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LSED: Crappy interface design

Upfront I have to say I’ve been listening to Steve Jobs’ biography by Walter IsaacsonSteve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography, and might be a little bit of a Mac fan-boy (for a “windows” guy), and I’m a very happy iPhone and iPad user.

I hate crappy interface design. Ugly I can live with, but poor layout making things difficult to use really annoys me.

Yesterday I spent some time at LinC Yarra Valley setting up a server/PABX for them. It was sort of working, but I could not get outgoing calls to work through the PSTN. Nearly 5 hours later, combing through pages of modules with hundreds of options, then lots of config files, I finally found this option buried in the middle of the following page:

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Disable Trunk!!

If you are going to have a setting to completely disable a feature:
a) why is it on by default?
b) why is it buried in the middle of the page, not right at the top?
c) why isn’t it highlighted just a little bit?
d) if it’s part of a configured system (which the page knows, because at the top of the page it says “in use by 4 routes”) why doesn’t it glow bright red and (heaven forbid) use the blink tag!

5 hours searching then Bam! Untick the box on two pages, and off it goes.

You learn something every day, I hope the freePBX team get it.

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LSED: Water tank filters

I learnt today what those filter baskets on top of water tanks are really for. Keeping leaves out is a minor problem.

It’s there to keep possums from crawling in and then dying and stinking the whole place out.

Eew, and I had to clean up the mess.

You learn something every day

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LSED: Swarf

Swarf is the little bits of metal that come off when you drill through metal.

Effectively it’s the metal equivalent of sawdust.

When you drill through metal, and the swarf flies off, it’s hot. Very Hot.

The thing I learnt today is that when you are drilling over your head, it’s best to wear a closed neck top (as well as safety goggles) not a polo shirt.

You learn something every day

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LSED: Drill bits

The quality of the drill bit is much more important than the power of the drill itself.

I was trying to drill a hole through a metal beam in the carport over the weekend to hang up a punching bag, and was having all sorts of trouble getting through the metal using the drill bit that I had that was the right size. In fact I could not even get a start, it was just skating all over the surface, and wouldn’t bite.

It was a cheap bit, but had always served me well (mainly drilling through wood/plaster etc.) I thought it might work better with a pilot hole, so I grabbed an older set of bits, clearly of better quality, and tried the biggest of them.

Bam, straight through.

That when I realized that the drill bit is everything, and it was also an interesting metaphor. Companies are often only as good as the reception people they have answering their phones or greeting their customers. That first point of contact is really, really important.

I went back to the crappy (but bigger) drill bit thinking that now that there was a pilot hole it would be fine.

No.

I grinded and pushed and grunted for ages and ages and ages and was barely getting anywhere. It was time to give up on that bit, at least for metal work) and head down to Bunnings for a properly sized sharp, designed to drill through metal, drill bit.

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You learn something every day..

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LSED: Learn Something Every Day

I’m starting a new category today called LSED: Learn Something Every Day..

I don’t for a second believe I’ll post something every day, but then maybe not everything I learn I want to share with the whole world… 🙂

Here’s hoping you learn something today too.

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