Saturday, July 14, 2012

Microsoft misuses psychology to make IE users apply its Microsoft-friendly "recommended" settings

In Internet Explorer 9, Microsoft has gone a step further in wickedly using human psychology in order to make more users choose the so-called recommended settings [which are in fact more Microsoft-friendly than user-friendly]. Two things come to my mind:
  1. "Don't use recommended settings": How alarming and unfriendly does this sentence sound? Quite a lot, at least to the average user. There you go. Instead of saying something like let me choose my own settings, when IE says something as alarming as it says in version 9, it's logical that most average users will not choose the second setting and instead feel safe in choosing the first one.
  2. Clubbing a Microsoft-friendly setting with a user-friendly setting: Instead of giving separate checkboxes for SmartScreen and Compatibility View, Microsoft has clubbed them into a single recommended settings banner. Obviously, when presented with only 2 radio buttons, out of which one sounds alarming and the other sounds nice and safe, most users will end up choosing the first one, and Microsoft's objective of harvesting users' URLs will be served! If a user wants to choose only Compatibility View [and not SmartScreen], he doesn't have any option here, and he'll most likely choose the first option.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

How private companies try to fool the public by toning down serious incidents - engine fire on Jet Airways aircraft

The excerpts in this blog post are from this story in The Times of India, 29-May-12.

Facts as reported by the press:

"An engine of a Jet Airways flight with 158 passengers on board caught fire after landing at Mumbai airport early on Monday. While the flames were doused minutes after being detected and all the flyers were deplaned safely, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation ( DGCA) categorized it as a "serious incident"."

"The flight from Riyadh, 9W 523, landed at 5.45am. According to airport officials, the Boeing 737-800 vacated the main runway and was taxiing on taxiway N, which runs parallel to the runway. The plane was moving towards its parking bay when an airport official, who was travelling in a "follow-me" jeep, spotted smoke emanating from the left engine of the aircraft."

"On spotting the fire, the official informed ATC (air traffic control) about it and ATC immediately brought it to the pilot's notice," an airport official said. "The pilot quickly switched off the engines. Meanwhile, a fire engine was summoned and it doused the flames in two minutes," he added. The fire was put out at 5.50am."

Facts as reported by Jet Airways:

"While taxiing, the flight crew was alerted by the ATC of the slight presence of smoke in one of the engines. The cockpit crew then proceeded to bring the aircraft to the assigned bay safely. In keeping with standard operating procedure, one engine was shut down and the guests were safely deplaned."

Notice the difference in tone. Even in facts themselves. Private companies have and will always try to downplay serious accidents or incidents. It is vital to not rely solely on the information provided by companies. They have an incentive to hide adverse facts.