June 13th, 2005

pinkie pie

Usability Hall of Shame: SessionSaver Firefox Extension

SessionSaver is a Firefox extension with a noble goal: it keeps track of what tabs and windows you had open when Firefox closed, and restores that state when it opens. It's handy if Firefox or your computer is acting unreliable, or if you are working on a project and want to start up where you left off — or it would be, if it didn't have the worst user interface I have ever seen. The only other program I can think of that takes such a conventions-be-damned position is Lotus Notes, and at least Notes is huge enough to support having its own widgets for everything. That SessionSaver can fit this much brokenness into one preferences dialog box floors me.

When you install SessionSaver, its preferences panel begins in "Simple" mode:

And already I'm scratching my head:

.. ::. .. : .:.. . ...

What on earth is that, and what is it doing in my title bar? If I switch windows and then try to alt-tab back, I won't have any idea what that is. Even worse, if I opened it accidentally, I still don't know what it is, because even if I read the "title" which has inexplicably migrated down into the window itself, I find that I am running

| ss nightly * 28

You know, ss nightly asterisk 28! Silly user.

Once I figure out what the window is, the single setting it exposes is straightforward enough: Should it restore my browser settings when I start up? But wait — if I uncheck this, does SessionSaver do anything at all? That's what the extension is for, after all. And Firefox already lets me turn extensions on and off in the extensions panel itself, so what's special here? SessionSaver had the chance to have a "simple" mode with no preferences at all, and missed.

That said, I lied to you above: there is more than one setting being exposed here. Up in the top corner we see an equivalence sign, , beside the word "Simple". That is a button that switches the preferences panel into Expert mode! Expert mode is truly a sight to behold:

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  • Current Mood
    annoyed annoyed

Apparently the Web is public! Who knew?

nyxie reads a Web forum about wedding-related stuff over at WeddingBells.ca. WeddingBells is a major Canadian bridal magazine, so the forums there are both popular and high-profile. As on any Web forum, discussion often branches far away from on-topic, and one discussion there started talking about Karla Homolka's upcoming release.

Today, a story went out on the CP newswire about Internet discussions about vigilante action against Homolka:
A much publicized online death pool may be gone, but speculation on vigilante action against Homolka has found its way onto the most unlikely of cyber places - websites ostensibly dedicated to weddings, rock bands and babies.

"I give it max six mth's (sic) before someone puts a bullet between her eyes," reads chat forum participant Margherita's offering to the ongoing discussion of Homolka at WeddingBells.ca. "If I saw her walking down the street, I would pitch whatever is near right at her head."
Cue panic! It turns out that when you write things on public forums on the Web, other people might read them!

For full impact, note how many newspapers and radio stations ran the story, at least on their websites.

(substitute mentioned a particularly apropos Dr. Fun comic.)
  • Current Mood
    amused amused