Wang 300 Calc

Mr Ian Primus ian_primus at
Sun Sep 9 11:34:06 CDT 2007

> > I am getting SO tired of symbols on stuff -- just
> tell me WTF that does!
> I sympathise, but most of the world does not speak
> English and a lot
> of it can't read very well. Words need to be read,
> and what's more, in
> these days of globalisation, words need to be
> translated to sell
> abroad.
> Icons, pictograms and so on need no translation and
> little literacy.

I agree that a certain amount of symbols may be
required for the language barrier problem, and the
fact that they take up less space. But, I was very
confused recently - I rented a truck for a trip to
pick up some computer hardware. On the highway, I was
struggleing to turn on the headlights. Keep in mind,
this is a GMC truck - an american made vehicle. The
knob for the headlights was very confusing. On the
dashboard, there was a little lit up picture that
looked like a headlight with dots in front fo it.
Dots? WTH? The knob was labeled with some symbols:

0 - Obvious, this must be off.
Little picture of a headlight with dots in front of it
- no clue.
Little picture of headlight with lines in front of it,
angled down. - regular headlights, I assume.
Little picture of headlight with lines straight ahead
- high beams, I take it.
Little picture of two little lights - no clue.

The problem was, turning the knob to the "headlight
with angled down lines" did not give me a matching
indicator on the dash. Not like "headlight with dots".
Turning the knob to "0" resulted in the knob springing
backwards a position or two. Sometimes displaying
"headlight with dots" on the dashbaord, sometimes not.
For the life of me, I couldn't figure out what was
wrong with the knob - why wouldn't it stick at the off
position. Who in their right mind spring loads a knob?
I played with it on and off on the journey. I don't
know if my headlights were on or off, or what was
going on. 

It's almost as bad on my father's van. Where the "0"
position doesn't actually work half the time. If the
van feels like turning the headlights on, it will. The
knob serves very little purpose, other than if you
really want the headlights on, you have to set it that
way, because sometimes it decides that it wants to
turn them off, even in the middle of the night while
you're driving, and it will do so.

This is in stark contrast to my Toyota. Which has a
knob with three positions - Picture of headlight with
lines, blank, and "OFF". The knob works, it works all
the time, and it's consistant. The blank position
turns on small yellow lights in the front. It's not
obvious if you'd never used it, but it doesn't take
control of itself, and I'm used to it. Pushing the
stalk in turns on high beams. Again, not obvious, but
I am used to it.

Now, I would assume that something as important as
headlights would have been standardized by now, but
it's not. And they should really include words, (With
the pictures, if they really want those damned
symbols). I don't care if that means they need to make
different panels for other countries. How much extra
could it cost? I don't want to decypher symbols. I
want simple, easily glanced at, words.

Now, on an on-topic tangent. The symbols on the
switches on the back of a Microvax are even more
confusing. Why, on a COMPUTER of all things, couldn't
they write a word, something like "AUTOBOOT", rather
than this trangle/circle/dot thing?


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