Software/Website Behaviours That Piss Me Off

There are a lot of things in this world that piss me off.

I’m sure you have your own list. But software developers, and website designers in particular, seem to be doing their utmost to reach the top of that list. Here’s my Top 10 list of program behaviours that really shit me to tears. And if you’re wondering “Where’s the conclusion to the Galaxy Note saga?” then the answer is “This is filler because Kies is a piece of shit.” I do want so dearly to write the conclusion, but Samsung’s rollout of Ice Cream Sandwich has been laughably slow and bungled. Despite the update finally being available for my phone (after changing the country core), because Samsung apparently push updates from a home webserver, I can’t get the friggin’ thing to download via Kies. Every attempt times out. So here’s some filler until they pull their heads out their arses, because apparently trying to download it during off-times doesn’t help. I can get to about 35% before it fails. Sometimes I don’t even get out the gate!

10: “Close” doesn’t close the app
This is a very Apple thing to do, and look no further than the Windows Spotify client for a good example of it. Note that it’s perfectly cool when clicking the X up the top right of the window minimises something to the system tray. I’m down with that. But it shouldn’t minimise it to the taskbar. That’s not how this shit works, friend. Even worse is when I right-click the app in the taskbar and have it minimise again. Spotify displays this behaviour. Developers, if I’m going out of my way to close your app in that fashion, I definitely DO NOT want it to minimise itself to the taskbar. We already have a separate button for that. We’re smart enough to know which one we want to use.

9: Pointless login screens
“Hello. I see that you’re trying to download this file. Please login to download this file. You don’t have an account? Well, sign up! We’ll only need your full name, email address, home address, date of birth, phone number, and this insanely long CAPTCHA and we’ll set you up! Then go to your email and click the confirm link, at which point we’ll log you out and force you to login again. And we’ll send you lots and lots of newsletters! Isn’t that a great deal?” No, it isn’t. Don’t do this shit. Your site is not that important that I should need to sign up to download a file that is publically available. Oh, and if you’re using Facebook as a login – I hope you go bankrupt.

8: Harassing me with advertisements
I know your website needs to earn cash to keep up and running and that this often means advertising. I totally understand that using an adblocker hurts that income. But if you’re partnering with advertisers that throw up big pop-ups that steal focus and turn the screen grey so that I can’t do anything but watch a shitty Flash animation, I’m going to use an adblocker. That also goes for massive advertisements which are larger than they appear. You know those advertisements that sit on the white/blackspace at the edges of websites these days, because apparently using the full screen real-estate is a cardinal sin? Those things piss me off. They’re frequently larger than they appear. Don’t do this. Please. Advertisers, if you’re listening, your obnoxious bullshit advertisements aren’t really getting viewed. I block them or close them as soon as they appear.

7: Cryptic error messages
I know that sometimes an application will crash in an unexpected or interesting way and there’s no possible way you can get out an informative error. That’s totally okay and I can’t criticise a developer for that. But when it it’s entirely possible for your app to identify what the problem is, such as there’s not enough disk space, the directory doesn’t exist, or a service isn’t running, you’d better do something more than pop up a box that says “An error occurred.” Also, if you’re going to pop up boxes that display error codes, give me a one-line descriptor. Don’t just say “Error: Code 404”, go with “Error 404: Not found” or something slightly more descriptive. You’ve taken the time to set up an exception for that event and to give it a code, you can spend an extra few seconds putting in a basic descriptor. I’ll thank you for it, and maybe you’ll be happier too when I come looking for help because I can’t fix it on my own.

6: “Always on top” for no reason
This one is a significant annoyance. Apps that stay on top of all other windows piss me off to no end. There are a handful of things which should stay on top of every window without my consent. They’re pretty much all limited to error messages or other vital system notifications, things which I significantly care about. Otherwise, unless I tell you that you can sit on top of every other window, you’ll get in the friggin’ line like everyone else. Plenty of apps display this behaviour, but Samsung Kies’ firmware update dialogues take the cake for this one. And you’ll be seeing them a lot, because apparently Samsung has one server in Siberia with a 56k modem for a connection.

5: Litters files everywhere
Okay this is probably more a criticism of how things work under Windows than anything else, but I’m getting sick of applications that litter files all over the places, tossing them into all sorts of directories. Why did anybody think this was a good idea? Wait, I should probably retract that; it does have its benefits for sharing common elements but at the same time config files (which should stay in the app’s directory) often end up strewn across profiles and other folders for no apparent reason. And some of the worst offenders are games. Save games almost always end up in the My Documents folder, which is a folder I never use and never backup. I’ve stopped using it because it becomes a mess of saved games and config files for games and apps. In some ways that’s partly the fault of Games for Windows Live or similar clients, but the Mass Effect games are repeat offenders, as are plenty of others. Keep your save games in your game’s directory. If you’re usisng GFWL, then don’t. Alternatively Microsoft, if you’re listening, move the savegames somewhere else. Not in the My Documents folder, that’s not what it’s supposed to be used for. Actually didn’t we get a Saved Games folder in Vista? Why the hell aren’t we using that then?

4: Obnoxious popups
I recently bought a laptop from Dell’s website. I was just about ready to give up though because every couple of pages a friggin’ box would pop up inviting me to talk to a sales rep. To add to the fury it slid down from the top of the screen in a stuttering motion, making it more difficult to click the X to close it. Plenty of other websites do this with advertisements; the screen goes grey and a shitty Flash advertisement pops up. I will adblock every last one of these friggin’ things until you get the message that nobody likes this kind of shit and nobody pays any attention to it. we either block it or close it as soon as we’re able. And if you force us to sit through it, we’ll close the window and leave the site. It’s complete bullshit. Seriously, don’t do it. DO NOT DO IT. I came to see the website, not to have you toss shit all over my screen.

3: Apps that won’t stay put
If I put your application onto another monitor, or if I move it somewhere, it means you should STAY THERE. Don’t keep popping up in the centre of my screen. And that goes for your dialogue boxes too! Samsung Kies is a good example for this behaviour during a firmware update; the update dialogues all force themselves into the centre of the screen. Seriously, go the hell away. I’m well aware you’re running, and I’m keeping an eye on you. You don’t need to push yourself to the centre of the screen and then stay on top of every other window like an obnoxious terrier.

2: Restart required
I’m not entirely certain why so many applications demand a restart in this day in age. Back in the fragile days of Windows 98 when the system could fall over because of a single app it was par for the course, but in the robust days of Windows 7 when even GPU drivers can update without a reboot, I don’t understand why something like Skype demands a full restart for a single system update. I doubt Skype updates critical components that require absolutely everything to stop in its tracks and reboot. I doubt that the vast majority of applications that demand a reboot following an install or update really require it. I’d wager that most of them just require a single service (probably their own services) or app to close so that they can update it without files being in use. Why then does absolutely everything need to stop? It’s friggin’ annoying. Please stop doing it unless you have a really good rationale for it, and as Windows becomes more robust you’re running out of excuses.

1: Focus-stealing dialogue boxes
A one-way ticket to pissing me off is to have a dialogue box or app that steals focus when it opens. I frequently do more than one thing on my computer; I’ll leave something installing or otherwise working away while I type on a document or do something else of importance. I also happen to type incredibly fast, faster than my eyes can recognise a dialogue box has randomly popped up and has stolen focus. Naturally when I type, I’ll hit the spacebar, which will also happen to trigger the default button selection in said dialogue box. Which will do… who knows? Sometimes it’ll just close the dialogue box and I won’t know what it was saying. Sometimes it’ll cancel whatever it was doing. Other times it’ll be a button that says “RESTART” and everything closes down. Installers are the absolute worst for this, and this kind of behavious INFURIATES ME. Your installer is not so important that I have to sit there and watch it all the time. Your application is not so important that you can steal focus from whatever I am doing to tell me that you’ve installed an update that requires a pointless restart. The OS is a different story, but an OS interrupt probably won’t come up with a shitty dialogue box that I can accidently trigger. Seriously, don’t do this. I don’t like it.


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