Thursday, September 29, 2005

Hit any key...

The Washington Times had an interesting nugget from the post-hurricane relief effort:
A high-ranking U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent, assigned to the Gulf Coast to assist with recovery from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, says he and his fellow agents were forced to remove their uniforms with "ICE" branded on the back (similar to "FBI" and "POLICE") because storm victims were chasing them down in hopes of receiving bags of ice.

I'm reminded of why so many software programs tell users to hit "ENTER" or the space bar in order to continue.

In the early days of consumer software, when users would be installing and human interaction was required, the program would frequently use an expression such as "hit any key to continue." As the program was just looking to make sure that there was a user present, any key on the keyboard would allow the installation to continue. This practice was very shortly discontinued, as user-support call centers were forced to waste time with calls from users who couldn't find the "ANY" key on their keyboards...

Yes, it sounds like urban legend. But it's not. In fact, HP/Compaq still has it as a FAQ (Frequently Asked Question) on their website...



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