Posts tagged “workaround”

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] NoseDial iPhone app – [The craziest workaround I've seen. Also reveals the cost of producing WTF solutions is falling to near zero] Whether you're at the Christmas market, taking a winter walk or out skiing – you don't have to take off your gloves when you want to call your friends on your iPhone anymore. Now you can dial using your nose. NoseDial isn't just a favorites list you can style individually. The app also shows you pictures of your friends and allows you to navigate through your contacts by tilting your iPhone and to then call them using your nose. Forget special touchscreen gloves and iPhone input pens, just call using your nose. This saves money and is a lot more fun.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • "Hack things better" with malleable silicone SUGRU – "Why are so many products just so bad? Uncomfortable tin openers, leaky trainers, they get our goat! Why should you have to spend £20 on a designer tin opener? You shouldn't! Hack the one you have instead. Power to the (handy) people! Sugru is like modeling clay when you take it from its pack. Once it's exposed to air, it cures to a tough flexible silicone overnight using the moisture in the air. Working time = 30 mins. Cure time = 24hrs (3-5mm deep)" The sugru website includes a blog that features product improvements achieved through its use.

Travelling at Home

I spent some time last week walking around the area near our office in Pacifica. It’s amazing how often, when you break your usual routine, you find something fascinating and unfamiliar right around the corner. In this case, a whole pier fishing subculture, with its own set of tools, infrastructure, workarounds . . .

(Cell phone pix, so forgive the lack of detail)

Fishing, Pacifica Pier

Fisherman with homemade cart and pinups

Fishing pole held in crack (price tag $11.96)

Catch and release measuring scale on lamppost

Fair Warning

We’ve posted previously on this blog about the signs people create to help others navigate unfamiliar situations.

Thus, as soon as I saw this beauty in a highway-side restroom, I started thinking about the picture I was going to take.


I vividly remember washing my hands and snickering to myself about the apparent complexity of the instructions, thinking, “what, are people getting trapped in here?”

A few seconds later, the timed light clicked off, and my attitude changed just as quickly as I found myself in darkness and completely unable to get the door open. Of course I hadn’t actually read the signs–just thought about them as “an example of . . . ”

I tried in vain to undo the door by feel and intuition, and started imagining how much it would suck to spend the night trapped in a highway-side restroom. After a bit of worst-case-scenario fantasizing, I used the light from my cell phone to illuminate the signs, which indeed, contained instructions absolutely essential to getting the door open.

Leaving me with two questions:

  1. Who the hell designs a door that difficult to open?
  2. Should I have added “NO, REALLY-TAKE THIS SERIOUSLY!!!” to the signs?

I found the whole experience amusing, but it really is kind of crazy that a public restroom is trapping people on the side of Highway 84.

iTunes helps me help myself

I had to email iTunes the other day about an issue with my account. I composed and sent my message using their web-based contact system, and a little message box popped up.

The message said that since there was a chance iTunes’ response to my inquiry might end up in my Spam box, a test message would be sent within 15 minutes. If I didn’t get the test message, I was given several steps to take, including adding the iTunes email address to my contacts so that the real message would get through.

I’ve never had a site pre-troubleshoot like this for me, and I thought it was a really elegant and collaborative way of making sure I got the communication I was asking for. Nice job on this one, Apple.

It’s interesting to see workaround strategies like this evolving when things like spam filters–conceived as solutions–become problems.

The Tat That Brings Kids Back!

Safety Tat is a product based on the parental practice of writing a phone number inside a diaper or on a backpack.

It can happen anywhere-at an amusement park, zoo, school field trip, or even your local shopping mall. Your attention shifts for a moment, and suddenly your child or loved one has wandered out of sight.

So put the odds in your favor for a safe return, with SafetyTat. Designed by a graphics professional and Mom of three kids, SafetyTat is a fun and colorful kids temporary safety tattoo that’s uniquely personalized with your cell phone number.


See also Forehead Advertising.

Thanks, CPT!

Social adaptation overrides technology affordances

I received an email last week that stated, in part

My boss is away for the next week or two but I will forward her your e-mail when she returns.

This gave me pause.

Of course, you could forward the email any time you want, and it’ll just be held the boss’s inbox until she returns. The technology (store-and-forward) affords that quite nicely. From a technological point of view, my correspondent “should” forward the message immediately and get on with her day.

But my correspondent suspects that’s not the best way to do things, because there’s people in this system. And people behave to optimize against different constraints than technology does. We all have our little usage rules, and we all adjust our usage of technology in order to be most successful.

Perhaps the boss is checking email while she’s away, and will discard anything not mission-critical. Or perhaps the boss isn’t checking email, but will be burdened with a huge number of messages in her inbox when she returns. My correspondent is respecting her boss by not contributing to that, and respecting me by “handling” my email properly.

We’ve helped a few clients understand how their customers’ work cultures have evolved to the point where there are complete-but-unwritten rule sets for sharing documents, information, collaboration, communicating via telephone, email, and IM, and most other “work” activities. As the tools change, the behaviors change.


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