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Worst Use of Technology

Let's take a vote on what it could be.

My vote: FLOATING TOOLBARS

I hate hem so much! Let me get at my dawn window without having to drag all thes f-in floating toolbars out of the way you stupid m-fers at design outhouse adobe I hate all you adobe sons of camels!

Dennis Atkins
Saturday, July 17, 2004

Pestiferous password configuration in Lotus Notes that means I have to re-enter my password every half-hour and if I don't, I don't get any of the reminders I set so that I could concentrate on my work for a whole 45 minutes without having to watch the clock.

Then when it says "You have new mail" and I go "Open mail" and I can't, because I'm locked out, and it doesn't bother opening the new mail or even fetching it.

Not having enough admin rights to set my own damn configuration, either.

Fernanda Stickpot
Saturday, July 17, 2004

> I have to re-enter my password every half-hour

Yes I hate that too! Darn them! Darn them all!
Fooey I say! Double fooey with fiddlesticks!

Dennis Atkins
Saturday, July 17, 2004

Floating toolbars are absolutely necessary in Adobe Photoshop

muppet
Saturday, July 17, 2004

Yeah floating toolbars in photoshop annoy me sometimes, I wish there were easier ways of 'docking' them.

Matt
Saturday, July 17, 2004

they dock fine, to the parent window, to each other, or to the edges of the screen.  How much more docking you want?

muppet
Saturday, July 17, 2004

Dennis Atkins,

*lmao*

If it was just one bad design that'd be okay. I think it's about time settings survive forever and the windows user interface receives a slight overhaul (much of the purported 1 billion Windows users knows the same flaws as you and me).

Li-fan Chen
Saturday, July 17, 2004

Don't get me started on Lotus Notes.

I use to think OutLook/Exchange was horrible....until I starting using Lotus Notes. I'd switch back in a heartbeat (or another client if are company would enable POP or IMAP access).

I think Peter Gutman sums up Notes best:

http://www.cs.auckland.ac.nz/~pgut001/misc/notespotting.pdf

(CAUTION: Strong Langauge ! Of course Peter says strong language is common amongst Notes Users)

-Neil

Neil Johnson
Saturday, July 17, 2004

why do folks insist on using .pdf for web publishing?  BAD BAD BAD

muppet
Saturday, July 17, 2004

Why PDF? because unlike HTML, PDF will render correctly cross-platform, including on print media - no need to make like 5 different style sheets. Also, Acrobat is a richer experience than most browsers (hey, it zooms text!).

Ankur
Saturday, July 17, 2004

and I have to wait 20-30 seconds to view your content, during which time I'll almost certainly change my mind about how important it is.

Not to mention, if the server is under load, chances are I won't see it at all.

muppet
Saturday, July 17, 2004

"they dock fine, to the parent window, to each other, or to the edges of the screen.  How much more docking you want?"

No, actually they don't. They do dock to each other, and the fact that they float is great for putting them on the second monitor, but most people don't use two monitors, they use one. And I really don't count putting them in the little tab box up top right of the screen as acceptable docking. You need to be able to dock them fully and completely the edge of the screen, thus reducing the work client area, but preventing your work from disappearing underneath the toolbars. Think how annoying it would be if all the toolbars in Visual Studio were forced to be floating and your code kept disappearing underneath them.

Nathan Ridley
Saturday, July 17, 2004

"most people don't use two monitors"

most people serious about graphic design on the computer do.

I have dual monitors and couldn't dream of using photoshop OR any of my code editors without them.  It's INSANELY useful to have my app in one screen, and the source in the other.  Actually, I can only think of one person I know who uses Photoshop and codes regularly and DOESN'T have two monitors.

I recall PS toolbars docking to the screen, but even if they don't, it's never caused me any trouble.  Maybe it would if I were arthritic or had a twitch...

muppet
Saturday, July 17, 2004

Computerized voting booths.

A threat to democracy.  There's no paper trail or auditing.  Hmmm... since Howard Dean was the biggest user of technology, maybe that'd have gotten him elected <g>.

Mr. Analogy
Saturday, July 17, 2004

no paper trail?  Sure, there's an electronic record.

Do you somehow think that an actual paper paper trail is any more secure?  Seriously?

muppet
Saturday, July 17, 2004

don't know if it's a bad use of technology or just a bad idea. but yeah, a paper trail is much more secure. pure efficiency of scale here. harder to stuff a ballot boxes with thousands of pieces of paper than to flip a few bits. (and yes, both events have happened and will happen.)

read up on the electronic voting stuff and you'll find it extremely scary. shouldn't even be hard to solve, supposedly the indians did a good job in their most recent election though who knows if that's not just grass-is-greenerism.

mb
Saturday, July 17, 2004

by hard to solve I mean "write simple software which can do the job in a reasonable fashion", not "make resistant to fraud". i think it'd be quite hard to make a system more resistant to fraud than a scantron or similar system. or a more scalable or less expensive system for that matter.

mb
Saturday, July 17, 2004

I've been looking for an opportunity to rant about mailling labels, so I'll jump in here.  Yes, magazine mailing labels.  Something so simple you'd hardly think there could be a problem.  Maybe that's why they get screwed up.

To be specific, there is at least one magazine mailing label generating system out there that truncates address lines at 30 characters.  For me that is a problem because my apartment number gets chopped off when it's on the same line as the street address.

This system has been out there for years and no one has fixed it.  In fact, it is spreading.  Last month one magazine that I had been getting for over 10 years switched to this broken format.  Another one that I had been getting for almost as long switched about two years ago.  I could never get them to fix it and after a couple of years of delayed, lost or misdelivered issues I just dropped the subscription.

I find it quite frustrating that this trivial piece of technology that one should hardly have to give a thought to is not only defective, but in the past it worked right and now no one seems able to fix it.

Z
Saturday, July 17, 2004

>Do you somehow think that an actual paper paper trail is any more secure?

Troll!

Dennis Atkins
Saturday, July 17, 2004

How is it a troll?  Do you really think it's that much harder to screw with a paper record if you want to?  If you've got the "in" to allow you to mess with the electronic record, you've got the "in" to screw with a physical one, too.

muppet
Saturday, July 17, 2004

If the paper receipt shows a different result that what you voted, you are certainly going to call the precinct worker's attention to it right away and any tampering will be found out.

So you must be talking about screwing with the paper records AFTER the voter has left.

You are claiming that changing millions of these paper records is just as easy as changing millions of electronic records.

This is such an outlandish and basically stupid claim that you are clearly trolling as no person with more than half a brain could think you are serious.

Dennis Atkins
Saturday, July 17, 2004

once the voter has left?  Yes, a person with the requisite access could fuck with millions of paper records just as well as electronic ones.  Quite as physically easy?  No.  Just as possible?  Yes.

muppet
Sunday, July 18, 2004

OK, so you agree that it is a LOT HARDER. Stuff that's harder to beat is generally considered more secure, agree? So den electronic not as secure as paper.

Dennis Atkins
Sunday, July 18, 2004

??? its not anywhere near as possible.

think about it, currently all the votes are counted and tallied and the totals phoned in.

In order for me, bob, to mess with the totals I either have to physically repace all the votes, subvert the counters and those watchign them, subvert the person who calls the vote count in, or subvert the person who receives the tallies.

Some of those options are physically impossible (try replacing the millions of votes in thousands of different locations with new pieces of people and count the # of people who notice).

and some are just not that much good...subverting the person who receives the tallies will result in a failure because when the count is reported for location x the people who counted will notice the difference.

subverting the counters themselves (and those who watch them) is unrealistic because of the sheer # of people I would have to subvert.....*someone* is gonna refuse and report me.

overall changing the result in a major way under a paper system is very difficult  to impossible....the best you could hope for is to locate a few key locations and focus on changing their results....possible but still very difficult and very likely to cause notice at one or other of the levels.

OTOH electronic voting means that only 2 places are aware of the vote I cast....myself and the computer.
At the most basic level, if the computer simply records my vote as something other than what I entered, who is ever going to know?
as you work up the chain, the opportunities for uncheckable mistake to be made increases....when reporting the results to the central computer, if it is misreported...who is going to know?  instead of a verifiable trail you end up with a black box that just spits out the results, and no one can verify their accuracy.

paper voting is the only sensible method IMO, its possible for it to be accurate, quick and efficient and *trusted*

Even adding a paper receipt to the electronic voting process merely duplicates the paper voting system....as soon as you do that you may as well just dump the electron system altogether.

the best approach IMO is to use touch screens for the actual voting process that simply spit out the vote in human readable form and then let the standard paper voting system take over....that way you get all the benefits of an electron interface and none of the drawbacks of a completely electronic system.

FullNameRequired
Sunday, July 18, 2004

A paper trail is absolutely necessary. Sure it can be abused; South Asia is full of ballot stuffing, and it is not at all uncommon for the dead to vote, but that is what you have observers and election commissioners for.

The best system is for the vote to be entered in a computer, which prints out a paper ballot, which is then handed in.

This allows for the provisional results to be issued instantaneously on close of polls, and for a physical count to be held to avoid software bugs or irregularities.

Stephen Jones
Sunday, July 18, 2004

"most people serious about graphic design on the computer do"

To disclaim, I use two monitors myself, but three of my coworkers who aren't graphic designers still have reason to use it, and when I have to help them do this or that, it's still annoying having to call back all the toolbars they closed because they'd been getting in the way. This was the case at my last job as well.

Nathan Ridley
Sunday, July 18, 2004

"If the paper receipt shows a different result that what you voted, you are certainly going to call the precinct worker's attention to it right away and any tampering will be found out"

How could you possibly know the paper is different? Doesn't the coulrty you live in have what's known as a "secret ballot"?

But back to the OP, my vote for worst technology is forcing me to use a mouse/click to get anything done, without giving me access to the underlying API so I can automate the task.

Tom H
Sunday, July 18, 2004

Dennis:

Surely you know about the Tab key?  That one little Adobe feature makes up for a *lot* of wasted screen real estate.  Now if only Macromedia would take a clue from that...

Sam Livingston-Gray
Sunday, July 18, 2004

Oh, and FullNameRequired:

<< (try replacing the millions of votes in thousands of different locations with new pieces of people and count the # of people who notice) >>

Pieces of people?  I think the smell would tip someone off rather quickly... ;>

Sam Livingston-Gray
Sunday, July 18, 2004

"Surely you know about the Tab key?"

Sam - wow, thanks for that tip. I don't use PS very much, but that sure makes it better. I wonder, in OS X does it fly them out like Expose, that would be cool (not more functional, but cool).

  --Josh

JWA
Sunday, July 18, 2004

The most irritating feature, IMO, is the splitting of functions into tabs. I feel more comfortable drilling down a tree on the left and make changes in the right than bringing to front the various tabs.

Especially when there are three or more rows of them. An example would be the properties window of a user in Active Directory. Throw in Exchange and try tabbing through the settings. One has to keep looking at the tabs to know which ones are in which row, as they keep changing their positions.

KayJay
Sunday, July 18, 2004

Worst Use of Technology Ever:

Automated telephone menuing systems.  After I punch the ten numbers to talk to somebody at a company, I don't want to talk to a bloody machine and press a lot more buttons. 

Second worst: the predictive dialing systems used by telemarkets and pollsters. 

I know that there are some degenerates who read this board who are involved with such devices.  May you be forced to work only in COBOL in your next life.

Clay Dowling
Sunday, July 18, 2004

Wow, thanks. Rummaging through by hard drive, I see that that tab key trick has been in Photoshop at least since 1993's Photoshop 2.0.

This could be a whole thread or book about extremely useful features that are not used because no one knows of it - I have given the toolbar rant to dozens of Photoshop users over the years and you are the first person who had an answer other than 'get a second monitor'.

Dennis Atkins
Sunday, July 18, 2004

KJ,

I like tabs when they make sense, where you have different documents or panels like in a file cabinet that those tabs bring a folder to front, say like tabbed browsing, the gift of the gods!

But anytime that it gets to more than 1 row, the interface has failed. I too am driven BATTY by playing whack-a-mole with moving tab rows.

Dennis Atkins
Sunday, July 18, 2004

I think Clay must be right.
The worst part is when you are put on hold at the end for twenty minutes and are paying (some places charge a premium rate so it's in their interest to keep you on hold).

Stephen Jones
Monday, July 19, 2004

Mobile ringtones anyone?

Just me (Sir to you)
Monday, July 19, 2004

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