Archive for August, 2007

Do common sense and fair play still exist?

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

For the sakes of Red Rocket T-shirts I hope so. Their Legal Notice is a refreshing change from the pages of minutiae we’re usually faced with - perhaps you can get away with that when you’re selling t-shirts from the darker side.

Upside down and back to front would be easier

Saturday, August 25th, 2007

Was it the fax machine makers or the photocopier makers? Doesn’t matter much now because it’s too far down the track to do anything about it and we just have to live with it. Here’s the thing - it seems that roughly half the fax machines and photocopiers out there need you to put the sheet to be copied face up and the other half of machines - face down. I should be over this by now - but, what’s exercising me about this is EFTPOS machines - when they first arrived, the shop assistant swiped the card for you but now increasingly the customer swipes.

Seems that roughly half want the magnetic strip on the right and half on the left. How many times a day do shop staff have to tell customers it’s the other way round? Some machines have a little symbol on them and I now look for that. In another shop, they had put their own little paper notice “Stripe this side” down the side of the machine.

And then there are my favourites, ATM machines. I look at the symbol to show you which way round to put the card in but their example never matches my card so I have to do a little brain gymnastics to imagine how my card fits that image - and I don’t always get it right. Why don’t ATM machines require you to put the card in upside down?  The back of all cards is the same - just show me the strip on right or left and in it goes, right every time. So when the ATM manufacturers bring out their new “upside down” models - can they please all agree to have the strip on the same side?

My other not so favourite EFTPOS machines are the ones in the PostShops. You have to slide the card down into the machine and pull it out again. Same problem, mental gymnastics to figure out the right way round (and I’m a Kiwibank customer!) - I can almost sense the staff tensing up - “OK another EFTPOS dummy approaching” - some just lean over and pull the card out and put it in the right way themselves - it’s efficient but the word “dumbarse” gets silently communicated.  This little scenario is playing out over and over again everyday at a PostShop near you.

If those machines were designed to take in the card back to front - the symbol would be clear - no mental gymnastics for me or you.

BarCamp - it’s a meeting Jim, but not as we know it

Friday, August 17th, 2007

I’m off to BarCampWellingtonNZegov, as the topic of making Government 2.0 happen here in New Zealand interests me both professionally and personally.BarCamp Wellington - logo

But what is a BarCamp? Described elsewhere as an unconference, it is “an ad-hoc gathering born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment. It is an intense event with discussions, demos, and interaction from participants.”

As a meetings practitioner who hasn’t experienced BarCamps, unconferences or their predecessor Open Space Technology I’ll be watching closely to see how it works - as well as participating in the content.

Alarm time doppelgangers verboten

Thursday, August 16th, 2007

5:50 - not fully awake - alarm will go off in 5 minutes - could extend another 20 - yep, just do it on auto-brain don’t wake up too much just quickly reset to 6:15 and return to cozy sleep - a simple plan, nothing can go wrong. Don’t need to put my glasses on, I’ll get by if I squint .

So, I press: right arrow (Functions), Select, down to alarm “Wake”, menu, down to Edit, Select, down to Time, Change, up one for hours, across to minutes and set to 15, Ok, Done.

So why do I see the Alarm Details screen again with”Alert” highlighted? Press Done again - something flashed at me and I’m back at Alarm Details. What the? OK - now I’m waking up - my pretty phone is spoiling my simple plan. Get glasses - need to see what’s happening. Why is “Alert” highlighted? I didn’t touch “Alert”. Ok - do it slowly - what - here it is - A white cross on a red background and “No duplicate alarm time allowed”. What? I can’t set two alarms for the same time! Why not? What on earth good reason is there not to allow it? Why didn’t it show the error message when I “Ok’d” the time before taking me back to Alarm Details? Why did it highlight “Alert” and not “Time”? All little details that make the difference between ordinary and not ordinary.

Before alarm set, error message, and Alert highlighted not Time

Surely within the alarm software in the phone (Motorola RAZR v3), the identifier for an alarm isn’t the time it’s set to - but why else would it be prevented? Could I do something “stupid” and set up two alarms with the same name? What do you reckon?

Full Code Press: Geeks pursue Aussie NZ rivalry in the web arena

Saturday, August 4th, 2007

In about two weeks, teams from Australia and New Zealand will compete in the inaugural Full Code Press. They will each build a web site for a non-profit organisation in 24 hours and be judged on how well the site fulfills the brief and meets other criteria such as usability, accessibility, standards compliance, visual design and other aesthetics (the exact evaluation criteria are unpublished at this stage).

Yours truly had a crack at getting on the New Zealand team and made it to the finalists but didn’t get the luck of the draw.

It looks like a whole lot of serious fun (the inner geek abides), and a couple of organisations will benefit. The event is to be blogged about, streamed (I think) and there will be plenty of static images. Check in some time after 10am (Australian Eastern Time) Saturday 18th August - sites have to be completed by 10am the following day. Go kiwis!