Programmer Hubris Part 1 – He’s Just Not That Into You

Programmers are, by nature, a very arrogant bunch. We know this – and it comes from the nature of what we do. In our own little world inside the computer, we are a god.

For this reason (and perhaps a few others), it becomes very easy for us to forget to think outside of our little world, and remember that we are also acting as servant to the people that own the box we’re writing our software for.

This is particularly true of developers of off-the-shelf software, who spend next to no time actually dealing with the people that use, or will use, their programs.

So, I’m going to start a topic on the arrogance of developers.

My first example is multiple – Real Networks, Apple Quicktime, and several other programs insist on placing their icons on the system tray – down in the bottom right-hand corner, with the clock.

Now, if these were just icons, that would not be such a bad thing – after all, your system is littered with icons that represent shortcuts, data files, executables, and so on.

Unfortunately, the icons in the system tray are special. Each one represents a running program. Each one is placed there by a programmer who believes that his or her program is so important to all users that it should remain permanently running.

Me, I play a Quicktime Movie, or a Real Audio file, about once every couple of months. It can be a month or more before I notice that the icon is on my system tray, taking up time, communicating who knows what, and exposing goodness knows how many application-related flaws to the Internet.

So, a plea to developers – unless your software positively requires to be run all the time in all its possible installation modes, make it go away when I’m done using it.

No offence, but I’m just not that into your program.

3 thoughts on “Programmer Hubris Part 1 – He’s Just Not That Into You”

  1. I just subscribed to your blog the other day and read this and all I can say is here here. Preach brother… I can’t stand all the crap that I have down in my systray for items (like the usual offenders taht you listed above) that I rarely use. And what is more annoying, apparently Quicktime in particular has bumped it up a notch. While I used SysInternals Autoruns to remove a lot of this crap from my startups, Quicktime (and maybe RealPlayer too) seem to put themselves back in whenever they are run for a legitimate reason. I am so fed up with those two applications in particular that it has to be something really compelling for me to actually watch/listen if it only provides a Quicktime/RealPlayer version…


  2. My focus here is not to say “help me find a way to open this video without seeing the icon”, it’s to say “if you write programs this way, people will find reasons not to run them – so don’t write programs that way”.

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