Sir Winston Churchill once said, "Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it."
Cast your memory back to this particular gem: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gS0vZFPnksk
That stupid paperclip was one of the worst UI bungles in history, and one would think that Microsoft's UI designers would have done their absolute best to never irritate their users so much again. The lesson to learn is simple:
Never, ever steal the focus when your user is doing something unless it's absolutely critical that you do so.
Short on battery? Flash an icon in the notification area. (Hint to UI designers: in Windows, the system tray is generally at the bottom-right of the display. It has all these little notification-ish thingies in it. It's really remarkably useful.)
I have new email? That's nice, but I'm busy right now. Flash an icon in the notification area.
Someone's unplugged my headphones? Oh, that's right - that'd be me! Don't even bother flashing an icon - I know I unplugged the things. It'd be nice if your media player didn't stop when I did it, though.
Can't connect to the Internet? That's okay, too - you're already taking up two icons' worth of space in the notification area for no good reason, so perhaps you could re-use some of that.
Just about the only reason I can think of off the cuff to steal focus is if the device is critically low on power and is going to fail within the next thirty seconds or so. That's it. And even then, only do so once you've saved my work.
Everything else can be done by - you guessed it! - sticking a notification in the area reserved for them.
Enter Windows Mobile.
Windows Mobile has the extremely annoying habit of popping stupid notification balloons up over whatever I'm doing, just to tell me about something completely unrelated. I finally got so incredibly fed up with this that I decided to photograph it before I fed the device to the Kreepy Krauly. This behaviour is remarkably like Clippit, and even more annoying. What's worse is that this behaviour comes in a small, easy-to-fling-at-the-wall-when-you're-infuriated package.
Seriously, if you haven't taken the time to watch the Salmon Days clip above, now's the time: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gS0vZFPnksk.
"Hey, it looks like you're writing a text message!"
"Hey, it looks like you're driving somewhere and really can't afford to be interrupted!"
"Hey, it looks like you're trying to tell me where you want to go today!"
F*| off! I am not trying to connect to the f*|ing Internet, you stupid, f***|ing papercl.. oh, never mind.
Where do I want to go today? Well, I'm off to a dealership to replace this awful contraption. The only question is this: Android or iPhone?