A rant on computer’s memory and my own…

I remember a lot of things. I can tell you about an argument five years ago, or what the weather was that day in the second grade that I realized clouds shouldn’t be drawn blue to save crayon. When it comes to computer systems though, I could not tell you what the warnings are for different applications and what the repercussions of ignoring them are. When confronted with these stop signs, I generally ignore them knowing that the outcome, in that particular case, is acceptable. Having said that, the next time I use the application it might be different. This brings up the issue of the modal dialogue box:

“Warning. If you continue such and such will occur.”

Your options are to continue or cancel. You also have the small radio button to never show this warning again. Now, I recently started choosing the never show me this again option because, when exporting a series of files, it gets very annoying to constantly see this window. The system should remember my choice, shouldn’t it? (Thanks Alan Cooper and the authors of About Face for this insight). Still, when I return to the application a day later, I might be working on a different project and I do want this warning. From this point onward though, I have essentially shot myself in the foot. No longer will I receive the warning that the transparency will not transfer or that the hidden layers will print. This must forever be stored in my memory.

As I said at the opening, I have a good memory. Ask me what your favorite color is after not seeing you for four and a half years, I will probably remember. Ask me what the repercussions of ignoring a computer warning? I will probably make a joke about the nostalgic blue screen of death or the more topical beach ball of death. The system needs to be able to realize when a command is being ignored during a specific instance and when a warning is being ignored for ever. It should not expect me to remember things that are written in such an obscure manner that, well, only a computer can understand. Systems need to learn and be programmed with a certain amount of logic and persistence, beyond the standard on/off switch we have all been forced to submit to.

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