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Ask HN: Technical pet peeves?
7 points by richo 1119 days ago | 21 comments
HN is slow as hell over the long weekend, and someone just set me off again referring to directories as folders.

It's stupid and pedantic to be as bothered as I am by this, and it got me thinking; what else is HN up tight about?

I would write a book on this, especially when I worked doing support for a university. Lately though, it's people who say "my computer is slow, I have to delete some icons from my desktop". That, for some reason, just drives me crazy.

Ah since we are doing this, I have to share a story. I worked as IT support for a university while I was an undergrad. I had a professor call me demanding that I recall an email that he sent to all of his students (outside of the university email system) because he sent out social security numbers by accident. When I told him that wasn't possible, he flipped out on me, because it was my fault. There is no reasonable response with the exception of laughing...which is what I did after he hung up on me.

I had to share that as my support days flashed before my eyes reading this thread.


Not knowing the difference between slash and backslash-

"Go to www.ourlamesite.com BACKSLASH user".

What's most interesting about the error is that it's almost always one error only (slashes referred to as backslashes, not the reverse, as if "back" makes it correct usage), refers to punctuation we all see and use on a regular basis, and involves extra syllables.

It's also counterintuitive. Asking yourself how to write "3 slash 4" will almost always result in your correctly figuring out what to call the two symbols even when you're not sure. It's a bit like dyslexia, I suppose, but in reverse. You wouldn't hear a dyslexic call a forwards f "backwards f", I wouldn't think.


Hah. After 13ish years of tech support, I automatically say "backslash - that's the one above the enter key" or "forward slash - that's the one below the question mark" Often I won't even say the key name, just the location.


I think folder is the official Windows term, and most people are non-technical people who use Windows, so if you have to pick a term, it seems the more accessible one. If you think that is bad, I think on my smartphone there is no file browser by default, so the closest thing you have is media specific stuff, like albums, lol. So you can't even use the term folder if you are on the phone or emailing with a smartphone user of your apps...


Yeah, I realise that I'm being pedantic. I also catch myself saying it every now and then and my face looks like this D:


"Hi Shane, you're a programmer right? Can you fix my Microsoft Word? It won't let me write below this image!"

"I have a million pound idea, you can make it for me and I'll give you 10% of what I make with it?"

"You're a programmer so why can't you figure out why my laptop is over heating?"

"Can you make me a website? It'll probably only take a couple of hours."

"Programming is easy, all you do is sit at a desk all day" - An accountant, July 2012


"My computer is acting funny, do I have a virus?"

Family tech support.

Referring to IE, and Chrome, and Firefox as 'the internet'.

Googling full URL's (this is extremely common for non-technical people)

Moving a 200GB iTunes library from one computer to another

However, as others have mentioned, folder is the proper terminology in a Windows environment.


What annoys you about moving that media library to another computer?


Everything. If the path changes at all (different username) then you either have to re-import everything (losing playlists, counts, ratings etc) or edit XML files and pray it works. Deauthorizing/authorizing itunes account, just the time required to copy the data, including the fact that windows copy is likely to fail part way through. Likely the library isn't all consolidated in the itunes folder so dealing with hundreds, or thousands of gray !'s (file cannot be located). Copying apps (if they have an IOS device), trying to synch IOS devices to the new computer without wiping them. That's all I can think of right now, but I assure you there's more.


People saying "www." before a domain when referring to a website.

People that think ".org" is still an obscure TLD and say every letter [oh-are-gee]. I listen to jazz at http://kcsm.org and they're a huge offender in my daily life.


Clients who email over images in Word documents.

It's like taping a picture to a piece of paper, putting the paper in the envelope, and snail mailing that to me. Instead of simply putting the picture in the envelope and sending that.


</rant> :)


"We need an iPhone app for all our Android phones."

I mean, I get kleenex, hoover, and tarmac as generic terms - but "iPhone".

I even heard one kid talking about her Android BlackBerry - which meant her phone had a physical keyboard.


At first thought I agreed with you. But then I realised, that is how many of those names started: they were the dominant brand for a while and thus became the household name. I hear many people refer to portable audio players as an iPod. I see no obvious difference for the iPhone, except that it has more competition.

This does not mean I agree.


Its also shorter to write/speak, than the generic & generally non-sensical altenative: "smartphone".


I get angry when people say that I'm the IT guy because I'm good at using a computer. In reality I do my job on the computer (webdev) like they do theirs (sales). I'm not the IT department!


Its interesting you made this comment because I've always considered IT (for right or wrong) a demeaning term because I often associate people in IT as really non-technical i.e. they can't actually code or anything, they're just more knowledgeable than the average.


I think that's a coder's view. I'm an IT guy in a small office and it's pretty much assumed I can do anything, from installing RAM to building a web site to coding mobile apps.

However, I have at one time done all those thing and more. To me, pure IT is great fun but it's way too easy and not challenging. It's not until I move up a step to building web servers and coding that I really get that feeling of accomplishment.


I'm an IT guy in large office, and I can do all of those things (it'll work, but it may not look good...). However, not all of my coworkers can.

I think IT is kind of a master of use of software, and hardware. You can build the hardware, and use the software, though you may not know what's behind it. I think this is why people assume "IT guys" can fix anything. To some extent, they can, but only because they've seen similar things. IT is a whole lot about seeing something before, and knowing how to debug and troubleshoot.

Pure IT is very fun, if your company has the budget to fund it. There are some very hard bare metal problems that need to be solved, including network topology, disaster recover, failovers, automation, and process efficiency improvements. Again, most of this stuff happens when you have lots of IT infrastructure, not when you're small.


Likewise, unless you're actually in the labelled IT department or technical support etc then you're not really IT, right?


Folder is a pretty widely accepted synonym, hell even the icon for a directory in every OS I can think of is that of a folder.


Whenever I hear "hey u work in IT so u can fix why my computer is so slow and full of virus". Umm no, I m a programmer....


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