A small victory – two clicks saved

Isn’t it odd how we can become obsessed with small details when it comes to computers?

Mouse ClickI have been mildly amused many times over the years by my computer support clients asking me to help with seemingly small problems that amount to nothing more than being forced into making one or two more mouse clicks or screen taps than would seem to be necessary. The reason I am amused is that I am just like that myself, and it’s good to know that what I might think is my own obsessional behaviour is, actually, fairly normal.

Sometimes when these situations crop up, a part of me would like to point out that a way of improving the situation might be possible but that it would cost (say) half an hour of my time and that they might prefer to live with the status quo. That might be the professional approach, but I’ve got to eat, after all! Actually, that is just the advice I do give when appropriate. However, there are some occasions where there is a quicker way of achieving the same result, and I’m very happy to point it out when this is the case. There seem to be many situations, though, when all I can do is sympathise and agree.

New Shortcut
Figure 1
My own current favourite “bete noire” in this respect (if it’s possible to have a favourite bete noire) is my Barclays iPhone app. From the screen where I can see how little money I have in the bank, to the point of being logged out of the app, requires four screen taps. Why four? Logging off is the one thing you do every time you use an app (or, at least, it should be for important apps like internet banking). So why not streamline things by having a “log off” button on all screens and, if they must, a dialog box that requires a confirmatory tap before the app logs off?

How long do those extra taps take? Probably less than a second, but I still let myself get upset by this. If I used the app once a day for the next 5 years I might waste a total half an hour. For goodness sake, David, get a grip! And yet, it still seems annoying.

Shutdown Instruction
Figure 2
My theory is that what secretly annoys us is that we have no control over this stuff and we feel that it is not being designed with our best interests in mind and that – possibly worst of all – we don’t really have a viable alternative to just toeing the line and doing whatever it requires of us. We know that there’s no point in trying to complain, and trying to do without it would be (as my mother used to say) a case of cutting our nose off to spite our face. So we live with it, and get annoyed by it, and feel alienated and powerless.

Probably one of the more irritating procedures we have to go through with Windows computers is switching the things off. Would it really be so difficult to have one single button marked “Off”? And why does this procedure begin with clicking on the “Start” button? “Oh, obviously, I want to switch it off, so I have to click on Start. Perhaps I should look for a switch marked “Off” when I want to turn it on”.

Well, this is one thing we can do something about. To create a desktop icon in Windows 10 that switches everything off:

  • Right-click on an empty part of the desktop
  • Left-click on “new”. See Figure 1
  • Left-click on “shortcut”
  • In the box beneath “type the location of the item”, type in “C:\Windows\System32\shutdown.exe /s /t 0” (all on one line, without the quotes, but with spaces exactly where indicated). See Figure 2
  • Click on “Next”
  • Rename the shortcut if desired
  • Click on Finish
  • Try it

One small victory for mankind…….