January 6, 2003: The mute button is one of the most frequently pressed buttons on a typical remote control, but since it isn't obviously a primary function (such as power, volume, or switch channel) it's often banished to some hard to find corner of the remote. More specifically, when a person uses the mute button, it's likely done repetitively (e.g. twice per commercial break) and distractedly (a conversation may be going on at the same time). It may be done in the dark.

The problem, of course, is one of real estate, but not all buttons need to be accessed by touch and not all are accessed frequently. The power button, for example, is likely used only twice per "session" yet it's often given an inordinately prominent placement. My only point here is that a use-based approach to design has great power to overturn long-established but faulty design conventions.

OK, pardon the interruption; back to watching Buffy.