My new project: Tact, a simple chat app.

User-friendly Germany

April 04, 2007

A few weeks ago, Jim Courtney posted about user-friendly technologies in Germany. I don’t have too much to add, these just caught my eye, considering that I’m living in that region and big on driving, traveling and usability. Yes, these technologies exist, and the parking thing seems to be standardized (I’m not sure if there’s any legal standard, but I’m talking about de facto) across the whole federal Germany and also has spillover to nearby places like Luxembourg. (I’m not sure about Switzerland and Belgium and Austria, can’t remember / haven’t been.)

I also have to agree about smoking. It’s annoying and I’m looking forward to more European bans taking effect.

One other thing I have to add to the list is food. Check out this conversion list, and especially the item…

In the United States, fruit juice contains: high-fructose corn syrup and 20% real juice; in Estonia, fruit juice contains: juice.

Oh it’s so true that’s it’s not even funny. I’ve been going to the US a few times this year. I read the food contents labels just for the fun of it. And regardless of the food type (liquid or solid; salty or sweet; fatty or diet…), everything contains “(high fructose) corn syrup”. Just a few days ago, I was in an airport in the US and I bought some bottled chocolate milk for my lunch. And chocolated milk tasted like fucking corn. And it contained corn syrup. WHAT IS IT WITH CORN SYRUP YOU PEOPLE???? WTF??? If I buy chocolate milk, I WANT IT TO TASTE LIKE CHOCOLATE AND LIKE MILK, NOT CORN SYRUP. It was disgusting. I have yet to see anything that contains corn syrup in Europe. Or maybe I’ve just been eating healthy – I’m sure you can find packaged foods containing corn syrup here in Europe too. But somehow the ratio of foods with corn syrup seems to be much higher for me personally in America.

… err… was this post supposed to be about user-friendly technologies in Europe? Yes. But Jim said it all, about parking technologies and Deutsche Bahn, that I don’t have more to add :-) perhaps if only about public transit. Some US cities seem to be working hard on making their public transit more useful, in the form of buses and metro. You could really help casual travellers (like me) by giving more detailed info about rates, schedules and route map in every stop. Yes, I know it’s redundant and regular travelers don’t need it. But if you’re trying to bring on more people to use public transit, then little things like this go a long way in helping to overcome tourists’ and new users’ anxieties. And having simpler rate schedules helps too. For example in San Francisco BART system, there is a different fee for every stop. This is just silly and I’m sure it drives people away from the system or makes them more cautious. I’ve generally found European public transport systems to be more understandable and friendly than the US ones, but I also see that the latter ones are trying to catch up and that’s encouraging for the future of both our planet and the specific communities.