The "little black book" taken to a whole new level

Content advisory: this entry is about software that’s billed as “100% Free Sex-Trick Management Software For Gay Men” and is pretty raunchy. There are no explicit photos, but the screenshots of the application contain hardcore sexual terms.

It was a cliched device in situation comedies of the seventies: the “little black book”, an address book containing the names and phone numbers of women with a rating, often expressed as a number of stars, beside each name (“Karen? She gets four stars, fer sure”). The little black book that sticks out most in my memory is the one belonging to Larry Dallas, Jack Tripper’s best friend from Three’s Company.

(Like many popular American television offerings, Three’s Company is an Americanized version of a British television show, Man About the House. My favourite Three’s Company episode is where they make a pointless fuss over a misunderstood double-entendre.)

Now that we’re living in the age of incredibly affordable computing power and the Internet, someone has decided that it’s time for the little black book to enter the 21st century. To that end, he has written iTrick, which he bills as “100% Free Sex-Trick Management Software For Gay Men”. It’s written in Java, so it’ll run under Windows, Mac OS X and GNU/Linux.

According to its features list, it tracks:

  • Who he is.
  • What he looks like (stats, pictures, website, etc.).
  • What you two did (in lurid detail, no less), and how good the sex was.
  • How to get in touch with him.
  • If he’s a flake/fake and wasted your time.

iTrick, being a database-based application, can create a number of reports for you:

  • A “Top 10” report that ranks your tricks (“so you always know who’s the best cocksucker, etc.”)
  • What’s the average age of your trick? Cock size?
  • On average, how many times per week do you hookup?
  • How often do you play safe?
  • How often do you fuck, suck, kiss, swallow, etc.?

Of course, all this is possible using conventional paper-and-pen methods. iTrick, being social software, apparently networks with other iTrick users so you can search the iTrick community to check that the guy you met online is really who he says he is. You can also speed up the pickup process by using the feature that gathers “your stats, contact information, and as many pictures as you like in a single file that you can e-mail to other iTrick users.”

Ironically enough, iTrick has some privacy protection features as well. You can set it up so that it can only be run if you enter a password first, and its database is encrypted.

I’m going to leave the more philosophical points of iTrick for discussion in the comments. Feel free to chime in. In case you can’t think of anywhere to begin, may I suggest:

  • How come the only way you can rate someone as a person is “flake/not a flake”?
  • Ratings on a scale of 1 to 10 are always tricky. What is that little difference that determines whether someone’s ass is a 7 or 8?
  • There a field into which you enter the duration of your encounter. Who the hell times sexual encounters?
  • What kind of life are you leading that you need a database to keep track of sexual encounters?

What I may comment on at length in my other blog (The Happiest Geek on Earth) is the user interface design. Frankly, it’s a complete mess, and as a guy who makes a living doing user interface programming (and even user interface makeovers), I must speak out. Take a look at these screenshots (these are for the Mac version)…

(The term “screenshots”, when used in a discussion of iTrick, takes on whole new double-entendre-powered dimensions.)

Photo: Screenshot from iTrick's 'Edit Hookup' window.

The “Edit Hookup” window. Here’s where you rate the encounter, which in this case is a bathroom redezvous in San Francisco’s Castro district. If this encounter took place in a Microsoft iLoo, you could probably make your entry as it happened!

The problem with iTrick’s user interface is that it’s just a bunch of information thrown together without any sense of organization. In the Edit Hookup window above, the name of the person with whom you hooked up is displayed only in the title bar of the window, which is normally ignored by users. It would help if the window were more cleanly divided into sections with the most quickly scannable information placed first: perhaps date and place first, followed by ratings, then safety, then comments.

Photo: Screenshot from iTrick's 'Edit Trick' window.

The “Edit Trick” window. Here’s where you rate the guy, who in this case is Bathroom Boy from the encounter documented in the window above.

Once again, in the Edit Trick window, Although this window seems to show a little more organization, there are too many controls thrown at you all at once.

Photo: Screenshot from iTrick's 'Search Community' window.

The “Search Community” window. Here’s where the social software aspect kicks in.

This is probably the best-designed window in the application. I’d probably separate this into two windows, however: one where you entered your trick’s screen name and email address, and one where the search results are displayed.

If iTrick sounds like software that could be part of your digital lifestyle, you can download it from the iTrick site.

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