Mike Becvar
Mike’s Take on the World

August 25, 2011

Video Menu Boards

Filed under: Life in General — Mike @ 7:31 am

I think I noticed it first at McDonalds, the video menu board. They don’t have it for everything, just their specialty drinks (coffee, shakes, etc.) It is a new use of technology. These boards don’t just have a static display, they are animated or cycle through different drinks.

One of the movie theaters replaced all of their traditional menu board/price list with a video display. But, I think they have gone overboard. Not because they have replaced all of their menu with a video display but because they are animating it too much. I was checking out the offerings when suddenly, the entire menu board changed to a picture of pizza. OK, yes they have pizza, but I was trying to read the menu and now it is gone. It eventually comes back and I have to find where I was looking. I check out the prices and decide what I want (or can afford) when it again changes, this time it all becomes a giant Coke ad. Once again, none of the menu/price board is visible.

If they were smart, they would NOT animate the entire display at one time and maintain at least some of the menu/prices. Just because you can animate the menu board does NOT mean it is appropriate to do.

July 20, 2011

When Pull Means Push…

Filed under: Life in General — Mike @ 11:20 am

I walk through hundreds of doors every day. Some are open and others I have to open. I find glass doors to be the biggest challenge. It is not always clear if they will open in or out. And as much as they may think that putting a small sign on the door the reads, “Pull” doesn’t always help. With glass doors, I can see through the door and read the letters “Pull” written on the other side of the door. OK, the text is backwards, but with only four letters, it is clear what it says. Unfortunately, that text isn’t for me, it is for people on the other side of the door. I don’t know why, but they seem to never put the opposite, “Push” on the push side of the door. If they¬†would use an opaque backing, I wouldn’t have a problem. But, as long as my brain reads the word, “Pull,” I will automatically think that I need to pull to open a door.

July 13, 2011

Trash cans at fast food places

Filed under: entertainment, Life in General — Mike @ 12:20 pm

I have always seem to notice the signs at fast food places reminding guests not to throw out the trays or other reusable items. Recently, I have noticed a trend to make it impossible to throw the tray into the trash. Fast food places are switching for the wide open lids or doors to a small circular hole in the top of the trash can. The hole is smaller than the tray, but this in my opinion makes it harder to throw the trash away.

Usually, a fast food place has a paper tray liner on the tray. If the tray can’t fit into the trash can, the tray liner won’t fit either unless it is folded. You can’t just walk up and tip the tray over any more. Now you have to throw each item away and push it into the trash. Personally, I think this is harder and dirtier than before. I have seen many places upgrade their trash cans, but wish they would go back to the old methods.

June 15, 2011

Library cards

Filed under: Clown, entertainment, Life in General — Mike @ 1:09 pm

Last year, I started listening to books on CD in the car during my daily commute to and from work. When I began, I only had books from the Harry Potter and Inheritence Cycle (Eragon) series. I let Amazon suggest a few other books and found a few titles at Borders or the local used book store.

One of the books I picked up, was Magyk by Angie Sage (part of the Septimus Heap series). I enjoyed the book, but when I went to see if I could get the next book in the series, I discovered that new copies were not available from Amazon, or just about any other seller I could find. They had the print copy and an MP3 version, but not the book on Audio CD.

Well, this past weekend, I was at the Burke Center Library and had some time before making balloons for the kids and decided to check out their collection of books. I was surprised to see how many Audio Books they had. I walked up and down the aisle, but really didn’t see anything I liked. I then went over to the kids section, and stumbled upon the Septimus Heap series and discovered they had the books on CD. Now, I don’t actually have a library card. I was tempted to get a card and check out the books, but this library location isn’t exactly close to home. I pass two libraries every day on my way to and from work, so I decided to wait and planned to make a visit to my local library.

I checked online and discovered the Fairfax County Library System has their card catalog online, and they even indicate which libraries have the books and if they are currently available. The library closest to my home has the complete series, but the books are currently checked out. The other library that I pass has the first three books and they are available.

Now, it just so happens that I have been listening to the first book in the series again and I am almost done. It would be perfect timing if I can get the next book in the series now and continue listening to it as soon as I am done with the first book. So, now may finally be the time to get a library card, something I haven’t had since I was in high school.

June 13, 2011

Rollover Ads

Filed under: Websites, Life in General — Mike @ 8:10 am

I hate rollover ads. Let me say that again, I hate rollover ads.

I know that it is unlikely that we will ever get to the day when the Internet is ad free. But it seems like companies are making ever more desparate attempts to force people to see their ads. Websites still have the much hated popup or pop under ads. But for me, one of the most annoying is the rollover ads. The problem, in my opinion is that they are too easy to trigger and too hard to dismiss. As the ad grows to fill the page, there is very little room to move the mouse that is not ontop of the ad. And some will be triggered as the page loads and not be dismissed even though the mouse is NOT over the ad. It takes too much effort to find ways to close the ads.

May 27, 2011

Time for a new phone?

Filed under: Life in General — Mike @ 7:38 am

For the past several months, I have considered upgrading my cell phone to a smart phone. Really, the only thing that has been stopping me is the fact that I would have to pay more each month for the data plan.

When I graduated from college, I didn’t have to pay for cable, I didn’t have a cell phone, and internet access was relatively cheap. Now, my monthly bill for telecommunications is close to $200/month. The thought of paying an extra $30/month has been too much.

I have had a PDA for the past 6 or 7 years. I don’t have access to the Internet or email, but I use it extensively as a calendar and note taker. I also will use it to entertain myself with a game of cards when dining alone. But, for the past several months, I have been having problems with its battery. Actually, the battery is fine, the problem is the battery cover cracked and from time to time lets the battery loose contact causing it to shutdown. For a while, I was able to keep it taped closed, but that seems to be failing. I just can’t imagine not having access to my calendar.

The PDA of years ago have been replaced by the smartphone. I can’t justify buying a device that does not have access to the internet and think that being able to have just a smart phone instead of both phone and PDA to carry around will be a good thing.

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