Who hasn’t had to deal with a glitch in just the past 24 hours? WiFi that’s stopped working, software that’s frozen, an app that needs to be shut down and reopened, or perhaps your favourite Netflix show is pausing and pixelating from time to time. Oh well…
A ‘glitch’ is by definition an irregularity or setback. It was first used in the astronautical world as slang for an equipment malfunction. We then began to introduce this word into our everyday lives (because let’s face it – everyone wanted to be a freaking astronaut in the 60s!) in real-word terms like, “The only glitch in his year was failing to pass his mid-year test.” But funnily enough, it has gone full circle and is again predominately used in technology.
If we now focus on the technology we use every day, can you tally the number of times you’ve had minor malfunctions, irregularities or setbacks in its use? I bet that just a few years ago, when you were first adopting new tech, these glitches drove you wild, right? Yet now you pause, wait, and just see how it goes for a while… If that fails, you reset and move on. Well, most of us anyway.
So this raises a question: Are we becoming numb to the glitches we experience in technology? Are we all so fixated on getting the newest smartphone, the latest software update, the best TV on the market that we accept that there are reasonable excuses for us to tolerate small problems?
I mean, we accept irregularities elsewhere in our lives, don’t we? The weather never seems to deliver as planned, traffic is a constant gamble and public transport here in Melbourne is hit-and-miss at best. But we’ve become accustomed to these setbacks and they don’t seem to bother us much anymore.
But I believe there’s a difference, and it’s a pretty big one. Your smartphone, all the software you own and your state-of-the-art TV are all heavily engineered. The companies that design, develop and manufacturer these items are massive, multi-million dollar businesses that you and I pay our hard-earned cash to so we can have the advanced tools, functionality and flair that we need in our tech-savvy lives. So why is it that there are glitches? Technology is an exact science, it’s nothing like the weather or the traffic, so why have we resigned ourselves to accepting substandard development?
Unfortunately, there is no one answer. Big business will argue that because of the high demand for new products these days, the time for testing has decreased, or that there are so many variables, if not infinite, that they could never predict the problems that might arise. Something they don’t tell you is that they are simply in the business of making money and that keeping a new product on the shelves for longer than required is not good for the shareholders.
So what do we do? Accept mediocrity or find a less flawed way?
My expertise is in the Smart Home market where there are new products seemingly every week. New door locks, smarter light bulbs, wireless energy monitors and entire home automation systems controlling everything that opens, closes, moves and squeaks. Now it would be very easy to promote the newest products available and position myself as ‘cutting edge.’ But when these new products fail, or experience glitches or recall/replacement , whose credibility is tainted? Mine. And who is the most affected by the nuisance? You. So how do we avoid these problems? Here are my top 4 tips:
Do more pre-planning.
Get rid of ‘impulse’ buying and buying at the last minute because you’ve got a problem that needs to be quickly resolved. It it’s products for your home, in many cases this will happen in conjunction with new constrution on a future home, or perhaps during a much-anticipated renovation or extension. It may even just be a case of repurposing a room, such as creating a home office. In any case, none of these happen overnight, so remember to consider the functionality and performance of the new construction or renovation as just as important as the aesthetics and finish. This will solve two problems: eliminating last-minute purchases and ensuring that the project works as good as it looks!
Avoid that brand-new product.
Easier said than done, right? We’ve seen people queuing up outside the Apple store at 5 am for a new release (maybe you’ve been in that line…), but how often do you hear about the inherent problems with 1st gen products? If you want to eliminate glitches, sometimes you’re going to need to swallow your pride, let go of your need to have what’s new, and look to tried, tested and trusted products and brands. You may argue that brands like Apple, Samsung and Sonos are more expensive, but weigh it up. Not only are 12-month-old products cheaper than 12-day-old, but also going with better-quality products will reduce maintenance, headaches, and in the home office scenario, downtime, which can cost a fortune.
Don’t forget the backbone.
Smart TVs, multi-room audio systems, electronic locks, smartphones… All these items have one very, very important thing in common. They require high levels of communication. This may happen in varying forms, from ethernet to Wi-Fi to Bluetooth and countless others.
This very fundamental aspect of technology is a more common problem in the Smart Home market than any other by 10-fold. Infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure. Make sure the items that can be hard-wired (ethernet) are, and make sure you have a high-quality Wi-Fi router and expanders if needed. If you’re going with a central hub-type automation system, make sure you get a good one and make sure you get the highest possible connection to the internet. This all may seem boring and trivial, but your $10,000 smart TV will act like a $500 imitation if you don’t put some thought into this.
Bring in the professionals.
Yikes! Who would’ve thought there was so much to it? Well, there certainly doesn’t have to be. There are pros out there to diagnose the problems and engineer the solutions to any scenario. Whether it’s a residential project requiring Smart Home experts or functional designers, or a technology specialist for a business, it can all be outsourced. In my humble opinion this is the very best way to eliminate glitches. If something does happen to go wrong, you have someone to call, to be held accountable and get it sorted out efficiently and professionally so your newfound glitch-free life can continue.