Archives / 2003 / June
  • What a sewing machine taught me about user interfaces

    My wife has just taken up a new hobby of making teddy bears. Which meant she had to buy a sewing machine. She had a look at the manual and said that looks complicated why don't you look at it, you like gadgets and work in computing. Of course I am a developer and the mere thought of hardware sends shivers down my spine. Anyway I read through the manual, which was very detailed and tried to explain everything. The problem was I had never used a sewing machine and so I was uncertain what I was meant to achieve. Why for example did you need two threads one from above and one from below. I realised I could follow all the pictures but and understand all the words but I was still lost. I especially liked the lever called "dog feeder control". I was half expecting an ultrasonic sound to be issued and all the dogs in the neighbourhood to suddenly appear. Eventually, once we had done everything it all seemed very simple.