Thursday, January 26, 2006

Finger Memories - hard to erase ...

Virtuoso pianists play notes faster than ought to be possible, considering the time it takes for the brain to tell a finger what to do. I believe pschologists say the speed is made possible by "pipelining", where the brain stacks a long series of rapid commands to the fingers that they respond to in series. For most of us, these pipelines are built through practice and repetition. We experience pipelining in our computer typing, the mysterious process by which awkwardly typed words eventually flow from our finger tips.

For example, in my other blog, I've become enamored of the "blockquote" html tag. At first I typed it awkwardly, and then carefully copied and pasted it, but now I can type blockquote faster than I can paste.

So if you're with me here, I hope you'll understand what an awful time I'm having with Gmail this week. There are a lot of great things to say about Google's mail agent. Originally Google thought we would all save ALL our mail, and Google would diligently search it when we wanted to find something. (Gmail has by far the best and easiest email search I've ever experienced.) But eventually Google understood that we all want to delete some of our mail, and they gave us a Delete function in the "More Actions" list box. I've got a finger pipeline for clicking on the that list box and selecting Delete to get rid of mail. ("More Actions" invokes a big list of commands, including the ability to place any tag I've defined on an item beofre I archive it. So please imagine me picking Delete out a of a real list of alternatives.)

But let's face it, even with a good spam filter, most of us use Delete a lot. So Google did the RIGHT thing - I admit that - and gave us a separate button to Delete email. So now, whenever I want to delete, I select the action box, survey the command list in confusion, then pick up my mouse and click the new Delete button - twice, once to close the action list and once to delete the mail. My "efficient" finger memories are costing me a lot of time.

I expect to learn the new pipeline in a week or so. Meanwhile, please pity me.
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