Archive for September, 2007

I’m often surprised to see how stores and other businesses post their hours of operation. Usually this is a simple matter, e.g. “We’re open 10-8 Mon through Sat, and 12-6 on Sun”. Aside from the question of which day starts the week (I’m partial to Monday rather than Sunday), posting these hours on your front […]

Apple is widely respected for the design and usability of its products. But even they slip up sometimes. Case in point: I was trying to help a friend order a printed photo book from iPhoto. Whenever we tried to create an Apple account and submit the order, it said “An error has occurred – Please […]

A few years ago, I had a Lexmark laser printer that would periodically run into an error. Instead of resetting itself, a light came on that said “Press button”. Once you pressed the big reset button, it would start working again. I thought this was pretty silly, since if the system knows enough to tell […]

Sharp edges


In a brief glance at the items that I take along for an overnight trip, no fewer than 4 of them have sharp edges. Not just sort of sharp, but sharp enough to cut your hand or tear your travel bag if you put them in the wrong place. Some of these tubes and containers […]

Plenty of articles have been written about those awful voice-recognition menus that many companies use for customer service. But I came across an especially bad one recently. Not only is it poor at figuring out what you want, but you have to say virtually every choice out loud. They actually removed the ability to just […]

To the movie studios who design their DVD menus with cursor icons that look like a cloud or a star or a pony; To the software vendors who ship CDs and DVDs in a package that takes a crystal ball and utility knife to open; To the car companies who keep creating gauges that look […]

A few days ago, I tried to buy a book from a major bookstore chain. Their website said it was “probably in stock”, so I went to the store to get it. I couldn’t find it on the shelf, so I asked a clerk for help. She checked around, and said that when the inventory […]

I have been riding the train systems in Chicago and San Francisco quite a bit lately. While neither is perfect, and San Francisco’s probably gets a lot more positive press, Chicago does something that every transit agency should emulate: they make their announcements as loud and clear as possible. When you hear “This is an […]

Most quick service restaurants provide no indication of which bins contain the plastic forks, knives, and spoons. These items are typically stored with the handle facing up and the business end facing down, so they all look the same at first glance.  This forces customers to fumble around — and slow down the line — […]

Most road signs are pretty boring.  They convey their message without emotion or opinion.  So I was surprised to see a highway sign that said “Don’t be fooled — 4 more miles of dangerous curves ahead.” Whoever designed this sign made a smart decision.  I’m guessing they were faced with stats showing a lot of […]