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.

Tips for Running a Half Marathon

For some, Spring means hanging out at the lake or watching baseball.  For others, Spring is Half Marathon Season!

After you’ve done a few long distance races, you think you’ve got it all figured out and can start educating and encouraging new runners.  Everyone’s always asking me, “Tell me everything you know about distance running in blog post form!”  So I just had to write it down.  These tips will save you time, money, and make your race a much more enjoyable adventure.

Tips for Running a Half Marathon

Buy a Quality Track Suit:
Having the right shoes and clothes can make or break your run.  Spend at least $1400 on shorts, underwear, socks, and a shirt.  Approximately every $100 you spend on running clothes equals ten minutes off of your time!  Look inside of the clothes for special Perks or Powerups.  Nike makes a sports bra with a button you can press to give you a quick speed boost.

Also, be sure to put those things under your kneecaps so your leg does not break apart.  I can’t tell you how many kneecaps I’ve seen skittering across the road after someone’s knees explode.

Carb-Load:
The night before the race, hunt down anything made from grains or sugar.  The best method for storing up this energy is through consuming as much beer as possible.  Think of each longneck as a cylinder in your car engine.  Tomorrow you’re legs will be pounding pavement away like a sewing machine. As the night goes on and it gets closer to race time you’ll know you’re belly’s ready.  That’s a feeling we runners call “the churning”.

Track Your Run:
Just as it’s important to check into a grocery store on Facebook Places or foursquare, you’ll want to be sure to track every single step you take running for the rest of your life.  When your half marathon begins, you’ll probably be back a little ways from the start gate.  DO NOT start your Nike+ or GPS until you reach the gate.

To ensure accuracy, STOP right before you get to the start gate and look at your tracker to make sure it is ready.  If you need a second, be polite and hold up a finger for those behind you.  They’ll know you need a second and politely wait until you have everything set up.  This is also a great time to set up your iPod playlists.

Touch as many People as Possible:
Comradery between long distance runners is as strong as soldiers who has endured the crucible of combat together.  Gently touch as many people as possible on the shoulder as you pass them.  For added points, lean in and whisper something in their ear.  “Keep going buddy!” “I hope you’re getting enough water!” or softly hiss “Meet you after the race for applesss.” These are good phrases to keep in mind but make some up on your own.  Keep track of how many people you’ve touched and let everyone know how many you touched. This is something everyone talks about!

Walk/Run With All of Your Friends:
Make it a girls weekend and walk with 3 of your friends. Have t-shirts made for each Sex and the City character. Walk 4 abreast down the track. This is a great time to talk about boys or exchange your favorite recipes. (Guys can talk about video games and war)  Just remember to consider all of your friends because one of the girls on the end is going to miss out on a lot of the conversation because she’s stuck next to the loud one and when she goes to spread the gossip to her other friends she’s going to screw it all up:

“So I guess Dorothy went to the costume party with Mark and she went as Dorothy and he went as some kind of x-men mutant and when they started doing it in the punch bowl his eyes started shooting lasers like the Cyclops but luckily Dorothy’s real ruby slippers were already off and on the table because it was getting hot so he just put the shoes over his eyes to stop the lasers so he didn’t kill anybody else but they had to leave and she got a DUI because Mark couldn’t see without shooting lasers out of his eyes. At least that’s what I heard when when we ran this half marathon thing last week.”

Be Cautious When Getting Water:
There will be numerous water stations scattered throughout your race.  You’ll want to stay plenty hydrated.  Don’t worry about pee because most of it comes out of your skin.

The proper way to grab a water is to scream and quickly dart across the track towards the water.  Sudden movements indicate thirst. Go for the first water person.  ONLY get water from the first person! As soon as you get your cup, STOP!  DO NOT spill any water on your expensive track suit!  Spread your legs, shoulder length apart, and lean forward and slowly drink your water or Gatorade.  This is a good time to check your kneecap holders to make sure they aren’t about to fly off. Give big smile and a thumbs-up to those around you if your kneecaps are OK!

If Of course you have your phone with you, so be sure to check in on Facebook Places at each water station.

When you’re done with the cup, throw it as far away as possible so a woodland creature or fish can make a house out of it.  Running is very rewarding in itself, but being able to help animals is great too.