back to article Your software hates you and your devices think you're stupid

“I want you to kill Barbra Streisand.” Yup, no problem, I’ll enjoy doing that. Anyone else? “Kylie Minogue. And bloody Madonna, I can’t stand her any more.” Consider them bumped off. It’s sounding a little misogynistic, though. Are you sure? “Leave Chaka Khan alone.” Fine, Chaka survives to sing another day. Anyone else …

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  1. Rameses Niblick the Third Kerplunk Kerplunk Whoops Where's My Thribble? Silver badge

    User interfaces in 2018:

    "OK Google, play the one that goes 'duh duh duuuuuh, duh duh duh duuuuuuuhh, duh duh duh, duh-duh duuuuuuhhh'"

    "OK, I'll play the Scooby Doo Theme Tune"

    "Goddamn it Google!"

    Now That's What I Call Progress®

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: User interfaces in 2018:

      Beethoven's Fifth.

    2. Little Mouse

      Re: User interfaces in 2018:

      The theme-tune to "Heidi"?

    3. smudge Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: User interfaces in 2018:

      If the last bit was simply "duh duuuuuuhhh" it would be the tune banned from all geetar shops - "Smoke On The Water".

      Icon of Montreux Casino burning down to the ground...

      1. Is It Me

        Re: User interfaces in 2018:

        I thought it was the theme to the A-Team

      2. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: User interfaces in 2018:

        "the tune banned from all geetar shops"

        heh - the list of 'forbidden songs' is short, but distinguished.

        (guitar)

        1. Stairway to Heaven (the worst, when played poorly)

        2. Smoke on the Water

        3. Sweet Home Alabama

        (piano/keyboard)

        1. Alex Foley's theme from Beverley Hills Cop

        2. Bach's Fugue in D Minor

        3. Heart and Soul

        4. Chopsticks

        5. Those Endearing Young Charms (also good for xylophone)

        yeah, NOBODY every shows off trying to play THOSE...

  2. Noonoot

    "At this point, I frantically press at FF multiple times to get to track 10. Or is it 9? Silly me, I know the song names and their sequence but never got around to memorising their individual track number. Damn, some idiot added some “rare bootlegs” in the middle so I have to keep pressing and now I’ve gone past the end and find myself back at track 1 again."

    What? Do you mean your CD player isn't intelligent enough to know what you want just from you pressing the buttons?

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      ""At this point, I frantically press at FF multiple times to get to track 10. Or is it 9? Silly me, I know the song names and their sequence but never got around to memorising their individual track number. Damn, some idiot added some “rare bootlegs” in the middle so I have to keep pressing and now I’ve gone past the end and find myself back at track 1 again."

      Maybe it's time for a Kickstarter to design and produce an IoT and cloud connected, AI augmented, voice controlled with facial recognition, CD player for Dabbsy.

      Then he could connect to it with his smartphone with the selfy lens on from the pub and mumble the required track and the AI voice control would figure out the correct track and play it. If it doesn't work it won't matter because he'll be in the pub.

    2. Unicornpiss Silver badge
      Happy

      What goes around comes around..

      "Damn, some idiot added some “rare bootlegs” in the middle so I have to keep pressing and now I’ve gone past the end and find myself back at track 1 again."

      Or, if you have a multi-disc changer and you go past the end, you can then enjoy pushing the disc select button, waiting for the carousel or magazine to get around to going back to your original disc, then end up back on track 1 of your disc.

  3. LDS Silver badge

    AFAIK audio CD has no way to name songs...

    ... but my 1990s Technics CD player has a keypad to enter the track number directly (on the remote).

    IIRC you need hybrid audio/data CD to store track titles also (they could also come with embedded rootkits, like Sony did...) - otherwise you had to refer to the album cover - just you did with LPs - where lowering the head precisely on the right groove separating two songs was a skill you had to acquire.

    1. windy_miller

      Re: AFAIK audio CD has no way to name songs...

      Yes there is, its called CD-Text

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CD-Text

      However, even though my CD player supported it, I only ever owned one CD that used it (Wheatus' eponymously titled debut album). I have no idea it never caught on.

      1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

        Re: AFAIK audio CD has no way to name songs...

        Many stereos supported the feature but the only CDs I remember seeing with CD-Text were CD-Rs.

      2. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
        Terminator

        Re: AFAIK audio CD has no way to name songs...

        @windy_miller- Could be worse, I have a CD of a Mongolian children's choir which I uploaded to my media server and found had the Artist "Dixie Chicks". Much hilarity whenever it comes up on a playlist (for small values of hilarity).

        I assume the CD mastering kit was once used for a Dixie Chicks album, and no-one could be arsed to change the info. Icon: our final defence against the robopocalypse will be Bad Data.

    2. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: AFAIK audio CD has no way to name songs...

      Audio CDs do have a way to include track titles. It's part of the CD standard and everything. You're just unaware of it because so many commercial CDs refuse to actually use it.

      1. cambsukguy

        Re: AFAIK audio CD has no way to name songs...

        Almost all the CDs my gf has bought recently, at least four, have track titles.

        And they show up on my car CD Player (Sony), her car CD Player (JVC) and the kitchen one (Panasonic).

        It would appear CD track titles are alive and well.

  4. BoldMan

    Thats why you play CDs on a PC which then looks up the CD online and displays a list of tracks (on the CD you have most of the time!)

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      >> Thats why you play CDs on a PC

      My computer is a laptop. It has no CD player. So what you're saying is that I should buy a new PC just to play music? On top of the cost of amp, speakers etc? Can you not see how hopelessly complicated this is?

      1. TheProf

        Re: >> Thats why you play CDs on a PC

        "buy a new PC just to play music"

        You could pop into Argos and buy an external DVD writer. With even more cables think of the fun you'll have.

      2. Mr Youmustbe Fuckingjoking

        Re: >> Thats why you play CDs on a PC

        Easiest to buy the CD, place in attic, download from piratebay

      3. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: >> Thats why you play CDs on a PC

        My giant laptop has a CD player in it, it's set to rip anything I play on it into MP3 and dump it in the music library.

        I get a lot of new CDs given to me and have bought a lot of old stuff at our local equivalent of a boot fair, so far I have in excess of 5000 tracks on there, about two weeks of continuous listening if I get a really severe bout of insomnia.

    2. Dave K Silver badge

      >> "Thats why you play CDs on a PC which then looks up the CD online and displays a list of tracks (on the CD you have most of the time!)"

      No, that's why you put the CD into your computer *once*, open your favourite ripping tool (which adds the track names) and then dump the tracks to your PC before hiding the CD away in a dark and forgotten cupboard. Then every time you want to listen to that music again, no finding the right CD, loading it, waiting for it to spin up etc, just select the MP3 and away you go.

      MP3s (or whatever format you use) have made the management of lots of music a lot easier than the olden days with several dozen CD racks...

      1. VinceH Silver badge

        ">> "Thats why you play CDs on a PC which then looks up the CD online and displays a list of tracks (on the CD you have most of the time!)"

        No, that's why you put the CD into your computer *once*, open your favourite ripping tool (which adds the track names) and then dump the tracks to your PC before hiding the CD away in a dark and forgotten cupboard."

        The missing step in that is correcting the track names because whoever added it to the online database (or someone who subsequently updated it) got them wrong.

        1. Kevin Johnston

          To be fair, the track names they entered were exactly what was on the CD cover but that is because they ripped it from a CD they got from a friend of a mate of a cousin who worked in Taiwan for a few months and had 'contacts'.

          1. David Nash Silver badge

            correcting the titles

            And for some reason the first CD of a double album always uses a completely different naming convention to indicate which disc it is, from the second CD from the same album.

            And some people put the artist's name in the track name, especially if it's a collaboration.

            etc. etc.

            1. D@v3

              Re: Artist name in track titles.

              ONLY if it is a collaboration. otherwise, you end up with some albums where there are single tracks scattered all over the place in different Artist folders because track one is "The Guy + and some other guy" track two is "The Guy + and this one dude" for 11 tracks.

              If you do, "Track 1, feat some other guy" by "The Guy" sorts all that out.

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I put a CD in my computer once, and immediately got pwnd by a company whose name rhymes with "Phony". Had to get a rootkit removed before I could even play an mp3. Evidently S^hPhony decided they were entitled to run whatever the hell they wanted on my system. Granted, this was back in 2003 or so, but I'm still ph^h^hsore about it

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          FFS! Give it a rest. That was over 12 years ago. I think they've all committed seppuku by now.

    3. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Holmes

      CD?

      That's why you rip your CDs to FLAC, which then go to crowd out the asinine Powerpoints and incomprehensible Word docs colleagues, management and 'partner' companies send you[0]. Software turning these FLACs into audio signals tend to be able to collect info from the Internet and rename the file anonymously named Track0010.FLC to Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin II - 10 - Bring It On Home.FLC if the ripping software didn't bother to do so already.

      For this you do need a CD or DVD drive, but after you're done ripping you can put it in the drawer together with its interface cable, so that it can be in the way when you try to find the interface cable for your PalmPilot that may have an ancient contact that you need to call just now, or the SmartMedia reader for the camera that a series of photos are still on that would clear up a disagreement.

      [0] which you have to keep to allow you to figure out any changes in plans, requirements, schedules and specifications over time as they creep in and deviate from the original as agreed upon.

  5. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Hang the UX designer

    Any advance in computing is done despite them, not because of them.

    If you are a UX designer, I'm now going to tell you what your job is:

    Are you designing a piece of software?

    - Stick to the OS GUI's way of doing things.

    Are you designing an OS GUI?

    - Don't do obviously stupid things like ribbons, TIFKAM, or invisible controls. If you're from MS, make it look like Windows 7, if you're from Apple make it look like Snow Leopard.

    Do you want to make some browser webapp?

    - If you must, but stop trying to make it some huge Web 2.0 jquery recreation of an OS GUI with invisible controls, drag and drop, and 1001 other things that slow the browser to a crawl.

    Are you on the iTunes team?

    - Stay there, we don't want your kind getting your hands on the increasingly dwindling amount of usable software.

    1. AustinTX

      Re: Hang the UX designer

      Agreed, I hate controls which are invisible until you happen to mouse over them!

      1. Steve the Cynic Silver badge

        Re: Hang the UX designer

        Agreed, I hate controls which are invisible until you happen to mouse over them!

        Those are bad. The ones that remain invisible even when you mouse over them are worse.

        1. Daedalus Silver badge

          Re: Hang the UX designer

          I do embedded software, which means I deal with design-happy blue sky people and write bare metal code to make it all happen. I tell them "Go to the nearest photocopier. What's on the control panel is what has worked for 25+ years with uneducated users. Use what you see there, and nothing else. If you can make your stuff do its thing with the user just pressing a Big Green Button, then do it".

          Of course they don't.

        2. Teiwaz Silver badge

          Re: Hang the UX designer

          Agreed, I hate controls which are invisible until you happen to mouse over them!

          Those are bad. The ones that remain invisible even when you mouse over them are worse.

          Exactly who thought that was a good idea...?

          Turn you work OS into a DVD menu easter egg experience...

    2. DJV Silver badge

      "Stick to the OS GUI's way of doing things."

      Hmm, if only that were true when targetting Windows - do you use the XP/Win7 way, the utterly "innovative" (ha ha) Win8 way or the total free-for-all/it-will-probably-look-different-next-week mess that is Windows 10?

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: "Stick to the OS GUI's way of doing things."

        "Hmm, if only that were true when targetting Windows - do you use the XP/Win7 way, the utterly "innovative" (ha ha) Win8 way or the total free-for-all/it-will-probably-look-different-next-week mess that is Windows 10?"

        Ah, this is an all or nothing deal, not a la carte. He covered that with

        "If you're from MS, make it look like Windows 7"

      2. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: "Stick to the OS GUI's way of doing things."

        there used to be an IBM standard for GUI user interfaces. When I bought the Windows 3.0 SDK back in the day, it came with a box of book including THAT one. It defined things like the appearance of dialog boxes and list boxes and expected hot-keys and things of that nature. Some standards have shifted [we're more like Apple now than IBM] but the gist is still the same.

        "User Hostile" interfaces, however, are like 'Settings' on Win-10-nic: Too many clicks, too many layers, too much screen real estate taken up by white space with light blue "controls" [read: poor contrast], and only a VERY limited amount of information on 'this screen' with too many choices to make between where you are and where you want to be... [and if you're lucky, they won't "circle jerk" on you].

        1. jMcPhee

          Re: "Stick to the OS GUI's way of doing things."

          Yeah, things were better before the UX designers started thinking that clicking was part of the entertainment. They even made a name for it: "user experience." Which is a polite way of saying "UX circle jerk".

        2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

          @ bombastic bob

          I am interested by your reference to IBM. First of all, because I still have the DOS 1.0 manuals I got with my first-ever x86 PC, and I still hold those manuals to be the best ever written manuals that I have ever read. Clear, concise, understandable and useful. There is not one useless page in that manual.

          Second, because I clearly remember a Microsoft paper that was circulated in the 1990s (well, after 1995) where I was told to pay attention to the GUI elements, and I specifically remember notes about paying attention to color codes (red does not hold the same significance for Western cultures as it does for other ones) and, most importantly, a rule that was drummed into our heads : if your menu depth goes beyond three levels, You Are Doing It Wrong (TM).

          Unfortunately, I did not keep this piece of history, but I still remember its precepts.

        3. onefang Silver badge

          Re: "Stick to the OS GUI's way of doing things."

          Commodore published an "AMIGA User Interface Style Guide" in 1991. My annotated copy is sitting on my desk right now. It was rather good.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hang the UX designer

      +1 just on the basis of "increasingly dwindling", but yeah, what you said!

    4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Hang the UX designer

      If you're from MS, make it look like Windows 7 2000

      FTFY. Anything later than that started to get a bit bloated. The same look can be achieved on KDE pre-5.

    5. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Hang the UX designer

      "Are you designing an OS GUI?

      - Don't do ... [snip]"

      Actually the correct answer to this one is just "Don't.".

      We already have perfectly adequate OS GUIs and you'll just upset people if you change everything again.

    6. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Hang the UX designer

      It's not the designer it's their boss/client.

      Every damn time.

  6. sandman

    Genuine Senior Management Quote

    "Our software is so user-friendly that training won't be necessary". That went well. (It actually took about 5 days classroom training to become moderately incompetent with it and a lot of practice and experience to do anything remotely useful).

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Genuine Senior Management Quote

      The one I got a dozen years ago from my then-boss was "Well, soon all software will be delivered through the browser and nobody will need to be taught anything except how to use the browser." Christ on a fucking Raleigh Chopper! I had to explain it to him several times very slowly, but I still don't think he got it. When the department's IT Trainer retired later that year it was six years before he appointed a replacement.

    2. Johan Bastiaansen

      Re: Genuine Senior Management Quote

      My friend told me this. The company he's working for is being "integrated" with 2 others. They all use different software and it will be replaced by completely new software. As the firms have different maintenance contracts for their current software, management has cleverly optimized the transition, so they will save 30.000 € on maintenance invoices.

      This means that nearly 100 people will have to be trained with the new software twice. You heard that right, they're going from software A to software B, then finally to software D in a period of six months.

      Oh, and also the database will have to be converted twice.

      1. rskurat

        Re: Genuine Senior Management Quote

        And the lost time/efficiency, no doubt, was never figured into the calculations. I need to get an MBA, almost as effective as a lobotomy.

      2. Loud Speaker

        Re: Genuine Senior Management Quote

        the database will have to be converted twice.

        If you are lucky, the original will be left on a USB stick in a London train terminus - you are going to need a backup!

  7. Terry 6 Silver badge

    There's an island somewhere...

    On it they train designers to design consumer devices. None of these people have any idea about the rest of the world. None of them have used or will ever use the types of device they are designing.

    For them a dishwasher needs only to be able to fit plates, no one has told them about soup or cereal. A cooker will have an automatic timer switch that can only be set or cancelled by pressing a randomly selected sequence of three buttons from a panel of five - all labelled with things that are totally unrelated to timer switches. Toasters will have slots just too narrow for a bit of crusty bread, but with a gap at the bottom just big enough to trap the bits of bread that fall down when they are shredded trying to remove the remains of the burnt slices. Car seat belts will not retract fully after the first use and dangle in the doors waiting to get trapped. Serial numbers will be placed at the back of large or unmovable machines, or even better finely engraved into stainless steel inside the door rendering it totally invisible (or both). Phones will have buttons running parallel on both sides, so that pressing the one on the right means you also press the one on the left. Or even better, be like the older Kindle and have two buttons on the right both for going on a page, and two on the left for going back a page, rather than having a forward and back on each side. Or the keyboards that all have the caps lock right next to the a key, so that any bit of fT FINGERED typing..... And so it goes.

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