Friday, February 26, 2010

Design for Dissasembly: Why it doesn't happen very often in America

I was linked to this article about Designing for the afterlife of a product from one of the blogs I follow and I was struck that by how unlikely it was to happen in America.

The tenants and ideas are simple enough to understand, and the advice offered is reasonable enough I could see it showing up in a business class book sort of like the Book "The Goal". The trouble is that this sort of design run against many manufactures ulterior goals. HP et al don't want you to repair (in this case refill) their cartridges. The have a vested interest in you not doing so, and design their products as such. They thrive on the repurchase of their highly priced ink.

Similarly the iron company that made the iron that the article was based around probably thrives not by making the best quality iron, bur rather by selling a lot of them at a low enough price that the consumer doesn't mind that they have to buy another one every two years or so. Designing an iron that is maintainable, would require that they have to charge more for the iron in the first place, in a price obsessed markets such as America, that don't have a strong ability to fix things doesn't place value in maintainability of items and will choose items that don't carry that added cost.

Given that value of the future costs versus the current costs are hard to determine for most people given options consumers often choose the least expensive or one that is in the middle of the pack. Given that consumer behavior, and given that Executives listen to finance people about maximizing profit by reducing costs rather than to designers or production staff on how to make better products there is an constant race to the bottom.

Likely the only way to reverse this trend is to retrain the public on the value of maintaining the things you own, rather than the over emphasizing the cachet value of new.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Pocket Doors

image via Andenbathrooms

Toolmonger reminded me of how badly my house needs pocket doors in a few locations. These marvels of innovation can help to fix terrible layouts and make rooms that would otherwise feel quite crowded seem less so.

At $62 for the pocket hardware these are a very attractive thing to me right now. I suppose right after I finish up that birch butchers block from a leftover scrap of an NUMERÄR countertop from Ikea I will get on convincing my wife this is something we should do. I really want it in the master bedroom, but start with the closet in the basement.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Beer brewing on the way

Recently a friend that lives close by proffered the idea of brewing beer to me, and the idea has stuck. It looks like we are going to start gathering supplies and knowledge to make that amber stuff, and here are some links to local Seattle Home brew stores.

Larry's Brew Supply in Kent

The Cellar in Greenwood

Gallagher's Where you brew in Edmonds

Larry's and The Cellar look like standard supply stores just local, but Whereubrew has an interesting service model added to the mix. They have recipes and professional equipment that you can pay to use and they guarantee your batches. For someone that doesn't want to have to buy all the supplies to get started, it seems interesting if not a touch expensive way to brew 12.5 gallons of beer. It is slightly cheaper than buying 12 gallons of growlers at The Ram, but not significantly. The real benefit is that they have worked out the recipes for you, and have nice equipment and storage space to take care of the "waiting" stages of brewing.

Wireless video transmission

After watching the Engadget Show EP5 I was reminded of the Intel wireless display technology demoed at CES recently. This is using some custom drivers for the wifi chip in the laptop to switch quickly between the Wireless network for internet access and a PAN link to a television set/ or display device. There are have been some rumblings about the limitations of the 2.4ghz spectrum being saturated, but I think that this technology shows that there is still a ton of opportunity for innovation in how we use that spectrum. Saturated or not, the ability to sling the images from your laptop to your tv without having to purchase another STB ala The Boxee Box or a popcorn hour is a pretty neat feature, but it would make it hard to surf the while you are image slinging. So rather than getting a dedicated box to use while you surf the internet, you have to get another laptop. Oops, guess Intel forgot that people actually watch tv with a laptop on their lap now to distract them from their distraction.