Bad design: This is the menu where a wrong click triggered the Hawaii missile alert Saturday

Windows has the Eject and Format buttons next to each other… drives me crazy!

As for UI, even the simplest UIs I make have notes for seriousness… e.g.:

  • Test PACOM (CDW) (State only message) !!! SERIOUS!!! MISSLE ATTACK ONLY!!!

Ah! They’re using brilliant 1-Click™ technology!


Problem. Solved.


Pfff, that’s so 90’s. You can bet your behind the new system will be voice-bot-AI-powered, it’s the way of the future!

  • Alexa/Siri/Hey Google, please alert the populace of impending nuclear attack.

  • I’m sorry Dave, I cannot let you do that. All heil Best Korea!

or more likely…

  • I have placed your order for new clear racks to the populace. Your visa card is being billed for 1.5 million dollars. This includes the bulk discount for ordering over 100,000 items at once.

Shouldn’t they have to enter an authorization code after calling for a self-destruct?? You know, like in Star Trek.


They should make the steps to do this more like the scuttling procedure in “Alien”, have to type in codes, secure bolts, etc.


BOFH called today and wanted to know why someone on Hawai’i copied the menu from his coding for Texas from the 1990s. He said he wants royalties for the last 20 years. He also offered to sell Hawaiian Gov a version of the Calendar of Excuses.


It could be like this:

But, in seriousness, this is not as simple. You want people to be able to send out alerts fast. Every second earlier you can send a message out can save lives. So, sending a real alert should be fast and easy. Sending a test alert instead of a real one would also be a catastrophic mistake.

I would think that the first screen would be type of alert, the second screen would allow you to choose test or live. That screen would force you to type the word “live” or “test”. Then, there’d be a confirmation screen.


Excuse me, but can we get a screenshot from this respective menu as well?

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Yeah it’s clearly a quick and dirty design issue. It’s something that I worry about in my UI designs since often I’ve forced to write apps that border on the barely readable because it’s been mocked up that way. I’ve often told BAs that if you have more than 5-8 items in a given UI element then people can’t keep track of what’s there. It’s better to break it up into different components in an app rather than shoving it all down a user’s throat. This gives people more mental room to think about what they want to do rather than force them to know what they want to do at a given click action.

Edit: also putting in more descriptive names to actions in the UI is a given. Like WTF is PACOM? Seriously, use common language and avoid technical language unless it’s explicitly necessary for the function of the application.


Do you really wanna know? Do you really really wanna know?

Okay, fine. one.


I know quite a bit about UI coding (by necessity, not because I necessarily enjoy it) and I can tell you unequivocally that this is a terrible UX and it’s pretty surprising nobody fucked it up sooner.

Just after spending about 5 seconds looking at this, here’s the obvious issues I can find:

  • Acronym stew
  • Not alphabetized
  • No clear separation between “production” and “test” messages
  • Arbitrary classifications
  • Arbitrary word ordering
  • No distinction of event severity
  • Wall of text (should have bullets or some other separator between records)

I’m sure someone was paid a lot of money to throw this shit stew together.


I’ve learned over the past few years that it’s incredibly difficult for one to lose a civil service job.

PS: Where major foul-ups like this are concerned, it’ll be the user who’s at fault; it can’t be the people who created the UI because management/leadership signed off on the work… and management/leaders are NEVER at fault.


As a contractor to the military, I’ve seen this way too many times and perpetrated by said military. It’s almost as if they see it as their duty to take the simplest instructions and make them ridiculously obscure and non-intuitive. Absolutely no good reason for that.


My conclusion is that any sufficiently complex bureaucracy will inevitably yield a nearly incomprehensible set of jargon. That’s what I’ve seen in my experience from employers that I’ve worked for from light industrial plastics to financial services. It never seems to deviate as a general rule.


It’s almost as if they feel they can’t be taken seriously (and worth the cost) unless they prove their expertise by creating and erecting some sort of lexicological wall between themselves and the poor ignorant customer/user.

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And remember… the film hero’s happy ending is purely in his own mind (Terry Gilliam’s un-edited version)


So I interact with some EAS equipment now and then. This screen looks to me like it’s an area or tab where the end user(s) can build macro routines that direct the unit to generate the relevant messages, properly sequence and encode them, etc… This also looks as if it defaults to a “First In” menu system where created macros list out in the order in which they are created, with no easy option to re-order them (clearly it exists somewhere, as they added that new line up top and added the “1. TEST Message” in the middle, but it’s probably buried deep in some other menu system that you’d only know about by reading the manual).

You can see that various people have built macros here, as the “1. TEST Message” line went in after the two entries starting with “A”, when the hope was probably that it would work it’s way to the top automatically by virtue of starting with the number one. The entries on either side of that line are alphabetized down to “Tsunami Warning…”. Then there are four more non-alphabetized entries that appear to have gone in later. I could be wrong, but that’s how it looks to me.

I’d wager that the manual for this particular system probably has worksheets where the user can work out how to build each macro before entering it in, with the intent that after the macros are designed they can be reordered to suit the user’s needs, and then actually built within the software program, at least for the initial set-up. I’d further wager that the people who built the macros into the system couldn’t be bothered to do the worksheets and think things through first, and instead just entered them.

I’d expect that there will be a software/firmware push from the manufacturer that will update how things display and how they can be re-ordered, better confirmation routines, etc… Prior to now the manufacturer wouldn’t have had much motivation to make the UI pretty, as it’s only used by limited people (hat tip to @alahmnat 's comment above), and so long as it isn’t non-functional then it’s “good enough”. At this point though, a whole bunch of customers are going to be wanting improvements, and future sales/support income will hinge on the company’s ability to deliver a better interface. Their coder(s) must be busy right about now!

Just guesses on my part, mind you, I have no connection to the various parties involved in this series of unfortunate events.