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The Atomic Chef: And Other True Tales of Design, Technology, and Human Error 1st Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0963617866
ISBN-10: 0963617869
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Frequently Bought Together

  • The Atomic Chef: And Other True Tales of Design, Technology, and Human Error
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  • Set Phasers on Stun: And Other True Tales of Design, Technology, and Human Error
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  • Introduction to Human Factors Engineering (2nd Edition)
Total price: $238.67
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"The Atomic Chef" is the new companion book to Steven Casey's "Set Phasers on Stun and Other True Tales of Design, Technology, and Human Error."

About the Author

Steven M. Casey, Ph.D., is President and Principal Scientist at Ergonomic Systems Design, Inc., a human factors research and design firm in Santa Barbara, California. He received his formal education in psychology and engineering from the University of California and North Carolina State University. His work has covered a range of products, systems, and settings, including aircraft interiors, industrial control centers, nuclear power plants, oil-field machinery, portable electronic devices, automobile controls, agricultural and construction machinery, entertainment operations, and recreation and retail facilities. He travels extensively, and has completed projects for clients in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, and Japan. The objective of his work is to help make things, especially things involving advanced technology, easier and safer for people to use. He is the two-time recipient of the Alexander C.! Williams, Jr. Award for outstanding human factors design contributions, and he has received a number of BusinessWeek/IDEA Gold awards for product design.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Aegean; 1 edition (January 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0963617869
  • ISBN-13: 978-0963617866
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #277,451 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This anthology of 20 brilliantly written true stories should be of special interest to anyone dealing with technology management or product development, but it also would be enjoyed by any lay reader. As a well-known expert and writer on human factors engineering and human error, Steven Casey has obviously selected these stories because each subtly educates the reader about the role of the user interface in system failure, but also because each is tremendously interesting.

Although each chapter stands solidly on its own, a few stand prominent in my own mind due to personal interests. "Rhymes and Reasons" is a beautifully written story of musician John Denver's fatal flight in a new aircraft. Although an accomplished pilot, Denver's piloting skills were no match for a confusing set of aircraft controls and displays in his just-purchased home-built plane. The story makes the clearest case possible for the importance of good user interface design and ergonomics, and like all the stories in the book this one is thoroughly researched and referenced.

In addition to aviation and aerospace settings, the stories address transportation, maritime, medical, and various everyday events in contemporary life. Particularly poignant is "Event Horizon," a disturbing accident involving a child and an MRI machine in a New York hospital. In hindsight, the reader understands the procedures and barriers that must be in place when dealing with powerful new technologies like this.

Casey throws some truly hilarious stories in the mix to break up the pattern of predictability inherent in a book on error and disaster, and this approach works well. But, overall, be forewarned: the author is skilled at putting the reader in the "pilot's seat" to experience the confusion, shock, and terror that can occur when technology and human behavior conflict. I highly recommended this book.
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Format: Hardcover
I'd been waiting years for another work from Dr. Steven Casey (president of and creative drive behind Ergonomic Systems Design) ever since I finished 'Set Phasers on Stun' years ago. Being in the medical field, I am continually aware of human error and the disasters to which it can easily lead. This book, comprised of twenty-some short stories, each unique and standing on their own, ranges from the dramatic to the comical, but all driving home the valuable lesson of usability as well as the basics of simple human behavior. I was particularly intrigued by the tale of one of the largest mistakes to ever be made in the field of epidemiology and vaccination, where the translation of batch size of the fledgling polio vaccine did not manage to produce a fully inactivated shot for hundreds of school children. But I was just as pulled in by the story of John Denver's plane crash, also caused by design error - the controls and gauges were poorly designed, and the world lost an amazing musical voice due to an obvious design oversight. Casey's narrative voice precisely describes the background of each story as well as the minute-by-minute breakdown of how each disaster unfolded he leaves the haunting conclusions and implications of each short story to be made by the reader. A must-read of 2006.
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Format: Hardcover
I just finished reading "The Atomic Chef" and found it difficult to put down. I simply couldn't resist finding out what unexpected consequence or turn of events was around the next corner.

This is an absolute must read if you are in any way involved with the development of new products or services. Sometimes things don't go as planned despite everyone's best efforts. Like the bumper sticker says, "stuff" happens. This book gets into the stuff to reveal what really happened. The author painstakingly researches and recounts the real story behind mismatches in people and technology.

If you like fairy tale endings this may not be the book for you. However, if you are interested in learning the true details behind real world events, I highly recommend the Atomic Chef. In contrast to more traditional Human Factors books or case studies, the Atomic Chef presents enjoyable and eminently readable accounts of actual events.

Little things can make a big difference, I'd recommend The Atomic Chef's cautionary tales to any student or professional interested in learning more about the relationship between people and technology.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Fascinating stories on human stupidity, negligence, incompetence and lack of common sense that ends up costing people's lives. Anyone involved with Engineering, Sciences or Maintenance needs to read this book. Actually everyone should read this book to understand human failings and why no one should ever take safety for granted. Every day people die needlessly and this book details how and why.

I really commend the author for bringing these stories to print and hope that it may save some lives.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is an impressive collection of well written episodes that reflects the author's vast knowledge of the subject of human and design error. I came away with a sobering reminder of the complexity of our interaction with technology and with a much greater understanding of the need for human factors engineering. I would reccomend the book to specialist and nonspecialist alike.
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