Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Image

Design and Evaluation of Central Control Room Operations 114

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
brothke writes "In aviation today, technically advanced airplanes present a unique paradox. Technically advanced airplanes, in theory, have more available safety, and the outcome should be that there are fewer accidents. But without proper training for their pilots, they could be less safe than airplanes with less available safety. The FAA found that without proper training for the pilots who fly them, technically advanced airplanes don't advance safety at all. The reason is that technically advanced airplanes present challenges that under-prepared pilots might not be equipped to handle." Read on for the rest of the review.
Human Factors in the Design and Evaluation of Central Control Room Operations
author Neville Stanton, Paul Salmon, Daniel Jenkins, Guy Walker
pages 446
publisher CRC Press
rating 10/10
reviewer Ben Rothke
ISBN 978-1439809914
summary Invaluable reference that can be used for the design, assessment, evaluation an operations of NOCs and SOCs
In the IT world, staff members are often expected to install, configure, maintain and support technically advanced software. Companies often buy huge infrastructure software, such as CRM, ERP, PKI, identify management, intrusion detection and more, without first understanding how to make them work in their complex environment. Management often is oblivious to the fact that just because they can buy and install the software that it will not work on its own. The reason why so many large software deployments fail miserably is that the IT staff often doesn't have the proper training, support and assistance that they need.

Human Factors in the Design and Evaluation of Central Control Room Operations is a fantastic book that shows what it takes to ensure support staff work and operate together, in a formal and efficient manner. The book integrates the topics of human factors and ergonomics to create an incredibly valuable tome. The book details the interactions between people and their working environment, and shows in depth how the work environment can and must be designed to reduce errors, improve performance, improve the quality of work, and increase the work satisfaction of the workers themselves.

While the book was written primarily for control room settings, it is relevant for those in IT if they have any involvement in remote support, security operation centers (SOC) and network operation centers (NOC).

While the book is of value to anyone involved in operation, those who will find the most value are those charged with the management and operations or large groups or operations. If they have management support to deploy the formal methods detailed in the book, they will find that they can create significantly higher levels of customer and end-user satisfaction.

The authors note that all SOC and NOC's have a common feature in that the people operating them are often remote from the processes that they are monitoring and controlling, and the operations function on a 24/7 basis. The many demands of remote and continuous operation place special considerations on the design of the SOC and NOC. The output of the book is that it can be used to effectively to design these operating centers.

The books presents a comprehensive and all-inclusive on the topic of human factors on the following 14 topics: competencies, training, procedures, communications, workload, automation, supervision, shift patterns, control room layout, SCADA interfaces, alarms, control room environment, human error, and safety culture. Each chapter includes extensive diagrams and flowcharts to show how the processes develop.

The book also provides a highly analytical approach to each topic. It details the required processes and procedures necessary to make each subject area work. The book is not only based on the four author's expertise; they quote heavily from other experts and their research.

Chapter 2 opens with the observation that the safe and efficient operation of operating centers and control rooms is dependent upon the competence of the operators working within them. It details how to create competence assessments to ensure that staff is capable of carrying out their tasks safely and efficiently by assessing their skills and knowledge. The authors stress that it is not acceptable for organizations to assume that their staff are competent based on only their exposure to training and experience. They suggest that organizations create a program to determine those competence levels.

Chapter 3 goes into detail about how to create effective training programs to ensure worker competence. The benefit of a trained worked is that they can yield higher productivity and provide better service. Well-trained workers often have better morale and produce less errors. The chapter details the importance of a training needs analysis to properly determine what needs to be in the curriculum.

Chapter 4 is on procedures and is particularly important to those working in a SOC or NOC. If consistent and repeatable procedures are created, staff can provide much a more effective and dependable levels of service. Even with the benefits of well crafted procedures, its development process is a complex one involving the identification of all of the tasks that require procedures, a judgment on the level of assistance required, identification of the type or format of procedure required, writing and reviewing the procedures, and obtaining approval for them.

The importance of procedures is underscored when the book notes research that 70% of accidents and incidents within the nuclear power companies occurred when workers failed to properly follow procedures. In the petrochemical industry, 27% of incidents were caused by situations for which there were inadequate or no procedures available.

The percentage of failed IT projects and large software rollout catastrophes is both staggering and appalling. No other sector but IT would tolerate such failures. A book like as Human Factors in the Design and Evaluation of Central Control Room Operations goes a long way to stop that. The book is a rare one in that it both provides all of the factors involved in the problem at hand, and then provides all of the details needed to obviate those problems.

Ben Rothke is the author of Computer Security: 20 Things Every Employee Should Know.

You can purchase Human Factors in the Design and Evaluation of Central Control Room Operations from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

*

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Design and Evaluation of Central Control Room Operations

Comments Filter:
  • Wow (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I'm not reading the review. If it's half as painful to read as the summary was, I think I'll save myself the agony.

    Seriously, redundant much?

  • They are running Linux, thus making it unnecessarily complicated :P
    • by Xacid (560407)
      Hah, I'll admit - I chuckled a bit.
      • This is not a troll comment! I just know how bent out of shape you Linux lovers get when someone takes a crack at your precious piece of shit OS, so I mess with you when I can.
  • by sznupi (719324) on Monday March 01, 2010 @01:45PM (#31318874) Homepage

    Fellow slashdotters - this is a book with tips for improving our own command centres!

  • "In today's world, technically advanced cars present a unique paradox. Technically advanced vehicles, in theory, have more available safety, and the outcome should be that there are less accidents. But without proper training for their drivers, they could be less safe than cars with less available safety. NHTSA found that without proper training for the drivers who drive them, technically advanced cars don't advance safety at all. The reason is that technically advanced vehicles present challenges that unde
    • I was thinking almost the exact same thing, grammatically speaking...

      "In aviation today, technically advanced bongs present a unique paradox. Technically advanced bongs, in theory, have more available safety, and the outcome should be that there are less accidents. But without proper training for their drinkers, they could be less safe than bongs with less available safety. The FAA found that without proper training for the drinkers who use them, technically advanced bongs don't advance safety at all. The

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sjames (1099)

        I found it quite funny that all through the Olympics we were dunned with ads from Lexus claiming that their "interface" (the start button) is simple, intuitive, and easy because they designed it so you just do what you always do.

        I can't think of ANYONE whose first impulse when they urgently want a button to work is to press and hold it for at least 3 seconds. Just look at impatient people at the elevator. It's never press and hold, it's always press press press press PRESS. It doesn't matter if it's already

        • When my car is running away on the highway, I can force the brakes to lug the engine and stall it; or use the brakes to work it down a bit and quickly throw to a higher gear (which means the engine has to put out 5 times more torque to overcome the brakes); or hell, cut the ignition, but let's assume that doesn't work... if the engine decides it doesn't want to shut off and the brakes fail, then it's time to leave gear and let the car murder itself.
        • You've had to press and hold a power button on a PC to hard power off for years, so it seemed natural for me to have to do it in my Camry. I'm obviously an exception though, having worked with computers this much.

          • by sjames (1099)

            Press and hold is a learned behavior. It may be so thoroughly learned that it seems natural to an IT person (or even a power user), but it is learned nevertheless. There's no reason the button can't respond to either press and hold or rapid fire presses.

            When you're involuntarily doing 90 MPH on the highway and you see traffic ahead and closing fast, you might THINK you've held the button well past 3 seconds when it hasn't even been one second yet. It's easy when sitting safely at home to say they should jus

            • You're certainly correct, I wasn't attempting to imply that press and hold would be intuitive to just anyone.

              The latter part is probably really the kicker. Even if you KNEW it was a 3 second hold, in a panic or high stress situation that's a long time to sit there.

    • This could explain some of the Toyota crashes. The drivers don't understand what they need to do to slow down and stop the car when the accelerator acts like it's stuck.

      I believe the safety manual recommends honking your horn repeatedly while screaming at the top of your lungs so as to attract the attention of others in your immediate vicinity, and once they are looking at you, raise your hands in the air (palms facing upward) with a shrugging motion so that they know there is nothing you can do to prevent their impending doom.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      A distant relative by marriage bought a top of line new Mercedes. He has to attend a Saturday long training class for four Saturdays.

      After laughing in disbelief. I asked why does he need a training class. In a nutshell, apparently there's so much electronic bullshit (I guess to justify the price of the car somehow) that they need classes. GPSes, internet and whatnot

      I started thinking about all that distraction for the driver. I can just see liability insurance eventually going through the roof - while the

      • by peragrin (659227) on Monday March 01, 2010 @02:47PM (#31319812)

        I bet you have an 8 player and a carberator too. As electronic fuel injection is for wimps.(/sarcastic)

        Meredeces is one of the few companies selling cars with radar modified cruise control.
        If you don't know what it is and what it does and how it works. When your car starts slowing down by itself oneday you can cause an accident. Just that feature changing a basic tool you use regularly requires training. If you are to stupid to understand why you shouldn't be laughing.

        Merecedes was the firstcar company to ship air bags standard. If you want to see what will be in the next decades ever one elses vehicles look at Mercedes. I follow them not because I can afford one but because ford and nissian will soon be duplicating those features.

        • by coaxial (28297)

          I bet you have an 8 player and a carberator too. As electronic fuel injection is for wimps.(/sarcastic)

          That's an 8 track player you insensitive clod!

          A friend of mine bought a 73 Lincoln, that came with an 8 track. He found some old 8 tracks in his grandfather's closet and tried out the player. The player worked, but it played everything too fast. Looking inside, he found that the player had eaten the last tape it played, and so there were pieces of tape wrapped around one of the spools. This made increased the diameter of the spool, and in turn increased the angular velocity of the spool, which in turn i

        • by iturbide (39881)

          If you don't know what it is and what it does and how it works. When your car starts slowing down by itself oneday you can cause an accident. Just that feature changing a basic tool you use regularly requires training. If you are to stupid to understand why you shouldn't be laughing.

          Again, please, now as a coherent statement?

    • by natehoy (1608657) on Monday March 01, 2010 @03:45PM (#31320656) Journal

      Yes, this is hardly unique to aviation.

      I drive a manual transmission car that possesses a simple key. Should my accelerator go apeshit on me (whether this was a stuck floor mat or a software problem in the accelerator), I have several options to stop the engine from pouring speed into the chassis. Among others, I can push down the clutch pedal (resulting in the engine possibly revving itself to death, but with me able to bring the car to a controlled, if very noisy and probably engine-fatal, stop), and I can turn the key to the Accessory position (which will disable my power steering and the power assist on the brakes, but I can also let up on the clutch to use the engine as a brake and give me back some hydraulic assist). Turning the key into the OFF position locks the steering wheel, which is bad mojo, but at least if I overreact on that one I can get the car slowed down before I hit whatever is in front of me.

      The Lexus involved in the much-discussed incident had safety features galore, and was driven by an experienced driver. However, some of the safety features certainly contributed to the accident. Setting aside the likelihood of noticing that a floor mat was stuck under the go pedal and having the time and clarity of thought to reach down and pull it out while the car is accelerating wildly into traffic... an experienced driver knows that in a battle between engine and brakes, the engine will win, so it's utterly vital to get the engine out of play early on.

      I've had this happen, and in my case it was a poorly-wired cruise control (aftermarket, that was installed by an idiot apparently). So my first instinct was to tap the brakes, which disengaged the cruise and all was well, I pulled over and physically disconnected the cruise control from the throttle. Obviously, that wasn't the problem here, so the driver probably moved on to another logical step.

      In my case, that would be taking the car out of gear. Safety feature #1 comes into play. The car was an automatic, and the interlock prevented the transmission and/or engine from being damaged. It ignored NEUTRAL and REVERSE settings while at speed and under heavy acceleration. If the driver had been able to idle the engine, NEUTRAL would have worked. But he couldn't, and the interlock (a safety feature) worked against him. So on to the next attempt...

      I'd continue by turning off the key, which will cause sudden deceleration, a certain amount of loss of control, but will get the engine out of play. However, in this case the starter mechanism was a button that you'd normally push to turn the engine off at idle, but to keep some idiot from pushing the button at speed and shutting down the car, the car ignored all but a 3-second push to the button when the car was in operation. Unless you had (trivial but necessary) specialized training in how that button worked, you might not think about doing that.

      I suppose if it was one of those "key must be present" cars with the fancy starter button, he could have thrown the keyfob out the window and hoped the engine would shut itself down once the keyfob was out of range, but I expect another safety feature would have prevented that from happening. :)

      So, there are at least two cases where safety features built into the controls of the car made the car paradoxically less safe, at least under these specific circumstances.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by AndersOSU (873247)

        n experienced driver knows that in a battle between engine and brakes, the engine will win

        Wait what? Maybe this is why people need training.

        In a battle between engine and brakes the brakes win - every single time. Seriously go try it out, even in first gear your car will come to a stop rather quickly with WOT if you step on the brakes.

        The only time this might not be true is with some weird throttle/brake by wire system where the computer disregards the brake signal.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          Try that with a stuck accelerator, while going 70 on the freeway. Your results might not be the same.
          • by AndersOSU (873247)

            The brakes will still win - you'll just want to apply the brakes slowly so you don't lose control.

            • No, at speeds like that brake pads tend to overheat and disintegrate. If you are using completely organic rather than metallic brake pads, there is a very good chance they will catch fire and disintegrate even faster.
              • by AndersOSU (873247)

                maybe if you're driving a model T. Modern brake pads (that typically last ~50,0000 miles) are more than up to the task of stopping a car traveling 70mph with WOT. Sure, if you're observant you'll notice that they fade a bit as they heat up, but they'll stop your car just fine.

                • They might have gotten better in recent years, but saying "Model T" is a bit much of an exaggeration, considering that they would not go much more than half that fast. In fact there were a lot of things about the model T that were pretty much half-fast.
                  • by AndersOSU (873247)

                    more than a little of an exaggeration sure (model T brakes were a wad of cloth that pressed against the axle - so that's why I used that example) but suffice to say, if you have disc brakes, even just in front, your car will stop. Even if you drive a car with 4 drum brakes - and none of the cars in the toyota recall do, you shouldn't have a problem if your car was built after 1990.

                    • by mad flyer (589291)

                      Repeating this will not make it true -in context-

                      Yeah, sure, on a test track in controlled conditions if you go 70mph and push the brakes hard your car might stop dead even with WOT. (and accessorily your name is 'Stig' 'Clarkson', 'May' or... 'Hamster')

                      But on the highway, stuck with WOT, you don't think 'Iwant to stop dead NOW' which might kill you as efficiently as speeding. (remember that little line in the rule book aboot minimum speed limit). Your car not beeing on fire, most people think 'i need to sl

      • by zeet (70981)

        > an experienced driver knows that in a battle between engine and brakes, the engine will win, so it's utterly vital to get the engine out of play early on.

        No. The brakes win on any car modern enough to have seatbelts - provided that you brake like you mean it. If you drag the brakes for two miles before deciding to actually get on them, of course the fluid will long since have boiled. That is what happened in this case. If you make the 'I need to stop now, this car is out of control' call and use the br

        • by natehoy (1608657)

          As I understand it, when the go pedal is mashed to full-tilt-boogie mode, that steals vacuum from the braking system, and you may not be able to mean it enough to very rapidly overcome the kind of overpowered engine they tend to put in fancy cars like the Lexus.

          I could try it in my car, but I drive a 90HP Jetta Diesel, so the test is going to be pretty irrelevant. Plus the clutch has 90,000 miles on it, so I'm not about to put that kind of stress on that clutch (grin). Not to mention finding a place where

          • You're on the right track. You can have enough vac to stop but you have to immediately brake like you mean it. Pumping will kill vacuum and then you're screwed.

            • by natehoy (1608657)

              So, given my thoughts above about my initial instinct (must be a screwed up cruise control), it is possible that a few pumps on the brakes to try and disengage the cruise might have caused enough of a vacuum failure to make the brakes go all toasty.

              Then the "safety features making things unsafe" parade began. Couldn't get it out of gear due to safety interlock, couldn't shut it down due to 3-second-push rule on emergency engine shutdown, not really a whole lot else you can do but steer and hope the brakes

              • It really depends on how hard you're pumping. In every car I've been in, it takes only a tap to disengage cruise. The kind of pumping that would deplete vacuum would be repeated substantial depressions of the pedal.

                • by natehoy (1608657)

                  That's true, though adrenaline might change that a bit ("well, if I push a little harder, maybe it will disengage the cruise. Try it again. No, OK, time to panic-brake. What, the brakes won't fully engage? Crap!")

                  In any case, something caused those brakes to go toasty. Though it could just be poor maintenance.

      • by joshuac (53492)

        ---snip
        an experienced driver knows that in a battle between engine and brakes, the engine will win, so it's utterly vital to get the engine out of play early on.
        ---snip

        Are you kidding? In almost any case (any production car, there are a few narrow market industrial/non-street legal vehicles this isn't the case) the exact opposite is true, usually by a large (very large) margin. Compare vehicle 60 to 0 distances vs. 0 to 60 distances and compare weight. For example, a 638HP, 3350LB 2010 Corvette takes 3.3

    • by mindstrm (20013)

      Those crashes are explained simply because the problem at hand is out of context. Driving is habit... you train yourself to react. Reacting to a stuck accelerator, or similar situation, is not something you are trained to react to - so you have to think, and analyze the situation, while in panic mode. It may take you a vital second or two to realize that your car is misbehaving, and another second to decide what to do about it.

    • by scholl_r (1611785)
      It appears that slashdot readers also don't know how to stop a car suffering from "unintended acceleration". Modern cars - the ones most likely to have this happen - have throttle controls that prevent the engine from over-revving. If one turns off the key, the power steering and power brakes no longer are effective (or as effective) and the car can be hard or impossible to control. Just pushing hard on the brake pedal can be futile because the transmission downshifts, thinking the car is going uphill. S
  • Anecdote (Score:2, Insightful)

    by oldhack (1037484)

    My one and only car crash, due to my fault, is due to ABS. It was my first ABS car and I tried to pump the brake, and failed to stop before hitting the other car.

    It was a minor fender bender, never mind any injury, but it burned it into my skull: slam the brake.

    • by JustOK (667959)

      did you have a pizza in the car?

    • by amorsen (7485)

      I'm not sure how ABS would make pumping less effective, other than the fact that the jolting can be scary or surprising the first time you try it. You'll brake less effectively than if you just slammed the brake and let ABS do its job, but at least as effectively as without ABS.

      It took me a while to get used to steering while slamming the brake though.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by vlm (69642)

        I'm not sure how ABS would make pumping less effective

        The ABS can pump the brakes with at least a 90% on duty cycle. If you pump the brakes "by foot" with or without ABS I don't think you'll exceed 50% duty cycle.

        Except on snow, that's where ABS will kill you. If you lock non-ABS brakes on snow, it turns the car into a snowplow and you stop extremely quickly, almost as fast as deep loose gravel. Like feel your eyeballs pull outward fast. If you lock ABS brakes on snow, you just merrily glide along on top of the snow, barely slowing down at all, until you p

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          The newest vehicles' ABS knows snow, and locks up. At least you can steer on snow with old ABS... It saved me from one accident, in my '93 Impreza LS.

        • by OldBus (596183)
          I'm not disagreeing with you, but I am interested to know why this is. Can you enlighten?
          • by amorsen (7485)

            Like the GP said, you make a wall of snow in front of you. It won't really work with all kinds of snow, particularly not the salt-packed greasy kind that is so common in Denmark.

            Whenever I've been in snow deep enough that it works decently for non-ABS-braking I've been more worried about how to keep going than about how to stop.

        • Re:Anecdote (Score:4, Interesting)

          by ceoyoyo (59147) on Monday March 01, 2010 @03:12PM (#31320184)

          On SOFT snow.

          Everywhere I've lived the snow conditions you're likely to be slamming your brakes in are either hard packed (no advantage to no ABS) or over the ground clearance of your car anyway.

          Gravel is another story. I've got a friend in the oilfield and they specifically teach them braking methods that disable the ABS for stopping in gravel. The techniques aren't really any harder than proper threshold braking and you get the best of both worlds.

        • by amorsen (7485)

          The ABS can pump the brakes with at least a 90% on duty cycle. If you pump the brakes "by foot" with or without ABS I don't think you'll exceed 50% duty cycle.

          That isn't what I was writing about. I was saying that if you DO pump manually but have ABS, it will be just as good as if you pump manually WITHOUT ABS. It won't be as good as just letting the ABS do its job, but the ABS isn't making anything worse.

        • If you lock non-ABS brakes on snow, it turns the car into a snowplow and you stop extremely quickly

          Huh? Locking (non-ABS) brakes on snow turns the car into a sled. The point of pumping the brakes, whether manually or with ABS, is to to avoid overcoming the friction force between the tire and the road (i.e., skidding). There's more friction between rubber and asphalt than between rubber and snow, so if locking the (non-ABS) brakes causes a skid on asphalt, it will most certainly cause a skid on snow.

      • by oldhack (1037484)
        It's been a long time, but, what I remember is that the pumping made it feel like trying to stop with brakes pushed only halfway...
    • I almost had a crash due to ABS too.

      A sensor failed spectacularly. The car rolled into an intersection because there was no pressure being applied to the brakes. It sure kept straight, though!

      Manual transmission and no ABS for me now, thankyouverymuch.
      • by LWATCDR (28044)

        I would just not buy that brand of car.
        Any sensor failure should result in the ABS just turning it's self off.

        • Yeah, well, the brand was doing pretty well at offing itself. It was just too big to fail, though.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        I avoided killing someone because my car at that time did *not* have antilock brakes. The driver pulled out in front of me far too late, and stalled across the middle of both lanes with no shoulder. I was able to throw my car into a skid by locking the brakes down hard. The momentum of my back-end carried it around, and helped me to pull the car over the right by about two feet. This let me hit her back door instead of front at about 40mph. With or without ABS there was no way I was going to stop in time
    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      Well pumping the brakes was never the best way to stop a car. The best way to stop a car was to apply almost enough bake pressure to skid but not quite enough to skid. Pumping is sort of a lowest common demonator way to teach people how not to skid out of control. Not the best way but often the best that people can do and on ice without studded tires or chains it is about the best anyone can do at all.
      I actually got very good at this. I got so good that I had issues taking my MSF course. In the course they

      • That's called threshold braking, it's a race technique and very useful on the street in shit conditions. In tests, I've found I can stop pretty fucking fast if I don't hydroplane. Nothing helps on snow, except driving slowly... though a manual transmission helps me keep control since my reactions are pretty intrinsic to the feel of the car, and I have a huge control over the dynamic by controlling the amount of torque the engine can apply.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    and it was all like 'beepbeepbeep', and I was like 'huh?' It devoured my airplane. And it was a really good airplane."

  • by Xacid (560407)
    It's not really a paradox. The simple solution is this: upgrade the technologies as the budget allows and train the damned pilots. It's not the kind of system where you have to have everything happen at once - this can definitely be done in phases.
    • by icebrain (944107)

      Actually, it's not so simple. Major upgrades to an aircraft often have to be done all at once if that's how the upgrade is certified. You can't operate with an "in-between" configuration; if the only certified configs are "base" and "fully upgraded", well, sucks to be you.

  • Hard stuff not obvious, people need training.
  • Nagios (Score:4, Informative)

    by flok (24996) <mail@vanheusden.com> on Monday March 01, 2010 @02:15PM (#31319280) Homepage Journal
    I designed a Nagios interface especially for Control Rooms. My program can be run on a large screen hanging on the wall and then display a list of problems. Of course has a nice web-interface for remote configuration ;-)

    It is called CoffeeSaint [vanheusden.com].
  • Fridge? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vlm (69642) on Monday March 01, 2010 @02:24PM (#31319424)

    The authors note that all SOC and NOC's have a common feature in that the people operating them are often remote from the processes that they are monitoring and controlling, and the operations function on a 24/7 basis. The many demands of remote and continuous operation place special considerations on the design of the SOC and NOC. The output of the book is that it can be used to effectively to design these operating centers.

    You need a big fridge, and a microwave.

    Another common feature is at least of all NOCs I've seen is marketing wants the most stylish looking facility they can get, which is often/always completely at odds with the goals of an effective facility.

    Common noc mistakes:

    1) Everyone crammed in like sardines so "we can work together". Except that no one noticed that we don't work together. All it makes is a lot of noise and interference. No space to open a stack of manuals, closely related to no space for usable computer monitors (as opposed to the ones used only for show). Even worse, designers seem addicted to adding "static noise" masking generator, crappy elevator music, and/or a PA system for other departments blaring away. Thru careful work, its possible to include features to make it look like its ideal for cooperation, yet make actual cooperation impossible due to noise level etc.

    2) Extraordinarily expensive big screen TVs / monitors / projectors on all the forward facing walls, that no one actually uses. Too small, too low res, no actual business purpose. This is a killer two ways, first of all its a huge capital expense that could have paid the salary for extra techs for years, which would have a measurable positive effect. The other way its a killer is you'll actually take people off productive work to "fix" the big screens so marketing is happy. Would anyone in the NOC have a problem doing their job if all the projector bulbs burned out? No, but marketing would freak out.

    3) Second class citizen status. "Real" employees can have family pictures in their work area. The dogs of the "noc", not so much. This attitude flows thru the organization in many other ways, producing discontent. Promotion out of the noc becomes a goal, not to "advance" but just to get the hell out.

    4) Constant over the shoulder monitoring. No matter if its marketing, or management, there seems an utterly desperate desire to perch over the NOC workers shoulders, either physically or virtually. A great employer-employee attitude if you are 17 years old and working at taco bell. Not a great attitude in a professional noc environment. There seems something inherent in all NOC management that makes them distrust their employees, that you generally don't see in most other departments. Kind of like having the ability to treat them as serfs inevitably makes it a requirement to treat them like serfs.

    5) You know those 1970's "sunken livingrooms"? alive and well in the nocs of the world. How about the 1960s original star trek theatre in the round concept with a bridge in the middle? alive and well in the nocs of the world. Remember the set of "wargames" from 1983? Why can't a noc be designed that doesn't look like a throwback or parody? At least try something different, like a medieval dungeon or something?

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "Real" employees can have family pictures in their work area. The dogs of the "noc", not so much.

      A true noc monkey has no family, just a cat or two at home which he already has pics of on his phone.

    • by Animats (122034) on Monday March 01, 2010 @02:59PM (#31319996) Homepage

      Here's an example of just that - the new Moesk control center [archdaily.com] for Moscow's electric network.

      Take a look at the pictures [archdaily.com]. This looks like a movie set for a Bond movie. The architects got completely out of control here.

      Notice the suspended transparent bubble for top management. It looks like it retracts into the ceiling. The lower operator's platform has steeply slanted sides, no railings, and chairs with wheels. The huge room only has eight operator positions.

      I'll bet that, within a year or two, the people who actually have to run the grid set up a "field control center" with about twenty people with PCs, cork boards on the walls, 2-way radios for talking to field crews, a conference/map table, and some printers. The real work will be done there. A few people will sit in the big room and answer questions for management.

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        If it isn't obscenely expensive, incredibly wasteful and even more incredibly useless, it wasn't designed by a Russian.

        Face it, you think the US is bad about being showy, but Russia takes the cake in large, showy, unnecessary things.

        • From what I hear the setups of such rooms often play out like penis-length comparisons.
          If someone has 100 modules, the next one wants 150 and so on.

          And this does not only go for the Russians.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by vlm (69642)

        I'll bet that, within a year or two, the people who actually have to run the grid set up a "field control center" with about twenty people with PCs, cork boards on the walls, 2-way radios for talking to field crews, a conference/map table, and some printers. The real work will be done there. A few people will sit in the big room and answer questions for management.

        At a previous employer, for a Very Important Photoshoot for marketing, they hired college age models to staff our center in the pictures, apparently because the real personnel were far too unphotogenic. I believe the age of all the models added together still didn't reach the age of some of our old timers.

        Kind of like how anytime you see a call center in marketing material, its always staffed by stereotypical beauty pageant white women, where in reality most (not all) call centers have been moved to prison

      • I say this as someone who doesn't work in the industry - what a cool design. Completely back asswards in some respects but it looks cool.
      • by Blakey Rat (99501)

        Wow, someone hit the CAD program right after watching Minority Report, didn't they?

        I toured a company (big web analytics company in Utah) awhile back and they showed us a NOC that was so impractically designed, I honestly thought it was fictional-- I actually told my co-workers, "I bet that's just for showing during tours, and the real NOC is in the basement somewhere." I wonder if the two or three guys who were staffing it were just shoved in there and told, "look busy! There's a tour coming through!"

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Chris Mattern (191822)

        Notice the suspended transparent bubble for top management. It looks like it retracts into the ceiling.

        Hey! The Cone of Silence was a required deliverable insisted on by management, okay?

        • by Animats (122034)

          Hey! The Cone of Silence was a required deliverable insisted on by management, okay?

          Some of those pictures are renders, and some are real. It turns out that the suspended transparent bubble was deleted before actual construction, along with the oval lighting rings and the curved-glass viewing galleries. Those are renders. The ones with conventional lighting on the ceiling are real, including the fancy podium. [archdaily.com] In this picture, the PCs, which look like conventional mini-towers, and their cables are in p

      • Looks like the designer had just finished watching Men In Black...
    • by mindstrm (20013)

      I've seen some small-scale NOCs that made effective use of large screens.... (LCD, not projector). The staff had personal space/desks - complete with family photos, and the shared screens were there for whatever the NOC staff there at the time felt them best used for at any given moment. If nothing was going on, that might be watching funny youtube videos, but generally it would be wahtever aspect of the current incident was important to the group as a whole.

      • by mindstrm (20013)

        Oh -and marketing generally had no access to said room, nor was there much shoulder watching - but agan - small-scale noc, where the NOC guys were often also the chief engineers on occasion.

  • That the advancement of technology and addition of features will require additional training in some respect. Driving an old automatic car is easy enough. You either hit gas or brake, and occasionally use reverse. Now let's add in cruise control and ABS, which some people seem to automatically think converts their beat-up jalopy into the KITT from Knight Rider, right before driving off the road. More features. Add in new switches and dials for controlling mirrors, lights, locks, etc. Despite the application
    • by vlm (69642)

      Add in new switches and dials for controlling mirrors, lights, locks, etc. Despite the application of human factors analysis, the average Joe is not going to find the purpose of each and every button and dial intuitive and natural.

      Whats "intuitive and natural" for turning on the lights? A match to a candle?

      The graphics arts / liberal arts crowd, which has near total control of human factors groups, thinks little icons that resemble squashed insects is the epitome of intuitive. You want the lights on, find the swatted fly and twist it.

      I'd like to see something designed by someone whom is literate, with like, words and stuff.

      Or for the visual learners folks, a blueprint (see the diagram of the car? Touch the headlights on the diagra

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Dogbertius (1333565)
        For intuitive and natural, I'm referring to natural mappings. "The Design of Everyday Things" by Donald Norman does a good job of describing this. Simple "standards" exist that most people (at least in North America) understand without instruction. There's a good wikipedia article on it too:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_mapping [wikipedia.org]

        On a more interesting note, with respect to the people having issues with the Toyotas accelerating to ludicrous speed, why oh why did they not consider slamming the break
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by josath (460165)
          The funny thing is my stove violates that principle. My four burners are in a square, but the four knobs are in a row. I can never remember which knob is for left and which knob is for right, so I have to squint at the hard to read text (black on black) above each knob.
          • by Blakey Rat (99501)

            Isn't that example directly from the book? Or maybe from another usability book I read around the same time...

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Bigbutt (65939)

          It's all a program now.

          Someone wrote a routine that said "if (accelerator && brakes) give priority to accelerator;" The updated firmware says "if (accelerator && brakes) give priority to brakes;"

          There's another routine that says "if (moving) disable neutral"

          The car has a pseudo stick shift, accelerator, and brake pedal. Honestly none are needed as they're all sensors and nothing mechanical. A Nintendo or XBox joystick and a keypad to type in your speed is all you really need.

          [John]

          • All the more reason I purchase standard vehicles with standard transmissions and actual mechanical control.
        • Most people driving toyotas are not very familiar with cars. They are driving appliances just like HP desktops are computing appliances. It's quite likely the pop into neutral simply did not occur. It's also possible that in some cars (I hear the Lexus is such) there is an interlock that keeps the transmission from being jogged into neutral or reverse at speed precisely because it will almost certainly destroy either the engine or transmission depending on whether N or R is selected.

          Re: slamming on the bra

          • Well, since the whole thing is purely digital, at least so far as user feedback/input is concerned, this really screwed over the consumer. You're effectively locked in a high speed gerbil ball with no way to reduce speed. This should be a stark reminder of the need for hardware-based safeguards in critical systems. The Therac-25 is a common example of this.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Therac-25 [wikipedia.org]
            • Certainly. I could understand an interlock to prevent shifting into reverse at speed, because that will destroy the transmission besides probably causing you to lose control of the vehicle. Getting the car out of gear though is a last ditch safety attempt.

    • by EvanED (569694)

      People who memorized countless shortcut keys and menus for Office '97 through 2003 suddenly have to reacquaint themselves with the shortcut bar for n00bs, with no simply way to revert to the old setup.

      Except that, for the keyboard drivers, Office 2007 does continue to recognize the old office shortcuts.

      • A great deal of them don't work, even with the menu at the top showing "Word 2003 ..." shortcut sequence. Also, several are not recognized, at least when it comes to macro dev for me. Furthermore, the associated menus are not shown, so the exact keystroke must be completely memorized, without any visual cues in case you can't remember that last stroke. I switched to OO.o eventually.
  • or does the summary have nothing to do with the review?
    • by Tokerat (150341)

      You're not really supposed to read articles on /. so I'm not sure anyone else knows...

  • .....Bill-yuns and bill-yuns of itty-bitty buttons, all alike.

  • Back in my day... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PPalmgren (1009823) on Monday March 01, 2010 @02:47PM (#31319808)

    My late Grandfather used to tell me stories all the time of stuff that happened in the air traffic control tower at Charlotte-Douglas airport (he was the chief of the tower for 20 years). 99% of the time, human error is to blame, for stuff like military pilots trying to land at the wrong airport and not listening to comms to stuff like poor pronounciation over comms to pilots causing close calls. By the end of his career, he found that work ethic was more important than credentials, because laziness was the cause of a large majority of mishaps. It is difficult to train work ethic, and easy to impart knowledge.

    Rewarding diligence and establishing a culture of consistency was their solution. I've seen it work in other industries over the years as well. But, when you think about it, isn't it just common sense to do it? Why do you need a book to explain that?

    • Re:Back in my day... (Score:4, Informative)

      by AB3A (192265) on Monday March 01, 2010 @04:27PM (#31321340) Homepage Journal

      Yes, but one of the things that causes "human error" is poor design. Sometimes, the information can be right there at your fingertips but in a form that doesn't encourage an operator to develop good situational awareness. This was one of the causes that lead to the 2005 Texas City Refinery explosion and fire. The information on flow totals in and out of the raffinate splitter process were on a different page of the screen and the operator on duty was tired, busy, and simply didn't think to look at it. Had he done so, he'd have seen that there was an awful lot of flow going in to the tower and nothing coming out.

      The point of discussing design like this is to improve situational awareness so that disasters are less likely to happen.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by rekees (1420453)

      The answer is commonly rendered invisible in its simplicity, especially in IT deployments: striking the balance between what developers want and what users want is seldom the goal.

      An ethical developer should care about how the code is used, how the application will 'feel' to the user; too many developers laugh at this statement, unless they write games.
      Conversely, an ethical manager should respect the sometimes incredible effort and dedication developers have to put in to come up with a decent product given

  • by PPH (736903)

    ... is quite involved and requires careful thought. Training and procedures are important, but the best UIs should make the next step(s) in a task obvious. A symptom of an overly complex, poorly thought out UI is the high level of training and checklists needed to identify the next step(s) or locate required data. Using the flight deck model, older airplanes needed a large amount of training (and a third crew member) because all of the instrumentation and controls were just mounted on a few panels, with no

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by icebrain (944107)

      ... is quite involved and requires careful thought. Training and procedures are important, but the best UIs should make the next step(s) in a task obvious. A symptom of an overly complex, poorly thought out UI is the high level of training and checklists needed to identify the next step(s) or locate required data. Using the flight deck model, older airplanes needed a large amount of training (and a third crew member) because all of the instrumentation and controls were just mounted on a few panels, with no guidance as to which dials and knobs would require special attention under various different flight conditions. The modern flight deck makes use of flexible displays that remain quiet (dark) until they demand attention. Then, they are presented in a manner which suits the particular task at hand. Like an automated checklist.

      It's not just an issue of ergonomics. Older aircraft, even up to the DC-10/747/L-1011 era, didn't have the automation to allow two-crew operations. Engines were mechanically controlled, requiring someone to monitor temperatures, pressures, oil levels, etc. and make adjustments to keep them happy and prevent them from exceeding parameters. Cabin pressurization required monitoring, as did the electrical system. Newer aircraft, by contrast, have things like FADECs (Full-Authority Digital Engine Controller

      • by RogerWilco (99615)

        What amazes me so much about today's automated fly-by-wire airplanes, is that it seems most accidents happen because of a pilot failing to notice something or other about an autopilot in operation. At least that seems to be the most common thing in those documentaries you see on TV.

        I think if anything, aircarft designers need to have a good hard look at the UI design of autopilots.

        One thing that I think should change in the training of pilots, is that they should turn off any autopilots at the first sign of

  • (see under Sperry Attitude Gyro and under-trained pilot).

HELP!!!! I'm being held prisoner in /usr/games/lib!

Working...