Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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Whenever I have to use Parallels and Windows to make sure the Internet Explorers don’t display a web page too absurdly, I have to wonder how regular Windows users are not driven to insanity by the inane ‘bubbles’ Windows likes to pop out of its ‘task bar’. Classics of this behaviour are symbolised by Windows feeling that it absolutely needs to share any change to its pretty tiny world with you. I’m sure psychologists have a fancypants term for this:

Windows bubble telling me a network cable has been disconnected

… this message of course coming from a Windows running in a completely cable-less virtual machine. Thus suggesting that not only the software is overly talkative but it also uses dumbed-down simplifications to annoy me with. The art is to write human understandable technical messages that are actually correct.

Sometimes Windows is even more talkative and gives a few more details about what problem it ist concerned with, it may be concerned with or it might be concerned with. If even the expert-created software can’t tell for sure where or not I can access the capital-I internet, what’s the chance that the button-less more information can help me?

Windows bubble saying: 'Local Area Connection - This connection has limited or no connectivity. You might not be able to access the Internet or some network resources. For more information, click this message.'

Seriously: does anybody at Microsoft even read the messages their own software spits out? Is any of the presumable information in there intelligible to people who don’t share brainwaves with Microsoft HQ?

Uh, and when you’re lucky, Windows will automatically update and restart itself. Let’s just say I find that extremely irritating when an application that’s running in the background changes without any command of mine. And I assume that’s even more true when Windows is all that your computer runs rather than just a window in a virtual machine…

Windows bubble saying: 'Your computer was recently updated! - Windows recently downloaded and installed an important security update to help protect your computer. This update required an automatic restart of your computer.

I sense a lack of ‘undo’ button there.

Now the great thing is of course that I am pretty sure there’s a nifty setting or workaround for each of these ‘problems’. Quite likely people will be able to point out that it’s my own fault I’m seeing these messages.

More Windows bubble snobbery.

September 30, 2008, 0:26

Tagged as bubble, software, windows.


Comment by mattyohe: User icon

You have hit the nail on the head. Software should be designed to be smart enough to know what to do.

Aside: I’m having to make the move away from Parallels to Fusion. Looking past the fact that it only presents one processor core to the guest operating system, when you set it up with a boot camp partition, a secondary registry hive is kept instead of manipulating the live one. This is a big problem when you want to say, do an update to Windows while it is being virtualized. I did the SP3 update in the virtual session and I could no longer reboot natively because the SP updated the “wrong” registry.

September 30, 2008, 3:02

Comment by ssp: User icon

I’d say it’s OK if software isn’t smart if it doesn’t pretend to be smart. In fact, ‘dumb’ software has the advantage of being more predictable and not going wrong. ‘Smart’ software can be nice but it’s very hard to get right.

No huge problems with Parallels for me. I hear people saying that Fusion is better in a number of ways, but I can’t imagine it makes a real difference if all you do is running a bunch of web browsers.

September 30, 2008, 8:39

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