среда, 26 сентября 2012 г.

Don't Do Stupid Things When Trying to Help Protect the Environment

Everyone is trying so hard to help the environment. Energy saving there, recycling here. Soooo green...

...and sometimes so stupid. Look at Nokia chargers initiative. Newer chargers will consume less than 30 milliwatts in standby mode which is excellent. And each time a phone finishes charging there's a message saying that charging is complete and you'd better unplug the charger to help protect environment.

This message is brought up as a very clever step that makes every Nokia phone user responsible for the green future....

Well, no. The message about charging completion was always there, just the part about the environment was added at some point.

There's something weird in here, isn't it? It's Nokia charger consuming power in standby but the user has to make extra effort. Why?

The real reason is that those chargers are damn efficient already. Making them more efficient would require better electronic components that are more expensive and that would drive the chargers price up and guess who would have to pay for that? No, people don't like to pay more for greener chargers.

So the pseudosolution is to change the "charging complete" message to contain the word "environment" in it. Does nothing, still puts extra burden on the user but now allows him feel better because of "doing something green". Plus Nokia can now run a PR company full of impressive numbers on energy saving and reducing the environmental effect.

Yes, impressive numbers. To actually estimate anything you have to run the numbers.

Numbers don't lie.

Suppose we have a Nokia charger in standby plugged in for a full year and consuming 30 milliwatts. Just the worst case waste scenario.

Every day the charger will consume 0,03 watts by 86400 seconds (number of seconds in a day) which totals 2592 joules.

Now when you multiply that by the number of days in a year and then by the estimated number of chargers out there the result is very impressive.

Except that the number alone is meaningless. You have to compare it with something and see if it makes any sense.

Let's pretend that each day you will take the stairs instead of using an elevator. Let's assume your weight is 60 kilograms and you go three meters up. This makes you spend at least 3 meters by 60 kilograms by 9,8 meters per second 2 (gravitational acceleration) which totals 1764 joules.

You see, the elevator will not need to use that energy because you took the stairs.

Climb up two floors up and you totally offset the energy saving of the unplugged charger. Plus now you've got some physical exercise and you have better chances of not needing a heart surgery and a ton of drugs which are not that environmentally friendly.

Which will you choose – to do something stupid and protect the environment or to do something useful and protect the environment?

четверг, 13 сентября 2012 г.

Safety Device Useless Because of Poorly Worded Manual

Teh battery terminal covers... Tiny pieces of plastic that could prevent shorting the mobile device battery when the battery is being stored or transported much better than the stupid "don't store the battery in a pocket next to a paper clip" warning.

Now turns out there is one company that ships mobile devices with battery terminal covers. Let's look at Nikon Coolpix AW 100 camera manual. Confirming the Package Contents section clearly shows that the camera battery is shipped with a terminal cover.

One small step for a company, a giant leap for mankind. Sort of.

The problem is that shipping the battery with the cover IS NOT FUKKEN ENOUGH because users are not familiar with what to do with that. Scary paperclip warnings have been there for ages, but users have never seen a terminal cover before. With such background they can only fear a paperclip, not do anything constructive with a terminal cover.

Camera Reference Manual to the rescue? Okay... section For Your Safety says observe the following precautions when handling the battery for use in this product and then there's a bullet list that among other stuff includes this:

[B1] Do not short or disassemble the battery or attempt to remove or break the battery insulation or casing.

Okay, then two bullets later (both completely unrelated to shorting the battery) it says this:

[B2] Replace the terminal cover when transporting the battery. Do not transport or store with metal objects such as necklaces or hairpins.

This is not how the manual should handle this. Here's what's wrong.

First of all, look at [B1] wording. You see, shorting the battery and disassembling the battery are listed as if they are similar actions. They are only similar because they are both Bad Idea™. Other than that they are very different. Disassembling the battery is usually a deliberate action but shorting the battery can be either deliberate or accidental (like accidentally connecting the terminals with a paper clip in a pocket).

These two things should be worded separately. Disassembling or otherwise hacking the battery with a pickaxe should be a separate bullet point.

Next, [B1] that mentions that shorting the battery is Bad Idea™ and [B2] mentioning the terminal cover and the metal objects are separated with two completely unrelated bullets.

This makes [B1] and [B2] unrelated in the reader's mind although they both talk about shorting the battery and how to avoid it.

Finally look at [B2] wording. This on its own deserves careful analysis.

It says the user should put the cover onto the battery while transporting it but doesn't mention battery storage although storing and transporting the battery are totally equivalent in terms of shorting and risks thereof.

Next, [B2] says the user should not transport or store the battery with metal objects. Why the F should he not?

Remember, there's a terminal cover that he should have put onto the battery and that cover should prevent shorting. When the cover is on it's okay to store the battery in a bag full of tiny metal objects – no shorting will happen.

Do you see what's going on? According to the manual the terminal cover is just needed but it doesn't protect against shorting the battery. According to the manual it's just useless or maybe protects from dirt.

So, Dear Nikon, you've implemented the terminal cover, you've produced and shipped it and then you wrote in your reference manual that the said cover is a useless piece of plastic that just needs to be there. Every box with Nikon Coolpix AW 100 now contains a terminal cover and a manual implicitly declaring that the cover is useless.


Here's how you fix it.

1. Remove do not short wording from [B1]. Only leave the wording about disassembling and otherwise deliberately (most of time) messing with the battery in [B1].

2. Move do not short wording into [B2]. Shorting the battery (either deliberately or accidentally) is a separate problem and it should be addressed separately. The terminal cover is implemented to avoid accidentally shorting the battery when the battery is being stored or transported. Remove do not transport or store with metal objects wording, replace it with a phrase saying that a metal object (such as whatever examples you want) can accidentally make a connection between the uncovered terminals and short the battery and to avoid that the user should only store or transport the battery with the terminal cover on.

This makes the terminal cover ACTUALLY USEFUL and saves a billion of cute kittens.