ResetPlug: Automating the first step of an Internet outage

When the internet goes out, the first step is always to power-cycle the modem and router. And that's not easy! We store our personal IT components in out-of-the-way places, and there seems to be some aversion among telecoms to putting power buttons on cable modems. The ResetPlug wants to take over that ubiquitous first step, by constantly monitoring internet status and power-cycling your boxes until it's back up. $60 might seem a bit steep, but if it works as advertised... it sure is tempting to never have to do the ol' power-cycle tango again!
[via Gizmodo]

Phone number UI fails (or jokes?)

Numbers are numbers - that is, until you have to enter them on a website. Suddenly the format, magnitude, precision, and validity of the number become big issues. Stelian Firez has been collecting horrific examples of phone-number-entry design gone wrong, accidentally or intentionally. Remember, a phone number is a huge number (in the billions!) that must be precise and accurate (two different things) to the digit. This makes some number-entry interfaces - like sliders, dropdowns, checkboxes, +/- buttons, and others - hilariously ill-suited to the task. Take a look, enjoy, and cringe!
[via Core77]

I'm so confused...

...I should probably call an attendant for clarification.

Emoji Fails: Cross-platform miscommunication

Emoji are increasingly a part of text-based communication, but they don't quite have the universality of text; whereas text would be interpreted the same way in different fonts (well, mostly, and not including ALL CAPS), the same emoji as rendered in different operating systems may be interpreted very differently. The example above is perhaps the worst: the emoji standard calls for a "grinning face with smiling eyes," but each operating system is free to design their own graphic to represent that - and that's where the trouble begins. If an Android user sends this to an Apple recipient, the sender sent something they perceive as +4.3 on the happiness scale, but the receiver gets something they perceive as -1. That's a big difference, which is just begging to cause trouble! (And I think Apple is at fault here: that's no grin, that's a grimace at best.) This was studied by the GroupLens research team at the University of Minnesota. Their results make me want to make my own grinning-with-smiling-eyes face... but Apple-style.
[GroupLens, including image credit, via Gizmodo]

Asinine Cross-Marketing: Cold Stone V Superman?

Hey Cold Stone: all I wanted was to order a cake for my wife's birthday. I didn't want to find most of your website occupied by a trailer for a bad movie that's been out for a month. A movie, by the way, which is dark and violent and not at all ice-cream-related. I'm a little concerned that any treats I do order from you will be contaminated with Jesse Eisenberg's Lex-Luthor hair. And it's especially annoying that the web browser tab title is just "Batman V Superman" - not the tab I'd be looking for to complete my order. So let's take it easy on the cross-marketing, and just stick to making ice cream? You're pretty good at that.

Good design requires compatibility.

Apple's slimmest laptop, the Macbook, partly achieves its svelte profile by sporting only a single USB-C port. And that's great, USB-C is the future; but good design requires compatibility, in this case with the present. See, Apple's mobile devices uses their proprietary Lightning connector, and until just recently Apple didn't make a USB-C-to-Lightning cable. You could spend thousands of dollars on the highest-end devices from the most successful company in the world, with no way to connect them to each other except a clunky, expensive, band-aid of a dongle. They finally got around to it, but compatibility shouldn't be an afterthought.

The Cue Ball's Secret Magnet

One thing that's come up on this site frequently: I love magnets. So imagine my delight upon finding that my favorite physical force (way better than gravity, I mean come on) is responsible for helping the cue ball come back out of pay-per-play pool tables while the other balls are swallowed until the next game. Check out the animation on Sploid: a magnet in the table pulls the iron layer only present in the cue ball, yanking the ball onto the "exit" track instead of the "stick around for a while" track. I'd always assumed it was a subtle size difference or something - but this is much better!