It’s an odd time, this corona pandemic. In developed nations such as the Netherlands, we are suddenly discovering that we didn’t need all those shiny office buildings after all. Thanks to our broadband internet infrastructure, we are videoconferencing the hell out of everything. Unfortunately, it also puts some annoying design decisions into the spotlight.

I’m not talking about design decisions like the city hall building in the town of Hardenberg, nominated the ugliest building in the Netherlands. We could have been spared this monstrosity if only the corona pandemic had been a few years sooner. With all their civil servants working from home, the council might have decided against a new city hall. There would have been no need to inflict this building on all of us.

CIty Hall, Hardenberg. Also known as the ugliest building in The Netherlands. PaulSeveral, Gemeentehuis Hardenberg, CC BY-SA 4.0

I’m referring to a design decision that’s much smaller but also much more annoying to me on a personal level. I’m talking about the design decision that caused Dell to place a camera in the perfect position to serve as a nostril-cam!

Why a nostril-cam, Dell?

Like so many others, I am stuck working at home and use the internet to communicate with colleagues. My employer has provided me with a nice notebook computer, a Dell XPS 15 9570, which allows me to work pretty much anywhere. It’s lightweight, has a good screen and keyboard and a battery that lasts long enough that I don’t have to worry about running out of juice. With the thin look and aluminium body you’d be forgiven if you thought it was a more fruity product. First thing I did was to liberate it from the curse that is Windows and it’s currently happily humming along on Kubuntu.

The Dell XPS 15 9570

With all this lovely design, attention to detail and professional finish, it’s all the more annoying that Dell has decided to place the webcam below the screen! That’s not anywhere near face height for a normal person, sitting up. It’s the ideal height for showing of your boobs or chest hair. If you actually want to show your face, you have to tilt the screen, which makes the person on the other end of the video conference look up at you at a weird angle, making you seem larger than life. It also makes them look right up your nose, hence why I am naming it the nostril-cam. There are so many things which are good about this machine that make this camera position so hard to understand. Did nobody bother to review this camera placement? How did they miss this during quality control? So many questions…

The header image is from Min An at Pexels

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