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Failing Users

December 20th, 2009  · stk

This article was a long time in coming. Over 25 years, to be exact. However, it contains much more than observations on why software fails the users for which it's supposed to be designed. It also demonstrates a method of designing blog posts. Is it "just another post" or a "completely new website"? You decide.

Programmers Cut Off Their Noses

 
 
 

Are users ever truly satisfied with the software they use? The answer is typically "no". We need the software. We use the software. But we often don't like it. Among the reasons: it's buggy, hard to figure out, doesn't do what we want, is overly complex, the navigation sucks, it's got a steep learning curve or it's poorly documented. Take your pick. Why does software fail the very users for whom it's supposed to be designed?

 

Why Software Fails

Why Software Fails

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Randsco News

It takes time to create blog entries and not everything that happens, merits an entry. So, we've created this 'news' section, to keep readers up-to-date with our misadventures and accomplishments. Read about it here FIRST, before it makes it into a blog entry.

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Snoozy Hot New NCLEX Fairy

November 22nd, 2009  · stk

NewsBrief: [Snoozy Newsy] Been awhile since we posted any news • [Hot Tub Progress] Just waiting for the rains to subside • [New Maran Eggs] Maran pullets begin to lay • [NCLEX Exam] Rachel now a licensed RN in California • [Tooth Fairy to Visit] Alex has a loose tooth!

Snoozy Newsy

Hutton House - It has been a while since reporters have been invited to the Randsco campus. When questioned about the lack of news, Editor-in-Chief Scott Kimler, did not appear very apologetic.

"We are aware that it's been a while since our last news conference. What can I say? Life has gotten busy."

Before proceeding with the day's events, he talked about Randsco's commitment to journalism.

"I've been a journalist at Randsco since I was 25 years old," he said, "and one of the things I've learned is that you can't be apologetic if there are lapses in news entries. If you are, you're journaling for the wrong reason. You just pick up when you left off and move forward."

One reporter asked if this meant we can expect more news articles moving forward.

"I can't predict the future," he said, "But we certainly hope so."

Hot Tub Progress

The Back Yard - Developer delays, financing issues, worker strikes, weather and equipment failure have all played a role in the delay of the Hutton House Hot Tub project.

"Not if you ask Rachel," Scott said, jokingly, "It's all my fault!"

The Kimler's picked up a hot tub from a fire hall buddy, Travis, at a bargain rate in 2008. The tub was pulled out of an in-deck installation, when Travis' family was moving to Japan and renting out their rural Cedar home.

"We don't want the liability," explained Travis, "Since we're going to be renting.

Design differences kept the project from moving forward, till this year, when Scott gleaned some paving stones from a nearby contractor.

"Rather than pour a concrete pad," explained Scott, "We used paving stones to form a level surface on which to place the tub."

A large, covered deck was planned around the tub and work has been slowly progressing during the autumn months. A 70-foot trench, which holds electrical cables and a water line, was dug by hand. The paving stone pad was built and laid. Six-by-six posts were set and a 2x6 pressure-treated deck substructure was built.

Lately, November rains have put a damper on progress, as there is a local flood watch and for the past couple of weeks, nothing but rain.

"When it clears," explained Scott, "we'll be building the roof and then laying the deck boards. After that, will be time to set the pump in place and make all the necessary electrical connections."

"If you ask me," said Rachel, "none of it is happening fast enough for my liking. I want to soak in that hot tub!"

Scott just rolled his eyes and pulled his "honey do" list from his back pocket and unfolded it. Holding the list high in the air, the bottom of it touched the ground.

New Maran Eggs

Hutton Hen House - It appears that the three Maran chickens, which are recent additions to the growing Kimler brood, finally hit egg-laying age.

Maran chickens are famed for their deep mahogany-colored eggs. Originally a regional fowl from France. They are not as prolific layers as our ISA-Brown hybrids, but the quality of the egg is superb; they taste excellent and have great structure (even if they are a tad small, since they're pullet eggs).

NCLEX Exam

California - Reporters learned that Rachel Kimler, a Registered Nurse currently practicing in British Columbia, has successfully completed her NCLEX exam.

The NCLEX (National Council Licensure EXamination) is a computerized adaptive exam designed to test the knowledge, skills and abilities essential to the safe and effective practice of nursing at the entry level. Passing the comprehensive $300 exam is a requirement for obtaining a nursing license through (an elected) State Board of Nursing.

In Rachel's case, she applied through the State of California.

Making application to the California State Board of Nursing, studying for the NCLEX exam and preparing for the test, was nearly a year-long commitment by Rachel.

The test can last up to 5 hours, depending on the number of questions asked. Anywhere from 85 to 205 questions may be asked, depending on the applicants response. (The computerized adaptive testing poses a question and if the response is incorrect will "adapt" and pose additional questions, on that particular topic, in an effort to determine the applicants knowledge in that particular area.) The test is terminated after the computer is 95% certain that the candidate's ability is either above or below the passing standard.

Finishing the test quickly, is either a sign that the candidate knows their stuff, or doesn't.

Test results are mailed to candidates 6-8 weeks after the exam date.

"I was biting my fingernails for six weeks," said Rachel, "I finished the test quickly and was afraid I might have really muffed it!"

The letter arrived recently at the Hutton House. Rachel passed the exam and is now a Registered Nurse in the State of California.

"Yay!" she exclaimed, "And look, I get a plastic card, which is a lot nicer than the flimsy piece of paper I got from British Columbia!"

Though the Kimler's have no immediate plans of moving to the United States, they said, "It's nice to know that if we do, Rachel is already set up to work there."

Congrats Rachel!

Tooth Fairy to Visit

Alex's Room - Alex Kimler, who turned six years old on October 3rd, has her first loose tooth!

"Look," she says, opening her mouth, grabbing her lower right central incisor and wiggling it back and forth, "See?"

Just watching her wiggle the tooth sent a shiver down my spine!

Alex is eager to have her wiggly tooth removed and the family discussed methods for its removal.

"We could always tie a string around it and then tie the other end to a door knob, then slam the door shut, yanking out the tooth!" Mom suggested.

Alex was relatively keen on this idea.

"Hey," Dad said, "Go fetch the pliers from the garage. We can have that puppy out in a flash!"

"Ewe," squealed Alex, cupping her hand over her mouth, "Noooo!"

The dentist had a much more humane and practical method of tooth removal, one which resonated with Alex.

"Give her a caramel-covered apple!"

No matter the method of removal, it looks like the "Tooth Fairy" will be making visits to the Hutton House for the next while.

"Wonder what the going rate for teeth is?" pondered Dad.

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Updated: 24-Jan-2010
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Ad Space

 Promote your business on Randsco

Randsco can help to promote your products & services. We have over 10 years of web experience. Our site has authority - currently w/a Page Rank of 5 - & we're constantly adding new material.

We're a family-run website with international readers. Our original articles appeal to a large target audience. Rachel is a nurse and Scott a web-developer and volunter firefighter. We're professional and offer custom promotional opportunities at reasonable rates.

Look below at what we have to offer. We're sure you'll agree - Ad space on Randsco makes good business sense.

About Randsco

Randsco is a family-run website based in Canada (Vancouver Island). We focus on web-development, outdoor adventure, family stories and various local & international news. We launched Randsco in 2004, as a way to share our adventures and keep family & friends up-to-date (Scott is from the United States), but it has turned into much more.

 

Why Randsco?

  • Longevity: Online since 2004
  • Authority: Currently Page Rank 5
  • Prolific: Over 400 relevant articles
  • Audience: 40,000+ visitors per month
  • Interactive: Over 2,500 comments
  • Appeal: World-wide readership
  • Unique Content: Lots of original material on varied topics
  • Professional: Over 17 years of corporate experience
  • Reasonable: Our rates are reasonable
  • Customizable: Need something different? No problem

 

Randsco Advert Policies

We practice "White Hat SEO". We don't try to "fool" search engines & we write lots of original, engaging & relevant content. Content is King.

Google is constantly tweaking their algorithms & our Page Rank has been as high of 6 and as low as 4. While it always gives us a giggle to see a Randsco article when we're searching on Google, PR and SERP rankings are not the end-all-be-all for us.

Because of this, we don't mind sharing our authority with advertisers. It helps pay for electricity. We have, however, come up with a number of advert policies, to protect our readers & our "White Hat SEO" practices.

  • Relevancy: We don't write about gambling, medications or replica watches, so we won't advertise those products.
  • PG Rated: We're a family-oriented blog, so we don't advertise sex, porn or condoms.
  • Sneaky Ads: We don't allow advert links buried in body copy (all ads are clearly marked).

Note: When we say that adverts are clearly marked, we mean "for our readers (eyes)" ... not search engine spiders. Accepted text links will appear in a visually-separated DIV and have a graphical link (to this article). Below is a demonstration.

SampleCompany.com - Quality products at great prices.

For readers, the advert is clearly separated and marked as such. For search engine spiders, the word "A D V E R T I S E M E N T" never appears (because it's a picture) and the link is indexed along with the rest of the page content. Everyone is happy!

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Donation

Green Man T-Shirts

November 18th, 2009  · stk

FEATURED DONOR: Green Man T-Shirts is a super environmentally-friendly clothing company based in California. Their mission is to sell organic t-shirts and save the World. The second is a doozy, but with 25% of their profits donated to environmental causes and groups, they're off to a good start. Green Man T-Shirts uses Photo-Caption Zoom

Make Environmentalists Green with Envy

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Scott·Family

Breaking the Piggy Bank

November 16th, 2009  · stk

A classic Norman Rockwell moment, as Alex takes her ceramic piggy bank down to our local credit union "Island Savings" and opens her very first bank account. At age six, our girl is learning how to save her money! She deposited $54.40 in coins.

Alex's Opens Her First Bank Account - Chooses Island Savings Credit Union

 Island Savings Credit Union Logo

It was classic Norman Rockwell. A six-year-old girl holding a ceramic piggy bank, sitting in the lobby of a bank, waiting to open her very first bank account. The girl was none other than our Alex and the bank was the small branch of a local credit union.

Earlier that morning, Alex asked, "Can I get a bank account?" (Since Dad is keen on personal finance - having retired at age 39 and opened his first business when he was 12 - his ears perked up).

Several questions later, it became clear to him that Alex understood the concept of banks (even though she couldn't name all the denominations of coins in her piggy bank).

Alex has a very special piggy bank, one given to her by her God-mother - a beautifully decorated and glazed ceramic pig, complete with Alex's tiny hand-print on it (Alex was two-years-old at the time "Wilber" was made).

That afternoon, Dad drove his 6-year-old daughter to the credit union in Cedar. It was a long visit. She signed multiple forms and it took time to count out her "life-savings".

It was a very big day for Alex and a proud one for her Dad (who was busy taking pictures of the event). The visit brought smiles to the banking staff, whe were very patient with Alex and treated her like a 'big girl' customer. Not every new account holder meets one of the Credit Union Board of Directors, but Alex did! She also learned the difference between tokens, coins and foreign money (as she had a few Pence and U.S. coins).

To learn more about Alex's first account, read on ...

Alex Breaks the Pig

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