Fresh: ask Doctor Usability

XIV.6 November + December 2007
Page: 17
Digital Citation

In memoriam


Authors:
Jonathan Arnowitz

It is with deep sadness that we acknowledge the untimely passing of Dr. Usability. We feared something was wrong when the Doctor missed his last deadline. This was very unusual behavior, as he never passed up an opportunity to be read.

Doctor Usability went on a trip to Japan this past month to meet with a major client. Typical of the Doctor, he was true to his profession until the end. Our Doctor, a guest at a 70-story hotel in Tokyo, was dining with a European colleague in the rotating restaurant at the top. Pursuant to engaging in a heated argument over affordances and labeling, it appears that the waiter suggested they both remove their argument to a more appropriate location and gestured toward an unlabeled doorway leading to a small private dining room.

Unfortunately, an identical unlabeled doorway next to it led to the rooftop, and our pair of usability wags made for the door and suddenly found themselves enjoying the fresh (if thin) air. While the next details are vague, apparently our Doctor did find a usability problem: The door locked behind them, and worse, a major earthquake hit just at that moment.

Upon later questioning, the waiter said he did see a couple of falling objects as the building heaved and swayed. Given that the experiment would be difficult to repeat, we may never know the kind Doctor’s last words, but we imagine there may have been something of a struggle over Push or Pull.

A private memorial service will be held in the good Doctor’s honor in Palo Alto, after which his ashes, according to his wishes, will be mixed with resin and pressed into “I told you so” medallions to be distributed to his favorite clients. Doctor Usability is survived by three major clients, a talking parrot, and four readers still wanting their questions answered. The parrot has declined to comment.

We will all miss him…terribly.—<eic>

Author

Send in your questions to Dr. Usability at askdrusability@interactions.acm.org and get a chance to win a prize.

©2007 ACM  1072-5220/07/1100  $5.00

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