Max volume button on mixer scale can cause hearing damage

Bug #548543 reported by Paul van Genderen on 2010-03-26
This bug affects 1 person
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
Ayatana Design
indicator-sound (Ubuntu)
Matthew Paul Thomas

Bug Description

Binary package hint: gnome-applets

Please return to the old behaviour of having incremental loud/quiet buttons rather then the current scale with its pseudobuttons that set an absolute value. The interface is somewhat unintuitive, which could be better addressed in U+1. Thing is, it's not obvious what the right button exactly does until it's clicked.

My ears still hurt, and according to some, I was already deaf!

Paul van Genderen (paulvg) wrote :

It's actually indicator-sound, with the actual scale sitting in libido.

affects: gnome-applets (Ubuntu) → indicator-sound (Ubuntu)
Changed in indicator-sound (Ubuntu):
assignee: nobody → Paul van Genderen (paulvg)
assignee: Paul van Genderen (paulvg) → nobody
summary: - Max volume button on mixer scale can cause ear damage
+ Max volume button on mixer scale can cause hearing damage
Conor Curran (cjcurran) wrote :

The indicator-sound does not overdrive the volume. The scale is from 0..100 percent. The function of the buttons to go from 0 level to full level is in the design therefore I will have to mark this as a wishlist.

Changed in indicator-sound (Ubuntu):
status: New → Invalid
Conor Curran (cjcurran) wrote :

won't let me mark as wishlist therefore will mark as invalid.

Paul van Genderen (paulvg) wrote :

Of course this is a wishlist bug but there's no such thing as wishlist status only priority. I can't change that myself either, but I would've done that already if I could. Marking it as invalid effectively cancels this bug completely and I see no justification for that at this point.

The title and description could be improved, sure, completely invalid it's not.

Changed in indicator-sound (Ubuntu):
status: Invalid → New
Omer Akram (om26er) on 2010-04-13
Changed in indicator-sound (Ubuntu):
importance: Undecided → Wishlist
status: New → Triaged
Conor Curran (cjcurran) wrote :

i believe this needs to be raised on the ayatana mailing list. As it is a design issue ...

Changed in indicator-sound (Ubuntu):
assignee: nobody → Conor Curran (cjcurran)
assignee: Conor Curran (cjcurran) → Matthew Paul Thomas (mpt)
Matthew Paul Thomas (mpt) wrote :

Thanks for the suggestion. However, having a separate set of buttons for incremental volume change wouldn't be useful, because that's precisely what the slider is already for. The buttons exist to do something else, i.e. provide shortcuts to minimum and maximum volume. What they do is conveyed by their icons.

There are other ways we could help prevent hearing damage, though. One would be using tick sounds to confirm the volume level whenever you change the volume. Another would be fading up any sudden increase in volume over a second or two, to give you time to undo it.

Changed in indicator-sound (Ubuntu):
status: Triaged → New
Paul van Genderen (paulvg) wrote :

> What they do is conveyed by their icons.
You'd have to study the icons first, so I'd say the icons are hiding what they do, not conveying it.

> One would be using tick sounds to confirm the volume level whenever you change the volume.
No, won't work. The usual "workflow" here is: Open Rhythmbox, play music, like it, click the volume icon, make it louder.

> Another would be fading up any sudden increase in volume over a second or two, to give you time to undo it.
Great, let's fix counter-intuitive behaviour by adding more counter-intuitive behaviour. This would definately look like a bug to many.

If you don't want incremental buttons, just don't have any buttons at all and make sure arrow keys still work regardless.

Alex Beels (arbeels-ossf) wrote :

I second Paul's suggestion, and encourage you to bring it up on the mailing list.

Aside from the question of hearing damage, having a max-volume button that you might hit accidentally presents other dangers, such as creating a disturbance in public spaces/offices where low volume may be appropriate, but high volume might not. Sudden volume changes to 0% can make the listener miss a few words in a conversation. Sudden volume changes to 100% can get the listener in trouble with his boss.

If someone wants full volume, he can easily get it by moving the slider. The slider is very hard to change accidentally, while it is quite easy to click a button accidentally.

As far as the interface is concerned, I would argue that the function of the icons is not obvious at all.

First of all, there is a strong convention across devices where volume control buttons are concerned: buttons are provided for increase and decrease volume, with possibly the option of mute. This is how the volume buttons work on my laptop, on my mother's iBook, on my old mp3 player, etc. Two buttons means +/-. Three buttons means +/- and mute. A full-volume button is a big innovation, one I have never seen or heard of before. Therefore, when user looks at indicator-sound the first time, as I did recently, those icons look like +/-, not like full/mute.

Second, there is already a mute button right above the volume control. There couldn't possibly be two mute buttons right next to each other, right? So again the new user assumes that the icons are +/-, not full/mute.

Third, there is another very strong convention for sliders accompanied by buttons: scrollbars. The volume control appears to be a stylised scrollbar, and the naive user will assume that the buttons do what scrollbar buttons do: increase or decrease the slider by a small amount.

Of course, on close examination, the icons are indeed copies of the 0% and 100% icons in my icon theme. But I didn't notice that until I looked very carefully before writing this comment. Up until then, I assumed that they were +/- buttons, just like Paul did.

Conor Curran (cjcurran) on 2010-10-01
Changed in indicator-sound (Ubuntu):
status: New → Opinion
Changed in indicator-sound (Ubuntu):
status: Opinion → New
Conor Curran (cjcurran) wrote :

There is no bug related to this only a decision with regards how the max and min hot spots should work.

affects: indicator-sound → ayatana-design
John Lea (johnlea) on 2010-12-16
Changed in ayatana-design:
status: New → Incomplete
Conor Curran (cjcurran) on 2011-02-07
Changed in indicator-sound (Ubuntu):
status: New → Opinion
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