Saturday, October 01, 2005

If it ain't broke, add more features.

I heard this quote last week at the HFES Conference. It is so typical, but I like the contrast with the other cliches. So many systems add more and more features for every new version/model/or whatever come out. Its like the Peter Principle. If the system is usable, more features are added. When it is finally not usable anymore, they stop.

I heard another quote which was from a doctor during laparascopic surgery. He said "move it down, up the axis." What the heck does this mean? The other doctor didn't know either. The presentation was a study of communication during surgery. There were lots of other examples like this. Even simple statements like "move it to the left" are ambiguous because you can't tell if he meant his left, your left, or the patient's left. It makes me very afraid to get sick.
Isn’t networking great? When I got to the Human Factors Conference last Monday, I accomplished more in the first 24 hours than I usually do in a month. For example:

  1. I bumped into a usability engineer I had met at a previous conference and got a lead on a consulting gig for his company.
  2. I met an old colleague who is writing a book and we discussed me perhaps co-authoring it with him.
  3. I met a contact from NASA who may be able to use my help on a project in January.
  4. I bumped into a usability engineer who I have known for several years and mentioned that I would be in his city next month. He asked me to give a presentation to his group, which could possibly lead to a future collaboration.
  5. I met a Canadian consultant who may be able to introduce me to some Canadian companies with expertise that I need.
  6. In a hallway discussion with my grad school advisor, he gave me the contact information for a Korean lab that is working on something I am also trying to do. I never even thought to ask him.

I also helped out a few people:

  1. I found out a student chapter needed help creating some marketing materials and I offered to help.
  2. I asked a colleague to apply for a job at my institution, and he decided to apply.
  3. I found a summer internship for one of my students.
  4. I helped a student at another school decide on a grad school to attend.

And all this was just on the first day!! On the other hand, there are some things that go nowhere. At one lunch I attended, I spend 90 minutes talking to a guy about a potential project and he wouldn’t even give me the time of day. And who knows what will happen with the 10 items listed above. But it was worth the five days in Orlando if even one or two come through !!