Saturday, 28 May 2011

Microsoft Windows, the Ribbon, and Jerry Seinfeld

I don't normally blog about computer technology which I suppose is surprising. My day job sees me working in the field so Monday to Friday, nine to five, and even after hours I am dealing with every @#$%^&* thing connected to computers. Obviously with blogging and such, I am working on a computer whether writing or doing research over the Net and it would be a fair statement to make that my waking moments are never far away from a keyboard. The only thing missing would be having the jack in the back of my head like in the movie The Matrix so I could truly be plugged in. Ha!

A few years ago I and a lot of people migrated to Microsoft Office and the Ribbon. We were all totally thrown for a loop by this UI innovation and while I'm guessing the jury is still out on whether or not all us old fuddy-duddies will ever properly make the break with the past and embrace this new visual presentation of the software, the next generation of users having nothing else to compare it with will accept this without protest. Being a bit of a nut about learning speed keys, I try to operate anything without taking my hands off the keyboard as I find moving my hand to a mouse to click on buttons and menu options to slow me down considerably. That meant my conversion to the ribbon may not have been as problematic as those who insist on always using the mouse.

If I may add this amusing observation: I have over the years stood back and chuckled at people's frustration in dealing with computers. Why? Nobody bothers to take the time to consult Help. I have heard numerous people voicing their anger about being unable to find something or how something has moved because the UI has changed but never bother to look it up in the help system. When Office 2007 arrived and I couldn't make a header in a Word document, I consulted Help, read over the steps and where to find the various options controlling Headers on the ribbon then went about making headers. Others just complained and complained and complained until I explained what to do. They just never read the help.

Another amusing observation. I have read that Microsoft has taken on the goal of providing new versions of Windows on a regular basis, sort of like the car manufacturers coming up with their models for the new year. This means that in order to entice us all for fork over the dough, they have to do something to "make it better" which in many cases means making it different, not necessarily better. I wrote about this phenomenon in My [blank] review of Firefox version 4. I like Firefox, don't get me wrong, but I talked about how they moved the Home button from the left hand of the screen to the right hand side of the screen. I read their rationale about how this was a terrific improvement for a cleaner interface. For over four years now I have moved my mouse to left and all of a sudden I had to go to the right. Now I know that somewhere, some developer is sitting somewhere thinking up these brilliant ideas to make the software and my life just so fantastic. Dear kind well-intentioned sir: f**k off. I have a list of responsibilities today and with a list of well-defined goals and none of those things involve re-learning a piece of software because some lonely genius in a cubicle somewhere decides arbitrarily and unilaterally how I should conduct my business. My business is not learning software. My goals do not entail mastering the latest and greatest. Please leave my freakin' stuff alone so I can go about my business uninterrupted. I have clicked on the home button on the left hand side of the screen for over four years and there is absolutely no rational, explainable, or justifiable reason to put it on the left. Yes, you did give me the option to move it back to the left hand side - I thank you for that - but would you for the love of God stop messing with my work day? Maybe your entire life is devoted to playing with computers but for me, the computer is merely a tool in the pursuit of my life dreams. Keep your cotton-picking hands off my stuff.

Okay, enough venting. My mentioning of the ribbon is linked to the announcement of the next version of Windows, "Windows 8", slated to be out in mid-2012. Some screen snapshots have been leaked to the press and show that Internet Explorer is going to have the ribbon. Speculation is that Microsoft may decide to start using the ribbon everywhere, even in the UI for the O.S. If the public was upset about what they did with Office, they're going to be tickled pink to see the decision made to foist this on all of us in all aspects of the Windows operating system. Thanks Billy. I appreciate your meddling. Not.

In reading over various articles about all this, I ran across an oldie but goodie which makes us all ask ourselves from time to time just what the heck is Microsoft doing.

Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates
Back in 2008, Microsoft decided to counter the series of very innovative and hilariously funny commercials from Apple, I'm a PC, I'm a Mac. The results of this counter-attack, which were original, quirky, and very much a reminder of Seinfeld's raison d'être in his comedy series, that is, "it's about nothing", left the world perplexed about just what the message was supposed to be. Did this raise the estimation of Microsoft in the eyes of the world? Did these ads successfully counter the Apple commercials? Whatever the opinion, we were all left scratching our heads. Out of it, Jerry Seinfeld was paid a reported $10 million.

Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates Buy Discount Shoes Windows

Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates live with a New Family


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