Friday, November 29, 2019

netflix ui and the culture of video binging

LIFEHACK: You can disable "autoplay" on Netflix, but the option is rather hidden - you have to login to the account via the web, click "Account" under the top right corner menu, scroll down to "Playback settings", and then uncheck "Play next episode automatically" and hit "Save". (Possibly you have to repeat this for other profiles in your account.)

I deeply resent "Play next automatically" being the default - partially because many shows throw in awesome music behind the credits, but mostly because of how it promotes and presumes a kind of mindless binge culture. And also, why not put it into the settings on the device? (Actually, being a per-device, per-account setting might be a useful option for many folks.) 

From a UX perspective, it's so suspicious that Netflix tucks it away in the web only - and then invented that semi-humiliating "Uh, are you still watching, or are you like asleep or dead?" dialog if you don't use the remote for a while, as if to make up for the crappy default binge mode UI. It feels like a gross way to drive up hours-watched metrics but at a terrible cost of human autonomy (I'm sure they have some user data about a big hunk of their base who like it, but damn man - I hate when tech so blatantly shoves us around for benefit of its corporate masters, very low-key user hostile.)

(Thanks to Sami (of OxGadgets) in the Lost in Mobile site's WhatsApp group who pointed out the setting and its web-only nature... so glad I griped about this issue there!)

Monday, November 25, 2019

easily remove unwanted objects

I was looking for software that could extract individual photos from a single scanned image file - someone suggested Photoshop Elements - their webpage shows off other tricks the software can do. Now I'm no marketing genius, but you wonder if their design team could have come up with a better example of "Easily remove unwanted objects" than "Your other child"...

will .org become a cash grab?

Internet world despairs as non-profit .org sold for $$$$ to private equity firm, price caps axed.

This disturbs me greatly. Organizations get very vested in a particular identity; there's a real hostage-taking situation possible here.

only connect? nah, bro

Apple Is Designing for a Post-Facebook World - I'm thinking about this in terms of the IDGuy video on the Apple Watch I posted the other day, the one complaining about watches bossing us around and making our schedules of human activity for us. I find that even more pointedly here in this link:
A similar thing happens with updates to how iOS handles photos. For years, Apple has been able to spot the faces of friends and family in photos you took on the iPhone. But now, if you view a photo with friends inside, Apple will suggest you message it to those same friends. That’s because the OS is thinking in terms of relationships. It knows you very well want to share a photo with friends in it with those friends.
I really find that kind of thinking intrusive... and I'm not a huge privacy guy. Like I could imagine a human assistant doing that kind of thing, but until we had some thing with a human-seeming touch, rather than just a neural net clever algorithm, it's going to be "Guess-What-I-Mean", pushy jerk of a UI, and not worth the privacy we give up for it.

Friday, November 15, 2019

when technology controls us

On his excellent Lost in Mobile site, Shaun posted Industrial Designer Critiques The Apple Watch and this video:

I cued it up to the section Shaun urged special attention, the designer kind of protesting about folks having to be told what to do to manage their health via a watch. On Lost in Mobile's related WhatsApp group, Bob said:
So I listened to the last 5 minutes. For those who didn't listen, and Shaun please correct me if I'm wrong, my main take away is that many of today's products tell you what to do and therefore absolve you of your responsibility to do things on your own. He likened it to being governed and controlled as in Orwell's 1984 combined with HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
In a way he's correct, but I could argue the same thing about almost any technological advance. A car absolves you from having to get about by horse and buggy which in turn absolves you from having to walk a long distance. Are we better or worse off. As often is the case, some of both.
My response was:
Fun topic! I too only caught the last 5 minutes. First tangent: he bookends his main complaint with a smaller one of how he'd prefer a watch to just be a watch - none of this extra functionality with its implication of obsolescence as new functions show up. But that reminds me of that old comment about smartphones - that we had essentially reinvented the pocket watch! So the mere act of telling you what the time is is not as crucial as it was...
I remember in college (in the 90s) sort of consciously deciding NOT to wear a watch, in part because I wanted to avoid the regimentation IDGuy talks about.  Most classrooms had clocks, or I could ask someone, and just have a more human and organic sense of time (which is why I still think about making clock faces that put the time into fuzzy words not precise numbers)...
I think that my avoidance of watches mirrors his avoidance of smartwatches, that watches are kind of more proactive -- to use some jargon it's more of a "push" technology that proactively alerts or commands the user than a "polling" technology that has the user decide to check the device. And that issues of healthy moving and eating are better left to people making their own habits.
I'm not sure how many people take the step counting and the diet advice (is that what they do?) and "stand up now" THAT seriously? Like is it mostly aspirational for most people, like a usually short lived regimentation that hopefully modifies their internalized habits?
Also the whole thing reminds me a bit of anti-GPS arguments, that we're all more dependent on devices and less capable with maps. And it will not be good if kids grow up helpless without GPSes, just the way it's kind of sad many kids don't read time off of traditional clockface... but on the other hand, I was terrible at navigating w/ my car for the decade of driving before I got my early GPS... I didn't magically gain capabilities, I just puttered along, and was often stressed.
But like with teaching math to kids, the sweet spot is getting people to use technologies that augment rather than replace cognition - never skimp on the steps of teaching estimation, even as you still let them use calculator more often
Interesting stuff! Let me know if you want in on this gem of a WhatsApp group and I'll see what I can do :-D

quickly disable javascript in chrome devtools

Something I've had to lookup:
In chrome, if you're already using devtools a lot, the quickest way to disable to Javascript is hit cmd-shift-p (or ctrl- on Windows I guess) to bring up the tools Palette and then start typing "Javascript", the command shows up in the menu and you can then easily select it. This only applies to that current devtools window I think.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

ui gripe list: ikea

I just want to say, IKEA has a very odd sense of taxonomy. I really don't think most of these things should be showing up for a search for "bookcases", do you?

Sadly, none of the filters under "More filters" are something like "actually show me the damn book cases, thanks."

I know IKEA is kind of apathetic about selling online - event the print catalogs are more of an aspiration-provoking encouragement to get you into their so-well-furnished ratmazes, and maybe get some tasty meatballs to boot. Still - this is ridiculous. I just want to look for a bookcase!

UPDATE: maybe because my first search was for "bookshelves", I got stuck in this place? Doing a search from here for "bookcase" got me much more sensible results - but the UI really made it look like I had drilled down to bookcases already...

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

easily finding the big ol' files on a mac

Since Sierra in 2016, MacOS has a pretty easy way to find the big files on your computer- Apple menu, About This Mac, Storage (tab), Manage... (button) - Large Files is just a flat list of the big ol' files, and "File Browser" can tell you just how much you're using for that Dropbox folder or whatever... anyway I found this more straight forward than some other disk usage tools I've tried before - getting rid of old iOS app backups and moving website snapshots to an external disk freed up like 100Gb on my 500Gb Macbook Air!

Monday, November 4, 2019

okta enters my ui gripe list

Both my manager's manager and myself were confused by authentication program Okta's dialog, after we had entered our Okta password (which incidentally, was a little underbranded, I didn't realize I had to enter my new Okta password and not one of the other company affiliated ones.)

That kind of looks like a code has arrived at the device, then you would enter it and hit "Send code" (as in back to the server) but no - you hit "Send code" first, it goes to your device, and then you enter it under "Enter Code", and then hit verify. It's just weird for it not to go in left to right reading order....

Friday, November 1, 2019

halloween 8-ball

This year my sweetie Melissa wanted to be a Magic 8-Ball:

I wrote a little webpage we stuck on an old iPhone so she could have a working answer window...

You can see (or even use) the webpage here: 
You can tap or click and it will random select one of the 20 authentic 8-ball responses

My first thought was to have her wear an iPad, and have me make up a triangular version of the answers, but she was concerned about the comfort, and I'm into being time efficient, so we decided to go with a simple square display on an iPhone (we wrapped the phone in electrical tape and attached a ribbon to it.)

I thought about using P5 but realized CSS could do the trick, using an animation fade in from black, and then just poking at the CSS (including using vw font-size units) and javascript until I was happy with the result. Then we added it to the homepage of the iPhone, which gets ride of much of the browser cruft (there's still a small battery indicator, or maybe we covered that part with the electrical tape?)