Thursday, January 26, 2006

I've been very frustrated by computers the last few days. They have not been submitting to my will as they are supposed to under the semi-capable hands of a programmamafier such as myself. We hateses them.

Shall I spend this blog post complaining about my inability to get my iTunes tunes to play through my stereo? Should I instead moan and groan about my slow databases at work? Hmmmm, none of those really hit the technological whiny sweet spot.

I think I'll bitch about icons.

Holy crap, I hate icons.

It's not that I hate all pictures. My six year old daughter draws some lovely images, and that Van Gogh fellow wasn't half bad either. But, if you want to communicate with me, if you have a piece of information that you wish to efficiently transmit to my brain, I'll tell you what I've been telling my daughter for years, "USE YOUR WORDS!".

I realize that there are many ways to communicate. A picture is worth a thousand words, there is interpretive dance, and on occasion I've been known to speak the language of love, but if you are a computer, and you want to allow me to reload a web page, why would you use a picture of two arrows pointing at each other? Those two arrows are now the universal computer icon for Reload or Refresh and to me it just looks like a Chase Your Own Tail button. Crap, they should just go ahead and use interpretive dance instead. Maybe the button could be labeled with a video of people dancing in a very refreshing manner, perhaps splashing under a tropical waterfall. Now that's a damn Refresh button!

I have a similar issue with the Back button in browsers. They're always big arrows pointing to the left. I understand in theory that this is because in English one reads from left to right, but to me it just looks like the browser is gesturing mysteriously at something invisible on the left of my monitor. Tell me, Lassie, what's over there? Did Timmy fall down the well over on the left? Hmmmm? Use your words, Lassie!

I have no idea what's really over there, but apparently I was just looking at it a minute ago. I would replace this icon with a picture of someone's back, or maybe a video of people dancing backwards.

Note that these two examples are probably the only icons that I actually do click on. All the other ones in my non-Browser programs are a great mystery to me. It's like trying to read Chinese. What happens if I press that button at the top of this Text program that looks like some squiggles and arrows? Is it what I click when I want to save my file or is it for ordering Broccoli Beef? How about the one next to it with a big "M" on it. Moo shoo pork?

Clearly my inability to understand icons is a sign that I'm now too old to use computers. My father has similar issues with the mouse. "I'll use a mouse when I grow a prehensile tail!" he has complained on many an occasion.

Perhaps the conclusion I can draw from this is that curmudgeonry is hereditary.


Tasty said...

Curmudgeonry is my new favorite word.

Mike said...

Me thinks that you swap favorite words like my daughter swaps favorite colors.

zelda1 said...

Okay, I don't mind the icons, but I hate the popup dillywhoppers. Where do they come from and why do they make the icon to get rid of them so small? I am ready to read something really important, and a popup about insurance takes over the screeen, and I search and search and finally in the far corner hidden behind some funny looking design will be an X. Makes me so angry. Oh, I also don't like sites with music. I mean, really, it's hard enough to get my prehistoric creature of a pc to go there but then it has to be confused with music and a water fall. And I like the word crumudeonry.

Mike said...

Zelda1, "dillywhopper", now there's a good word! As for your popups, I highly recommend getting a pop-up blocker. If you use Internet Explorer, there's a dandy one built into the excellent Google toolbar. Download it here. Or you can just use the Firefox browser instead, which is what I do. That's downloadable here.

Tasty said...

You are correct, Mike!