Archive for the ‘Poor Design Workshop’ Category.

SolarWorld Electic Rate Hike Lie

According to the CPUC, this SolarWorld billboard, which I saw at Civic Center station BART last night, is a lie created by lying liars.

The historical electric rate chart at the CPUC says that average electric rates have gone from 13.8 cents per kWh to 15.1 cents per kWh, that is a 9% increase. The sign indicates a 21% increase from 2006 to 2011.

Find the CPUC historical rate chart here. Local archive.

Honestly, I don’t have it in for SolarWorld. I just have it in for getting facts right. They could have made a compelling argument with the data at hand, but they chose to lie instead.

Poor Design Workshop: SolarWorld

Welcome to another edition of Poor Design Workshop!

I saw this poster in the BART yesterday.

It’s kind of a nice poster… until you actually read it.

It’s time to put the sun to work
Power from the sun
400 000 000 000 000 000 000
kilowatts per second
America’s largest solar manufacturer since 1975

First, “kilowatts per second” is a non sequitur here. (reference) Though granted there is often confusion about terms like this. Try to think of it this way: kilowatts is a rate, like “miles per hour”. You don’t say “He was driving at 55 miles per hour per second“… because, well, that’s stupid. Similarly, a 60 watt light bulb uses 60 watts, not 60 watts per second. With electricity, 1 Watt is equal to 1 Joule per second.It’s kind of OK for a layman to make this mistake, but not so much for America’s largest solar manufacturer since 1975.

Ok, let’s just sweep the “per second” thing under the rug and look at that big number with all the pretty zeros. “400,000,000,000,000,000,000 kilowatts” = 4.0 x 1023 watts. Let’s assume they meant to say that the earth is being hit by 4.0 x 1023 watts of energy from the sun. The trouble is, if that were true, our planet would boil off into the vast nothingness of space in minutes. In actuality, the earth catches 1.8 x 1017 watts (reference) from the sun. Their number is off by 6 orders of magnitude… a million times!!!

Ok, maybe that big number isn’t supposed to represent how much power that hits the earth, maybe they were talking about how much power the sun generates in its totality. Yeah, maybe instead of my small minded approach of erecting earth-bound solar panels, they are talking about enveloping the sun in solar panels or maybe putting it in a big bucket of water to make steam and drive a turbine. Uh huh. Ok, let’s do the numbers… Oop! Wrong again! The sun generates 3.7 x 1026 watts (reference, and), which is only 3 orders of magnitude different from their 4.0 x 1023 quote, but still waaaay off. Now our planet is cast into an eternally bleak cold night freeze. Did you see the 2007 intense science fiction thriller Sunshine? It was pretty awesome, riveting and haunting; my mind still conjures up images from the movie; it is definitely worth seeing and it is just like the dark world the SolarWorld people apparently live in.

All this goodness from “America’s largest solar manufacturer since 1975”. Nice.

iPhone 4.0 update is slow. Do not upgrade

I just got off the phone with Apple support who said, “You installed the 4.0.1 upgrade for your iPhone 3G? Ha! Sucker! You are so screwed and there is no unscrewing that pooch!”

After the upgrade, my iPhone does everything much slower. The rep told me, “yes, it’s much slower… It was an optional update so we’re not responsible… If you try to downgrade, you’ll brick your phone.” I embellished that first quote but the second one is pretty much word for word.

If you have an iPhone 3G like me, DO NOT get the 4.0 update. It offers no improvements, only a huge performance hit. For example, it now take 8-14 seconds to start my calendar app, making it MUCH less useful than the previous 4 second startup time.

I will call Apple a few more times and if it keeps looking like Apple really has pulled the trigger on a planned obsolescence program for this 1.5 year old device, I will dump Apple for another platform. Eff you right back Steve Jobs.

The Droid Phone Marketing Freaks Me Out

It’s a single evil red eye scanning, absorbing and p0wning your world.

It’s the new Verizon Droid!

droid evil eye

evil verizon droid

It’s like a little Terminator in your pocket, right next to your junk.

Terminator droid

It’s a bit of Sauron in your pants!

barad-dur sauron droid

It’s the little man that will suffocate you in outer space.

hal9000 droid

The TV ad (which can be seen on their web site by clicking “Stealth” on the Droid wheel-o-doom) sells the phone as being the protagonist in a horror movie. Remember The Andromeda Strain? The Blob from 1988? War of the Worlds? This is how they all start.

local version:

cruel rein droid 4100825307_c9e2822bc0_bTheir billboards even TELL YOU they are going to kill us all. “Here ends the cruel rein of adorable phones” and “A muscle made of microchips”(that will crush human skulls beneath their robotic claw-feet…) (photo via) and “A bare knuckled bucket of does”(that will punch you in the face and steal your world) (photo via)

droid knuckles 4075337447_c8ecef1157_b (1)And if they didn’t scare you enough, the web site for the Droid has this sound track right out of… oh I don’t know, every fricking horror movie ever made. It’s the sounds you hear in Half-Life 2 when you’re in the room just before the room that the squid-headed zombified people are going to attack you in.

My aunt tried a Droid at a Verizon store today and she really liked it. She told me how they have reeducation classes to show you how the phones work.

And remember, “Android Does” is an anagram for both “Donor is dead” and “Dread id soon”!

Poor Design Workshop

Hello and welcome to a new feature of this blog… I’m calling it “Poor Design Workshop“. In each segment, I’ll show you some… well… something that I think is a poor design. We’ll talk about it and then see if we can’t make it Good Design.


Our first item up for bid is a sign I’ve seen quite a bit in airports lately. It’s an ad for… well, I’ll let you guess.

That’s right, it’s an ad for a new foofy perfume called Pre’tentious. This scent conjours images of being famous, being photographed by top photographers and being in framed photos of… what’s that? Oh, it’s a phone. Yes, my eye is drawn to the head and eyes of the model with the feathers, down to her breasts, over to the bottle, left to the photographer, left to the other face in the frame and… that’s it.

Congratulations, Samsung just sold me a scent that doesn’t exist.

That’s right, the ad isn’t trying to sell perfume, it’s actually, after reading the fine print, marketing a cell phone with a camera.

Who is going to buy this cell phone? Professional perfume photographers? No, I don’t think so. Fashionista? Maybe