Apologies for slow blogging. Been working in parallel on a number of important tracks. Some interesting stuff coming up shortly. In the meantime, I will trouble you with this rant on a trivial annoyance.
If you use a Windows computer for any period of time, your system tray — the little box next to your clock on your task bar — will get clogged up with a million and one icons you don’t need or care about. The tray is useful for stuff like “safely remove hardware”, but it’s stupid as a location for applications. That’s what the “quick launch” icons are for; that’s what your “start” menu is for; that’s what any number of other utilities are for. When an application pushes its icon into the system tray it’s almost always redundant — a case of corporate overreach.
So when renegade applications insist on putting their icons in the system tray anyway, in a sort of desktop manifest destiny policy, I get peeved, and I try to figure out how to banish them. Usually, though not always, it’s possible.
I hate to think of something as routine and plumbing-like as Quicktime as a renegade application, but in this way, at least, it is. I went through the “get this thing out of my tray” routine with Quicktime a long time ago; I found the “preferences/advanced” dialogue that let me express my wishes; I did so and thought that was the end of it.
Today, suddenly, it turned up again. I soon realized I’d recently allowed Apple’s auto-update install a new version of Quicktime. OK, I’m willing to turn this sort of routine patching and maintenance over to the software companies — I’d rather they worry about it than have to worry about it myself.
But how rude is it to overwrite a user’s preferences and force the reappearance of an annoying icon that you’ve already ordered the program to suppress? Why does Apple do this stuff? To me this is just one tiny but telling instance of the company’s perpetual dance between delivering useful innovations and behaving as a desktop Big Brother that pretends to know better than you do what you really want.
Me? I just want Apple to keep its fingers out of my system tray.
[tags]apple, quicktime, software, interface design[/tags]
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