Critical Section

Wednesday,  02/19/03  05:28 PM

Jordan's CarI have a public service announcement.  My daughter Jordan now has her driving permit (Congratulations!)  If you are driving in Northwest Los Angeles and you see a blue Volvo station wagon, you have been warned.

Have you ever wondered what the makers of kids' software are smoking?  This morning my daughter Megan was watching Dora the Explorer on Nickelodeon, and she saw an ad for a game on the Nick Jr. website.  She came running into my office to go online and play the game.  That's when it started.  Twenty minutes later she was happily playing the game, and I was back to work.  What happened in the meantime was not pretty.

We launch our browser and go to  We immediately see Dora, and click on her.  A new window opens, and we get a dialog box telling us there is a new version of Flash available.  Forget Flash, we just want to play the game, right?  I hit Cancel and on we go.  Except we don't because next we get a message telling us we need a newer version of the Shockwave plug-in.  So be it.  Click the "Upgrade" button.  Now we get a 5MB download, then nothing happens.  Oh, yeah, I have to go find the file and double-click it to install.  Okay, found the file, double-clicked it, installed, all cool.  Now we can play the game!  Nope.  Now we get a gratuitous message welcoming us to Shockwave.  Okay, welcome it is, click okay.  Now I get a registration form!  Man, I want to play a game here, okay?  Register me another day.  Sheesh.  Hit cancel.  The browser goes to!  Seriously, what are these people thinking?  We're trying to play a game here.  Back at the Nick Jr. website we now get a message in the browser window telling us 3D Groove is being downloaded.  What?!  Okay, whatever.  Now we can play, here we go...  Close, but no cigar.  After the download completes we get the following message: "3D Groove SX is compatible with OS X in Classic Mode only".  I am not making this up.  Now, I happen to understand this message, but how many parents are going to deal with this?  Okay, so I quit the browser and relaunch in Classic mode.  (If you're not a Mac aficionado, feel free to use this example the next time a Machead tells you how much simpler Macs are than Windows.)  You know what happens next, right?  Yep, now we have to upgrade our Classic version of Shockwave.  Which isn't that easy, because after you download it, where the heck does it go when there's no Classic desktop?  After a little searching with Sherlock I find the Shockwave Installer, install it, and now we're going to be happy, right?  Noooo - now we get the registration dialog again.  Hey, I don't want to register, I want to play the game.  Onward...  And we get the 3D Groove is being downloaded message again...  And this time - finally! - the game starts.  Man.

The sad thing is, this is no exception.  Software is still too hard to use.  Especially if you're a parent.

this date in:
About Me

Greatest Hits
Correlation vs. Causality
The Tyranny of Email
Unnatural Selection
On Blame
Try, or Try Not
Books and Wine
Emergent Properties
God and Beauty
Moving Mount Fuji
The Nest
Rock 'n Roll
IQ and Populations
Are You a Bright?
Adding Value
The Joy of Craftsmanship
The Emperor's New Code
Toy Story
The Return of the King
Religion vs IQ
In the Wet
solving bongard problems
visiting Titan
unintelligent design
the nuclear option
estimating in meatspace
second gear
On the Persistence of Bad Design...
Texas chili cookoff
almost famous design and stochastic debugging
may I take your order?
universal healthcare
triple double
New Yorker covers
Death Rider! (da da dum)
how did I get here (Mt.Whitney)?
the Law of Significance
Holiday Inn
Daniel Jacoby's photographs
the first bird
Gödel Escher Bach: Birthday Cantatatata
Father's Day (in pictures)
your cat for my car
Jobsnotes of note
world population map
no joy in Baker
vote smart
exact nonsense
introducing eyesFinder
to space
where are the desktop apps?
still the first bird
electoral fail
progress ratches
2020 explained