07 11 / 2011

How to switch back to the Old Gmail: A quick & easy reference
To switch back to the old Gmail, click the gear in the top right corner, then select, “Revert to the old look temporarily.” It’s as easy as that!
Yeah, I know “temporarily” is a little passive-aggressive, but that’s the reality! You need to know that while Google acknowledges your preference for the old Gmail, it’s only going to respect it *temporarily*. You know, like when a bad short order cook says he’ll stop sitting in your food “for a while.” That’s nice, but let’s be realistic: he’s eventually just going to go back to being a dick. (What, you guys don’t talk to the short order cooks who spit in your food? I thought that was a great example.)
And wait, did you click the wrong gear in the top right corner and you still couldn’t find the right link? Make sure you didn’t click the gear with 8 teeth! That one’s got options like “Mail settings.” You want the one with 6 teeth. That’s the one for Inbox settings. (For example, there’s a link for “Settings” but that might not be the same settings as the Mail settings on the 8-teeth gear!)
When learning a new interface, it’s important to figure out which gear icon goes with which settings, and you can do that by counting the teeth. More teeth = more important settings, probably.
How to stop the New Gmail from being so horrifically tall: A Bonus Guide
New Gmail’s advertised as being “cleaner” and “more modern.” That means they took out all the lines, made all the text bigger and bolder, and added way too much goddamn whitespace to everything. But what if you don’t like too much goddamn whitespace?
It turns out, there’s a neat way to dial down the fucking whitespace:
Click the gear in the top right corner (the gear with six teeth, not eight teeth!!!). Look under “Display density.” It should be set to “Comfortable.” You know, because your text needs some room to relax after a long day of you being able to read it. Isn’t that why every book you’ve ever read was printed triple-spaced? Anyway, just click “Compact.”
Congratulations! Now you can scan your inbox without having to vertically scroll so much!

How to switch back to the Old Gmail: A quick & easy reference

To switch back to the old Gmail, click the gear in the top right corner, then select, “Revert to the old look temporarily.” It’s as easy as that!

Yeah, I know “temporarily” is a little passive-aggressive, but that’s the reality! You need to know that while Google acknowledges your preference for the old Gmail, it’s only going to respect it *temporarily*. You know, like when a bad short order cook says he’ll stop sitting in your food “for a while.” That’s nice, but let’s be realistic: he’s eventually just going to go back to being a dick. (What, you guys don’t talk to the short order cooks who spit in your food? I thought that was a great example.)

And wait, did you click the wrong gear in the top right corner and you still couldn’t find the right link? Make sure you didn’t click the gear with 8 teeth! That one’s got options like “Mail settings.” You want the one with 6 teeth. That’s the one for Inbox¬†settings. (For example, there’s a link for “Settings” but that might not be the same settings as the Mail settings on the 8-teeth gear!)

When learning a new interface, it’s important to figure out which gear icon goes with which settings, and you can do that by counting the teeth. More teeth = more important settings, probably.

How to stop the New Gmail from being so horrifically tall: A Bonus Guide

New Gmail’s advertised as being “cleaner” and “more modern.” That means they took out all the lines, made all the text bigger and bolder, and added way too much goddamn whitespace to everything. But what if you don’t like too much goddamn whitespace?

It turns out, there’s a neat way to dial down the fucking whitespace:

Click the gear in the top right corner (the gear with six teeth, not eight teeth!!!). Look under “Display density.” It should be set to “Comfortable.” You know, because your text needs some room to relax after a long day of you being able to read it. Isn’t that why every book you’ve ever read was printed triple-spaced? Anyway, just click “Compact.”

Congratulations! Now you can scan your inbox without having to vertically scroll so much!

07 11 / 2011

"Hey guys, remember in 2006 when MySpace let you set your background image to any old ugly shit so it was harder to read everything? Let’s bring that back LOL."
-Google, apparently

"Hey guys, remember in 2006 when MySpace let you set your background image to any old ugly shit so it was harder to read everything? Let’s bring that back LOL."

-Google, apparently

08 10 / 2010

I live in Chicago, so I don’t really need to own a car. But when I do need a car, I use a car-sharing service called Zipcar.
Generally, it’s pretty great. If you need a car for a couple hours, you can reserve one online, then pick it up from a parking lot and bring it back when you’re done. Gas and insurance are included. There’s plenty of variety in your car options. Sedans, SUVs, trucks, whatever.
But a few days ago, due to a lack of other options, I drove a Mini Cooper. And let me tell you this: Fuck the Mini Cooper.
Here’s what struck me as ridiculous:
The speedometer’s in the center. And while this isn’t awful on its own, it just means that the stuff behind the steering wheel is all the shit you don’t care about with an automatic car. I just kept glancing down where all the important info normally is and looking at the RPMs. Maybe they couldn’t put the speedometer and fuel gauge on the driver’s side because the steering wheel is so tiny?
The window controls are in the center, below the air controls. When I was leaving the parking garage, I checked all the places I’d found window controls in the past - on the door, in the center console - to no avail. With someone behind me, I eventually just opened the goddamn door and reached around it to wave the parking pass in front of the exit machine. I found the window controls a few minutes later. Between the speedometer and the windows, it was as if the car was saying, “Take everything you know about cars and throw it out the window, assuming you can figure out how to open it! Maybe you can just open the door and throw it out that way.”
The door handles were unintuitive. And I wasn’t alone on this. After I’d parked the car at Home Depot, my girlfriend sat in the passenger seat. “I don’t know how to get out.” Then, a second later, “Is this how I get out?” as she reached for the quirky door handles that didn’t look like door handles.
The heat controls used colored dials instead of regular knobs. Like, part of the dial is blue, and when you spin it up it shows the red side. But when you first get in the car you just think “oh, blue dials” not “that’s clearly for the air.” This is the type of thing I’d assume people who own the Mini Cooper would have to tell friends riding in the passenger seat all the time. “Oh yeah, the window controls are down there, and those dials work like this.” Then you’d have to reach down and show them how the dials work. “See? I fucking hate myself. I make bad decisions. I bought this car because it’s pretty but it doesn’t make sense and now I hate myself.”
Now, I realize all these complaints make me sound like a petty jerk, but here’s the thing: Cars shouldn’t make you feel like an idiot. They shouldn’t have bizarre learning curves. If something that should be simple makes you feel stupid, it was probably designed poorly.
Using Zipcar has gotten me to feel pretty confident about getting into any car and knowing how to drive it, but holy shit, this car is just so goddamn quirky. Granted, I shouldn’t have been driving it anyway (I’m about 6’ 2” and every time I hit a bump my head would bonk against the ceiling), but never have I been in a car that went out of its way to say good luck figuring me out, asshole. You ever driven a fucking riddle before?
On the upside, I guess the Mini Cooper’s kind of a reverse Hummer. As in, you get a Hummer to compensate for having a tiny wiener. “Whoa, look at that man in the big car!” people will think. “I bet his wiener’s huge, like his car that is huge. I want to get in that big car, because that is a metaphor for sex, but not really because I’m a lady.”
But the Mini Cooper is so tiny! It’s hardly even practical, but if you were a grown man driving a Mini Cooper, and then you whipped out your junk and showed it to a lady, she’d be all like, “Wow, that junk is so large by contrast! Your entire body looks gigantic. Look at your hands on that tiny children’s steering wheel! Pick up your tiny car and put it in the trunk of my regular-sized car so I can take you back to my place, baby. (For sex!!!)”
WIth the Mini Cooper, your regular-sized wiener can look like a big, novelty-size wiener, and ultimately, this sort of reverse compensation is the Mini Cooper’s greatest strength. And if you’re a lady, I don’t know what to say. It’s probably pretty practical, assuming you prefer to travel with short men and/or other ladies, and you don’t have children. Honestly, this car seems like it was built for a wealthy dwarf who lives alone in the forest and has never used another car before. Maybe the car is his wife???
Anyway, this concludes a rambling blog post in which I start by analyzing a car’s interior controls and finish by talking about wieners too much.

I live in Chicago, so I don’t really need to own a car. But when I do need a car, I use a car-sharing service called Zipcar.

Generally, it’s pretty great. If you need a car for a couple hours, you can reserve one online, then pick it up from a parking lot and bring it back when you’re done. Gas and insurance are included. There’s plenty of variety in your car options. Sedans, SUVs, trucks, whatever.

But a few days ago, due to a lack of other options, I drove a Mini Cooper. And let me tell you this: Fuck the Mini Cooper.

Here’s what struck me as ridiculous:

  • The speedometer’s in the center. And while this isn’t awful on its own, it just means that the stuff behind the steering wheel is all the shit you don’t care about with an automatic car. I just kept glancing down where all the important info normally is and looking at the RPMs. Maybe they couldn’t put the speedometer and fuel gauge on the driver’s side because the steering wheel is so tiny?
  • The window controls are in the center, below the air controls. When I was leaving the parking garage, I checked all the places I’d found window controls in the past - on the door, in the center console - to no avail. With someone behind me, I eventually just opened the goddamn door and reached around it to wave the parking pass in front of the exit machine. I found the window controls a few minutes later. Between the speedometer and the windows, it was as if the car was saying, “Take everything you know about cars and throw it out the window, assuming you can figure out how to open it! Maybe you can just open the door and throw it out that way.”
  • The door handles were unintuitive. And I wasn’t alone on this. After I’d parked the car at Home Depot, my girlfriend sat in the passenger seat. “I don’t know how to get out.” Then, a second later, “Is this how I get out?” as she reached for the quirky door handles that didn’t look like door handles.
  • The heat controls used colored dials instead of regular knobs. Like, part of the dial is blue, and when you spin it up it shows the red side. But when you first get in the car you just think “oh, blue dials” not “that’s clearly for the air.” This is the type of thing I’d assume people who own the Mini Cooper would have to tell friends riding in the passenger seat all the time. “Oh yeah, the window controls are down there, and those dials work like this.” Then you’d have to reach down and show them how the dials work. “See? I fucking hate myself. I make bad decisions. I bought this car because it’s pretty but it doesn’t make sense and now I hate myself.”

Now, I realize all these complaints make me sound like a petty jerk, but here’s the thing: Cars shouldn’t make you feel like an idiot. They shouldn’t have bizarre learning curves. If something that should be simple makes you feel stupid, it was probably designed poorly.

Using Zipcar has gotten me to feel pretty confident about getting into any car and knowing how to drive it, but holy shit, this car is just so goddamn quirky. Granted, I shouldn’t have been driving it anyway (I’m about 6’ 2” and every time I hit a bump my head would bonk against the ceiling), but never have I been in a car that went out of its way to say good luck figuring me out, asshole. You ever driven a fucking riddle before?

On the upside, I guess the Mini Cooper’s kind of a reverse Hummer. As in, you get a Hummer to compensate for having a tiny wiener. “Whoa, look at that man in the big car!” people will think. “I bet his wiener’s huge, like his car that is huge. I want to get in that big car, because that is a metaphor for sex, but not really because I’m a lady.”

But the Mini Cooper is so tiny! It’s hardly even practical, but if you were a grown man driving a Mini Cooper, and then you whipped out your junk and showed it to a lady, she’d be all like, “Wow, that junk is so large by contrast! Your entire body looks gigantic. Look at your hands on that tiny children’s steering wheel! Pick up your tiny car and put it in the trunk of my regular-sized car so I can take you back to my place, baby. (For sex!!!)”

WIth the Mini Cooper, your regular-sized wiener can look like a big, novelty-size wiener, and ultimately, this sort of reverse compensation is the Mini Cooper’s greatest strength. And if you’re a lady, I don’t know what to say. It’s probably pretty practical, assuming you prefer to travel with short men and/or other ladies, and you don’t have children. Honestly, this car seems like it was built for a wealthy dwarf who lives alone in the forest and has never used another car before. Maybe the car is his wife???

Anyway, this concludes a rambling blog post in which I start by analyzing a car’s interior controls and finish by talking about wieners too much.

09 4 / 2010

Detnews.com apparently had a huge problem with people creating accounts with fake names. Good thing they took care of that! Right, Dragon Cobra Horsepunch?

Detnews.com apparently had a huge problem with people creating accounts with fake names. Good thing they took care of that! Right, Dragon Cobra Horsepunch?

24 2 / 2010

(Click to embiggen.)
A local business owner and buddy of mine got featured in Modern Luxury. I thought the article was kind and well-written, but when I wanted to leave a comment saying something along the lines of “Hey, I like your writeup! This guy’s business is great!” I found I had to register first. Not only that, the registration process somehow managed to be condescending. So in true Cranky Interface Guy fashion, I added notes to that screenshot.
LATER, IN THE MODERN LUXURY USER EXPERIENCE DEPARTMENT
Web consultant: “According to our user research data, when people are asked to register at ModernLuxury.com, only 10% of them register successfully, while 89.8% quit before completing Step 1, and 0.2% take a screenshot and write sarcastic annotations all over it.”
Gentleman wearing a monocle, having a servant hand-feed him smoked pheasant: “This is positively dreadful!”
Web consultant: “I know. We shouldn’t require such absurd things from new users.”
Gentleman wearing a monocle, having a servant hand-feed him smoked pheasant: “No, I mean this pheasant is a bit dry! Send it back to the kitchen, Gregory! I’d go myself but you see my shoes are made of solid gold, due to my being preposterously wealthy.”
Servant Gregory: “Yes, sir.”
Gentleman wearing a monocle, no longer being hand-fed smoked pheasant: “The help around here truly is unremarkable. On the upside I was able to use my extravagant wealth and social status to legally change Gregory’s first name to ‘Servant.’ It keeps him from acting up.”
Web consultant: “Okay. So about these web forms. People don’t like being required to answer questions that could be considered intrusive.”
Gentleman wearing a monocle, no longer being hand-fed smoked pheasant: “Yes, that’s all well and good, but I must ask you, how much do you weigh and how many sexual partners have you had?”
Web consultant: “I’ll be going now.”
Gentleman wearing a monocle, etc.: “I was only asking so I could register you for our latest publication, Contemporary Thin & Sexually Promiscuous Quarterly!”

(Click to embiggen.)

A local business owner and buddy of mine got featured in Modern Luxury. I thought the article was kind and well-written, but when I wanted to leave a comment saying something along the lines of “Hey, I like your writeup! This guy’s business is great!” I found I had to register first. Not only that, the registration process somehow managed to be condescending. So in true Cranky Interface Guy fashion, I added notes to that screenshot.

LATER, IN THE MODERN LUXURY USER EXPERIENCE DEPARTMENT

Web consultant: “According to our user research data, when people are asked to register at ModernLuxury.com, only 10% of them register successfully, while 89.8% quit before completing Step 1, and 0.2% take a screenshot and write sarcastic annotations all over it.”

Gentleman wearing a monocle, having a servant hand-feed him smoked pheasant: “This is positively dreadful!”

Web consultant: “I know. We shouldn’t require such absurd things from new users.”

Gentleman wearing a monocle, having a servant hand-feed him smoked pheasant: “No, I mean this pheasant is a bit dry! Send it back to the kitchen, Gregory! I’d go myself but you see my shoes are made of solid gold, due to my being preposterously wealthy.”

Servant Gregory: “Yes, sir.”

Gentleman wearing a monocle, no longer being hand-fed smoked pheasant: “The help around here truly is unremarkable. On the upside I was able to use my extravagant wealth and social status to legally change Gregory’s first name to ‘Servant.’ It keeps him from acting up.”

Web consultant: “Okay. So about these web forms. People don’t like being required to answer questions that could be considered intrusive.”

Gentleman wearing a monocle, no longer being hand-fed smoked pheasant: “Yes, that’s all well and good, but I must ask you, how much do you weigh and how many sexual partners have you had?”

Web consultant: “I’ll be going now.”

Gentleman wearing a monocle, etc.: “I was only asking so I could register you for our latest publication, Contemporary Thin & Sexually Promiscuous Quarterly!”