On Off

I don’t know where the on/off switch is on the PS4. Up until yesterday, I didn’t know where the disc drive was either.

I’ve had the PS4 for a year now, I use it quite a bit. And I have genuinely no idea how to turn it on and off using the console itself.

At least with the whole not knowing where the disc goes in thing I’ve got a vague excuse in that I very, very rarely put discs in anything that isn’t a WiiU. I asked for a BluRay drive and burner when I got this PC built at around the same time I bought the PS4. I’ve now used the disc drive on the PS4 more times than I’ve used the drive in this computer. I’ve used the disc drive on the PS4 precisely one whole time.

But the on/off switch? I have no idea.

At the moment, the closest thing I can compare me trying to turn the PS4 on to is that scene from Flash Gordon where Peter Duncan sticks his hand in a tree and hopes it doesn’t get munched on. I open up the cabinet under the television (I’m old, old people have cabinets), I put my hand in and I just push things, nudge things, press against the plastic of the PS4 in the hope that at some point it’ll come on. I don’t know if my arm will get eaten but you never know where the cat is going to be, it’s always pot luck in this house.

I find tech from the past few years strange. I don’t know where the on and off switch is on my PS4. I have to use a search engine to find out how to do a lot of basic things with my phone and even now I know how to take a screengrab, it seems kinda unreliable. Like, I’m pressing these buttons down and maybe, just maybe it’ll do what I want it to if the stars are aligned and everyone’s really quiet or something. I don’t understand what most of the icons on most of the recent apps on my iPad actually do since the past few years has seen flat minimalist design take a hold over usability. I shudder every time I have to open the Windows 10 ‘Windows 10-y’ options screens on my computer because they’re caught somewhere between ugly and unfathomable.

It seemed that for a few years we were designing tech to solve usability problems, to make things clearer. And then here we are. A plastic slab where I have to try and guess where the on button is and most of my tech full of icons that have no real world equivalence I can draw from, lines, arrows, hamburgers. It feels like everything is trying to become the sort of opaque that we held Blender in special regard for and I don’t understand it.

I’m not sure why we’re at the point where the sanctity of our designs takes precedence over the ability to easily discover basic usability features but fuck, I hope we get out of it soon.