I reorganized your kitchen for you, sweetie

I suspect most people are familiar with the It may be a mess, but it's my mess and I know where everything is phenomenon. That doesn't necessarily mean that items are in the best location, but at least you know which suboptimal location you chose.

:: Wendy :: told me a story some time ago about something that happened while her parents were visiting. When she returned from work, her mother said, "Oh, Wendy, darling, I reorganized your kitchen for you. You had everything in the wrong place."

Wendy's mother was trying to be helpful, but of course it was a net loss for poor Wendy, who couldn't find anything in her kitchen for weeks. Yes, there was the whole Oh great where did my mother put my food processor? problem, but even after she found it, the "improved" location was far worse than its original location. In fact, in many cases, it was in the exact opposite location from where it should be.

You see, Wendy is left-handed, and her mother is right-handed.

Comments (29)
  1. Triangle says:

    This is why everyone should practice ambidexterity ;)

  2. nathan_works says:

    Maybe Wendy’s mom had it out for her.. Since lefties tend to be more accident prone due to most tools/implements being right handed..

  3. Brian Tkatch says:

    ‘Have a place for every thing, and keep every thing in its proper place.’

    On the MBTI, that’s the J motto. Ps are exactly the opposite.

  4. DWalker says:

    Her mom said everything was in the "wrong place"?  How arrogant!

    I have a friend who had a large monitor on his computer, set to his preferred resolution of about 1024×768.  While he was out, a young, brash programmer used the computer for a day.  

    When my friend returned, the young guy said "I reset the video to a better resolution; you know, that large monitor can support <some large numbers go here>.  I’ll bet you didn’t know that, ha ha, you silly guy; here’s how you change the monitor’s resolution…"

    My friend chewed out the young guy, read him up one side and down the other, and said "I had the resolution set exactly where I wanted it.  Don’t assume that I don’t know the maximum resolution of the video card or monitor!  I’m perfectly aware of that, but you may not be aware that I have vision problems and I like it set exactly where it was set.  Don’t presume to know what is "better" for me!"

    I think the young guy learned a lesson.

  5. Karellen says:

    "you may not be aware that I have vision problems and I like [the resolution] set exactly where it was set."

    Why not just increase the font and icon sizes, instead of lowering the screen resolution? That would probably be even more readable.

  6. ::Wendy:: says:

    My Mini Cooper (Finnish flag colours) door handles are for right-handed people,  it took me a few goes to find out how to open them and I have to warn all my left handed friends,  or open the door for them…

  7. Craig Peterson says:

    "Why not just increase the font and icon sizes, instead of lowering the screen resolution?"

    Because most programs don’t respect the font and icon sizes, and quite a few don’t/didn’t handle changing the DPI.  I’ve had to get LCDs with large pixels for the same reason.  Messing with the fonts just doesn’t work like it should.

  8. Roborock says:

    "I think the young guy learned a lesson."

    Yeah – old people are douches

  9. pete.d says:

    "Why not just increase the font and icon sizes, instead of lowering the screen resolution? That would probably be even more readable."

    As Craig says, ’cause that isn’t a perfect solution.

    It’s the one I prefer, but even Microsoft’s own software often fails in that area.  Scaling the fonts affects only some of the UI, but not all.  So some things are still hard to read at the higher resolution.  Other software just breaks altogether.  For example, Microsoft’s Rise of Nations series, the mouse cursor just freezes up if you are running at larger font scaling sizes.

    Bottom line: no transient user of a computer has any business modifying the configuration of that computer.  It’s bad enough when someone makes the assumption that you haven’t even given the question some thought and are ignorant of your options.  But then to act on that, creating a huge inconvenience to the rightful administrator of the resource (whether it’s a kitchen or a computer!)?

    Downright rude.

  10. Theo says:

    I once had a manager who had a problem like this. If he had to sit down at my computer to help me with something (or more ofter decided he NEEDED to help me) the first thing he would do was close half of my folders and applications. Everyone of which were needed to get my job done. It usually took me half an hour to get back to being productive after his help.

  11. Zippy says:

    @pete.d "No transient user of a <device> has any business modifying the configuration of that <device>".

    There. I fixed it for you. (I once loaned my pickup to a friend who reprogrammed the radio buttons).

  12. Neil (SM) says:

    What’s really bugging me about DWalker59’s story is, why did the 2 employees seem to be sharing the same user account?

  13. ambrosen says:

    I wouldn’t mention it normally, but screen resolution’s a global setting, not a per user setting.

    See: http://blogs.msdn.com/oldnewthing/archive/2009/01/19/9339091.aspx

  14. Neil (SM) says:

    >but screen resolution’s a global setting, not a per user setting.<<

    Oh right.  

  15. someone else says:

    DPI, on the other hand, is a per-user setting.

  16. stickman393 says:

    Required Snark:

    How does this explain what Vista/7 did to the organization of Windows XP (control panel, misc dialogs, etc).

    It wasn’t broken. It was just the way I liked it.

  17. steveg says:

    ::Wendy:: I feel your pain. My mother in-law visited recently for the longest two weeks of my life. And rearranged the kitchen.

    Does anyone have a cheese grater they can lend me?

  18. Worf says:

    @steveg: Buy another cheese grater. When your mom comes to rearrange the kitchen again, it would be amusing to see what she does. Does she put the second grater beside the first and not mention a thing, put it in a different spot, or…?

    Buy a few more for amusement. Put out a new one every day for maximum hilarity.

    @Theo: happens to me too – my nicely-grouped folders and files gets all messed up. My mom, hunting for a network problem closed all the tabs in my browser once, then closed the browser. Luckily I had upgraded Firefox and it saves sessions and history, and could pull all my pages back from the history menu.

    Hell, me personally, I always open new windows (explorer, browser, whatever) and never close what I didn’t open. Heck, if I need to use their command prompt (to build, say), I ask which one I can use.

    Maybe someone can write a utility to protect against meddlers. Hit a key, and everything already running can’t be accessed – but you can create new (explorer) windows/browsers/etc. And with the password, even selectively unfreeze certain windows (e.g., build), but those windows can’t be closed.

    It’s not that I’m anal about every position of windows, but I’ve grown accustomed and muscle memory speeds things up – this group of command prompts is logged into my old server, this one after the documentation pages are on my new server.

  19. Joseph Koss says:

    It is a shame that the DPI setting in windows is called the DPI setting. Its not one of those.

    Should have been called Display Scaling or something. I would wager that a lot more software would be "DPI aware" if it was named correctly.

  20. someone else says:

    But the DPI setting really is exactly that. If you set it to the physical resolution of your display, an inch will be (almost) exactly an inch.

  21. Jonathan says:

    I admit I have problems with most people’s computer setup. I always tell people "Your keyboard is borken", meaning the ” is in the wrong place, or the Home/End keys, or whatever. Same for the mouse, and often the screen – non native resolution, 60Hz flicker (back at the days of the CRT), etc. However, I’d never change it without their consent.

  22. Dylan says:

    Worf, maybe use a virtual desktops program, like the one from sysinternals?

    DPI and resolution having different scopes.. ouch.

  23. DWalker says:

    This may be a partial hijack of the thread, which was about fixing things for other people when the other people didn’t think they were broken, but …

    This has been partly answered; but, 1) changing the font AND icon sizes is two changes, where setting a lower resolution does everything you want in ONE step, and 2) there are things like titlebar size, scrollbar size, the size of the taskbar, and "message box" that don’t get changed when you change the font and icon sizes, and 3) my pet peeve, the sometimes crappy rescaling into a fuzzy mess for the icons in the notification area and the quick launch tool bar when font and icon sizes are changed, which makes "changing the font and icon sizes" by far the worse solution.  And, as mentioned, many applications have messages in message boxes that you can no longer read when you change the font size.  Especially if you use a scaled font somewhere between "small" and "large".

    On CRT monitors, changing the screen resolution scales everything perfectly at once, and all in sync.  Obviously, setting the resolution is the preferred way to do this.

  24. Joseph Koss says:

    someone else:

    If you set the Dots Per Inch to anything else, an inch wont be an inch. Hence it is incorrectly named, isn’t it?

    The setting as it stands has no meaning in physical measurement, but its masquerading as a physical measurement.

    Its no wonder that "DPI" aware programs are few and far between. The whole thing begins as a deception. The problem even extends to the WPF development team, that still can’t seem to get basic font rendering from producing fuzzy text due to this very setting.

  25. someone else says:

    Nononono! You are supposed to set it to your physical resolution (or an approximation thereof). Of course the measurements are off if you set the wrong value. That’s why you can set it!

  26. Ens says:

    My mother does that every time she visits, and we’re both right handed.

    Kicker being that the "wrong" places were wherever she stuck them last time, as I years ago gave up on the kitchen layout as a lost cause.  I’m still fighting for my desk layout though.

  27. Joseph Koss says:

    someone else:

    We know that Microsoft knows that the vast majority of displays on the planet is 100 DPI or less.

    Yet when Windows 7 encounters a high resolution wide-screen display (which is even MORE disproportionately 100 DPI or less) it defaults to a DPI significantly higher than 100.

    No, you see.. while the intention at one point may have been for the DPI setting to be set to have a physical meaning, that is officially no longer the case. The setting is now used officially to make things larger (more pixels? make things larger!), and the request is that developers cope with the setting being complete bunk.

  28. AndyL says:

    *This* is why the black-keyed "Das Keyboard" is worth the extra bucks.  It makes your computer *look* completely unusable, and discourages other people from ‘helping’ you.

    A Left handed mouse also helps, if you happen to be left handed.

  29. David Pritchard says:

    Why oh why can’t people understand the difference between "tidy" and "organised"? The cleaning lady just offered to sort my desk out for me. Of course, this would simply have produced a tidy, but entirely disorganised and useless heap of garbage.

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