Are you looking for some extra podcast this week? If so, then you’re in luck. I was a guest on the Eh! Steve! podcast and we talked about Control. You might remember I did an analysis of Control a few months ago, but here we have a discussion and talk about a lot of stuff I didn’t cover in my series.
If you follow the comments on this site, then you might recognize one of the show hosts. Chris sometimes comments under the ccesarano moniker.
Note that this isn’t a replacement for the Diecast, which will still go up on Monday morning according to the ancient traditions.
While we’re here, I might as well do a rant about…
What baffles me is that when Microsoft makes bad software, they don’t seem to be aware that they’ve made bad software. The company will try to cajole or coerce people into adopting some garbage system. They’ll spend millions on marketing, but they never stop and fix the incredibly obvious design / interface flaws that makes consumers reluctant in the first place.
It’s like they design software without ever looking at what the competition is doing and without doing any testing to see what user expectations might be. It always feels like the interface was made by aliens and QA tested by Bethesda.
All we wanted to do was record a conversation. We’d talk live over Skype, and then each of us would record our own audio in Audacity so we’d have clean audio to work with. Chris also recorded the Skype conversation as a backup, just in case someone’s recording failed for whatever reason.
Skype is a madhouse of anti-usability. About a half hour before the scheduled meeting time, I clicked on Chris’ name so I could see if he was online and maybe send a text message to make sure we were on schedule. Instead of bringing up his profile, the system immediately “called” him, launching an audio session.
This is contrary to how all other platforms work: Discord, Steam, Epic, Google Hangouts, and even my actual phone all show the profile info when you click on someone’s name, and then offer an additional button to initiate a call. But Skype launches a call, and it doesn’t even make it obvious that it has done so.
This sounds like a small annoyance, but the entire interface is like this. Nothing does what you’d expect. None of the buttons appear where you’d expect. Everything is weird and off-kilter.
The punchline is that once we finally navigated the Microsoft UI maze and got about 10 minutes into the show, Skype crashed and took my computer with it. I got a cascade of modal error boxes saying “The specified device is not available”. The dialogs didn’t identify what program created them, didn’t specify what device wasn’t available, and they couldn’t be clicked on. I couldn’t even open task manager. Whenever I clicked, the system would BONK at me as if I was trying to interact outside of a modal window.
I can’t prove that Skype caused this problem or created this popup prison, but I’ve never had this problem before and Skype was the only unfamiliar program running.
The result is that this killed the clean recording I was making for myselfNot to mention wasted a bunch of time, caused confusion, and disrupted the show., which obliged us to rely on the low-quality direct-from-the-internet Skype recording.
INT Microsoft Office (The building, not the software suite) – DAY
A PLUCKY ENGINEER and a CRUSTY MANAGER are sitting at a small table in the computer lab. There’s an array of monitors on the far wall. All of the screens are showing the Windows BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH, except for the last one, which is caught in an endless Windows reboot cycle.
Manager: How is the Skype userbase doing?
Engineer: Terrible. We packaged Skype with every copy of Windows 10 even though nobody asked for it. Everyone has a copy of it now, but nobody uses it.
Manager: Why wouldn’t they use it?
Engineer: I have no idea.
Manager: Could they be using something else to communicate? Are there any competing platforms out there?
Engineer: Maybe. I dunno. How am I supposed to know?
Manager: Hm. Good point. So how can we encourage more people to use our software?
Engineer: Maybe they don’t know about it. We can add reminders to the system tray so that people will realize it exists.
Manager: Sounds like a plan. Message me on Skype later and we’ll hammer out the details.
Engineer: Can I just email you instead?
Thanks to Chris and Steve for having me on.
 Specifically, the gaming part of the store.
 Not to mention wasted a bunch of time, caused confusion, and disrupted the show.
Do It Again, Stupid
One of the highest-rated games of all time has some of the least interesting gameplay.
The Middle Ages
Would you have survived in the middle ages?
Project Button Masher
I teach myself music composition by imitating the style of various videogame soundtracks. How did it turn out? Listen for yourself.
A horrible, railroading, stupid, contrived, and painfully ill-conceived roleplaying campaign. All in good fun.
A video Let's Play series I collaborated on from 2009 to 2017.