Pharyngula

Watch out, Google

Microsoft has added everything to a search engine that you’ve missed in Google: long load times, half of the screen space dedicated to flash animation and another quarter just empty charcoal grey, results that are shown 3 at a time and displayed in a light gray font on a distracting pale graphic, and most importantly, the most annoying librarian in the universe, Ms. Dewey, who seems to be there to nag you to type faster and mock you if she doesn’t understand your request.

Is there a prize for the most idiotic abuse of web technology? This deserves a nomination. Unless, of course, it’s actually not a search engine, but a psychological experiment in optimizing interface design to maximize frustration and rage. It’s very good at that.

Comments

  1. #1 King Aardvark
    November 29, 2006

    Holy Shit. That’s the most horrible piece of crap I’ve ever seen.

  2. #2 DouglasG
    November 29, 2006

    It is more proof that things “designed by committee” do not always come out well. Attempting to please all parties ends up not pleasing anyone (outside the committee).

  3. #3 Caledonian
    November 29, 2006

    And not inside the committee, either, if anyone on it has any sense.

    Ah, but how many of you favor society-by-committee?

  4. #4 Stephen
    November 29, 2006

    It’s like Subservient Chicken, except without the naughty commands

  5. #5 Stephen
    November 29, 2006

    However, if you type in “strip”, she replies “you first”

  6. #6 polliwog
    November 29, 2006

    hey ms dewey! show us yer tits

  7. #7 Markus
    November 29, 2006

    Ms Dewey is annoying. But maybe she would relax after a few drinks …

  8. #8 Dave Hone
    November 29, 2006

    Was Ms Dewey with all her flaws not intelligently designed?

    Err, not by the looks of things…..

  9. #9 jeffk
    November 29, 2006

    marlonrh is my hero. Firefox is perfect now.

  10. #10 rwxr-xr--
    November 29, 2006

    I dunno whether to be outraged at the gender politics of this, or to go and try to wash off the feeling of having been dunked in a geek’s wet dream…

  11. #11 Andrew Bolton
    November 29, 2006

    “optimizing interface design to maximize frustration and rage” is Microsoft policy, isn’t it? How else can you explain Powerpoint or Outlook?
    As for web searches, I’ve used Webcrawler for as long as I can remember. It combines searches from other search engines – including Google – without fuss or screen clutter.

  12. #12 BJNicholls
    November 29, 2006

    If you type in “biotch”, she rattles off something backwards. Hey, she’s hotter than the paper clip guy.

    What’s miserable is the amount of space provided for and legibility of the search results area.

    Actually, Microsoft never was good at “user friendly”, so pushing “user unfriendly” to new levels is a good direction for them.

  13. #13 wintermute
    November 29, 2006

    I got rid of the “search bar”, and just use keyword searches in the address bar. So “g dewey decimal system” fires off a Google search, “wiki search engine” runs off to wikipedia for me…

    It means I can search anything from IMDB to AcronymFinder.com without needing to install new “add-ons” (I hate that term – what was wrong with “extension”?), no deed to select my search engine from a drop-down, and a search bar that’s almost the entire width of the screen.

  14. #14 Gaurav
    November 29, 2006

    Yeah. EVERYTHING from Microsoft basically sucks. Sheesh.

  15. #15 llewelly
    November 29, 2006

    I think this is yet another modern UI which demonstrates why people like DaveScott want to believe human beings are intelligently designed.

    As to rwxr-xr–’s comment, I (a male sw development geek) felt the same way …

  16. #16 keiths
    November 29, 2006

    I asked her why she was such an annoying bitch, and she threatened to report me to the Justice Department. I think she’s been hanging out with Dembski.

  17. #17 PZ Myers
    November 29, 2006

    Well, Hank, you need a Mac laptop. I never turn it off. I close the lid, it automatically and instantly goes to sleep. I open the lid, it automatically and instantly wakes up.

    Jeff: But the point is that Ms. Dewey is abominable. It’s an approach no one would consider seriously on even a moment’s consideration. We’re all wondering what the heck MS was thinking when they rolled up that piece of bandwidth-wasting noise…and you know, it doesn’t really look like an inexpensive pilot for some new technology. I somehow doubt that MS is looking for the kinds of responses they’ll be getting from this: MS sucks. MS doesn’t understand the user interface. MS has more money than sense.

  18. #18 sglover
    November 29, 2006

    At last! A worthy successor to Microsoft “Bob”!

  19. #19 Dave Godfrey
    November 29, 2006

    Given that a awful lot of the websearches I do are for obscure fossil genera/species names why on earth would I want to reduce the number of hits I might get. Especially when half the time I get some extant plant species instead of the extinct (and probably invalid) fish genus I’m actually interested in.

  20. #20 MarkG
    November 29, 2006

    First thoughts “OMG, she’s hot”

    Thirty seconds later “OMG, she’s irritating”

    Looks aren’t everything.

    Also, when I typed in “evolution” she replied with “that’s a tough one. You know, I’m on the fence”.

    Dumb and irritating.

    As I was typing this, Ms Dewy was on another tab. I suddenly heard deep-breathing noises. What she was up to, I don’t know, but she got really rude when I typed in “banana”!

    When I entered “die”, she professed that she didn’t know what I was talking about, and then accused me of being drunk!

  21. #21 MikeM
    November 29, 2006

    Somewhat off-topic: I downloaded IE7 at home.

    Oh, boy. Here it comes. I can hear your heads working.

    It’s awful. Reports I wrote for my website just don’t work on IE7. They worked fine on IE6 and Firefox, but just plain stopped working on IE7.

    My wife tried to upload some photos to Costco last night. Failure. I told her to use Firefox, and that worked perfectly.

    Ms Dewey is a sexist abomination. All I want is to find stuff on the web, and Ms Dewey turns that into a highly distracting, slow, inefficient process. Isn’t that pretty much the opposite of what users want?

  22. #22 Torbjörn Larsson
    November 29, 2006

    If they at least had named the site “o…ogle”. Because that was that I was reduced to while waiting for my laptop to slo…owly close the tab while rebooting from the freeze.

    Why is macrosoft-in-the-heads in search of a search engine? They own the world so much already. And now they own me another 2 minutes.

  23. #23 Torbjörn Larsson
    November 29, 2006

    If they at least had named the site “o…ogle”. Because that was that I was reduced to while waiting for my laptop to slo…owly close the tab while rebooting from the freeze.

    Why is macrosoft-in-the-heads in search of a search engine? They own the world so much already. And now they own me another 2 minutes.

  24. #24 Smart_Cookie
    November 29, 2006

    Hey – at least most of you HEARD what that piece of you-know-what was saying.

    I opened it at work – where they’ve removed the speakers, etc. No sound. She looks REALLY lame just mouthing off stuff.

    Agreed…it’s a pathetic, slow waste of my time.

  25. #25 Kristine
    November 29, 2006

    Whoa!

    I put in (I should just leave the poor guy alone) “William Dembski.”

    Ms. Dewey thinks, pouts, then pulls out a long baton! “Like I always say, a girl’s gotta be prepared.” Snap! goes the baton into her palm as the links appear. (!!!)

    Hey, Ms. Dewey, hands off! Vengeance is mine! Okay fine, so I’m not an insipidly perfect supermodel. But whatever happened to “Sssshhhhh”?

  26. #26 DingoDave
    November 29, 2006

    I went to the search page, and before it had even finished loading, I got a message which said:

    “Internet explorer has encountered a problem and needs to close. We apologise for any inconvenience. Do you wish to send an error report?

    I don’t think that I’ll be in any screaming rush to use it again

  27. #27 Gene Blender
    November 29, 2006

    Whew. Tough gig for the talented Ms. Gavankar.

    Who else thinks she selected as much for her strikingly neutral racial/ethnic appearance as for her beauty and intelligence? Put her in a gene blender with Halle Berry and Kristin Kreuk and you’ll have a brown-skinned beauty who is no less than 33%… Dutch… lol.

  28. #28 Kseniya
    November 29, 2006

    Yes, a lot of time, but she’s no Adam Selene if you know what I mean.

    There is some variation. I put in “Janina Gavankar” and she gave me the “well played” response. I put in “Pharyngula” and she said, “I didn’t understand a word you’ve said!” and then started talking backwards, at which point the Flash player hung up and I was forced to refresh the page. Oops.

  29. #29 Ian H Spedding FCD
    November 29, 2006

    For some strange reason, I am reminded of a little exchange from the movie Tomorrow Never Dies:

    Carver is based largely on two real-life media moguls: Ted Turner, former owner CNN; and Microsoft founder Bill Gates.[citation needed] A jab at Gates and Microsoft is made early in the film, when Carver inquires about his new computer software:
    Tech:As requested, it’s full of bugs, which means people will be forced to upgrade for years.
    Carver:Outstanding.

    From the Wikipedia entry on Bond villain “Elliot Carver”

  30. #30 Casey
    November 29, 2006

    I typed in “bondage” (due to MarkG’s comment) and she picked up a helmet, told me “Safety first. And be sure to get it on film!”

    And now she’s saying “Hello!?! Type something here!” Damn she’s annoying as hell!

  31. #31 Casey
    November 29, 2006

    I thought I’d also add that one of the most frustrating thing was she assumes I’m a man. (i’m not.)

  32. #32 A lemur
    November 29, 2006

    well, when I typed in bondage she held up a large rubber mallet and said, ‘It’s a girls best friend.’

    I think I’m in love.

    Seriously, she’s very good, there’s some fairly funny riffs that pop up occasionly when you reload the page. Kinda subverts the concept of a functional search engine, but then, I’ve never spent the better part of an evening typing random phrases into google…

    To which Ms. Dewey says, ‘you’re a sad, pathetic little man and you need to get a life.’

    Wow. She is good.

  33. #33 False Prophet
    November 30, 2006

    I remember playing with more useful bots 4 years ago in library school. Even if they weren’t quite as attractive as Ms. Dewey.

  34. #34 Andrew
    November 30, 2006

    Seems to be a demo of what you can do with web services interfacing with Live search, similar to interfacing with Google maps for a real estate site.

    Not really practical but a pretty bravura example of the what one might do in the Web 2.0 world

  35. #35 A lemur
    November 30, 2006

    MikeM has it exactly right, it’s really a brillant piece of work. I’ve done a fair amount of flash development and have a pretty good idea of how they put this together and I’m still impressed.

    I thought it was pretty funny. Kudo’s to whoever put this out. Not sure if MSFT is being misused, exactly, nowhere on Ms. Dewey do they claim to be Microsoft, and while they’re posting results from the MS search engine, options exist for incorporating search capabilities into web sites. Since they’ve got the cash to lay out for a considerable amount of Ms. Gavankar’s time, they may have licensed access to the search engine. In any case, as someone remarked, it comes more under the heading of performance art than anything else.

    Good fun. Silly, but good fun

  36. #36 Caledonian
    November 30, 2006

    There’s a special response just for ‘Janina Gavankar’.

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