An excise task, according to Alan Cooper, is extra work that satisfies the needs of your tools rather than move you towards your objectives. This example goes beyond the simple dreariness of excise to end up deep in the land of surrealistic idiocy:
Available what? Updates where? What's to cancel?
Adobe puzzles me. It really does, as Holden Cauldfield might have put it. On the one hand, the company is clearly capable of constructing high-quality software. On the other hand, their user interaction designers apparently imagine users at their happiest spending their days coddling to the needs of Adobe's software. "How do you like your new install directory, Acrobat? Should I move you someplace warmer? Tuck you in, perhaps, and give you a good-night kiss?"
I want to do as little as possible to keep my system working. I certainly don't want to be bothered by dialog boxes that have the same relationship to meaning that George Bush has to statesmanship.
Alan Cooper on excise again: "Don't stop the proceedings with idiocy." Cooper specifically took Adobe to task for this back in 1995. Unfortunately, the weight of the evidence suggests that Adobe paid him no attention. This morning, Adobe gave me this. Before coffee, even:
What the hell is a reasonable response here? Which file are we talking about? What location? What are the consequenses of a wrong response? And, if Adobe itself doesn't know whether one of its files ought to be replaced, why am I qualified to make an informed decision?
It's possible that a click on "Change Destination" would have been illuminating. But, being in a lack-of-caffeine-induced macho mood, I hit "Replace" instead, vaguely hoping that Acrobat Reader might commit digital hara kiri and cease bothering me.
No such luck; "Replace" was clearly not a wrong choice.
Almost certainly, it was a choice the installation software could've made on its own.