Poor Mr. Wong – What did he do Wrong?

I was talking to a PT staffer last night and we were laughing about Mr. Wong and the P and D machine in Marina Del Rey. I reported on it here. The discussion then morphed into a diatribe on just how non user friendly these machines can be. Yes, manufacturers, even the ones that you make today. Listen, I’m on your side. No matter what you do, there is no win.

I tried to explain that there are tradeoffs. The display has to be small and not really well lit or the battery would run down too quickly. The only way to solve that problem is to hook the sucker up to mains power and no one wants to go down that road. I has to take credit cards, but also coin and bills. It has to be easy to use, but also contain in its innards all the information about increasing complex on street rate structures.

This entire discussion reminds me of my mother. She was in her decline, and loved to listen to the radio. Talk radio was her companion. She had a “transistor” as she called it that was made in 1966. It had an On/Off switch, Volume, and a dial to select the station. She loved it. She carried it from room to room and plugged it in and if she wanted to keep the volume down, she could hold it near her ear and listen. Mom was nearly blind, but the three simple knobs were easy for her. Then a horrible thing happened. The power cord wore out. It was time for a new radio.

Ever try to buy a radio? They are black on black things with more buttons than a high school girl’s prom dress. They have lights, buzzers, switches, and displays. You can get AM, FM, Short Wave, and probably alien transmissions from Alpha Centauri. Unfortunately if you can’t see well, and if your hands are a little bent with arthritis, and maybe your brain remembers distinctly raising your kids but isn’t too sure about what was for dinner last night, you are out of luck.

My solution was to replace the power cord. Mom was happy. All was right with the world.

The folks who designed radios tried to make them all things for all people. Their target market was age 16-30. What these manufacturers (yes the big boys, Sony, Mitsubishi, and the rest) needed to do was go to Wal Mart, Target, or Best Buy and look at the average age of the people that were buying radios. My guess is that they would get a surprise.

So, starting with the revenue control issue in January, we are going to attempt to communicate with the manufacturing community. We are going to watch the uninitiated (like poor Mr. Wong) and see just what the problems are and then try to figure out what needs to be done to make the machines more, dare we say it, “user friendly.” No we won’t single out an individual machine or manufacturer, trust me, there’s enough of these issues to go around.

Hey Manufacturers wanna be involved. You are welcome to use our pages.

JVH

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