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177

Besides the arguments others have listed (Aircraft requirements, power saving) we should not forget about security. Before the tablet and smartphone era you had a great control over your computer in an emergency: if you pulled the UTP cable, you could guarantee that the computer is isolated from the network. If you pulled the power cord, you could guarantee ...


152

Security A hardware radio switch has security benefits to it in that when it is off, you know for a fact that nothing is connected to your laptop wirelessly. The radio switch usually turns off all wireless communication, including Bluetooth and 3G. I have heard that this is a requirement in certain military environments, but I have not seen any evidence ...


98

You are totally right As with many other devices (eg the QWERTY keyboard) the hot/cold tap persists not because it's the most usable design, but because of: Cost since proper temperature control requires an electromechanical feedback loop design, or calibrated thermostatic valves which needs to be periodically adjusted or replaced. This drives up the cost ...


79

Excellent answers so far. I would attempt to connect the dots between recording and red button like this: Apart from the traditional warning usage, a red light has been used in many scenarios to represent on-going work - radio show room when on air, operation theater when operation is going on, etc. The reason behind that would be the same - it is highly ...


52

Airplanes These switches allow you to disable wireless transmitters without first turning them on in the middle of a flight, when their use may be prohibited. There seems to be some consternation regarding this answer. I have reworded it to address some of the concerns that have been voiced. In addition... I'm not saying that any rules regarding the ...


36

The Microsoft Office suite appears to have put a greater emphasis on Add-Ins. For default installations, none are included hence the splash screen only stays up for a very short time. However, for Office power users, they may have many Add-Ins (especially enterprise users who develop their own custom AddIns) which will significantly slow the startup time ...


34

The symbol on each button was created with references to sheet music and inventor's background. For example, the || in pause may come from the Japanese character リ and/or Caesura. The media control UI were first introduced by Swedish Engineer Philip Olsson while he was working in Japan. He also had a degree from Swedish design school. The glyphs were ...


34

In an actual plane, the steering column isn't really pulled up or down. Instead the pilot pushes the steering wheel or joystick away to dive, and pulls it towards him to pull up. Same goes for games which you control with a joystick. You push it away to go forward, and back to go backward. This forward and backward motion is most probably why inverted ...


32

Before you completely hide a part of the UI for a feature which the user doesn't have access to, consider: Will the user know about that feature? Will they spend a lot of time hunting for it? Would you be better off keeping it around in some kind of "disabled" state along with a tooltip or other indicator so that they can learn why it's not available? ...


31

See also iTunes 9 or later. It adds the ability to do "nested" AND / OR expressions, akin to how a programmer would do it with parenthesis:


29

I suppose it's mostly a question of how much money you want to invest into your fittings. In most cases you'll have one pipe for hot and one for cold water. The knobs then just open and close those pipes – I can hardly think of any easier / cheaper solution. However there are actually different solutions that do exactly what you describe: Visiting Canada ...


25

I definitely agree with Rahul, that it depends on the context. A calendar widget is super useful for going back or forward a few months, but not so great for picking your birthdate -- that'd be a clicking nightmare! I personally hate those date pull-downs to pick your birthdate, also, as they tend to be a pain to hit your target selection, but I saw a nifty ...


24

I do believe a regular textbox with an indication of the expected format is often enough. Like Kevin mentioned, if you use a date picker you should absolutely provide a method for direct entry. Many people prefer to simply type the date. But this is what I do on Techinsurance.com... Of course I have client and server side validation in place as well. ...


23

The main problem non-technical users have with Boolean logic is understanding the difference between AND and OR because it doesn’t always correspond to natural language (e.g., “show me orders from New York and New Jersey” almost certainly means Location = NY OR Location = NJ). Often users tend to interpret "or" to be an an exclusive OR. Then there’s the ...


23

What kind of “hundreds of options” is it? If the field is something like “Country”, where the user will know what their answer should be without needing to read all the options, then a drop-down list is ideal: it’s simple to use, it takes little page-space, and is easy to display and to select from on most devices. If the field is something like “Airport”, ...


23

I like JohnGB's answer. It's less fiddly and more visible than the slider. For the sake of offering an alternative, if you do want to retain the slider, I would consider taking the 'never' option out. It doesn't really fit within the concept of a fixed range that the slider implies. In this version, you would only show the duration slider if "Delete ...


23

In Emergency Situations Sometimes you need to turn off your internet connection as fast as possible. For example, you download a software, then double click on it, and then you realize that it is not the genuine .exe file but it is a malicious file. In this situation, you may want to turn of your connection as fast as possible, and it may take a very long ...


22

If you choose to have a settings button, you should make sure it's always discoverable. Users can be distracted at any point of time and for any length of time - don't rely on those two seconds after page loading, because the user might just be busy looking at the whole page (or that other tab she was loading simultaneously). Now whether you choose to give ...


21

Some possible explanations: Electrical components, containing high power circuits like a switch, have harder safety requirements in a bathroom, where there is access to water and the risk of injury from an electrical shock or a discharge is higher, than on the outside. Compare for example the low power sockets intended for a shaver that you can find in ...


21

The way that you have it now breaks the way that we expect numbers to work. 90 days is greater than 10 days, so the 90 days option is on the right. Never is the equivalent of infinity days, and so it should be the last option on the right. The far left option on the slider would correspond to never keeping them in the first place - assuming you want that ...


20

The interfaces may look very similar to you, but they are constantly evolving, and have been refined for many years. Firefox in particular is very open about their UX process, and how they rely on user telemetry to understand how people use their browser. They don't simply copy features. They try to understand their users. In the early days, browsers could ...


19

Typically even a tri-state checkbox is still to be treated as a two-state check box in terms of the user's interaction. The user should not be able to switch it between all three states - only between checked and unchecked. It is only if the information that is related is not in either state that the box is 'displayed' in the tri-state. What does it even ...


18

I think of this more as a mental model issue. Imagine if there was no mouse, but rather you were doing it with your hand. Most people are right-handed. My mental model is that I am moving the scrollbar with my right hand. Therefore, scrollbar on the left would indicate that my arm is moving across (in front of) the content and blocking my vision so I can ...


18

I believe this design was invented by McCrickard and Catrambone of the Georgia Institute of Technology: McCrickard DS & Catrambone R (1999). Beyond the scrollbar: An evolution and evaluation of alternative navigation techniques. Proceedings of the 1999 IEEE Symposium on Visual Languages, p270-277. It seems very similar ideas were independently ...


17

Good question! Tabs have unlimited height and they can span a number of screens, while an accordion must fit on one screen. It's not a technical limitation, of course, but it would be a terrible idea to make an accordion that expands away out of my field of view, because then I'd have to scroll down to click the next "bar", just to have it expand up and ...


17

If you use the slider, stick with it as the sole means of control. Extra controls add too much "tool time" in making the decision and may be confusing. The solution I propose is to simply reverse the fine concept you have. Make "Never" at the END of the slider and 1 as the lowest value on the slider. Set the slider to the default setting or a ...


17

I can honestly say I have never seen a shower that has separate hot/cold knobs like you describe, and I've lived everywhere up and down both the east and west US coast. Every shower I've ever seen has two concentric wheels. The inner one controls temperature while the outer one controls pressure. Here's what they look like (although the labels around the ...


16

We use a simple, single text field with an example instruction, just like Bennett suggests. Date of birth |________| (example: 31/5/1970) However, we also add another element onto the page, which we call a Field Reflection pattern. The form takes whatever they entered into the field, and then dynamically parses and interprets it, and reflects the ...


16

There are a few problems with 'sentence' radio selections: When three or more radios are displayed, it becomes difficult to immediately pick out pairs of buttons and labels. This is a problem with checkboxes, too. Users read in F-shaped patterns, top to bottom, and find it harder to resolve multiple items in a row. Creating a readable sentence won't be ...



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