Sunday, April 17, 2011

How to Fix a Jammed Toyota Camry Trunk

This problem needs a higher pagerank, so I figured I would post the solution here.

If your Toyota Camry trunk won't open, one possible reason is that it is set to valet mode. Valet mode means that you cannot open the trunk using the release lever inside the car.

To set valet mode, you put the key into the trunk lock and turn it counterclockwise. You will know that your trunk is in valet mode if the lock is horizontal rather than vertical, and if you cannot open the trunk using the lever near the driver's seat.

Of course, a problem is that sometimes the Camry can get stuck in valet mode, such that you can't use your key to get out of it. (You can see how I spent part of my Sunday morning ...)

The solution turns out to be WD-40. Spray some WD-40 on your key and on the lock. Put the key in, and jiggle it around, and happiness ensues.

From an interaction design perspective, it sort of makes sense to have a valet mode. After all, the point of having a valet key is to limit the functions that an untrusted person can use. On the other hand, in the roughly 20 years I've driven a car, I pretty much never remember to bring the valet key with me, and have only valet parked at most three times. I suspect valet mode has caused more problems than actually solved.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Interesting Failure of Wisdom of Crowds

Like many others, my NCAA bracket went terribly awry this year and I have no teams in the Final Four. However, it did make me think that this is a really interesting failure of wisdom of crowds. According to ESPN:

More than 5.9 million brackets were filled out for ESPN.com's Tournament Challenge, but exactly two went 4-for-4 in picking Final Four teams.

Only 1,093 brackets had three of the Final Four correct, while 2.1 percent had two right. A total of 27.6 percent had one Final Four team, while the vast majority of you -- 70.3 percent -- don't have a single team left.