Flying Alarm Clock

Hate early mornings? Do you strategically place the alarm clock so you have to get up to switch it off? Or perhaps you don’t even do that and the snooze button has become your best friend? If this sounds like you and early mornings are a struggle then read on dear gadget lovers, because the latest novelty alarm clock hitting bedrooms is just the ticket!

Before you say it, yes we know that the novelty alarm clock market is cluttered, but trust us, this one is different very different. If you hadn’t already guessed from the name, the Flying Alarm Clock, well, flies. But that’s not the best bit set this digital alarm clock as normal then wait for the alarm to go off. Because ladies and gents, this is one wake up call you will not be able to miss.

At your preset time the propeller launches into the air with all the manic energy of a Tazmanian devil. The siren is inescapable, the landing could be anywhere in your room, and it wo’t shut the hell up until you get up, find, and then replace the propeller on the base of the alarm clock.

via Flying Alarm Clock.

Best Business Cards Ever

Crowley states, “We designed our business cards as collectibles — collect all 6 and unlock a Foursquare badge. Once word of this got out, people were looking all over downtown Austin for employees just so they could introduce themselves and collect a badge. Every time we handed out a card, we got to meet one of our users. Actually encouraging people to reach out and introduce themselves to your team puts a name and a face on the products you’re building. It also helped us start a dialog with people who’d probably never introduce themselves.”

via Growing Your Business: 5 Tips From the Founder of Foursquare.


OK, so here is why I need to quit my job. I analyze interfaces (mostly websites) and try to make them easier to use. One side effect of this is that I can’t walk down the street without seeing a sign or a door or car-lane that has a poor interface, and upon seeing it I usually become apoplectic.

The other day I was trying to use my company’s intranet and couldn’t even get through the login before absolutely losing it. There was no “Forgot your password?” link, and anyway, I hadn’t forgotten my password, the damn thing just wasn’t accepting it, and I had no idea why. Which caused me to send this email to an administrative assistant.

—–Original Message—–
From: Josh Penrod
Sent: Friday, July 18, 2003 11:36 AM
To: *****
Subject: intranet living hell stupid piece of son of a )#*@&$#@(*)$&*)#@$&#$)&#@$)(*#$$)(


I have recently been sitting in front of that pile of trash intranet putting in every username and password known to man (including the one you sent me last time when this happened). Not surprisingly, none of them worked. Because a team of rocket scientists wrote the code for this site there is no, “forgot your password” link.

I have now been swearing for 15 minutes straight and I have put together words in combinations never before heard by mortal man, or if heard, then immediately followed by death. A sailor walked by, and started crying like a baby when he heard the words I have been saying.

May I please have my password?

J o s h P e n r o d
[Usability Specialist]

She wrote back:

From: *****
Sent: Fri 7/18/2003 11:45 AM
To: Josh Penrod
Subject: RE: intranet living hell stupid piece of son of a )#*@&$#@(*)$&*)#@$&#$)&#@$)(*#$$)(

Here’s your username and your new password:

username: josh
password: sonofa


I was trying to request some paid time off, so I spent the next 15 minutes trying to find the link that let me do what has to be the absolute #1 thing the intranet site is used for. After finding it I began to fill out the info. I put in the date range I wanted, and a bunch of other junk, then it asked for my total available vacation time.

I had to click through about five pages to find that information. I went back to the paid time off form and, of course, it was blank. I had to start over. So, I entered in all the info, and my total vacation time, only to be asked for my employee ID #. Surprisingly, I don’t have this memorized, so I had to click through a few pages to find it. I found it and then went back to the form. Before I even got to the part asking for my total available vacation time I realized I had forgotten the number.

At this point I am positive a large vessel in my brain popped. I haven’t discovered what faculty I lost because of the aneurysm, but I am sure I will discover I can no longer walk backwards or something.

It dawned on me that the site ALREADY KNEW everything it was asking me to enter! Why was I being asked for info it already had?! If it could show it on another page, why couldn’t it show it here, where I NEEDED IT?! It was mocking me, that is why.

I kicked my waste basket about 30 feet into a wall at the end of the hall. I heard a secretary, whose desk was next to the wall my trash can just bounced off of, asking bewilderedly “Does anyone know who this wastebasket belongs to”?

The only thing that made me feel better was running up to her and demanding an explanation as to why she had my wastebasket, accusing her of being a kleptomaniac, and warning her that I would be watching her.

Actually, if I keep this up I may not need to quit my job.

I Agree With the Author

My first automatically generated comment spam!

It was hard for me to figure out this was spam because most people who comment on amishrobot simply say, “I agree with the author”.

A new comment has been posted on your blog Amishrobot, on entry #85
(Wearable Computing).

IP Address:
Name: ip address
Email Address:

Comments:I agree with the author

If you have a Moveable Type Powered blog you absolutely have to install MT-Blacklist. It will stop most spammers from commenting, and the ones that get through can be removed from your site with a click. Do not let these idiots use your site to improve their google rankings.


As many of you know, Apple just launched a music store. The interface is really pretty nice. One thing that jumped out at me was their use of breadcrumbs. You know those little trails at the top of the page that show you where you are and where you have been.

They normally look something like this:

*Note: I am not really shopping for a BMW, but if you donate it, I will take it.

Of course, Apple being Apple, their breadcrumbs look much nicer:

*Note: I don’t think there is any major interface advantage here, it just looks really nice.

How long do you think it will be before websites start copying this look? I bet there is at least one out there by the time you read this.

Internet Friends

I will post some chicago photos tonight.

I am sitting here in the 37signals office taking a lunch break from a very interesting workshop.

I just remembered a hilarious incident that happened in a usability test a week or so ago (yes, talking about nerd stuff again, let the groin kicking commence). A user, a lady, was filling out a form that asked for her email address and her home address, and she said,

“Why do you need my address, we are just internet friends!”

I wanted to give her a hug, ” I think we are a little more than that ma’am”.


I can hardly type through the tears.

I just got a letter from the city. Modem users like Dan, may not want to read this.

Dear Resident:

The City of Orem has joined with 16 other Utah cities to work with the Utah Telecommunications Open Infrastructure Agency (UTOPIA) to provide fiber optics directly to each resident’s home. Fiber optics would provide residents with Internet Protocol (IP) phone capability, digital television, and Internet access capable of downloading files at speeds of 10 megabytes to 1 gigabytes per second

cant type… too happy…….

Soggy Airline Mechanic

I am a usability researcher. I conduct tests on websites and find out what is confusing for people and then I make recomendations to improve them. I don’t put any effort whatsoever into the usability of this website because I am lazy, short on time, and no one is paying me. I don’t write about usability because there are plenty of people out there already doing it, and the majority of my readers would get so bored they would punch themselves in the groin repeatedly.

Today I make an exception. Let the groin-punching begin.

When I do usability testing I sit next-to, and a little behind the person I am observing. A video camera records the screen and the audio. I broadcast this video feed out to anyone in the company who wants to watch. Some people watch and some of those watching Instant Message me during the test. It is important to note that today my pants smelled like Reese vomit. The vomit smell is not usually part of the testing, and it made it hard for me to concentrate. I will probably not wear vomit-pants in the future.

During todays test I was dared to say certain words to the user and make it sound like they were part of the test. I got an instant message, “I bet you lunch that you can’t use the word moisture during testing today”. I had earned that lunch withing 30 seconds of the dare. The next message bet me a soda that I couldn’t use the words “Airline Mechanic”. In spite of the distracting smell of my pants, that dare only took about 20 seconds.

I can’t give the details of what i said without revealing more than I care to about where I work, but I promise our site has nothing to do with moisture or airline mechanics, and it took some conversational gymnastics to slip those words in w/o freaking out the testee. They didn’t even notice it was wierd. If you could only read my clever comments you would stop punching yourselves in the groin.


C’mon stop it.

Sorry groins, I promise to never write about this again.