Women only?

Interestingly, the criticized use of the word man to designate a human of either sex as opposed to, specifically, a male one has got a direct, language-independent graphical equivalent, as illustrated by signs at the new Terminal 1 of Barcelona airport. Read more

Suppress, suppress, suppress

The delightful YouTube video of Microsoft redesigning the iPod package exemplifies the widespread phobia of emptiness—on the part of the communicators, not of the audience. Read more

Audience first, for crying out loud

“Greetings from Apple! Before I start finding a solution to your problem, I want to…” What?! You want to do something else before taking care of my problem? What kind of a helpdesk are you? Read more

Quit your browser, then click this link

After several decades of user-friendly software development, I would have thought that software companies would have mastered the simple art of writing clear instructions. Not Microsoft, though—at least not when they explain how to download and install the “Open XML File Format Converter for Mac 1.0”. Read more

Please cover my mouth and nose

Perhaps I am too much of a rational mind, but I must confess I am frequently confused by what I regard as inconsistent uses of grammatical person and number in pronouns. Read more

Notices no one wants to notice

Legal copy never ceases to baffle me. What are those lawyers thinking when writing those texts that no one wants to read? Are they actually kidding themselves to the point of believing that they are communicating anything useful to their audience? Read more

You call this a “presentation”?

While viewing a LinkedIn ad that encourages users to “embed a presentation” on their profiles, I was struck by the conception of a presentation perpetuated by both the words and the illustration. Read more

Is this a quiz?

In a page layout, prominence suggests relative importance. Periodically, I am reminded of how not to apply prominence, as I try to save an Excel spreadsheet in so-called CSV format (comma-separated values) and I get this ineffective dialog box. Read more

Ah, the frustration of effectiveness…

An online review of Trees, maps, and theorems in June 2009 by Tom Johnson serves to illustrate what is in my experience a widespread misconception about the nature of noise. Read more

Put your signs where I can see them

Just last week, as I was staying at a hotel near Washington, DC, it took me several days to notice a sign placed in the shower. I had to get down on my knees to be able to read what it said. Read more
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