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Tip Of The Day

11 March 2021

Does anybody remember those annoying dialog boxes that would appear on every program load? Not the pretty splash screens, those are normally works of art and vanish in a few seconds. No, I'm talking about the "Tip of the Day".

This box contained a list of useless tidbits, each one intended to be useful but normally not. Someone was clearly inspired by cue cards or Post-it notes.

It does remind me of a similar thing, fortune. On some UNIX systems, the fortune program loads upon login and gives you a quote, akin to a fortune cookie. Sometimes there are jokes, wizdom, tips (ahem) and sometimes it's just really weird.

First Appearance

I wondered: when did this box first appear on our screens, and are there any programs out today that still use it?

I think I've found the earliest example, but there may well be another program that I don't know about. If you find an earlier case, please let me know and I'll update this. In the meantime...

Oldest: Microsoft Word 6.0

28 October 1993

Word's tip of the day dialog. Did you know... you can hurt yourself if you run
        with scissors.

Always hold the blades shut.

So perhaps it was one of Microsoft's ideas. 1993 was around the time when they were trying to make their software more home-user friendly. Tips might've been one of their experimental ideas.

This box also existed in Word 95, the 32-bit update to Word 6, but was removed in Word 97. Instead we got to enjoy the Office Assistants in all their pestering glory. The weird Mac port has it as well.

Windows 95's welcome dialog. Did you know... the shut down command on the start 
        menu...

That shade of yellow looks familiar...

Windows 95 itself had its own welcome dialog, so similar in concept that it even used the same kind of icon and yellow background.

Most Recent: XnView 2.49.5

1 February 2021

XnView's tip. By default only the most common formats are available...

XnView Classic, at version 2.49.5 today still has some tips to give. Don't get me wrong, XnView is a great imaging program, and its command line tool NConvert has helped me out when ImageMagick wouldn't. But that tip box, arrgh. I'll be fair. XnView has a heritage going back decades, and this box is almost certainly a relic from its past.

Honourable Mention: WinZip 7

22 September 1998

WinZip's tip. Did you know... the tip of the day dialog box is normally 
        displayed...

WinZip is surely the patron saint of the "Tip du Jour". I must've seen it several times a day for quite a while. Despite the selection box offering to switch the darn thing off, I tended to press ESC as it was faster.

Thoughts

On Apple IOS, there is an application called "Tips". Unless disabled, it will periodically push notifications in your face. The true heir to the tip o' the day.

Tip of the Day
Don't put these irritating dialog boxes into your programs.

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