made-by-monkeys2

Good ideas with bad execution, or good execution of what should be bad ideas - an analysis of inferior, off-beat or malfunctioning products, and how other people's failures can help us design better stuff.

User Interfaces From Hell – Part II

moog.jpg An extremely complex GUI and instructions not included. John Volanski won an auction on eBay for Arturia Moog Modular software (an emulation of the Moog Modular analog synthesizer.) It showed up in his mailbox in brown paper wrap (never a good sign) sans the 300-page manual, which can’t be purchased separately. “Can you imagine using this thing without any instructions?” says Volanski. “I get mad everytime I think about it!” Our sentiments exactly.

Tags: analog synthesizer, auction, emulation, hell, user interfaces

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5 Comments

  1. December 02, 2007 22:15

    Interfaces from hell …

    I mentioned Electronics weekly and their made for Monkeys column. Two more of these caught my eye. User

  2. John Volanski
    November 28, 2007 19:22

    I will have to disagree with Old Whinger. Yes, in general, the set up of an analog synthesizer is straightforward the way VCOs, EGs, VCAs and VCFs interact. I have several at home such as the Minimoog and the ARP Odyssey- they are very intuitive. I never had a manual for either one yet was immediately able to produce music on them. However, the Moog Modular does have quite a few intricacies. If it didn’t, they could probably cover its operation in a 3 page manual rather than a 300 page manual! Also, all of the modules can be linked in any number of ways depending on how you connect them with the patch cords. Connecting them in different ways produces vastly different results.
    The trend now is to make software virtual instrument versions of all these old analog synthesizers (and some old digital ones also). Trying to keep an old analog synth (a real hardware one) up and running in tip top shape is quite a challenge. Then there are all the other issues such as oscillator stability, etc even when it is running correctly. If I want to use my hardware Minimoog, I need to turn it on ½ hour before I ever try to use it (for temperature stabilization inside of the unit) or else the oscillators will drift all over the place!

  3. Bam
    November 28, 2007 10:24

    Well its funny this has come up. I remember working for a company when we bought Checkpoint firewall. The license cost a fair whack. In all true software style.. all we got was a nice little orange box, with just a DVD no installation instructions no manual, infact just an invoice. The manual and training courses were on top!

  4. Bernard Green
    November 28, 2007 09:51

    It is frame of mind thing when you use this sort of thing…. you have to be in the right moog

  5. Old whinger
    November 28, 2007 09:50

    Actually, it is one of the most obvious things to use when you look up close. It resembles the real world devices exactly. Each unit in it own right was/is a simple device to use. When presented as a graphical display it looks a tad overloaded yes, but it still remains simple to use. Look to a modern snyth and ask your self how many buttons do I need to press to make this sound? On this system you merely link or adjust what you see to make it work. Very little understanding needed. Easier than some new Microwaves.

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