Sherief, FYI


Most people would interpret saying “I would like to leave now” as a sign that the person uttering that sentence expressing a desire to leave now. Among the notable exceptions are kidnappers, and computer programmers.

Software is notorious for failing to understand, or refusing to acknowledge, basic requests to leave. In some cases it’s acceptable, like when exiting an application would cause data loss of uncommitted work, but in a lot of cases it’s something on the spectrum between malice and incompetence. Videogames like Half-Life 2 are known for prompting you to save before exiting even if you have saved a second or two ago - it’s a lot easier to ask the user, and absolve yourself of responsiblity, than to apply a simple heuristic related to the difference between the currnt time and the last save time.

I recently started playing Ion Fury (previously known as Ion Maiden) - great game, but it seems to think hitting ALT+F4 means “I would like to see the menu” instead of “I have other things to do and I would like you to leave now”, which has me hoping that its authors did not create something in their image. Exiting the game takes going through an animation sequence and two menus, which isn’t ideal when I have other things to do - and it’s far from the only app that is socially oblivious from a UX standpoint.

I believe when to close an application should be up to the user - there’s a good reason iOS doesn’t allow applications to intercept the home button and the Xbox doesn’t allow the equivalent either. But Windows seems to lack such an option, so I decided to build one to tell an app to GTFO with no ifs, ands, or buts.

Introducing GTF4 - a tool that once run remains idle in the background, and whenever you hit CTRL+ALT+F4 it will immediately kill the foreground process. The friction when trying to quit this or that is minor, but it adds up - and a friction-free experience makes a huge difference when you use your computer for a lot of tasks over a long period of time. Here’s hoping it improves your computing experience as much as it improved mine.

That being said, no tool can stand up to sufficient incompetence - in addition to asking me on every launch which resolution I’d like (because heuristics is hard and querying / storing display info is harder), Ion Maiden also messes with the system-wide gamma curves for its settings instead using postprocessing shaders or the like. If you kill the app your desktop is stuck with the improper gamma curves, which makes me wonder what their plan was in case their game crashed - do they expect the user to reboot their entire computer?..

Sometimes you just can’t win, but you can improve the battle by just a little bit.

Good game though.