see nerd) blog — making software annoying

Here are some common features, with examples, to add to software to make it annoying.

Get something subtly wrong. Windows Explorer screws up file sorting. Here is Windows Explorer’s alphabetical order: E D I C F H I L M C D O B P Q R S I T L T L T L T L T L T A X. I listed files in the Windows directory of XP, by type. The flaw is that it doesn’t by file type, it lists by file comment, despite the fact it’s called list by type. To rub in the error, it doesn’t even show the comment when it lists files. Microsoft introduced this bug in Windows 95, and have yet to fix it, the silly bureaucratic arses.

Attempt to second guess the user. iTunes regularly stops updating podcasts because “I haven’t listened to them recently”. So fucking what, iTunes? You are told to update those podcasts, and you should keep updating them until I say otherwise. It’s not your damned job to tell me what I want to stop updating, it’s my job to tell you. It’s not actually possible for iTunes to change my choice and be correct, yet it keeps doing it. What on *earth* is this feature doing in a product, a feature that cannot produce better results than if it wasn’t there?! I constantly have to go through the damn thing and correct its errors. Why, why, why?! Please, just drop your presumptions of stupidity, Apple. I hate having to keep going through your damned software to correct presumptions.

As an aside, I suspect iTunes software is pretty awful because Apple have something of a monopoly with portable MP3 players. It’s a pity they haven’t taken the care with iTunes they took with iPods. I’d love to see Apple open up the specifications of the iPods interface, so owners, like me, might use better quality alternative software. This won’t happen, of course, the iTunes store is a cash cow.

Default to features that don’t work. Every bloody mobile phone I’ve used defaults SMS text writing to an idiotic predictive texting feature. I’ve never come across a version that correctly predicts the text I intend to type. They seem to have a vocabulary of about ten words, in one language. Even the iPhone gets this wrong.

Don’t do what’s instructed. After I don’t know how many years, Word, and it’s imitators, still insist that if you select some pages of text, and hit Page Numbers, you actually meant a different set of pages to those you specifically selected. Why? I selected those pages and those are the pages I meant. If I say where the page numbers should be added, that’s where the page numbers should be added. Not somewhere else, where instructed, and only where instructed. It’s simple, Word, et al, just do as you’re fucking told, will you? No more, no less, just do it. This is why I still use Word Perfect for bigger projects; it gets these kinds of thing right.

Indeed, there’s a common theme behind all these design errors: to write software that annoying, simply have it do something wrong when it’s told to do something right.