Monday, September 26, 2011

The march of "progress" - stalled?

Yahoo Mail is foisting another "upgrade" on us. Or, it has been trying to.

For two or three weeks, every time I tried to access one of my accounts, I'd have a promo page thrown in my face, wheedling me to make the switch early. It took a minute or two of close scrutiny to identify the tiny "Don't bother me with this crap, I just want to get to my Inbox" link.

Then, a week or so ago, we stopped getting that annoyingly over-familiar but now easy-to-bypass promo page popping up in our faces, and instead found a new obstacle page denying access to our Inbox: this one did not appear to have any links or buttons allowing you to exit it, other than the dratted 'Upgrade Now' option. I tried everything I could think of to get around this obnoxious cyber-roadblock: backtracking and attempting to re-enter e-mail, crashing the browser and deleting all cookies before trying again, spitting in palms and muttering favourite passages from the Necronomicon... But it was quite beyond my limited IT ingenuity. Eventually, I had to "accept" the upgrade option.

Well, in one of my e-mail accounts I reluctantly "accepted" it. In another, it seemed to impose itself automatically (unless I somehow clicked the damn 'upgrade' button inadvertently? I suspect that the whole of that page may have been turned into a live link for the upgrade acceptance - a particularly dirty trick!).

As a further incentive to switch to the new system "voluntarily", the Yahoo people seemed to be making their regular service almost unworkably glitchy (although that's something that tends to happen from time to time here in China anyway). Thus, the supposed advantages of the new system - "twice as fast" - could seem mighty tempting. But, of course, I was sceptical as hell.

And with some justification - the new e-mail system is currently free of the maddening glitches that have recently been plaguing its predecessor, but it does not appear to be significantly "faster" in any other way. And, in fact, since several elements of the functionality have been needlessly changed, in practice, it is rather SLOWER for many day-to-day operations. The most egregiously pointless change has been the removal from the 'E-mail sent' page of the ability to do anything further with the e-mail you were replying to; there used to be a simple options box allowing you to return to reading it, or delete it, or send it to a folder; but now you have to go back to the Inbox to select further actions for that e-mail - TWO unnecessary further clicks. As a piece of UI design, that is just.... MADNESS.

There's a new colour scheme as well (horrible).  And a lot of the buttons have been repositioned and/or relabelled, so it's taking a while to get used to navigating my way around again (the 'Move to Folder' button now bears a picture that looks like a garbage bin or a toilet, and it is very hard to overcome the conviction that this must be the 'Delete' button - more MADNESS!).

Dear Yahoo, 
I have been using your e-mail service for something like 13 years. By all means, "improve" your service by making it FASTER. But do not change anything else. After 13 years, I like it just fine the way it is. Even if I don't completely love everything about it, I am content with it - because I know exactly how it works... and most of the everyday operations I conduct on it, I now do AUTOMATICALLY. Any changes you make to the layout or the appearance or the functionality - even itty-bitty little changes - are a HUGE F***ING ANNOYANCE to me, because I have to unlearn what I've been doing almost daily for 13 years.  Do you have any idea how hard that is? DO YOU???

As I have observed before (when Yahoo destroyed its Yahoo Photos facility a few years ago), upgrades of website facilities should leave the look & feel of the user interface ALONE!!!

But these idiots will never learn.

However, I find that I am still able to continue my Canute-like resistance to the rising tide of Yahoo stupidity. Somehow or other, one of my e-mail accounts (the one that I use most) has been spared either an automatic 'upgrade' or the devilish coerce-you-into-accepting-an-'upgrade'-by-locking-you-out-of-your-Inbox ploy. I am still able to enjoy using the old - much better, much easier, much faster - interface.

And I figure I will continue to be able to do so until I have to re-enter the site; so, I am endeavouring to stay logged in FOREVER. Or until the Yahoo drones forget about their forced upgrade protocols and allow us handful of stick-in-the-muds to continue with the old system.

Who else is with me in this fight?


John said...

I haven't had to upgrade my account yet but then at the same time I was offered to switch about three YEARS ago (and resisted of course). My account has been odd from the start- I got it through BT when they merged their ISP service with Yahoo! (company name includes an !(!)) although I'd signed up for a Yahoo! account the previous year. Could I merge the two? No go sorry they said so now I have two accounts. I was also promised infinite storage as a paying customer but once I switched elsewhere seemed to keep this and other premium features somehow; I kept quiet and the site to this day still says I am on a BT package which I'm not paying for. My bragging rights were of course revoked once everyone got infinite storage as standard but now I have a huge hole of messages that have never been indexed by the search feature, glitch damages perhaps?
Anyway, as for changes to computer stuff in general (Facebook, Radio Times website to name but two have also changed recently) or indeed any change in life in general, I think the majority of us are the same in defiance of it aren't we? But then they tell us that the world must keep turning and besides all these people in the IT sector need something right? The same applies for the entertainment sector and heck, anything unnecessary for survival & basic life I guess. I personally wouldn't bat an eyelid if suddenly everyone stopped writing new books or making new films, computer games etc. but then I'm guilty of living in the past with most things which can't be said for the general populace. Funny then how IT seems to constantly buck that trend eh? Maybe my glitchy account will never be 'upgraded', I can only hope.

Froog said...

You give me some encouragement, John, that if we just sit tight and keep quiet, maybe we can manage to cling on to our 'outdated' systems.

We shall see.