Okay, so this is about a rather silly encounter I had yesterday. In the grand scheme of things it didn’t even rate as ‘minor’, but it still bothered me: I was walking my dog when a woman approached me to ask for directions. I pointed her in the direction, but rather than leaving me alone, she told me she was an evangelist and started following me around. I tried to tell her that I really wasn’t interested, but no matter what I said I couldn’t shake her. From the outside I have to admit that the whole encounter was probably funny as hell, as I was basically going around in circles, but the last thing I wanted to do was to bring her home with me (a puppy would probably have had better luck). Anyway, in the end I told her that I respected her beliefs, but that I asked her to respect mine, and walked away (taking a rather long detour I could ill afford, as by then I really, really had to pee).
As I said, it was a trivial incident, but the thing is that the next time someone asks for directions I will probably be more inclined to keep going than to lend a hand. That was that woman’s ‘good deed’ for the day, her way of making the world a better place.
ARGH! That about covers my reaction to the latest Firefox update that was forced on me and millions of others in the past couple of days (that would be the jump from 42 to 43). So what’s my problem with the blasted thing? Basically that in their infinite wisdom the developing team saw it fit to option to undo a feature redesign that had first been foisted upon us back in version 33. I’m talking about the search bar’s redesign that left us stuck with a different input mechanism -and a really annoying grid of icons- rather than a drop down list of search engines. As I said, while the redesign had been around for about a year, up until a few days ago you could fix that one by going to about:config, and setting browser.search.showOneOffButtons to false. That is no longer an option.
Now, that grid looks very pretty… provided that you don’t have any search engines that don’t have a custom icon, and that you don’t have any that share the same icon(you want to be able to search wikipedia in more than one language? Good luck trying to figure out which one is selected. You want to have the option to search Project Gutenberg by either author or title? Ditto), but if the grid is not working for you, well, that’s just too bad… or at least that would be the case if you were left at the tender mercies of the development team. The good news is that that’s not necessarily the case. The bad news is that the solution calls for the use of an extension. I’m talking about Classic Theme Restorer, whose only reason for being is to… undo the damage these frequent updates do to the user experience (look for this option in the ‘General UI’ tab).
Don’t get me wrong, while I hate bloat -and I’m not too keen on change for change’s sake- I don’t want my user interface to be stuck in the last millennium, and there are plenty of new features I am actually grateful for. It’s just that there are some instances in which designers should realize that reversing the old ‘it’s not a bug, it’s a feature’ to read ‘it’s not a feature is a bug’ is not the best way to make a better product.