Is it really so hard?

April 11th, 2018 at 4:39:04 PM permalink
Nareed
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 345
Posts: 12534
I wonder, whether giving someone simple directions makes a task harder than giving them complicated directions.

We used to have a door alarm at work. There were two ways of arming is: 1) entering a 4-digit PIN (each person had a PIN), 2) entering *0. In order to disarm it, the only way was to enter a NIP.

This makes perfect sense, as arming it is not unsafe by any means, so you can let anyone arm it, right?

Well, for some reason the direction "To arm or disarm the alarm enter your PIN" proved too hard for many. I'd get calls on the way to work, or on weekends, asking how to disarm the alarm, often from the same people. they went like this:

Me: enter your PIN
Moron: I did. It's not working.
Me: Ok. Enter my PIN. It's 0000
Moron: It's not working.
Me: it has to work. Are you entering zero-zero-zero-zero?
Moron: Yes! IT'S NOT WORKING!
Me: Ok. Enter my PIN, and say aloud what key you're pressing.
Moron: Ok. STAR- ZERO-
Me: Don't press STAR at all, just the PIN.
Moron: Ok. STAR- ZERO-
Me: Don't press star. Just zero-zero-zero-zero
Moron: Ok. STAR- ZERO-
Me: DON'T PRESS STAR!
Moron: you don't have to yell!
Me: You keep pressing the star key when I'm telling you not to.
Moron: Ok.
Me: just enter zero-zero-zero-zero. Only zero-zero-zero-zero, no star.
Moron: Ok. STAR- ZERO-

At that point I'd usually hang up and let them figure it out by themselves.

I handle the petty cash at the department, too. In part this means entering an expense report in the accounting software, which requires two files per invoice a PDF and an XML file). These files are issued by whoever issues the invoice, and are sent to your email or downloaded through the web. Without these files, the invoice isn't valid and can't be deducted.

Now, for various reasons, I arrange expense reports by type, so I put al non-deductible expenses on top (those can be lumped in a single PDF file, no XML file required), and then everything else grouped by type. Therefore I ask the files be named simply as "TYPE number." Types can be things like MEAL, TOLL, UBER, SHIPPING, GAS, etc. This way I can locate them at a glance.

What do I get?

Keep in mind these are file names:

INVOICE MEAL WITH CLIENTS JOHN DOE AT TOLUCA FOR XXXXXX PROJECT 123456

and also:

1.INVOICE JANE DOE PROJECT XXXX UBER 10:30PM SAT 5TH 123456

My working hypothesis is that simple directions are too hard to follow.
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