Wednesday, January 07, 2009

INTERNET: Let Me Redesign The Usefulness RIGHT Out of This


It's a new year and some people are determined to ruin it for me. It's not enough that I'm behind on a big project. I can't even depend on Yogi Berra to help me through these troubled times. *I* can hear Yogi joking "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." So why can't the web designers out there do the same?

First it was the ESPN makeover. Gawd save us from idjits that want to make my life better. So, I'm not going there regularly anymore. Then,'s JAM TV Guide decided the perfectly working television listings it had, just had to be spiffed up. They use the Zap2It TV grid. And you know, whoever designed it is an ex-paper publishing kind of person. How do I know? Cuz despite having a 1600x1200 screen to view it, I can only see about eight channels at a time!!!! It's scroll, baby and roll over because you might as well enjoy it. You have no choice. Really, you have no choice.

Negative white space is a publishing term to help readers focus in on what's truly important. Say..... like the listings for ALL the bleepin' channels. But nooooooooooo, some idjit, fresh off destroying ESPN, latched onto the TV site and decided each channel listing had to have at least THREE rows to go with it, so that they can show the broadcaster's little logo, the call letters AND the channel number. And the descriptions have to be big and airy, say FOUR ROWS HIGH big and airy. So they can add red NEW for new programs and HD for High Definition indicators (here's a TIP, Start each listing with NH,_H,N_ or __. Done!).

Awfully pretty, but completely fails the 'function defines form' test. This is Web 2.0 madness run completely amok. But there's more. There has to be more.

I used to be able to set my default settings to show a four-hour grid starting at 7 pm nightly. From there I could request a different starting time. No more! Now I get a choice of three hours or six hours. Who, I ask WHO!, ever needs a six hour grid? I'm a TV addict. And *I* don't need a six-hour grid! (Tried printing out the grid. FIVE PAGES! And that was for a three-hour listing of a SUBSET of the channels available!)

Naturally, as disgusted as I was, I immediately thought about going to a different purveyor of local TV listings. Even made the mistake of trying to use my Rogers Yahoo! Home Page. Gotta love the idjits at this site even less than Zap2It. I want to see two things on my home page. A link to my mail and the TV Guide. Soooo, with my nice big monitor, I can JUST barely fit three hours of TV listings onto a maximized window, six channels at a time.

Why you ask, thinking 1600x1200 is a pretty big screen? Cuz the morons at Yahoo! enforce a multi-column layout. Whichever I choose, two or three, they share the columns equally. And that's despite me wanting ONLY A SINGLE EMAIL ICON in one column! Thus I get a 800x1200 to show the TV grid. And, because the same idjits working for the other faux Web 2.0 designers, the grid insists on running squares big enough to do verything Zap2It's does, except show the corporate icon of each channel. And that's with the SMALL fonts option selected! Try clicking the FEEDBACK button. Dare ya, dare ya, dare ya!

I tried the site, which is affilitated with Bell Sympatico and Microsoft. Turns out it is close to what I want, but really, really doesn't behave in Firefox. And who can trust Internet Explorer to such an important task as figuring out what you are going to watch and what you are going to record?

Soooooo, off I went to find yet another alternative. Surely the Toronto Star would save me. Nope. Like The Toronto Sun (, they use ... you guessed it, Zap2It! Better (Worse?), I can only get SIX channels on the first page there! Just how do users with monitors two-thirds smaller cope? And I'm betting my brother Rick with his new iTouch, isn't using the web to check the TV listings much. By the way, another of my old employers, The Toronto Globe and Mail, have stooped to linking through the Star's listings to Zap2It. So much for competition. I even tried the National Post. Sort of a bastardized version of Zap2It WITHOUT the options? Yep, even LESS options! These are information purveyors fer gawd sakes!

Everybody's in bed with Zap2It. Sometimes with partners, sometimes without. That company is now in charge of my TV listings whether I like it or not.

I have no choices. TV Guide's dead, killed for the sake of a redesign that was stupid. The newspaper grids are inadequate and their web-sites are pretty ... and ineffectual. It's like the newspapers are TRYING to die off as quickly as possible.

Just leave my stuff alone. Go play with other people's hobbies.

No comments: