Where do you talk about Twitter when Twitter is down?

Twitter is down. The problem: I don't have a place to talk about it. My Facebook friends don't care about Twitter. My AIM buddies don't care about Twitter. Only people on Twitter care about Twitter being down. And even worse is that there's a good chance you won't find this post without Twitter, so you won't even read this until Twitter is back.

Here's to complete isolation in the digital age, all thanks to a dumb little addictive website that didn't even exist a couple years ago.

Worst web registration form I've seen in a while

I don't complain about much when it comes to user experience (oh wait, that's not true), but I couldn't pass this up. This is the registration form for CBS 2, a local TV station here in Southern California.
I had originally wanted to post a comment on the news story of a high speed chase about how terrible the television coverage was (they cut to commercials every minute at times, no joke). As it turns out, they require registration to comment. No biggie, I thought. What's one more registration? That's until I got a look at the form...
(scroll down for my analysis below the image)

I can't tell you how many things are wrong with this form. This registration form - to interact with a news website - REQUIRES a security question, a birthday, and...MY HOUSEHOLD INCOME?!?! Not optional; no, they are REQUIRED for registration. Oh, and it also lets me opt in for spam too. I won't even talk about the very large ad bordering the registration form, nor the myriad of font usage.
Now, I understand the need for an ad-based media company to want to be familiar with their demographics, but there needs to be somebody within the organization that stands up to this sort of idiocracy. Just because the ad guys tell you they want all this information doesn't mean you should bow to their every request. Garry Tan pegged it when he said that when "*anyone* makes a product lousier, [designers] should get up and shout, and raise hell."
It's a well-understood principle that the shorter and simpler your registration form is, the more chance the user has of actually filing it out. Even Facebook experimented with an extremely simple signup process. Simplicity is key, and when you make something too complex, people will just leave. When I was greeted by this registration form tonight, I was initially overwhelmed at the amount of information this site wanted, just for me to leave a comment on a news story. As it turns out, I never got around to filling it out. I'm not concerned about my privacy; heck, there is enough information about me out there already. In this case, the amount of effort outweighed the benefit for me.
CBS is not a financial institution, my bank, or my social network. They don't need to be asking my household income or to fill out a security question. Heck, I'm surprised there isn't a field for my social security number.

Moral of the story: If you make a task on a website too difficult to complete, it's going to decrease the number of people who actually do. And in my case, that's what happened.

Best viewed in Internet Explorer 7?!?!

This screenshot is from the footer of the City of Tustin's non-government website.

My problems with this picture:
  1. How is ANY site best viewed in Internet Exporer 7? They might as well put "better viewed drunk."
  2. It stopped being cool to put a "Best viewed in..." line in like 2002.
  3. The IE7 button is linked to an XP-ONLY version of IE7. Good luck getting it installed on Vista or Win 7.
Somebody, please tell this guy about Firefox. (I wouldn't even bother trying to sell Chrome to him for a few more years.)

Facebook privacy FAIL

Facebook changed their default privacy settings to be a little less restrictive, but I don't think I'm ever supposed to be seeing non-friends in my newsfeed.

Pictured on right: my newsfeed - the highlighted block is from a complete stranger
Pictured on left: friend's profile where post originally appeared

Storytime with Cory: How web browsers are like cars. An attempt to explain web browsers to my parents.

"We can't get online. I think whatever you did with Firefox made our internet not work so we should switch back to Internet Explorer."
- My Dad

Can we all see where this is going?

I just finished rescuing my parents after they horrifically couldn't get to any websites besides Gmail (thank you, Gmail Offline). I would have loved to use LogMeIn to remotely fix up my parents, but unfortunately, LogMeIn fails to work when there is no internet connection. Shucks.

My dad explained to me that ever since I "made Firefox their search engine and did the Google start page thing," they've had problems with the internet. Awesome. That narrows it right down. I didn't even bother explaining that Firefox isn't a search engine. We've gone down that road before - that conversation never solved anything. Interestingly though, my dad does realize that there is a difference between Firefox and Internet Explorer. Unfortunately, he thinks using the devil's browser will fix all of his connectivity problems. Little does he understand the actual difference, which mainly consists of the different ways that browsers render web pages.

The irony of this whole thing is that I breathe html and css all day long, and despite my parents knowing my job "title", they don't understand what I actually do, which largely consists of fixing these display issues and supporting that misbehaving web browser known as Internet Explorer.

I should look at it on the bright side: the more people that use Internet Explorer, the more job security I have, since knowing all the quirks of every version of IE like the back of my hand is somewhat of a craft and takes a seasoned front end developer to code for them on the first pass. But unfortunately, I don't look at it like this. I would much rather not have to support non-standard browsers so I could move forward and start embracing new technology in CSS3. I want them to embrace the new so I can move forward with what I do and I can build bigger and better.

So to my parents: Let me try to explain this in different terminology. I'm going to try to explain this in a language that you'll understand.

Let's say you own an old, junkie car, and we're not talking about a classic - we're just talking about an old, worthless beater. Then let's say I got tired of having to fix your car every time it broke, and finding parts for it was like trying to find a Starbucks in the middle of the Pacific. So then I decided to buy you a brand new car. This new car was a great looking, reliable car with all the latest technology built-in. But unfortunately, this new car had a slight problem - the dashboard told you something was wrong. But since you are my parents, I know you didn't know what the icon on said dashboard meant (it was probably something like a low tire warning). So instead of just fixing the issue with the new car, you decided you wanted your old, junk car back. Forget the fact that I'm the one stuck fixing it up every day with the problems that came along with it like finding a Starbucks in the ocean (analogy) - it didn't really matter to you because you were fine with the car anyway and the problems I dealt with never affected you.

As terrible of an analogy as this is, I will just have to hope it makes sense. Internet Explorer is like that old car I'm stuck supporting and Firefox is the new car that's got all the latest gadgets and gizmos. It's my goal to get as many people to upgrade from their old, junkie cars to the new, state-of-the-art car, because I have to maintain both on a daily basis, and if everybody had the latest and greatest, it would make my job easier and a whole lot more fun. (Keep in mind, switching browsers is free, and doesn't cost as much of a car, so this upgrade is a little easier to stomach.)

This concludes my comparison of cars to web browsers. So dad, I'm sorry, but you're stuck with Firefox, and I hope this little story explains why I'm not letting you switch back.