I’m having a tough morning.
Last night I realized that a bunch of the contacts on my iPad that I thought had been added to iCloud were actually in my Google contacts. I want them all in one place. So I dragged each of them over into iCloud. I confirmed each of them showed up in my iCloud list, before deleting them from Google. Then I disabled the Google account, because when you add a contact to Apple Contact it does not give any indication where it is going, nor does the contact record say where it is stored. In other words, the user lacks all visibility and all control, which is a vice endemic to Apple, who has long kept users on a need-to-know basis with their own software. When “it just works” this opaqueness is welcome simplicity. But when it doesn’t actually work much of the time, it is hard to relax and trust that no news is good news. Nope. No news means what you’re hoping is happening is probably failing to happen. But who knows?
This morning I discovered that the contacts are all gone. They did not actually stay in iCloud. I don’t know what happened. I rarely know, anymore. I just know this is typical and that there is nothing I can do to make things better. It used to not be this way. These things used to work and now they don’t.
Same with WordPress. I used to love using it. Now every single day, without fail, I’m trying to write something and something just fucking idiotic happens that makes me forget what I was writing.
Today, I was trying to make a word in a block quote italic. But when I selected the word and tried to italicize it, the entire text block selected itself and became italicized. I also ran into another problem where it is impossible to place a cursor at the end of a paragraph. The cursor instead puts itself at the start of the next paragraph. Luckily, I did not encounter another annoying problem, where the cursor appears to be on the line above where it actually is. I start typing and the letters appear on the line below. It is infuriating. And these are just a few of innumerable problems.
In all these cases, you can’t get help. The help desk is not trained for these kinds of complaints. They are trained to walk users through features they do not understand. They cannot take interaction design feedback. Least of are they equipped to take general UI design system feedback.
If 911 operators were trained like software help desk agents, here is how a “my house is on fire” call would go.
Agent: “This 911 emergency services. Thank you for your call. How can I help you today?”
Caller: “Help! My house is on fire!”
Agent: “Ok, I understand. Your house is on fire. Can you help me understand specifically what in your house is on fire?”
Caller: “The whole house is in flames! Help!”
Agent: “It sounds like many things in your house are on fire. Let’s walk through the specific items that are burning. When did you first notice flames in your home?”
Caller: “It isn’t just things inside my house that are on fire. I’m telling you, the entire house is burning to the ground. Can you send a fire engine, please?”
Agent: “I am happy to transfer you to someone who can talk to you about your house, which I understand is on fire. Please hold.”
Robotic Voice: “Thank you for waiting. Your call is very important to us. This is why we understaff our call center to save money. Estimated wait time: 37 minutes.”
Caller: “Hello…? …HELLO???”
So much established software that used to work beautifully — which won market dominance through its superior user experience — is now deeply broken. No competitors have emerged to compete with them on UX.
I really miss being able to just use my software and being absorbed in my work. Now, invariably, I am interrupted and distracted by bugs, usability issues, unexpected UX “improvements” that require me to relearn stuff, and just trying to get the software to do what I am trying to get it to do.
And there seems to be nothing to do or say about it. These companies are just big, blank, subscription-sucking machines with nobody at home but ambitious young product managers — which is worse than nobody.