Monday Sep 20, 2004

Better Elevator Scheduling!

I had a really interesting experience in the hotel this week: I got in the Elevator and there were no buttons anywhere to select my destination floor! Turns out I just followed people into the elevator; I shouldn't have done that.

The floor selector is OUTSIDE the elevator, on every floor. When you get to the elevator entrance, press the floor you want to go to. It then tells you which of the three elevator doors to use. You get in, and the elevator will go to the desired floors.

My first reaction was that this was a really bad user design; I have been trained to enter an elevator and look for the console to make sure my floor's button is selected - so this was discomforting.

But on the second trip a little while later I realized that this is a superior design! Provided of course people can get used to it - which may take a while.

Why is it superior? Because it allows the elevator controller to schedule the three elevators more optimally. That's because as soon as you arrive to the console on your floor, you tell it EXACTLY where you want to go, not just up or down. This extra information lets the elevator scheduler make better decisions since it doesn't have to wait until you get into the elevator to find out exactly where you want to go.

For example, let's say three different people arrive at the elevator on the eight floor. If they all press the down button in a regular elevator, one elevator will be dispatched to the eight floor. However, in this new system, if the three people are going to different floors and press say 1, 3 and 5, then all three elevators will be dispatched to the eight floor. And so on. I've used the elevator for a couple of days now and have totally gotten used to it and I definitely prefer it.

Sunday Sep 19, 2004

In France This Week

I'm spending this week in Paris and Toulouse in France attending various meetings with customers and potential customers for Creator. We'll be doing various demos and listening to suggestions and requirements for upcoming releases.

I was hoping to work on the plane from San Francisco, but couldn't; I've finally discovered a disadvantage to my nice 17 inch Apple laptop: I can't open the screen on a plane when the guy in front of me reclines the seat as far back as it will go... And thanks to Murphy's Law of course the person in front of me went to sleep a half hour after the flight started and woke up a half hour before we landed... I saw other people with small laptops happily work through the night.... Grrrr.... On the other hand, I was able to read a book on JavaScript so I did get something useful out of those hours.

And I also did get to do some coding yesterday. After spending all morning in the beautiful Versailles, I needed to rest my legs so I did some coding in the hotel room. Rather than fix bugs I worked on a new feature. I wish I could tell you all about it, but... it's top secret!

Tuesday Aug 17, 2004

The Caps Lock key MUST DIE!!!

Seriously. Who uses the caps-lock key?

Other than people composing Nigerian Scam (419) e-mails - you know the type, "DEAR SIR... CONFIDENTIAL BUSINESS PROPOSAL... typo typo typo."

I got used to Sun keyboards that put the control key in the location where capslock keys are found on PC keyboards. When I used Linux and Solaris x86 I was able to use xmodmap to remap the caps lock key to act as a control key - but of course anytime I try to use somebody else's computer, such as at an internet cafe when travelling, or worse yet, when doing a demo on fixed hardware somewhere - I keep hitting caps lock and getting myself into trouble. I don't use Windows often enough to justify searching for a program

On my mac powerbook I've found a program to remap the capslock key as well - but it doesn't always work. After suspend and at occasional random times, the key has memories of its previous life and decides to switch case rather than put Emacs into the right mood for the next keystroke.

So here's my question -- why do we give such a prominent position to a key that's probably not used? Or am I missing some big class of business users that say work in spreadsheets with the capslock mode turned on? Since people use the control key a lot (to do ctrl-c and ctrl-v to copy and paste for example), can't we put the control key up there on all keyboards? It's certainly a more comfortable position than where it currently sits.


Tor Norbye


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