As much as I love those adverts where gadgets and services just work, we all know that is really some marketer's fantasy, a dream that never happens. So here are some of the "features" that have bugged me this year that should be fixed in 2012 by the various powers that be in technology today.
1. Notifications Without the Notification
Emails from cloud or web services that say, "you have a new notification in Service X. Please log in to see it." You just sent me email -- why not tell me what the notification was in the email to save me logging into the service that I obviously rarely use, otherwise I'd know about the damn notification! Klout is just one service that does this and I hate it. Consequently, I am less likely to use that service.
Could this be any more annoying?
2. Text in a Box, How Hard Can it Be?
CMSes, comment boxes and other instances of input that don't clean text when pasted in from other sources. Or does the rest of the world really like typing stuff into those crappy dinky panes? I write most of my stuff in Word and have a bunch of extra checkers and filters to create better text. How hard is it for any CMS to understand the concept and auto-clean the text without using a Paste as Plain Text option tucked away on a menu bar in a dead-end option up a one-way street?
3. Ad Creep
The increasing number of seconds it is taking for an advert to clear from a website/web game/whatever. It used to be about five seconds, then 10, now often 15 and in some cases longer. A similar trend is the increasing difficulty in finding the pesky close button when you've rolled over unwittingly on some advert. Those buttons are becoming increasingly invisible.
4. It's One Planet, Man!
I appreciate that Europeans won't ever be allowed to watch whatever is on NBC.com the minute after it airs in the States, or that we can't get live Sumo from Japan easily. But information should be for all, so explain why Microsoft just launched its new Answer Desk service with this message for non-Americans?
In the connected age, there is no reason for this sort of message
Any information service should be visible to all, even if the information isn't strictly relevant, but in Microsoft's case I'm pretty sure it is and a service like this could benefit some users around the world.
5. The Wheels of Progress
This one will probably be seen more in 2012, rather than less. I think it's an HTML5 "feature." It's on a lot of sites where the content can be dynamically constructed or redesigned. While the service does that, it presents you with one of these glowing little wheels, rotating discs or these little cogs from Blogger.
Like a Windows 98 hourglass, only it's 2011
And, if something goes wrong, it just sits there, whirring away like a techno-hamster. More descriptive percentage or fill bars may be boring, but they help users understand how long we have to wait.
Please, Just Make it So
So, there's a lot of small things wrong with technology today, and quite a few big ones. Feel free to share your major bugbears and let's hope the tech world becomes a better place where developers, product managers and others realize how their decisions affect us, the humble user.