Archive for October, 2007

Broken promises


I read an article a while back about how some companies are paying design firms to make their billing statements easier-to-read. From what I recall, the goal is to reduce the chance that people will misunderstand the bill or miss key information like the due date. Thus, they will be more likely to pay the […]

Some companies love to tell you what you can’t have. Northwest Airlines is one of them. When selecting a seat, you are presented with at least three different groups of seats that you can’t select. Some of these are only for special frequent flyers, other aren’t available until one day before the flight, etc. There’s […]

I’m often frustrated by the number of businesses that don’t accept American Express. When you try to use Amex, they look at you like you just presented a bundle of sheep’s wool or some fresh berries or a bottle of goat’s milk. “I’m sure they’ll use another credit card,” the merchant thinks, while rudely saying […]

I have a new pick for the most useless error message. Some web-based apps are using the phrase “Your browser is not optimized”. What they actually mean is, “We don’t support your browser so you should switch to another one.”. Why can’t they just tell you that? Beats me. Maybe they don’t want to come […]

Maybe it’s just the weird stuff I’ve been buying lately, but it seems like virtually every electronic product includes a power adapter (sometimes in two pieces), a data cable, and various other things, each using all kinds of strange plugs and connectors. Even if you’re very well organized, it’s pretty easy to misplace these parts […]

I’m always amazed when airlines refuse to show the current status of delays at the gate. They apparently want dozens or hundreds of people to stand in line and ask the same questions: “Are we delayed?”, “When are we leaving?”, etc. I’ve seen this in various cities and with different airlines, including much-loved Southwest. It […]

Phantom options


Ever come across a Preferences or Settings screen that shows you things you can’t change? This might be a text box where you can’t edit the text, a checkbox that you can’t uncheck, or a drop-down menu that only contains one item to choose from. In each case, the software makes it look like you […]

I went to a nice cafeteria-style restaurant yesterday to get some lunch. I’ve been to this particular place before, but never ordered a sandwich there. That’s when I noticed something odd: The menu board only shows the names of their sandwiches, which aren’t very descriptive. Basically, there’s no way to figure out what’s in there […]

Ancient history


In a lot of programs, you can sort lists by date. But when finally added a sort feature to their search screens, they did something pretty silly: the list shows the oldest items first. Granted, you can click the column header again to show the newest entries at the top, but this is a […]

Ever notice those raised areas for “Diet”, “Decaf”, and other choices on a soft drink or coffee lid, or the places to check off the ingredients on a pizza box or burrito wrapper? Have you ever seen them marked with anything useful? It’s pretty amazing to me that despite seemingly zero value to staff and […]