Feeds

Focus groups are for mugs

Unfortunately your product doesn’t work

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Journalists can be a contrary lot and IT journalists are no exception. Whatever we get asked to test and review, we’re never really happy with it. But that’s OK because the manufacturers and their PR companies, and often the readers too, are never happy with what we write either.

While the risks that IT journalists run tend to be legal and financial rather than that of physical violence (remember Sid Vicious’ bicycle-chain attack on legendary NME journalist Nick Kent?), we do try to think before writing. So it was with some nostalgia that I found myself fiddling with a rubber port cover on an old notebook the other day.

Why nostalgia? Because these port covers have all but vanished from today’s products. Back in the day, we journalists who wrote about laptops, palmtops, cameras and so on used to go on about these little buggers all the time. No port cover = bad (dirt and rain will get in). Plastic flap cover = bad (it will snap off). Rubber plug cover = bad (it will fall off and be lost). Tethered rubber cover = bad (fiddly, gets in the way).

Apple Newton Message Pad port cover

Practical design? Maybe the Apple Newton Message Pad wasn't but the power and serial port covers seemed sensible

It seems that in the end, manufacturers gave up, showed us two fingers and dispensed with the idea of port covers altogether. At first, I imagined this was because it doesn’t rain so much, or perhaps we live in a cleaner environment or that notebook suppliers always include a sleeve in the price. Ha ha, my little joke.

Someone must have made the decision, though. Was it the result of focus groups?

Steve Jobs was much quoted on this subject (“It's really hard to design products by focus groups” – Steve Jobs in BusinessWeek, 1998). Having once been invited to sit behind a two-way mirror during a magazine focus group, I can appreciate his policy.

Star Wars

Opinions matter: an intern gets quizzed on light sabre colour preferences
Source: Lucasfilm

Everyone has a strong opinion that they believe holds more gravity than anyone else’s; indeed that any other opinion expressed by other people is not really a valid opinion at all but a mere ‘rant’ or a ‘whine’. When they respond to questions, focus-group invitees deliver rambling speeches or enigmatic one-liners. Gather these people together in a room and it’s like herding Yodas.

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Next page: Listening skills

More from The Register

next story
4K-ing excellent TV is on its way ... in its own sweet time, natch
For decades Hollywood actually binned its 4K files. Doh!
Oi, Tim Cook. Apple Watch. I DARE you to tell me, IN PERSON, that it's secure
State attorney demands Apple CEO bows the knee to him
Apple's big bang: iPhone 6, ANOTHER iPhone 6 Plus and WATCH OUT
Let's >sigh< see what Cupertino has been up to for the past year
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Get your Indian Landfill Android One handsets - they're only SIXTY QUID
Cheap and deafening mobes for the subcontinental masses
Apple's SNEAKY plan: COPY ANDROID. Hello iPhone 6, Watch
Sizes, prices and all – but not for the wrist-o-puter
A SCORCHIO fatboy SSD: Samsung SSD850 PRO 3D V-NAND
4Gb/s speeds on a consumer drive, anyone?
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.