Next stop, insanity

Monday, August 21, 2006

Stupid users

When we design software, it is a golden rule that the software be designed for the stupid user. You will be amazed how often users don't understand the simplest concept or don't see something that is staring them in the face. Every software vendor carefully idiot-proofs their software, even though the marketing material never mentions it (It won't look too nice on the product box to say, "Idiot-proofed for you").

A recent hospital visit reminded me of the importance of idiot-proofing.

I went to the doctor with a minor compliant and she promptly ordered enough blood tests to suck half my blood out. On a side note, I think the only purpose the blood tests serve is to confirm that I am serious about my ailment. If I am not serious, I would disappear as soon as I heard the blood tests mentioned.

I went to the lab holding a lab slip and waited at the counter while the nurse at the counter took care of everything except me. I gave her the customary cough. When that didn't work, I said, "excuse me." She looked irritated at the interruption and grumpily said, "yes?" The lab slip I waved in her face failed to elicit any gentler response. She tightened her frown a tad and said, "Place the slip in the box and take a seat." I did as commanded and waited for my turn to be desiccated.

A couple more people entered the room and went through the same routine, viz. wait, cough, interrupt and be sternly told "Place the slip in the box and take a seat."

My engineer brain sprang to action. I thought, "Instead of telling everybody what to do, she could write that on a piece of paper and hang it at the counter." I looked for a possible spot to hang the note and I was greeted with this sign: "Place the slip in the box and take a seat."


  • haha!
    Loved the concept of idiot proofing..sometime I think I need it duh when it comes to operating gadgets!;-)

    By Blogger Ekta, at Mon Aug 21, 01:26:00 AM 2006  

  • LoL! For the longest time i didn't know how to add header-footer to my word docs even though the button labeled header/footer was staring me in the face. I used to seriously think its a complicated techie thing!

    By Blogger freespirit, at Mon Aug 21, 01:43:00 AM 2006  

  • Twisted,
    Honestly I think all women need it...I mean seriously...especially for electronic products its a must!

    By Blogger Anand, at Mon Aug 21, 02:54:00 AM 2006  

  • LOL
    Idiot Proofing!! Thats a nice concept.. and there should be a good documentation of that too..
    Even then I will miss many obvious things

    All these days .. I never knew that the BLOGGER icon on the top left corner of all the blogs would take me to my dashboard.. I used to type and then sign in :-(

    By Blogger Preethe, at Mon Aug 21, 03:45:00 AM 2006  

  • @ Anand : Please! No generalization!!

    @Twisted DNA : Firstly, thanks for stopping by ma blog!

    Secondly : I don like the pic of ur user profile..I associate ma blog friends with their user profile

    Thirdly : What is ur name?I cant be calling u twisted DNA all the time na..

    C ya around!

    By Blogger Neha, at Mon Aug 21, 04:09:00 AM 2006  

  • Isn't this telling you that even idiot-proofing was no use?
    @Anand- What do I say about men who can't handle a wrench? Believe me, you'll be surprised how many of them I've seen.

    By Blogger video, at Mon Aug 21, 04:15:00 AM 2006  

  • Heyyyyyyyyyyyyyy... Anand, that is really really mean of you.. ggrrrrr...

    T-DNA, good one yet again, hope just the lack of blood (the one that has been sucked out for testing) is the only problem that popped up in the test. I often wonder about the attitude of the front-desk executives in the hospital or a lab :-(.

    By Blogger Sush, at Mon Aug 21, 05:28:00 AM 2006  

  • i loved the concept ! good stuff

    By Blogger summerdsz, at Mon Aug 21, 09:48:00 AM 2006  

  • :) Nice play on words there. Dont we already use "shrink wrap" already? ;-)

    By Anonymous Prasad, at Mon Aug 21, 10:36:00 AM 2006  

  • @Anand: BE NICE NOW!

    @TD: Lol!!! I've always believed people should come with flashing "Stupid Alert" signs...but that's not happening because demand would outbeat supply by far.
    You just took my concept a step further and now it makes more sense than ever. ;-)

    By Anonymous Dilnavaz, at Mon Aug 21, 10:57:00 AM 2006  

  • Hilarious! I guess she should think about placing the sign in a more obvious location so that people would notice it.

    Hope you're OK!

    By Blogger Momo, at Mon Aug 21, 11:30:00 AM 2006  

  • Ok. I guess sometimes you need Idiot-Proofing Plus, 2.0 to update the original version...

    By Blogger Mary Poppins, at Mon Aug 21, 12:53:00 PM 2006  

  • Ha Ha true. Have been there before. Then they ask u to sign your name. People who came after u are called in. Did u know that you are not called according to the sign in sheet but according to your appointment time. so no use getting there early and hope to be called.

    By Blogger starry nights, at Mon Aug 21, 03:04:00 PM 2006  

  • Idiot proofing is nice and we need patience proofing.I work at a clinic and it can be frustrating to say the same thing over and over again to the same person grrrrrr!!!

    By Blogger La vida Loca, at Mon Aug 21, 05:12:00 PM 2006  

  • It was funny.But could not agree more on this topic .

    By Blogger SM, at Mon Aug 21, 06:02:00 PM 2006  

  • LOL.. Thats why the saying.. "You can never make anything fool proof, coz stupidity is ingenious" :)

    By Blogger Anu, at Mon Aug 21, 07:34:00 PM 2006  

  • Hi DNA
    thanks for visiting the blog

    By Blogger Preethe, at Mon Aug 21, 11:51:00 PM 2006  

  • Reminds of the golden saying from a business analyst at one of the Telecom house "The users are a bunch of idiots.It's the software that has to be intellegent enough to stop the stupidity". And that was coming from a guy whose favourite saying was "I might not be always right but I'm never wrong".

    By Blogger Bishu, at Tue Aug 22, 01:16:00 AM 2006  

  • hey DNA,
    intresting blog...idiot proofing..
    im agreed with what anand has written..yes every woman needs that as my wife was in great need of that..(hey dont it seriously,otherwise she will going to kill me)..

    By Blogger vibhor, at Tue Aug 22, 02:25:00 AM 2006  

  • That was hilarious.

    *flame suit ON*

    anand, don't theorise over probability of impossible events.

    *flame suit OFF*

    By Blogger Dadoji, at Tue Aug 22, 03:14:00 AM 2006  

  • T D,
    Your blog is witty, nasty and has a charming proliferation of expletives making it a pretty interesting read. Landed here via Bindu's Transp. Diary. Needless to mention how great it was going through your posts. I am blogrolling you and you are in some august company (Scott Adams, Mark Cuban et. al). Good going!!!

    By Anonymous Mythili, at Tue Aug 22, 10:28:00 AM 2006  

  • You are so true about the idiot users. Did you stop your post abruptly? or it was only me who was left wanting for more :)

    By Blogger greensatya, at Tue Aug 22, 12:11:00 PM 2006  

  • quite a engi blog uh? thats really nice and interesting read. even liked a few of ur old posts.

    getting to see common things from a engi's veiw point.

    By Blogger dharmu, at Tue Aug 22, 01:58:00 PM 2006  

  • Hey...I am late here...I mena after you did visit my blog, I am late here..Anyways, this is kinda funny n sometimes embarassing too...I have had similar experiences where I would be planning where someone needs to do something n minutes later realise it was there n my silly eyes were blind! Hey...Its nice tht u accepted it btw!! Kuddos for tht :) :)

    By Blogger SCRIBBLEZ TO WAKEUP, at Tue Aug 22, 04:18:00 PM 2006  

  • ekta:
    I believe the eternal principal that all humans are equally prone to idiocy

    See, in this specific case, it's the Microsof company that needs some idiot-screeners, that go around the company and throw out the idiots that design such software.

    You obviously didn't meet my (male) friend who dropped an SD card in a CF card slot :D

    haha. we all made such mistakes I guess. Actually I didn't know that clicking on the title of a blog in blogspot leads to the top page of the blog in most cases

    I guess Anand was taking a jab at his wife, ekta :)

    Firstly, the pleasure is mine.
    Secondly, If I put my real pic up there, you would be begging me to put Alfred E. Neuman back again :)
    Thirdly, No, I obviously don't expect you to call that long Twisted DNA name every time. You can abbreviate it to TD :)

    No, it's telling me that I some times beat the expectations of lowest expected intelligence :)

    Oh, don't be mad at Anand. He was just pulling his wife, ekta's, leg :)

    No, I didn't blame her for her attitude. If people come and ask her about something that's posted right next to the counter, I would be equally mad.

    hehe. No they didn't find any problem. As a precaution they told me to watch my cholesterol and sarcasm :)

    :) Thanks!

    haha. we do shrink wrap our products ;)

    LOL. I need to order one of those

    Ya, actually she could make the sign a little more visible, may be write in red letters or something

    mary poppins:
    Haha. Yes, we do need keep updating for the lowering IQs

    starry nights:
    I used to do that until I watched it on an episode of "Curb Your Enthusiasm". They had a similar story line once

    la vida loca:
    I can totally understand you!

    :) thanks

    Haha. We need to adapt to the changing trends in stupidity

    haha. that's very true and people do keep that rule in mind when they create software.

    Hmm. There hasn't been a post on your blog recently... now we are all worried about you ;)

    Hey welcome here. I have seen you before but we never met ;)

    Thanks for the compliments. It's quite and honor to be among the likes of Adams and quite a responsibility to perform :)

    No, that's the end of the post... the fact that I didn't see the sign

    Thanks :) I am too much of an engieer and looking everything that way. But I am trying to change that... unless you think differntly, you can't be creative

    scribblez to wakeup:
    "Acceptance is the only way to correct a mistake... and denial the deadly spiral"
    I need to start writing for those Fortune Cookie guys :)

    By Blogger Twisted DNA, at Tue Aug 22, 11:11:00 PM 2006  

  • nice post.. no wonder you got a grumpy look from the nurse.. and thanks for visiting my blog..

    By Blogger Venkatesh, at Wed Aug 23, 01:30:00 AM 2006  

  • intellegent bloggin' i'd say!

    By Blogger ketki, at Wed Aug 23, 05:37:00 AM 2006  

  • Good you did that. Sorry to say and thaz why we are here. Hope you understood.
    She must be working like a robot just for herself. Many ppl' who work ther look very dull and unhappy.
    Here with my doc office, the appointment goe sin and not scheduled goes second. It is fair in that way.
    That reminds be when I was in best buy the other day. We all were in a line at customer service and all of a sudden a lady in the middle jumped to front to get things get. I never waited and shouted so the CS will know who comes firt and last. That lady was made to wait and know wat, the 1 st two liners were boys and they never raised to ask why? I told them speak up when you have to and do not be too nice.

    By Blogger priya, at Wed Aug 23, 06:55:00 AM 2006  

  • "Place the slip in the box and take a seat."


    idiot-proofing ? can we think of a euphemism ??
    "very customer friendly"

    By Blogger White Forest, at Wed Aug 23, 01:33:00 PM 2006  

  • HELLLOOOO NOT ALL WOMEN R THAT CRANIUM-DEPRIVED! I know men who dunno what a blog is lol!


    By Blogger Keshi, at Wed Aug 23, 08:03:00 PM 2006  

  • Interesting Blog man !! checked out some of the previous've got a way of saying things...will be back.*ack : starry nights 4 d link *

    By Blogger b v n, at Thu Aug 24, 01:08:00 PM 2006  

  • they say 'Common Sense is not so Common'
    Good one

    By Blogger dumbdodi, at Fri Aug 25, 12:48:00 AM 2006  

  • * Chuckle Chuckle *
    * Trying not to laugh out loud.. what will my team think.. after I have given them impossible targets for the day?! *
    * At the last line..laugh out loud(s&*t! Now they'll want to look at my comp!) *

    By Blogger How do we know, at Fri Aug 25, 02:16:00 AM 2006  

  • Venkatesh:
    Thanks :) Ya, she looked like she was going to shoot somebody

    :)Thanks! I rarely get called intelligent, and then those people meet me in person

    Ya, I can't blame her for her attitude. About the line thing, doesn't it make you mad when people behind you jump at it when a new line opens! I generally let them slide but when you are present such people should watch out :)

    white forest:
    How about "prevention of sub-normal cognitive actions"

    Was that "HELLLOOO" directed at me? I never said anything aobut women (well, at least not in this post:)

    b v n:
    That's a nice compliment! Thanks.

    haha. That's very true.

    how do we know:
    Hey thanks. I think you are one of the few people who understood the irony in the post :)

    By Blogger Twisted DNA, at Fri Aug 25, 03:07:00 AM 2006  

  • Did you actually place a written slip of what to do .. Should have made her upset for various reasons .


    By Blogger Ilaiy, at Tue Aug 29, 12:23:00 PM 2006  

  • too bad der are no annoying pop up boxes in the middle of your visionary range in real life :)

    By Blogger Isha, at Sun Apr 01, 07:38:00 PM 2007  

  • and why did you retreat from using holoscan for tracking your comments? just wonderin...

    By Blogger Isha, at Sun Apr 01, 07:38:00 PM 2007  

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