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10 Top Video Parodies on User Interfaces

As you may know, the people of Scotland are holding a referendum today to decide whether they wish to remain part of the United Kingdom (UK) or to become fully independent and “go it alone.” Actually, before we continue, it might be worth our while to pause for a moment and explain the difference between terms like England, Britain, and Great Britain, which can be confusing to people who don’t live there (and even to people who do). Here's what I say in Wroting Inglish — my ongoing hobby book project I'm currently in the process of writing:

Let’s start with the fact that England and Scotland are kingdoms, while Wales is a principality. Britain refers to the combination of England and Wales. This name was made popular by the Romans when they invaded the British Islands around 2,000 years ago. By comparison, Great Britain refers to the combination of Britain (England and Wales) and Scotland, while the United Kingdom refers to the combination of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Also, while we’re on this topic, there’s a difference between the terms “British Islands” and “British Isles.” The British Islands consist of the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands (the principals of which are Guernsey and Jersey), and the Isle of Man. Meanwhile, the British Isles is an archipelago consisting of the two large islands of Great Britain and Ireland, along with over 6,000 smaller surrounding islands.

There, you see, it's all quite simple really. (Well, it would be a lot simpler if you could see the illustrations in my book, but we'll save that for another day.) Anyway, the reason I mention this here is that a friend sent me a link to this video showing two Scotsmen in an elevator (lift) that doesn’t have any buttons. Instead, it boasts speech recognition technology.

In turn, this reminded me of some other user interface parodies I've seen over the years — some that are old chestnuts, some that deserve to be called classics, and some that have only recently appeared on the scene. Take a look at the following and tell me which you like the best.

  1. Speech Recognition
  2. MacBook Wheel
  3. Scandinavian BookBook
  4. Medieval Help Desk
  5. Useless Machine
  6. Windows 8 Consumer Preview

To see the rest of the list, visit EBN's sister publication EE Times .

Do you remember that classic spoof video in The Onion when they did an article on Apple unveiling the MacBook Wheel? You know — the computer that lets users accomplish everyday tasks like typing with just a few dozen spins and clicks of a wheel.

This was so well done, with the “reporter” enthusiastically saying “Say goodbye to the keyboard and hello to the future of laptop computers!” I love the part where the designer says, “You can also let the predictive sentence technology complete the sentence for you.” (The examples shown remind me of my own writings.)

  1. Speech Recognition
  2. MacBook Wheel
  3. Scandinavian BookBook
  4. Medieval Help Desk
  5. Useless Machine
  6. Windows 8 Consumer Preview

To see the rest of the list, visit EBN's sister publication EE Times .

Since we were just talking about Apple, this video of a so-called BookBook is a really well-made parody by IKEA poking fun at Apple.

I love the joyful sincerity of the soft-spoken young presenter. I can’t remember what, but this presentation style reminds me of things I've seen in the real world. The fun part is how the presenter puts such a positive spin on down-to-earth realities.

  1. Speech Recognition
  2. MacBook Wheel
  3. Scandinavian BookBook
  4. Medieval Help Desk
  5. Useless Machine
  6. Windows 8 Consumer Preview

To see the rest of the list, visit EBN's sister publication EE Times .

Of course, as soon as we start talking about books, I'm immediately reminded of this video showing a representative from a Medieval help desk trying to guide a monk who is having difficulties moving from scrolls to books.

The monk has tremendous problems wrapping his brain around simple concepts like opening and closing the book and turning its pages. The sad thing is how this reminds me of some of the people I know when it comes to computers — they have the same “deer in the headlights” look when you say things like “open the folder.”

  1. Speech Recognition
  2. MacBook Wheel
  3. Scandinavian BookBook
  4. Medieval Help Desk
  5. Useless Machine
  6. Windows 8 Consumer Preview

To see the rest of the list, visit EBN's sister publication EE Times .

I know this is little off-track, but have you ever seen one of those “Useless Machines?” These are boxes with a single switch on one side of the top of the box. If you click the switch to its “on” position, a “finger” pops out of the other side and turns it off again. I actually have one on my desk (next to my USB Pet Rock). Well, I just saw this video in which two useless machines are controlling each other.

Now, that's a useless user interface if I ever saw one. On the other hand, a lot of these things — like the one on my desk — are controlled by a simple feedback loop. Using an Arduino, as demonstrated in the above video, opens up a lot more possibilities. Hmm …

  1. Speech Recognition
  2. MacBook Wheel
  3. Scandinavian BookBook
  4. Medieval Help Desk
  5. Useless Machine
  6. Windows 8 Consumer Preview

To see the rest of the list, visit EBN's sister publication EE Times .

OK, back to real user interfaces, or parodies thereof. I've lived with Windows since the dark days of Windows 3.1. Like other users, I have my pet peeves. I was happy with Windows 95. I was disgruntled when I had to move to Windows 98. I was sort of OK with Windows 2000. I was more than OK with Windows XP. I never took the plunge with Windows Vista. I was very happy with Windows 7. And then they introduced Windows 8, which leads us to this video.

There's a line where the presenter says something like, “Windows 8 is designed to be natively unusable with mouse, trackball, trackpad …” All I can say is that I'm laughing through my tears.

  1. Speech Recognition
  2. MacBook Wheel
  3. Scandinavian BookBook
  4. Medieval Help Desk
  5. Useless Machine
  6. Windows 8 Consumer Preview

To see the rest of the list, visit EBN's sister publication EE Times .

13 comments on “10 Top Video Parodies on User Interfaces

  1. Eldredge
    September 26, 2014

    I would pick the Windows 8 Consumer Preview – I found the analysis to be refreshnigly honest!

  2. Himanshugupta
    September 28, 2014

    First of all, i am amazed at my ignorance about the UK and its geography (pun intended!). Secondly, i find parody a good way to make fun of the difficulty with technology. Kudos! 

  3. _hm
    September 28, 2014

    Ikea BookBook is genius, one step ahead of Apple. Ikea and Apple may have same genes of innovation!

  4. Houngbo_Hospice
    September 29, 2014

    @_hm

    “Ikea BookBook is genius, one step ahead of Apple.”

    It is good to know that Apple is not the only innovative company. But what is innovative about the Ikea BookBook?

  5. Ariella
    September 30, 2014

    @HM the innovation was in the marketing value — how Ikea promoted the book..

  6. ahdand
    September 30, 2014

    @Ariella: Indeed, everything depends on how you express the thought process towards the market. 

  7. Susan Fourtané
    September 30, 2014

    I do. 😀 They are just great. That BookBook is super funny. It's even funnier how he makes fun of the overused word “amazing,” in case you didn't notice. 😀 

    -Susan 

  8. Susan Fourtané
    September 30, 2014

    The Scottish accent is one of the sexiest accents. 🙂 

    To add to the lesson in Geography let's have some history about the same. 😀

    Thousands of moons ago, when Queen Elizabeth I was reigning in Britain (England and Wales), King James I (son of Mary Stuart, sister of Elizabeth) was King of Scotland. When Elizabeth died, James became King of England as well.

    To make it easier for him, he united the kingdoms of England and Scotland so they became the United Kingdom of Great Britain.

    It was James I as well who added the red cross of the English flag to the blue and white Scotish flag, and the new flag of the United Kingdom was created. 🙂 

    -Susan 

     

  9. Susan Fourtané
    September 30, 2014

    Himanshu, 

    Maybe you want to check out my comment below. 🙂 

    -Susan

  10. _hm
    September 30, 2014

    @Ariella: Yes. But almost all Ikea products are wonderful designs.

    Also if you try 50 cent hot dog and 50 cent frozen yogurt and 50 cent chocolate bar or 1 dollar breakfast at Ikea, you find Ikea much more appealing. Oh forgot to mention play room for enfants.

  11. Ariella
    September 30, 2014

    @Susan maybe that's why the present Doctor speaks with it.

  12. Ariella
    September 30, 2014

    @_hm the playroom is very impressive looking. But we have gone there at times when there were no available slots for our kids, which was rather disappointing. 

  13. Susan Fourtané
    October 2, 2014

    Ariella, 

    Yes, also. But the elevator parody reminded me to a stronger, or different Scottish accent, like Neil Oliver's, for example. He is a Scottish archaelogist, historian, and author. He can speak for hours and keep the audience hypnotized and engaged. It may be because he is very passionate about history, too. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LSBWx0MIT-M 

    -Susan  

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