Misunderstanding Computers

Why do we insist on seeing the computer as a magic box for controlling other people?
Why do we want so much to control others when we won't control ourselves?

Computer memory is just fancy paper, CPUs are just fancy pens with fancy erasers, and the network is just a fancy backyard fence.
コンピュータの記憶というものはただ改良した紙ですし、CPU 何て特長ある筆に特殊の消しゴムがついたものにすぎないし、ネットワークそのものは裏庭の塀が少し拡大されたものぐらいです。

(original post/元の投稿 -- defining computers site/コンピュータを定義しようのサイト)

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Google is Out of Control (More Big Is Bad)

I suppose I shouldn't complain about stuff I get for free.

I have several blogs on blogger/blogspot, which is part of Google. I've been using two of my blogs to try to publish, or broadcast intermediate drafts of a novel that I am writing. Mostly it's like a typewriter, but it gets slow sometimes because Google's formatted editing functions in javascript just get really heavy.

Sometimes I have to do some detail work and go into HTML mode.

A couple of years ago, I ran into a bug. Their editor monitors your HTML, and if it finds an unbalanced tag, or other incorrectly written HTML, it lets you know.

This should be a good thing, right?

The problem is where it lets you know. Here are two pictures, see if you can see what is really, really bad UI design here:

Here is what it looks like after I fight the HTML checking and fix the tag:

Let's see if I can put these side-by-side:

(Seems to only allow side-by-side if I make them really small.)

You can see, perhaps, how the entire editing area gets shoved down in the window while the error message is showing.

I don't know if it does this on all window managers, but on this one, here's what it means.

They apparently try to wait a while, to give you time to fix the tag you are working on.

So, you erase the opening tag of something you really wish the editor had not been so kind as to insert in there for you, and then you go searching for the closing tag. And you try to select it. And, just as yo are trying to select it, the error message pops up, and the whole thing moves down, and you select you know not what.

I could have organized my work a bit better so the next is easier to see, but here's the kind of thing that happens:

I had erased the start <div> tag and was going after the end tag. This one was fairly tame, but you can see that I end up with important lines before the tag selected. If I hit the delete key too fast, I have to hope the undo function works. (Eventually. It can be really slow.)

UIs should not start jumping around to show error messages, especially when the thing is written in javascript and is slow and subject to various fits and tempers anyway.

This kind of hand-holding by a temperamental nanny just is bad UI any way you look at it.

If they want to hold my hand while I work in HTML, can they at least give me a nice button to turn the hand-holding off until I'm finished with the delicate surgery?

I hit the feedback button on this problem about three years ago, IIRC, and their response was pretty good. Then, sometime back, the inappropriate behavior was back. This time, when I hit the feedback button, the lousy thing is too heavy to let me actually send them a screen shot and text. It basically leaves Firefox effectively frozen while it goes parsing through I know not what at the speed of javascript. I literally waited for an hour the first time I tried that, and had to force shutdown to get my machine back.

Google is too big to find a place to send this kind of feedback outside the defined channels. And the defined channels prevents the feedback. That's bad organizational design.

But that's what happens when a company (or a government, etc.) gets too big.

More big is more bad.

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