to hold in the hand and turn pages and takes up far less space.
    You can fit it inside a pocket no matter how big the book you're reading is.
    You can carry your entire library with you.
    It keeps track of where you stopped reading without the need for a physical bookmark.
    You can take it to the bath without worrying about water damage to the book.
    If it gets dirty or smudged you can just wipe or wash it off and there is no worry about the spine cracking or the pages tearing or becoming dogeared.
    It has built-in dictionaries.
    You can use your own preferred fonts.
    E-books are significantly cheaper to buy and easier to ship.

    The only negatives I can think of are note-taking being less convenient and the reader being a bit too expensive to throw at people who annoy you.

  21. #21
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2005
    Location: Netherlands
    I agree, big fan of my Kobo H2O e-reader. Also has the added benefit of my limited bookshelf space filling up less fast.

    I still buy physical books sometimes, mainly when it has color pictures (the H2O has a black and white screen like most e-readers), or when I'm at a second-hand book shop where they have very cheap books. And sometimes I buy a book where I think 'person X would really like this book' and then I also buy it on paper so I can lend it out. In other cases, it's an e-book purchase.

  22. #22
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    Quote Originally Posted by Starker View Post
    You can use your own preferred fonts.
    I can see how that might be handy, but the flipside is that I've never seen an e-book that I found as nice to look at as a well-set physical book. Good typesetting has an appeal of its own. Though while I am very much a physical book guy, the advantages of e-books are evident.

  23. #23
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Sure, the advantages of a fixed page and font size means you can go over the text line by line or even word by word and arrange everything to look the best it possibly can. Then again, not all paper books follow proper typesetting rules either.
    Last edited by Starker; 21st Jul 2020 at 04:32.

  24. #24
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    Absolutely. I've bought one or two (physical) books where the typesetting was so unpleasantly bad that I stopped reading them.

  25. #25
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    To be clear, I still buy physical books. The bastards are expensive, though. I just spent over 150 euros (including shipping) last month to buy 3 books in total.

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