Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Con Jobs That Are Good For You

I’ve always been a big fan of fooling people for their own good. Deciding exactly what is “good” for someone is a tricky issue at best. I might think eating snails for breakfast everyday is good for you. You might disagree. And I’m pretty sure the World Committee for the Welfare of Snails would mind too, but it’d probably take them a couple of years to decide.

Ultimately, most people like making their decisions themselves. Most of the time I think this is a good idea. There are times, though, when I feel more can be achieved by fooling people. For example, like this. Here’s another idea.

You know how they have battery indicators on electronic devices? My cell phone, for example, has a line of bars on the side of the screen. When it’s completely charged there are six bars, and as it discharges, the bars keep disappearing. Zero bars left means that the battery’s done. IPods and other devices have similar indicators.

Now I’ve noticed that I tend to ignore charging the phone if there are at least three bars left. If there are two bars present, I tend to look for a socket somewhere. If there’s one bar remaining, I’d probably shove the damned cord up a passer-by’s ass and hope for a miracle. In other words, I only think about charging the phone when the battery’s on its last legs.

My point is that the indicator should not reduce linearly. The first four bars to vanish on my phone should represent less than four-sixths of the battery life. About 50% seems like a good figure. By assigning roughly half the battery life to the last two bars, the chances of my phone going dead when I don’t expect it are considerably reduced.

A similar job could be done on the fuel indicators in cars. I suppose I could just force myself to fill my motor-cycle tank before the needle actually hits “E”, but I know I’m not going to. I sometimes need people to con me for my own good.

I’m fairly certain this is already being done, at least with charging devices. The only reason it’s kept a secret is so that it actually works!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Most cars function for a quite a bit after the indicator reaches 0. On a related note, I like fooling myself all the time---alarm clocks set half an hour in advance etc. Most of the time it starts to get really confusing. The other thing you should read about is Day light saving time: this is used in the US--- confuses the hell out of most indians--- google it.