### Strange Device

Here's a little exercise in reading a machine when the text is corrupted:

 (From M.S. Mahoney) A friend of mine recently purchased this item and then returned it. What is it, and why was she dissatisfied? Any explanation for the defect? Respond

From Nicolas Janberg
Looks like a timer used for cooking, however, the minutes are in a very strange order: the black numbers are off by 30 minutes counter-clockwise, the red ones are in the right place.
From Dwight Patterson
I think the red numbers are the ones in the wrong place. It seems that if each red number were switched with the red one across from it, the device might make more sense. (i.e. not be defective). But then it also appears that the dial may have been put on upside down. This way the numbers make a bit more sense, though the 30 and 0 would still have to be switched for it to fit my theory: red numbers tell user how much time has passed out of sixty minutes (i.e. at 15 minute mark, the machine reads '45') and the black numbers tell how much time is left on the timer.
This is a confusing machine!
Comment from MSM: Would it be confusing if the numbers were in sequence?
From Ben Urquhart
The numbers on this timer are different from what one would normally expect them to be. This is probably why she was dissatisfied. The purchase differed from her expectation. Whether or not it still kept accurate time is another matter. It is surprising that in todays consumer society that such an object would reach the final market with this obvious error. Is this something other than a simple hour timer?
Comment from MSM: It is simply a one-hour kitchen timer, produced abroad. Given the way the face is produced, the error has to have been repeated in at least one entire run. It would be interesting to know if the affected timers got boxed without anyone's seeing their dials. The boxes would presumably show a standard picture, with the dial correct.
Steve Walton
I don't necessarily think that the entire production run need have been affected. It seems to me that the error was that after the black numbers had been stamped and inked, the red numbers were struck, but with the dial fed to the second stamping machine turned 180 degrees (Notice also how the tick marks at 15 and 45 are offset from the midpoints between 14&16 and 44&46). The form of the knob (sans numerals) seems to be symmetrical, so a machine would have no way of distinguising whether or not the part were inserted correctly. I think this could have been a one-off that could have easily been missed, rather than an entire production run.

Still, in speaking to a friend who has lived abroad in the Pacific Rim countries, he tells me that arabic numerals are not common at all in Taiwan (perhaps the point of origin for this time?), so it is not inconcievable that the machine operators would not have been able to read the numbers and tell that they were out of order. Still, one would assume that someone in the production stream (as compared to the design stream) would be English- literate to catch the error.