Idiot proof

I’ve been getting into somewhat serious cycling lately and this has made me to educate myself on bicycle parts, design, tools etc more than what a general mucking with bikes can give you. Naturally, before purchasing any parts I read about what parts are recommended and their reviews. Often Amazon’s reviews are decent, but just as often they’re horrible mess, showcasing the inability of consumers to understand how products are used.

Such was the case of Shimano’s single sided SPD pedals. In this case, the reviewer had a situation where he (or was it a she?) had installed the pedals to his bike, and noticed how the pedals had destroyed the threads on his bicycle. How this is possible has number of possible reasons; the threads on the bike were not as the consumer thought, or perhaps the Left and Rig pedals were installed into wrong ends at the factory’s end.

The most probable cause however is that the consumer just didn’t give shits about the instructions or double checked how things were supposed to go in, thus destroying both the pedals and the threads in his bike.

Another reviewer had a problem where the pedals were always the wrong way and he had to flip the pedal in order to click his shoes in. Now, there are ways to balance a pedal so that it would always turn the other side upwards. However, that would add both price and weight, two things you don’t want to see in your go-fast bike. I don’t see a person who can’t check whether or not his pedal is the right way putting more money into a pedal that would turn itself ‘the right way.’ We can discuss whether or not this is enough merit to give the product a 1 Star review. I’d say it doesn’t, as there is more that goes into a review than One Thing.

What this all constitutes is that the companies don’t want the consumers to use the products any way they want because of things like this.

Repurposing or modding the product you’ve repurchased is all good when you know what you’re doing. When you know what you’re doing, you should also know, or at least be able to find out, what went wrong if the product says kaput.

And when you have no fucking idea what you’re doing or screwing things up because of both lack of experience and attention to detail it’s the product and the makers are in the fault, right?

Companies don’t like this. There’s a reason why some of the instructions and guides are made so through in most cases and have loads and loads of legal jargon. That’s why it is important to make things easy to explain and understand. In all honesty, deducing Left pedal from the Right pedal is not hard; the pedals have a clearly marked L and R on them to which side they belong to. Of course, one can view left and right from front, thus mirroring the intended left and right. Even then I would believe anyone could notice that the screw threads do not go together when they’re tried on, thus allowing for the realization of things going the other way. And of course there are those disregard everything that tells them that this doesn’t work and it needs to go the way they want and that’s final. That’s not up to the manufacturer any more or the seller, that’s in the consumer who decides to go against the manuals, guides and workings of the product and just breaks stuff. This is natural, thou. I have seen this happen many times, and anger has been part of it. Certain anger just clouds the basic reasoning and we push through wit brute force. The result might be fixed afterwards, or even reversed, but there are lot of products and cases where things are just broken for good.

The more expensive the product, the more visually intuitive the design needs to be and support the pre-existing concepts. The Play buttons has been engraved with that same arrow symbol for God knows how long, and the save icon still has that diskette image, even thou it’s an obsolete icon.

Products like washing machines tend to have, generically speaking, similar icons for same functions, but I have seen slight variations or completely changes icons within same brand family. Actually, there’s even changes in the user interface to a large extent that makes the experience with the previous models is moot. I trust that even the most frustrated, the most butt-angered person would take a clue and pick up the manual.

Manuals are awesome things. While it is true that most useful experience comes from practice, without a manual that practice will come the hard way. Manuals can be a lifeline to the function of the product, like the GameGenie cheat device, as the manual listed knows codes for the most popular games. The Internet wasn’t much use at the time, but nowadays you can find all found codes just with a quick Google search, unless you decide to be adventurous and create your own GameGenie codes. Back in the day you wanted to have a manual with you wanted to use a computer, as simply booting things required few lines of code. DOS commands have become more or less obsolete nowadays, but the Command Line still has some practical uses.

There seems to be sort of no-manual culture with some people. They take pride for not reading manuals and going in cold and learning as they go. I used to be like this as well, but the things that separates a manual and a schoolbook is that manual is not about theory; it is about the practice and how things will go when done properly. Experience is the best teacher by far, and theory is just the start, and manuals are the best way to begin with the experience.

Then again, there are times when manuals and theory just don’t work, and all you need to do is go in and get your hands dirty, and hope for the best. Or call an expert and have things done properly.

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