I was going to put up a picture of a VCR or a microwave with a digital clock blinking “12:00” — the classic example of user interface failure.

But my microwave doesn’t blink “12:00”. It blinks “66:66”, or sometimes “6:66”, like it’s possessed by the devil. I think it has a short-circuited 6 key, so it’s processing nonexistent presses of the 6 key at random times. Sometimes it beeps loudly in the middle of the night. I keep it unplugged most of the time just to keep it quiet.

But anyway, the impossible-to-set digital clock is the classic example of user interface failure — and by “classic” I mean it was considered a hilarious punchline back in 1987: People were always saying “I’m so bad with technology, I can’t figure out how to get my VCR to stop blinking 12:00”. Ha ha ha. And what’s with airline food?

But the real problem was not that people in the 80s (or today) were “bad with technology”, it’s that VCRs (and microwaves) presented a terrible interface that made setting a digital clock far more difficult than setting an analog clock, and for no good reason!

And that’s why this blog is called “Not The User’s Fault”.