Wednesday, July 05, 2006

French Engineering

Some curious things struck me at the French Open that made me wonder about the process of design review in France. Talking to friends about how things work in France had caused me to wonder whether some junior employee could raise his hand at some point and say, "But what about this?". I got the feeling this just would not normally happen, and might have bad consequences for the hand-raiser if it did.
And I saw evidence that this was the case. Many simple things get missed.
Philippe Chatrier Stadium is one of the key Roland Garros venues during the French Open and I enjoyed most of a day there. Except for a couple of small points.
For those of us with lower level seats there was one set of washrooms. Imagine my surprise to find that the track from the major collection of seats into the men's washroom had to cross the track assigned in and out of the players' special area.
This does not on the face of it sound too bad. After all there are not many players.
Unfortunately there are hundreds of young kids who want autographs from players and they have only this place to try to get them after they have failed to get them on court.
Suffice it to say that if you are male and need to get to the men's room in Philippe Chatrier Stadium, do not have any silly notion that you can reach your goals in any reasonable time, or even at all without knocking a child over.
Clearly nobody held his hand up in that meeting and said. "errr...", or maybe he/she did and just got rejected as uncertified.

Another amusing point. Aftr an hour in my seat I shifted a bit and noticed some resistance, so I looked and noted that the curved plastic seat I was in had a break in it. As I was there early, I was able to determine that ALL of the seats anywhere near mine were also broken. And the reason was clear - the curved plastic seats sit on very straight metal braces, that clearly force them to break should any weight get into the seats (which surely is why they are there).

More perhaps in some later post about the design of Metro cars, which also seems theoretical and somewhat unpractical. Do all our cultures fit the stereotypes?


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