November 2006 Archives

Yahoo! TV: Suicide by Web 2.0

Recently there has been a considerable backlash against Web 2.0 online services, and a perfect example of this is Yahoo's new TV listings. Yahoo has "upgraded" their listing services with all sorts of flashy GUI gadgetry, but they have completely destroyed the usability of the site.
I've used Yahoo's TV listings for a long time, and I've been pretty satisfied with their service. I have very simple needs, I want to know what's on every channel on my cable TV right now, or what's on during the 3 hour prime time block. To get current listings, I just opened a bookmark and instantly got a grid. My only minor complaint was that if I checked listings at, say, 6:59, it started the listings at 6:00, when I want to see what's coming up at 7:00. My TiVo is smarter than that, if I check listings at 6:55, it knows I'm looking for upcoming shows at 7. So why don't I always use my TiVo for listings? Because it only shows what's on now, I can't see a 3 hour block in a nice grid format.
But now with Yahoo's fancy Web 2.0 Ajax-ified interface, their system is useless. The new interface makes it almost impossible to bookmark the main listings, you are supposed to start at the advertising-laden main TV site, then click a dynamic, non-bookmarkable link to the listings. It took me a considerable amount of searching to find a fixed, nondynamic link to the listings that I could bookmark. Once I arrive at the listings page, it does not show all my 50 channels, it displays them in blocks of 10 channels. Each group of 10 is dynamically generated as I scroll down the page. As each block scrolls up onto the page, you can see a little progress bar move as it struggles to generate the grid. On my laptop, it takes over 60 seconds for the entire grid to display, while my CPU churns at 100% usage.
But it gets worse. Once I manage to scroll to the bottom and all 50 channels are displayed, there is no way for me to view the prime time block from 7PM to 10PM. I can only view 6-9 and 9-12. This makes it impossible for me to check listings that start or end around 9PM. This wouldn't really be such a problem, but lately some shows have started to move their start or end times slightly, to 9:01 or 8:59, to defeat TiVo subscriptions. If I want my TiVo to record one show that ends at 9:01, but I also want to record another that starts at 9:00, the second show will not be recorded due to the overlap (even though the final minute of the first show is probably a commercial).
So what's the point of all this griping that Yahoo no longer gives me exactly what I want in exactly the way I want it? It's because they've done the exact opposite, Yahoo decided exactly what I should get and exactly the way they want to deliver it: with extra advertising and unwieldy Web 2.0 crap. Even worse, their Web 2.0 gadgets have shifted the CPU burden from their servers to my local computer, slowing everything down to a crawl. If the advertising and the usability problems weren't enough to drive me away, the slow loading IS. So I will have to find another TV listings service that isn't intent on driving away their customers. I'm trying out TitanTV, it's not quite as good as the old Yahoo TV, but it's close.

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Recently I read a blog essay that collected bloggers' excuses for not having blogged lately. I have no excuse, I just haven't written anything lately. I haven't written anything for over two months, so all the content dropped off my front page.
I suppose it could be worse. The first blogging system I ever used had a stupid bug, if you didn't write anything for a month, all your links got corrupted and your blog crashed.
I am writing this entry primarily so there will be something on my blog other than a blank page. I have plenty of new stories, I just haven't written them down yet. If you're really desperate for something interesting to read, you can consult my archives.