Archive for the ‘technology’ Category

Skipping disliked songs in iTunes

September 25, 2016

I’m a big fan of iTunes, and am growing to love Apple Music. Two things I love about Apple Music is that I can follow my interest in popular music from around the world and can research different musicals to inform the one I’m writing (not to steal, but to learn what works for me and what doesn’t).

Recently, iTunes added the ability to not just flag songs you love but also flag those you dislike. But it didn’t provide a way to skip disliked songs. That bugged me.

Warning: Technospeak ahead.

Continue reading Skipping disliked songs in iTunes

Single-Field Password Set/Reset: Threat or Menace?

April 28, 2014

This post is dedicated to everyone who ever had trouble logging into a website (myself included, way too many times) or whoever had their account hacked because their password was too simple (way too many friends and acquaintances, way too many times).

This is for us.

Dear website designers and programmers:

Every modern website adds new features. Google added Maps, Books, Street View. Yahoo! added its latest e-mail layout. Twitter added hashtags and now is thinking about revoking them, but has added line breaks. And, most importantly, I have the choice whether to use them or not.

Then there’s the We-Have-a-Great-New-Feature-and-You-Must-Use-It Syndrome. Think Facebook Timeline. Well, that doesn’t cost me any time and I got used to it. And it doesn’t slow me down.

(By the way, Yahoo! initially took away Yahoo! classic e-mail, but after not too long a delay, restored it, if I recall correctly. Thank you for listening to your customers, Yahoo!)

Now there’s a new We-Have-a-Great-New-Feature-and-You-Must-Use-It Syndrome feature.

Your wonderful new feature is giving me a negative view of your website. Negative enough to write a 3300-word blog post complaining – occasionally ranting – about it. What would your advertisers think of that?

Day by day your numbers are growing, User Interface (UI) designers following the siren, zombie call of this new feature.

I mean you, force-me-to-use-a-single-field-when-setting-or-resetting-my-password-UI website. Yes, you. You’ve turned simple inconvenience into dread.

Warning: This is a scattered, discursive essay. Much like my experience of dealing with passwords on your website.

My first draft was about 500 words. But, as I thought about the complexities of what you are asking me to do with regard to the care and feeding of my password, the article grew and it grew, much like the burden you’ve placed on me.

Please stick with it. I’ve done my best to make sure it will be worth it. And I’ve actually proofread it.

And, hey, if your response is TLDR (too long, didn’t read), feel free to skip to Here’s the ideal situation and hope your customers – isn’t it time we retired “users”? – aren’t saying Too Hard, Didn’t Log In.

Continue reading Single-Field Password Set/Reset: Threat or Menace?

Overdue calendar reforms and conversational breakdowns

November 16, 2013

Calendar programs let you schedule meetings, and e-mail programs have long let you reply to messages and forward files. E-mail programs now let you follow conversations. But a more nuanced approach is needed for all of these. After years of calendar and e-mail programs, I can’t understand why the programmers haven’t gotten these very basic things right.

Continue reading Overdue calendar reforms and conversational breakdowns

Not square with Square

November 21, 2012

Several years ago, I had an experience at an Apple store that made me feel out of step with today’s technology. Upon reflection, I realized it wasn’t my being out of step; it was my knowing too much about modern technology. Now that feeling is back with the iPad and Square.

Continue reading Not square with Square

Zombies belong on stage, not in the audience

March 25, 2012

As if theatregoers forgetting to turn off their phones weren’t enough, now we have to contend with smartphones that turn themselves on. I’ve been testing an Android smartphone for work. After a recent system update, I noticed that several minutes after I had turned it off, I would often hear the trademark “Droid” sound coming from my pocket or the bedroom marking the boot sequence reaching a certain point. I Googled the issue and apparently there are a lot of posts indicating it’s been a problem for a while, although I only noticed it these past couple weeks. So I’ve taken to setting my test phone to silent before turning it off at theatres. (At a recent performance they asked us to use Airplane mode as the phones apparently mess with the sound system.) I’ll note I’ve had the phone turn on unasked at least once at a performance, fortunately with the sound off.

A co-worker suggested the pocket detection setting was to blame. I turned pocket detection off a couple days ago and so far it hasn’t spontaneously booted since then. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Pinch/spread and portrait/landscape: why don’t they just work?

February 18, 2012

I recently had a chance to alpha test an app on the iPhone and Android for work. I can’t discuss it here, but I can say that apparently both the iPhone and Android development systems cause developers a lot of extra work to make things behave consistently throughout the app.

My point of frustration: why do I have to remember where pinch/spread and portrait/landscape work and where they don’t?

The most important part of ease of use is that the same command behaves as expected wherever you use it. But apparently developers have to enable pinch/spread zooming and portrait/landscape orientation for each screen within their apps.

The two features don’t even work in the phones’ system settings.

A developer told me that the late Symbian system had such a work-everywhere feature. Now we’ve lost that with Android and iOS. This is progress?

[update April 5, 2012: I was on a flight eaveslooking at another passenger’s use of an iPad (as with eavesdropping, I didn’t care what they were looking at but I cared a lot how they used it). There were a number of times the passenger tried to use spread that nothing happened. Their assumption appeared to be that they thought they didn’t use it right, as they re-tried once, maybe twice, to no avail. That’s an indication it’s a true design failure of the iPad, among others, not my fussiness.]

iPad not there yet for zoomers

September 29, 2010

I decided to try out the iPad today at my local Apple store. I discovered that it is not that friendly for folks whose eyes don’t match up to twenty-something UI designers, and there seem to be some glitches elsewhere as well.

Continue reading iPad not there yet for zoomers

Why can’t an OS be more like a browser?

June 17, 2010

Mac, Windows, Linux and all the programs that run on you, why can’t you be more like a browser?

You see, monitors are just going to get better and better, and squeeze more pixels in. But our eyes are just going to get older and older, squeezing fewer, well, whatever the eye equivalent of pixels are. But computer programs are mostly going to continue to be designed by folks with sharp vision.

Continue reading Why can’t an OS be more like a browser?