Home | Shorter Path | About Me
Home
About Me
RSS Feed

Planners (you know you want it)

Archive

2004

01

02

03

04

05

06

07

08

09

10

11

12

 

2005

01

02

03

04

05

06

07

08

09

10

11

12

 

2006

01

02

03

04

05

06

07

08

09

10

11

12


Blogroll
 
Borland
Allen Bauer
Anders Ohlsson
Chris Bensen
Malcolm Groves
Michael Swindell
Steve Trefethen
Borland Blogs
TeamB
TeamB Blog Server
Nick Hodges
Other
Algorithms for the Masses
Brad Abrams
Chris Brumme
Chris Pratley
Dan Miser
Don Box
Falafel Flogs
iunknown.com
Joel on Software
Matt Pietrek
Suzanne Cook
The Daily WTF
The New Old Thing
Wintellog

Please, don't help

Thursday, May 06, 2004 06:44 PM

So there I was, minding my own business and trying to get some work done, when all of a sudden Windows pops up this atrocity:

This is wrong in so many levels.

For starters, let's consider the idea behind this message. Windows, it appears, has decided I'm so feeble minded that I cannot even notice the icons placed (by me, of course) directly in front of me. Operating systems are very sensitive, you know, so out of compassion Windows gently pops up an intrusive window, along with a heart-warming warning sign icon, to call my attention to the rapid decay of my brain.

After subtly insulting me (a capability I appreciate in humans, not machines), if offers me a rich variety of actions I can take to remedy the horrible neglect I have inflicted on my poor desktop. I can either click the balloon to run the desktop cleanup wizard, or -- oh, wait, that's it.

Bravely, I decide to bet: I click the little X hoping it would make the damn thing go away, which thankfully it does. I wonder how many users actually find that button and dare push it - especially since it's placed on the very same balloon that claims clicking it would start the wizard.

Of course, I can't work now. My only purpose in life at this time is to find the setting for this little popup from hell, and make it disappear forever - hopefully, screaming in pain. It's conveniently buried in the "Desktop Items" dialog box, invoked by clicking the "Customize Desktop" button at the bottom of the "Desktop" page of the "Display Properties" dialog box. Someone obviously screwed-up and forgot to make this accessible only through the registry.

It appears the people behind Clippy have found a new way to demonstrate their creativity. Clippy (indeed, the whole Office Assistant idea) was a poor implementation of an interesting, but questionable, idea: people tend to anthropomorphize computers, so an interface you could react to emotionally would encourage you to learn and use your computer. Chris Pratley has some information about this you may find interesting.

There were many, many things wrong the Clippy and its gang of digitized delinquents, but worst of all was its intrusiveness. This isn't limited to special novelty user interfaces or popup party accessories, to all popup messages. As Raymond Chen notes, people don't respond well to warning dialogs: they'll do anything they can to make them go away. In other words, the default answer to every dialog box is "Cancel". Apparently someone at Microsoft figured that out, so instead of avoiding unnecessary popup messages, they made it harder to cancel them. Brilliant.

|

Copyright 2004 Yorai Aminov