Archive for April, 2008

I write very few personal checks, since most of my purchases are made with a credit card or electronic debit. But at work, I’m involved in a fair number of transactions that involve sending or receiving checks. It’s no secret that checks suffer from some drawbacks, including the long delay between when you write a […]

Today my BlackBerry crashed when I plugged in a headset. This is the same headset I’ve been using with it for years. Since the headset is analog, I didn’t even realize that such an interaction was possible. Perhaps the BlackBerry software changes the audio input and output when it senses a new device. All I […]

Don’t fly very often? Here are some tips from the trenches: – Leave your two-pound belt with the stainless steel hawk head buckle at home. Believe it or not, metal detectors will beep when you put metal through them. – Southwest has open seating. The sooner you check in online, the earlier you’ll be able […]

A few months ago, I noticed a neat looking noodles place that opened up a few blocks from me. I checked out their menu online and it looked promising. Then I went to Yelp and looked at the reviews. Apparently, a lot of other people noticed the place too, since there were quite a few […]

I’ve been seeing a lot more advertising for toilet paper lately. Maybe it’s just a Chicago thing, but these marketers have significantly increased their presence on billboards, bus shelters, and other out-of-home media. I’m guessing this campaign is running in other big markets too, like New York and LA. Cottonelle seems to be the brand […]

A recent bout with PowerPoint reminded me why I dislike Microsoft’s ubiquitous presentation software: the files it creates are absurdly large. For every image that you import, the file size seems to increase by two or three times the size of the original image. I’m guessing PowerPoint converts the images to an uncompressed format like […]

If you aren’t sure how a certain feature works, and nobody else in your company knows, and there’s no way to find out one way or the other, here’s a radical idea: just leave that feature out of the documentation. The same goes for product specs that nobody can certify as accurate. Simply put, it’s […]

For the past six months, my local Target has dedicated an endcap display to foldable utility carts. This sort of thing can come in really handy in the city: you take the folded-up cart with you to the store, unfold it during checkout, put all your bags in there, and wheel it home. And since […]

When adding a new feature to an existing software product, many programmers and designers just sit down and create the look-and-feel from scratch. This is a mistake, since it leads to user interfaces that have little in common with the rest of the product. A much better approach is to study the existing features in […]

Time savers


I’ve been thinking about the time-saving features that I take for granted in everyday products. Here’s a few that come to mind: – The way my BlackBerry remembers which email account I used to send a message, and selects it automatically next time. – The “Cancel” button on laser printers that instantly deletes the job, […]