If you build it, they will come…

…But then be too confused to go anywhere.

In the beginning there were two standard Belgian ticket machines at Brussels airport train station. They didn’t take cash. And they didn’t take credit cards. But if you did have a Belgian bank card, well, actually even then the machine’s operating system was so slow as you tapped in where you wanted to go [for most people needlessly – the majority of travellers would want a one-way ticket to Brussels centre] it would take a few minutes for one transaction. Also, in case you might have missed it, there were only two machines.

So, you know, with 40,000+ people using the airport daily it’s not as if there are ever any ridiculous queues of travellers all wishing to buy the same €5.20 ticket at the manned ticket desk.

For years I wondered why another machine wasn’t installed that could simply and quickly sell a single train ticket to Brussels city centre. Finally, the waiting is over. Brussels airport train station’s additional new ticket machine:

No credit cards still, but it takes money. Actual money! Oh, what’s that you ask? Why does it have 25 buttons to sell a one-way ticket to the city centre? Christ knows why, that’s why.

The top row of 5 are for second-class tickets. Five because each button says the word “one-way” in a different language.

The next row of 5 are for first-class tickets, with another language learning opportunity for “one-way”. Actually, no, just kidding! The button in the middle of the row is for two first-class tickets. Obviously.

The third row is for passengers already in possession of a ticket to Brussels, but who haven’t paid the airport-line supplement which is included in the price of the ticket when you buy it. Don’t ask. No, I said don’t ask. Stop asking.

And on to the fourth row, where we have our pick of any of five buttons to buy not one, but two second-class tickets simultaneously. In one transaction. How about that.

Followed by a final 5 chances (in addition to the one renegade button above!) to buy two first-class tickets simultaneously, in the language of your choice.

What’s that you say, you don’t know what to do next because the LCD screen telling you what to do only displays in Flemish?

Welcome to Belgium.


Items of note

Some articles that came up in my blog list this week and caught my attention:

Close your eyes, grip an imaginary steering wheel, and go through the motions of a lane change. Imagine that you are driving in the left lane and you would like to move over to the right lane. Before reading on, actually try it. Almost everyone gets it wrong.

The 20 worst things humans have done to each other, in terms of global per capita deaths. Can you guess who killed the most people? Here’s a clue, 1 in 200 people are descended from him.

Is the fastest human ever already alive? Half of the people who have reached the age of 65 are alive now. The 7 billion mark.

After my previous post praising the use of Google Reader to pull interesting content rather than passively being pushed news, they decided to revamp the service just a few days later. I agree with this review by Brian Shih.

The Long Grind Before You Become An Overnight Success

E-readers get heavier with each book

A natural field experiment (link to pdf) to study whether users are more prone to Like a Facebook update if someone else has done so before. (yes, they are)

A figure from their study: