Friday, 1 March 2013


So apparently one of the side-effects of the touch-interface 'revolution' is the abolishment of scrollbars.

Well fuck that for a poke up the arse with a glowing poker.

Even before the latest firefox came along with a serious bug on my *ainol tablet (I love it, even the the logo includes a diagrammatic anus) which makes it almost unusable - flicking the screen normally-but-not-always makes it flick in the wrong direction - this no-scrollbar idea makes the device itself very clumsy for reading any web pages more than about 3 screens high. The android browser is just the same. And given some of the pages I read are dozens of pages long, i'm faced with a usability nightmare.

Just bring the friggan scrollbars back ...

It's probably related to another annoying "web 3" feature - infinite scrolling screens that load on demand. They might solve a technical problem and have a bit of 'wow' factor, but they are not a usability improvement. And they kill some pretty important features we've come to expect like searching within a page. But I suppose we have to get used to this sort of dumbing down of the internet - such a big chunk it is all about advertising wrapped in entertainment; not learning, education, or information.

While i'm ranting about firefox mobile i find it pretty much a pain to work with even without that killer bug - there are too many small buttons too close together, the tab system is really annoying, as is the click-to-title-bar-to-go-to-another-screen thing, with the popup keyboard always getting in the way. It has a habit of zooming far too often when I go to move around - a mis-fingered 'scroll' turning into a 'press'. If we already have a two-finger zoom, why not bloody stick to it? I just don't see the point of overloading gestures to the point of confusion. Well here's two fingers for the designers: Y, and while i'm at it: !). Mouse/keyboard users have other mechanisms for this.

The whole point of "touch" is it is supposed to be natural and "intuitive", but if you have to concentrate hard every time you try to press on something it has lost any edge it had.

I don't really know the answer for the tiny-button-problems as it would need some serious thought but for all the serious thought the UI designers have put into the current offerings they still have a distance to go. The only practical thing I can think of from the top of my head is an icon/menu bar which POPS onto the screen (doesn't slide, doesn't fade, doesn't push the content over to one side, doesn't fucking animate) and has nice big buttons for the most useful functions. You know, like the microsoft 'charms' thing, although it sounds like they overloaded 'gestures' to the point of absurdity (i'd really like to know what that dickhead in the 'clean up the party' ad is supposed to be doing when he draws a circle and a line on the photo near the start). Gestures suck because they're completely non-discoverable and require a lot of practice to get consistent with.

But pressing inside a page should be reserved for links or focus. Not for zooming-sometimes-in-sometimes-out. It's just too easy to do it by mistake.

Inflexion points

Hmm, and on a completely unrelated note, I think i've hit one of those inflexion points where I suddenly change a food forever. It's getting close to the point where my coffee goes black, strong, sugarless. I use a Baletti stove-top coffee maker which makes great coffee easily and cheaply and with the right coffee, amount of milk and temperature it's pretty near to a decent 'bought one', but it's a bit hit and miss. Yesterday I ran out of milk and although I usually can't stomach the black coffee I managed ok. About the time I started using one of these machines my coffee went sugarless - I can't stand even a small amount of sugar now. Although a little sugar and milk is still needed in tea, but I don't drink that as often.

It reminds me that one day after having had cornflakes every morning for breakfast for years I suddenly decided it was too sweet and decided I vaguely remembered vita-brits being pretty nice. Can't stand cornflakes now, although I could probably go some sugarless vita-brits once in a while. Although these days breakfast is usually left-overs, coffee, toast, or often just reading my morning round of blogs and organising my on-screen workbench.

Hmm, my nice neighbours are getting some work done in their yard next to this room, I should go mow the lawn or something before I get rooted to the chair for another day.

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