Matt Gemmell

TOLL is available now!

An action-thriller novel — book 2 in the KESTREL series.

★★★★★ — Amazon

iChat's welcome

interface 1 min read

Can't recall if iChat 1.0 had this, but iChat AV has a feature whereby if your status is Away, and you 
return to your computer (i.e. probably wake it from sleep, or disable a screensaver), it can ask you if 
you want to become Available again.

That's a nice idea - and I like 
being welcomed back to my computer - but the alert dialog commits a Windows-like UI faux pas.
Here's the alert in question:

It's the old Yes/No/Cancel issue. On the Mac, button titles are usually actions (Save, Don't Save, Update Later), since 
action names are far less ambiguous than "Yes" or "No", especially when the question is long or contains negatives 
("Are you sure you don't want to...?").

iChat's alert labels the buttons "Available" and "No", which is bizarre in 
itself. It would be more sensible to label the buttons "Don't Change" and "Change to Available" (or perhaps "Make Available").


As a sidenote, I've never felt entirely comfortable with the practice of making an application refer to itself as "I". 
I much prefer asking the user if he wants to perform the action instead; "Do you want to change your status..." etc. 
Similarly, intelligent assistants should use text like "It appears that you are..." instead of "I notice that you are...". 

I just feel more in control when the software doesn't directly refer to itself. If it must, it should do so by its name.