Geek Smithology

July 1, 2008

Street Usability (or lack thereof)

Filed under: Craft of Dev by Nathan @ 8:16 pm

Happy Canada Day! While it’s nice to have a special day, I hope my fellow Canadians take more than one day a year to celebrate everything that makes this such a great country. Except for the number pads on these newfangled parking “meters” in downtown Calgary. I’m sure they’re all over the world by now, but I don’t drive all that often to begin with, and me driving downtown is almost unheard of. The idea is that you park, and then pay for time based on the numbered zone in which your car resides. It insisted the zone number I was keying in didn’t exist. Just as I was about to reduce the machine into it’s component atoms, I looked down and saw this:

WTF is the zero doing up there? There are really two different ways number are represented – like a phone, or like a numeric keypad. The only common idea is that the zero goes on the bottom! So I had pushed the $1 key a couple o’ times and ended up not inputting the correct zone. But what about the larger potential consequences? What if the completely incorrect number I typed in actually was a valid parking zone, just one that was elsewhere. Then while I’m off traipsing around downtown, thinking I’ve done my duty in properly remunerating our fine municipal government for the privilege of parking I’ve left myself open to any nefarious combination of ticketing or towing. Sure you may say I should looked at the display and double checked my work, but can you really defend the position of that zero?

Luckily I was able to calm my nerves by heading into the local coffee shop and settling down with this:

Powered by WordPress