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I must be getting old and cranky


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January 25, 2012

First Mozilla decides to break established paradigms, hiding away rather than "ghosting" unavailable GUI elements in menus, then Google decides to up the ante by hiding button functionality at times when the functionality offered by those buttons doesn't apply. Unless you know that this is happening the only conclusion that one can draw while perusing such an interface is that certain functionality is not supported.

In the case of Firefox it was not possible to close a tab when opening the 'File' menu with the mouse, but it's suddenly available again if you open the 'File' menu with the keyboard. In the case of Gmail, the Archive functionality had been removed (or so it seemed at first), leading me to stop archiving messages, until I noticed that the button had returned ("aha, they fixed the bug!"), only for it to go missing again some time later ("WTF?!").

I did manage to switch Gmail back to the old interface, but Google promises to inflict their evil on me, whether I like it or not. Well, I do not like it, I do not like it one little bit. That's why I'm giving up on Gmail, and in the process I'm dumping Google+ as well, because Google has managed to sour me on Google.

Actually it's been a long time in coming. As useful as it is to have all the world's books made digital so they can be searched and viewed online, it's still copyright violation if the owner of the work did not explicitly permit that use. It's one thing if I photocopy a few pages from a chapter for my personal use or to share with a friend; it's an entirely different ball of wax when a company does it with millions of books, in their entirety, and shares them not just with a few people, but with the whole world. A service to consumers, for sure, but on that scale it's either a radical endorsement of "all information must be free, and there is no such thing as information ownership" or it's blatant and large-scale copyright violation.

Others have complained about Google's dumbing down Reader. Now Gmail is getting similar treatment. Google's insistence that only real names are used on Google+ seems not just draconian but downright stupid in light of the internet's history. Google seems to have forgotten what the word "no" means. Do no evil.

I don't know how long my rejection of Google will last, or whether I will look back at this in a year or two, and think 'what a racket they ran', but for the moment I feel old and cranky.

And get off my lawn! ;-)

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