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The shame of it all


© St. Petersburg Times, published July 5, 1999

Bad user interfaces are bad news: You think you finally have a handle on this computer thing, but before you know it, you feel like a new user again. Don't fret, it's not you; it's them (sounds like a personal relationship breakup site). The Interface Hall of Shame has some wonderful examples of applications that should be dragged to the trash and removed for the good of your sanity and humanity's sake.

Interactive TV

Who would have thought it possible? A bunch of wild kids set out to make a living, changed the world along the way and then had a half-decent TNT movie made about their exploits. If you caught the Pirates of Silicon Valley on TV and are curious to know more, Woz's site is a must read. Steve Wozniak's character narrated the film and seemed to be the only decent person in the flick.

Buckle up

I recently took the plunge and put in a cable modem. So far, so good. But I was aghast at the number of my neighbors' PCs that showed up as unprotected and insecure during a casual scan of my network segment. Of course, this punched my paranoia button. I spent the rest of the day locking down my machines and making sure my firewall was doing its stuff. Do yourself a favor: If you've got a permanent connection to the Internet, have a look around sites such as Security Focus for the latest patches and security advice. It is downright un-American to let anybody just wander around your house, so why should your PC be any different?

Of mice and programmers

I knew there was more to sitting in front of a computer and drinking excessive amounts of coffee than met the eye. If this report of irradiated, caffeinated mice is on the money, irradiated, caffeinated programmers could clearly stand higher levels of computer monitor radiation than your average civilian. More coffee for me then.

Coming soon: Ads on your eyelids

Ah, God bless our consumer culture, for only here could something as dopey as placing advertising in a PC's startup screen fly. That's right, folks: After your computer crashes for the umpteenth time in any given day, your eyeballs will be assaulted with ads long before your operating system loads. This advertising is embedded at the BIOS level. My paranoid mind wonders if some popular operating system's already questionable stability could be compromised by the need to reboot and, therefore, see more boot-up ads.

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