Don’t get Cute

I hate it when computers try to get cute with me.

Context? Yeah, I should probably give some context.

This afternoon, I was at work checking out a travel laptop as work has been all up in my grill busy lately. I usually draw a line in the sand that Sundays are my own, and I use them for laundry, cooking, painting, and blogging (hi!). Today, however, I had to give. Flash forward to me, sighing in the laptop check out room, previously established as the beige-iest beige that ever beiged, watching my laptop turn on. Windows then decides to give me this:

 “Taking care of a few things”? Let’s call it what it is. You’re updating the laptop’s existing software to my settings. You’re not running errands.

As someone who frequently analyzes software UI, I recognized this for what it is: Keeping the user informed of system status. You know what else does the job? An hour glass. A spinning wheel. A caterpillar crawling across the screen. A paper clip doing the macarena. Anything else.

What I’m saying is, don’t get cute, Windows 8. We’re not friends. I liked your big sister, Windows 7. She never pretended we were more than colleagues. She knew how to get the job done, and never insisted on clever banter.

If you have to get cute- and I mean really have to- here are some alternatives for what to display when making your user wait:

  1. I’m sorry this is happening to you.
  2. “This is calls for some music! ” (“In the Hall of the Mountain King” starts playing.)
  3. I like what you’re hair is doing today.
  4. Have you considered going off the grid, and calling yourself Gunta? I sure have.
  5. This is not where I imagined myself at this age, either.
  6. Aren’t we all just trying our hardest?
  7. I bet you’re a good person.
  8. This conversation we’re having is like that movie Ex Machinaexcept really boring.
  9. Should we just sit in silence? Because I’ve gotta tell you, I hate small talk.
  10. You won’t believe what I saw Cortana do last week…

Is it possible that I’m tired, and if I were exposed to this screen on a day that wasn’t a Sunday where I hadn’t been wrestling with spreadsheets for hours and having a bit of a quarter-life-crisis like the stereotype of a millennial that she is, everything would be fine and I would actually be quite taken by my computer’s repartee? Yes. Is that what happened today? No.

Conclusion: Computers should never try and be cute.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some spreadsheets calling my name.

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