Wednesday, July 25, 2012

License Plate Sanity Restored

Stupid Design
About 3 years ago, Texas changed their license plate design to something that made them unreadable from more than 10 feet away.  I am sure they looked beautiful in a high-resolution, brightly lit setting to a committee of clueless overseers, but they failed to deliver on what should have been the number one requirement: readable at a distance in a variety of lighting conditions.

How does a group of people get put in charge of redesigning license plates and fail to deliver on the readability requirement?  How is is that at every step of the design and approval process no one ever raised this question? Did they ever even think to consult the number one user of the plates: law enforcement?  Would any police officer fail to spot this fatal design issue immediately?  This was an epic failure of government, committees and common sense.

It may not sound like it, but this is meant to be a positive, uplifting story. We come to that end by noting that Texas has corrected the problem and is (yet again) going to put out a new design, precisely to address the current problem of readability. And it took the Texas government only 3 years to recognize and fix the problem: maybe a new record.

This new design harken back to much older designs, and I like them a lot.  Simple, effective and functional.  Now I have to figure out how to trade in my plate for a new style one.
Sensible Design

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Elevator Insanity

Having been in NYC the last 10 months, I have encountered more elevators than I previously have in the past.  I have grown to have some contempt for elevator manufacturers. I just do not understand why the very small number of manufacturers could not agree on some standards.  You have your "G", which could mean "ground floor" or it could mean "garage". You have the "L" which could mean "Lobby" or "Lower". Then there's the "M", which could mean "mezzanine" or it could mean "main floor".  I have even seen custom letters in some hotels that stand for some special feature on that floor, which of course has no meaning unless you know the secret code. Is "R" a "roof" or a "restaurant"? Do they dare use "G" for "gym"? I do not care what letter they use for what, just the consistency would stop me from pressing the wrong button as I go from one building to the other.

Then there is the inconsistency about where floor numbering starts. Sometimes the first floor it is the same as "main", "lobby" or "ground" floor, but not always.  So if you see a "G" and a "1", you really have no idea what is what.  The one thing that does add a little bit of sanity is the "star" on the button to indicate the "main" floor to get off (which could be "M", "G" , "L"or "1").  For simple buildings with one exit, this is usually satisfactory, but there are a lot of places with multiple levels of exits and one usually does not know exactly what level they entered on.  You can enter from the street and not be on the "ground" floor, or you can enter in way where you have no idea what level you are on. In those circumstances, how I am supposed to know what they consider the "star" level or exactly what button I need to exit the way I came in?

And my biggest gripe comes from the elevator in my apartment building.  The buttons go from "1" to "16", with a"star" on the "1". All this is perfectly good and unambiguous. And what would you expect the LED readout to show when you reach floor "1"?  You would expect to see "G" naturally.  They could not even stay consistent within a single elevator design.