05 May 2011

...taking charge

Here's a riddle. Which of these two chargers is in the process of charging? The one with the red light which suggests - STOP! Do not unplug - CHARGING! Or the one with the green light which suggests GO! Proceed. Ready. Done. Charged. I give you the GREEN light to use this battery.

The answer is both. BOTH chargers are charging, although each has decided to tread their own semiotic path. The Canon uses years of hard-wired logic to stop you in your tracks, to caution you that it's not ready. To wait. To obey the STOP light; the red a signifier of danger, a deterrent. The Panasonic, however, uses its own special method of telling the user 'Hello, I'm working! Green for GO! I'm moving along here, charging this battery, and once I've stopped charging, I'll show you a red light, to say I've stopped, okay?'

I'd be the first to say the Panasonic has it wrong. But interestingly, as both chargers sat there, simultaneously grazing on electricity, I wasn't able to differentiate the state of each, their separate messages cancelling the other out. And I was in turn reminded of how whenever I use a battery charger - regardless of whether the light is red or green when in the process of charging - I'll ignore the light anyway;  taking the battery out and popping it back in again to get the status feedback I really want. This bypasses the long-winded process of finding the instruction book (wherever that may be) which should show me what light signifies what.

Here's an idea, to stop the doubt once-and-for-all: two lights and some clear semantics.

RED LIGHT: Charging

Problem solved (in Photoshop).