Jan 29, 2008

3-D Box Maker - Online!

I was amazed at this online tool. It lets you create 3-D boxes via Flash programming. It asks you to upload a cover, a side design and a top design. Using 3-D boxes to sell software makes the software look more professional (of course, whether the software is good or not is a different matter).

Tip: If you'd like to make a book, you can simply create a graphic that looks like pages of a book and you can upload this as the top of the box.

Visit the site: http://www.3d-pack.com/

Jan 23, 2008

Escalator Ethics

Sometimes, a system or ethics (which we define here as a proper way of doing something) is not obvious to a culture until it intersects with another culture.

As a result of our contact with the West, we Filipinos have also inherited some of these Western memes. There's good manners in the dining table and right conduct in a cinema. There's even phonethics for using mobile phones.

What I was amazed to find out in my travels abroad that there is a form of escalator ethics. Filipinos tend to hog escalators. We are a pretty laid back bunch of hobbits and when we go on the escalator, we stand on the step like we owned the whole contraption.

In Australia, New Zealand and UK, there are signs in escalators that say something like

PLEASE STAND ON THE LEFT (or RIGHT, as the case may be).

In short, there's a fast lane for escalators too. And this is very much the norm in the escalators in the mass transit systems.

In Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam and in the HK International Airport, they also have these horizontal escalators to help tired travelers rush to their gates. These also have fast lanes.

In most cases, these escalators have signs. But when there are no signs present, the conduct is so ingrained in the locals that they tend to stand on the right side.

In our country, if a couple gets on an escalator, they will occupy both lanes. In the other countries where fast lanes are implemented, the couple will stand in single file, so that the left lane is kept free.

Escalator ethics reflects, too, on how we drive cars in highways. Prior to NLEX enforcing the fast lane, many drivers -- cars, jeeps, buses and trucks -- drove slowly on the fast lane, when this should have been kept free for overtaking. Thanks to strict enforcement, more drivers are now aware of the fast lane. However, on some occasions I still encounter a few slow vehicles on this lane.

Wanna know where there is no concept of fast lanes at all? Just try EDSA, Quezon Avenue, Katipunan and Commonwealth Avenue. Come to think of it, the vehicles there do not have a concept of LANES in the first place.

It would be easy to implement a fast lane in our escalator. We simply ask malls to start putting up signs to reserve the left lane for people in a hurry. Asking the SM and Ayala chain of malls pretty much covers most of the land and this ethic can then be propagated to the escalators at LRT-2 (the Aurora line), the airport, and other public places.

Jan 22, 2008

Design Shortcomings of NAIA Terminal 2

Our airport recently received a lot of flak because its rating was downgraded by the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA).

Even without relying on reviews of foreign boards, I could say our airport system (Terminals 1 and 2) lack sufficient management, just by going through them. Although Terminal 2 is much much better than Terminal 1, it still has many shortcomings.

One of these shortcomings is the lack of good signage. When you enter the waiting area of T2, you can't immediately spot your specific gate since there are no signs to help you. The photo above (which I trawled from the web) shows a bit of what I'm pointing out. Note the white columns that could have served as posts for mounting signs.

Compare this to the Hong Kong International Airport.

The photo to the left shows a vertical column with a clear gate number. Terminal 2 lacks this kind of signage.

Instead, you have to find your bearings by looking at the gate nearest you and then guessing whether the gate numbers will ascend to the left or right.

This guesswork actually contributes to traffic and the need for guests to ask questions from personnel. This burden is easily removed with proper signs.

The photo to the right shows additional signages that indicate telephone and internet terminals at the HK International Airport.

These problems, which hint of a lack of hands-on management, are symptomatic of most government-operated services or agencies. Our MRT and LRT come to mind; also the chaotic system for releasing most permits and licenses. True, the LTO and NSO have improved much of their systems and processes, but we still have a long way to go.

How about you? What have you noticed in our airport that we could improve?

Please post a comment here and let's see where it gets us!