Final Vacation Tidbit: Hand Dryers

photo of World Dryer™ hand dryer, with built-in sales propaganda:

These annoying hand dryers are multiplying lately.  Well I’ve hit my limit, and I gotta debunk (or at least deflate) their labels’ claims.

Yes, I grant they are very well marketed, but the actual advantages for the user/patron and the environment are exaggerated, and the disadvantages are skipped (of course). 

Dryers help protect the environment.
They save trees from being used for paper towels.
They eliminate paper towel waste.
They are more sanitary to use than paper and help maintain cleaner facilities.

World Dryer’s main claims:

Dryers are good for the Owner, because they’re cheaper and create no paper waste to clean up.

I won’t second guess their electricity-vs-paper supply cost comparisons, and dryers certainly keep the paper waste to a minimum.  So no problems here.

Dryers are good for the Patron, because they’re more sanitary

The “more sanitary” claim is mentioned in World Dryer’s Waste Reduction PDF and references a report comparing hot air and paper for killing germs.  Problems with this:

  1. Who kills germs with a dryer? (If you washed your hands right, the germs should already be gone!)
  2. “Hot air” is not the same as a Dryer, which requires pushing a button with wet hands, thereby picking up the germs of previous, less-thorough patrons.
  3. Busy bathrooms.  The 1 minute/person process stacks up patrons (making it all the more inconvenient), and patrons end up drying their hands on their (surely less sanitary) pants.

Dryers are good for the Environment, because they don’t use up trees.

Sure, dryers don’t use trees, but guess what: Trees are a renewable resource! We won’t run out! (responsible logging companies act like tree-farmers, planting more trees).
    In contrast, dryers do use electricity, which comes from Coal, AKA “not-a-renewable-resource” (so we will run out of that).
    Besides electricity, we get something else from Coal: Pollution!
(World Dryer also claims that “paper towels cannot be recycled!” — they never substantiate that, though.  Any ideas?)

To summarize the problems:

  1. Convenience:
    • World Dryer’s own Waste Reduction PDF says “the fact is, it does take a few seconds longer to properly dry your hands with warm air.”
    • Dryer inconvenience is further compounded by multiple patrons.  Using a paper dispenser is a 3-second process.  Using a Dryer is a 60-second process, which stacks up patrons.
  2. Sanitation:
    • Dryers create another “touch” surface to spread germs.
    • Dryers are inconvenient enough to skip in favor of pants or other unsanitary clothing.
    • There are plenty of no-touch (motion-sensing) paper-towel dispensers.
  3. Pollution:
    • Dryers use Electricity.  Electricity is made from Coal.  Burning Coal pollutes the air. 
    • Waste Paper fills landfills, but quickly biodegrades.
  4. Natural Resources:
    • Coal is a non-renewable resource and will run out.
    • Paper is renewable and will never run out.

So, I can’t believe I actually just thought through and typed that all out, but I guess I hate feeling “marketed at” when I’m already annoyed by the inconvenience.  That the marketing claims are mostly unsubstantiated or spurious makes it all the worse.

The genius of it, though, is that they propaganda itself is an attempt to make the process seem less inconvenient — you get something to read while you dry, instead of a blank wall.

For more entertainment, how about an address-label sized sticker saying something like:

Electric Dryers are highly inconvenient to use.
Electricity is made by burning coal, which pollutes the environment.
We’ll grow more trees, but not more coal.
Dryers require touching germy buttons.

Or perhaps:

Dryers are convenient for the owner.
The owner values his/her convenience more than yours.
“The environment” sells more dryers.
These signs are here to distract you from how long dryers take.

Seems like 5 or 10 would easily fit in a wallet…


Speaking of Vacations, during my 400-mile drive I noticed several semis/trailer-trucks with this bumper sticker:

It’s not a Choice.
It’s a Child.

I wondered why I’ve never seen anything like the opposite sticker, which of course would be

It’s not a Child.
It’s a Choice.

Then I realized, that’s the basic difference: Pro-Choice folks prefer to avoid addressing the larger issue of What it is (a life).  The two sides aren’t having the same conversation. 

I’ve heard it said that we have the right to “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”, in that order.  This means my right to Pursue Happiness stops at the point when it would interfere with someone else’s right to Liberty, which in turn stops at the point when it would interfere with someone’s right to continue Living.

So it’s an easy call to me: prove it’s absolutely not a human life, and Sure, do what you want.  But if there’s even a slight chance that it is a human life (and Biology 101 makes me think so) …do I want to risk taking it?

Hm, maybe there’s a bumper sticker idea:

Take a Chance.
Take a Life.

SBS 2003 CAL suckiness

I have a new client who recently guessed their way through a SBS 2003 setup.  THEN they called us to fix it.  This has been quite the cleanup.  I gotta get me a Haz-mat suit.  Imagine and enjoy at my expense, some highlights:

  • Exchange mailboxes not configured for the POP3 Connector (so email was removed from the ISP’s mailbox, and dropped into Oblivion).
  • No backups, no (or patchy) virus/spyware protection (and plenty of spyware).
  • Moving from a XP Pro “server”, which fell apart when we tried to join it to the domain (due to loads of spyware).
  • XP Home machines trying to use the new server.
  • No extra CALs for the 12 user accounts.  Yes, that’s 12 users competing for the 5 licenses that come with SBS.  “Denied!”

And now (drumroll please)…

  • Amid extensive VPN, OWA, and OMA use, a vendor who supplied us with Device CALs instead of User CALs (and didn’t mention it until we’d already activated them!)
  • Crap.


    So I just saw this on Ajaxian Blog: “Ajax is rocket science”. “Ajax isn’t simple”. Enough already!

    It makes good points, but what puzzles me is: who is saying this?  I never found Ajax difficult (even when I first discovered it 5 years ago). 
    Are the complainers just web designers, who just build pretty-but-static HTML pages and don’t know coding (-vs- web developers, who build web apps)? 

    Well, as Scott would say:
    And then I got back to work.

    Aladdin NetHASP and SP1 for SBS 2003

    I ran into the following the hard way recently.  Since I don’t trust anybody’s tech support to actually test new service packs or publish known issues, I figured I’d mention it here: SP1 for SBS 2003 breaks Aladdin NetHASP, and programs which use it.

    NetHASP is 3rd-party software which programs use to tie software licenses to a physical dongle (known as a “hasp” or “sim”).  In my case, our client was using SigmaTek’s SigmaNest and Develop programs (line-of-business stuff), we had the Network sim plugged into the SBS box and the NetHASP License Manager program running on it.  After the upgrade to SP1, SigmaNest on all workstations could no longer find the Network Sim, and would not run.

    Anyway, judging by known issues I’d read about, I pursued a firewall angle.  I found out what port the NetHASP connection uses (475), and made sure workstations could see that on the server (they could).  I reinstalled the NetHASP License Manager.  I reinstalled SigmaNest.  Nothing worked. 

    Finally, dreading a bad support like I’ve had all too often, I caved and called SigmaTek support.  After an hour on the phone with a well-intentioned, but lower-level support employee, he finally contacted Aladdin support (at my suggestion).  Eventually he got hold of them and the three of us worked together on it for a good while.  Eventually we tried a new (command-line) version of the NetHASP License Manager driver, and voila! it worked again.

    For the record, we had purposely waited a month after SP1’s release to let any kinks get worked out (or at least known).  I’d also immediately mentioned the SP1 install to both SigmaTek and Aladdin’s support reps, since it was a likely culprit.  Seemingly neither had run into the issue. 

    Now, I’m not sure, but this suggests to me that neither company is proactively testing new Windows patches and service packs.  If true, this is a very bad thing (if not, I’d love hear otherwise!).  It’s also possible that they did know, but simply hadn’t communicated that info with their support reps (and certainly had not via their support websites).

    I asked them to document what we’d found, but I don’t have high hopes.  So… hopefully this anecdote will help out some other poor NetHASP clod like me: get the new/other NetHASP driver, and push the vendors to publish the problem and solution.