I am on a KLM flight from Amsterdam to Sao Paulo. The 777 is equipped with KLM’s top of the line in flight entertainment system which is actually pretty good. Having access to more than 100 movies (in economy class) is rivaled only by bittorrent (note to self: try to download movies on my next connexion equipped lufthansa flight). The system also includes SMS/email capabilities (send SMS for just USD 2.50 apiece! w00t!). to compose SMS messages you have to move a cursor across an on screen keyboard with a four way controller on the remote thingy that is contained in your armrest. now this is the poorest user interface i have ever used. It took me about 10 times as long to send a SMS as it usually does (and i am ridiculously slow with my phone). The interface really sucks especially if u have to use the 4 way to move the cursor to the arrow keys on the virtual keyboard on screen in order to move the cursor in the text entry field. Extremely redundant interface layers. it becomes even more redundant (or should i say frustrating/idiotic) if one realizes that the back of the remote thingy actually is a phone complete with letters on the number keys. But of course they don’t work in the SMS section.
Of course there is nobody on the whole damn plane that you could even explain – let alone complain to about – this royal (dutch) interface fuck-up. And if you ask me this is part of a much wider problem that gets more serious as more and more transactions get automated. I have serious gripes with the interfaces of the dutch and german rail ticket vending machines that effectively keep me from using them and there is no one standing next to them to listen to my complaints. The only people you could possibly complain to are the people who are slowly getting replaced by the same machines (the agents at the counters at the railway station) and that makes it feel extremely awkward to address such issues to them (‘sorry sir i think the machine that will get you fired from your job could be made a bit more user friendly so you can loose you job a bit faster…’).