Interface Nazis

I have ranted before about interface Nazis. You know them, they know how you should work and don’t want to hear about how you want to work. Several cases in point will allow you to identify them when you see them.

Apple is certainly the worst of the lot. Pathetic User (PU): Sir, could I please resize a window from anywhere on the edge. Omniscient Interface Designer (OID): No you may not resize a window anywhere but the lower right hand corner. That’s an almost trivial example of the extreme lengths that Apple goes to to keep people from working the way they want to, all because they know best.

The next worst bunch is Gnome. The wars over spatial browsing were bad. PU: I’d like to browse the file system in a manner similar to a web browser. OID: You may not, you must use a window that allows no text input and opens a new window for every directory. Fortunately Gnome relented and now permits “browser windows” and a text box to, heaven help us, type in the path you want the browser to go to.

Windows has a whole different thing going on. They don’t want to keep you from working like you want to because of any ideology, they just don’t want to provide you with any tools to do it with. For example, in Vista there is almost no way to change the background of the login screen without using a program like LoginStudio Vista. Oh sure, you can hack around in the logon components like you used to in XP, but now they are digitally signed and if you change them you’re tooled. Or you could try to compile an alternative MUI file but why? Why can’t the logon script just point to a png or jpg file that can be changed from the GUI?

The same thing goes for changing the look of the task bar, or the orb logo, or the window widgets. Why is there not a built in way, especially in Vista Ultimate, to change these sorts of things.

The bottom line: Interface Nazi’s are everywhere and it does not matter if their poor treatment of their users arises from thinking they know better than users (Apple and Gnome) or callous indifference to what their users want (Windows). Users need to demand more in terms of their operating systems letting them work how they want, not how the developers want. This is especially true of commercial systems where the users are paying the freight.