Posts tagged “confusion”

ChittahChattah Quickies

Teaching the F.A.A. That Dogs Don’t Buckle Up [] – This is (part of) what it takes to do great work: patience and persistence. As much as we slap our foreheads about the corporate cultures we interact with, clearly the regulatory cultures are likely to be even worse.

In one scene, about a minute into the video, a man is shown sitting next to a large bull as he fumbles with his seat belt. A voice-over says, “For the 0.0001 percent of you who have never operated a seat belt before, it works like this.” Few people know that the bull was originally a dog. But when the Federal Aviation Administration reviewed the video, one of the many concerns it had was that passengers would think dogs, which are sometimes on flights, had to wear seat belts – I’m not kidding here – so it made Virgin America change the dog to a bull, as bulls are, thankfully, not allowed on planes. According to people who were involved in the making of the video, there were six months of meetings with the F.A.A. and changes to the video before it was finally approved.

Orangutans get iPads at Toronto Zoo [CBC] -I’m struck by the limited amount of adaptation the device required, in contrast to classic example where Koko the talking gorilla used a customized Mac II.

The zoo is working with a program, dubbed “Apps for Apes,” which was started by the conservation group Orangutan Outreach. The goal of the program is to improve the quality of life of primates in zoos by providing them with additional mental stimulation in the form of Apple’s tablet. Apps for Apes collects donated iPads and then provides them to zoos with orangutans. The staff who work with the orangutans had to teach them to touch the screen with their fingers – they were initially using their nails to manipulate the screen, and the tablet does not recognize that. In April, orangutans Puppe and Budi used Skype to interact with Orangutan Outreach director Richard Zimmerman. The next month they used Skype to view other orangutans at the Milwaukee County Zoo, although the video was blurry as the primates moved so much.

Mixed Signals

From a recent rental, here’s a dashboard indicator I’d never seen before. As far as I could figure out, while the car is warming up, the engine temperature light shows a green “cool” indicator. At least, it disappeared after a few minutes, so I concluded that was associated with the car warming up. We don’t want the engine to be too cold, and any indicator at all is perhaps a bad (or less good) thing, so it seemed to be a warning. But green is good, so is it good that it’s lit up? Is it good that the engine is cool? Is it bad when it goes out?

See more of my Vancouver pictures here.

Change of plans

This is what AT&T tells you – using a Windows error dialog – about your rollover minutes when you try to change your mobile plan:

NOTE: By requesting a new rate plan with rollover, your accumulated Rollover Minutes in excess of the new plan’s number of monthly anytime minutes will expire at the beginning of your next bill cycle. Example: If you currently have 1,000 Rollover Minutes and you change to the Nation 900 with Rollover plan, you can only carry over 900 of your Rollover Minutes to your new rate plan. Do yuo want to continue with your rate plan change?

Not a very good way to have a helpful interaction with a customer.

Don’t Ask Me

(click to enlarge, if you really want to)

Ask dropped Jeeves a long time ago. Over the past few weeks I’ve seen this really bizarre campaign (with odd billboards) and the thrust of it seems to be restating the fact that Jeeves is gone. Oh, and somehow talking about the algorithm ties to that. Algorithm? If you don’t have a background in computer science or as a programmer, is that a word you are comfortable with? At least the NYT put quotes around the word for their piece about Google’s secret sauce.

Today the press is carrying the same story but it all seems weird. The timing is out of sync and just seems way too late and the ads themselves are so absolutely unclear. Are we supposed to be curious and therefore more engaged with the brand? If I were marketing a search engine, I might want to associate the brand with clear communication and easy-to-understand information, rather than dense and obscure and smug.

But that’s just me, I guess.

Expression demo

I had a fun time at a Microsoft event in SF yesterday, essentially a product demo day, with 300 people watching presenters tweak HTML (and other arcane variants of such code), and then some more intimate discussions on design, user experience and so on by Chris Bernard. Given the emphasis on User Experience, I thought these demo kiosks were lovely but discouraging to use.
Things look nice.

I’m not sure about the term demo assets exactly, and why I need to get them ready, but the mess of a screen at least has a “do this first” zone.

Except it’s a non-stable trick. They put a Windows shortcut on top of that white triangle, but I accidentally dragged it when I went to click it. It’s not really a button, it’s a fake button, and one that easily breaks when someone tries to use it. Oops.

Okay, so now you do the double clicking they want you to do. And up comes a DOS window that lasts more than 1 second. Maybe I’m just un-tech enough to have that bother me, but it really seemed like the backstage was being revealed in a way that it shouldn’t. Why do I see DOS stuff when I’m running a new Windows app?

Anyway, it wasn’t clear what that was doing (perhaps restoring things to a pristine state) and it was even less clear what to do next. Some things to click were just Word documents that you couldn’t interact with (that’s a demo?), and others were apps that gave dire warnings about expiring betas. Again, maybe I’m not the right person to be trying this stuff anyway, but you can see that the commitment to design and user experience has a long way to go.

My hosts were exceedingly kind with their time and made me feel very welcome, so I apologize for having the poor grace to only post something negative. I suspect they are only too aware of the many instances of this sort of thing going on, and are marching uphill. But at least they are marching!

I love all different kinds of produce

I blogged this before, back in 2004, but ah, technology. Actually a $5 cable is all I needed to be able to pull audio from a microcassette into my PC, and onto Odeo, so that I can blog it here.

I received this voice mail a couple of years ago. It’s obviously misdirected, perhaps because of my Museum of Foreign Groceries which used to be displayed on this site. But that’s all packaged foods, so? Hard to figure out what the other person was thinking, but it’s funny anyway. Give it a listen!

Note: I’ve redacted the phone number to protect her privacy.

Silly AT&T ad


From the outer ad in a recent issue of The New Yorker.

The hang-tag reads:
I get 14 days,
336 hours,
20,160 minutes,
1,209,600 seconds of
time a year.
And I’m going to enjoy every one of them.

And, we see Jasmine, lying in a hammock, reading a book. No laptop in sight. But this is an ad for AT&T. What are they telling us? In teeny tiny type at the bottom, we see
Jasmine relies on the most complete and secure network from AT&T so she can have DSL high speed Internet access to find more unique and exciting places to relax and unwind.

So, what’s this an ad for? Using the Internet to find places to sit and relax? Or, in fact, using AT&T’s secure network (and it’s also a complete network) to access the Internet? In order to find places to relax and unwind?

It just doesn’t really cohere for me. It’s almost a good effort – showing the benefit of using a technology by showing what it enables. But the claim that somehow DSL (and not just DSL but the special kind of quality DSL that AT&T offers) has afforded her sitting in a hammock is just too disjointed, and not very credible.

How on earth would we ever be able to relax out in the wild if we didn’t have DSL?! Lame and confusing ad, I think.


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