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2:21pm on Sunday, 26th February, 2006:

Microwave Panels


Our microwave oven broke down last week, havingv given us many years of sterling service irradiating potatoes with life-threatening rays. Today, we went to get a new one. Hey, we wanted baked potatoes for lunch!

Here are the control panels from the old machine (left) and the new one (er, that would be right):

I prefer the old one.

The automatic buttons on the new one do look reasonable. Put in your potatoes, press the potato auto-button, and voila! It does your spuds just how you like them! The problem here is that you're supposed to weigh your potatoes first, and adjust the time depending on how big they are. The obvious answer here is to integrate some scales into the machine so it knows you have 4 large potatoes in it and can adjust its timing accordingly. So obvious is this, though, that I can only surmise it must have been patented, otherwise all the manufacturers would do it. As it is, weighing stuff is just too inconvenient for me to bother with.

It's the general timing that I truly object to, though. With the old machine, you just typed in the time you wanted using the numbers. 90 seconds was 9 0 START, or, if you preferred, 1 3 0 START. With the new one, you have to use the tens-and-units thing: 1MIN 10SEC 10SEC 10SEC START. What is this, counting on your fingers?!

Apparently it's the standard nowadays, in that all the microwave ovens in the shops we visited had the same control system and it would occasionally say "uses standard controls" on the description card (for cheaper machines, just to reassure you that if they keep with professional limits for controls, they might do so for the microwave system itself and you won't cook your own liver by standing too close to it).

Why is this the standard system though? It's patently not as good as the simple, flexible, type-in-the-time-you-want-to-zap-it-for approach. Are the majority of people so frightened of numbers that they can't enter 10 unless the button (as opposed to the display) says whether it's in seconds or minutes?

I'm guessing the answer is yes, they are...

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Copyright © 2006 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).