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Terramagne Conveniences - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
Terramagne Conveniences
A friend tipped me to this list of clever (and half-clever) gadgets and gizmos that are likely to be more common in T-America than here.

This Check Out Lane Scans Items As They Pass Through On The Belt

Available, but not as good as it looks. You have to get the barcode facing up and exactly right. By the time you're done fucking with it, you might as well just do it by hand. RFID works better but has many other concerns, and people in Terramagne don't like it for those reasons. Kraken keeps trying to perfect a belt scanner because it'd save so much time and effort if it could be made to work.

The Mirror In A Hotel In Japan Has A Heated Part That Won’t Steam Up After A Shower

Gizmo. Nice when it works, but prone to failure. It is easier to treat the glass with something to make it hydrophobic. None of which is as cheap as wiping it with your hand or a towel. Still, you see this in swanky places.

This Swing Is Designed So That The Kid And The Parent Can Swing Together

Looks fun until you realize the kid will kick you in the face or chest. However, T-America has many alternative swings and some are better designs of tandem.

Shop Has Light Settings So You Can See How Good/Bad Your Outfit Will Look At Different Times Of Day

Works as long as the lightbulbs and switches last. You'll also see a version with Daylight and some combination of Incandescent, Fluorescent, and LED. This type of lighting requires more maintenance, but does offer excellent benefits. It gets more common the more expensive the stores get. This is retro-engineered tech.

In Rwanda The Stoplights Have The Seconds Until The Light Changes On Them

Useful in proportion to literacy, and very common in T-America. However, an hourglass works better as it does not require counting or reading. That's also very common.

This Elevator Has Buttons You Can Kick For Sanitization Purposes

Excess wear and tear on equipment, and not obvious to people used to hand controls. Rare.

This Fence Is Shaped To Create Seating

Ubiquitous. T-America has benches just everywhere, in all kinds of configurations. Many are incorporated into other features to save space and money.

This Pill Bottle Lid Tells You When You Last Opened It

Extremely useful, works as long as the batteries last. In T-America you can get these free at many pharmacies, and the batteries will last at least as long as the prescription does. Or you can buy a nicer model with replaceable batteries.

Some Roads In Australia Are So Long And Boring They Have Trivia Signs To Keep Drivers Alert

Common in places like T-Montana. So are diversion structures, like where they make the road go in a loop to wake up drivers.

This Chicken Comes With A Strip That Shows How Many Days Before It Goes Bad

Ubiquitous. Most perishables in T-America have a practical spoilage sensor if such can be constructed for the type of spoilage affecting that product. Simple timers are no more useful than printed dates, thus not worth the extra cost.

You Can Rent Sleeping Cabins At This Airport

Very common in T-America, and in fact, some places have free nap rooms.

This Bathroom Door Handle Has A Built-In Hand Sanitizer Dispenser

Looks clever until you hit it with your hip and get that shit on your clothes. Rare.

This Elevator Has A Call Button 30 Feet Away So The Doors Will Be Open By The Time You Get To Them

Useful, and common in nicer hotels and other large buildings.

These ModFamily Silicone Stretch Lids That Keep Your Leftovers Fresh

Clever, but then you have to wash the damn things, and the framed ones take up extra space. Most people don't want the bother. Available, but limited in popularity.

Two Story Target In Minneapolis Has An Escalator Just For Carts

Useful, but only in big department stores where people routinely fill their carts. Uncommon.

This Credit Card Tip Jar

Efficient and popular, appearing in many places where people routinely pay with cards. In the Maldives, they are absolutely ubiquitous for zakat.

The Roofs Of UPS Trucks Are Not Brown. They’re Translucent So The Inside Of The Truck Doesn’t Need To Be Lit During The Day

Effective for lighting, but translucent panels are less durable than metal. In use.

A Bottle Of Canadian Whisky Came With Free Public Transportation

Common on midrange bottles of alcohol. Some towns have a program that pays for such tags. It's one of many subsidies that make rides readily available to people who shouldn't be driving. Almost all places that sell liquor, and most taxis, have a "skippy jar" where people put in funds to cover emergency rides for drunk folks. This keeps everyone safer.

In Copenhagen There Is A Children’s Bicycling Playground, Where They Can Practice Bicycling In The City, And Learn The Rules, Before They Enter The Streets

Ubiquitous. Many preschools and elementary schools have one. Almost every town has at least one playground with this feature, and most of those have reasonably accurate signage and road markings.

The Back Of This Park Bench Can Swing Back And Forth, Allowing The User To Face Either Direction

More wear and tear on the equipment than a static bench, but ideal for anywhere with bifocal attractions, such as between a river and its flanking park. Very common.

This Hot Sauce Bottle Allows You To Adjust The Spice Level

When gizmologists are also picky eaters. :D Variable quality, seen occasionally.

Accessibility Matt On The Beach For Wheelchairs And Strollers

Ubiquitous, although high-traffic beaches usually have a boardwalk or paved path that is more durable. Mats are portable though. T-American public beaches are required to have accessible materials like mats and beach wheelchairs. How much they have and how good it is tends to vary by quality of beach.

This Restaurant Has A “Toepener” For People Who Want To Avoid Germs On The Doorknob

Snagging / tripping hazard in that format. However, you see recessed toe pedals on doors or walls where people often have their hands full, like restaurants and hospitals.

New Desk’s Parts Came Separated By Steps Instead Of By Item

Prevailing, although it varies somewhat by quality of manufacturer. I've seen some Legos sorted this way, and others by item.

Beach Has A Sunscreen Station

Common in the north, ubiquitous in the south. In fact the more aggressive the sun gets, the higher the chance that the sunscreen station is required to be free for reasons of public health.

These Batteries Have A USB Port To Charge Them

Ubiquitous and useful.

A Spatula Has A Stand So The Bit That Touches Your Food Doesn’t Touch The Counter

Common on a variety of kitchen utensils. You can use the same gadget to hang it inside a pot from the rim.

This Pasta Box Helps Approximate How Much Pasta To Make

Ubiquitous, cheap, and almost as effective as the ring-shaped ones without taking up extra space in a drawer.

This Elevator Shows How Close To Capacity It Is Based On The Weight Of The Riders

Effective and common in better elevators.

This College Has Foot Flushers For The Toilets

Right idea, wrong shape. Anything operated by foot needs to be pedal shaped. A hand flush on the floor is no use. Foot pedals appear occasionally.

This USB Drive Displays How Much Of Its Storage Is Being Used

Very common and effective.

A Local Library Has Vault You Can Go Into To Talk On Your Phone

Very common in quiet places. T-American libraries are as quiet now as L-American ones used to be. There are often separate rooms for group study, computers, or other noisy activities. These have closed doors to protect the serenity of the library.

Local Pizza Joint Puts One Of Every Filler On Top Of The Stromboli

More effective than marking a letter or number on top. Very common, especially in areas with lots of less-verbal or foreign people.

Shopping Cart With A Calculator

Common in better stores, but the T-American version has automatic functions for local sales tax (usually several options) and common discounts.

This Tire Tells You To Change It When It’s Time To Change It

Ubiquitous and effective.

A Local Laundromat Has Gym Equipment To Use As You Are Waiting For Your Load To Finish

Available in nicer laundromats, such as colleges or good apartment buildings.

A Cupboard Drip that Drys Into The Sink

Only as good as its aim, and really needs to be made of plastic throughout. However, this appears in some micro apartments and tiny homes as a way to save space.

This Juice Carton Tells You How Many Glasses You Have Left

A little more prone to leaking, but fairly secure. Many transparent bottles have serving marks on them.

These Chairs Have A Notch Cut In Them To Keep Your Bag From Slipping Off

Requires careful design to avoid posing a snag hazard. Ubiquitous in colleges and other schools, common in bus stations and so forth.

Wash Your Hands And Reuse The Water For Your Next Flush

Effective, but poses a real risk of getting your hair or clothes wet when you sit down. Most popular in areas with low water supply, and a terrific space saver in tiny bathrooms.

So why does T-America have such widespread solutions to common problems? They close the feedback loop. There are systems in place to assess new products and processes as they are introduced, identify the best ones, and then copy those in other places. While an individual can't do that on a state or national scale, anyone with a bit of influence at a company or other organization can propose replicating good ideas. Then if someone solves a problem at one workstation or office, they have somewhere to pass the word so other folks can do likewise. Even if it's just "Hey guys, I found a refill cartridge that doesn't leave ink on your hands," that makes a difference.

Similarly, many organizations and websites keep an archive of known solutions for common problems. I've only found a few such examples here, beyond the obvious FAQ pages, but there are starting to be some good lists of accommodations for disabilities.



This is a key reason why I make archive posts of hard-to-find resources.

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3 comments or Leave a comment
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 9th, 2018 08:28 am (UTC) (Link)

Stardreamer here

Most of the wait/walk lights in Houston have that sort of seconds-left timer. It counts down from the amount of time it takes for an average person to cross the street - which may be 30 seconds or more for a large intersection. Also useful for drivers to estimate whether or not they have time to get through the intersection legally / safely.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 9th, 2018 09:10 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Stardreamer here

Yeah, I've seen them before, but they're not very common around here. More would be better.
fayanora From: fayanora Date: March 11th, 2018 03:09 am (UTC) (Link)
I've seen escalators for carts. So much nope! There's so many ways those could go wrong.

The batteries with usb charge ports had me like WOAH!!!!

I've made a habit of using my foot to flush the toilets that have that shape of hand flusher.
3 comments or Leave a comment