Category Archives: humor

Haikuman Factors

Sometimes it’s good to take a step back from the seriousness of our work and find new focus. H(aiku)man factors is the brainchild of my colleague Douglas Gillan. Each summarizes a concept in the field while following the haiku form of 5-7-5 and an emphasis on juxtoposition and inclusion of nature. Enjoy and contribute your own in the comments!

H(aik)uman Factors3

H(aik)uman Factors2

H(aik)uman Factors

H(aik)uman Factors6

H(aik)uman Factors5

H(aik)uman Factors4

All of the above are by Doug Gillan.

Other contributions:

Inattentional blindness by Allaire Welk
Unicycling clown
Challenging primary task
Did you notice it?

Affordances by Lawton Pybus
round, smooth ball is thrown
rolls, stops at the flat, wing-back
chair on which I sit

Escalation by Olga Zielinska
headache, blurred vision
do not explore Web MD
it’s not a tumor

Automatic Processing by Anne McLaughlin
end of the workday
finally get to go home
arugh, forgot groceries

Automation by Richard Pak
Siri, directions!
No wait, I’ll get it myself
Drat, I forgot how

Prospective Memory by Natalee Baldwin
I forgot the milk!
Prospective memory failed
Use a reminder

Working Memory by Will Leidheiser
copious knowledge.
how much can I remember?
many things at once.

No one wants to touch the gas pump


The above is from a gas pump in a large metro area. Can you guess the most common zip code number? How about what object people use to to press the keys?
But you’re probably missing my favorite part – look in the lower right. Do you see the black electrical tape? Under that tape is the START button for the gasoline. The instructions on the screen say to “press the start button to begin fueling.” As the most commonly pressed button it was the first to be destroyed, and the station attendant’s tape solution earned it a humor tag in this post. I’m also willing to bet that hiding the START button is why the “No/Cancel” button has been furiously destroyed as well.

I’ve come across some of these where the soft keypads were entirely destroyed by keys for the common zip code numbers. Once I had to leave to find another gas station, since it wouldn’t accept my card without a zip code entered and the buttons no longer worked.

Photo credit Maribeth Gandy Coleman

The Incredible Hulking Factor

As I was watching the pilot episode of the 70s TV series “The Incredible Hulk” (thank you, Netflix), I realized the entire premise of the show depended on a poor interface (and lack of workplace communication). To set this up, Dr. Banner has recently self-administered gamma radiation to see if he can make himself stronger.

“How many units of gamma did you say you injected into yourself?”

“Three hundred thousand.”

“How do you know it was three hundred thousand?”

“I turned the calibrator up to uh, the last click. Three hundred thousand.”

“Little piece of white tape on it?”


“Well it’s like the electronic microscope that Ben modified for higher strength.”

“Are you saying that Ben modified the radiology unit in excess of three hundred thousand? But there was no marking on the tape.”

“Well, he hadn’t calibrated it yet. He was going to work on it this morning. He didn’t know how high he could get it to go.”

“(sighs) Well, how high did he get it?”

“Almost two million units.”

“I took a dose that high?”




(I’d also like to point out that the pre-tape dial has no units on it. But if I started doing that with this TV series, I’d never stop.)