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You may have played Mao, the only card game created with the goal of reducing new players to tears. I don't mean this in a figurative sense, either. I mean real, literal tears which may accompany fighting and card-throwing. Just ask my mom. (On second thought, don't.)

Anyone who knows me knows that I love having a good time at the expense of others. Mao takes it a step further. The game is designed with the idea of forcing someone to learn the arbitrary rules by actively ensuring that they lose, and lose really badly. The sport of Mao isn't really in winning against others who know the rules. It's in crushing the defenseless, penalty card by penalty card.

In a sense, the object of the game is to prevent people from learning how to play the game, for the sole purpose of being able to repeatedly penalize them for not knowing what the hell is going on. Apparently, Adobe's web developers enjoy treating their users with the same level of respect.

Site Requirements? Where?

A few days ago I needed the ability to save a PDF file as text. Ghostscript's text conversion didn't seem to work that well on the particular PDF I had, and the PDF viewing software I normally use wouldn't allow me to save as text without a paid upgrade.

After much wailing and gnashing of teeth, I visited Adobe's website to download the bloated Acrobat Reader, and a warning caught my eye at the top of the page:

You may not have everything you need to view certain sections of Please see our site requirements.

The first clue to me that Adobe's webpage is in serious need of a redesign is the fact that they need a page dedicated to telling me what I must run to view their consumer-oriented website. I understand the need for such a page on a video streaming site such as YouTube, or an application such as Google Maps, but is not and should not be simply a showcase of technology. Primarily, it should be a usable website to anyone who wants to know about the company and/or download their products.

Nevertheless, I immediately knew what the "problem" was; I use the NoScript extension for Firefox, which blocks Javascript execution on all websites except for those on my whitelist. But just for curiosity's sake, I clicked the site requirements link. Instead of a comprehensive page of all software and settings required to view the Adobe website, I received... nothing. Supposedly I have to know and follow the site requirements for in order to read what these requirements are.

Assuming Adobe redesigns their site at some point in the future, here's to hoping their web developers learn standards-based HTML, CSS and unobtrusive Javascript before learning how to use their own dumbed-down WYSIWYG products. Maybe then they will be able to show a little more respect for their visitors than the merciless King Mao.

5 CommentsRSS

1 Angelo wrote: [1:19am on June 25 2007]

Adobe is like Microsoft, they are getting too big to be effective at their core business. I just hope they don't screw up Dreamweaver.

2 Ryan wrote: [1:35pm on June 25 2007]

Mao is /awesome/ ... I haven't played in YEARS. Neat to see it used as an example in a web tech post...

3 Danny wrote: [6:54pm on June 26 2007]

What irks me are these Flash encumbered...I-I-I mean "enabled" sites that have "Flash detection" code which fail to properly detect Flash under Firefox/Linux.

4 Jeremy Steele wrote: [4:19pm on July 7 2007]


5 Rock wrote: [11:40am on October 3 2007]

Excellent post... WONDERFUL analogy!! Needing to meet the system requirements to see the system requirements... *still laughing at analogy*

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