quotes ahoytech

September 4, 2004

So I spent a rather long time updating my quote-o-matic viewer, harvesting quotes from kisrael.com all the way from May 17, 2002...309 quotes new, up to 1662 in all. It took a surprisingly long time to weed out all the good quotes, maybe 20 minutes per month. By the end I was definately asking myself "is this worth it?" but a few days ago, after most of it was done anyway, UnavailableName dropped a few quotes he liked that he had found in the old version, so that was encouraging.

Windows Annoyance Rant of the Moment
I wrote this to send into the site ThisIsBroken.com:

This might be more of a gripe, or just a reluctance to shift to a new mental model for search, but the way recent versions of Windows conduct file searches in the sidebar of the current explorer window seems like a huge step backwards from the old way of a seperate finding app...

  1. You lose your place. Often, I'm still interested in keeping the current explorer view open when I hit Ctrl-F to conduct a search, but now my whole window becomes dedicated to this one search task.
  2. Often in NT2K it takes a few seconds for the "Look in" field to be automatically field in with the location of the current Folder. Type in a quick search term, hit return, you get a message "A valid folder name must be entered"
  3. The only way to know if you're looking at a "real folder" or search results is to look at the window caption. And even when the caption indicates "Search Results", it gives you no hint of what you were searching for. (Admittedly, a detailed description could get wordy, but still, having 3 windows that say "Search Results" in the task bar isn't that useful in refinding a specific window.)
  4. To get your normal explorer view again you have to hit an IE like "back" button. This seems like a broken paradigm to me, that viewing a folder is one "task location", viewing search results is another "task location". To my mental model, an explorer view represents a "noun", and a search is more of a "verb", results and all. It's not like search results are really making up a "virtual folder".
  5. When you hit "back" to return to your folder view, the sidebar stays up. But the "Look in" field doesn't get filled in with the new folder location unless you close the sidebar and reopen it. Conversely, if you close the sidebar, your search results remain...it looks just like a regular folder though! Also, the "Look in " field changes, but the main search fields remain filled with the old data, which is useful but inconsistent.
  6. To start a search you either have to know the Ctrl-F mnemonic or use a graphical icon, there doesn't seem to be a regular menu option for it.
  7. If you accidentally hit "Up Folder" instead of "Back", you get taken to a folder view of the Desktop. Why isn't the "Folder Up" option greyed out while conducting a search? It's not like it's an easy way of backing up to the parent folder to redo the current search...that requires all the steps I outline in complaint 5...
  8. Don't get me started on XP's default "File Searching For Dummies" mode. Maybe it's good for novice users, and it can be turned off, but for exerienced users it's just a pain in the butt, and we become amazed that other people who seem otherwise to be pretty bright always use it...or even worse, with the goofy animated assistant.
I suppose my main problem is I don't share the idea I describe in complaint 4, and I really miss the old "hit Ctrl-F to launch a seperate simple find application that keeps your place here" . And maybe it's sightly easier for them to give the options to view details, thumbnails, etc in the results. (Though Photo thumbnails are often very sluggish to load.)

Maybe they were looking for a way of letting someone repeat a carefully constructed search from a different location (hence the inconsistency in complaint 5) but it seems like a poor tradeoff to me.

This app is something I use on a daily basis, and not liking its forced browser model (probably some offshoot of that whole "oh but you can't seperate the browser from the OS!") is a constant low-level thorn in my side.

If anyone knows a way of getting back the old behavior when I hit ctrl-F, I'd love to hear about it. Even some registry setting that causes a Ctrl-F search to open up a new window rather than overtaking the current one would be a HUGE improvement.

So it is a subjective opinion, but I'd say: This Is Broken.