Bad Design Decisions, Supermarket and Productivity Software Edition

The automated self-checkout lanes at Acme are all but unusable if you try to bag your items in your own reusable tote bags. The security system—which appears to work by making sure that the weight of the bag increases by exactly the weight of a scanned item—gets very confused when you use your own bags with their non-negligible weight. It didn’t like my placing my bag in the bagging area; it didn’t like my trying to bag items in an open bag on the floor. Eventually, I had to give up and go to a regular line. Please, waste our plastic bags! No, we insist!

Office 2004 for Mac sure doesn’t make it easy to get text out of Excel and into Word. Oh, copying is easy, but copying without having to fiddle with the formatting seems unnecessarily hard. Office appears to set the font size of pasted text not based on the font size of the source or destination documents, but on how far you’ve zoomed in on the source spreadsheet. I suppose this behavior might have sounded appealing to a program manager somewhere at Microsoft, but I can’t imagine the user who’d find it useful. It breaks all sorts of user interface guidelines. And don’t even get me started on how copying from a spreasheet in Times New Roman to a letter in Times New Roman can result in text set in Verdana.

I noticed a similar phenomenon with embedded images in Microsoft Word recently. It is difficult to get those images out of word. An intuitive workaround would be to copy and paste the image into paintbrush and save it from there. It appears that the size of the image pasted into paintbrush is exactly equal to the size of the image on the screen in Word (set by the zoom level). In the case of a screenshot this is an annoyance: in order to get enough detail to see the image fully, you need to zoom such that the screenshot extends past the view boundaries in Word. When you paste it into paintbrush, you only get the visible portion.