Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The company with the computer for the rest of us forgot the rest of us

When Apple introduced the Macintosh in 1984, they dubbed it "The Computer for the Rest of Us".  With its WIMP interface (Windows, Icons, Menus, Pictures) it was certainly a step up from the alphabetic command interface of all the other microcomputers of the time.  Even an experienced assembly-language programmer like me found the interface superior to remembering a whole bunch of commands that had to be spelled correctly with the correct syntax.

Over the decades, Apple has introduced hundreds of ideas that make Macintoshes, iPhones, and iPad even easier to use, mostly.  But sometimes they are devilishly difficult to use.  A case in point is trying to do a simple thing like buy an eBook.

My wife wanted an eBook for a book group that meets this week because she was unable to get it at the library in time.  She has never bought an eBook for her iPad mini, and even though she taught computer classes for years, she would rather have me do it.

She gave me the title, her AppleID, and her password.  I found the book in a few minutes.  I pressed on the price which turned into a "Buy Book" button.  Why not have a separate "Buy Book" button?  I pressed the "Buy Book" button and the price appeared again.  Sometimes the button changed to downloading, but the gear icon for internet use never appeared.  Eventually, for some reason the iPad eventually asked for my wife's password.  I entered that.  The iPad asked if she wanted to select security questions.  I clicked "Not now".  Now we saw the price button again.  Repeat and repeat.

Finally, I clicked that we would select security questions.  I had to enter her password again.  Remember that poking a small screen is more cumbersome than a full-size keyboard.  We selected the questions and gave the answers.

Now, as expected, we had to give payment method details.  I don't remember if we had to enter her password before we could proceed.  It certainly seemed as if we did.  I gave the payment details, and I was asked again for her password.

Now I could click on the price, click on the resulting "Buy Book", and once again enter her password.  Finally we see the "downloading" button stay on and the gear go round and round.  In a few minutes she had her book and her acknowledgment of activity in her email.

She is now in her favorite chair with her iPad mini, engrossed in her book.  Once I post this diatribe I hope I will be engrossed in the latest hardcover John Lescroart murder mystery.