Archive for December, 2009

After going through many alarm clocks that were just too stupid to keep using, I finally have a fairly intelligent one. The best feature is the ability to move the time selector both forward and backward. In other words, if you overshoot the intended time when programming it, you just move the dial the opposite […]

This seemingly innocuous text is from the tech support page of a vendor that I won’t be naming. If you saw this message, how would you interpret it? I’d say that they’ll get back to you by the next day, except in rare situations where volume is high. Well, after exchanging several emails with them, […]

From what I can tell, the holiday music played in stores falls into two categories: classic versions of the songs, and modern re-interpretations of them. In an effort to be more hip and trendy, some stores pummel shoppers with R&B and hip-hop versions of the holiday hits, which strikes me as a huge mistake. Let’s […]

My wife told me about a podcast where they were interviewing the author of a new book. During the interview, the host asked the author for the website where people could find more info about the book. The author thought about it, and admitted that she couldn’t remember the address. That’s just stunningly bad. No […]

Ever get stuck in an elevator where a bunch of passengers are going up one floor or down two floors? It’s not hard to see how this puts an extra strain on the elevator system, which is arguably optimized to ferry people all the way from the lobby to their desired floor, and back again. […]

As a rule, if the vast majority of your customers need to accomplish a certain task with your product, they shouldn’t have to use anything labeled as an “advanced” feature when doing so. In other words, popular tasks should be streamlined and easy to complete, reserving the “advanced” or custom features for customers who have […]

In downtown Chicago, buildings spend some serious money on holiday decorations. My apartment building has a big Christmas tree in the lobby, but it’s nothing compared to what I’ve seen in the office buildings nearby. Those places put up trees that must be 15 or 20 feet high, along with wreaths the size of a […]

While dining out last weekend, I noticed something that I’ve probably seen dozens of times before, but never really thought about. Namely, some restaurants purposely design their menus to stand up on the table, rather than laying them flat. In my case, this treatment was reserved for the dessert menu. The server brought it out […]

When a box weighs a lot, it typically comes with some type of text or graphic to warn you about its weight. For instance, the side of the box might say “Heavy – use caution when lifting”, or display a picture of two stick figures lifting the box together. Do these warnings work? I’m sure […]

It’s been years since I owned a car, and I couldn’t be happier about it. The endless saga of buying, cleaning and repairing the car really eats away at you — not to mention accidents, vandalism, and other stuff that’s beyond your control. I certainly have less stress living a car-free lifestyle in the city, […]