Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

There was a time, not too long ago, when a simple Enter would allow me to “Save” a delicious bookmark. Now, when I hit Enter, delicious converts my tag to lowercase (or something).

Hit another Enter and it takes me to a new input box (feature) called “Send”, which allows me to send my bookmarks to people. I just want to save my bookmark and have it appear on my blog.

I’d worked it out so I needed minimal mouse clicks to save a bookmark. Now, I either need to use the mouse or have to press the Tab button several times and figure out when the focus is on the Save button.

Maybe delicious wanted to get in on the Twitter bandwagon or maybe a lot of users asked for this feature, but I am not happy about these changes. The changes make it harder for me to save a bookmark.

In general, it makes you wonder why people feel the need to tinker with software and add additional bells and whistles, aka features, especially when things are working well. Keep adding features and you get unnecessary complexity.

Obviously you can’t keep things simple for everything but we seem to err on the side of complexity more than simplicity. Try spreading the simplicity love by indulging in some K.I.S.S.ing.

P.S. Those folks over at 37 Signals seem to revel in keeping things simple.

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To shoppe or to shop

Whenever I see the word shoppe included in the name of a store, I wonder why they’re using that word instead of the more easier, shop. Merriam-Webster says that shoppe is basically the same as shop and that its etymology is “Middle English shoppe“.

The pronunciation is the same for both shoppe and shop, though the extra two letters makes me want to pronounce the former, shop-ee, and then elongate the ee sound. Also, at some level, it mildly irritates me to see that word being used. (Yes, I’m aware that I need therapy.)

I’m unable to figure out why people choose to use the longer spelling when the shorter one works just as well and is acceptable, unlike SMS-speak which is not. My guess is that the people who are using the longer word are doing so just to be different. If that’s the case, then it’s not a particularly creative way of distinguishing oneself.

Whatt doo youu thinkk?

P.S. Today I passed by a store that had a sign with the word Shoppy in it. M-W doesn’t have an entry for that word: I checked just to be sure.

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After reading this article — The $300 Million Button — all I can say is, Wow.

It’s hard to imagine a form that could be simpler: two fields, two buttons, and one link. Yet, it turns out this form was preventing customers from purchasing products from a major e-commerce site, to the tune of $300,000,000 a year. What was even worse: the designers of the site had no clue there was even a problem.

The form was simple. The fields were Email Address and Password. The buttons were Login and Register. The link was Forgot Password. It was the login form for the site. It’s a form users encounter all the time. How could they have problems with it?

You can read the full article here.

The folks at 37 signals also tell us how a simple change helped them reduce chargebacks on credit cards by 30%.

Seriously. Usability. Like right now.

(Via the always interesting Jason Kottke)

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Who reads these email disclaimers?

I came across this disclaimer at the end of an email. (Line breaks provided to improve readability.) I thought that the last bit of information, placed where it was, is especially useful.

The contents of this e-mail and any attachment(s) are confidential and intended for the named recipient(s) only. It shall not attach any liability on the originator or (Company Name removed) or its affiliates.

Any views or opinions presented in this email are solely those of the author and may not necessarily reflect the opinions of (Company Name removed) or its affiliates.

Any form of reproduction, dissemination, copying, disclosure, modification, distribution and / or publication of this message without the prior written consent of the author of this e-mail is strictly prohibited.

If you have received this email in error please delete it and notify the sender immediately. Before opening any mail and attachments please check them for viruses and defect.

I have written about this before.

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As long as the message gets across

This was too good to pass up.

How to be cryptic

Please should be clearer.

The message (for the reset password page) was supposed to let you know that the password could only have alphanumeric characters, characters from a to z (upper or lowercase) or 0 to 9. For non-techie people, the term alphanumeric wouldn’t ring too many bells, so the message should’ve explained the term.

The security of a password which allows only alphanumeric characters is a whole other can of night crawlers.

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This is the definitive guide for company names, which I have uncovered through hard journalistic labour. Follow at your own risk:

  1. Select a random word from the dictionary. I use the word random lightly. If you don’t like the random word you select, try again till you get one.
  2. If you don’t like the random word process, you can simply make up a word or a phrase and its pronunciation if necessary. Examples: PAS (Pace), Elppa (pronounced L, because the ‘ppa’ part is silent)
  3. Include the word global in the company name someplace. Even if your company is local, I’d urge you to use this word anyway it adds that extra something to your company’s name.
  4. Throw in the word solution in the name. Examples: Perspire Dry Cleaning Solutions, Neptune Lighting Solutions, Reachfast Transportation Solutions… you get the picture.
  5. Rearrange the words to form something coherent. This means that ‘Solutions’ usually comes at the end and ‘Global’ somewhere near the beginning. Examples: Nopain Global Dental Solutions (good), Dirty Cleaning Global Solutions (not bad).
  6. Be sure to add the letters TM whenever you use your company’s name. No one is sure what this means though some think it means transcendental meditation which it clearly does not–TM means Tiringly Monotonous.

Once you’ve decided on a name, you have to then come up with a tag line, preferably one that’s catchy. We’ll talk about tag-lines another day.

This post has been a production of Stalagmite Global Communications Solutions (TM).

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Update (10 Feb 2009): I feel compelled to mention that I have nothing to do with Sify or its Customer Care department, so please don’t write to me asking me for passwords that you’ve forgotten or any other Sify-related problems. Sify’s Customer Care is the place to go for that. Thank you. Original post continues below.

I’ve written about Jasper Griegson’s The Complete Complainer on my other blog and I used some of the things I learnt from that book in writing this letter.

It could be improved but it did get a response, though not the one I was hoping for. I probably should’ve waited a while before sending it because sending an complaint when you’re upset is one of the things Griegson recommends that you don’t do. I thought the letter would be helpful to others intending to write such letters.

Dear Sir:

Imagine logging on to your computer in the morning to check your email and finding that your account has expired. Imagine this happening when you are on an unlimited pack (64 kbps) and have been on this pack for more than two years. Imagine calling the customer care and being told that there is a daily download limit of 150 MB, which was never mentioned either by the service provider or by the Sify renewal department.

My pack has apparently expired because I used 210 MB on one day (10/July/2008), even though the pack was supposed to be valid till the 12th. Furthermore, I was not in town for 4 days during which I did not download anything. That's 600 MB worth of downloads, which I apparently cannot use.

If you call a pack unlimited, then it should be unlimited, not "partially unlimited" as your customer care representative put it. In addition, if you are using an expiry by date method, then don't use the download method. Or provide a monthly download limit without a date attached. To use both a daily limit and a date-based expiry is an unfair practice on your part. In addition, the use of the word
unlimited signifies "no limit". How can you justify this duplicity?

Your customer care executive asked me to email you in spite of the fact that I did not have an Internet connection (Note: I should've said that my Internet connection had expired). The other option she said was to contact my service provider who I have not dealt with for over a year.

I have been dealing with Sify and I cannot understand how you don't provide an escalation mechanism. When I asked to speak to a supervisor, your executive said that she could not transfer the call. Is this a deliberate way to ensure that customers are frustrated?

I have been a Sify subscriber for over two years now and for the most part I have been satisfied with the service. However, such an incident really makes me wonder whether Sify cares about its customers or only about making money, even if it means tricking the customer.

I am extremely disappointed by the way I have been treated. Please address this issue by reactivating my account and by providing me with the account compensation for the trouble that you are causing me.

Clearly, not the best ending as well but not a bad letter overall, if I may say so myself. Any thoughts from the three (fine, two!) of you who read this blog?

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