The Dog Clicker

Feedback is an important but often overlooked aspect of any design.  Feedback manifests when a light turns on after the flick of a switch.  Feedback comes when you chirp your car lock. Feedback is also enjoyed when your airbags deploy informing you that the semi did run that red light and that your car did really do a 1080.

It’s when you don’t receive feedback that you irritably notice the uncertainty to if the machine understood the last command you issued.  When you click a button on a website there is a noticeable absence if the button doesn’t graphically “press in” or make a click sound.  Small things like this can send a reasonably calm person into a frenzy, mashing the button over and over again until finally the screen pops up informing you that you have ordered 13 iPads.

Dogs also need feedback to help prevent them from insane behavior as well.  If you don’t give a dog understandable feedback after he completes a command, there is a good chance that he will never be sure that he actual satisfied you by, say, sitting down.  He could think your hand gesture meant for him to shit all over the house.  The dog goes running and shitting all over the house and keeps looking back for affirmation.  Yelling may be a rally call to continue shitting and so he does, all over the kitchen.  When you chase him, he runs into the bathroom and pees on the linoleum and when you scramble after him in the bathroom you slip on the pee and the dog points at you and laughs.  This is a failure to feedback.

The dog clicker was designed to prevent dogs from getting a mind of their own when it comes to completing commands.  A click punctuates each command and the dog knows that sitting was the only command in mind.  The dog is happy to please you and you are happy the dog is not shitting all over the house.

After completing a session of dog training, I needed to buy some hardware.  I selected my hardware and went to the self-checkout.  Sometimes when you buy hardware they try to put bar code stickers on things that are too tiny to scan.  I kept trying to scan the screw.  I really wanted to buy the screw.  They haven’t invented 3D lasers to scan 360 degrees around a screw bar code yet.  It’s because a kid might put their head inside inside of the laser and look at the laser at 360 degrees and go blind and have to be stuck working at Lowe’s for the rest of their life. I was getting mad at the self checkout robot and started slamming the screw on the scanner.

The Lowe’s self checkout Guard came over to see what the big problem was.  He calmly showed me how to remove the sticker from the screw so it could be scanned.  He put it on his finger and scanned his finger.  For a second I was afraid that I was going to have to buy the checkout Guard and wasn’t sure how much a human being would cost and if I was going to have to raise the limit on my credit card and where he would fit inside of my house. It made me sweat so I put my hands in my pocket.  Then the machine beeped.  Feedback.  And the price showed on the screen for $0.19.  Double Feedback.

I noticed that the dog clicker was still in my pocket!  Since the checkout Guard had done such a good job, I clicked the dog clicker. *CLICK* Triple Feedback!  He looked up at me, so  I pet him on the head and told him that he did a good job.  He made a happy face and started panting. Another satisfying Lowe’s experience.

I got a text on my phone that told me I should meet some friends for some food and drinks. With my new screw in tow, I went to the bar.

At the bar the waitress brought us all of our drinks.  When I had confirmed that she had brought everything correctly, *CLICK* I let her know.  She looked around and made a confused face, but knew she did a good job.

After the second round she asked what the heck the *CLICK* noise was.  I told her that she was really smart and being such a good girl.  I pet her on the head and told her to fetch us some food.

Instead of food the manager of the store came over.  He told me that I had to leave the bar because I was touching the waitress without permission.  I told him that he had a really good waitress working for him and he should be proud of how smart she was and she had a really shiny coat and that he must be feeding her food other than bar food.  He asked if I was on drugs.  I didn’t click the clicker since the manager was wrong.  The manager started to get mad at me and said he was going to call the police if I did not leave.  I did not click the dog clicker because he was being a bad boy.

The policeman came and brought a big dog with him. The dog started smelling me when the manager pointed at me.  But the dog kept looking at the manager.

*CLICK* the dog looked at the manager.  *CLICK* the dog started smelling the manager.  *CLICK* the dog started smelling the manager’s pockets.  The manager tried to get away from the dog but it started following him.  I started clicking the dog clicker, rapid fire, and the dog got more and more aggressive with the manager.  *CLICK CLICK CLICK* the dog started barking really loud. *CLICK CLICK CLICK* the dog started biting the manager on the arms and neck.  *CLICK CLICK CLICK*.  The whole bar was watching.

Finally the policeman made the dog stop biting the manager. The dog sat down facing the manager and the cop found a bag of grass inside of the manager’s pocket.  The policeman put the bag in his pocket and told me that I did a good job.  With no audible click I didn’t know if there was some extenuating circumstances to his compliment, but he put his hand up and we did a high five (a form of feedback for cool people).

Then the policeman took the bag of grass out of his pocket and held it in the air.  “The next round of drinks is on the manager!” he said.  The manager wearily sat up with his hand to his head.  The policeman threw the bag of grass to the bartender and the whole bar cheered.  I clicked merrily in satisfaction.


The Day the Internet Went Down

The IT guy burst into my office!

“Do you have a router or switch somewhere in here that you just hooked up!” He exclaimed, stopped short to catch his breath.  I showed him the only router to my knowledge, but it had been there for years and shot me a crossed look for pointing out something so obvious.

He explained to me that someone had hooked up a wireless router somewhere in the building, and it was bringing down the entire network.  Somehow the router was redirecting all IP addresses to a dead end local IP and no one could get any outside network access.  I had actually been having trouble getting online today, but I managed to find other work to do while it got sorted out.  I’m usually more productive when technology isn’t working so I didn’t waste time reporting it.

Knowing the risks of an open WIFI connection, I was on board and entirely concerned about this problem.  Was it a rouge agency trying to steal our secrets or was it a quiet secretary who wanted to hook up to a wireless router and enter time cards outside in the mild spring weather?  Either way, an illegal unsecured line was out there, opening the door for a security breach to any common passer-by.  It’s the equivalent of a bank putting their safe in the parking lot and leaving the door open all day and night!  The perpetrator would meet an end with extreme prejudice.

I pulled out my company issued Blackberry just as the IT guy was doing the same.  A glimmer of realization overcame us both as we turned on our smartphone wifi to follow to signal strength bars to the source.  We split up, a trick we learned from Scooby Doo, and began to search the building for the rogue router.

I passed through cubicles waving my phone back and forth through the aisles.  I was whispering, “Here Linksys…  Here Linksys Linksys Linksys! Come here boy!”  I could only guess that the IT guy had a similar mantra.

My awareness of the drone of office conversations, the occasional shout of “can you get online?” and phones ringing went by the wayside as I focused in on finding the source of that signal.  I wanted to be the one to find it and become the office hero.  Office acts of vigilante/heroism often end in a promotion, a lapel pin, or some kind of special keys.  I saw a wifi bar jump so I dropped to the ground to maintain stealth.  I began to crawl.  My crawl was a bit hobbled and I had to use my right elbow since I was still regarding my phone as I searched the office.

Suddenly, I felt a sharp pain in my back!  Had the corporate spy sensed we were on to his plan and shot me in the back?  In seconds I had gone from office hero to office martyr?  Or was the woman’s scream indicative of the fact that the secretary had just tripped over me, pressing her knee sharply in my back, and falling on the floor next to me.  She picked her self and her papers up and started to ask “what the hell I was doing {crawling on the floor}” I pulled her to the ground and silenced her by putting my finger to my lips.

I pointed to my phone and the wifi signal bars. She acted as if she had no idea what that meant and started to ask questions.  I again shushed her with a finger and pointed forward down the aisle.

We began to crawl.

Being low paid off.  I saw the signal bar on my phone jump to full strength and looked into the opening of the nearby cubicle.  Down on the floor I saw it!  A brand new black and blue Linsys router flashing it’s menacing green lights at me.  I looked up to the name plate on the cubicle opening.  “Roscoe!”  I cursed under my breath.

I moved to grab and remove the rouge router but the secretary caught my shoulder.  She shook her head, a reminder that nobody goes into Roscoe’s cubicle.  I had not anticipated that Roscoe would be present, either, as he should have been out on a sales call.  I looked up and saw Roscoe with his wild red hair jamming out with a pair of headphones, silently mouthing the words to his favorite 80’s hairband music.

We tried to devise a way to unplug Roscoe’s illegal equipment.  I did not have the authority to simply charge in and begin demanding answers.  I wasn’t in my department anymore, so stealth and subterfuge were critical.  We tried waving a half opened Snickers bar (famously his favorite) in his office to lure him out, but to no avail.  I looked for a place to unplug his power, but it was protected under the desk.

We tried hooking the router with a coat hanger but Roscoe rolled his chair over the hanger.  He noticed the bump that his wheels rolled over and looked down.  We hid behind the wall and I saw my end of the coat hanger disappear into his office.

I heard Roscoe throw his headphones to his desk as he cursed.  He rounded the cubicle wall and found the secretary and I on our knees, looking up sheepishly.  I stood up and got ready to get tough with Roscoe when a *CRACK* broke the silence.

All eyes looked up behind me. I joined to see the IT guy holding a pellet gun, leveled at Roscoe’s computer. “Next one goes through the Visio Roscoe!” Exclaimed the IT guy.

I noticed the menacing lights on the router had been snuffed out and router parts were scattered under Roscoe’s desk. There was a shout from across the office. “Oh my lord! I can read my email again.” Then from the other way, “I can see the internet again! Everyone let’s thank the IT guy!”

I tried to tell everyone that I had found the problem first but my voice was drowned out by cheers and huzzahs for the IT guy. Everyone hoisted him on their shoulders and began to carry him out of the office, still cheering for getting the internet back on.

When they carried the IT guy through a low doorway he fell off the shoulders and broke his neck. The he died.

Roscoe laughed in triumph and jumped out the window. We thought he was doomed as well, but soon he was shooting upwards in the opposite direction, flying to the clouds with his jet pack.

“Roscoe!” I cursed and shook my fist.