All these pop-ups on hover-over

I can’t seem to read web pages any more because I can’t see the page itself for flashy things that keep obscuring it.

I use Opera for Facebook (only, so sites I visit in Safari can’t get me to unwittingly “like” them or find my history), and every time I go to click on reload or back I can’t because the bloody browser has put some huge picture of the tab above it right over the buttons.

Worse still, when I try to read things on the page, Facebook keeps throwing up all sorts of crap I don’t want, about whatever my mouse happens to be over.

Browsing is meant to be a relaxing experience (it’s called browsing, not reading!), but I find myself moving the mouse like a maniac so it doesn’t pause long enough anywhere to get some great big bubble over the text I am looking at.

I get the same problem with these huge menus you get on modern web pages when you move over the tabs at the top. In fact, if I actually want to see a menu, I can manage the effort to move my finger and click on it. And then I come to and find that the latest upgrade to WordPress has moved to hover-over menus on my site!

Is this really the state of the art in user experience?

Or is it just that someone thought it was cool, and so everyone does it now?

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New Wikipedia is a parasite – is it just Yahoo on steroids?

I could really rant about the Wikipedia Police and how they impose their view on pages, even when they are ignorant of the topic. But there are more serious issues here. So I will rant about those.

The really exciting thing about Wikipedia in the early days was that it captured stuff that nothing else could capture. This meant that if you happened to know something about something, then by contributing to Wikipedia the world was able to access that information.

No more.

The only stuff that is acceptable to the New Wikipedia editors is stuff that has valid references, whatever “valid” might mean.

This has some bad consequences.

Firstly, nothing can find its way onto New Wikipedia unless it appears somewhere else, and somewhere else means on the Web. So New Wikipedia is not generating any new content at all! It has become more like perhaps Yahoo in its heyday, where it was an attempt to index and organise the information on and from the web.

Secondly, this means it is seriously skewed towards the last 20 years. Someone or something who has lived or happened in the last 20 years is far more likely to have reached New Wikipedia “notability” by being referred to in the press etc., with the articles available online. In contrast, someone of great “notability” living even in the middle of the last century is very unlikely to have any online presence, and therefore not be part of New Wikipedia History.

A third consequence of the two above is that people who might have usefully contributed their knowledge do not. Yes, I am talking about me, for example. There are people I know in Computing who were there are the start and shortly afterwards. Nobody I know would now do anything significant in trying to contribute to New Wikipedia – it is just too hard, with a low likelihood of success in getting the editors to accept the contribution. This is a Bad Thing; as I said, the excitement of Wikipedia was in that it actually captured stuff from experts. Now it is the very experts that used to contribute who shun it. And by the way, they are dying off, so all that knowledge is getting lost. So when you read that in practice there are very few people who contribute to New Wikipedia, be not surprised. They are the ignorant few, not the informed crowd source.

And by the way, don’t think that those golden nuggets of information from the early Wikipedia contributions stay there! They are being removed article by article as their lack of reference takes them below an acceptable level for the New Wikipedia.

Of course I understand some of why this has happened, not least because of the constant griping from people about the quality of the Wikipedia content. But it really pisses me off that the great innovative crowd-sourcing site has morphed into something that is very far from a real crowd-source, and in fact has left a vacuum where it used to be. And because it was once there, there is no chance of anything else replacing the need.

Or is there?

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Mac Lion’s fiddling

I am just so racked off with the useless fiddling they have done.
Apart from the known Mail-Exchange bug and the fact that Safari crashes, and now iTunes and Mail are crashing on me…

What is with the Address Book and iCal – they were perfectly good apps; now I can’t see overviews of my contacts on my 30″ screen, and can’t even see the appointment times easily in month view.
And since when did Apple encourage applications with non-standard titles bars?
Jesus wept.
My Mac is not an iPad, just as my iPad is not a Mac.
It is like they actually don’t want people to have large desktop Macs.
I am even starting to use Windows 7 apps (in a VM) as they are sometimes less annoying than the Apple ones.
The interactions should be different between a little 1024×768 screen with touch and a 2560×1600 screen with just a mouse and keyboard.
Oh sorry, they are.
On the iCal on the iPad the Today button is the bottom left; on the Mac iCal it is the top right.
And the “+” is bottom right and top left.
Let’s make sure I can never find anything.
Why not shuffle the buttons all the time so I always have to look for them?

And what is with shaving a few pixels off the scroll bars as a great big advance, making it harder to hit them?
While at the same time wasting huge amounts of pixels in the aforementioned Address Book and iCal.
Yeah, I want pictures of silly bits of torn paper and staples instead of actually being able to hit the right bit of the screen.
And then they even switch off the simple things that I expect in the HCI.
Can I hover over an appointment to get details? No.
I used to be able to right-click on an email address in the To list of Mail to remove it – not any more. Click on the silly little arrow to bring up the context menu.
On and on.
Why would you actually remove things like that? They weren’t harming anyone.

And what about “Restore windows when quitting…”?

I close the document, then I quit.
But it still insists on opening the closed document the next time.

Apart from having to wait while a 10 MB word document opens before I can see the 100K one I double clicked on, it can be entirely inappropriate.
I fire up Excel to show some project plans, and it begins by displaying the sheet with my bank account transactions on.
Not what I would want on the screen in a large project meeting.
Sometimes I can imagine that people legitimately look at documents that would constitute a disciplinary offence if they were to find their way onto a public screen at an inappropriate time 🙂

And all that greyness – everyone knows that colours help to give me visual clues. And actually for some buttons I can’t even tell whether they are active or not, the shades are so similar.

I sort of vaguely hope these things will be sorted in 10.7.2, but somehow I think there will be more of the same for a lot of it.

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The Post Office hasn’t worked out there are Mac users out there

I wanted to open a Cash ISA.
When I clicked on the Download Application Form button on it downloaded a windows .exe self-extracting archive.
I moved it to a windows box, and it extracted to the expected pdf.

But for dog’s sake!
There are any number of other self-extracting formats that are less platform-dependent.
And for a 1.3M file, do you really need to compress it nowadays?

And it gets worse, it turns out.
If you let the page time out on you you don’t get a nice message; you get a Server error:

Server Error in ‘/’ Application.
The resource cannot be found.
Description: HTTP 404. The resource you are looking for (or one of its dependencies) could have been removed, had its name changed, or is temporarily unavailable. Please review the following URL and make sure that it is spelled correctly.

Requested URL: /Timeout.aspx


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Cannot play media. You do not have the correct version of the flash player.

This is a joke – right? Everyone tells me that the iPhone is rubbish because it doesn’t do Flash, unlike the wonderful Android.

The very first page I try to look at:

And yes, I went through the updating process, and it tells me I have the latest version.

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All the information Google wants on my Android

Basically it doesn’t do loads of things if I don’t tell Google my inside leg measurement.

The permissions are endless: Where am I?, link this account to my Google account, and that account to my Google account, connect these calendars.

I have to say that I never had anything like this on my iPhone.
Yes, Apple is a closed App store, but this never bothered me – it is just a service I used. Like the Android Market. I might have missed out on a few Apps, but I all I want to do is the basic things on such a piddling screen.

But Apple never gathered the information Google tries to get out of me. The Android just tries to use Google for everything. Gmail, Calendar, Address Book. And I have to go round switching everything off. Then something else crawls out of the woodwork, because I actually do want to read my gmail on the device, so have to tell it my account. So suddenly my address book offers to link up all the contacts it has found in gmail to my address book proper.

Apple had .mac or MobileMe or whatever it was, but I never subscribed, and the iPhone worked fine. Just because I need to have a Google account to join some groups, Google works like hell to make sure that Google becomes my main supplier of everything, and actually makes life difficult for me if I don’t. And keeps on squirrelling my information away. I can imagine that most people just give up and hand it all over.

The iPhone manages to provide seamless integration between the Apps without the server knowing who I am – why can’t the Android?

And in the end I trust Apple more than Google, and certainly after this. In 25 years as an Apple user I have never seen any information leak out. However, after a few years using Google, if I go to all sorts of web pages I am offered products in the middle of them based on what I have searched for and where I was in the world last.

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