Usability Journal Post #3

For this post, I know a lot of other students that live in Keister, Hammond, or Funkhouser Hall will understand the stupidity that is the electrical situation in the dorm rooms. IMG_2120

Pictured above is the light that is on the desk side of a typical room in one of the three dorms. The other side of the room contains the window and beds, with the same lights over the beds. They all have the awful outlet placement on the side of the light, but that is for another post that has been done many times already, I’m sure. What I’m concerned with in this post, is the fact that the lone light switch in the room, controls the outlet itself above.

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The first thing you notice about our light switch, is that it is taped to the on position. This is because, as I mentioned, it controls not only the light nearest the switch, but the OUTLET as well. So, if you flip this switch to the off position, the light turns off, but so does the outlet. This, to me, doesn’t fit the mental model of a LIGHT switch. This switch not only controls the light, but the power to the outlet on the light. Also, if you’re living in one of these dorm rooms for the first time, there are no signifiers to tell you that the switch also controls the said outlet. In my case, I had our TV, fridge, microwave and a couple other electronics plugged into it. On my first day of living in a Funkhouser room, my roommate flipped the light switch to off, thinking it only controlled the light. However, not only the light, but everything that was plugged into the outlet turned off as well. So, to actually turn off just the light and not the outlet, you have to keep the light switch on at all times, and hit the little toggle switch just under the outlet. Thus, the taping of the light switch.

I’m now in my second year of living in a Funkhouser room, and in this room the problem exists as well, so I’m confident all the rooms have the same issue. Because of the outlet’s position in the room and lack of any other outlets close, my roommate and I have way too many things plugged into this lone outlet.

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Pictured above is everything we have plugged into the outlet, on the desk side of the room alone. A microwave, two mini fridges, and a water cooler. The toaster is sitting there unplugged, when we want to use that, we just plug it in at my desk to use it then put it back. Everything here is probably too much for the outlet, let alone what’s in this picture below.

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In this picture, you see that we have a 32″ TV and a Comcast cable box that are always plugged into the power strip that goes to the problem outlet. What you can’t see, is that also plugged in at all times, is my Playstation 4, a Playstation 3, and a stereo that I use for the audio in place of the TV’s speakers, because they’re awful. The Dreamcast (if any of you even know what that is!) is there but isn’t plugged in at all times.

The awful outlet placement in the room is to blame for all this being plugged into one outlet. But if we weren’t aware that the light switch in the room controlled it too, then everything I mentioned above would turn off with a flip of the switch. Very bad design and usability. I don’t know why whoever designed and built these rooms, decided that it was okay for the light switch to control the outlet as well.

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