I can't use my number pad for 2FA codes

Computer number pad with the number 7 in the top left.

This has to be the most infuriating bug report I've ever submitted. I went to type in my 2FA code on a website - but no numbers appeared on screen. Obviously, I was an idiot and had forgotten to press the NumLock button. D'oh! I toggled it on and typed again. No numbers appeared. I […]

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Inconsistency is a feature, not a bug

Homescreen filled with multicoloured icons of various shapes.

Some of my best friends are designers. But I think we can all agree that - however well-meaning - they can be a little obsessive. Whether it is fretting over tiny details, or trying to align to a grid which doesn't exist, or spending time removing useful affordances in the name of æsthetics - they […]

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The Digital Covid Test That Nearly Was

Photo of a lateral flow test.

These are notes that I wrote during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. I've published them a few years later. By now, you're probably sick and tired of shoving a swab up your nose and / or down your throat. You've grown blasé about the little medical marvel as it reacts to whatever antibodies are […]

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Just use QWERTY!

Photo of the Channel 4 search screen.

The QWERTY layout is, I grant you, an illogical mess. I'm happy to hear your arguments that Dvorak is the one true way. Or that Colemak is several percent faster. But QWERTY is a standard now. Everyone uses it on their laptops and phones. It is used everywhere. Except, it turns out, streaming services. They […]

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Alexa leaks your private wishlists

People who access your list will see your recipient name. If you have an Alexa-enabled device, Alexa may alert you when there is a deal for items in your list. Notification Preferences.

This morning, my wife noticed that Alexa was insistently flashing its little blue lights. "Alexa... Notifications?" "You have one notification. An item on your wishlist has dropped in price. The … is now only £…" And that's how my wife found out what I planned to get her for her birthday! What happened to cause […]

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Whatever Happened to UI Affordances?

Default share panel with only a few options visible.

I am grumpy. As my very clever wife summarised, I hate when designers prioritise their æsthetic preferences over my usability needs. I tried sharing a website using Google Chrome for Android. I hit the share button, and a panel popped-up from the bottom of the screen. Hmmm. It didn't have the share destination that I […]

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How not to sort a list of countries

A list of flags. Estonia, Spain, Finland, France, UK, Greece, Croatia, Hungary, Ireland.

Being from the United Kingdom is hard sometimes. When scrolling through a list of countries, we might be found down the bottom as "UK" or near the top as "Great Britain". Occasionally someone files us under "England" - thus ignoring Wales, Scotland, NI etc. Once in a while, it'll be "The UK". Truly, no one […]

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Excel as a mapping tool

System dialogue saying opening Hospital Map XLSX.

About a million years ago, my wife's work sent her on a training course optimistically titled "How To Use Excel As A Database." We were both horrified. Excel is a perfectly good spreadsheet program - but it is categorically not a database! OK, it has rows and columns which sorta look like a database table. […]

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User Experience - don't send me a bill before I've used your service

A screen with annoying password requirements.

Long time readers will know I used to work in the mobile industry. I used to blog about all the crappy things that customers experienced. Well, I'm back, with a doozey! I decided to sign a new contract with Virgin Mobile. After a brief chat with customer services, I agreed a contract for two new […]

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Boring Is Beautiful

A completely black image.

I have a lot of smarthome gadgets - but my favourite is the Tado° Thermostat. I think it might be the most boring gadget I've ever used - and that's why I love it! We spend far too much time staring at our screens. We obsessively tend to our digital gardens and rarely spend the […]

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