“Somehow it works” type of solution

My 2 years old BenQ FP92W monitor was acting funny for a couple of days. It all started when I managed to get a free DVI cable from our IT guy to take the full advantage of my Graphic Card. As with the image looks much better and I was able to see details not visible before using the D-Sub connection (regular VGA cable), the downside is that the monitor now refuses to start-up. It will displays the BenQ screen, but after a while the screen flickers and it went off.

Sometimes it will start up normally, under unknown reason but always at the Windows login screen right after you press Ctrl + Alt + Del and it pop out a password entry box. However then it refuses to work whatever I done, and it’s getting me quite nuts. It was working once when I connected both the D-Sub and the DVI cable together as suggested by a guy on the internet, but after I tried to tweak the BIOS setting it now refuses to work altogether.

Submitting the issue to our IT guy, however as much as he’d like to help, the only solution is to change my monitor temporarily until he can find out what’s wrong with this BenQ FP92W. And too bad we don’t have a spare with similar spec.

Having been in an IT helpdesk position before (slash designer, slash developer, slash sales), I got tempted to consult Google again. This time I go straight into finding out how to set the BenQ FP92W into its recovery mode. I believe with sophistication comes the resetting ability. And so I downloaded the BenQ FP92W user manual, and there I found information on how to solve the OSD lock. It was a whole different topic but the solution is to press the “Menu” button for 15 seconds. Seeing no harm in doing this, I tried it first before looking further for the specific problem I have.

Have the PC ready and presumably already on Windows login screen, I push the power button again, then quickly pressed the Menu button while the screen is flickering…

It’s funny how after about two seconds the screen stays on then shows: “Input: DVI” and the monitor is now turned on.

The solution somehow worked for this issue as well.

Case closed? I’m not sure. It’s all part of the mysterious “Somehow it works” kind of solution, but for now at least I can use my other PC again.

BenQ FP92W UX Issue

As with the BenQ FP92W, its sleek minimalist look helps on the aesthetic factor, but relocating all of the control buttons to the side is a bad UX decision for following reasons:

  1. The buttons, while accompanied by clear and standardized symbol or texts explaining its use, is completely invisible from the front view
  2. The buttons are not arranged in easy to discern meaning
  3. Though there are good separation and grouping of buttons, however with their identical shapes it doesn’t give a clue on what it’s suppose to do, making users have to rely on their vague memory
  4. If user choose to turn the monitor sideways, he has to switch his mind between reading the button label, and reading the on-screen display output

One of the solution to this issue is, to have the buttons in different shape, e.g.:

  1. Round button for the power function (mimicking the power symbol)
  2. Square button for the menu function
  3. Arrow up button for cycling up selection action
  4. Arrow down button for cycling down selection action
  5. Cross button for exiting or cancelling action

This way, we can train our fingers to familiarize with the different shapes, and create the association in our head. It’s still requires familiarization but now it relies on giving user clues, instead of forcing them to rely on their memory alone.

The other solution would be, to provide a visual clue on the front panel, on what the buttons hidden are. While it would still pose a challenge, it’s minimizing error and the hassles.

Another funny thing in this troubleshooting episode is, both UX and “Somehow It Works (SIW)” type of solutions both relies heavily on utilizing what user have already known. While UX relies on giving signals or clues to the user to apply knowledge they already know from somewhere else, SIW unconsciously drive a user to take the most familiar path in his mind, applying his knowledge and experience from a different field or cases, into the new problem at hand. When the solution works, the user seldom understand why it works, they just know it does. It happens because users  managed to came to the solution intuitively rather than educatively.

Good UX then, should always considers and taking advantage of what user have already know, instead of forcing them to familiarize with something radically different. (byms)

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