Sunday, December 21, 2014

Too Cold!

There is a local joke out here in Singapore that goes like this – Singapore has two seasons – summer outdoors and winter indoors. While Singapore being on the equator is a tropical country, almost all indoor public places in Singapore are air conditioned. So may it be the trains, the buses, the malls, movie theatres or even indoor recreational areas they are all kept cool.

The problem however is that most of the places are kept too cold. I can of course understand that while some people like their air conditioners cooler than others, as a general principle temperatures between 23.5°C and 25.5°C are good for everyone. However, I have noticed and felt that most places the temperatures are kept at about 16-21°C. Mind you, the outside temperatures range in 25-30°C most days of the year.

Not only is it too cold for most people, but it is a colossal waste of electricity (yeah and a direct contribution to Global warming). I am amazed even though there is an economic incentive (electricity bill reduction) no one seems to care about it! This goes along with my other pet peeve of people using too much paper napkins for drying hands after washing! Sigh!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Avoiding decision fatigue

For a guy wearing tents all my life, the recent news about some great (established people) wearing the same colour clothes everyday came as a big ray of hope. Yeah, if you haven’t read the article yet – here is the gist – People like President Obama, Mark Zuckerberg and the late Steve Jobs choose to wear the same colour clothes everyday. This helps them to make less choices (avoid decision fatigue) and thereby utilize their brain’s limited capacity to make other important decisions in life.

I can’t be more elated by this news. I have decided to dump my wardrobe and to go all-in with light-blue shirts and navy blue pants. That’s it. Not that I make important decisions. Nor do I have to think hard to choose what to wear everyday. But the very idea of wearing the same colour and getting away with one big headache of wearing clothes to look cool (or dress for success – whatever you like to call it!) looks extraordinarily appealing. After all, a man in blue shirt and blue pants is as dull and boring as any other person out there in the crowd. I will blend in with others and can happily continue with my minion existence. If that’s not all, if someone indeed notices and questions me about my weird sense of style, I can proudly quote the article. In fact, I have decided to make copies of it and keep it in my shirt pocket so that I can distribute it around.

Besides, making my wardrobe easy and shopping easy, I can occasionally reuse soiled clothes without people noticing. How do you know if I am wearing a different blue shirt than the one I wore yesterday (or the day before)? I will end up saving a lot of water, electricity and detergent. One more step towards a eco-friendly living.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Elevator Door Buttons

Though I have used elevators all my life, if there is one simple task that I still struggle at – it is to keep the door open when someone is trying to get in at the last moment. And the reason? Because the Door open and Door close buttons are hard to differentiate without thinking hard enough.

Elevator Door Open or Close

Japanese have this concept of “Poke-Yoke” (Mistake proof or Idiot proof your design). There are plenty of examples of Poke-yoke online, so I add a few more for you to read here:

  1. Your USB drive can go in only the right direction into the USB socket
  2. The ATM Card comes out before the money is dispensed so that you don’t forget your ATM card
  3. The Ethernet cable can only be inserted in one way into your computer.
  4. Your basin has an emergency extra hole at the top so that even if the main drain chokes, water can flow through an alternate hole.
  5. You can’t start an Automatic gear car unless you put the gear in parking
  6. Your room key doubles up as a key to start/stop your electricity in your hotel room. That way you never leave the lights on when you leave your room.
  7. The Video Component cable uses the same colours as the sockets so that you blindly put the red in red, black/yellow in black/yellow and white in white.

However, I am amazed that no one has yet come up with a UX design for an elevator door open and close button that can be easily identified even by an idiot and not used to mistakenly close the door on someone while being chivalrous. This goes along with my rant about how easy it is to be confused between restroom symbols and elevator symbols in public places!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Cost of being a common man

My Twitter and Facebook timeline is abuzz lately for a few celebrities/ politicians taking or not taking public transport. People who are in favour of important people taking public transport voice the fact that those people should represent the common people from where they come from. If majority of people of that country are poor, then the politicians should also travel like them.

Since everyone is entitled to their opinion, I am posting mine here. I strongly believe that politicians should not travel by public transport. The cost of “showing” them poor is way too high. And here is my argument for them staying away from the general public:

  1. As an elected official, you are representing an important post in the Government. Though your life may not seem important to you, the mere title that you are carrying, makes it important. The cost of replacing you if something goes wrong with you, is too high to the economy.
  2. Since people tasked with your security know point 1 above, they have to ensure your safety at all costs. If you plan to travel by public transport, your security detail has to do a lot more effort to make you look “common man”. In reality they are frisking and inconveniencing a lot of people who are going about their daily lives.
  3. Just by traveling public class, you are not messaging anything. If you are rich, we know you are rich. Be what you truly are. Of course, if it is a vote garnering tactic, then go ahead and do your antics.
  4. Just because you are travelling public class, a lot more people are crowding that system to look at you, than to do their daily routines. This burdens public transport. You are best seen on Television or on meet-the-people sessions in an enclosed space specifically meant for that.
  5. If you really wish to show that your humble, make sure that you travel in such a way that you inconvenience the least number of people, and make conscious efforts to reduce the cost of your security detail. And yeah, live a simple lifestyle.