I have said several times here that it is important to own your own tech and to be mindful of that ownership. I have also agreed here with others that the coming battle is over control of your devices: be they desktop, tablet, phone or implanted-in-your-head computers. Really, this post is a bit of a rant about the ongoing battle … a series of skirmishes … death by a thousand pin pricks style battle of attrition.
Again, I have said before that it seems that every application wants your undivided attention despite the evidence to the contrary: that people heavily multitask on most if not all of their devices (sometimes on more than one device at once). I was going to include an image on that last bit, but search google for images of multitasking and nearly every image found is of people (sometimes with more than two arms and hands) using multiple devices.
I’ve been annoyed several times recently when Comodo has popped up a requester explaining that it was starting a virus scan — and that requester has interrupted my game or TV program as if it was somehow important enough to demand my attention. This is not uncommon: all manner of things on windows demand your attention exclusively. I was also annoyed today that the WinSCP window kept demanding my attention while pulling the focus away from the terminal window in which I was busy “fixing the internet” — which was the very problem WinSCP wanted to notify me (every 10 seconds) about.
It may seem tangential to this, but I’ve been watching the renewed OS wars with some interest. I’m not sure I want any of them to “win” per sé. ‘i’OS (there really shouldn’t be an ‘i’ in iOS), Android and Windows 8 all have a fairly overtly stated purpose: to deliver the user to organizations that would like to pay for their attention. I’d like to pour hate on Windows 8 — in some ways it deserves it, and has got it — but it’s really only that Windows 8 is late to the party and is “trying to hard” — harder than the other entrants to serve it’s users up on a platter to anyone with money. Maybe we’re just lucky that people aren’t particularly buying it. But be clear: iOS and Android are no better, really.
I was really annoyed today while installing Far Cry 3 — it was really the straw that tipped my rage over the edge. My teamspeak buddies commented how rarely my language is that colourful. It not only deigned to install an icon on my desktop (which is a death-penalty offense, IMHO), but the “social” application from Ubisoft (the publisher) also installed it’s icon. And if that’s not enough, it is not possible to use that icon to run the game as it must (in my case) be started from Steam — so two completely useless icons that are useless because they are unusable — on my desktop. From there, it descended into chaos. The user interface and matchmaking are severely broken and I ended up simply playing some single player to mollify my mood.
There really is no excuse on the interface and matchmaking front: games like Borderlands 2 have definitively schooled the entire industry on “how it should be done.” The problem is that these large publishers have now gotten the idea that they need more “control” over the user experience… even if that control is at the express cost of a crappier user experience. It’s all a cynical ploy to sneak another dollar out of our wallets. I might even be OK with that last bit if it weren’t for the enormous sacrifice required in terms of usability.
But there-in lies the rub. There is no interest in providing quality — simply sufficient quantity of spam that you will pay for some of it. And there’s good evidence that this is actually causing harm. The only light I see at the end of the tunnel is Steam launching on Linux.