Stupidest Interface Ever

By Deane Barker on August 10, 2005

The image above illustrates what is perhaps the stupidest interface ever. It’s the “Network Connection Status” dialog in Windows Server 2003. Look the area outlined in red, and you can imagine why I’m irritated.

I was debugging a server issue over terminal server, and I wanted to check something on the LAN interface. I pulled up the window, and meant to click the “Properties” button, but clicked the “Disable” button accidentally.

Turns out that there is no confirmation window for this — you click that button, and your network connection is gone. Along with that, my terminal server window was gone too. Not surprisingly, my phone started ringing immediately.

Luckily the server was just in another room and I could run over and sit down in front of it. But what if I was doing this on a remote box to which I had no physical access?

Two things:

  1. Why put the “Self Destruct” button right next to the “Properties” button? That’s like having a hallway with a “Call the elevator” button right next to a “Shoot a flamethrower through my butt” button

  2. Why not have some kind of confirmation dialog? Disabling a network interface is not a common occurance. If I press that button, can you at least ask me if I really want to do it? What would that have taken — one extra line of code?

Rant over.

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  1. I’ve seen that before and wondered why they put the two together so closely, but I haven’t accidentally clicked disable. Wonderful “feature” that, the computer following your instructions without making sure you really want it done.

    That’s something you’d never see in an Apple OS. (You were waiting for that!)

  2. This is very similar to my least favorite “feature” in elevators: Having the “close door” button next to the “alarm” button, with the “open door” button on the other side of the panel. It happened 3 times in one weekend that somebody was rushing to the elevator and somebody in the elevator assumed that the button next to “close door” was “open door”, and the alarm went off. The organization we were with was almost fined $10,000 because of this crappy design.

    Then I was staying at the Rio with my family and they had the same design. Almost hit the alarm button a few times, then, except that the previous incident had trained me a little better.

  3. Also in the Adjacency Annoyance: some prior version of Internet Explorer had “Save Image” right next to “Set Image As Wallpaper” on the right-click menu. I can’t tell you how many times I accidentally reset my wallpaper that way.

  4. some prior version of Internet Explorer had “Save Image” right next to “Set Image As Wallpaper” on the right-click menu.

    I’ve done that exact same thing a number of times too.

  5. some prior version of Internet Explorer had “Save Image” right next to “Set Image As Wallpaper” on the right-click menu.

    did that, many many times.

  6. You think that’s bad? Try being the UI design person who has to sit adjacent to the programmer and the CTO who both think it’s soooo silly of me to worry about adjacency problems in their designs. They were huge fans of putting a nice fat “CLEAR FORM” button in the spot where you’d expect “SUBMIT” to be. That’s why I finally had to kill them all and leave corporate America permanently. Well, that and they laid me off.

  7. Hear Hear.

    Think about the ramifications of clicking that button via VNC on a headless computer in a diffrent country

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