Sunday, June 10, 2018

The "We Fix It " Company


My father, much loved and now long gone was a professional electrical and mechanical engineer who spent most of his post-WWII life working in metalliferous mines.

Others said he was a 'brilliant engineer'. To me, he was just a very good father and a good friend.

One of the things I admired most about him - there were many - was that he never did less than a top job of everything he did. Much to my astonishment, he appeared to be able to do almost anything.

Unlike him, I survived mathematics but was nowhere as gifted or I would have probably been an engineer too.

One of the things we spoke of often in our short 26 years together was the poor design that pops up everywhere we'd look.

Later I spent several years working in an Organisation and Methods Department (solving problems by finding solutions). Although it was in an administrative/policing field and not in engineering, I always have had an eye for design flaws and it continues today.

If I was perhaps 30 years younger and an engineer, I'd start a company called, "We fix it!" I would take existing products that were poorly designed or unsuitable for the role for which they were intended and improve them.

One of my pet hates is garden hose connections. In Australia, there is a variety of brands, but inevitably most of them will leak, blow off the end of a tap or break at a joint and spread litres of water all over the place. I've tried everything between cheap and nasty and ridiculously overpriced only to have them eventually do the same. With a small redesign, they could stay attached forever!

Today my beef is with electrical and internet plug connectors.

Take a look at the photo above. Electrical and telecommunications sockets are often installed just above the floor in most rooms in Australian houses. These are at the level where beds, cupboards, desks, chairs and other furniture are placed.

Particularly in the case of the fine plastic telecommunications plugs (not shown here), if you bump into them while moving a chair, table etc, they snap off like a carrot. So, why are they designed to stick out at 90 degrees from the wall? Why aren't they designed in an 'L' configuration so that less of the plug and attached wire protrudes from the socket? Good question.

Why are the electrical plugs designed to stick at an angle of 45 degrees when plugged into a socket? While the L shaped plug shown in the above image is better than a protruding plug, the 45 degree shape often stops another plug being plugged in at the adjoining plug on a two socket wall unit or a power board.

In the above case, I've attached a power surge protector which protrudes sufficiently to allow the second socket to be used by the black USB connector.

Do you think the electrical plug would still work okay if the cable coming from it was vertical instead of off to the side? So do I. So why is it at an angle?

If you know, tell us - please, please, because they are all the same.

Robin

In Memoriam - AE (Joe) Henry, 26 Jan 1918 - 9 April 1973

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