It Is Out Of Order Too Often


The electronic book return at my local public library is a pretty cool machine. It rather feels like the machine is eating the books as it slurps them down one at a time.

However, at least half of the time when I am at the library, this machine has been “out of order.”  What percentage of the time does a machine need to be out of order before it is considered more hassle than it is worth?

I wonder if they use that sign even when they are just emptying the bin or performing some other regular but short-duration service?

On a related note, is being ‘out of order’ the same as being ‘in disorder’? Or is the ‘order universe’ large enough to contain order, disorder and still more varieties of order?

The Hands-Off Human Touch

There seems to be a disconnect between the desire to provide “Journalism with a human touch” and the sale of the periodicals via vending machine!

Once the man on the left moved I was able to see this sign:

These vending machines don’t even work.

When a prospective customer idled in front of the machine for a few seconds, an attendant would scurry over from his seat to ask if they wanted to make a purchase. Then the attendant would unlock the machine, open the door, allow the customer to peruse more closely, and transact the sale if it transpired.

Effectively the vending machine was a shelf, nothing more. It did light up the magazines, but at the cost of extra floor space, electricity and complexity of purchase.  It seems an imbalanced trade-off.

Of course, we do not know the full story.

Perhaps there was not a shelf to be had, in which case the vending machines might have been the best option, by virtue of being the only option.  Not good, but perhaps good enough.

Too many choices for laundry?

Several months ago I featured a post about a washing machine with just two options for laundry load size.  Short of a sink filled with soapy water, or washing your clothes in a river, that’s about as simple as washing machines get.

I recently encountered a machine that could be the most complicated washing machine one can get (at least for home laundry use).

To save you the bother of reading all that, here are some summary stats. We have:


14 Wash Cycle options


4 Soil Levels

4 Spin Speeds

5 Wash-Rinse Temps


2 options for Deep Clean

2 options for Extra Rinse

2 options for Pre Soak

3 options for End of Cycle Signal

That comes out to over 21,000 different ways to run this washing machine!