This apparently meant embedding grains of sand in the latex. I remember that, growing up, I had seen condoms and had read Where Did I Come From? (hippie parents), but had no idea how these grains of sand were meant to enhance sex, even the sort of smooshy-gooshy idea I had of sex back then.
Honestly, I'm 36 now and still have no idea what the hell they were thinking. I don't know if they sell those condoms any more. If they do, I'd like to caution my younger viewers: I've never met a female whose response wasn't: "OUCH! SON OF CHRIST! WHAT THE FRAK! WHY WOULD SOMEONE PUT GRAINS OF SAND IN THAT FRAKKING THING?" (Only, without all the BSG talk.)
I think of the phrase "enhanced for her pleasure" every time I boot up my stupid digital video recorder (DVR), because somehow Microsoft managed to talk my cable monopoly into selling me a box that constantly, on every screen, in the upper-right corner, says, "Microsoft Enhanced."
And, much like tiny grains of sand in your genitals, this recorder has so many idiotic annoyances and glitches that I wonder, "What do you guys think enhanced means?" and "WHY would you WANT your name associated with this?" (To both Comcast _and_ Microsoft, I think that.)
I mean, ok, it can, mostly, record TV programs. I mean, sometimes it does. Other times, it just decides not to. I mean, it'll SAY it's going to record all episodes of LOST at 9PM on Wednesdays on Channel 102, and there will BE Lost at 9PM this Wednesday on Channel 102, but it'll say, "Nothing more scheduled to record," even though it's the one that made up the criteria, and it did manage to record the first half of the season, and I can see the other shows in the schedule. Maybe the second half of the season stinks? I'll never know, because, hey, it decided not to record it. (Only 78% full! I checked!)
Microsoft Enhanced! For her pleasure!
But, hey, I'm fine with having to come home before my favorite shows and unschedule them and then reschedule them so my DVR will suddenly decide it's OK to record them again. I like to think of it as sort of rotating the tires; I keep the show schedule fresh. It's amazing how much less TV you'll watch when you have to reschedule everything every week, too. Besides, it's not like the POINT of having a DVR is you DON'T have to be there to start each recording manually. And this is first-generation technology, right? Right? I mean, there's NEVER been any other brands of DVRs, right? Microsoft invented this shit, no? And enhanced it?
But my actual least-favorite "enhancement" is that this DVR decides, whenever I turn it on, that it should default to showing me some stupid channel, full volume. Because, god, what would I do alone in a room with only silence to comfort me? Mayhap I would die. Now, silly "user interface experts" would argue that the idea behind a DVR is that you're a discriminating TV viewer; that you, in fact, hate the vast wasteland that is TV, and that every moment you are exposed to programs that aren't among the 4 or 5 tolerable ones you have selected is actually quite painful. (Think I'm exaggerating? Watch all of "Elimidate." Just once. Then let's talk about pain.)
So, I turn on this stupid DVR (whisper it with me as you press the power button... "microsoft enhanced"... like the wind at your windows) and it starts BLARING whatever is playing on whatever channel it last recorded, because that's probably the best default option, right?
It wouldn't be reasonable to present me, silently, with a menu of shows I've recorded, right? No. Because the most likely answer to "Why did Wil turn on the TV at 2:15AM?" is not "to watch one of the five shows he recorded this week, as he does every week, which is all he ever does with this stupid device," it's "TO WATCH THE LAST 15 MINUTES OF ELIMIDATE! BONK-BONK-WONK-WONK WONK-WONK WONK-WONK, BEOMP BEOMP BEOMP!""
But even that's not enough. As I work through the menu systems, it continues to give me a feed of some random channel in the upper-left hand corner. I'd like to point out that there are something like 900 channels on this system. It doesn't care which one it's showing me. It's just knows that I need to be seeing TV, dammit. I don't care if it's infomercials for electric knives on the Discovery channel at 4AM, that shit is BETTER THAN SILENCE. SILENCE IS THE SOUL-KILLER.
WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH THE PEOPLE WHO WORK AT MICROSOFT! SERIOUSLY! Do they really enjoy all this noise? IT'S MICROSOFT MOTHERFUCKING ENHANCED, FOR HER MOTHERFUCKING PLEASURE!
If I watch a show, like the season finale of Battlestar Galactica this year, which left me shaking with anger and pleasure at the same time, and then, after the screen fades silently to black, I go back to the main menu, my little Microsoft Enhanced friend is right there for me. "Show's over! Let me pick a channel and show you crap! Full volume! Right up here in the upper left! Having trouble picking a show because I'm yelling at you? About crap? Crap you don't care about? Just ignore me! Go on, pick a show! C'mon, what's wrong, you freezing up? Just pick one! Hell, I'll do it! I'm Microsoft Enhanced! For her pleasure!"
There's other annoyances. For example, if you fast-forward through commercials, and then press "play" when you're actually, you know, back into the program, an incredibly sophisticated set of things happens inside the DVR, none of which are "pleasing." The first is, the machine is so poorly-designed that ANY keypress takes a second or so to register, so it'll appear that you did NOT press play for a second, and the PVR will blithely zip ahead for a while longer. Then, to make up for this fact, they will REWIND the recording some bizarre and ever-changing amount based on their assumption of how slow they think you might react to the show having starting up again.
I'm guessing they tested this DVR on people with Parkinson's disease, because they typically rewind a full THIRTY seconds to before the spot where I pressed play. Try imagine the kind of calculation you have to do on the fly: "Ok, I saw the show begin, so I need to press play sometime soon so that I can start the pause to when the auto-rewind will take me back to before some amount based on the current fast-forward mode I'm in..." I usually spend thirty or forty seconds oscillating around the beginning of the show. It's like Microsoft doesn't WANT me to skip ads! Whaaa? What about her pleasure? Please tell me you didn't forget about her?
And then let's talk about the pause button. If I press the pause button during live TV, which I do a lot, the machine actually waits a second to pause, then stutters, then replays the last two seconds and adds a bonus second I haven't seen before, then really pauses. It's like a kid who wants to test your limits when you tell him to shut up. "Hey, give me a candy bar! Give me a candy bar! Give.." "SHUT UP!" ".. Give me a candy...?" When I first started pressing pause I'd get fooled by the stutter every time and think it hadn't REALLY paused, so I'd press it again, so in another second it'd resume, which made me think maybe the pause button really was the mislabeled "two-second-respite" button.
The stuttering pause is annoying all the more because the pause button is my only savior, because when I first turn the DVR and TV on, 'pause' is the ONLY button that will stop the noise. Let's think about this. You turn this device on and there is NOTHING you can do, short of finding the one button out of 800 that's labeled 'pause' (by definition, a temporary block) to stop it from blaring crap at you. Crap that you don't want, and never wanted. Now, I'd like to point out, the "stop" button doesn't work in Live TV mode. You can't say, "No, I don't want a channel going, I'd just like silence." Sure, you can pick WHICH channel of crap you to view, and you can ask for a brief break from crap, but you can't pick "No Crap." Because, you know... the enhancements... the ones made by Microsoft.
And if you pause the live feed for that glorious, brief release, and choose and then play a program you like, and then stop that program... the PVR will go back to live. Yes, it unpaused itself while you were watching what you actually wanted to watch. "Hey, uh, we noticed you left us all paused, there, for like an hour, and, uh, we figured, 'that can't be right', so we just restarted the channel of crap there for you in the upper-left. No charge this time, buddy. Just thank Microsoft Enhanced."
The impression you get from this device (admittedly, sold to me by Comcast, my cable company BY LAW MOTHERFUCKER) is that TV is not just like a faucet, it is more like a stream. If you block the flow of TV for more than a few minutes you will JAM UP THE CABLE FLOW AND CAUSE SERIOUS HARM TO SOMETHING. THE PRESSURE WILL BUILD. THE ENHANCEMENTS WILL SUFFER. THOSE BASS FISH AREN'T GOING TO CATCH THEMSELVES. THE WINDBAGS ON CNN HAVE IMPORTANT STORIES ABOUT MURDERS AND KITTENS TO TELL. I feel like I'm in Max Headroom: 20 Minutes in the Future, where all TV sets were permanently stuck "on" by law.
Here's the kicker: pausing the live feed actually starts a timer, because the PVR is still recording its randomly-selected channel in the hopes that you'll later give it a reprieve and watch whatever random crap was on. I mean, maybe you just need to go to the bathroom, and didn't want to miss the part where the electric knife can cut through a frozen pizza AND a slice of bread -- LENGTHWISE! But, here's the best part: after a couple hours of recording, the PVR will run out of disk space from recording this live TV feed. (Which, remember, you cannot turn off.) What would be a reasonable thing to do here. Let's look at this as dispassionate UI designers, OK?
You're making a PVR. Someone pressed pause six hours ago. You've been recording live video with the assumption the person might come back, but now you've run out of disk space. The screen has been frozen for six hours. Might you, the putative UI designer, assume at this point that the person has left? That their TV is now off and they're done with the system? And, thus, when you run out of disk space, you'd say, "Heck, I'll hold onto this live feed stuff until the user comes back, or until some other program comes on that the user actually asks me to record, but until then I'll just go into sleep mode."
NO! IDIOT! The TV must flow! The person probably fell into a stupor. The logical thing to do is RESUME LIVE PLAY. That'll wake 'em up!
And indeed it has. No joking, in the days before I learned this cute little UI decision, I paused my DVR (instead of turning it off), turned off my TV (but not my 500 watt stereo), went to bed, and been woken up THREE TIMES in the last year at 4AM to some ads blaring at the top of their lungs in the next room, because the DVR ran out of air and just HAD TO GET IT ALL OUT! I CANNOT WASTE THE PRECIOUS STREAM OF CRAP! Let me tell you, waking up to this will make a grown man wet his bed. I'm not proud of it, but there it is.
Microsoft Enhanced. For their pleasure.
Labels: interface design