Weird ways to use tech that works but shouldn't

Jumping off from This thread about poor home electronics design.

What weird, “why would you do that?” uses for tech have you seen that work, but in a completely ass backwards way?

My 75 year-old Mom’s home page is If I ask her to go to an URL, say “”, she’ll:

[ul][li]Hit the Home button to get to Yahoo.[/li][li]At the Yahoo page, the keyboard focus will be on the Yahoo Search line.[/li][li]She’ll type in, and search for it.[/li][li]The first hit will be, and she’ll click on that link.[/li][li]Finally, is loaded.[/ul][/li]
I’ve tried to explain about the address bar, as well as favorites/bookmarks. She gets the latter, but doesn’t use it much. The former she just doesn’t get, and always searches for URLs. She’s not a slow person, but she just learned it this way and it works for her, so why do anything else?

Mr. Athena, who has a degree in computer science, is a software engineer by trade, and who is not a doddering old man, searches just like you describe.

I have no idea what is going through his head.

I’ve been known to do it that way when I don’t want it to show up in the history.

The only other thing I can think of is that when I use the mouse with my left hand I don’t switch the buttons. But I do that on purpose so I can switch hands easily.

Back when I used to repair computers, there was one secretary in the building who used a single Microsoft Word file for everything. I mean, everything. Every letter she had ever written in four years was in this one colossal file. When she had to write a letter, she’d open her Word file, hit RETURN down to a new page, type the letter, and print the last page. And it went on like that for years.

Basically, it seems, she created one Word file years before, and only knew where that one file was, so she’d double click it and off she’d go. Never learned where the application itself was, never learned how to close the document and create a new one, nope. Her system worked fine for her, and even though I offered to show her how to create new files and keep them organized, she liked the way things were.

squeegee, my 67 year old mom searches like that too. I can send her an e-mail with a link, and instead of clicking the link she will copy&past the link in Google. :smack:
And while that may work for Amazon, it won’t work for the links I send her to articles or pictures or things like that.

In another thread, it was mentioned that for some people, clicking a link doesn’t open the browser that goes with it, so clicking links doesn’t work. If that happens twice to somebody, they just might adopt the “method” of searching you describe.

:eek: Knowing what I know about Word, it’s amazing that file is even remotely usable. It ought to be completely hosed by now. More power to her.

But why “shouldn’t” it work? That it does emphasizes the versatility of the system. There are multiple ways to find things. And if it DIDN’T work, people would be up in arms about “that lousy search engine”. Why should “” be any less acceptable a search term than “amazon” itself?

I can’t get Mr. S to use bookmarks; he keeps on doggedly typing in the URL or searching in Google for,,,, etc. every damned day. Oh well, at least they’re short URLs.

Well, I perhaps “shouldn’t” was a poor term. “Doing it in a obscure, backward, ‘who would have thought of that?’ way that works anyway, even though you’re flabbergasted that someone would take that approach.” I dunno, it’s not easy to be incisive in a short thread title.

You know: removing the engine in a car, removing the oil filler cap, and turning the engine upside down to drain the oil. That works… but wow.

Yeah, but nobody (outside of maybe The Tick) would do it that way. Whereas plenty of well-meaning but ill-informed people will type in “”.

One of my co-workers, in order to attach a file to an email does the following:

Opens Word.
Clicks “Open a file”.
From that window, finds the document she wants, then rightclicks and chooses “send to email recipient.”
From the new outlook window, she’ll double click the word file and open it to ensure that it’s the one she wants.
Finally, she’ll send it.

CalMeacham: Do you think I’m trying to belittle people? I assure you, that wasn’t my intention. I’m not sure why that would be unclear.

Here at the library, TONS of people navigate the OP’s mother’s way. Especially older people who aren’t comfortable with computers. It’s like they don’t see the address bar.

I have a habit of doing some searches that way, not because I don’t understand the URL bar, but because I have the habit of sending my mouse to the Google Search bar right beside it. I type the address, and it’s often only once the Google page shows up that I realised that I just “did it again”. For some reason, I am most likely to do that when wanting to go to or

I also just search for “wiki whatever” rather than selecting the Wikipedia search bar and then typing in “whatever”. But that’s probably a little more understandable!

I have ten years of professional IT experience and I sometimes do searches that way as well. The address bar just doesn’t look as inviting as Google and Google will correct it if I make a typing mistake.

We recently purchased a laser printer and an all-in-one unit for scanning, copying and faxing. We hooked them up to all the computers.

So why are the numbnuts in this office still using their old ink jet printers that take forever to make crappy copies that cost more? “Because the printer is at m desk and I’d have to walk to the other machine.” The mind boggles.

If I want a wikipedia entry, I’ll go to Google (which is my homepage) and search for, say mnemosyne wiki, instead of going directly to wikipedia. 9 times out of, well, 9, this will indeed get me a link to wikipedia’s article, but it may also bring up some other interesting hits as well - if I used wikipedia’s search, I’d only get their hit.

I also find Google a more helpful spellcheck than the Firefox one - it’s better at guessing. (Of course, once in a while this will bite me on the bum if there are enough misspelled webpages out there. I recently posted the wrong latin name for an herb because several websites had the same mistake I made! How embarrassing!)

When I want to open a file, I’ll go the the Start button, right click it and choose Explore instead of going to the Start menu and beginning with, say, My Documents. I’m sure it’s illusory, but it feels to me like it takes longer to load the Start menu than the Explore one. This habit drives my husband’s blood pressure up by at least 20 points every time I have control of the mouse when we’re looking for something together.

But what does he know? He can’t seen to grok the dictionary or search google options on the right mouse click of Firefox!

In '78 I was working at an observatory with a lady who was entering data about variable stars into a TRS80 computer. This was the desktop that the Tandy Leather Company / Radio Shack had built around a Z-80 microprocessor and CP-M, and it had no disk drive, but did have a cable that let you use an ordinary audio cassette deck to store files.

She realized she had entered a line of data wrong in a long file. So, she counted how many lines into the file the error was, and listened to the audio while pressing fast forward and reverse, and positioned the tape where she thought the bad line would be. Then she hit Record and typed the corrected data.

I explained to her that that would never work, that the file is digitally organized with headers and blocks and all sorts of other stuff.

But it worked.

I don’t think squeegee was talking about doing an actual search. I think he was saying that his mom uses the search engine to get to any URL she wants to go to, instead of typing it into the address box. So it takes several steps instead of just the one. It works for her, but it’s cumbersome.

I just want to say that that is freaking AWESOME :smiley: