Bad traffic engineering

bad-traffic2If American traffic engineers would mirror-reverse these two signs, thousands of gallons and hours could be saved, probably every day.

You see, whenever someone is in the right lane and wants to go forward (under the system shown in my photo), they hold up everyone behind them who wants to turn right (if the traffic is clear).

My way? Everyone in the right lane could turn, if there was no traffic coming.

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Injecting fun into it

wonka-barcodeCarrying the theme from yesterday (and leaving cars behind), the Willy Wonka Candy Company (part of the Nestlé empire) had the creativity to make this product’s bar code fun.

Takeaway: What fun thing can you do today to add some life to something that would otherwise be boring?

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Car design trends, part 2

form-v-functionThis “center stack” of dashboard controls looks pretty cool. It’s from a Volvo. (I can tell by the typeface.)

Design mistake? When you’re driving down the road at 75 miles an hour (120 kph), the last thing you want to do is take your eyes off the road long enough to figure out which button you need to push to make the hot air go to your feet rather than at your face.

Takeaway? When you’re designing that thing — or planning that speech — go for what will serve the user best rather than what causes the biggest wow. (But be sure to leave enough wow in to make it exciting!)

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Car design trends

car-design-trendsTop: The forth-coming Audi A8. Notice the resemblance to the front of a train. That design trend started in Europe because their pedestrian safety laws forced vehicle fronts to be more horizontal and less pointy.

Bottom: Matte-finish paint seemed to be popping up in a few places among the cars we saw at the Denver Auto Show. My son Jay and I both liked the visual effect. (Left is a Lamborghini and right is a Lexus.)

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Plain language

algo-v-formulaThere is tension. A friend strongly advocates the use of plain language in communicating. I tend to agree. In fact, there is a whole movement around this idea.

When I’m writing for this blog or for work, I always try to use words that communicate the most simply. Why use flowery words when plain words will communicate faster?

Heather and I received ballots from our local government for a small election issue. The ballot was worded by lawyers (who are not known for plain language). It was not understandable by either of us. (Heather has a master’s degree, and I have completed three courses towards one, so we’re not dumb.)

Back to the tension… my sister Sharon says that this movement is “dumbing down” America. Her profession lies in the health care field, and she feels many important details are lost when problems are explained to patients. This is true in many other professional realms.

Which side do you fall on?

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They are selling a lifestyle

lifestyle-ipadOne evening, I watched all of Apple’s iPad videos. But then, I’m a fanboy, so it was fun.

I noticed a few things — none of the models were older than about 32. I remember seeing a kid in only one. The rooms that each video was shot in were perfect. The models represented a little politically-correct ethnic diversity. (I think the mix was fairly close to what their real life buyers might be — maybe the videos were a little heavy on the African-American side.)

None of this was surprising to me.

Apple is selling a lifestyle. “If you buy an iPad, you will look like this.”

Don’t buy that. (But if you can afford it and can actually use one, do buy an iPad. Or at least buy and use a coffee press.)

And finally, since today is earth day, I would ask you to consider not buying that next “thing” on your list, whether it’s an iPad or a coffee press. Instead, use the thing you already have and make it work. That choice will be very green, if you care about such matters.

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Let’s be true, part two

be-briefFirst, this post is only slightly related to yesterday’s post. And it’s much lighter!

I was highly amused at this post (not linked to protect the identity of the author).

The author clearly was not listening to his own advice.

As a parent, I often fall into the trap of, “Do as I say, not as I do.” So I’m guilty too — but at least you don’t have to put up with very many words in my blog.

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