Two things I hate when it comes to UX



  • These two things are ATMs and automated checkouts in malls.

    Their software parts have two things in common: both are cobbled together mess of :wtf:-worthy software, not very robust, and apparently not really designed to be cobbled together in the first place, and both operate strictly in synchronous, blocking fashion.

    An ATM keypad is dead when it phones home to give your money. It only reacts to input when the ATM actively polls it for your input. If the gods of GPRS are angry with you, and for some reason you want to abort the transaction — maybe you see something disturbing in your rear mirror, or you realise you need to rush to the bus stop, so fuck it, I'm going to pick my money elsewhere — you're basically screwed. The timeouts are generous, and the ATM communicates with its bank politely and verbosely, like a geisha.

    But while I can buttume the ATM must be bulletproof and mostly reliable (it isn't) so there are (stupid) tradeoffs, the automated checkouts really piss me off.

    Why or why can't I proceed with scanning my shit while it's redrawing its goddamn retarded UI? Why must I scan my items one by one, put each, one by one, into the container, and wait while it realises the shit sits in its container? Why, when I try to scan the next one, it would either ignore me, or get jammed and ask for the assistant's help?

    Important point #1: the ATMs and automated checkouts run on Windows. <blakeyrat-mode>BECAUSE THOSE RETARDS DON'T KNOW ANY BETTER AND ALL REALLY RETARDED SHIT I'VE SEEN AND HAD TO INTERACT WITH OPERATES UNDER WINDOWS, SO THIS PLATFORM IS SHITTY AS FUCK!!!!!</blakeyrat-mode>

    Important point #2: apparently at IBM which produced these checkout machines, they cobble together that can't communicate very well, and force all workflows in synchronous mode, because in 2010-2015 it must be fucking hard to find a good programmer that understands the concept of a fucking event-driven programming.


  • Fake News

    @wft said:

    it must be fucking hard to find a good programmer that understands the concept of a fucking event-driven programming multithreading, thread safety, concurrency...

    You have no idea how true that statement is.



  • You can run most user-interfacey thing asynchronously, non-blockingly, in one thread, and not give a shit about multithreading just yet.

    Maybe I've been spoiled by being exposed to the whole asynchronous paradigm early in my programming career.



  • @wft said:

    Important point #1: themost ATMs and automated checkouts run on Windows XP.

    FTFY



  • The automated checkouts I've seen also run on Windows XP.



  • @wft said:

    The automated checkouts I've seen also run on Windows XP.

    I know pretty much nothing about them - I refuse to use automated checkout. It's Satan's spawn.


  • SockDev

    @rad131304 said:

    I refuse to use automated checkout

    I use them all the time; they're great if you know what you're doing ;)
    And don't think the manned checkouts aren't also running XP :stuck_out_tongue:


  • SockDev

    @wft said:

    The automated checkouts I've seen also run on Windows XP.

    so i was in a store recently and since i only had one item so i went through automated checkout and it crashed.

    ok, so that's not unexpected, what floored me was the error that popped up on the screen a moment later:

    (not the actual error. i didn't have my phone on me at the time so i googled the error message. the machine name was names domething like 'POS12345-osXP')

    and what went through my head was.... "Well THERE'S the reason your prices are so high...."

    closely followed by :wtf:


  • kills Dumbledore

    Automated checkout annoyances:

    • "Please fully insert your card into the chip and PIN device. Or slide your card down the side of this monitor, if your card does not have a chip" EVERY TIME. with NO SHORT CIRCUIT even if your card is in the chip and PIN device before it's finished saying "insert"
    • On some, you have to choose a payment method before using that payment method. If you insert a card before you've told it you're using a card, it tells you "lol you just inserted a card, so I know you're using a card but you need to explicitly tell me you're using a card before I'll let you use a card. You dick"


  • @RaceProUK said:

    I use them all the time; they're great if you know what you're doing ;)
    And don't think the manned checkouts aren't also running XP :stuck_out_tongue:

    Nothing to do with the software (for me). If they're going to make me do the work in order to acquire whatever I'm purchasing, I better get a discount for using it. Otherwise I'd rather give some financially/educationally/socially/mentally/age disadvantaged person the capability to have a job.


  • I survived the hour long Uno hand

    @wft said:

    An ATM keypad is dead when it phones home to give your money.

    Be glad you've never worked on ATM software. That's the least of the WTFs.

    Not only do they run on XP, I'm pretty sure that's an embedded IE window.


  • SockDev

    I have one:
    Sainsbury's self-checkout tills apply the multi-buy discounts once you've selected the payment method; if you put the cash in before doing so, the multi-buy doesn't get applied.
    Tesco and Asda, on the other hand, apply the multi-buy as soon as you hit 'Finish and Pay'.

    All three use exactly the same hardware and software :wtf:


  • kills Dumbledore

    @RaceProUK said:

    Sainsbury's self-checkout tills apply the multi-buy discounts once you've selected the payment method

    This may be why you have to choose the payment method before inserting a card on Sainsbury's ones. It also doesn't tell you there's a discount until you're actually entering your <personal> PIN<number>.

    Tesco let you mute the voice, and have a "request subtotal" button, which improves the experience slightly


  • SockDev

    The stupid thing is that they both use the same software; that means Sainsbury's deliberately configured it that way…



  • Why does my banking site ask me to enter the 5 minute TTL authorization code they just sent to my phone and then MASKS THE INPUT AS IF I'M ENTERING A PERMANENT PASSWORD!?

    Also, why do airports force you to take off your shoes and why do people use UAC and a hundred different things.

    Security. Decision makers weight the benefits of pushing for fancier software few clients will appreciate, versus the risk of some clever kid figuring out a race condition hack in your fancy new event-driven app and stealing millions.

    To put it another way, no one ever got fired for championing security.



  • @wft said:

    Why must I scan my items one by one, put each, one by one, into the container, and wait while it realises the shit sits in its container?

    Because you might be a thief. And we all know that true thieves go through the self checkout

    @wft said:

    the ATMs and automated checkouts run on Windows

    This is incorrect, my college had a BB&T ATM running OS/2. It was actually great because it dispensed $5's.

    inb4 :hanzo:


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @wft said:

    You can run most user-interfacey thing asynchronously, non-blockingly, in one thread, and not give a shit about multithreading just yet.

    Most. But not all. In particular, with robot checkouts, you have to wait to scan the next item until the scale has settled down and registered that you've placed the last item on it, for what-should-be-obvious anti-theft reasons.

    I used to hate those things. I yelled "Shut up, robot" at one once. But you can learn how they work and get through using them at roughly the maximum possible speed with practice, if you pay attention to it.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Jaloopa said:

    On some, you have to choose a payment method before using that payment method.

    Every place I've used those things--except walmart--requires a bunch of superfluous input like that. I swiped my card and entered my pin. You may safely assume I wanted debit, not credit, so I shouldn't need to hit a debit card button.

    It's not unreasonable to assume that once I swipe my card, I'm done entering items, but only walmart will make that assumption; every other store's scanner requires you to actually hit "finish and pay". I'm sure it's for the easily-confused, but it annoys me.


  • I survived the hour long Uno hand

    @FrostCat said:

    once I swipe my card, I'm done entering items

    At the normal checkout, you can swipe your card early and it'll wait to give your total until the checkout associate has finished scanning the items.

    They hook up the same card readers to the self-checks. Therefore, it'll let you swipe before you've even scanned things, and will sit there waiting for a signal that you're done scanning from the kiosk.


  • ♿

    @rad131304 said:

    I refuse to use automated checkout. It's Satan's spawn.

    Ugh...you probably like...talking to people. :spit:

    Seriously, though, when I have just a few things and the lane is open...then again, the stuff at my grocery store doesn't suck as badly as those encountered by @wft.


  • ♿

    @rad131304 said:

    If they're going to make me do the work in order to acquire whatever I'm purchasing, I better get a discount for using it.

    I get at least these:

    1. No small talk by the cashier.
    2. Less time spent in the store.
    3. Keeps the kid busy scanning stuff instead of otherwise getting into trouble.

  • ♿

    @FrostCat said:

    It's not unreasonable to assume that once I swipe my card, I'm done entering items, but only walmart will make that assumption; every other store's scanner requires you to actually hit "finish and pay". I'm sure it's for the easily-confused, but it annoys me.

    My store's machines recognize the payment, but they have a step at the end for scanning coupons. I don't usually have them, but I'd be pissed on the occasion when I do if they didn't give me that step and I accidentally couldn't use them and then had to go to the service desk (which I probably wouldn't do).



  • @boomzilla said:

    I get at least these:

    1. No small talk by the cashier.

    2. Less time spent in the store.

    3. Keeps the kid busy scanning stuff instead of otherwise getting into trouble.

    • I just ignore them - easier that way

    • I rarely find the line shorter, or the people performing the scanning more competent at the self check-out

    • That's valid - though I don't have any ankle biters so this is still not a positive, and kind of only adds to #2.



  • @boomzilla said:

    Ugh...you probably like...talking to people. :spit:

    Seriously, though, when I have just a few things and the lane is open...then again, the stuff at my grocery store doesn't suck as badly as those encountered by @wft.

    No, it's more of a way to keep my taxes lower by employing those who otherwise might not be employed and therefore I'd have to pay either welfare or for them to be in jail. Either way, it costs me less in taxes.



  • @wft said:

    Why or why can't I proceed with scanning my shit while it's redrawing its goddamn retarded UI? Why must I scan my items one by one, put each, one by one, into the container, and wait while it realises the shit sits in its container? Why, when I try to scan the next one, it would either ignore me, or get jammed and ask for the assistant's help?

    This I can explain (by inference).

    As you scan items like an automaton, and place each one in the bag like an automaton, the station is carefully weighing each thing you put in the bag. This is a theft-prevention mechanism to prevent you from, say, scanning one $30 hammer, and then surreptitiously placing two $30 hammers in the bag; and stealing from the company.

    You are therefore trapped in this algorithm:

    1. customer scans item
    2. system applies price and looks up item weight
    3. customer places item in bag
    4. system compares weight increase in bag against item weight. If match, good; if no match, freeze and call for customer service

    Every step must be done like an automaton...or otherwise you might get away with an extra pack of sugarless gum. Only after you have completed all these steps for the current item, is the station ready to begin the steps for the next item.

    Now...as to why it takes 29 seconds to draw the retarded UI...no one can explain that.



  • @wft said:

    These two things are ATMs

    Really? I use Bank of America, and their ATMs are pretty slick (if a bit slow).

    @wft said:

    and automated checkouts in malls.

    Malls specifically? What about the ones in box stores, or grocery stores?

    @wft said:

    both are cobbled together mess of -worthy software, not very robust, and apparently not really designed to be cobbled together in the first place, and both operate strictly in synchronous, blocking fashion.

    That's true of self-checkouts.

    @wft said:

    An ATM keypad is dead when it phones home to give your money. It only reacts to input when the ATM actively polls it for your input. If the gods of GPRS are angry with you, and for some reason you want to abort the transaction — maybe you see something disturbing in your rear mirror, or you realise you need to rush to the bus stop, so fuck it, I'm going to pick my money elsewhere — you're basically screwed.

    On Bank of America ATMs, the "cancel" button works at all times.

    @wft said:

    Why or why can't I proceed with scanning my shit while it's redrawing its goddamn retarded UI? Why must I scan my items one by one, put each, one by one, into the container, and wait while it realises the shit sits in its container? Why, when I try to scan the next one, it would either ignore me, or get jammed and ask for the assistant's help?

    I just don't use them.

    @wft said:

    Important point #1: the ATMs and automated checkouts run on Windows. <blakeyrat-mode>BECAUSE THOSE RETARDS DON'T KNOW ANY BETTER AND ALL REALLY RETARDED SHIT I'VE SEEN AND HAD TO INTERACT WITH OPERATES UNDER WINDOWS, SO THIS PLATFORM IS SHITTY AS FUCK!!!!!</blakeyrat-mode>

    Yes, well, you're talking about an application that runs on the OS and not the OS itself. I'm not sure why you think the ATM software developers would have done a better job if they'd have been using Linux or QNX or whatever.

    @wft said:

    Important point #2: apparently at IBM which produced these checkout machines, they cobble together that can't communicate very well, and force all workflows in synchronous mode, because in 2010-2015 it must be fucking hard to find a good programmer that understands the concept of a fucking event-driven programming.

    I think a big problem with the self-checkout machines is that each retailer wants to keep using their preferred brand of bank card keypad.



  • @boomzilla said:

    Seriously, though, when I have just a few things and the lane is open...then again, the stuff at my grocery store doesn't suck as badly as those encountered by @wft.

    My (preferred) local grocery store refuses to even install the self-checkouts. Great place. Local company, too.

    Once I asked the guy at the wine counter if they had any soju, and they didn't, but next time I came in: BAM soju. Awesome.


  • ♿

    @rad131304 said:

    I rarely find the line shorter, or the people performing the scanning more competent at the self check-out

    I pretty much never wait for one unless the checkout lines are pretty long and I really do have just a couple of things.

    @rad131304 said:

    Either way, it costs me less in taxes.

    Maybe. Maybe you're still paying more money, though.

    Of course, increasing their productivity results in less manual labor and likely better / higher paying jobs for the people still employed at the store. Obviously there are counter examples, but that's what higher productivity generally implies, and I'd rather remove other impediments to employing low skilled labor instead of creating make work where it isn't necessary.



  • @FrostCat said:

    you have to wait to scan the next item until the scale has settled down and registered that you've placed the last item on it, for what-should-be-obvious anti-theft reasons.

    What annoys me is not so much the wait to scan the next item — most of the time it's ready by the time I am — it's the interval getting it from the scanner onto the scale. At one store that I shop at fairly regularly (because it's inexpensive and conveniently located), the self-checkout terminals give you approximately 0.00003846 seconds to bag your items before they decide that you have chosen not to bag it, then complain about an unexpected item in the bagging area when you do put it on the scale.

    Because the plastic bags never cooperate with the bagging process, it always takes longer than the allowed time, and "Unexpected item in the bagging area" is a routine occurrence. This can be mitigated, though not with 100% success, by preparing the bag to receive the item before scanning it. Making sure the weight in the bagging area remains unstable while attempting to get the item into the bag seems to help, too.


  • ♿

    @HardwareGeek said:

    What annoys me is not so much the wait to scan the next item — most of the time it's ready by the time I am — it's the interval getting it from the scanner onto the scale.

    My grocery store has a belt that you put the item on. It has a sensor that watches for stuff to go by. There may also be a weight sensor...I've never tested that. There are glass (eh...probably plastic, really) walls around that to prevent you from reaching in (and it seems to detect when you do something like that). The rate at which it allows me to scan is definitely slower than I could physically scan things, but you get into a rhythm and it works pretty well.

    If you don't put the thing in in the time it wants it asks you do to so. You can cancel the action, or it will after a while. There are ways to get f'd up so it requires someone to come over and clear the machine, but this rarely happens to me (and usually because my son is throwing stuff up there or whatever).

    If stuff piles up at the end and starts backing up into the belt / sensor area it doesn't let you scan any more items until the blockage is cleared. It tells you to bag some stuff. They also often have someone keeping an eye on all the lanes (there are 5 of them) and bagging stuff for people as they have time, so you often don't have to bag your stuff, either.

    The self checkout thingies at Home Depot suck a lot more. The weight thing gets me sometimes, but the hardest part is usually just getting the scanner to successfully scan a freaking bar code.



  • @boomzilla said:

    I pretty much never wait for one unless the checkout lines are pretty long and I really do have just a couple of things.

    @rad131304 said:

    Either way, it costs me less in taxes.

    Maybe. Maybe you're still paying more money, though.

    Of course, increasing their productivity results in less manual labor and likely better / higher paying jobs for the people still employed at the store. Obviously there are counter examples, but that's what higher productivity generally implies, and I'd rather remove other impediments to employing low skilled labor instead of creating make work where it isn't necessary.

    The question is: is the nominal increase in product cost more than the I would pay in taxes. For welfare? I don't know. For running someone through the criminal justice system? Absolutely.


  • ♿

    @rad131304 said:

    The question is: is the nominal increase in product cost more than the I would pay in taxes. For welfare? I don't know. For running someone through the criminal justice system? Absolutely

    No. The question is, "Is this more or less convenient to me as a shopper?" On the whole, I'd say yes. The other stuff is incidental. And if they didn't spend the money on welfare or whatever they'd just find something else to waste it on, so I might as well at least enjoy the benefits of more convenient shopping.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    Yeah, the best solution is probably "don't do it that way".

    Wal-Mart has a set of bi-colored LEDs on the scanner platform that give you an indicator of about how long it takes the scale to settle, and you do get usually about 2 seconds before it whines at you. Obviously it helps to be in the mindset of paying attention to it's feedback. I used to hate the robots until I started doing so. It improves the experience by helping you not get frustrated. Of course it's annoying to have to do it the robot's way, but at least you get through pretty quickly.

    Also, that time I yelled "shut up robot", I used @zoidberg's pronunciation of, approximately, "row-butt", because it's funnier.



  • Fine, then I'll have one of your young on a roll.

    <!-- Posted by SockBot 0.16 "Hazardous Hera" on Wed, 22 Apr 2015 16:49:01 GMT-->


  • @boomzilla said:

    No. The question is, "Is this more or less convenient to me as a shopper?" On the whole, I'd say yes. The other stuff is incidental. And if they didn't spend the money on welfare or whatever they'd just find something else to waste it on, so I might as well at least enjoy the benefits of more convenient shopping.

    I would disagee (both the question a shopper should be asking, and your response to your posed question); I don't find self checkout convenient in any way shape or form.

    Also, I don't want to have to learn to navigate every store's UI. That's information that I could, literally, live without and be happy. I don't need to stuff my head with useless information on how to check out at every store I shop at.

    Add to that, that the system must have to have a computerized verification process for purchases to prevent theft that's invariably slower than any human is at basic pattern recognition, and doesn't solve any of the normal theft problems.

    I don't find it convenient. It's clumsy, slow, and makes me learn something I could literally care nothing about.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @boomzilla said:

    The weight thing gets me sometimes, but the hardest part is usually just getting the scanner to successfully scan a freaking bar code.

    Try rotating the item. I've found that some of those machines are picky about the orientation of the barcode in regards to the angle. Usually rotating it 90° will cause it to register. Once you've learned its preferred angle, just make sure to scan everything else at roughly that angle.



  • @rad131304 said:

    I don't need to stuff my head with useless information on how to check out at every store I shop at.

    The entirety of that information is "look at the screen and do what it says." It's like a free space on a bingo card.



  • @hungrier said:

    The entirety of that information is "look at the screen and do what it says." It's like a free space on a bingo card.

    Except at every grocery store I've ever been to, when it's like that xkcd



  • @rad131304 said:

    I don't find self checkout convenient in any way shape or form.

    So then don't use it; that will get you out of the way of those of us that do find them more convenient making them even better.


  • ♿

    @rad131304 said:

    I would disagee (both the question a shopper should be asking, and your response to your posed question); I don't find self checkout convenient in any way shape or form.

    Well, if you think pondering the local tax structure should be a concern regarding shopping for bread and milk, then I think we're going to agree to disagree.

    I can understand people having different experiences with a particular technology of whatever. I'm just adding my experiences (at my grocery store, mostly positive).

    @rad131304 said:

    It's clumsy, slow, and makes me learn something I could literally care nothing about.

    I'll just get off your lawn now, then, shall I? :wink:


  • ♿

    @FrostCat said:

    Try rotating the item. I've found that some of those machines are picky about the orientation of the barcode in regards to the angle. Usually rotating it 90° will cause it to register. Once you've learned its preferred angle, just make sure to scan everything else at roughly that angle.

    Yes, it's usually after a fair amount of rotating that it recognizes the thing. I haven't found a particular angle that works best (at Home Depot).



  • @rad131304 said:

    I refuse to use automated checkout.

    Me too.

    I like having my groceries scanned and bagged by somebody who practises scanning and bagging all day every day and is therefore more skilled in the art than I am. I do not wish to give the supermarket chains any excuse to sack more of these people.

    Customer-operated vending machinery has already fucked up the public transport experience in my capital city, almost beyond redemption. Buggered if I'm going to conspire in helping it fuck up my local shopping experience as well.



  • @locallunatic said:

    So then don't use it; that will get you out of the way of those of us that do find them more convenient making them even better.

    Thanks Captain Asshole. I'm promoting you to Major. I already said I don't use them you fuckwit.



  • @rad131304 said:

    xkcd

    I don't see how that contradicts what I said. Are you implying you're technically deficient and can't figure out what button to press or where the scanner is?


  • ♿

    @hungrier said:

    The entirety of that information is "look at the screen and do what it says." It's like a free space on a bingo card.

    Except when you have something like produce, where you have to look things up. That can get more complicated (not that it's impossible). And it's a use case where I typically avoid the self checkout.



  • @hungrier said:

    I don't see how that contradicts what I said. Are you implying you're technically deficient and can't figure out what button to press or where the scanner is?

    I'm saying that at the grocery store, in order to find the myriad of fruits, vegetables, and other loose groceries I buy, I spend a good 5+ minutes hunting for whatever stupid code I'm supposed to find and type in. When I have the clerk do it for me, it's done in like 1/10th the time.



  • @boomzilla said:

    And it's a use case where I typically avoid the self checkout.

    Most of mine come with the labels stickered on, but I regularly see people having trouble with produce so I can see your point.



  • @boomzilla said:

    Well, if you think pondering the local tax structure should be a concern regarding shopping for bread and milk, then I think we're going to agree to disagree.

    I can understand people having different experiences with a particular technology of whatever. I'm just adding my experiences (at my grocery store, mostly positive).

    @rad131304 said:

    It's clumsy, slow, and makes me learn something I could literally care nothing about.

    I'll just get off your lawn now, then, shall I? :wink:

    Specifically every time i go? No. But there are consequences to all of the actions you take. Maybe considering more of them would make the world a less shitty place than "can I have it now?" "WHY DO YOU SUCK I CAN DO THIS BETTER!" "Get off my lawn!" which is how we work in the US.



  • @FrostCat said:

    you can learn how they work and get through using them at roughly the maximum possible speed with practice, if you pay attention to it.

    I have absolutely no desire at all to learn how to do any part of a large corporation's work for it on an unpaid basis.

    Want my business? Employ checkout staff.


  • ♿

    @rad131304 said:

    Maybe considering more of them would make the world a less shitty place than "can I have it now?" "WHY DO YOU SUCK I CAN DO THIS BETTER!"

    Yes, I do consider stuff like that. And I've come to the conclusion that having a mixture of full / [semi-]self serve checkout lines does just that.

    Your taxes / welfare stuff sounds like something that's on the order of the anti-stab screwdriver problem to me.


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