Presentus Interuptus

For most of October, I was on the east coast attending conferences.  I saw a toxic number of PowerPoint presentations.  I was astounded how many times the presenter was interrupted by operating system over-zealousness. One guess as to which one.

“Balloon tips,” sometimes also known as “What?!  I don’t care.  Let… me… aaaarrrrrrgggggghh. Just fucking finish starting up already,” convey a philosophy that interrupt the user from what they’re trying to accomplish is a good thing.  Example 1 greeted the first presenter each morning:

ZOMG!  There are unused icons!!
ZOMG! There are unused icons!! Let's perform some unscheduled and unnecessary system maintenance!

I understand most people aren’t as anal as I am about keeping their computing desktop uncluttered, but a desktop laden with icons from every attachment ever downloaded is an artistic misdemeanor.   Heck, every once in a while it provides unintentional amusement when there’s a “Dinah in lion tamer outfit.JPG” accidentally wedged betweeen “Market Analysis.xls” and “VC Presentation.ppt.”

The reason all these icons end up on the desktop in the first place is that’s where Windows puts them by default.  Changing this behavior (as I have) is tedious.  Fortunately, Firefox has some nifty add-ons that will sort these into separate bins, for those of us who like things nice and neat.

Example #2:

Thar be Internet Tubes ahoy!
Thar be Internet Tubes ahoy!

Is especially annoying when it goes on and off and on and off during the entire show.  It’s as if the operating system really wants to download more shit to annoy you, and taunts you until you let it online.  (Its less telegenic cousin, “Your ethernet port has been turned off to save power,” only shows up once.)

Example 3:

Guess who's going to reboot soon?
Nothing good can come of this...

often pops up as a precursor to the Fuck You dialog.  For the record, I am okay with applying updates… on my own timeframe.  During a demo or presentation, I need all the productivity the machine can muster.  Rebooting to run the “Malicious Software Removal Tool,” install the latest Adobe Flash (Is Not A Virus) player, or Java Updates are not on that list.  Pulling out the shadow puppets while my machine’s “Installing Update 2 of 3.  Do not turn off power” is not for the timid.

These are “easily” disabled if you have a Master’s degree in computer science and/or just edit your Windows registry or are willing to travel forward in time to 2010 when this will all be fixed in Windows 7.    Ideally, PowerPoint would have an STFU presentation mode whereby these “balloon tips” would … pop themselves.

2 thoughts on “Presentus Interuptus”

  1. Not to be an annoying Mac user, but I feel obligated to sigh a breath of relief that this doesn’t happen to me. Mac OS X has a “software update” feature, but it only runs when I request it to do a check. It then presents me with a list of updates available, each one flagged to indicate whether it requires a reboot or not (many do not). I can *selectively* decide which ones to apply–or none–and even after installing the updates, even when a reboot is “required”, I can delay as long as I like before rebooting, with no automated reminders or anything. With my Mac, I’m still in the driver’s seat. Whee!

  2. Many windows updates use squishy language like “may require reboot.” You can skip updates, like I often do for the malicious software/automatic reboot tool, but they make it a concerted effort.

    It’s unfortunate the total cost of annoyance isn’t easily calculable into the original system price.

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