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An instance of a usability error

Have you noticed any yourself? Show us here.

Sathyaish Chakravarthy
Friday, July 2, 2004

The bottom part of the "G" on the Fog Creek Software link not operating as a link.


Friday, July 2, 2004

There are tons (including many amusing ones) at "This is Broken":

Friday, July 2, 2004

That site is interesting: This is Broken. Did you read this article on the NY Times, even linked on the home page of the site? It's amusing.

Here's a part from the NY Times story on "This Is Broken":

WHILE staying at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco this spring, Mark Hurst was annoyed when he learned that it charged guests $2 to make a toll-free call and $1.50 for a local call. As an Internet consultant who specializes in improving the "customer experience" of corporate and commercial Web sites, he found the charges akin to getting a dead fish on his pillow. When he vented his annoyance in a weekly e-mail newsletter he publishes that deals with a range of consumer experiences, he struck a chord with readers.
"That column got more of a response than anything I've ever written about the Internet or Web sites," Mr. Hurst said.

The outpouring of hotel horror stories led him to create This Is Broken (, a forum where consumers can air their gripes about everything from hidden hotel costs to baffling error messages to bad road signs.

Through the site, Mr. Hurst hopes to make businesses and other organizations more aware of their customers when they design products or provide services. He also wants to have some fun along the way.

Sathyaish Chakravarthy
Friday, July 2, 2004

My most recent personal experience:

  I downloaded Kodak's EasyShare software looking for an easier way to print photos.  When I pointed it at my directory of pictures it loaded 2000 into it's database automaticaly...... in *one* huge album! How useless is that? I had them all categorized in folders. Total crap not to be able to create albums/subalbums based on folders.

  Oh well it was free - I guess that's what you get.

Friday, July 2, 2004

I wrote a very long reply to your post, sgf, but while I was writing it, the power cable deserted everything. My system restarted.

The experience you mention is a good one, but I tend to think it is a matter of preference. You prefered or expected the software to maintain the heirarchy into the album. It did not react the way you expected. Instead, it drilled down the entire tree of your target folder and loaded all the pictures into the RAM into a single-tiered album. It went an extra mile. So a user would think, who expected it to behave that way. The bad thing is that it did not ask you by way of a checkbox whether to load just the files in the target folder or to drill down the heirarchy, like the checkbox in the Windows _search_for_files_or_folders_ asks you by way of a checkbox. Same thing happens when we set/remove file attributes in the Windows shell.

It is along the lines of the difference between removing a file from a VB6 project as against removing it from a VS.NET project. VB6 only removes the file from the project and the underlying file remains in the folder. VS.NET deletes the file from the folder. The only solace is that while inserting, it makes a copy of the original, so you're not plain robbed. For removing without deleting the file, VS.NET has another command. A matter of expectation.

The worst case scenario would be if EasyShare loaded all your pictures from the entire heirarchy into a single-layered album and then deleted the original target folder and all its contents.

Sathyaish Chakravarthy
Friday, July 2, 2004

"the power cable deserted everything." - usability problem? :)

While I agree the many usability issues are really about expectations, I'm not sure about this one. I fail to see how *any* user wants 2000 or more pictures in one big list. After all the point of the application is managing pictures.

By comparison, some mp3 software I've used correctly sucks in a full directory and maps the folder/file structure into its database. I consider this elementary application behavior with average users having large disks with many files.


Friday, July 2, 2004

I tried to email a link to the "This is Broken" site to my coworkers.  I copied the link from IE, and tried to paste it into Outlook (2002), where it showed up as a completely useless document icon.  To actually paste the text I had just copied, I have to "Paste Special", and select "Text".

Friday, July 2, 2004

Microsoft doesn't want you to paste links as text. No, they don't care about your complaint.

Friday, July 2, 2004

That's a bunch of bull. Haven't you seen numerous places all over the web where MS employees write about the products that they work on? These MS employees obviously care deeply about providing good products.

If you say that Steve Balmer doesn't care about providing good products, you have an argument, but saying that nobody at MS listens to product complaints is just crap.

Friday, July 2, 2004

Maybe MS employees are caring and nurturing saints, but MS Office still insists on pasting everything it can get away with as an embedded OLE document (=icon). Annoying.

Saturday, July 3, 2004

Don't you ever use "paste special"? - I never trust what format a program decides is going to be pasted in. With paste special you have a choice.

Saturday, July 3, 2004

Speaking of power problems:

When I was at UW, the computer lab in the library had the power strips for the X terminals mounted right under the desks at foot-level.  If you stretched your legs at all (and weren't careful to slant them off into the wall on the aisle), you'd knock out power to your terminal, 9 times out of 10.

I wished the guy who installed those had actually tried using them.  People did that all the time.  Grrrr...

Sunday, July 4, 2004

Speaking of power problems...
The labs at IBM have big red emergency power buttons for the whole room (hundreds of mainframes) right by the door.  A couple months ago, someone accidentally leaned on one.

Tuesday, July 6, 2004

50 % of the time I click on "Run" in the Start Menu Of Windows, I seem to be clicking "Help" (the one just above) which in turn gives a delay of 2 secs to open up the window.

I thought it was only me but a few of my friends too have the same problem !

Can't they place it at some other location and have some harmless command on top of Run which does not open up a window ?

Vindy P
Wednesday, July 7, 2004

>50 % of the time I click on "Run" in the Start Menu Of Windows, I seem to be clicking "Help" (the one just above) which in turn gives a delay of 2 secs to open up the window.

Good one. I do happen to make the same mistake sometimes.

Sathyaish Chakravarthy
Wednesday, July 7, 2004

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