Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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Vending Machine FAIL

298 words

Of course my inner cynic - and your inner cynic - always cringes when seeing that many publicly interfacing user interfaces or display systems are nothing but computers these days. Accident waiting to happen!

Not only are computers by far too complex and failure attracting - the people implementing these systems even seem to go the ultimately silly way of using fully fledged Windows systems with custom made software. Which gives a system that has Point of Failure written all over it. How long can a Windows system reasonably run unattendedly? When it’s equipped with special hard and software to interface with the vending machine? And how stable is the custom software in the machine going to be? How well will it be tested?

A machine I saw recently - at the railway station in Hannover - even made a bit of a show of its failure: It displayed a nicely cascaded collection of error message windows announcing an unspecified error. Well done! The window title was Flashattract which made me wonder whether that’s the name of the software they use or whether it hints that they actually use Flash for this? OMG.

Vending machine error message cascade

However, the people who implemented this were ‘pros’! It seems like they anticipated failure and the machine dealt with it ‘graciously’ by restarting the software after a few minutes, which then displayed its proper GUI before going back to the error message cascade after a while. Bliss!

Of course the main question I kept asking myself was in which way putting a screen, a computer and software into a vending machine that dispenses eight different types of bottled soft drinks, actually improves the experience.

As a bonus, I’m sure you’ll also love the professionally employed ‘apostrophes’ around the screen of this tastefully styled machine.

October 19, 2008, 12:05

Tagged as fail, software, vending machine.

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