Friday, April 8, 2005

Windows Media Non-Player

I've just spent the last hour trying to figure how to use the default Media Player to play .mp3 songs located in my music folder. Actually, the last half hour was spent trying to get out of Choose Skin Mode.
Don't-Try-This-At-Home Public Service Announcement: In Media Player Version 10, click on View, then Skin Chooser. Then activate your desired skin. And try to get out of Skin Chooser. You most probably can't.
So I couldn't get out of skin mode; when I pressed the 'dot Skin Chooser', nothing happened. I finally got around it by some undocumented method that I won't mention because I don't want to spoil the fun. So the next thing I wanted to do was play a song, and be able to choose other songs from my music directory. In Winamp, there's a playlist, and you just click a song on the playlist to hear the song. But in Media Player, yes, I was able to access the playlist, but when say I played a video, or double clicked on an individual, external music file, I couldn't go back to my playlist. I couldn't see any button to do that, and I was stuck!! I finally got it after a long time. The way to play a simple song is that I need to go to View, then Go To, then Library. But this is completely unintuitive. What does 'view' have anything to do with 'going to the library' or 'playing a song'? 'View' is more about changing appearances and looking at something! I don't consider myself a technological doofball. I am quite good at tech support and troubleshooting, can program the PalmOS, do simple websites, and take reasonably good photographs with a 2-megapixel camera. And I know the main difference between a star and a planet. But I can't figure out how to play a song with Windows Media Player! What's wrong with this picture?! Three words: User Interface Design. UI design is one of the things that Microsoft folks are weakest at. It got much better with XP, but some aspects of it are still way off. But the frustrating thing is that I believe they relish this, turning a 'weakness' into a 'feature'. Why? Because folks tend to like things that look complicated because it gives them a sense of importance. Just like a messy desk signifies a hardworking person, that sort of weird logic. I'd let you in on a secret. I don't really know how to use the latest version of Microsoft Powerpoint that's found in school. At least I'm quite slow at it and have to keep thinking about what to do next. On my computer, I have Powerpoint 2000 produced half a decade ago. This older version will beat the pulp out of the latest Powerpoint. Why, again? Because it's easier to use. The designers need to keep thinking up of new features every year. Do most people need the new features? No. More eye-candy, yes. But more illogical, unintuitive, frustrating features just for the sake of 'looking busy'. Especially when I just want to do a simple thing like play a list of songs with the Media Player...

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