Kevin Cheng  

Happy Holidays from OK/Cancel

December 19th, 2003 by Kevin Cheng :: see related comic

Christmas is next week so it’s time for the obligatory holiday themed comic strip.

We did a contextual inquiry of Santa’s toy factory as a consulting project. Santa wanted to know if his elves were working in an ergonomically safe environment and whether the tasks were easy to accomplish in the current setup. Well, instead of doing real work, we just took a picture of the factory floor and decided our audience might be able to help us by pointing out some improvements Santa could make. Think of it as a puzzle on the back of your cereal box. How many mistakes do YOU see?

Hopefully, everyone is going off to get some good rest and make sure your present wrappings are usable. For those of you who still might be online occasionally, fear not, we’ll still be here next week with a brand new installment. Tom and I have talked about a lot of ideas we want to roll out in the New Year so watch out for them and spread the word on about us!

Thanks for your support so far. We’re just getting started. Happy Hannukah, Merry Christmas, Happy Winter Solstice, Happy New Year, etc, etc.

9 Responses to “Happy Holidays from OK/Cancel”
Alex wrote:

Happy holidays to you too!

Ben wrote:

The Gantt chart would be a lot better if it were coloured. Hmm … that’s the only thing I see. :-) Happy holidays!

Mike wrote:

Happy Holidays!!

Santa should really upgrade the OS.. “general protection fault”!! *gasp* he’s running MS??? and isn’t that message been replaced starting from Win98?

Ben wrote:

What’s wrong in Santa’s workshop, from left to right (not including things previously mentioned):

* The elf carrying the box down the stairs is about the step on the banana peel
* The door with an ambiguous (in my opinion) handle is labelled with a “push” sign
* It is awfully hard to disambiguate the hands on the clock from the style lines
* The “Way in/Way back” sign is hard to interpret
* A sack is about to hit the elf who is loading the conveyor belt
* The conveyor belt is too high for the elf to safely load
* The “go” and “stop” buttons are not the conventional colours
* The “warning! attention! beware! etc!” Notice is a too small
* The elf swinging from the trapeeze is not wearing a safety harness ;)

Love your work, Tom and Kevin!

natalie wrote:

maybe the screen under the stairs couldve been higher and thus more usable :) ?
the elf walking down the stairs cuold push his cap a little back up so his eyes could be more functional in the sitn ?
and i really cant fig what the guy on the trapeze is taking and from where to where?

Bob Salmon wrote:

I’m glad to see that the sack falling from the ceiling is correctly bar coded, so that when it crushes to death the elf below, people can say “That elf was crushed to death by a sack of X” for the correct value of X, without having to open the sack (although a bar code scanner would be favourite).

Of course, if Santa were more technically literate (viz. his choice of O.S.) and didn’t care about the privacy of his customers, then he’d be using RFID instead of bar codes anyway. (If the contents of the sack were individually tagged with RFIDs, people could say “That elf was crushed to death by a sack containing X, Y and Z” for the correct values of X, Y and Z without having to open the sack, AND the loss of X, Y and Z due to collision with an elf would be automatically rectified by the production of new ones!)

Tom Chi wrote:

If anyone gets that mushroom they are definitely going to hit their head. Plus those plunger pipes look severe, though I’m not sure how it all works with a treadmill. Lastly, the clock has 16 hours on it.

Paul Reinheimer wrote:

The stairs also have no railing, which should be a must.
I don’t think its possible to push the go/stop buttons without a trapeeze or standing on the presumably moving conveyor belt.
All the elves are wearing loose clothing near moving machinary.
The higher conveyor belt itself should be lower, to account for the shorter height of the people removing items from it.
The lower conveyor belt should be higher, and probably roped off at that height to ensure visability.
The ‘Way Back’ door is too low, opens in a non standard manner, and is directly above a converyor belt, at the bottom of the stairs, and the door itself is directly in the path of the elf moving boxes from one conveyor belt to the other.
Mario (as in Mario and Luigi) isnt there to grab the mushroom to get big.

Bob Salmon wrote:

Stairs and leaping from conveyor belts remind me of the classic ZX Spectrum game Manic Miner. <nostalgia trip>Ahhhhhh</nostalgia trip>.

Also, what’s the wispy stuff across the picture? Cunning lighting effect or is one of the elves doing some extreme over-clocking behind the non-standard-handled door?


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OK/Cancel is a comic strip collaboration co-written and co-illustrated by Kevin Cheng and Tom Chi. Our subject matter focuses on interfaces, good and bad and the people behind the industry of building interfaces - usability specialists, interaction designers, human-computer interaction (HCI) experts, industrial designers, etc. (Who Links Here) ?