Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the President to explain to us what the exit strategy is.    The Honorable Governor of Texas, George W. Bush

I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.    Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

What's a Matta Wid Use, Anyhow?

Hold onto your ergonomic wireless mouse with the scroll button, cuz I'm here to tell ya that today... well, actually yesterday was World Usability Day. It's seems the Usability Professionals' Association wasn't all that good at getting the word out via the media.

It certainly might have been put to good use, though, as lord knows there are some seriously misguided concepts wrestled into the products we all love to hate out here. Remember the metal twist caps on pop bottles that spun and spun and never separated from the lower ring? That's what I'm talking about here.

If there's one thing people have a hard time using, a lot, it's remote controls. the Little Hun will just holler, "Why is it blue again?" and then I go patiently explain that the TV is supposed to be on 4 and if you push the TV button before the channel button, etc., but I wonder, "If the remote can talk to the TV, why the hell can't it tell it she's aiming at the cable box?" And then there's my mom's Direct TV remote. The smallest button on it? That's how you turn the damn TV on! You need a magnifying glass and a flashlight to find that little fucker.

And speaking of TV. In the good old days, you knew where things were. I like all these channels, but does the Bulls game have to be on channel 453? My digital cable box knows who I am. "This is me, Don, the guy who last night watched six straight reruns of Curb Your Enthusiasm on demand." It knows where I live, and my channel lineup. It knows 4 is NBC and 6 is Fox and 12 is ABC. Then why the hell is 6 on 3 and 4 on 6? And why oh why is 12 on 10 and nothing is on 12? 58 is on 9, and since this is our sorry-ass excuse for a CBS affiliate, I can live with that. But why not 8? No, channel 41, a low power loser, is on 8. Leave 41 on 41, put 58 on 8, and then WGN can be on 9, like in all it's logos, instead of 17. What the hell?

The other day I must have been a little bit nervous, cuz I bit off all my fingernails. All this nervousness can wear a guy out, so I stopped into the quick mart for a cup of Joe. Being off hours, the only cream available was those little tubs with the foil tops. Whoever thought this was a good idea? This must have been invented by the wife of the guy who invented the rear fastening bra! So I took it black, and went after my fingernails again.

Some things just get more complicated instead of better. How about the digital car clock? Go ahead and figure out how to set it back an hour when you drive your rental car into a new time zone. There was a time when you just grabbed a clock's hands and put them in the right place. That was easy. And digital alarm clocks? How come they never know it's Sunday? What century are we in anyway? I'd rather be late on Monday than early on Sunday, thank you. I'm sure there are 24/7 clocks that program schedules, but do I have to go to the Sharper Image for everything? That's a long drive, and I might need more coffee. I don't think my fingernails could take it.

Then there's all the filling out stuff. Good god almighty, how many times do we have to keep giving these people the same information? We gave up our privacy when they invented Social Security. In exchange, could we be at least be freed from writer's cramp from filling out forms every place we go? And quit asking me what state and town I live in. We have a number for that, and have for quite some time, now! "There is an error. City is a required field. State is a required field. Please be sure to fill out all required fields." No, they really aren't required.

Please fill out this form so that we may have your medical records transferred to us. And please fill out this form describing your medical history, which is the same as the form you filled out at the doctor's office we will be getting your records from.

Software? We don't even have time to go there. Questions arise, such as: In the supposed MS Office Suite, why does Excel save printing preferences with the workbook, but Word saves them only for the session? Don't they have email over there in Redmond? Or when you want to send a clever something to a bunch of people you click on the address book and you get a list with double entries for anyone that has more than one email address in their contact form and you can't tell which is which cuz they only list the name and you really shouldn't be sending this clever something to the person's work or maybe to a joint account with the person's wife or something cuz someone may end up in sensitivity training or court or something. Just in Office, I could write a book of huh?s.

Well, I gotta go now. I have to set up a wireless network so the littlest Hun can connect to fantasy football while he visits home. I used to have a game called All Star Baseball. The stats were represented around a disc for each player. A cardboard disc. You put together a team, you played the discs and spun the spinner. It was fun. And you could play any time of the day or night. It was, well, more usable.


At 10:31 AM, Blogger Bullock said...

You may want to sum it all up this way:
--there are no shortcuts with anything,anytime, anywhere
--if something promises to be a shortcut or timesaver or a convenience, it is just marketing fluff
And, last--everything takes longer than you think it should.
I would like to ban from our language the following retort,"You just....dadda, dadda, dada". Like I have innate genes that automatically sense what it is to be done.

It ain't that easy anymore, Mr. Natural.

At 10:43 AM, Blogger sequoit said...

I left out those freaking upside down Mayo bottles. Ya gotta spread the stuff, anyway. If I wanted to hear a fart, I'd bounce against the wall, as per my mentor in such matters.

At 7:21 PM, Blogger Bullock said...

You must mean indoor sock basketball in the old Hills 'hood? I was just doin' my Barkley backup move. The curtain covered the hole in the wall for a long time... Heh, Heh.


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