Skip navigation

Category Archives: usability problem

If someone searched my office or my house, or even my car, it would be almost impossible not to disturb the precious layers of dust in what may look like chaotic piles of stuff lying around. The chaos is actually an illusion. If left undisturbed, I tend to know where things are. For many years, I have kept stuff around me when I work (and play). I don’t like the idea of filing cabinets, inboxes, outboxes and there are never enough bookshelves (or enough walls) available to hold all books. Anyhow, there’s all this stuff apparently lying about and it is probably possible to use some forensic archaeology technique to find out how long it’s been since I last accessed various piles of things. But if anybody else moves my stuff, I notice (and may not be able to find things).
Now, in the digital world it’s different. We’re forced by operating systems to have files and folders/directories, everything has a number of date and time stamps, permission settings, etc. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could have some kind of digital dust, slowly settling on our digital file systems so that we easily can detect if someone (3 letters, probably) have snooped around. Perhaps some accumulative encryption. Perhaps it should be probabilistic. For the intruder, the probability of any particular bit being 1 or 0 will be getting fuzzier over time.
All of this is, of course, pure speculative imagination. But the idea is tempting.

digital dust

On trains between Copenhagen Airport and the Swedish west-coast, you can observe all kinds of interesting human behaviour when people try to walk through the train. There are automatic sliding doors every now and then. Most people are familiar with the typical automatic door in for example shopping centres, that open automatically when you get within a certain range of the door. This is not the case on these trains.

sticker on train door

On the sliding glass doors, there is a small sticker with an icon, a hand and two arrows. I saw a number of people assuming that the sticker was a touch control, pressing their fingers against the sticker, hoping the doors would open, but this has no effect. Others make strange “Star Trek”-like salute gestures, but the doors remain closed. Some people look around and the sensor is located above the door. If a tall person approaches the door, it will open automatically. For shorter people, e.g. women and kids, the only gesture that will open the doors is by waving a hand above their head.

Proximity sensor
If Öresundståg were to change this, to improve the usability, do you think they would change the sticker (and if so what should it look like), or change the proximity sensor?

Over the past few days I have noticed that even without having a browser window or tab with Facebook open, suddenly you get a pop-up warning that the browser cannot authenticate over a https connection. I find this quite alarming as this implies that either, some spyware that I haven’t identified and zapped yet has come onboard the computers in question, or, that Facebook are leaving some extraordinary crap behind until you close and restart your browser, or, that other web sites are trying to exploit security holes in Facebook.

Computers used: MacBook Pro/OSX 10.5.8 and iPad (version1) iOS 4.3.3
Browsers: Safari and Firefox.

Is anybody else noticing this?

(Why OSX 10.5: it’s what I have on one of my machines. I haven’t tested this on 10.6 etc yet)


Irish Rail have problems and is actively ripping off their customers.

I traveled from Limerick to Maynooth the other day. My colleague had pre-booked and bought his ticket online and had no problem getting his ticket based on his reservation code. His ticket covered Limerick Colbert – Dublin Heuston [Luas tram] Connolly Station – Maynooth.
I really don’t trust Irish rail’s pre-booking system as it has failed me in the past, a couple of years ago. Anyhow, the way things used to be was that the Good Olde Manual Ticket Office would always open 10 minutes before departure, even at the ungodly hour of 05:30 in the morning. Not anymore…. This left me trying to book and buy my ticket from one of the ticket vending machines in Colbert station. The big surprise was that the machine refused to show Maynooth as a destination, probably because the journey would require a change in Dublin, from Heuston to Connolly station, via a tram journey on the Luas

I asked two sleepy staff at the station, who were present only to check that passengers actually had tickets, but these two rail-workers could not, manually, sell me a ticket, hence my only option was to buy a ticket for just going to Dublin, and buy the next ticket when I got there.

In Dublin, at Heuston station, the ticket machines could not provide a ticket to Maynooth either. 
Eventually at Connolly station, the machines listed Maynooth, but were offline and could not handle payment with a debit or credit card, but finally I managed to get a ticket from the manual ticket sales.
Later, during my return journey, I verified that the reverse was also true, i.e. that you can’t buy a ticket for Limerick in the Maynooth or Dublin Connolly stations.

I asked the staff in Maynooth, and was told that Irish Rail have at least three different, separate, not interconnected, ticketing systems. The manual ticket offices have the oldest ticket machines that cannot print an integrated ticket. The web-based ticketing system can sell you any possible kind of ticket, as an integrated ticket that can include train and tram, changes, etc. Such a transaction results in a booking number that you then enter on the ticket vending machine in the station, and your ticket is printed. But… on the booking screen of the vending machines in each station, only stations connected directly to the station your originating from are listed. 
Finally, analyzing the cost, my colleague who bought his ticket online paid €67, including Luas. 
If you buy all three tickets offline as you go, like I was forced to do, the cost is  €47 + €2.90 + €6 = €55.90
So why would Irish Rail charge their customers almost 20% more if a customer buys their ticket on-line? Not even Ryanair would be so daft.
I think this is yet another simple and clear example that Irish semi-state companies are not joining the dots, live in cloud-cuckoo-ballygobackwards land and just focus on ripping us off.