BlathrWayne Lorentz

Showing blathrs with the tag “Communication.”

Weʼre number what?

Monday, September 12th, 2022 Alive 18,766 days

Those Methodists make a fine cup of coffee

Iʼm always trying to explain to my coworkers the importance of future-proofing what you publish.

Here we see a happy coffee sleeve touting Houston Methodist Hospitalʼs rank as the number 16 hospital in the nation. Except that it isnʼt.

Methodist is actually number 15. Sixteen was last year. But some middle manager thought it was a good idea to order fifty brazillion coffee sleeves flogging the #16 position, and now itʼs stuck under-bragging until they run out.

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Airline humor

Wednesday, August 10th, 2022 Alive 18,733 days

A signboard at Midway Airport

I know Southwest is trying to be folksy and humorous by having the status sign at the airport gate tell me I have plenty of time to read magazines. But I canʼt help but think, “No kidding. My flight has already been delayed six times tonight.”

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Way way wayfinding

Wednesday, August 10th, 2022 Alive 18,733 days

The CTA Red Line Lake station

This is an example of wayfinding done right.

With a mere glance out the door of a subway train, I can see three signs telling me that this is the Lake station.

The signs are large, clean, and clear, with very high contrast.

Itʼs remarkable how many transit agencies and airports, large and small, forget the importance of wayfinding, communication, and consistent design.

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I do not want fries with that

Wednesday, August 10th, 2022 Alive 18,733 days

A “Ham Quicke” at the Lavazza cafe inside The Drake Hotel

I used to live in a state where prostitution is legal, and even Iʼm not sure what a “ham quicke” is.

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Performing stability

Wednesday, August 10th, 2022 Alive 18,733 days

A list of meaningless status updates from eero

Vagueness is not a virtue. I can only imaging that the git commit history for Amazonʼs eero team looks like “Update,” “Update,” “Update,” “Update,” “Update.”

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This is your fault

Tuesday, August 9th, 2022 Alive 18,732 days

Mayor Lori Lightfoot poster welcoming people to Chicago

When you leave the airside of Midway Airport, this is what greets you. On the surface, itʼs a nice welcome message from the Mayor of Chicago. Sweet.

The cynic in me immediately starts thinking itʼs a shameless promotion, and another way for her to get her face out there, like all those craptastic little towns scattered across America with signs reading “Welcome to Gripplebunk; Population 3,122; Cleetus McFasterberry, Mayor.”

But the more I think about it, thereʼs more to this sign. Itʼs Mayor Lightfoot taking pride in her city. More importantly, itʼs hizzonor putting her neck out there and telling people “If your visit sucks, thatʼs my fault. If the train brakes down, thatʼs my fault. If you get mugged on Wabash, thatʼs my fault.”

It's also saying, “If you have an awesome time at Oak Street Beach, thatʼs my fault, too!” But few people seem to associate good things with the people responsible for them. Itʼs much easier to assign blame when thing go wrong.

Lightfoot is far from my favorite Chicago mayor, especially among this new generation. I disagree with a bunch of the things sheʼs done. But at least sheʼs trying to do things. And in ways big and small, she doesnʼt run from controversy or responsibility. Which makes her an old-style Chicago mayor.

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Laissez les bons temps spamer

Friday, August 5th, 2022 Alive 18,728 days

E-mail unsubscribe confirmation. Maybe.

This e-mail from the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority reads “You unsubscribed.” It also says “You will receive an email update when new information becomes available.”

So, am I unsubscribed, or am I going to receive e-mail updates?

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Boy, howdy

Saturday, July 2nd, 2022 Alive 18,694 days

A wet wipe dispenser sponsored by Energy Texas

If your electric company promotes itself with the slogan “Giddy Up!” you might be in Texas.

And if you trust something as important as electricity to a company that promotes itself with the slogan “Giddy Up!” you get what you deserve.

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Maybe there's a dictionary for sale

Friday, May 27th, 2022 Alive 18,658 days

A misspelled flyer for a yard sale

Fortunately, spelling doesnʼt count on yard sale flyers. Perhaps spelling “tchotchkes” as “chotskies" is an indication of quality second-hand goods at low low prices.

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Wolf got your tongue

Thursday, May 26th, 2022 Alive 18,657 days

Iced coffee from Mr. Wolf

Thereʼs a coffee shop inside the Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans. Itʼs called Mr. Wolf. And it makes some pretty darned good iced drinks.

What you see above is the result is my inability to clearly communicate what I wanted. I wanted an iced coffee in a paper cup. The reason was simple: Mr. Wolfʼs cold drink cups are boring unadorned plastic, and lack the cool wolf logo. I wanted the dapper wolf on my drink.

The baristas were nice enough, but perhaps it was heat stroke that prevented me from explaining what I wanted.

In the end, we compromised on the pictured frankendrink: Iced coffee poured in a plastic cup, and the plastic cup jammed in a paper cup. Close enough. Still good.

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Amateurs

Saturday, May 21st, 2022 Alive 18,652 days

The Howdy Kolache logo

If I had an Instagram account, I could tell the supposedly Texas-style Howdy Kolache company that saguaro cacti donʼt grow in Texas. They only grow in southwestern Arizona, hundreds of miles away.

Iʼd tell them myself, but like many hobby companies these days, the only way to make contact is via the one random social media app of their choice.

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Wine with spam

Tuesday, October 19th, 2021 Alive 18,438 days

Spam from Renault Winery at 72 North Bremen Avenue, Egg Harbor City, New Jersey, which sends out spam

I donʼt drink wine. I havenʼt been to New Jersey since before the internet. No, I didnʼt sign up for your mailing list. I do not want your spam, filthy lying spammers at Renault Winery Resort in Egg Harbor City, New Jersey.

Guess which state wonʼt get my tourism dollars.

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Thirsty for vowels

Monday, August 16th, 2021 Alive 18,374 days

A dysfunctional fountain “Closed for Maintainence”

Three fails in one word. Pretty impressive.

  1. “Maintenance” is spelled wrong
  2. The line break isnʼt between syllables
  3. The line break isnʼt hyphenated

An additional point should be deducted for putting a dingbat in the middle of a sentence.

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What does it say?

Friday, April 9th, 2021 Alive 18,245 days

A California license plate

Millennials complain that they can't read cursive writing. Does that mean that when they see a California license plate, they don't know what state it's from?

Are they all going to die because they can't find a Walgreens to get their prescriptions?

The cursive Walgreens logo
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Friday, February 12th, 2021 Alive 18,189 days

I think the reason that many people on the internet incorrectly put punctuation outside of closing quotation marks is because they donʼt read books.

If you read, youʼre used to seeing it done correctly, and are familiar with it.

This is correct: “Word.”

This is not correct: “Word”.

Donʼt believe me? Open any book.

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Good choice

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020 Alive 18,137 days

Someone doing a survey phoned me today. She asked for my opinion about COVID.

I told her Iʼm against it.

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A small request

Sunday, June 28th, 2020 Alive 17,960 days

An impossibly small font in Apple Maps

Why do so many Apple programs use five-pixel-tall fonts? Who thinks these are a good idea? Even back in Commodore 64 days, we knew that nobody could read a five pixel font.

You donʼt have to be visually impaired, elderly, or even drunk for these to be completely unreadable on a computer screen.

For all the puffery that comes out of Apple about accessibility and inclusiveness, this has to stop.

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Fails to deliver

Wednesday, May 27th, 2020 Alive 17,928 days

Part of an e-mail from the U.S. Postal Service with no way to respond

How do you keep your customer follow-ups down and your “satisfaction” metrics up? By not giving people a way to contact you!

If people canʼt complain, thereʼs no complaints, right? It works for the U.S. Postal Service.

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Sending a message

Monday, February 24th, 2020 Alive 17,835 days

A malformed progress box in iTunes

If Apple canʼt make its programs work, what chance do I… oh, wait. Itʼs iTunes. This is probably an improvement.

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One ringy dingy

Saturday, February 1st, 2020 Alive 17,812 days

The payphone in Shoshone, California

If you listen to the chattering masses on the internet, you can be made to believe that the internet is everywhere, data is virtually free, and if youʼre not connected to everyone everywhere all day every day, you must be at room temperature.

As is often the case, reality and the internet are very different from one another.

The reality is that there are millions of people in America with no internet service. Not because of choice, or poverty, or lack of education; but because they are simply beyond the reach of the infrastructure.

People I know in the Silicon Valley bubble cannot fathom that there are places in America without broadband, let alone cell phone service. Yet right now, there are hundreds of thousands in Las Vegas who have no internet service. Even in New York City, there are over a million people who do not have internet access, and have no cellular service in their homes.

Itʼs especially hard for people from Europe to understand. They live in small countries where people are packed close together, so itʼs easy to provide cell phone service. They donʼt grasp how vast places like the United States, Canada, Australia, and elsewhere are and that cell service is not universal around the entire globe.

I ran into a British couple in Monument Valley once who were complaining that their cell phone didnʼt work. They kept saying, “But we bought it in San Francisco!” as if repeating the phrase often enough would cause a cell tower and power lines to sprout from the cracked earth. They couldnʼt be made to understand that they shouldnʼt expect a phone to work in the desert a thousand miles from the Bay Area.

The photograph above is a great example of how many places in America lack basic communications infrastructure (let alone running water and electricity). Itʼs a special pay phone in the town of Shoshone, California. The same California that gave us so much of the high-tech world in which we live also cannot connect all of its towns and cities.

There is no cell service in Shoshone. There is only dialup internet service in Shoshone. There are only a couple of radio signals that reach Shoshone. So the way many people communicate with the outside world is via this payphone.

Itʼs an ordinary payphone that also has special numbers people can dial to connect to essential, and some seemingly sponsored, services for free.

  • *10: Chase Bank
  • *12: Prayer line
  • *13: Payday loans
  • *14: Job search help
  • *15: Credit cards
  • *16: Weather
  • *17: Wells Fargo Bank
  • *19: Social Security

Local calls are currently 50¢, and anywhere else on the planet is $1.00 for two minutes. Which seems pretty reasonable to me, since I remember when calling my high school friends could cost an inflation-adjusted $3.50 for two minutes, and they were only a few miles away.

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Monday, February 18th, 2019 Alive 17,464 days

The Wikipedia entry for “Teletype”

How much knowledge has been lost thanks to the “information age?”

The entry for “Teletype” in Wikipedia is just 2 paragraphs.

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