Friday, February 26, 2010

My Application Owns the Computer!

pc_trouble[1] A pervasive attitude among programmers is that the only reason people own a computer is to run their application. Symptoms include:
  • Usurping shared resources like the desktop, system folders, task bar, registry, ... ("The whole machine is for my use.")
  • Can't turn off the app ("The only reason the machine would be on is to run my app, so I'll install an auto-startup service, a startup app, an Explorer plug-in, ...").
  • Resource hogging ("I can just grab exclusive access to files, database, or network connections when I launch and keep everything open.")
  • Interrupts workflow with pop-up messages, tooltips, alert balloons, taskbar messages, status messages, sound effects, ... ("Look at me! I'm working! Do you see me? I'm doing something!!")
  • Collateral damage ("I don't use that so I'll delete it.")
  • Race conditions ("Anything I do will stay that way forever until I change it.")
  • Security breaches ("I can expose everything on the machine, since I am the only one that will ever access it.")
  • Lack of interoperability ("My app has everything it needs so I don't need to support file export or cut and paste.")
  • No deployment ("I will never have to update or uninstall my app; they'll just get a new machine.")

Monday, February 15, 2010

IRCTC’s new face

Online booking is now very common and more appreciated then the brainless babus on the counters and the sweaty, slow moving lines they rule on. But Indian sites have really stayed behind in providing a clean and effective consumer experience. Who doesn’t curse a few times when using the IRCTC site or other govt sites. But the new beta interface seems to be on track. Have a look -


It is no longer a mad struggle between a bunch of pages and little popups. You don’t have to ‘Find Trains’ every time for different kind of seats like Chair Car or Sleeper Berth. It is really better now. they have gone with the generic booking design with a From/To/Date panel on one side and trains in the rest. The great part is when you click on a radio button for a train/type, it immediately loads the relevant info like Fair and Availability.

Though, I also think it is looking so good now because their previous interface was so damn dirty and clunky. Like a bully, the norm is getting picked on and the day that stops it feels extraordinary. But dear, that is what is ordinary supposed to be!

So IRCTC seems to be reaching ‘ordinary’ level which is extra ordinary based on previous experience!

PS: the link to the beta interface is in the top right corner of the homepage.