Archive for December, 2008

Software products have long and complex license agreements. Movies on DVD don’t seem to have any lengthy license, just a warning not to copy or show the movie in public. So why do you only have to agree to the software license once, yet DVDs stick the same warning up there every time you watch […]

Standing tall


While looking at a few household cleaning tools, I noticed that many of them have a hole at the top of the handle for hanging them on the wall. However, only a few of the homes I’ve seen are equipped with enough hooks or pegs to accomodate a Swiffer, broom, and all the other hook-laden […]

One of the programs I use has a feature that lets customers leave a message outside business hours. It works quite well, and it even tells you exactly when they left the message. In a case like this, the date and time (e.g. “December 15 at 9:05 pm”) would do just fine. But for some […]

The digital signs in my building typically display the standard assortment of news, announcements, and reminders. Lately, they’ve been showing info on a few services that were discontinued due to lack of interest among the residents. These items aren’t up for vote or review; rather, they’re already gone. So why keep reminding people about it? […]

While reading through a design book, I came across an article about the history of the key ring. According to the book, the ubiquitous, tightly-wound metal rings that hold our keys together have only been around since the 1970s. If this was true, what did people use to keep their keys in order before then? […]

I recently saw a few pictures of Braun’s original coffee grinder design. What struck me the most about it was their smart use of color. In particular, the place that you hold down on the lid and the button that starts the grinder were both red, while nothing else used any bright colors. At a […]

The way customers use a product may sometimes come as a complete surprise to the people who designed it. Similarly, customers may figure out alternate uses that are fairly obvious, but just not within the radar of the people responsible for marketing the product in the first place. This latter group of small customer-driven innovations […]

While shopping for some thoroughly boring audiovisual cables at Amazon, I found myself in need of a particular kind of connector. They had plenty of the connectors listed, many of them for under $5, but all of the products were from other stores, rather than Amazon itself. In the end, I couldn’t place the order […]

I have an old hard drive that I want to get rid of. The only trouble is, I have no idea what’s on there or how sensitive the data might be. I don’t have any way to do a low-level format to erase it properly, since it’s an old drive with connectors you can’t even […]

Meet your maker


Ever notice how different a product looks after a few years of regular use, compared to the day you first took it out of the box? Aside from normal wear and tear, some products just seem to fare better than others when it comes to long-term durability. Yet aside from fielding complaints from highly vocal […]