Losing Sleep Over Poor Design

picture of top of sony clock radio
How Do I Cancel The Alarm?

I’m writing this from the CHI (Computer-Human Interaction) conference in Vancouver, BC. I’d like to enjoy Vancouver, but I’m having a hard time doing so  because I have a Sony clock radio in my hotel that keeps waking me up. The alarm goes off at 5:50 am every day. I can’t figure out how to permanently turn off the alarm. I can turn the alarm off when it goes off (there is an OFF button), but how do I cancel the alarm set up? I can’t figure it out. So it’s a case of literally losing sleep over poor design.

You would think that the alarm clock in a hotel would be chosen/designed to be intuitive and easy to use, since it’s unlikely that people would want to have to read a manual each time they stay in a hotel! (Although at this point I’d like a manual).

In another interesting design challenge, here’s a picture of the faucet in the bathroom in my hotel room.

Picture of bathroom faucet
Which way to turn the handles to turn on the water?

How would you turn the handles in order to turn on the water? At least this one I could easily figure out through trial and error!

If any you readers have this SONY clock radio — the picture at the beginning of the post shows the top controls, and can tell me how to de-activate the alarm I’d be very grateful!





Design Challenge Part 2
There Is No One Right Way To Categorize Information

9 Replies to “Losing Sleep Over Poor Design”

  1. I had a similar piece once. You could try keeping one of the alarm buttons pressed while pressing the + or – buttons. By that you could at least get it to wake you up later.

  2. I have a hard time with hotel alarm clocks too, as all of them seem to work a little differently. If I have a mobile device with me, I generally just set that or use the hotel wake-up call service and unplug the alarm clock from the wall completely to avoid any surprises.

  3. I would unplug that clock from the wall and use my phone to check the time… hope you get it fixed before 5:50am rolls around again!

  4. It shows you how tired I am that I didn’t even think about unplugging it from the wall! Great idea, guys. I will do that tonight!

  5. Unplugging it sounds like a delightfully simple solution. For what it’s worth, I found a manual for a similar Sony product that says that the “Alarm Mode” button cycles through alarm A, alarm B, alarms A and B, and no alarm. If the model in your hotel room is similar, it should display which alarms are activated.

  6. On my old Sony alarm clock (different model, though) you had to press and HOLD the A or B button and then press OFF then release the A or B. Repeat for the other alarm button and it should turn it off. The feedback you should get is the alarm light going off on the front.

    Poor usability? Totally. But I’ve done this pattern so many times it’s engrained in my muscle memory and I had to buy a new alarm clock with a different pattern because I would turn it off in my sleep without any knowledge and oversleep in the morning.

  7. While I have been trained on the engineering principles of design and programs like Design for Six Sigma, everything I needed to know I learned in art and psychology. A must read is “The Design of Everyday Things” by Donald Norman. Certainly not a new book, but obviously one that is still relevant.

  8. Yeah from having old Sony devices my best guess is that you hit Alarm Mode a few times and an indicator on the LCD screen will change from A to B to AB to None (or blank).

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