This Is Where I Came In

Oh dear.

Google’s Gmail has been largely neglected in recent years. The company has kept the email service’s look and style changes to a bare minimum, sticking with a design that has worked well but not thrilled.

But now, Google has announced a redesigned web version of Gmail is being released and is due out in “coming weeks”

I like things kept to a bare minimum. I recently bought a new mobile phone. I bought the simplest and cheapest I possibly could. And I still don’t know how to work it. I even had to take it back to the shop just to find out how to turn it on.

I think that if I had to design a phone, it would be a big thing that had a wide base, and the handset would sit draped over the top of it, and I’d arrange the numbers (no letters) in a circular, rotating dial on the front, not as buttons but as finger-sized holes that could be used to turn the dial, and with some sort of spring under the dial to return the dial to its resting position, and a ratchet which would make little clicking sounds (e.g. 6 clicks for the number 6) as it returned.

Anyway the new fully-feature Gmail will be something I won’t know how to use. And nobody will ever get an email from me again.

It’ll be the same with WordPress. I’ve been using their classic editor for years, and know my way round it. But they’re pushing a new one, which they say is “improved” but is actually a lot worse than their classic editor.  But the new editor is now the default editor, and the only way to access the classic editor is to get under the hood using multiple clicks. And one day they’ll probably close that loophole too.

I think it’s part of thee dumbing-down process. The new editor even made burbling sounds when it started up. I suppose that made it child-friendly or something.

Another piece of dumbing-down is the deprecation of Java Applets. They were the reason I got interest in the internet in the first place. You could embed a computer program in a piece of text on a web page, and set it running in your browser. Idle Theory was full of applets like that.

But no more. They came to be regarded as a security risk, because they could be malicious. Health & Safety has now infected computers. And the applets have been exiled to the outdoors. You can only run them in the privacy of your own computer in your own home. None of my Idle Theory applets work online any more. And all the applet code has usually been deleted as well.

So how do you publish a computer program on the web? I don’t know. A very powerful feature of the internet vanished almost as soon as it had appeared.

When the first microcomputers appeared in the late 1970s, you could start writing programs straight away, usually in some variant of Basic. You were positively encouraged to write them, usually because there weren’t any applications that ran on them, so you had to write your own. Now the applications and games and operating systems have taken over completely, and the program compilers and editors have been relegated to a back room. It’s now a bit of an uphill struggle to write a program on a computer. I use NetBeans IDE to write in Java. IDE means Integrated Development Environment, and that means that it’s very difficult to write anything at all. When I first got Netbeans it took me about a week to get a “Hello World” program running.

It seems to be a law that all computer applications or operating systems must always get bigger and more complicated and sport ever more features. Eventually, as far as I can see, they get so complicated that nobody knows how to use them. Does anyone still use Word or WordPerfect?

Twitter started out with a restriction of about 160 characters on a tweet. But I noticed that recently they doubled it to 320 or something. So the rot has set in there too. Soon you’ll probably be able to write books using Twitter, with page numbers and indexes.

I think that if my blog ever falls silent, it won’t be because I’ve been censored. It’ll be because it’s just got too difficult to write anything or publish anything. And only “experts” will be able to write or publish anything. They don’t want “content providers”. They want to provide all the content themselves. You’re supposed to just lap it up.

And this is where I came in.

About Frank Davis

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18 Responses to This Is Where I Came In

  1. buckothemoose says:

    I’ve used Outlook Mail for a long while. When you had an empty inbox, there use to be a background picture that said,
    “Wow! You have a very clean inbox”.
    When you had no junkmail, the background of your junk mail box used to say,
    “You have no junk mail today. Yippee!”
    I complained on a Microsoft forum that it was patronising and childish and asked how I could amend the messages. Someone told me the messages could not be amended, but said I should suggest it for the next update, which I promptly did
    I’m sure I can’t take credit for it, but the messages now say,
    “you’ve finished”

    Dumbing down of adults seems to be very common in tech these days. Just looking at the names of many modern apps shows they were written for adults, but with children in mind

    • beobrigitte says:

      Dumbing down of adults seems to be very common in tech these days.
      It is. It’s even worse when you are female as it is assumed that you haven’t got a clue and just looove to read :
      “Wow! You have a very clean inbox”.

  2. I agree. I am an architect. When I began my career, everything was hand drawn. The drafting and lettering I learned was meant as a basic skill set to last you a lifetime, much like learning basic chords on a guitar or scales on a piano. When CAD first came out, it was fairly easy to use. A few basic commands would allow you to draw most anything with relative ease and the benefits of being able to stretch things, copy things, etc was a huge time saver.

    Over the years however, CAD programs have become more and more complex. If you don’t upgrade every year, you run into issues of compatibility with other people’s work (like inserting a survey or structural engineering). When you do upgrade, you find that the way you work has changed once again. Every year, I feel as if it takes me 3 or 4 months to tweak, reset, re-learn how the program works, just so I can do what I did intuitively before the changes. It is frustrating as hell.

    Now I have someone who drafts for me, and I spend most of my time hand sketching things…

  3. beobrigitte says:

    Google’s Gmail has been largely neglected in recent years.
    I’m not surprised. I wouldn’t have one if it wasn’t a prerequisite for other applications. So I created it and took great care never to use it.

    For the rest, Frank: I agree. However, I must point out that we pensioners have an advantage:100% (ish) IDLE TIME to use the way we want. We are not brain dead yet, are we?

  4. Doonhamer says:

    Did programs become apps about the same time as homes became properties?
    I miss nice simp!e Basic, And the others we used when computer memory was a luxury.

  5. Rose says:

    How’s this for an outrageously bent poll?

    There’s nowhere for non-smokers who don’t agree with their prohibitionist plans to answer and smokers are portrayed as selfish illiterates.

    Smoking ban: Huge support for a cigarette ban on beaches in Somerset and Dorset
    27 APR 2018

    “There’s a major backlash against those sparking up on the beach”

    Should smoking be banned on beaches?

    Yes – it’s disgusting

    No – I want to have a smoke where I want

    I suppose that’s how antismokers get away with depriving people of their liberties, but I haven’t seen a poll skewed quite so blatantly.

    Incidentally, it’s a bluff.

    “The seashore (which is synonymous with foreshore) is the area between the mean high water mark and the mean low water mark.
    Below the high water mark, i.e. the seashore and the seabed, generally belongs to the Crown.”

    As we know Crown Property is exempt from Smoking Bans and any theoretical bans have to be voluntary like the arrangement at Westminster. But they won’t necessarily mention that when they put up their signs.

    • buckothemoose says:

      Interesting results though. The article claims the majority of people support a ban on smoking because 70% of respondants agreed and only 30% disagreed
      As less than 30% of the population smoke, if this was a representative poll, non-smokers were also saying no to a ban

      • Smoking Lamp says:

        The results are even more ‘interesting’ if you click on the accompanying survey and see the following:

        “Should smoking be banned on beaches?


        Yes – it’s disgusting 20%
        No – I want to have a smoke where I want 80%”

        That is the actual survey results are the exact opposite of their propaganda. I recall this survey–having taken it a while back– and the results were always opposed to the ban.

        This shouldn’t be a surprise as tobacco control propaganda is the norm art some media outlets. Nevertheless despite their incredibly biased survey instrument the actual results dis;t meet their desired result so they lied…

        This would be an excellent case to be presented to MPs in areas where smoking bans are being forced upon the public.

  6. Frank Davis says:

    It seems that the SomersetLive poll was a report on a Facebook poll that found 70% in favour of smoking being banned on beaches. But their separate poll, embedded in the report, had only 14% in favour or a ban, and 86% against.

    There isn’t huge support for a cigarette ban on beaches in Somerset and Dorset: there’s hardly any support at all.

    • Smoking Lamp says:

      Frank, that’s a fair assessment. But they are still severely manipulating the data. The questions are asked in a way that attempts to bias the data in their selection of words and the images they present with the poll.

      Beyond that they are selectively reporting anti smoker perspectives. I checked their earlier poll which addressed outdoor smoking and despite the bias inducing language also resulted in rejecting smoking bans by a large margin. They chose report on pro-ban results but ignored anti-ban results from their own prior poll.

  7. Frank Davis says:

    It seems that the SomersetLive poll was a report on a Facebook poll that found 70% in favour of smoking being banned on beaches. But their separate poll, embedded in the report, had only 14% in favour or a ban, and 86% against.

    There isn’t huge support for a cigarette ban on beaches in Somerset and Dorset: there’s hardly any support at all.

  8. beobrigitte says:

    But their separate poll, embedded in the report, had only 14% in favour or a ban, and 86% against.

    Actually, it’s now 12% for a ban (Yes – it’s disgusting)
    88% against it. (No – I want to have a smoke where I want)

    The anti-smokers’ hearts are bleeding; their little tricks “it’s disgusting” and “smokers-want-to-smoke-everywhere” no longer work.

  9. Mick Walker says:

    The telephone dial is a design classic.
    (“Design” as in function, not “Style”, the modern meaning.)
    As a way of easily generating pulses, it was pure genius.
    Obsolete now, of course; but it had a good run.

  10. Smoking Lamp says:

    Now the SomersetLive ‘antismoking ministry’ has a new communique about smoking in public parks in Bath. According to their correspondent James Brinsford (the same author of previous antismoking missives) “Bath residents back a ban on smoking in the city’s parks”. Once again he notes that their Facebook survey asked “Should smoking be banned in Bath’s parks?”

    According to his article “Many had their say and some 66 per cent of the 900 plus voters called for a ban on smoking”. He emphasized: “Two thirds of people would back a ban on smoking in parks”. Of course with a nonrandomized survey that result is non-scientific and of dubious statistical quality.

    The results on the poll accompanying the article, subject to the same caveats above, nevertheless yield a somewhat different result. At the time of this post the results to the question “Should smoking be banned in Bath’s parks?” was 18% “Yes-they should be smoke free” against 82% “No – people should be able to smoke if they want to”.

    The article with poll is here:

    • Rose says:

      12% “Yes-they should be smoke free” against 88% “No – people should be able to smoke if they want to”, this morning.

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