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Tuesday Hatred: My greatest computer hates

I hate many things about computers, and these are but the greatest hates:

  • I hate that the iTunes “shuffle” feature appears to create predetermined paths through my music collection, from which it cannot be shaken. I do not understand why such a design is thought to be better than making a fresh random jump every time it comes to the end of a given album. If I don’t directly intervene, I get the same cycle repeated over and over — in my mind, this is directly contrary to the concept of “shuffle.”
  • I hate it when upgrades lead to reduced functionality. I went several weeks this summer with a barely usable internet connection because I upgraded the driver for my wireless card. This led directly to another thing I hate:
  • I hate it when iTunes skips when playing through the Apple Airport. It’s annoying enough when it happens occasionally, but when my wireless card was “upgraded” to a non-working state, it would skip every 45 seconds — each time it was directly reducing my lifespan.
  • I hate that Windows asks me every single time whether I “trust” a network location (a) from which I habitually copy files and (b) have set up as a network drive. There is no “do not ask again” checkbox on this dialogue box.
  • I hate the security “features” on post-XP versions of Windows. Oh, really? When I click on the install file, that file will try to alter my system? Thanks for the warning!
  • I hate that different versions of Windows have subtly different directory structures within the user folder. In Windows Vista, “downloads” is parallel with “documents” in the directory structure; in Windows 7, it’s within “documents” — and the idiotic “My” attached to everything has been reintroduced after a merciful reprieve during the Vista years (indeed, that may be the only thing Vista got right). I love having to waste mental energy on remembering these pointless differences when moving between computers.
  • I hate the feature in MS Word that allows you to collapse the white space in the print-layout view. It’s not print layout if the white space is gone, morons!
  • I hate everything about post-2003 versions of Microsoft Office. Apparently after their attempts to create “smart” predictions of what the user wanted to do failed miserably in one of the most turned-off features in the history of personal computing, they decided it’d be best to use this “smart” technology on the most basic features of the user interface. Plus, reportedly their answer to the phenomenon of malicious macros is just to eliminate macros altogether.
  • I hate pushing ctrl-alt-delete to log in.
  • I hate printing. We’ve had like 25 years to get this printing issue under control, and it just keeps not happening. The fact that it’s only in the last few years that printers have started responding in a non-insane way when someone wants to back out of printing a document is one of the greatest failures of capitalism. “Oh, you want to stop mid-print? Well, instead, how about I start printing ten random Wingdings characters on page after page until you unplug the printer?”
  • I hate constantly being harrassed to update my software. (Yes, I know I can turn this off.)
  • I hate that it still takes forever to boot up. I especially hate that awkward interim period where it looks like your computer is booted up and fully functional but actually fourteen different processes are still starting up and you can’t be sure whether any of your mouse clicks will actually register.
  • I hate that someone’s going to suggest that I get a Mac. But all you Mac users, I have a question — why is it that all of your desktops are absolutely saturated with icons, often overlapping with each other in such a way that you can’t tell what they are? This has been the case with literally every Mac I’ve ever seen, ever in my life. Presumably useless clutter helps creativity.
  • I hate online forms with idiosyncratic requirements that don’t clearly mark where you made your mistake.
  • I also hate it when they make stupid requests that could easily be accounted for on their end, like the exact format in which your phone number or SSN needs to be entered — just strip the dashes out yourself! It’d be trivial to program that! The other day I filled out a form that required you to upload some files, and they specified what the filenames should be — seriously, dude, just rename the file I upload in a given slot according to the desired convention without bothering me about it. Those kinds of petty detail-oriented tasks are exactly what computers were designed to do. Offloading them onto me helps no one. Even a “did you mean?” feature would be a huge improvement.
  • I hate the relatively recent security convention of entering your username and password (accompanied by a distinctive image!) on separate pages.
  • I hate any web-based application that requires you to click through page after page to change anything — going back to the server for every menial portion of a task slows things down amazingly terribly. Gmail has shown us the way forward: make a virtual local application using Javascript, with a backup plain HTML version for those still using Windows 3.1 or whatever. Yes, I’m primarily thinking of the abyssmally shitty genre of “course management software,” where the industry is centered on taking the horrible model of Blackboard and then making it even shittier (as in Moodle or WebCT). My sources indicate, however, that Facebook is equally poorly designed.
  • I hate it when a site redesign consists of randomly moving things around so that some tasks take fewer clicks but others take more — a notable example is the recent Twitter rehab, which made things look a lot more complicated while not adding anything like the level of functionality that would justify it.
  • I hate that there’s no keyboard shortcut for moving between tabs in an Excel workbook.

October 19, 2010 - Posted by | Tuesday Hatred


  1. You might be dying from an over-dose of SW. Go seek on-line help.

    Comment by Earnest O'Nest | October 19, 2010

  2. I thought “Ctrl+PgUp” or “Ctrl+PgDn” were keyboard shortcuts for moving between tabs in Excel. Or am I thinking of something else as tabs?

    I hate the end of the federal fiscal quarters because of all the goddamn reports it requires me to turn in.

    Comment by Matt in Toledo | October 19, 2010

  3. Matt, you just changed my entire life.

    Comment by Adam Kotsko | October 19, 2010

  4. Mine, too.

    Keeping with the theme, I hate arbitrarily-defined password strength requirements for sites I visit somewhat infrequently. It is difficult enough to remember which of my normal “stable” of passwords I used for said site, let alone some abhorrent combination of case-sensitive letters, numbers and symbols totaling not less than nine but not more than eighteen characters. Inevitably, I forget the password each time I visit, causing me to have to reset it and attempt to remember a NEW monstrosity.

    I also hate the white space elimination on print layout view. The first time it happened to me, I nearly had a meltdown.

    Comment by Ryan | October 19, 2010

  5. I’d hate to sound like a dick, but I recently switched to using LaTeX after finding all extent word processors on Mac to be complete shit. NeoOffice is sufficient for spreadsheet for my purposes; i.e., grades. On my computer in my office, which is Windows, I don’t know how to open up Word and, once I’m in Word, I don’t know how to start a new document. There’s desktop clutter on Macs because most programs default download to the desktop. If people can’t be bothered to delete shit they don’t want, it piles up. But then, Spotlight is pretty good at finding shit, so a clean desktop doesn’t really matter.

    Comment by Craig | October 19, 2010

  6. Who says blogging about baseball isn’t productive to society?

    I found out because, when researching for a blog post, I often create Excel spreadsheets with stats and information that spreads across five or six different tabs. I asked a couple other baseball bloggers about an easier way to navigate between them and got the shortcut mentioned above.

    I made a similarly useful discovery once when I was doing research (for a baseball blog post) where I needed to identify duplicates in a column. I came up with a solution that seemed so simple I didn’t think anything of it, but I’ve probably relayed it to two dozen very happy people since who wanted to use it for their business needs.

    Let’s see MSM sportswriters do that!

    Comment by Matt in Toledo | October 19, 2010

  7. I hate still being sick. I have a persistent phlegmmy cough. Even though I don’t feel terrible — just 90%, a little woozy in the morning, a little sleepless at night — I’m calling a doctor, dammit.

    I hate having to demonstrate agency over my medical care. I much preferred being at Kaiser, where my doctor was never available but it didn’t matter — I could call one number and eventually get routed to where I needed to be.

    CONFIDENTIAL TO ADAM KOTSKO: I have two icons on my desktop. Both are screenshots of funny things that iPhoto’s Faces application did (one mistakes the face of the last mayor of LA for the current mayor; another mistakes a picture of three bagels for my friend Jennie), which save automatically to the desktop. I could move them to Photos. Maybe I will.

    Comment by k-sky | October 19, 2010

  8. I hate sour espresso. I suspect that places which vend same typically do most of their trade in espresso drinks with a high milk/milk-foam content, which mellows the weird taste the espresso has on its own (or even in a macchiato). If that’s right, though, they ought also to have non-disgusting espresso for those of us who do not take ours swimming in steamed dairy.

    Comment by ben | October 19, 2010

  9. I hate that an entire load of laundry got slightly mildewed before being put away and is now thoroughly mixed into my clothes drawers.

    Comment by k-sky | October 19, 2010

  10. I hate my constant sneezing.

    Comment by ben | October 19, 2010

  11. K-Sky, I have the exact same cold. It has been going around town, and it super-sucks.

    Comment by Robert Halford | October 19, 2010

  12. a persistent phlegmmy cough
    one can try before going to bed hot milk with honey with aloe, i had two months of such cough last year in the autumn, nothing helped but this
    during sneezing it helps to keep one’s nose warm, covering it with a facial mask added with a scarf or one’s hand, perhaps the mucosa gets better circulation and it stops, sure have to keep it clean if a runny nose, use some decongestants etc
    i hate in vivo experiments and too sour soups

    Comment by read | October 19, 2010

  13. My doctor thinks it’s a bacterial thing and has called in an antibiotic prescription. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the whole calling your doctor and getting a call back thing works. (So far. We’ll see if the prescription shows up at Rite Aid.)

    Comment by k-sky | October 19, 2010

  14. well, if antibiotiks wouldn’t help which happens sometimes, you can try honey with aloe
    but sure it will help you, hope you will get better soon
    since that autumn i didn’t have any colds, my immunity is weak or on the contrary
    just wound healing is getting so quick with animal protein withdrawal, it seems
    i hope somebody’s studying or studied that already somewhere, maybe without the external protein supplementation except beans, my own protein synthesis processes are getting quicker, i guess, i had my palms scratched last week pretty badly and now it’s all gone

    Comment by read | October 19, 2010

  15. When I read about slow booting up, I was going to suggest getting a Mac, and then read the next entry. I must say, I have a clean desktop.

    I hate it when government agencies only have Microsoft compatible downloads for absolute essentials like the program for sending in your tax return (in Australia). Wtf? Am I using Linux or BSD? No. I’m using an admittedly minor, but nevertheless mainstream operating system. Can it be that fucking difficult to offer a Mac version?

    Comment by Rob L | October 19, 2010

  16. I hate many of these things and computers in general. Naturally, I am a developer.

    But I’m confused by your shuffle hate, which I’ve seen you express previously. Whenever I shuffle, it sure seems random enough to me. I’ve never had the experience you describe.

    Comment by Richard | October 26, 2010

  17. Also, I realize I’m a week late posting the above, which means no one will care.

    Comment by Richard | October 26, 2010

  18. I have a Mac with VMWare and run both Mac OS and System 7. I work in software development and use numerous CPU-intensive packages. The only OS that chokes is System 7, which I despise. My advice: 1) get a Mac. The icon you mention is ridiculous; people just learn to use the OS efficiently; 2) use Google Docs.

    Comment by charles miller | November 6, 2010

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