Full responsibility for design and execution of user interface for Office 2007.
Archive for July, 2012
I’m getting older. I know it. Of course all of us are doing that, but I’m getting Older. That means I have Habits.
Now you can take two different viewpoints about that. One would be that I’m hidebound and irascible and can’t adapt to change. The other might be that I have developed well-ordered systems. I have carefully experimented, as in a laboratory, until through a scientific process of elimination, I have come up with the best operating practices. I’ve developed a studied and exact approach to the business of life.
On the other hand, a lot of people think I’m hidebound and irascible. Particularly my wife.
Be that as it may, I do find that there seems to be little (scientific) method to the madness I see around me.
Let’s take clocks. Back in the Good Old Days (hereinafter referred to as GOD), clocks were all analog; they had a circular face with numbers around it and hands that pointed to the numbers. They were either mechanical, electrical, or battery-operated. If there was a power failure, the mechanical ones would continue to truck on, as would the battery-operated ones, and the electrical ones would stop. But–here’s an important point–they would remember the time when they stopped. If your power failure lasted for five minutes, the clock would be five minutes slow. It still had some general idea about what time it was. To reset these clocks, you would have to reach to the one controller on the clock, a single knob, that would sweep the hands around to the proper position.
Then the industry, led by bright, young, Millennial technicians (the newest and best that these times have to offer) came out with digital clocks. They did a numerical display of what the time was. No fuss or bother about where the big hand and the little hand were pointing. They gave you the time, straight from the shoulder, no messing around. These digital clocks came in electrical and battery-powered. (I suppose someone thought it would be really neat to come out with a mechanical one, but that’s what it was: one only, there were none others.) If there was a power failure, the battery-operated digital clock would truck along, happy as a clam. However the electrical one would have an extreme reaction: It would go into a swoon. Its display would go entirely black, and would stay that way until the power was restored, at which point it would assume that it was some sort of 12 o’clock, and either blink that number incessantly in a kind of fugue-like trance, or it would continue forward, assuming that the time of its re-awakening had actually been noon or midnight. It needed caring for.
So it would be time to reset the thing.
That’s where the trouble starts.
On the digital clocks one can find all sorts of buttons that may or may not have something to do with resetting the display. They will say things like Set, Reset, Adj, Mode, Clock, up and/or down arrows, an analog clock face, and all sorts of other mystical signs and sigils that were meant to either be tapped, held down for a certain number of seconds, held down while tapping another button, tapped while facing some sacred holy site, or do other cryptic contortions to get the time setting to sync with the world. Eventually one would have to hunt down the manual for the clock to find out what secret combination of manipulations were required to get the clock to reset itself. (I seem to have lost the manual for my analog clock. And don’t miss it.)
Once you actually got to the point where you were actually resetting the time, you find yourself holding down some button(s) while – the – dis – play – slow – ly – crept – a – long – coun – ting – through – the – num – bers – un – til – it – sud – den – ly – streaksaheadlikeabatoutofshit and shoots you past your target hour. With an analog clock (back in GOD), it would only be necessary to reverse the direction in which you were twisting the little knob, and the big hand (archaic expression) would reverse direction. With most digital clocks, you have to continue in the same direction and step all the way through the whole cycle again. When you finally have the hour set, you then have to continue with a whole string of other settings: the minutes, the month, the date, the year, the day of the week, the phase of the moon, the high and low tide times, the relative time on the Mayan calendar, and bunches of other things you have absolutely no interest in.
The real problem in this whole ritual is that there is no one way to go about resetting the clocks. They all have their own distinct group of operations for resetting. There’s no standardization between the different clocks.
And I’m ashamed about being some poor, stupid, 20th-century dude who can’t keep up with these modern times and adapt to the different settings between manufacturers. So I’ve decided to go with the flow and get really hip and up to date. I’m joining with the new modern times. I’m creating my own product. I’m coming out with a brand new SUV called the Rugged Individual. It’s going to be distinct. The brake is the right-hand pedal on the floor. Gas flow gets regulated by raising and lowering the lever on the left-hand side of the steering wheel. You change gears by cranking the handle on the door. You push in the center of the steering wheel to control the windshield wipers. And climate control is handled by blowing into a special tube that sticks up out of the dashboard.
You’re going to love it.
You’ll just have to keep the operating manual sitting on the seat next to you.
Designed, specced, tested, and installed public address systems for the New York City Subway.