Saturday, July 16, 2005

Nine Miles High

I spent the last two days taking yet another break from work to watch Nine Inch Nails play their last UK date on the current tour. I'm quite glad I took two full days off for this because travelling from Heathrow to my friend's house in Greenwich took 3 hours, then another hour to get to Brixton from there for the gig, with similar times needed for return journeys.

Notable highlights: getting to see Julie again, although very briefly and after making her wait for an hour on her own in Brixton because I had her ticket. Sorry once again!

Tavelling across a large portion of London City without seeing any of it, by using the tubes. I did get to see some of the docklands area but not much, and it was far too hot to do any real tourism.

The concert itself. Some choice song selections like Hurt and Dead Souls. I was half-expecting Trent to be a bit introvert, and not really willing to interact with the audience, but he was very energetic and open.

A lady in the queue in front of us using a self check-in machine at Heathrow on the way home. I'd love to be able to slate the poor user interface design, but it was reasonably usable. Some points:

A screen appears asking if I'm travelling alone or in a party. Select "party". A list of all people I've paid for tickets for then appears, each with a tick icon beside it to allow you to checki the person in. On my first use of the machine I tried to hit 2 ticks, but the second press wasn't registered - I had to check in one person before doing the rest. That wasn't obvious, especially since the name list remained on screen long enough for me to hit two ticks.

The woman at Heathrow mentioned above was asked to enter her destination or flight number. On the given touch-screen keyboard she carefully typed "Edinburgh", but the last two characters were dropped (a rather arbitrary choice of a 7 letter limit on destination names). When "Edinbur" wasn't found, the woman checked her flights itenary for what I assumed would be her flight number, then typed "Glasgow". Keith and I struggled to keep straight faces. Perhaps the system knows that all of its desinations have 7 or less letters, but it might be nice to let the user know when the limit is reached and what's wrong with what they're doing.

The same woman's next job was to pick her seat on the plan. The screen displays a floor plan of the plane, with taken seats shaded red, free seats in green. The woman tried to select a couple of red seats, gave a two finger salute to the machine, then chose a green seat. A wee message saying "Red means you can't sit there" might have helped her out.


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