On the morning of Tuesday, December 13th I woke up to find myself completely burnt out from a 2 month-long work project, in severe back pain from hunching over a keyboard for 10 or more hours a day, and weighing more than I have in 5 years. The mental and physical tanks were running on fumes. It was at that point I decided to do something ridiculous. But first a little back story.
Today I spent the day picking Traminette and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes at a local vineyard with members of the local community. My back is fried and what I’ve learned it’s more fun to drink the wine than make the wine. It was a great experience and I met some really nice people and was a really nice bookend to the end of my time here.
Check them out if you’re ever in the Pittsburgh area! Ripepi Winery & Vineyard.
This is one of the flocks of baby wild turkeys that are roaming the countryside out in western Pennsylvania. They are so ugly they’re cute but talk about loud and dumb. We’re wrapping up on this move from hell so life will be returning to normal levels of code and chaos very soon.
UPDATE: They are apparently guineafowl and NOT turkeys.
The greatest obstacle to living is expectancy, which hangs upon tomorrow and loses today.
The plan to do this as a photo a day is on hold for a while due to working, moving day approaching amazingly fast, and the podcast taking up 110% of my time. Not having much to shoot around here is also a major reason. So for now you get to see the dried and crushed carcasses of my foes.
Note: This post was originally written in September of 2009 while I was staying in a hotel in Bangkok, Thailand. I thought it fit to exhume and polish a bit since it’s Herr Schröedenger’s birthday. And yes, I probably mean the observer effect instead of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle but it makes for a better title so :-P
Some of the worst interaction design I’ve seen is found in nearly every hotel room around the world. The ubiquitous “Do Not Disturb” door hangers are, without a doubt, one of the best examples of poorly thought out and widely adopted design in circulation today.
The modern hotel door hanger is 2 sided. A variant of “Do Not Disturb” is on one side while a type of call for maid service on the opposite. You hang it on your door depending on which you prefer. Simple, eh? Not so fast. These signs aren’t always honored so they’re a loosely based social contract of sorts. In practice I’ve observed the probability of these calls to action being respected are about 80% for the DnD and 99.5% for maid service. That means you’re approximately 19.5% more likely to have some random stranger walk into your room to clean it than leave you alone when you use the sign as intended.
Here’s the rub. The moment you put the sign out and close your door you give up control of what side is actually showing. Your privacy has entered into a state of quantum flux. Since the random element of mischief wasn’t engineered into the process, anyone walking down the hall can flip each and every sign thus turning exclusion rules into inclusion rules and vice versa without the consent of the occupants. This renders the sign not only useless but actually detrimental to privacy and peace of mind. You can’t tell which way it’s facing until you poke your head out and actually look at the damn sign to make sure it’s position hasn’t been altered.
There is usually a secondary line of defense that helps enforce a DnD and that’s the lock on the inside of the room but that’s dependent on the actions of the occupant and subject to human error. If you forget to lock the door then all protection against intrusion from the staff has been removed. The only exceptions I’ve found recently are in newer high-end modern hotels that have electronic switches and illuminated status signs. Those are the exception though and not the rule.
Big deal eh? It certainly is a big deal when someone changes your sign to maid service from DnD and you forgot to engage the room lock. If a gung-ho maid walks into the room without knocking while you’re in the middle of mischief you’ve now got ANOTHER body to dispose of. No, this hasn’t happened to me but I have had several run-ins with pissed off house keeping who came in when I was getting dressed or in the shower after my sign was either changed or removed by some random miscreant. This morning was the case but fortunately I had the experience to know to ALWAYS engage the door lock when in my room.
In the old days you would get 2 hangers, one for DnD and a separate one for maid service and both were colored differently. The DnD was generally red and the maid service white. This is probably due to the original designer thinking out this issues in advance and they planned around it. They knew having 2 contradictory messages on the same sign was probably a bad idea. Then some penny pinching accountant came along and said we can save money if we just put the messages on the same sign thus ensuring that you can never really have any peace of mind when staying in a hotel. That last bit is supposition but I bet it’s not too far off from the truth.
Most people don’t believe something can happen until it already has. That’s not stupidity or weakness, that’s just human nature.
This was my first attempt at a podcast that’s been lost for what’s honestly, not long enough. I recorded the first one on October 15th, 2005 and the second on November 20th, 2005. I called it a nano-cast in my second episode which was what I was going for but failed to have any kind of follow through. These episodes are interesting from an anthropological point of view but not much else. They’re brief and you can get a glimpse of what was going on 8 years ago if you’re into that kind of thing.
And for the record ‘Yak Shaving’ was something we talked about a lot at Technorati back in the day and how we defined it was doing a task and finding sub tasks along the way that you’d spend a whole day on that took you away from the main task. You’d get a lot of little stuff done but completely forget about the thing that started you on the path. I don’t recall 100% who got us on this but I seem to remember Joi Ito or Richard Ault had something to do with it.