Archive for November, 2010

Windows 7

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

Windows 7 is fantastic! Colourful glass interfaces slide into position with a sublime beauty that you could not match if you were to pin fresh bacon to a kitten!

But then there’s the actual operating system, and how it runs. I’ve been using Windows 7 over the course of the last half-year, and I’ve been keeping notes of everything that has irked me.

I present to you the following list of Windows 7 Problems:

  • Still too many clicks – To view or change anything, such as current wi-fi connection strength, screen brightness, or to re-scan for hardware (I’ve had to do all three regularly), you have to visit the specific window that handles that stuff. Mind you, XP isn’t exactly better.
  • Too slow – Opening the windows, including the multitude of Control Panel windows that now contain every option, takes several seconds.
  • Pointless clutter – There are multiple options in some menus that all lead to the exact same spot. That makes things very confusing. The only purpose they fill is to describe multiple uses of the same window, which is a huge warning that you’re making it way too complicated.
  • Bugs – These might be ironed out, but there are problems with battery settings and screen mix-ups and stuff like that. In other words, the systems still aren’t reliable, even after all these years of development. On the plus side, the Blue Screen of Death seems to be rather rare since Windows XP.
  • Aggressive alphabetization – Nothing in the entire OS is in its default listed order. Instead, even lists such as {1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 54} are sorted to {1, 10, 2, 20, 5, 54}. The taskbar options are disgustingly confusing because they are in alphabetical order instead of in contextual order.
    In folders, it is impossible to move folders or items around. If you don’t like how Windows has arranged the items (shortcuts mixed with your files), you’re out of luck.
  • No ‘up’ button – Technically not as needed, because the Back button usually does the same thing. Both approaches have their own uses when using shortcuts, though. Work-around: Alt+up
  • All Programs in the Start Menu – It is now no longer possible to surf through all your programs. You need to click on each folder, and opening a large folder might push half your items off the screen. The whole process is slow and painful.
  • Context Menu removals – Across the entire OS, right-clicking sometimes does nothing at all. I know there’s been a big push to support touch computing, but that doesn’t mean you have to neuter keyboard- or mouse-based browsing; only that you have to add more touchable links.
  • Wireless Adapter properties – It isn’t possible to view the properties of your wireless adapter (MAC address, for example) unless you’re connected to a network. The options in that area are woefully bare. It seems the whole networking panel was made expressly for one-touch connection to a wireless internet connection, and nothing more, but they make you use that panel as much as possible.
  • Non-Dynamism – Almost everything is a link to some big, confusing, slow-loading panel full of redundant information. It would be sensible to make some of those links (“Adjust Screen Brightness” for example) transform into sliders or option panes when clicked, so that you can easily change things once Windows knows you want to change them.
    It could slowly learn what actions you perform often, so that those can automatically open.
  • Too much “Help” – Half of all the menu options are links to help. Help is nearly useless, because the topics are too confusing for the computer-illiterate, and contain nothing but “Ask your admin,” for the things the admin needs help with. They usually also require a web connection to work.
    A ‘help’ symbol in the corner of these panes should be enough. There’s no need for a high cognitive load.
  • Status Bar neutered – The status bar in the file explorer doesn’t contain anything, now (except a simple count of selected items). It’s been replaced by a far bigger status pane at the bottom which you can’t get rid of or reduce in size, and which still sometimes doesn’t tell me all I want to know.
  • File-size surfing – Across Windows 7, it’s difficult to work on small drives by deleting big items.
    1. The status bar no longer holds the size of all items in the folder. If you want to find that, you have to manually select all files in the folder and view properties.
    2. Properties in the Recycle Bin don’t show multiple items, so it’s impossible to see how much space those are taking up.
    3. The hover tooltip is slow to appear and sometimes just doesn’t work, but I find myself relying on it.
  • Taskbar item right-click menus – Right-clicking on a taskbar item just gives you a generic list where there’s jumplist stuff, pinning options, and ‘close’. Right-clicking on the application option gives you a couple other options, such as pinning, relaunching, or ‘close’. No more options, such as Chrome’s task manager, or Windows Live Mail’s ‘hide when minimized’. Or even ‘move’, which I’d made use of in the past, when working with multiple monitors.

Verdict: Windows is heading in a direction where the most basic of users can use it more easily, but where power users are all but cut out. There are multiple things you could do in Windows XP that have been stripped out of Windows 7, such as bridging connections or configuring a network other than the default MSHOME.

Overall, I can’t blame them: They’re going where the money is, and their customers don’t use the control panel. I’m still raging against it, though, because ugh.

New Twitter

Monday, November 1st, 2010

It turns out more is wrong with the new version of Twitter than I can fit into a tweet or two, so I figured I’ll write a post about my difficulties.

First and most importantly, I expect Twitter to be fast. Due to the nature of tweets, I need to be able to load the page, type in my reply, and then send it off, all within about twenty or thirty seconds. I don’t have time to wait for multiple JS files to load and parse, or all these images to make their way to my screen.

The old Twitter was a single page that was served up almost instantly. The JS was small, and would load very shortly after, and I can work as the images load. The new Twitter seems to hang until after the images are loaded.

The interface also wasn’t doing it for me, because it was cluttered and huge. I work with small screens most of the time, and their enlargening of the site’s format made it even more useless for my purposes. An option or two suddenly wasn’t available (even in the menus), and a tweeter’s face will be multiplied down the page a hundredfold if you visit their stream.

All in all, the new Twitter caters to a very specific user base while cutting out others who don’t use it the same way. It’s not flexible or well-thought-out.