Wondering about wild grapes

Monday, January 31, 2011

Wondering about touch screen computers.

Yesterday, my wife was watching one of those TV channels that sell things 24 hours a day. This one happened to be QVC. Her two favorite channels are QVC and HSN (Home Shopping Network). I am not sure what QVC stands for. Maybe it is ‘Quality, Value, and Convenience’ or maybe it is ‘Quick, Vain, Cash’?

Anyway, they were selling a touch screen computer. I told my wife that a touch screen was old technology and really not that convenient. When I worked a contract job with G.E. Nuclear, they had a touch screen monitor set up on a computer system that controlled a special heat treat application and that was back at the end of the 1980’s

Touch screen control over a computer is a great idea for controlling equipment or processes. They are easy to use, the commands are all visual, and the screen can be mounted on the wall or in a control panel.

As for the regular use of home computers, I don’t think it is such a good idea. I know I wouldn’t use it, and if I did, only for short commands. I now sit back in my office chair with the keyboard on my lap. The mouse is at my right hand. I sure would not want to have to reach up and keep touching the screen to operate my computer. That would be very tiring.

Yea, I know, it looks neat. Well, it is, and for non-industrial use, it is really only for show. It is like, “Hey look Ma, no mouse and no keyboard”. Kind of reminds me of, “Hey look Ma, no hands”. Right after that last statement, Ma is picking you up and dressing your wounds.

Yes, I know, I may be a little old fashioned, but I have been known to work 12 to 14 hours a day, 7 days a week, when I had a rush project to do. If I had to be reaching up and touching a screen for all those commands, my arms would have fallen off.

Don’t yell at me, I know even if you have a touch screen you can still use your mouse and keyboard. I think this time I will keep my money and pass on a “touch” screen. We did order another new electronic “toy” from QVC and it should arrive in a couple of days. Will have to tell you about that, but will wait to see how it works out, first.

Have a good week.


  1. Hey Dick,
    I tried out an HP Touchscreen at Walmart one day a few months back. Thought it was neat, even though I wasn't in the market for a new computer, but I kept thinking that very thing, "would I want to keep reaching up every time I wanted to do something?" I wouldn't and then and there decided if this one ever dies, I WON'T be getting a touchscreen.
    Let me guess..you got the Sony DVR converter thing that makes VCR's into DVD's? I watch QVC and HSN at lot too, I lOVE your wife, my kind of gal! Have a good week, my friend!

  2. I have two differing opinions about this, and it stems from the fact that I can put a computer user generally into one of two categories: producers and consumers.

    The consumers are those who are buying devices such as iPads and smartphones and finding that they are simply not returning to their regular computers for any reason. In order for this to be effective, you have to stick with applications which simply don't require a lot of input, which means a lot of special attention to the ui of the device. Windows never did this well, Palm was the first to make it work, and Apple made it sexy when the iphone came out. These people love their videos, web browsing, ebooks, and generally limit their typing to Facebook comments or tweets. There are a lot more of them than you think.

    For the producers, you want a full desktop os. The keyboard remains the most effective way of getting data into a computer, and the mouse is a minor annoyance which is only rarely required. These people often use larger screens and smaller resolutions to get as much data as possible in their view at one time. For them, the touch screen is annoying, if for no other reason that the ambiguity of the size of the finger tip on the screen vs the pixel perfect mouse cursor can cause erroneousness input.

    You and I are definitely in the latter category.

  3. Kathie, no, you guessed wrong. I will tell all about it after I have a chance to get it and try it out. Will need a little time to find out what all it will or will not do.

    Grant, Yes you are absolutely correct, except the part about the mouse being a minor annoyance. I do engineering design and detail and also make complacted solid models. A mouse is a necessity. The mouse eliminated the digitizer tablet.

  4. As a machinist I have used many touch screens on CNC equipment and it does seem to work at McDonalds! As the keyboards keep getting smaller and harder to type on I would try it.

  5. Frann, as I stated in my blog, they are great for industrial use. I just think that a keyboard and mouse are the easiest and quickest way to input information and commands.

    I can type a command in quicker than I can pick it out of a menu. We are all different and use computers in different ways, so not one method is right for everyone.

  6. Give me a keyboard. I can type reasonably fast. Never liked the on-screen touch. Too slow for what I do. Did get pretty good with the Palm TX writing system. Still have one, but mostly use it to download podcasts to listen to in the truck.

  7. Sixbears, know what you mean. I need to learn to use those moblile thingies.. .

    Ernest, I believe that they can be wiped clean. Definitely don't want my finger prints on it to show where I have been. . .

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