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errors and messages

It's late, and you still have to get those files copied. The modem can't seem to connect. Against all your instincts, you dig up a floppy disk from a drawer, and insert it in the drive. You open an explorer window, and drag the files into the icon of the floppy. Friendly, friendly icon.

The files begin copying, relatively slowly, and you can confirm this is happening because pieces of paper are breezing through the screen, from one folder into another. There they go... One, two, three-- what?

"Not enough space to complete operation."

Now here we are, finally, in the 21st century. We talk about cloning, stratospheric jets, maybe artificial intelligence... and yet the most widely distributed software in history can't yet check to see whether there is enough free disk space to complete a copy operation. A better example of Windows' stupidity is this: suppose you have a 20 Gb disk, with about 15 Gb of data. Naturally, Windows reports 5 Gb of free space out of 20. In explorer, if you selected all the directories in the drive, and pressed Ctrl+C, then Ctrl+V, Windows would begin the copying process.... and fail.

When confronted with these kinds of errors, the vast majority of users blame themselves. "What did I do?", or "I didn't realize there wasn't enough space" or "I am such an idiot." This is unique in software. For example, when the TV doesn't work, what you'll hear the most is "what is wrong with the TV?" You will not hear the person blame him/herself. This is good product design (let's sidestep for the moment the issue of whether what the product does is good...).

I wait for the day when, after a program locks up for no good reason, the user looks at the machine in disgust and says, "Now, what is wrong with this software?"

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on July 18 2002 at 11:07 AM

Copyright © Diego Doval 2002-2011.
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