Unfortunate Users

From Bilbo
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2006-09-15

I honestly feel badly for people who have to deal with computers, just want the damn thing to work, and end up getting obtuse error messages like "awf98awe: This application is not responding. Click End Now to terminate it or Cancel not to." How are they supposed to know what to do? It isn't their fault some part of an application got wedged and won't respond when Windows tries to shut down.

To make matters worse, these people have been told by "experts" that doing this or that is bad or good etc etc, so now they're trying to remember "hmm, did someone ever say what I'm supposed to do here? I really don't want to break it." because these "experts" that are bold and just guess and see what works tell people to be very careful with their computer so they don't get mal-ware.

So then such a user asks the "experts", who respond "well duh just restart windows". And the user thinks (or sometimes says), "Well I was trying, but you guys tell me to shut down 'nicely' and not to just turn it off so I don't lose my data."

It's really windows shell design more than anything. It should be smart enough to know it's shutting down, so send everything the term signal, give stuff up to 30 seconds to exit, then just sync disks and ax it. So then the "expert" tries to explain that sometimes you have to because <insert complex explanation about processes and software bugs>, and the user goes, "uh, ... in English please?"

While mostly a rant, I have a point (other than "Why is windows so terrible?"). Please try to be helpful in your error messages. Besides explaining the problem, give some useful courses of action. We could all do better at this.