back to article Why do GUIs jump around like a demented terrier while starting up? Am I on my own?

“For heaven’s sake, stop waggling it in my face! Kuh-rist, keep still! Right – you’ve asked for it!” Alerted by the commotion, colleagues struggle to hold me back as I try to give my computer the damn good kicking it deserves. That’s unfair: the computer itself didn’t deserve such rough treatment. More importantly, it is not …

  1. Unicornpiss Silver badge
    Meh

    Microsoft time

    Re. progress bars, I've always felt that if Microsoft tells you that you have only 6 months to live, you'll either expire in the next 15 seconds or be around to see the next epoch.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Microsoft time

      I'm curious - what's the longest "X hours remaining" any of you folk have seen Windows display?

      We can't post scteenshots here, but we will trust you!

      1. Mage Silver badge

        Re: Microsoft time

        About 56 hrs

        1. Marshalltown

          Re: Microsoft time

          Actually, Microsoft isn't the only random "time-to..." reporter. I ran an "update" of Opensuse from 13.2 to LEAP 42.2. The "time left" randomly flicked around from in excess of five days worth of 24-hour days to 2 minutes in random fashion. Ultimately it took six hours. Even so I went back and ran a clean install to get thing running sanely. So - as pleasurable as it is to blame Microsoft, they were merely trend setters. I can't even find a decent desktop look now. For some silly reason the developers of KDE have concluded that someone actually likes the cartooney Windows 10 and cell phone look. They never asked me though.

          1. truetalk

            Re: Microsoft time

            Totally agree re the KDE default look, what are they thinking ?

            1. Delbert Grady

              Re: Microsoft time

              KDE died when it went to version 4.

              bastards .

      2. Mage Silver badge

        Re: Microsoft time

        Of course there is an XKCD

      3. gerdesj Silver badge

        Re: Microsoft time

        I recall a download (14400 modem) progress estimate that managed >100,000 somethings remaining.

        It doesn't really matter what the time unit actually was and I recall seeing it several times and having a snigger about "MS time".

      4. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        Zombie hard disk

        I really must get diagnostics on my media library external USB hard disk - replacement purchased: the sick disk rattles while reading files, and sometimes just stops - file unreadable. And at this point, the remaining time (Windows 10) goes from minutes to days. Or it may be "more than one day". Eventually, an error message does appear.

        Re dancing interface... I'd approve a general rule that a user interface element can't be clicked or keyed when it has only just appeared on the screen. I don't know if that could be done without rewriting the OS. Maybe with a third-party utility that spots the screen or the focus changing and then blocks inputs for a couple of seconds, beeps at you instead.

        1. taxythingy

          Re: Zombie hard disk

          Re: general rule that UI element can't be clicked when it just appeared.

          Eh, what? Do you realise that is going to piss nearly everyone off nearly every day to fix an infrequent problem of the few?

          How about a blanket OS rule that shit apps can't grab focus unless the last user command was to launch that app? How about shit devs go die in large holes rather than allowing elements to move after display, unless user directed?

          NB: last coffee was three hours ago and ive got kids inside on a rainy day. It is possible my tolerance is lower than normal.

          1. Mark 85 Silver badge

            @taxythingy - Re: Zombie hard disk

            NB: last coffee was three hours ago and ive got kids inside on a rainy day. It is possible my tolerance is lower than normal.

            Nah... you're just a normal tech type who's spent too long in the trenches. I think any of us who have been doing this more than year are like that. In WWII, they called it "combat fatigue".

            1. Arctic fox
              Joke

              @Mark 85 Re: "In WWII, they called it "combat fatigue"."

              It is possible that what they called it in WWI is even more appropriate in this context. "Shell shock"

          2. Adam 1 Silver badge

            Re: Zombie hard disk

            > How about a blanket OS rule that shit apps can't grab focus unless the last user command was to launch that app?

            I've written software that needs to grab focus (yeah we all claim that). In my case, it is in response to a biometric hardware events​, so you need the "interruptions" and you are pretty forgetful if you don't remember presenting yourself for authentication under a second earlier.

            Just here to point out that Microsoft have made this harder to achieve over the years. Back in win 9x, there was a pretty simple call. It got abused. They then changed what it did in XP to flash the window orange and introduced some other method to do it. That got abused too. So i think they just dropped support for that. There is an always on top mode that the OS these days basically ignores too.

            I'm not going to share publicly how it gets achieved, but it's a big waste of everyone's time but at least bofh would get a snigger. All they needed from the get go was a control panel applet where users could whitelist applications they want to do this and ignore the request from anything else.

            1. John Robson Silver badge

              Re: Zombie hard disk

              >> How about a blanket OS rule that shit apps can't grab focus unless the last user command was to launch that app?

              >I've written software that needs to grab focus (yeah we all claim that). In my case, it is in response to a biometric hardware events​,

              So that's a user command, it's just not a mouse/keyboard command.

              Rule not violated (in fact it is supported).

              Anything that want my attention can send a terminal bell, which can be represented by some audio and/or visual representation of a toddler.

              Flash the task bar button, IIRC MacOS does it by bouncing items in the dock.

              The PC speaker beep used to be a good option, but I'm not convinced they even exist any more on many machines...

              In any case the OS can have the appropriate response configured.

          3. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

            Re: Zombie hard disk

            "Re: general rule that UI element can't be clicked when it just appeared."

            "Eh, what? Do you realise that is going to piss nearly everyone off nearly every day to fix an infrequent problem of the few?

            "How about a blanket OS rule that shit apps can't grab focus unless the last user command was to launch that app? How about shit devs go die in large holes rather than allowing elements to move after display, unless user directed?"

            Punishing developers is attractive but sometimes I am one. A developer can't anticipate every circumstance where a program is used. On the other hand, sometimes the intruding message comes from the same application.

            I say that a new prompt or dialog shouldn't accept input until a user has had time to read what the prompt says, textually or iconically. If that means waiting a little longer while you're working.... how often aren't you doing that with your computer?

            Or how about this - a new dialog or whatever has to slide in quite slowly from the side of the screen to the centre, and until it gets there you are still typing in your original focus...

            ....or even, while you're typing, a new prompt isn't allowed to appear? Except by projecting noises at you.

            1. John Robson Silver badge

              Re: Zombie hard disk

              Slow doesn't help people who can touch type, and so are reading a document off to one side, typing away merrily only to find that some shitty app has decided to tonoffer a reboot, with the yes button as default

        2. cd / && rm -rf *

          Re: Zombie hard disk

          "blocks inputs for a couple of seconds, beeps at you instead"

          That'd be even more annoying than the jumping-around crap.

        3. cosmogoblin

          Re: Zombie hard disk

          "a user interface element can't be clicked or keyed when it has only just appeared on the screen"

          This exists. When installing extensions in Firefox, the install window needs focus for a couple of seconds before the "Install" button will activate. Until then it sits there greyed out - just long enough so you can't accidentally click to install malicious software, but not quite long enough to annoy you. Very well designed, but nobody else seems to have copied them.

      5. BlartVersenwaldIII
        Terminator

        Re: Microsoft time

        I don't have a screenshot (t'was lost in the mists of time), but back in about 2004 we were copying a bunch of files from a 250GB external hard drive - t'was a forensics dump of several million email messages all in single small files, typically 1-4kB in size (and over the brand-spanking-new USB2) - and from the number on screen the estimated completion time to begin with was longer than the current estimated age of the universe.

        This is the closest equivalent I could find with some google-fu, a scant 9 years.

        1. salamamba too

          Re: Microsoft time

          i remember this, but a few years earlier

      6. ArrZarr Silver badge

        Re: Microsoft time

        Trying to upload a 150 minute 1080p 60fps fraps file to skype over a 1Mbps upload speed (at the best of times) connection. 1.5 years.

        Admittedly, this was mainly to see how high that number would go.

      7. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: Microsoft time

        "I'm curious - what's the longest "X hours remaining" any of you folk have seen Windows display?"

        Sufficiently long that I was pretty confident the the HDD would die before the transfer completed is MS was to be believed (it was several decades, but is now so long ago (hey it might have finished) that I genuinely cannot remember exactly how ridiculous it got)

        (This would have been with Win95, maybe 98, with thin coax)

        1. Captain DaFt

          Re: Microsoft time

          "(This would have been with Win95, maybe 98, with thin coax)"

          Ah, Win 98! Back in the day, the latest version of Firebird no longer supported Win 3.11, so I reluctantly* decided to retire my old 486 after over a decades worth of use, and purchased a second hand PII machine with Win 98 loaded on it.

          Hooked up the two with a LapLink cable, and started transferring the hundreds of megabytes of files across.

          The transfer time was given as 1. (string of numbers)E(two digits) minutes!

          Left it running nights, and every night the 98 machine would crash, leaving the Win 3.11 machine waiting**.

          The transfer took the better part of three weeks.

          *I had beaten, bullied, and abused that machine into performing exactly how I wanted it to perform, I was loath to give it up.

          **Used Calmira as the UI on Win 3.11. It made it remarkably bulletproof. http://www.calmira.de/

          1. Michael Thibault

            Re: Microsoft time

            "Used Calmira as the UI on Win 3.11."

            Although the years won't release information on whether I used its predecessor, I did use Calmira II. Did you get to ride on a dinosaur before they went extinct, too?

            1. Captain DaFt

              Re: Microsoft time

              "Did you get to ride on a dinosaur before they went extinct, too?"

              Nah, I rode that dinosaur (486), long after it was supposed to be extinct! (until 2002) ☺

              Never had a computer/OS combo I liked as much since.

              1. P. Lee Silver badge

                Re: Microsoft time

                >Nah, I rode that dinosaur (486), long after it was supposed to be extinct!

                Was it as frustrating as having a 286 with 512k base memory and 512k extended memory and no way to get at the extended memory?

                Moving GUI elements? In my day, we 'ad an IBM text-only display... an' we were glad of it!

                But yes, I'm looking at you, iphone, with your "all appearing buttons shall be in this place, especially the 'reject call' button when pre-empting my current application."

                One of my favourites is MS having the menus alphabetically for (file) explorer, so "edit" and "delete" are next to each other.

                1. Delbert Grady

                  Re: Microsoft time

                  Yeah .. and Windows explorer' right click menu, 'Format' option is just pixels away from 'eject USB' in the menu, so a mis-click can see you about to format your USB data into oblivion instead of unmounting and removing it. dunno if thats still there in Win 8 / win 10 .. i gave up after 7 ..

      8. Rabbit80

        Re: Microsoft time

        Not sure what the longest I have seen is, but it was several decades..

        We run a scanning bureau and in the past we have had to dump several hundred million tiffs from one hard disk to another.. Through Windows this turned out to be so time consuming that in the end I just wrote a batch file and did it through dos / command prompt.. the copy took about a week that way!

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Microsoft time

          "I just wrote a batch file and did it through dos / command prompt.. the copy took about a week that way!"

          I hope you used xcopy instead of copy then! IIRC, copy did one file at a time, in 64KB chunks if the files were big. xcopy would fill a ram buffer with as much as possible then write it out, noticably faster on big files, but lots faster when coping many small files.

      9. Haku

        Re: Microsoft time

        "I'm curious - what's the longest "X hours remaining" any of you folk have seen Windows display?"

        Not strictly Windows, but it was on my Microsoft Xbox 360; for a while GTA Online was telling me that my average session time was over 584 million years...

        http://www.haku.co.uk/pics/GTAO-SessionTime.jpg

        1. esharpmajor

          Re: Microsoft time

          213504016584 days, 16 hours, 56 minutes and 40 seconds -> maximum 64-bit integer when expressed as milliseconds. Apparently GTA Online uses unsigned 64-bit ints to store play time?

        2. Netgeezer
          Trollface

          Re: Microsoft time

          Those last 40 seconds must have really taken the biscuit...

      10. Shadow Systems Silver badge

        @Dave, re: times.

        My favorite has always been when the timer shits itself & gives me a remaining time measured in negative numbers or, and this made me go crosseyed in confusion, alien looking symbols that I couldn't make heads nor tails of at all.

        "Let's see... that's a squiggle with horns, five radiating lines, & a splat effect... the symbol for roadkill perhaps? Ok, next rune... That's a... monkey being buggered by either a space alien or Tom Cruise... Rune 3 is, OH!, that's obviously the hubcap off an old VW Westfalia camper van!"

        I'd waste hours trying to figure out the math for negative numbers, or the "runes" on the "alien messages" in the progress bar.

        By the time I thought I'd figured them out, the bar would vanish & the program either start or crash.

        Does that count?

        1. Triggerfish

          Re: @Dave, re: times.

          They're epoch times.

          squiggle with horns, five radiating lines

          Cthulhu arrival event

          splat effect

          Post Cthulhu

          monkey being buggered by either a space alien or Tom Cruise

          Bacterial evolutionary phase

          OH

          Universe has recycled to original Hydrogen (restart error)

      11. Not That Andrew
        Windows

        Re: Microsoft time

        397680 minutes remaining. Just checked the sceenshot I did (about 276 days). About 15 years ago, at home, copying something to an extremely slow external HDD over USB (HDD supported Firewire but computer didn't).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Microsoft time

      sftp happily says that a big file has been sent much faster over the WAN link than physically possible and then is stays at 100% until the file has actually been delivered.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Unicornpiss

      Microsoft should not be taken too seriously. Back in the days it wasn't even uncommon for them to display warnings such as: "Unable to delete files: disk full" idiocy. If they can come up with something like that, then obviously a progress bar is waay too complex :)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @Unicornpiss

        > "Unable to delete files: disk full"

        And today you need ZFS to duplicate that problem.

      2. PeteA

        Re: @Unicornpiss

        What do you mean, "back in the day"? I routinely get this still on Win 8.1 (corporate install, not my choice). Combined with the other silly things like being able to checkout files with a path length >254 chars but then being unable to delete them. And of course, the all-time classic message "Access Denied" when you try to delete a file, which really means "Hey sucker, somebody else has it open and our file sharing model's broken".

    4. Bryan Hall

      Re: Microsoft time

      I always enjoyed it having negative time.

      So... it's already done - or what?

    5. andrewj

      Re: Microsoft time

      My Mac would tell me what % of my life remains, but not my current age.

    6. el_oscuro

      Re: Microsoft time

      It wasn't a progress bar, but an older POS that probably ran Windows XP. Buying about $30 dollars of stuff, and it rang up to $2,147,483,618.

    7. Tim99 Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Microsoft time

      I gave up using a browser to actually download stuff; and now copy "whatever" to the paste buffer and use curl -O http:/www.whatever... in a terminal window. I get a nice restful screen that shows how big the file is, how quickly it is downloading, how much has downloaded, and a reasonable estimation of how long the rest will take.

      Tools like curl and wget are roughly 20 years old. Why can't the GUI/Web people get something as basic as this right?

  2. Franco Silver badge

    Not just you Dabbsy, I was once looking at the network card properties of an ISA Server in Aberdeen and got the similar jump. And of course the disable button is next to the properties button, it's after lunch on a Friday afternoon, I'm in Stirling which is at best a 2 hour drive and the client whose server it is wouldn't splash the extra cash for iDRAC in his servers.

    Much sweet talking of the office manager got it sorted without a trek north thankfully.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "And of course the disable button is next to the properties button"

      A few years ago I was using xemacs which by default included a button bar of "frequent actions" that in reality I rarely used. One day when moving between windows I think I was aware that I'd accidently clicked as I passed over this and had prbably selected "print buffer" but thought nothing of it. Next day someone sent an email around (fortunately they said they would not reveal names) suggesting that the person who had printed a rather large file might like to colelct their output and I had a sudden bad feeling. Went to the printer (a *big* Kodak network printer) to find a huge pile with my name on the coverr sheet - turned out xmeacs focus had been on a "buffer" where one of the modes I used was dumping copious diagnostic info which had been enough to cause the pritner to empty both its A4 paper bins (probably 1000 sheets each) and then decide that as it had no A4 left it better shift to A3 and emptied the A3 bin before running out things to print on!

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge
        Stop

        xemacs

        Schtop. I see your problem right there.

        Emacs is evil. The Spawn of Beelelzebub. The foetid aftersweat from the devils underwear.

        All hail the Might Vi!

        1. Alan_Peery

          vi and emacs -- the Janus faced god of editors

          The wise man sayeth:

          The manifold path of editing on the world of the file system is best followed by worshiping both aspects of the true editing god(s), vi AND EMACS.

  3. Ben1892

    I have always wondered why dialogue pop-ups never have a "wait" command to see if you're moving the mouse or typing at that very moment

    1. fuzzie

      Firefox has that count-down-to-install for installing plugins/extentions. It means you can't accidentally click on "Install" just because it happened to pop up as you hit space/enter. The bigger evils in my book are applications who believe they're so super important that they have to raise themselves to the foreground and/or insist on stealing focus from the entire desktop.

      That, combined with incremental rendering, makes for occasional crap shoot interactivity.

      1. Geoffrey W Silver badge

        RE: "Firefox has that count-down-to-install for installing plugins/extentions"

        I think that's a security thing rather than a helpful thing, otherwise they wouldn't bother doing it. It's so that anything with less cognitive ability than a human is less likely to install something behind the users back. A definition which fits several acquaintances.

        "I can't install this!"

        "What's happening?"

        "............Oh....Its working now."

      2. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Devil

        Application Arrogance

        "The bigger evils in my book are applications who believe they're so super important that they have to raise themselves to the foreground and/or insist on stealing focus from the entire desktop."

        I used to call that "Arrogance of the Application" or "Arrogance of the Software Developer". There were several key entries in the qualifications for such a description. If I listed them all it would be TLDR. Most of them describe Win-10-nic.

        And of course, having to resolve externals for 400 shared libs while dancing a splash screen around your monitor (for more than a few seconds) would qualify as ONE of those "application arrogance" qualifiers...

        [2 words: static linking. solves MOST load time problems, as well as midnight phone call problems when some stupid freeware CRapp (or windows update) updates shared libs and breaks YOUR application and it's YOUR fault now]

      3. DropBear Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Then again, I SWEAR the little "close tab" buttons on each Firefox tab jump right under my cursor with surgical precision each time I'm simply trying to switch to that tab...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I have always wondered why dialogue pop-ups never have a "wait" command to see if you're moving the mouse or typing at that very moment

      Yep. I tend to open my banking spreadsheet and the bank's webpage to log in. 50% of the time the password goes into the spreadsheet because Excel decided to grab focus, even though it was launched first.

    3. Petrea Mitchell

      Focus grabbers must die

      Slack is the most recent offender for me. Restart computer to allow patches to install, click a few things I always have open to let them get on with starting up, and when Slack was ready it jumped to the front and captured what I was currently typing. Which happened to be the end of my passphrase for my SSH key. Luckily it gave me just enough time for my conscious brain to stop me reflexively hitting Enter...

    4. rnturn

      A hold-over from the days of 'ol single-tasking DOS?

      Most developers sure don't seem to consider that you might be using the multi-

      tasking OS to, you know, /multitask/.

  4. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
    Trollface

    CP/M?

    You old fecker.

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: CP/M?

      I remember when having the ability to run CP/M was a fervent dream - the price of a Tube Z80 copro for my trusty BBC Micro put it far beyond my paltry means.

      So I just went back to playing Elite and pirati^Wresearching ROMS.

      1. P. Lee Silver badge

        Re: CP/M?

        Ah, Elite!

        Disk hex editor = military lasers

        1. Pedigree-Pete
          Happy

          Elite (Amiga)

          I played for years as Chewie to my friends' Han Solo. His daughter was called Sarah which got us into the Hex editor. We progressed more rapidly through the ranks and when promoted finally to Elite, we became an "Energy Bomb". I suppose that's simple justice for those willing to use "workarounds". :) PP

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: CP/M?

          Military lasers - or better,

          and don't forget a few extra credits while you are there.

          I got to --- E L I T E --- before I knew about the cheats though.

          RIGHT ON COMMANDER for your post!

    2. Down not across Silver badge

      Re: CP/M?

      Bdos Err on B: Bad Sector

  5. Immenseness
    Coat

    Read more

    Progress bars that are just an illusion are my pet hate. When it gets to 100% then just starts again. Worse than pointless.

    Dabbsy, I feel your pain mate and I am in total agreement. The swapping buttons are a nightmare and I hate trying to read while the text is moving about.

    Don't get me started on the click here to read more buttons. Why should I have to click because the developer has decided to show me 3 lines on my huge and otherwise blank screen and hide the rest behind a "read more" button? User interfaces? Bah!

    Mine's the one in the corner, no it is further up now, a bit to the left, oh it has just been hidden behind that advertising hoarding...

    1. DJO Silver badge

      Re: Read more

      "Don't get me started on the click here to read more buttons"

      Well they are hardly likely to label the button "click here to install sypware" are they now?

    2. Kubla Cant Silver badge

      Re: Read more

      Progress bars that are just an illusion are my pet hate.

      You'll love this then. I worked on an application that did lots of long-running database operations. The thing about those is that there's no real way to monitor progress, so I had to resort to Zeno's progress bar. In the first minute* it gradually increases to 50% done. In the second it goes to 75%. And so on, never actually reaching 100% until the result comes back from the database.

      * The actual time for each increment is based on an estimate of the likely total time. It's also a bit more convincing if the initial increment and the progression aren't 50%.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Read more

        When doing Windows app involving file actions (copying, processing), I use a pessimizing progress bar.

        If it's less than 50%, it multiplies the time left by 1.5, between 50% and 75% by 1.25, 75% to 95% by 1.2, then actual time after 95% - it makes the user THINK that the software is going faster than it really is, because it seems to speed up.

    3. Wensleydale Cheese

      Re: Read more

      "Don't get me started on the click here to read more buttons."

      Oh this, very much this.

      Don't forget another click to "Read less", though quite why I should want to do that leaves me scratching my head in 99% of the cases.

      At its worst, "Read more" with a timeout. This one's a real beauty, because it reverts to the "Read less" version before you have finished reading. I'm looking at you Apple, here.

    4. John 110

      Re: Read more

      "Progress bars that are just an illusion are my pet hate. When it gets to 100% then just starts again. Worse than pointless."

      Are you talking about Business Objects?

      1. shade82000

        Re: Read more

        I don't like the progress bars they used since Win 7 that also have a diagonal left to right glimmer every few seconds.

        I can move a dialog to a screen not directly in front of me but in the corner of my vision, I automatically keep looking back at it every time it glimmers.

        It's really distracting and I'm sure they did it to make it seem like it's moving.

  6. Captain TickTock
    Pint

    This!

    F*cking This!

    You have earned your pint(s) for raising awareness of this insidious evil!

  7. Alister Silver badge

    Pet hate

    The Google search page. If I start a new tab in Firefox, the search box in Google's home page doesn't take focus, so I start typing only to look up and see a blank search box.

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: Pet hate

      But on the plus side, if you disable scripts for google.co.uk, it not only loads a lot faster, but it doesn't do the silly 'I'm guessing you mean...' trick behind the scenes. Of course, maps doesn't work, but that's an easy fix...

      1. Wensleydale Cheese

        Re: Pet hate - oh, you mentioned maps...

        "Of course, maps doesn't work, but that's an easy fix..."

        So I want to look up the opening or closing times of my local Post Office, or Coop, or other local outlet...

        Look,

        I DO NOT NEED A MAP.

        I KNOW WHERE THE BLOODY PLACE IS.

        I KNOW WHERE THE NEAREST PARKING SPOT IS.

        I JUST WANT THE FRIGGING OPENING AND CLOSING TIMES.

    2. GrumpyOldMan

      Re: Pet hate

      Mine too. Have a couple of upvotes sir! Was swaering at it this morning for just that.

    3. Alumoi

      Re: Pet hate

      If only there would be a search bar in FF. You know, some kind of small rectangle you can click on, type your search term, hit Enter and have a new tab opened with the results.

      Hmmm...

    4. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Pet hate

      <Obvious Mode=On>

      So don't use Google..

      </OM=Off>

  8. Philip Storry

    I once worked with a product which had an odd installer. The progress bar went straight to 100% very early on, but the installer then continued to install yet more stuff.

    By that I mean it was actually putting out messages telling you which files it was copying, or that it was updating the registry and so forth - despite the progress bar clearly being at 100%. It could happily go on for another minute or two, maybe longer if certain options were picked, and the progress bar was evidently completely divorced from the reality of the installation process.

    I got to speak to the developers of the product (about something else), and offhandedly asked them about this.

    "Oh, that's because the installer script only ever gets appended to. A decade ago, we just had the main module and a couple of optional ones. Now, we have loads more optional modules, and a number of new mandatory ones. Each new module was simply added to the end of the install script - nobody ever goes back to adjust the progress bar computations, because the risk of breaking something when editing the old script entries is high and the benefit is low. As a server based product, very few people see the installer anyway, so we're just never going to fix that."

    Well, kudos for them for not taking risks, I suppose...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Delayed GUIs ... I once encountered this on an ATM in Lyon Airport. Put card in and it presented a screen with options on what to do so tapped on the "withdraw cash" as I want €50 to pay Autorote toll and have some cash for drinks etc. Nothing happened, assumed touch screen wasn't working so tapped again, nothing happened, tapped again, then suddenly it sprang to life and swiftly flicked thorugh 3 screens using my three screen taps that were evidently queued (and applied to screens it had not yet displayed) so it decided I had selected "withdraw cash" from the first screen, rejected all the options of amounts between €10 and €100 from the first "select amount" page and then selected €500 from the second "select amount" page which it duly dispensed to me while I rapidly tried to work out (a) if I had that amount in my account to withdraw and (b) how I would use at least €450 cash that I didn't need at that time (think I paid for hotel by cash and rest stayed in my wallet till we went on holiday a couple of months later)

    1. IsJustabloke Silver badge

      ATM's

      MY local branch of santander installed new touch screen machines recently... (putting aside the fact that you can apparently use NFC to withdraw cash I dunno, I've never tried)

      when you put your card in, it almost immediately says "You normally withdraw this amount xx do you want to do that?" The text carries a label that says "Quick cash" so you'd think it would be quick...

      ho ho ho ... how very naive of you......

      Do you want a receipt "No",

      Do you want to email a receipt? "Nope"

      Do you want a text message receipt? "FFS! Nope"

      Do you want any other service? "FFS! Just give me the money you stupid machine!!!"

      Which account would you like to use? " ARGHHHH!!!!"

      "Sorry, this machine can no longer dispense money"

      Seriously, four ferkin times this has happened.. on one memorable occassion it then asked me how much I wanted even though I'd clikced the "quick cash button" before telling me it had no cash to dispense.

      I no longer try to use it. I go use another banks machine nowadays

      1. NBCanuck

        Re: ATM's

        "Do you want a receipt "No",

        Do you want to email a receipt? "Nope"

        Do you want a text message receipt? "FFS! Nope"

        Do you want any other service? "FFS! Just give me the money you stupid machine!!!""

        Hmmm..reminds me of a particularly annoying toaster from Red Dwarf. talk about life imitating art.

        1. Dr_N Silver badge

          Re: ATM's

          "Hmmm..reminds me of a particularly annoying toaster from Red Dwarf. talk about life imitating art."

          The day an ATM starts a transaction saying, "How-de-doodlie-doo!" is the day I will be arrested for damaging an ATM with whatever street furniture I manage to rip up and attack it with.

      2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: ATM's

        Do you want a receipt "No",

        Do you want to email a receipt? "Nope"

        Do you want a text message receipt? "FFS! Nope"

        Do you want any other service? "FFS! Just give me the money you stupid machine!!!"

        It's at times like this you get a tiny bit of sympathy with the blokes that fill ATMs with propane and set them off from a distance.

        ObLegalStuff: Not that I'd ever do it officer! Honest!! Look it was just a joke on a techie website! Ow, ow ow, please stop hitting me..

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: ATM's

        Do you want a receipt "No",

        Do you want to email a receipt? "Nope"

        Do you want a text message receipt? "FFS! Nope"

        Do you want any other service? "FFS! Just give me the

        Ah, that reminds me - something on USA ATMs I've only just noticed in the last couple of years - but only 3rd party ATM in stores, etc.

        "Would you like to print your account balance on a receipt?"

        If you touch Yes, you might not notice the warning about the extra fee. First they'll charge a fee to see your balance, then another to withdraw money.

        1. GlenP Silver badge

          Re: ATM's

          It's changed now but at one point some 3rd party ATMs wouldn't tell you how much they'd charge until you'd entered everything and they'd withdrawn the money from your account. They'd then say something like, "This will cost you £3.95, do you wish to continue?"

          If you said No they'd refund the money you'd requested but not the charge, that wouldn't be refunded for a few days. Nice way to get some interest on your money.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: ATM's

        I'd love you to give some feedback to the 'droids behind the counter. They'll tell you that you're the only person to give negative feedback about these 'Super'ATM's. Ask them where the volume control for the button beep is because my machine can be heard in another county (and I live in the biggest one).

    2. Pedigree-Pete
      Thumb Down

      Currency...

      Well AC, at least it was € that can be used in lots of places. I got stuck with €40 worth of Hungarian (we called them Huffs) for a year until I visited Lisboa. A colleague ended up with the change out of the minimum cash point dispense of 20SK in Sweden for a coffee pre-return flight. Don't think he ever went back to Sweden.

      Maybe NFC debit cards are the future. I'm certainly not advocating joining the €. PP

  10. lansalot
    Mushroom

    even worse...

    The worst one is far and away the "windows updates have finished installing, want to reboot now?" that flashes up as you're busy typing... and that space bar you just rattled gives the OK button a press.

    1. Steve the Cynic

      Re: even worse...

      I used to update Firefox a *lot* by accident. Typing in a form, Firefox pops the "update" dialog box, with "Update Now..." as the default button, next character I type is a space, bang!

      And of course for web sites, the solution for buttons moving around is for them to effing well bloody fucking declare the GDMF(1) size of all the GDMF(2) bitmap objects inside the img tags. And to declare how big tables are and how wide the columns are BEFORE sending down the first TR tag. Geez!

      (1) Very rude FLA, equivalent to "deity-cursed incestuous".

      (2) I'm not going to explain it again.

      1. DuncanL

        Re: even worse...

        Gosh darn mummy funster?....

        1. Steve the Cynic

          Re: even worse...

          A bit more ... intense than that, but you're pretty close.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: even worse...

      The worst one is far and away the "windows updates have finished installing, want to reboot now?"

      And it's so avoidable - if they would just delay a second before accepting keystrokes before restarting your machine!

      Now, I don't think it can be done through the windows API dialogs, but you can code your own system modal forms....

    3. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: even worse...

      If you re-read the fine article then you'll see that Dabbsy already covered that one...

      "a new button you’ve never seen before labelled Delete File, Overwrite All Backups With Zeros and Hack Off My Scrotum With a Rusty Saw."

      The phrasing is different, but the meaning is the same. Perhaps you are using a different locale.

  11. Alfie

    Progress bar lies

    I have a vague recollection of doing an application install on a Mac (probably OS 7.5) where the progress bar got up to 100 percent and then kept going towards the edge of the dialog box. I am going to say it was a Microsoft install just out of habit, but I have no proof that it was the guilty party.

    I hate progress bars, but I hate web page text bouncing around like its on a space hopper even more.

    1. MrT

      Re: Progress bar lies

      Some that use a clock end up guessing then adding more time (for example, deleting a snapshot on a VM, which I see more on VirtualBox than others, but YMMV).

      Others equate number of files copied as equivalent to percentage complete, regardless of size of the file, or other associated housekeeping that needs doing, so the progress bar goes in fits and starts (punctuated by long stops).

      Then there are ones that split up the install into 'initialise', 'copy files', 'install files', 'configure system', 'post process cleaning', 'removing backups', etc., each step with a run-through of a full 100% progress bar.

      And those that reckon to offer a /q "silent" install, but still wait for occasional confirmation key presses, usually at 20% through a 2 hour process that you walked away from after 10 minutes, but didn't notice for an hour or so.

      Too many different ways for software to give me the irrits, TBH. Impatience sucks like a limpet on a lemon...

      1. DJSpuddyLizard

        Re: Progress bar lies

        Others equate number of files copied as equivalent to percentage complete, regardless of size of the file, or other associated housekeeping that needs doing, so the progress bar goes in fits and starts (punctuated by long stops).

        And that's just it - the developers don't generally have time to make it nice, just time to make it done.

        Just checked my homebrew backup software - and the percentage complete is based 1/3 on number of files copied and 2/3 on the total bytes copied - you'd think number of bytes copied would be best, but there is overhead between files.

        1. Wensleydale Cheese

          Re: Progress bar lies

          "Just checked my homebrew backup software - and the percentage complete is based 1/3 on number of files copied and 2/3 on the total bytes copied - you'd think number of bytes copied would be best, but there is overhead between files."

          You raise a good point. A macOS system disk, for example, has a squillion small files, and the sheer number of those takes a lot of time to get through.

    2. Shred

      Re: Progress bar lies

      "doing an application install on a Mac (probably OS 7.5) where the progress bar got up to 100 percent and then kept going towards the edge of the dialog box."

      When Macintosh System 7.0 was released, the first boot after doing an upgrade from System 6 would trigger a "desktop rebuild". The desktop rebuild took ages, particularly on a disk with a large number of files - and the progress bar not only went towards the edge of the dialogue box, but would continue to the edge of the screen.

      I recall doing an upgrade after-hours on a Macintosh II with a then gigantic 140MB Rodime SCSI hard drive and waiting an eternity as the progress bar stretched out beyond 100%. It's only been 27 years, but I still want to strangle the developer who created that bug.

  12. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    Yep...

    Once upon a time, I was just about to click on 'Asian' when the page suddenly jumped up by several rows of thumbnail image icons. My mouse click landed on a very very different and rather unusual genre. Hey, not that there's anything wrong with that! I didn't realize that such activities were even physically possible. OMG, to this day I'm still emotionally traumatized.

    So yes, it's an issue.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Yep...

      Until halfway down your post is innocently assumed you were looking for Asia sub-section of the World News on the BBC website.

      But yeah, a few of Mr Dabb's bullet-pointed gripes I associate more with websites than I do desktop applications these days. You start reading a paragraphy then it jumps around. You scroll back and continue reading, then a sharking advert pops up... Grr!

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge
        Flame

        Re: Yep...

        BBC News site on my phone has a "breaking" popup about often quite trivial news items. Which covers the bottom of the story I'm actually reading. WORSE!!!! If you click the X to get rid of it the page you're wanting to be on jumps back to the top so that you have to scroll down and find where you had got to.

        Then, a few minutes later it does it again.

        1. Mage Silver badge

          Re: BBC stupid Breaking news.

          There are instructions how to kill that. Have a search. They work in Firefox, though I can't remember if it was domain blocking or Noscript.

          1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
            Mushroom

            Re: BBC stupid Breaking news.

            Many media site now have this. You open the page and in less than 60 secs there is a "Howdy howdy ho! New content! Wanna update?" as a pop-up you have to click away.

            WHEN I DO WANT TO RELOAD THE PAGE, I RELOAD IT, FFS! ----->

            Oh, and when you have several tabs open, that pop-up appears on every single fecking tab.

            1. rnturn

              Re: BBC stupid Breaking news.

              That would be annoying but my pet peeve is the `infinite web page' that automatically loads more content when it senses that you're near the bottom of the current amount of content. That loading process invariably shifts what you were reading off the screen. Plus, those sort of pages have the added `faeture' of making it virtually impossible to grab the scrollbar and move around within the page; before long moving the scrollbar one pixel results in a light-year's worth of content scrolling. I long for the days of yore when there was a page selection at the bottom of the page, a la: `1 2 3 4 5 Next' or, at least, `Load more'.

          2. Tromos

            Re: BBC stupid Breaking news.

            Block 'polling.bbc.co.uk'.

        2. MJI Silver badge

          Re: Yep...

          Does it on computers as well

        3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Yep...

          "WORSE!!!! If you click the X to get rid of it the page you're wanting to be on jumps back to the top so that you have to scroll down and find where you had got to."

          Worse still if you're reading it on MythTV where there's no way to click the sodding X. You're left squinting through a letter box shaped slot at the top of the screen. An the next breaking broken news thing comes up on the next page. And the next. And the next. A user friendly designer would say "If we show it a couple of times let's assume they've read it and really don't want to see it again". A really good designer would realise that after being displayed for a few seconds it can bee removed without even needing to click. Anybody from the Beeb reading this?

      2. Dan 55 Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: Yep...

        Mostly websites, but desktop applications often suffer from having an HTML interface shoved into it for no good reason so you too can enjoy incremental rendering of non-standard GUI widgets.

        Not that there is really a standard any more, just look at Windows 10 which looks like a kid went mad with a template stencil.

  13. handleoclast Silver badge
    Linux

    And the other annoyances...

    Modern web pages on mobiles with delayed/JIT loading. Such as on esquire.com. You're scrolling through the text when suddenly it jumps to make way for an advert that's just started loading. So you have to scroll back to where you were, and because the advert is now off-screen it collapses, causing another text jump. Grrrrrrr.

    What I find more annoying is Windows dialogue boxes that insist on monotasking. You've navigated through a load of configuration menus/submenus/subsubsubsubsubsubsubmenus to get to the one you want. Only to find you need some more information from somewhere else in order to figure out which option to select. On any sane operating system this dialogue box multitasks, not only with other applications but with the application it is a dialogue box of. So on any sane OS you can look through other aspect of the app, or use google, to find out what you need to know and continue configuring. On Windows you have to abandon all progress (by repeatedly cancelling your way up the menu tree) until you can dig out the info you needed, write it down (no point jotting it in Notepad because you won't be able to get at Notepad when you need it), painfully go back through all those dialogue menus, and do what you need to do.

    What the fuck could be more stupid than that? Oh yeah, in order to stop your computer running, click on the START menu.

  14. MJI Silver badge

    Bad GUIs

    I hate moving stuff, especially when stuff is moved for no reason.

    But my favourite and the one which needed a restore was great.

    I wiped an accounting system.

    Why?

    Because it used non standard GUI.

    I accidently went into the wipe system option so clicked no. But the program yes no boxes were all swapped over, so I clicked yes, brilliant design there Pegasus, I did have a go at you for that. A right shonky piece of software.

    I so wanted to bypass their importer by directly inserting transactions but I was told not worth the risk, use their ANAL and TRAN files.

    I still think directly inserting is safer than letting a programmer test on a system.

    BTW Our system used a DBF compatable client server system.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Bad GUIs

      Ah, they must have had some fantastic UI designer who thought that buttons should go the same way around as on a Mac on every other operating system.

      Consistency, they've heard of it.

    2. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: Bad GUIs

      I have the same problem ever since I use Mate, having been accustomed to Windows. A good deal of "yes/no" and equivalent choices are simply the other way around and I end up second-guessing every click like a neurotic squirrel high on caffeine...

  15. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    El Reg?

    Loading in bits? Jumping around? Like when loading El Reg on my phone and I try and tap the 'Forums' link just as the screen jumps and displays an ad in the same place for some obscure and expensive bit of corporate kit that I will never want!

    My fault for not having an ad-blocker I suppose, or at least that's what a judge would probably say. And I suppose it does earn some beer-tokens for El Reg

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: El Reg?

      Try https://m.theregister.co.uk/

  16. jake Silver badge

    Strangely enough ...

    ... I haven't seen interface errors[0] like that since I stopped using or supporting commercial operating systems. Come to the FOSS side, Dabbsy. It'll do your ulcers a world of good.

    [0] Well, what do YOU call it?

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Strangely enough ...

      Mr Dabbs has written in the past about some of the commercial software he supports his clients with. It's only available on OSX and Windows.

      Good software can be created by enthusiasts, but in some sectors the best applications are created by teams of people paid to do so. It's just the way it is.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Strangely enough ...

        "in some sectors the best applications are created by teams of people paid to do so."

        And let's not forget the utter crud produced by people paid to do so.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: Strangely enough ...

      The FOSS side? Sorry, with UIs Linux is barely getting there now and it took long enough to do that.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Strangely enough ...

        @Dan 55

        You'd be more convincing if you showed some sign of actually having used Linux. For a start you could tell us which particular GUI it is you're complaining about. Then you could show some indication that you know there are others. Bonus points for telling us which commercial UI you prefer and why.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Strangely enough ...

          I have indeed used Linux. Mint is nearly there but the graphical style and feel is a little bit lacking. Ubuntu is horrible as are plain Gnome and KDE. I may look at Fedora 25 one day if only because it has done us the favour of taking X11 out back and having it shot.

          How do I test it? By downloading to a VM, running it, toggling a few settings maximum. If it's no good out of the box then life is too short to waste.

          Which commercial GUI do I like? I can live with Windows 7, I like Mac apart from keyboard accessibility where Windows has it beat.

          1. bombastic bob Silver badge
            Linux

            Re: Strangely enough ...

            " have indeed used Linux. Mint is nearly there but the graphical style and feel is a little bit lacking."

            did you try the Mate desktop?

            "Ubuntu is horrible as are plain Gnome and KDE"

            Ubuntu/Unity you mean? yes, it's like Windows APE meets MeeGo. KDE is an acquired taste, I must admit. And gnome 3 is *REALLY* sucky, which is why _I_ use Mate.

            You needed to give Linux a better chance. Try going in with the knowledge that the default desktop for the distro is probably NOT the one YOU want. And Mate seems to have most of that ironed out, in my opinion. It was forked from Gnome 2 by developers who *DISLIKED* the direction things were going a few years back, which ended up giving us Unity, Windows "Ape", Win-10-nic, and (the real offender) Gnome 3. I'm in agreement with them. Had they not done it, I would have probably done it myself. (Linus became very angry about gnome 3 and went with a more lightweight version, LXDE I think, and you can install that one, too).

            most of these desktop options will be available to you as a package, and then the startup/login screen should let you pick from the window managers you've installed [if it's using something like gdm anyway].

  17. chivo243 Silver badge

    Apple TV

    is so brilliant it has restart and reset next to each other... You don't know how many times I've had to reconfigure the bastards... I don't even know now.

  18. Mage Silver badge

    You hit it Dabbsy

    ALL developers should be forced to:

    1) Use a 5 year old regular retail netbook with 1024 x 800 screen for testing, and general application use at least 1/5th of time.

    2) Should have to read all the articles by Norman Nielsen group and be on their mailing list.

    Also inconsistent interfaces where default button changes or layout changes or the GUI is based on Star Trek, DS9, their favourite game or web site instead of your OWN CHOSEN OS GUI theme. (Excluding Windows 1.0 like Win 10 where you can't really easily customise).

    If I'm running a Windows Classic plain theme on MS OS, or Linux with Mate with Redmond Theme, Mint Icons and Win9x window decoration it's because I don't want a bloody flat GUI (where I can't tell where to click or drag and it might be only 1 pixel wide on a 200 dpi screen!) or an Aero Experience that takes 75% CPU of my 6 month old 4 core 8G RAM to render.

    I was reading about architects and how real people like Georgian and Victorian architecture. How the longer someone is an Architect the less ordinary people like the the designs.

    Forget damm stupid attempts at GUI innovation. Read what Xerox figured out in 1970s, which took till mid 1980s for Apple to get right and mid 1990s for Microsoft to get right. It's been downhill the last 20 years, especially the last 15.

    We want simplicity (but not flat), consistency of appearance and performance and layout, good cues as to buttons, links, tabs etc. One line or two is enough of highlight and shadow to indicate 3D/separate elements. Draggable items such as window frames need to be about as wide as a "t" Scroll bars should not be a simple flat rectangle and need to be as wide as a "W".

    Who decides theses stupid new GUIs that are either extreme of like newspaper or SciFi?

    1. GrumpyOldMan

      Re: You hit it Dabbsy

      Just posted about flat. I HATE flat. Have an upvote.

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: You hit it Dabbsy

      > 1) Use a 5 year old regular retail netbook with 1024 x 800 screen for testing, and general application use at least 1/5th of time.

      It's like the recording studios of the 1950s... They would have a listening room with consumer-grade radios in them. The music would be mixed to suit the sort of radios that Joe Public would be listening on, not the professional monitoring equipment the studio possessed.

      1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

        Re: recording studios of the 1950s

        IIRC*, Karajan used to do that, even after CDs were introduced. Play back a cassette tape copy of the master on a cheap consumer device. If it still sounded reasonably well, he'd okay the master.

        * I might be confusing him there with another of the big names in classical music... saw this in a documentary ages ago. Still, a good method to ensure quality. And customer satisfaction.

      2. breakfast

        Re: You hit it Dabbsy

        The modern equivalent of this is playing the music you have just recorded on a car stereo. When it sounds good there as well as on regular speakers, you're probably in a good place.

    3. dajames Silver badge

      Re: You hit it Dabbsy

      Forget damm stupid attempts at GUI innovation. Read what Xerox figured out in 1970s, which took till mid 1980s for Apple to get right and mid 1990s for Microsoft to get right. It's been downhill the last 20 years, especially the last 15.

      Yes, this!

      ... and F1 means "Help". When you press F1 the application should invoke some system (possibly a browser, but the help information should be local and should not require an internet connection) and show you help that is directly relevant to the thing you are trying to do at the time.

      The help should be useful and informative, and not simply "Fardle: Select the 'fardle' option to fardle the active selection".

    4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: You hit it Dabbsy

      1a Access their application via a 14000baud serial link for a day.

      On a similar note the numpties who select the bags for packing vegetables in supermarkets should be obliged to spend an entire day packing them whilst wearing gloves and glasses which restrict their ability to focus closer than a metre.

      1. Unicornpiss Silver badge
        Alert

        Re: You hit it Dabbsy

        On a similar note the numpties who select the bags for packing vegetables in supermarkets should be obliged to spend an entire day packing them whilst wearing gloves and glasses which restrict their ability to focus closer than a metre.

        Even better would be if they made the damn things easier to open after tearing them off the roll. I think it would be easier for a ham-fisted farmer missing some digits and with a palsy to open and unroll a condom meant for hamster than trying to find the start of those things.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: You hit it Dabbsy

          "Even better would be if they made the damn things easier to open after tearing them off the roll."

          That was my point. The idiots who inflict these things on others will continue to be idiots until they're made to experience the consequences long enough for the problem to penetrate whatever they're using for brains.

    5. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: You hit it Dabbsy

      "Who decides theses stupid new GUIs that are either extreme of like newspaper or SciFi?"

      CHILDREN decide this. More explicitly, MILLENIAL CHILDREN, aka the "4 inch" crowd, who live with their parents until they're 30+, and view EVERYTHING on a 4 inch phone screen. They are generally content CONSUMERS, not content creators, consuming Facebook and other social media like tobacco, and FEELING instead of THINKING. [there are some exceptions to this rule, but it's a generational nightmare shift from hell that's behind a LOT of this].

      It's "their turn" now, and THEY are going to have things THEIR way, since all of the previous generation has either retired or gone on extended vacation or something (so not enough of "us" left to STOP it). CHANGE is always GOOD to them, even if it's change for the WORSE. And there's NO CHOICE, either, for THEY are "the elite" and know BEST. They will SHOVE it up your down your throat!

      anyway THAT is who "decides". Am I right or what?

      1. DropBear Silver badge

        Re: You hit it Dabbsy

        "Am I right or what?"

        Don't make me hand in my Grumpy Old Git Card. I'm quite fond of it, but...

    6. AndrueC Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: You hit it Dabbsy

      Forget damm stupid attempts at GUI innovation. Read what Xerox figured out in 1970s, which took till mid 1980s for Apple to get right and mid 1990s for Microsoft to get right. It's been downhill the last 20 years, especially the last 15.

      Amen, friend. It's been 'style over function' for far too long now.

    7. rnturn

      Re: You hit it Dabbsy

      > 1) Use a 5 year old regular retail netbook with 1024 x 800 screen for testing, and general application use at least 1/5th of time.

      They should all work from a location that's more like the one that the users will have available. A 100Gb link to the web server hides an awful lot of sloppy web development practices. Perhaps if the developers had to experience the incessant page re-rendering, network latency, that the real world user sees something would get done about the poor user experience.

  19. russsh

    Favourite things

    My vote for most annoying is the progress bar that stops at 20% with no sign from Task Manager or elsewhere what is holding it up. Only in the advanced stages of shutting down do the windows part to show the confirmation box that shyly popped underneath the application's other windows.

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: Favourite things

      show the confirmation box that shyly popped underneath the application's other windows.

      The number of times!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Favourite things

      I love the Windows software that comes with the pricier Logitech mice - it maps one of the many mouse buttons to perform what on OSX is called 'Exposé'. All the windows shrink and align themselves neatly, so that one can see at a glance what is open. It is invaluable for spotting errant dialogue boxes and and pesky 'pop-under' browser windows. Damned handy too for accessing another window without upsetting a full-screen video, if you want to adjust screen brightness for example.

      The cheaper Logitech mouse software doesn't have this feature. Still, I have no plans to use any rodent but a Darkfield MX Hyperscroll mouse anyway.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Favourite things

        "All the windows shrink and align themselves neatly, so that one can see at a glance what is open. It is invaluable for spotting errant dialogue boxes and and pesky 'pop-under' browser windows."

        That sounds useful - but can it also get back to where it was?

        1. Unicornpiss Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Favourite things

          One of my least favorites is the enabled-by-default option in Win7 on up to expand a window to fill the whole screen when being moved to the edge of the screen. Usually I'm just trying to flick something out of my way to read what's underneath and now it's maximized.

        2. Shooter

          Re: Favourite things

          @ Doctor Syntax - Yes, click the button you have assigned Application Switcher to once and you get the aligned apps as Dave 126 mentioned. Click a second time (on a blank spot on your desktop, not an app obviously) and you return to the last app you were in.

        3. marktyers

          Re: Favourite things

          On MacOS its been around for ages, think its called something (un)obvious like mission control. F3 key every time...

      2. Shooter

        Re: Favourite things

        @ Dave 126 - Thank you for this. It's called Application Switcher, and I was unaware of it until you pointed it out. Upvoted.

  20. GrumpyOldMan

    Ah GEM - takes me back...

    I still have a GEM install on a decrepid old disk somewhere. Weekend lab project coming on. Wonder if it'll run in VMware Workstation or on ESXi... where there's a will... and a crowbar

    Dabbsy - have a pint on me. Thought it was just me. I so identify with your plight. It drives me insane. Insane I tell you!!

    Modern GUI design seems to be a bizare form of modern art. No other explanation. Especially the bland flat featureless garbage they are forcing on us that prodices eye-strain. Or is it just me?

    Progress bar - otherwise known as the Windows Lie-bar.

    I too have often done as many people here - load Google, start typing and ... nothing in the search bar! Or you end up typing in the address bar. Or a work group Skype convo that suddenly becomes aware that you are searching for slippers on Amazon, or browsing El Reg. Not that I'm ashamed of that, btw.

    My wife often sticks her head into the study to see what the shouting, banging and commotion is and to rescue the family PC. And then she'll go and have same screaming fit at her work Windows 10 laptop for similar reasons. That and - well, Windows 10.

    Ahhhh - technology. Doncha just LOVE it?

    I hate computers really.

    1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Ah GEM - takes me back...

      OpenGEM is bundled with FreeDOS nowadays - it would probably run well in a VM.

      http://www.ibiblio.org/pub/micro/pc-stuff/freedos/files/distributions/1.2/repos/pkg-html/opengem.html

      http://www.opendawn.com/opengem/

    2. DropBear Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Ah GEM - takes me back...

      "I hate computers really."

      Well, yes, there's this common misconception that computers don't do what we want them to do, they do what we tell them to do - it's so wrong it's not even funny. What actually happens is computers purposefully pick and execute the specific part of everything we told them to do that lets them gleefully refuse to do what we want them to do...

      1. marktyers

        Re: Ah GEM - takes me back...

        Like if you select lots of files then try opening the first one, ALL the files open. Who thought this would be what the user wanted?

  21. Ross 12

    The ultimate example

    The Windows start menu.

    You log in, Start button appears, you click on it, it chugs, you click on the thing you want, then either some more items load and something else takes the place of the entry you clicked on, OR it finishes chugging and the whole of Windows Explorer refreshes and the Start menu closes and you've no idea if you just launched anything or not, so you have to wait and see if something appears. Then, when you think it's all settled, you try again to launch your app, start using it, and then another instance appears.

    1. John 110

      Re: The ultimate example

      You forgot that cheerful little jingle that Windows plays during startup that is supposed to indicate that Windows is finished loading. It LIES!!! OK maybe Windows is finished, but all the other crap that insists needs loading before you can do anything is still churning away for another 5 minutes. If you do crack and click on something, it never appears, so you click it again and get chided for trying to run stuff twice... aaargh

  22. steamrunner

    Foreplaybackgroundopenwindow()

    My favourite (!?) pet peeve is when I launch an app on my laptop, then switch to another window/app whilst the first is still starting up (because I'm quicker than the machine and want to stay productive). Then, when the first app finishes loading, it pops to the front, covering the app I've just switched to. "I put you in the background, you drokker! What the £^&$k are you doing popping up over what I am now working on? Fuck the fuck off! I'll get to you when I want you!".

  23. Alan Edwards

    I know what you mean,,,

    My example is ServiceNow, It displays everything, then shuffles stuff into tabs if you have that enabled, then the UI policies kick in and hide stuff that shouldn't be there. Buttons and fields you're trying to click may not be even close when it actually registers the click.

    It also had an annoying habit of putting an Insert button where Update used to be before it shuffled everything around. This means it creates a duplicate record instead of overwriting the old one if you click too early.

    My pet peeve is menus that disappear because the mouse pointer is 1 pixel outside it's border. I click on your header to get you to display, just stay put until I select something!

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: I know what you mean,,,

      My example is ServiceNow

      Go to your room without any supper young man! I'll not have language like that in MY forum. And in front of such impressionable young minds[1] too!

      [1] And some politicians. Young, maybe, but minds?

    2. Wensleydale Cheese

      Transient menus - Ugh!

      "My pet peeve is menus that disappear because the mouse pointer is 1 pixel outside it's border."

      And the converse, menus and other actions that only appear when you waggle your mouse over them.

      C'mon, give us a clue where these blighters are in the first place.

      This was the reason I started disabling browser plugins for PDF files, and I see no reason to change that, all these years later.

  24. whoelse

    Button location swapping, and mobile web text are awful

    These are regular frustrations for me. Buttons dancing, and on mobile the increasingly unwiedly presence of ads/videos or "CLICK TO READ FULL ARTICLE" view limiters appearing late and causing the text to jump down and up like its on an electrified trampoline... At least others are aware of these too.

    I find myself avoiding any sites that behave like this

  25. Dave K Silver badge

    My big beef is also with web pages that have a "scroll to the top" trigger once the last element is loaded. So, you open the page, most of it displays - including the text. You start to read and scroll down, but then that small irrelevant icon finishes loading 5 seconds later and suddenly you're jolted back to the top of the page.

    ServiceNow is notorious for this. Some of our pages have more than one of these, and every page load is a constant struggle between what I want to view and what the dumb-ass developer feels I should be viewing as the various elements finish loading. Pain in the absolute bum it is!

  26. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
    Flame

    Auto Page Jumping Web Sites

    Those web sites which assume you want to jump to a new article as you scroll down drive me nuts, especially when I haven't finished reading the last paragraph and going back doesn't go back to where I was. And it then jumps to the next article again if I am not slow and careful when scrolling down to get to what I actually want to read.

    And those sites which have slide-downs and slide-ups which get in the way of what you are reading when scrolling come a close second place in annoyance quota.

    As do those slide-in-from-the-right frames which require one to take the mouse round the edge of the screen to actually scroll without permanently activating them and obscuring half the text one is reading..

    Grrr.

  27. Pete 2 Silver badge

    A two-foot window in a 1-foot hole

    Why do designers of un-resizable popups and windows always make them too small for the size of the data they are there to display?

    Either the fields you want are too far apart to display simultaneously without scrolling one or t'other out of view, or the widths of fields (such as dates) are far too large for the information within. Is there a school of GUI design that is hell bent in producing interfaces that ensure the minimum possible usability (since ease of use has never been a design parameter in any software spec. I've ever seen)?

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Our team was moved into a different department. Instead of having their server in our building they had it in their office some distance away. So instead of a fast lan connection there was a slow WAN in between.

    The desktop email client keystrokes were echoed from the distant server. The pauses in typing were annoying - and particularly awkward when navigating an address list with up/down keys.

    Eventually I wrote a whinge email to the rest of my team - predicting that someone was going to end up sending an email to the wrong person. Unfortunately as I pressed "send" - the cursor belatedly moved to the next position down the address list. The email went to everyone in the department. Our new boss was most upset with me for what he perceived as deliberate insubordination. My defence was that, as my email said, the accident was waiting to happen - and it was his fault for not supplying adequate tools.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Had that problem this very morning. In spite of a DIV having style = 'display:none' preset in the HTML - the content still appears for a few seconds while the page loads.

  30. Infernoz Bronze badge
    Flame

    All auto Pop-ups and window-to-front from non-focus software should be banned!

    That includes application launch windows!

    Android and Windows 10 can collect notifications without this retarded pop-up UI behaviour; all other OS's GUIs should do this already too!

    Any window which is currently rendering/laying out GUI widgets should disabled user input/actions on/in it, and possibly beep/flash for any, until this has completed; this should not be regarded as hard, even for multi-threaded applications! If you can't do multi-threading/concurrency this well, you probably added nasty concurrency bugs including race conditions and security vulnerabilities!

    Applications doing busy stuff which doesn't need to immediately update or disable the GUI should damned well not run on the GUI update Thread(s), so stalling display updates, and instead queue runnable, concurrent-safe code blocks with GUI Thread(s) to do updates at its own pace!

    Anything which causes disruptive re-layout in a GUI (e.g outside a scrollable widget *, so moves controls) should disable user input/actions in the window until this re-layout is completed!

    * I'm really annoyed that lazy (stupid?) programmers still provide windows with variable size content, which don't use scrollable areas _and_ allow window resize! This is f'ing retarded for variable size screens and where you don't want a window taking up too much screen space!

    1. Infernoz Bronze badge

      Re: All auto Pop-ups and window-to-front from non-focus software should be banned!

      In some case only a pane should disable user input, rather than a whole window, so that unaffected controls can be used e.g. the panes attached to browser page tabs.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: All auto Pop-ups and window-to-front from non-focus software should be banned!

      "Android and Windows 10 can collect notifications without this retarded pop-up UI behaviour; all other OS's GUIs should do this already too!"

      Are there some that don't? KDE user here.

      1. marktyers

        Re: All auto Pop-ups and window-to-front from non-focus software should be banned!

        So does MacOS.

  31. OSYSTEM
    Thumb Up

    Love your Something for the Weekend

    This one was probably the best so far :-)

  32. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    My pet peeve: I usually (have to) work with Windows machines, but I always move the task bar to the top of the screen. Because I think that's where it should be. It also helps me to sit up straight, which is good for my back. And, combined with the left handed mouse*, it confuses the hell out of co-workers and our IT-guys. Anyway. A surprisingly large number of software simply ignores that and opens new screen boxes in such a way that their top bit is obscured by the task bar.

    * I operate the mouse with my left hand, and it's in left hand mode. That way I have my right hand free to operate the numeric keyboard. As I often have to enter a lot of numbers this speeds up things quite a bit.

    1. dajames Silver badge

      I operate the mouse with my left hand, and it's in left hand mode. That way I have my right hand free to operate the numeric keyboard. As I often have to enter a lot of numbers this speeds up things quite a bit.

      You shouldn't have to enter large volumes of numeric data by hand. If you have a need to process large amounts of numeric data and they're not already in electronic format you should get a manager to enter them for you. That's what the lower orders are for.

    2. DropBear Silver badge

      Proper discombobulation of occasional passers-by necessitates a desktop trackball - bonus points if it's one of the industrial sized ones that you can play Centipede with (extra-double bonus points if it's actually embedded flush into you desk, industrial-style)...

  33. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Bingo!

    You really hit a rich stream of frustration with this one. I so feel your pain...

    and all the other commentards pain...

    and it's getting me too, now I find I'm shouting at the 'pooter.

  34. ZanzibarRastapopulous

    Dammit!!!!

    Just upvoted the wrong comment because of this...

  35. lagaba

    scroll anchoring

    if you are using Chrome turning on

    #enable-scroll-anchoring

    should help with the screen jump problem

  36. Shadow Systems Silver badge

    Dear Mister Dabbs.

    I clicked on the link to play the video in your story, listened to it until they explained what the phrase meant, then had to mute my machine & bury my head in my arms to muffle the laughter.

    If I've annoyed my family from laughing like a donkey on drugs, I'm blaming it all on you & then making them watch the video to prove it.

    Please go enjoy a pint or ten on me for the gut busting guffaws, you've certainly earned a giant gold trophy^ for this one!

    ^: It needs a wide upper opening so it can do double duty to catch the spit spray of surprised amusement.

  37. Giles C

    Twin screen

    I use a twin screen rig. Some application (Excel spring to mind) open up on screen A. Then you want to do a find and the dialog box appears on screen B.

    Usually just as an another app does something and pushes itself to the front of the screen.

    Mind you outlooks cryptic alert which vanishes after a second is also annoying...

  38. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Another variation is the menu that jumps as soon as you click on an item leaving you wondering whether you've clicked on the wrong one. Maplin, I'm looking at you - for that and numerous other UI shortcomings.

  39. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    I wonder if some of these misfeatures on web pages can be attributed to using bits of Javascript from so many different sites. Every time the user does something the browser has to go off to some other server(s) to get the instructions to tell it how to respond.

  40. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    Adobe Reader... + Memories of Ashton Tate

    How many here have inadvertently downloaded McAfee when all they want is Adobe Reader? I'm sure the tick box (pre-populated with a tick) for this optional extra is designed to lag being rendered just far enough behind the main "install" button just long enough for that to be clicked on, tricking you into accepting the McAfee option as well.

    Ashton Tate: I remember trying to install Dbase IV from floppy disk. I forget how many floppies there were, but it took ages to plug them in, one by one. I swear that the first disk contained nothing but an animation of the Ashton Tate logo which appeared to shrink from screen size down to visible proportion, not impressed with that introduction to the software, and it went downhill from there.

    1. Down not across Silver badge

      Re: Adobe Reader... + Memories of Ashton Tate

      Ah, I remember using dBase II (IIRC) on CP/M 2.2. It worked remarkably well at the time.

      Yes, dBase suffered the unfortunately common phenomon of software reaching its peak and then getting worse until no longer useful.

      Higher version is not always better.

    2. MJI Silver badge

      Re: Adobe Reader... + Memories of Ashton Tate

      Should have gone to Nantucket then, or CA even

      1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: Memories of Ashton Tate: Nantucket

        Yes that's what we did. Coming from a Coral 66 background I never did get on with the ad hoc scoping of Clipper though. Delphi/XE gives the best of many worlds IMHO.

        Which reminds me: will have to check to see if Messrs West and Pappalardi are on Spotify (Great music for squishing bugs by).

  41. Chemical Bob

    earnestly staring at the trickle

    Two words:

    Super Beta Prostate

    ok, that's 3 words, sorry

    1. Unicornpiss Silver badge

      Re: earnestly staring at the trickle

      @Super Beta Prostate

      Ha! That sounds like a poorly-translated Japanese menu item.

  42. J.G.Harston Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Websites that don't navigate between text boxes.

    I was entering my leccy readings into my account today, and copied the information from my notes accountTABmpanTABmeterreading, looked at the screen and saw accountmpanmeterreading all in the account box.

    Well I showed them. I immediately went to Confused to switch suppliers. And their b****y website wouldn't let me enter my b******y telephone number!!!!! I was bashing away harder and harder at my space bar wondering why my keyboard had stopped working.

    1. Wensleydale Cheese

      "Websites that don't navigate between text boxes."

      GDS are guilty here.

      Common practice is to be able to tab from the day to the month to the year when entering a date field.

      With the GDS version, tab took me from the day field to some field at the top of the screen, scrolling back in the process.

      WTF?

  43. wrangler

    I've had the same problems with buttons appearing just in time to catch a click, and it's aggravating.

    Latest WTF came in with Firefox 52. On several web login pages, the area for username entry shows its usual dropdown list of names, but it's now headed by "Would you like to improve your search experience with suggestions?" and "Yes" and "No" buttons, neither of which work.

  44. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Some other gems

    Way back in the days of plain old character terminals (the ones which were efficient for data entry - just use the keyboard and don't fumble with pointing devices) the function and arrow keys sent control strings. These were usually initiated by an ESC and the OS used the delay between that and the next character to work out whether it was just an ESC or a control string initiator. Cue a bit of delay on the network and the OS got it wrong so that the rest of the control string got sent into the program as data. That was rapidly followed by the accountant demanding to know why his staff were mis-entering data. ISTR there was some tuning available to lengthen the allowed interval so that got sorted.

    Ubuntu favouring what looks for a moment like a progress bar but actually just whisks a short bar backwards and forwards until it's done.

    KDE. The task bar can be set to autohide and restored by taking the mouse pointer to a user-chosen location. Make it the bottom edge and any attempt to take the mouse to the bottom of a window at the bottom of the screen brings up the task bar. Similarly going for the scroll bar on a window at the right hand edge. The bottom left corner seemed the most convenient but least likely place that you'd take the cursor by accident, the likeliest target there would be the menu button on the task bar itself. KDE 3 included corners as well as edges in its choices so that worked out well. KDE 4 restricted the choice to edges. WHY????

    1. Wensleydale Cheese

      Re: Some other gems

      "the function and arrow keys sent control strings. These were usually initiated by an ESC and the OS used the delay between that and the next character to work out whether it was just an ESC or a control string initiator. Cue a bit of delay on the network and the OS got it wrong so that the rest of the control string got sent into the program as data."

      Back in the day I deliberately tested for this condition, and couldn't trigger it, no matter how hard I tried.

      That was with RT-11 and VMS, where escape sequences had more or less been in existence since Day 1.

      Which reminds me that more than a few folks who think they can write a VT100 emulator have clearly never used the real thing.

      1. -tim

        Re: Some other gems

        The "new" editor in VMS from about 1986 required some new microcode in the CPU so it could detect the ESC stuff sent by the vt terminals more efficiently.

        1. Wensleydale Cheese

          Re: Some other gems

          'The "new" editor in VMS from about 1986 required some new microcode in the CPU so it could detect the ESC stuff sent by the vt terminals more efficiently'

          Interesting, thanks.

          I wouldn't be surprised if a shiny new editor had missed a performance trick or two that the old ones had implemented.

          FWIW that "new" editor was the first one to insist on ANSI escape sequence support, and those were longer than the old VT52 compatible ones. This won't have helped.

        2. rnturn

          Re: Some other gems

          TPU? Interesting. Did not know that require microcode to work. I rather miss EDT's editing keypad--which, if memory serves, worked identically using the EVE interface to TPU. It was pretty amazing how much editing you could without a mouse in those days.

  45. JulieM Silver badge
    Pint

    UNIX-like systems too

    The command to edit a crontab file (list of regularly scheduled tasks and times to perform them) is

    $ crontab -e

    The command to wipe out a crontab file (without confirmation request) is

    $ crontab -r

    Look where "e" and "r" are .....

    1. rnturn

      Re: UNIX-like systems too

      I don't use those switches for crontab for exactly those flaws^Wreasons. I've seen too many folks corrupt their crontab entries with "-e" (myself included before I learned my lesson) and then come running for help the morning after their overnight job failed to run.

  46. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

    Spot on

    The most annoying thing on Windows is with automatic updates. It goes and downloads something and pops up an alert at some random time. If you're typing something at the time and just happen to be hitting enter, it's always "yes, do shut down my machine, ignoring any unsaved work that I have, and while you're at it, why don't you make the machine unusable for the next 20 minutes". Aaagh.

    Also, speaking of UI components that jump around the place for not good reason, whoever designed the UI for Netflix in a browser deserves to be shot. Stop fucking moving shit around when I mouse-over on it!

  47. Shooter
    Devil

    Info boxes

    My (current) biggest gripe is web pages that have one simple function: usually to fill in a box with your user name/password/account number, etc. Only one thing to do, and only one box to do it in. And they don't automatically place the cursor in the box that is the sole reason for the existence of that page!

  48. LeahroyNake Bronze badge

    The Reg

    I have lost count of the number of times that I have accidentally clicked the ad at the top of the page above the Reg banner. It seems to be able to pick the exact time to load the ad image and shuffle the bit I wanted to click down so you get an ad click and my back button gets a workout :/

    1. ilmari

      Re: The Reg

      It took me 3 attempts to upvote this because of that same banner jumping text up and down. The posts after your post fit a few accidental up votes. Oops.

      Often it loads covering the article headline and the first few rows of text, and stays like that for quite a bit. Sometimes I get to close it and click "ad covered content", but usually itnjimps to where it's supposed to be if I try to X it...

  49. tiggertaebo

    Progress bars that are just an illusion are my pet hate.

    I hate them too... In fact I hate them so much that a few years back when developing a desktop application that carried out some fairly extensive file and database operations I spent considerable time writing a detailed and accurate progress bar for it. Unfortunately this resulted in the operation taking an order of magnitude longer to run! So I dumped it and replaced it with a simple "working" message and went home a much more cynical coder :D

  50. Milton Silver badge

    Opportunities for mischief

    Poorly written algos to calculate time remaining seem to be a M$ specialty. But admit it, this leaves the cultural door wide open for those of you developers afflicted with a functional sense of black humour—which means anyone competent who' survived more than seven years working for any large corporate (or other bunch of self-important cretins, e.g government).

    Twenty-plus years ago I had (ahem) colleagues who couldn't resist including some code to display "Out Of Cheese Error", or "STOP: Not A Typewriter".

    So I feel sure that even today, now you're all grown up, there must be some code out there which will, at appropriate yet rare moments, flash up "Time remaining: Until You Are Dead" or "Installation will complete in 10²º seconds".

    The spirits of Pratchett and Gaiman (and Dilbert) are among the necessary antidotes to incompetent halfwits and corporate management, insofar as there is a difference.

  51. Mike Green

    New Win 10 machine stopping clicks....

    I have a rather fun problem on my relatively new IBM win 10 laptop which I haven't managed to figure out. It boots up, and then after some random amount of time stops accepting left clicks and keyboard input. I can still move the mouse and get right-click menus, but left click and typing doesn't work. I can also press ctrl-atl-delete to get to that screen, and then going to the task manager seems to clear up the problem, but it's bugging the hell out of me. I've tried searching for the problem on the net but come up blank so far.

    And people who write focus grabbing dialogues should be shot. A flash on the task bar is all that is needed. Also, those annoying startup windows which come up on top of everthing else and usually can't be dismissed should be shot too. I don't need to know I started an app, just showing the window is sufficient than you....

    1. Wensleydale Cheese

      Re: New Win 10 machine stopping clicks....

      "And people who write focus grabbing dialogues should be shot."

      Yes. With an elephant gun.

      "Also, those annoying startup windows which come up on top of everthing else and usually can't be dismissed should be shot too."

      I have a particularly bad offender there on my Mac. On startup it insists on displaying a progress bar as it opens a large database. If I refocus on another app to get some work done, the app icon in the Dock starts bouncing like mad.

      I know that I've got a large database and it's going to take time to open. I don't want to watch while that happens.

      No, you aren't the only app I run; you are not the most important of them either.

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    riating to view.It may be UL but didn't Quantel Paintbox (the fastest GUI on earth) version up and move the Zap button to where the Save button had been ?

    Unfortunately i never got past hunt'n'peck typing so an awful lot of the time I will be typing into a chat window waiting for (massive app) to load and then hit a dozen shortcuts into the big slow loading program and usually have to start loading the whole thing again.

    Also unfortunately theregister is pretty awful on mobile with that random sized advert at the top of the page randomly scrolling you up and down whenever it decides to load, or the inline images waiting until you scroll before adding their own height to your action making it infu

  53. Famdh

    FYI to everyone...

    These issues come from un-anounced changes Googe imposed upon web design in the spring of 2014. I had just finished designing a website and went to publish on the web and ran into the issues.

    Google unilaterally decided all web-sites had to be phone friendly or GOOGLE would not list them. Re-write the code. They told no one - just did it. You will remember back then web-sites getting skinny on your screen and ugly. Popular websites were given grandfather priveleges and time to re-write their programs. Many websites, blogs, etc. died from lack of hits- the poor slobs were no longer showing up on searches and didn't know why the computing world was so dead. I presume they gave up. They are gone. Money won.

    The new requirements also included two other changes. Touch screen was made the norm. Designers had to come up with code to detect mice. Some did a poor job and just hovering on an icon opened it like a finger touch. Eventually the regard for mice was just forgotten by most.

    The other change they called "above the fold". All of the code pertaining to the opening screen woud load first eliminating the wait spiral icon. Once loaded code below the fold would load when needed, finger touched or scrolled over. Web sites scrambled to redesign their code.

    In the PC world most sites continue to load everything because there is plenty of screen to use. Poor programming added below the fold to the now opened first screen causing it to re-adjust the screen real-estate causing everything to jump around. Over time the addition of ADDS has just gotten out of hand. Worst written site, best example on PC's: Crosswalk. I do not have a smart phone, but I'll bet their phone site works just fine but on a PC it is just about unusable unless you have a very fast PC and wait till it settles down to use it.

    I commonly see screen flicker with many videos. I believe this is also related to this imposition by Google or something else they didn't announce.

    The home-pc died because: 1. Greed-monopoly, (EA games) and the drive to complexity without backward compatability killed the pc software industry. 2. The internet became the playground of commerce, (shopping channel) by extension to smart-phone demographic chiefly used for social and shopping. 3. The dissing of creative and amateur websites for PC's by Google - internet no longer a home for amatuers. 4. The interruption of function by State sponsered spying and control. Privacy and functionality is being removed from the peons.

    What is the next shoe? Smartphones websites must be compatible with watches? No. Decreasing smart-phone functionality can be fixed by taking the chip or the cloud oriented head device.

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Re: FYI to everyone...

      I found that Google was faulty, one of the biggest faults is that + is no longer used so searching for X Y Z will find many results for Y Z but none for X Y Z, so did +X Y Z, errors.

      DuckDuckGo however returned a few X Y Z sites.

  54. DrM
    Thumb Up

    BINGO!

    Never has an El Reg article hit home like this one. I really thought I was the only person who was being driven crazy by all this.

  55. Norman Nescio Silver badge

    Microsoft Outlook progress bar(s)

    I back up someone's rather large local email store on a semi-regular basis.

    Microsoft's interface design has some curious elements to it: choosing to back up (copy) the contents of the local inbox and associated folders stored in the .ost file to a separate .pst file requires one to choose the File-Open-Import option, followed by choosing Export to a file from a pick-list. No, really. Go and check.

    The export location always defaults to where the .ost file is currently stored. So if your client has multiple .pst files open in Outlook, as well as the .ost, and you want to back up each one, you have to navigate to the backup location where you want the back up .pst file placed every time. If the client has organised themselves to have 'a number' of psts, this gets tedious.*

    But once copying the data to a new pst, you get a progress bar, which zips across to 100%. Then another. And another. And another. And another. And yet more. All taking different times, and apparently bearing no relation to the folder structure in the .ost file. All this means you have no way of knowing how long the backup will take.

    If anyone knows of some reliable continuous backup software on Windows that will cope with Outlook, please say.

    *Yes, I know in principle, all I need to do is close Outlook and make a copy of the relevant .pst files. However, what you may not know that even if Outlook is closed, the .ost and .pst files remain held open by Windows so that you get a file access error if trying to copy them. I've not looked into it deeply, but it's probably either a caching issue, or a hidden system service (like a new mail notifier) that runs in the background keeping the files open, and therefore uncopyable safely.

  56. AndrueC Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Ye Gods! How did I miss this excellent article last Friday? Maybe I was working. Still - that's a poor excuse.

    Anyway I am right with you here Dabbsy. Prior to XP you could pop up the Windows Start menu during boot up and navigate it. Telling things to launch while the rest of the system got ready. Not any more though. Hit 'Start' and just as you're reaching the target menu item the damn' thing closes on you. FFS! If the menu is enabled it should be navigable. If the system really doesn't want me trying to launch things while it's getting ready then disable the bloody menu!

    Then there's Visual Studio. Oh what a tease. It appears within a fraction of a second when called. But you can't do anything with it for a couple of seconds. You load a solution and it appears immediately. But you can't do anything with it for several seconds. Then there's the oh so cryptic 'A background process is taking longer than expected' during a build.

    But the best of all (in a negative way) is if you accidentally ask it to go the implementation of something in a third party library. Now fine - it's a useful feature when you need it. But mostly you don't. You just got a bit carried away. So a dialog box appears telling you it's downloading several dozen megabytes from somewhere. Damn. Luckily there's a cancel button so you click that. Another dialog appears telling you that it's downloading something else now. Arse! Click cancel. The decompiled source appears anyway. Clearly the VS development team have a different definition of 'cancel' than I do.

    But my number one pet hate is Windows' focus stealing. It's pretty much the one thing above all else that a GUI should not do. Yet as Dabbsy alludes to it does it. I've had password dialogs hidden by text editors so I get to type my password in full sight of everyone else (security - we've heard of it). And, yes, cancel buttons appearing over the top of 'Ok' buttons. MS even claimed once to have fixed it but it was only a partial fix (the occasionally flashing task bar icon).

    1. Esme

      @AndrueC - much the same problems here - on Linux. I f*****g hate focus-stealing applications...

  57. David 18

    Emperor's new clothes

    Basic software interface design reached a pinnacle about 15 - 20 years ago, especially the standard File>...Help menu bar. Didn't matter what you used, whether the first or millionth time you'd used it, it worked.

    Everyone has fawn and praise the god-awful shittiness of the flat, monochrome, capitalised crap we have now, that makes it impossible to tell which is the active window at a glance, otherwise you are a dinosaur and the dreaded "Change-averse".

    Why is that a bad thing? Change for improvement is great, i'd happily lead the charge. Change for change's sake is wasteful, inefficient bollox.

    Being generous, I think there are too many "developers" out there trying to justify their existence, fiddling around the edges and breaking things.

    Being paranoid, it sells "training" courses.

  58. Marshalltown

    Really

    As far as ads go, why doesn't someone write an "app" that lies to server sites? The app tells the ad server it has received the ad, but writes out to /dev/null. Then everyone's happy. The ad people think they're getting views, you're happy because there's no crap on your screen. It isn't like anyone would miss anything, and the advertisers might even gain some sales to folks to did not take an oath to never buy a thing from the jerks that paid for that monumentally irritating ad.

  59. rnturn

    Bad HTML coding

    Image tags have the means to inform the browser that "A 200x400 image will be placed here" and have that space be reserved to be filled in when the image has actually been received. But web coders can't be bothered to jump through the minor hoop needed to let the browser do that space reservation, instead taking the lazy way out and letting the browser re-render the page after each graphical element is received. Taking these coders out back and shooting may be too harsh. Perhaps paying them more to take these fine points into consideration would help. Or pay them less so that the lazy ones will leave the industry.

    1. PM.

      Re: Bad HTML coding

      Nah, just shut them

  60. FeRDNYC

    The web is still the worst place for this

    I get most irritated by it in the various Facebook interfaces I use (both desktop AND Android app, displaying an eerie synchronicity in their ability to annoy), where so much of the input system attempts to "automagically" provide assistance in ways that actually end up sabotaging you.

    Search-result popups are the worst, since they all insist on being typeahead autocompleted, and they populate the list of matches in multiple passes. So you'll go to match an @-tag, or type the name of some entertainment property you're "Watching / Reading / Listening to / etc.", and when it (usually) appears in the first pass of matches, you'll reach to select that item... only to have it slide out from under your pointer or finger as a second pass brings additional matches that shift around the contents of the list.

    It's absolutely maddening. Especially since it's the sort of thing you can accidentally do two or three times in quick succession, while you get progressively more frustrated with yourself for not being as ponderously slow and schizoid as their UI.

  61. PM.

    Alastair..

    You're not alone. I f*ck hate that too .. at least there's two of us

  62. jaffa99

    Items move on web pages just as I'm clicking too often for it to be unintentional, I often end up clicking an ad.

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