Ticket vending machines

The other day I had to buy a ticket from a vending machine similar to this one here:

German Ticket Vending Machine (Photo Credit: flickrhivemind.net/Tags/fahrscheine)

German Ticket Vending Machine (Photo Credit: flickrhivemind.net/Tags/fahrscheine)

The ticket costed 2.50 € and I didn’t want to put in a 50 € bill so I used my bank card.  I entered my PIN, took the ticket and boarded the train calmly. Some time later I got a feeling I might have forgotten something and checked my wallet – I’d left the card in the ticket machine :D. Well the card was recovered (by a friend who was fortunately near) and so the story ends.

Now let’s see why slips like these occur. They are called Premature Conclusion Errors – forgetting to complete the action sequence because the main part of the goal is accomplished (getting my ticket). They are common for activities which people do over and over again.

To those who think “well it’s your fault, because you weren’t paying attention” I’ll say – “of course it isn’t”. The vending machine is clearly poorly designed – it deals with money and allows you to make such an error. What’s the solution? Every single ATM does the following: forces you to pull out the card and only then gives you the cash, thus avoiding precisely this kind of slips. Couldn’t the ticket machine ask me to get the card before spitting out the ticket?

P.S.: I didn’t use the 50 € bill because of fear: what if it gave me 47.50 € in coins. This points out another problem – I don’t understand how it works, so I’m scared to use it.

My Kindle Paperwhite

I got it 3 months ago and have been very happy with it.

I don’t want this to turn into yet another Klinde review, so the technical stuff will be short and with a smaller font (hint: just skip it) 🙂

– the display is amazing! Absolutely no problems with reading outside (even when it’s sunny).
– the touch screen is good enough.
– screen transitions are fast enough (quite slow actually, but you’re reading a book not watching a movie so it doesn’t really matter).

Kindle Paperwhite

Kindle Paperwhite (Photo credit: Zero2Cool_DE)

Continue here 🙂

For those of you who think “why don’t you just buy a tablet – you can use for a lot of stuff + ebooks”: This thing actually MAKES you read! You know you just bought a cool new gadget and you wanna use it. This effect goes away in a couple of weeks, but the habit remains (I really, really hope it does). It’s small, light, you can carry it around (and read for 20 minutes on the bus), show off your own style with various cases and skins. It makes the whole experience of reading different, personal, modern.

People usually like what they’re reading, right? If they didn’t – they’d just put the book aside. Therefore every time you use your Kindle you’re having a good time. How could you then possibly not like it? Add good usability and nice looks – you see how Kindle Paperwhite has the potential of turning into one of your favourite possessions.

Oh yeah! I almost forgot: tap and hold on a word and an Oxford Dictionary definition of the word appears (so simple, yet so cool) !!!

Using the stuff at the bottom of Facebook’s and LinkedIn’s news feeds

A lot of websites use something called “infinite scrolling” – once you reach the bottom of the page new content is loaded automatically and you don’t have to switch the pages manually. The whole point is that there is no real bottom. I’m sure you’ve seen this already – 9GAG and Blogs use it.

And so does LinkedIn’s new feed. There’s a “spinner” for a second until the new posts are loaded. Here’s how it looks like:

LinkedIn's infinite scroll

LinkedIn’s infinite scroll

But notice anything strange? The very bottom has links like “Careers”, “About”, “Developers”, etc. Well how am I supposed to click them (or even read them) if in just a second they get pushed way down…?

Now if you’re patient and scroll down 3 times the thing stops and instead a “Show More Updates” button appears. Finally you have the chance to press the “Careers” link… But what if you gave up after the second try?

And here’s the same thing on Facebook:

Facebook's infinite scroll

Facebook’s infinite scroll

Except that they don’t even have this “3 times” rule…

I really hope they miss some brilliant employees who think that companies with limitless resources should be better than this.

Sports commentators and touch screens

Football is one of my passions. Several days ago I was watching a match of the Bulgarian league and couldn’t help but laugh at the commentators. They were analyzing some interesting situations in front of a big screen.

Commentator in front of giant touch screen

Commentator in front of giant touch screen. (Photo credit: BNT World)

As you see there are several controls available on the bottom.  They allow them to navigate the video and draw some circles and lines while they’re explaining. That’s nice right? They can easily point out players’ mistakes and so on.

BUT:

1. They often need several attempts before the touch screen actually registers their actions.

2. Because the screen is so big, the people need to take 1-2 steps, press the desired control (while completely blocking the view), then walk another 1-2 steps back and only then start explaining their point.

Commentator blocking the view

Commentator blocking the view. (Photo credit: BNT World)

Obviously this distracts them (breaks the train of thought) and is also annoying to viewers – instead of listening to the analysis I’m watching a guy fighting with an unusable system.

A clear case of “look at us – we’re so cool, we’re using touch screens” 😀

The usability of window blinds

The other day I was watching Family Guy’s latest episode (“12 and a Half Angry Men”). This funny scene inspired the post.

Peter struggling with the window blinds

Peter struggling with the window blinds

Well I guess the animation says it all. To open/close the blinds you’re supposed to alternately pull on the two strings. Although I knew the theory I could never do it in practice – one of the sides was always lower than the other (that’s not an april fools joke – I really can’t operate those things). Clearly no one wants to have the left part all the way up and the right – halfway down, so why was it designed this way?

Why couldn’t there just be a single string doing all the work or one for opening and one for closing?