Tag Archives: UI

At the beep, enter your language

If you live in a country or area that is at all non-monolingual, you will encounter telephone trees where the first prompt requests you specify your language. For example, in the United States, it is usually Spanish.

Unfortunately this does not scale well. If you have to deal with even, say, the UN languages, that’s 6 possibilities. Further, they are rarely standardized, so for one firm, you key in “6” to get Spanish. For another it’s “2”, etc.

I propose this:

  1. A universally understood tone or sequence of tones that means “specify your language” (SYL). These would be tones that a computer could recognize, like SITs. In this way, a person could specify to their phone/phone company what their language was and have them automatically reply.
  2. A universally standardized mapping of languages and dialects to numbers. For example, en-US = 1033 (Microsoft LCID).

This would result in the following pass:

  1. Caller dials some number with a phone tree.
  2. Called party PBX picks up.
  3. Called party PBX plays SYL SIT.
  4. Caller (or caller’s phone/phone company) recognizes the SIT.
  5. Caller (or caller’s phone/phone company) responds with language code
    1. This would include a termination character, like # or *.
  6. Called party PBX connects the caller to the phone tree or operator of that language.

Of course, even the UN isn’t going to maintain an operator for every possible language, so in those cases, a fail-gracefully routing tree would be set up so that the nearest neighbor language would be selected instead. As an example, if en-GB (2057) wasn’t supported, but en-US was (1033), the call would be routed there. Alternately, a message could be prerecorded in that language, telling the called party that their language wasn’t supported.

What do you think?

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Too many Firefoxes

Many of us remember the famous Windows XP Service Pack 2, which really marked when Microsoft started to get serious about their client systems’ security. Prior to that there was little to guide the end user that I remember. XPSP2 brought the first version of the Security Center, which made it easy to set up the Windows Firewall and actually told them they they needed an antivirus to be safe. This was still prior to Microsoft’s providing one.

Anyway, Windows Firewall is still around and rarely seen after maybe the first week of an installation of Windows, since it is on by default and by then, all the other programs will have been installed and configured to go through the firewall.

Sometimes, however, things glitch:

Firewall-toomanyffx

Three entries for Firefox in Windows Firewall.

I have no idea what the cause of this is. Is it a problem?

An unwontedly ugly property sheet

We all know that parts of a system that are used the least are generally the worst. They get the least attention and have the lowest priority when triaging bugs. In some cases they are so rarely seen that they don’t even get bug reports written about them. Vide the now notorious Windows 3.x font addition dialog that lasted until Windows Vista.

Here is a less egregious example from Windows 10 (current version, 1511):

UglyFTPProps

Note the background color problem under the permissions section of the dialog. I suspect that it has been there since Windows 98 or something. If it was removed, this would look fine. Maybe in the next version of Windows, the anniversary update, they will improve this?

I am not mentioning the UNIX style permissions because that is a function of the FTP server, rather than the Windows FTP client.

Hypermarking by a Microsoft coder

I’ve noticed something about industrial/intellectual property marking: the bigger or more established the company or undertaking, the more understated the marking. For example, Mozilla Firefox’s about box (The traditional place for dropping IP notices) just has a small type note that “Firefox and the Firefox logos are trademarks of the Mozilla Foundation”.

In contrast, small time operators usually go overboard with the ©®™ stuff. I have decided to call this “hypermarking”. The thought of the thesis above came from my observing an example of it in, of all places, Microsoft Windows.

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How to tell a British company when you see one

I was applying for a position (in the United States) at the firm GSK (alias GlaxoSmithKline) and was presented with this option to select my “prefix”:

GSK-prefixes

I have filled out more of these forms than I can tell you, probably a easy hundred, but I have never otherwise seen options for “Lady” and “Lord”. Why did they feel the need to include these? Do they regularly recruit tituled nobility? If so, do they really have to go through the same HR software/ATS that commoners like me do?

If so, HAH!

More diversity form nonsense

While applying for a position at Fenwal, I was presented with the typical EEO form to fill out:

DubiousFenwal

As I have shown, it is bizarrely possible to declare yourself both Hispanic and non-Hispanic at the same time. Shades of the radio button confusion of PSEG. Also, for some reason, the Hispanic/Latino question is a subheading under gender. Why?

Not clear icon overlay in EU4

Continuing from my previous post about EU4, I found another interface oddity.

Some context: In EU there are “provinces”, which are similar to cities in the Civilization games. Some of these have fortifications that require you to siege them. To do this, you need to have a certain number of troops in the province. If you do not, you can’t besiege the place.

The icon for this situation is shown in the image below (the little red thing):

eu4-seige-icon

Too few troops to siege this province.

Most of the iconography in this image is apparent to the player, though possibly highly confusing to a newbie. The red icon though I cannot tell the meaning of. It just looks like a squiggle with an exclamation point after it.

Checkbox v. dropdown

When I was applying for a position at, if I remember correctly, PSEG, I had to fill out a diversity form or two or three. I don’t have a problem with that.

I did notice this UI confusion though:

Nocheckboxes

Clearly that is a drop down menu. However I would note that check boxes would actually be improper here, since the options are mutually exclusive (check one). However, if they said “click on of the radio buttons” they would be probably confusing people who don’t know UI designers jargon.