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Stupid Usability #73

Cars and Technology Could be Friends

Written By: High Monkey
Posted: 10/13/2014

From the mind of Chad Heinle, Senior Consultant at High Monkey:

Disclaimer: I am not a car guy. I enjoy driving them at high speeds with loud music, but am lost under the hood. I apologies to any gear heads and mechanics that may be offended by my bumbling assessment of car technology.

If you are the proud owner of an automobile, you no doubt enjoy the freedom of blazing your trail… in rush hour… to work. If you’re fortunate, all goes smoothly and you encounter little traffic and a smooth ride. More than likely though, you’ve experienced some sort of malfunction on your journey. This is where stupid usability comes in to play.

Recently, I dropped off my truck at the mechanic after experiencing an issue with the Anti-lock brake system. After listening to a lot of Car Talk, I correctly diagnosed my issue prior to the warning light going on: a bright orange “ABS” warning. This was great, it confirmed my suspicion and I was able to tell my mechanic so he could hone in on the problem and I knew that if he tried to come back and sell me a Johnson rod while topping off the blinker fluid that it would be time to find a new mechanic.

There are a lot of warning lights to diagnose or at least pinpoint an issue my car is having. There is one though, that I cannot use to diagnose anything: the Check Engine light.



It comes in may shapes and sizes, though most commonly it’s an icon of an engine (or maybe something that resembles an engine), sometimes accompanied by text. This means your car has a problem. It could be a big problem or it could be a small problem. It could even be a faulty sensor. The stupid usability? My car can tell me the temperature inside and out of the cab, the direction I’m traveling, the name of the artist on the radio, what my average MPG rating is and how far I should be able to travel. I have to wonder if they ran out of room in the computer to store the error codes to translate this little light.

The list is long, but it’s all text: http://www.obd-codes.com/trouble_codes/. I’m sure my car could handle it, and I would appreciate knowing that I had at least some reference for when I went to the mechanic. Would I know how to fix an issue with my Intake Air Temperature Sensor? Most definitely not, but I would know that I could at least raise a question if the mechanic said I needed a new transmission.

Chad's Bio Coming Soon!

More About Virgil

Virgil Carroll is the owner and president of High Monkey – based in Minneapolis Minnesota. Virgil also wears the multiple ‘hats’ of Principle Human Solutions Architect and SharePoint Architect.

Virgil is one of those rare individuals who can dive deep into technical topics while speaking clearly to the business owners of a project and never forgetting that the end user experience has the highest priority. He calls it using both sides of his brain. Virgil is passionate about leveraging technologies ‘out of the box’ as much as possible with a focus on the strategic use of content to create websites that deliver the right content to the right audience on the right device at the right time. Virgil brings high energy, an ironic wit, and a sense of grounded perspective whenever he speaks to an audience. Virgil regularly speaks at conferences and user groups throughout the United States and occasionally in Europe.

Posted: 10/13/2014 12:00:00 AM by | with 0 comments