Error Messages Are Evil
ambassador at fourthworld.com
Tue May 13 15:58:23 CEST 2014
Peter M. Brigham wrote:
> Someone on this list (Richard Gaskin?) once observed that the
> difference between a tool and a product is that a tool only has
> to be able to be used properly, whereas a product has to be unable
> to be used improperly.
I wish I could take credit for that, but that slice of insight comes
from Steven McConnell, from either "Code Complete" or "Rapid Development".
> Windows has always done a lousy job with consistency...
One thing Windows is consistent about is telling us obvious things that
don't need special notice, like letting me know there are icons on my
desktop or that I've inserted a CD.
Of course I've inserted a CD - I know that because I just did it. In
fact, I can't think of any other way to insert a CD than by human
intervention, so what new information did they designers of the OS
imagine they were imparting?
It's the opposite of a confidence-builder when the designers of an OS
are so overjoyed at the prospect of a computer simply doing what you
asked it to do that it must be celebrated with an announcement.
Ubuntu had a similar annoyance for many years (thankfully fixes in
recent versions): when connecting to wifi, it would present a
notification box letting me know, as though the wifi icon wasn't
These are basic tasks we should expect to be done efficiently and
without error. They require no celebration. Don't even mention them
unless something goes wrong. Otherwise, as long as the computer is
doing what we expect it to do, please just shut up and let me focus on
Thanks for letting me rant....
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