Saturday, September 11, 2010

Hotmail Annoyance - Turn Off Keyboard Shortcuts

This one had irked me ever since they went all AJAX and JAVA and the other alphabet soup designations behind modern web 2.0 software.

I use heavily.  It is my personal email site.  I have been using it so long that I have one of those accounts that I can download mail using external email readers.  Probably since the mid 1990s.  I'm used to it, and while it is creaky at times and very cantankerous, it does what I need.

Lately they jumped on the bandwagon of code bloat and feature creep.  If you want to see another site full of that, try Gmail.  There are people who love all the blinkie bits and pull down boxes, but personally I want lightweight, fast, and it should "Just Work".  AJAX is a great technology when used well, but there are a lot of web programmers that really are just hacks.  No Quality Assurance or very little on most web sites means that your hot shot web programmer slaps something together stuffed full of Red Bull and Doritos and goes onto his next project in the list of 30 or so he has to get done.   If he squawks, check for another.

So the end user, you sitting behind a browser, have grown used to flakey software.  Leaving the whole Microsoft world behind, is one that I just don't expect to work, and it is written in PHP.  PHP is another programming language, it is used to make all those nice little windows pop up over top of things but still within your browser, and give you your controls while working in background.  PHP is an interesting environment and I know it well enough to know that it really does require testing.  Facebook does not adequately test their software because it just crashes too often.

All that ranting aside, I had a problem.  Hotmail updated and then turned on some keyboard shortcuts so that it worked like Yahoo/Gmail, or like Outlook.   I didn't want either.   When you change software, the default behavior should be what the last version did and allow your users to discover the new behavior.  Microsoft said "Hey this is cool, lets turn it on!".   WRONG.

Having a couple different keyboards here, I had a habit of missing the home key on my go-to laptop.  I'd hit the delete key.  Now Microsoft has Hotmail deleting "this" email message.  After a grumble, I'd go into deleted messages, restore that one and then try to remember where I was. 

The good news is that they did make it easy enough for you to change all that and here is how...

Log into hotmail and get yourself to the display for your inbox or any of your folders.
Look at the screen and up at the upper right there's a discrete link for "Options".
Click on options, then in the pulldown that appears, click on "More Options".

On the page that appears you have a LOT of options, but the one I'm looking for is under "Customize Your Mail".  Select the option called "Change Keyboard Shortcuts" and click on that link.

You now have a pleasantly stark screen with very few options.  Their default is "Hotmail and Outlook Web Access".  That is what gets you into trouble.  To "turn off all of the keyboard shortcuts", select the button, then click "Save".

Now when you hit delete, it stares at you blankly.  When you key a "Ctrl N" you get a new browser window and not a new email message.  It works like it used to and you don't have to wonder why it does what it did.

If you don't like that, you can also make your Hotmail work like Yahoo or Gmail.  Nice of them, but personally I want neither, and this behavior will follow you elsewhere... I hope.

No, I'm not Microsoft bashing.  I think they could spend less time on focus groups, more time on making sure the software runs faster on smaller platforms like the old Pentium 4 you have in the back room for Grandma, or that it runs predictably well on the web.  Quality Assurance seems to be a lost art, and to do it right, it requires a person who knows the software better than the person who wrote it, knows the system better than the project manager, and really should be done MANUALLY.   Wow, what a concept!  Manual Software Testing!  Yeah, it is slow, but it gives you software that "Just Works".

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, you are awesome. This has been driving me CRAZY.