Form or function in hotel design

November 17, 2015 :: 0 comments

The hotel I’m staying at in Lisbon is one of the most beautifully designed rooms I’ve ever stayed in. It’s also the worst designed hotel room I’ve ever stayed in.

  • The closet doors stretch to the ceiling and are positioned so that when the door is open, the only light near the closet is hidden behind the door, leading to a dark closet.

  • The closet door handles are about 2 feet off the ground, which is probably fine if you’re 4 feet tall.

  • The shower stall is doorless, with a half partition. The faucet controls are at the far back, meaning you have to stand in the shower and get sprayed by cold water to turn it on.

  • The half partition in the shower is not enough to keep the water in, so after the shower, you’re standing in puddles of water.

  • The towel hooks are above a small ledge at the back of the shower. This ledge ends up a large puddle, and the hooks are just low enough that 2 inches of towel has to sit in the puddle.

  • The wall between the bathroom and the rest of the room is semi-transparent glass. Hope you’re OK with anyone you’re sharing the room with seeing you take a shower and use the toilet.

  • The sink is very shallow and the faucet very high. If there’s a way to turn it on without getting splashed by water, I haven’t found it.

  • The desk is in a narrow alcove, just about as wide as the desk chair. The desk chair is heavy, on a rough tile floor, and has no wheels. It’s an acrobatic adventure getting in and out of it.

Form should follow function. It doesn’t matter how beautiful something is if it’s unusable.

Protesting TSA security theater

November 9, 2015 :: 0 comments

TSA security doesn’t make us safer. It just wastes everyone’s time and taxpayer money. Screening misses 95% of weapons that undercover agents try and sneak through, and the head of the TSA doesn’t think the agency can be fixed.

For years, I’ve protested the TSA by opting out of the useless naked body scanners and requiring them to do a full pat down instead. If only a small percentage of flyers did this, the lines would be so incredibly long at airports that the TSA would be forced to change their screening system.

Once at the pat-down station, I’ve done a number of things designed to illustrate the ridiculousness of the process. Give yourself an extra 30 minutes to get to your plane if you do any of this. Hand a copy of the Constitution to the agent, letting them know they seem to have lost theirs. Keep a copy of the Fourth Amendment (unreasonable search seizure) in my pocket for them to find. Recite the pat down instructions along with them, making sure I’m slightly ahead of them. Standing on one foot. Giving absurd answers to "do you have any sensitive areas on your body" (my spleen is very sensitive). Make funny noises while they’re patting me down. Recite poetry, and when they ask me to stop, ask them what law restricts my speech while at the checkpoint. When they ask where I’m flying to, I give them the name of the city I’m currently in. Change your mind about a private screening halfway through the procedure.

Flight before last, when asked to remove my hat before going through the metal detector, I told them the hat isn’t made of metal, so should be OK. They were not amused, and asked me to take it off again. I’m going to start telling them I wear it for religious reasons.

Last week, I took it a step further. I casually mentioned to the TSA agent that was about to pat me down that I’m really a woman. When he looked at my full beard and hesitated, I told him I haven’t had the surgery, but I identify as a woman. Apparently, the TSA actually has a procedure for this, since I got a woman and a privacy screen. She was not happy, and a little rougher than she needed to be.

Please join me in messing with the TSA’s fake security. Maybe we’ll save some money and implement useful security instead.

Vintage Phone Numbers

October 27, 2015 :: 0 comments

Vintage Hangers

I have a collection of vintage clothes hangers. Sturdy wooden arches hung from a heavy metal hook. Hundreds of them, with all the clothes in my closet hung from them. Like most collections, I didn’t set out to collect them. I saw a few at a garage sale or flea market or something and thought they were interesting, so I picked them up. Over time, I found more and more, until I ended up with a closet full.

Most of the hangers came from dry cleaners or hotels in the 1920s-40s. Because these were advertising products, they often have the name, address and phone number on them, just like the paper wrappers do from your dry cleaner today.

This is where an odd intersection of my love for vintage clothing and my professional life exist. My work with telephony has me dealing with phone numbers all day long, but numbers in those days were different. Phone numbers were four digits long, or sometimes even two or three digits. When more than 10,000 phones appeared, they broke them up into exchanges, each exchange having a name. So "Pennsylvania 6-5000” was actually “PE-6-5000” which translated to the modern telephone number 736-5000.

Some exchanges were so small that neighborhood businesses would just publish two digits. One of the hangers in that picture says “Telephone 58”. That was their phone number: 58.

But... schools

October 28, 2014 :: 0 comments

There’s a political ad on the radio in California that’s arguing against an Indian gambling proposition that would allow some new casinos. The negative ad is funded by some of the big Indian casinos, but I’m sure it’s not just because they want to limit competition.

In the ad, a warning is given about how dangerous it would be to expand casinos in the state. It includes the phrase "what’s next, casinos near schools?" It’s stated as if it’s obvious that such a thing would be bad. What are they expecting would happen if a casino were near a school? Children skip class to play the slots? Crazed gambling addicts shaking down kindergartners for their milk money?

This idea of shielding schools from perfectly safe and sane things isn’t limited to casinos. Last month a local high school protested against an indoor gun range opening nearby. The principal was quoted as saying that a gun club close to the school is obviously wrong. But why? Guns nearby are going to make people go mad and increase school violence somehow?

This school alarmism needs to stop. For the children.

Travel weight of coins

August 26, 2014 :: 0 comments

Preparing for a long trip overseas I emptied the laptop bag I use for longer trips out. It was getting heavy, and I needed to cut the load down. Among other things, I found 115 coins from 6 different countries in there.

When I get to an airport, I dump the contents of my pockets into a small mesh zippered pocket in the bag. I don’t empty it often enough and the collection of coins just grows. The pile of coins in my bag weighed 18.1 ounces — over a pound.

The biggest difference in weight-to-value is the US penny. They’re 0.10oz each. The second biggest is the Philippine 5 Peso coin. It’s worth about 11 cents US, but weighs 1/3 of an ounce. So if you want to waste weight for very little monetary benefit, carry lots of these coins. Also of interest, the official abbreviation for the Philippine Peso is “PHP” just like the programming language.

All the power cables, video dongles, thumb drives, and power adapters in my bag have a total weight of 11 ounces. Other than my 35 ounce laptop, this pile of coins was by far the heaviest thing in my bag - and something I can live without.

Aereo: a parable

June 26, 2014 :: 0 comments

Your neighbor is unable to get TV reception from his property, but you can get it from yours. He asks you if he can put his antenna on your house and runs a cable from it to his house. He offers to pay you $10 a month for the trouble.

Wouldn’t it be silly if the government stepped in to prevent you from making that transaction?

Now that same neighbor decides the long cable isn’t working out. It’s ugly, and the squirrels keep chewing through it. He comes over and replaces the long cable with a short cable plugged into a Slingbox and a DVR so he can watch from home without those pesky squirrels interrupting The Bachelorette.

Two technologies legal to combine in his house, he’s just moved them 50 feet to the other side of the fence.

Three of your neighbors hear about your arrangement. They all bring their own antennas and Slingboxes over and set them up the same way.

Nothing’s changed from your single neighbor, you’ve just got more antennas.

Later 10 more neighbors want to join in, but you decide that having all these neighbors coming over, traipsing through your begonias, and installing their own antennas is a pain in the ass. So you buy 10 antennas and 10 Slingboxes and 10 DVRs yourself, install them and give those 10 neighbors each access to one of them.

Now you’re Aereo and the Supreme Court says you’re violating copyright law.

This can’t be good: Jun 21, 2012 10 :07 via Twitter

Am I the only one wondering what would happen if I unplugged that Ethernet cable? Jun 19, 2012 11 :03 via Twitter

Now I know why my hotel wifi signal is so good: Jun 19, 2012 11 :01 via Twitter

The Oakland A’s are selling root beer floats to raise money to fight diabetes. Next month, how about beer proceeds donated to AA? Jun 18, 2012 12 :17 via Twitter

Dear gmail, please sort autocomplete contacts by frequency of use. I email my wife Christina way more than I do @ChrisPirillo. Put her 1st. Jun 17, 2012 7 :42 via Twitter

My son’s school is selling or giving my contact info to local businesses. Lovely. Jun 16, 2012 9 :25 via Twitter

Two iPhones in the house took a swim this week. Opened them up, cleaned them out, they’re both working again. Jun 15, 2012 7 :38 via Twitter

If your pitch deck is more about the animations than the company, you’ve already lost. Jun 15, 2012 3 :36 via Twitter

The ER is always filled with interesting people. Jun 14, 2012 10 :04 via Twitter

Proof reading is gud. Jun 14, 2012 6 :31 via Twitter

Follow me on Twitter

Best Of

  • Lock-in is bad T-Mobile thinks they'll get new Hotspot customers with exclusive content and locked-in devices.
  • The importance of being good Starbucks is pulling CD burning stations from their stores. That says something interesting about their brand.
  • Newly Digital Newly Digital is an experimental writing project. I've asked 11 people to write about their early experiences with computing technology and post their essays on their weblogs. So go read, enjoy, and then contribute. This collection is open to you. Write up your own story, and then let the world know about it.
  • California State Fair The California State Fair lets you buy tickets in advance from their Web site. That's good. But the site is a horror house of usability problems.
  • Google on the desktop Google picks up Picasa, giving them an important foothold on people's PCs.
  • More of the best »

Recently Read

Get More

Subscribe | Archives


Form or function in hotel design (Nov 17)
The hotel has one of the most beautifully designed rooms I've ever stayed in. It's also the worst designed hotel room I've ever stayed in.
Protesting TSA security theater (Nov 9)
Please join me in messing with the TSA's fake security. Maybe we'll save some money and implement useful security instead.
Vintage Phone Numbers (Oct 27)
I have a bunch of old phone numbers hanging in my closet.
But... schools (Oct 28)
This school alarmism needs to stop. For the children.
Travel weight of coins (Aug 26)
My laptop bag was getting heavy, so I emptied it. Found 115 coins from 6 different countries in there. That will do it.
Aereo: a parable (Jun 26)
Here's why people who understand both technology and copyright law think the Supreme Court's Aereo decision defies common sense.
The birth of cubicle hell (Apr 29)
Where do cubicles come from?
Double Opt-In helps you (Apr 2)
A simple reason why double opt-in is a good thing for marketers.

Subscribe to this site's feed.


Voice and communications platforms, including Tropo and Phono. Work.
The Sacramento technology startup community.
Pinewood Freak
Pinewood Derby tips and tricks


Adam Kalsey

Mobile: 916.600.2497

Email: adam AT

AIM or Skype: akalsey



©1999-2015 Adam Kalsey.
Content management by Movable Type.