Roni Krakover

Archive - September 2015

Free diving the Red Sea

free diving satil

Just came back from a weekend of free diving! In the video below you can see me diving in a very “unorthodox” style – taking a big angle and diving diagonally rather than going straight down. This has a couple of reasons:

  1. I have a hard time equalizing pressure in my ears, thus descending slower helps me. Also, equalizing head down is harder (long story, but you have to either know how to do it naturally or master a technique I haven’t mastered yet).
  2. I don’t like descending into the nothing! I need a real reference point, like a coral reef or a wreck… not a rope. Here I am aiming for the top part of the ship wreck, at 12 meters. As you prepare for your dive, you float and rest and focus on your breathing, without swimming. There was a current and I drifted away from the wreck while prepping for the dive, so had a pretty long swim.

This sums up 3 days of:

  • Meditation and breathing exercises
  • Breath taking dives to amazing spots at a swim distance from the shore
  • A challenging physical activity that is very rewarding
  • A lot of fun

Photo and video credit – Alon Rivkind, free diving instructor and Israeli free diving record holder

Things you don’t learn in high school

classroom-1469789-1280x960
Things we learn in high school Things we don’t learn in high school
Math: Derivatives and integral How to handle your finances, what is an interest rate
Astronomy, geography Recycling, minimalism, caring about the planet.
Physics, mechanics Repairing simple appliances
History Conflict resolution
Biology of the human body First Aid
Grammar Effective writing. Letters, resume, etc
Logics Critical thinking
Pillars of democracy, the political system Respecting others’ opinions, being a considerate member of society
Bible studies, religion Spiritual concepts of presence, oneness and more
The logic of constructing an argument How to be a big person and see the bigger picture in an argument

Of ice trays, blankets, public restrooms and Toblerone chocolate

public restroom 2

Everybody is so obsessed with user experience these days.

Developers, designers, and UI/UX experts spend countless hours optimizing interfaces for mobile applications, web forms, desktop software, and other tech stuff.

I hear people complaining about the nitty-gritties of online user experience, but rarely do I hear people discussing improvements to the concrete stuff around them, such as the building’s trash bin or their cooking utensils. In a world that lives on the hype of digital innovation, the experience of the good old physical products is lurking behind.

Thus, I collected a short list of five physical products many of us use and have a sub-par user experience. Note: I’m not writing this list to complain about the products; rather to show the contrast between the great user experience we demand from the digital world versus the low user experience we have come to accept in the “concrete world”.

Toblerone chocolate

toblerone

Toblerone is a Swiss brand of chocolate (purchased by Kraft Foods in 1990) that stands for quality. While we can argue about the quality of the chocolate, let’s focus for second on the quality of the foil wrapping it. Toblerone is wrapped with thin foil that doesn’t peel off in one piece, rather shreds into a million pieces as you touch it. You run the risk of accidentally eating foil. This shredding effect makes it hard to peel a bit of foil and seal back to keep the rest of the chocolate fresh.

download

Moreover, the chocolate itself has pieces of toffee/honey that stick to your teeth. These pieces of carbs remain stuck in your molars to feed the bacteria and cause cavities. When you eat regular chocolate without toffee, your saliva melts away the remains of the chocolate and it doesn’t stay in your molars. The toffee doesn’t melt.

User experience score from 1 to 10: 4.

Improvement suggestions: use thicker foil, soften or replace the toffee.

Ice trays

IMG_20150914_122138

If you consume ice and don’t have an ice machine, you have to deal with ice trays.

You’re probably familiar with the following scenario: you get the ice tray out of the freezer with the hope of putting ice cubes into your drink. Then, as you flip the ice tray facing down to drop a few cubes into your cup, you find that the ice cubes have a life of their own: they start falling out of the tray, spreading everywhere (including but not limited to your cup).

If you’re experienced, you try to work around these challenges by first releasing the ice cubes onto a plate and later manually placing them in your drink. Yet, the ice tray experience remains un-streamlined.

When you’re done with the ice, you have to fill the ice tray with water and put it back in the freezer. In an attempt to avoid spilling the water on the way to the freezer you hold the ice tray with both hands. Wait, how am I supposed to open the freezer now?

User experience score from 1 to 10: 3.

Improvement suggestion: include a cover that helps you control the ice cubes coming out + prevents the water spill.

Bedding #1: blankets tucked in

 

Unless you want to work on your feet flexibility and sleep in a ballet dancer position, why would you want your blanket tucked in?

If you’re staying at a hotel, you un-tuck the blanket on the first night, only to find out on the next night that housekeeping tucked it back. Your only way to avoid this phenomenon is to leave the “do not disturb” sign on the door so you don’t get a visit from housekeeping at all.

User experience score from 1 to 10: 0.

Improvement suggestion: get your local legislator to ban blanket tucking.

Bedding #2: duvets and covers

bedroom-bliss-1531454-1280x960

Did you ever put a duvet in a cover to later find out that you put it the wrong way (i.e. length of duvet went into width of cover)? Often you just leave it as is, hoping to get it right next time, since putting a duvet in a cover can be quite an annoying task.

Duvets and their covers exist mainly in the form of rectangles which are almost square. Can’t the makers put an arrow to help us tell length from width?

User experience score from 1 to 10: 2.

Improvement suggestion: include a small arrow on both duvets and covers that indicates which side is the “length”.

Conference Tags

conference tag

Have you attended conferences that had a schedule in a mobile app, live Twitter hashtags displaying on the screen, smart bar code scanning and other techy features, yet the conference tag kept turning the wrong way?

User experience score from 1 to 10: 4.

Improvement suggestion: print on both sides, if using stickers, apply them to both sides (can’t believe I am actually writing this).

Public restrooms

“Public restroom” is a generic name for any restroom that is not at home. Specifically, any restroom in which you wish to minimize contact with items around you for hygiene reasons.

Often, it seems like the public restroom is designed to enable you to share and receive as many germs as possible. Decisions like placement of the trash bin and the type of door handle are either completely arbitrary or made to increase dissemination of diseases.

For example, take the office restroom of a (super innovative) company I know, a company that puts a lot of thought into the user experience of its digital products. This company, however, exhibits lack of thought when it comes to its restroom.

As people finish doing their thing, they wash their hands; there is no automated faucet so they have to touch everything with their bare hands.

As they get ready to leave the restroom, they encounter this knob:

door-knob-1-1536236

Rather than a regular handle one can lean on /push with elbow, here you have to grab the knob and turn it.

That way you get to find out if the person before you dried his hands are not. Sometimes you grab the knob and it’s completely wet. Not fun. Essentially, it’s like you’re shaking hands with every single person that visited the restroom that day.

User experience from 1 to 10: 0.

Improvement suggestions: design a restroom that is as “hands-free” as possible.

not-so-private-bathrooms-1473429-1280x960

To sum up, I hope one day some decision-makers that deal with chocolate, ice trays, blankets and restrooms will read my article and put more thought into the design of our everyday, concrete environment. You as an end-user also have power – write a letter to the company that makes the product you would like to improve; talk to the building management at your office about making some changes to the restrooms, etc.

And, I welcome you to leave your ideas for additional product experience improvements in the comments section below

Why Tel Aviv beaches are the best

work out at the beach in tel aviv

Free shade! I have been to many beaches around the world in which your only way to get a shelter from the sun is to pay for it.

free shade in tel aviv beach

You can work out at the beach if you want. Pumps your muscles in real time and makes you look more toned as you are walking around in your bathing suite.

work out at the beach in tel aviv

You can rent a SUP / surf board, windsurf, etc

rent sup tel aviv

And choose your favorite water activity…

rent puddle board tel aviv

Life guard station, open from 7:15 – 18:45 in the summer. Some beaches have lifeguards year round, for those brave enough to swim in the winter.

Also, fixed prices for items such as water, ice cream, sun bed, etc – so you don’t get ripped off

life guard station tel aviv beach

There’s a shallow reef and you can see some fish (most of them grey but still very cool)

snorkeling in Tel Aviv

Most beaches have a beach bar! Food is often expensive and not the best (=tourist traps), but nothing like cold beer or ice cafe to complete your beach experience.

tel aviv beach bar

Many beaches are accessible to people with disabilities – by law. The image below explains that, in 3 languages

SUNP0091

Free fresh water to wash yourself

free shower tel aviv beach

And just wash your feet as you get ready to leave

SUNP0087

Have a great week,