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Re: A really good article on software usability



Hi;

I have never understood this debate.  Linux can be/do both.

On Fri, 2007-01-05 at 08:23 -0600, Les Mikesell wrote:
> Tim wrote:
> > 
> > If the user does not use their brain, then all is lost.  There's a
> > number of people I've come very close to telling that they're too stupid
> > to use a computer.  No matter how many years of instructing, no matter
> > how many years they complain about the same thing going wrong, they
> > don't learn, they don't pay attention to the explanations, they just
> > whinge at you while you're talking to them.
> 
I am sorry. but the normal human IQ (IQ substituting for the word
intelligence) is one standard deviation in each direction from average
-- about 80 to 120.

People with an 80 IQ should be just as welcome using a computer as
someone with a 120 IQ and beyond.

> Yes, that's the point.  For a lot of things, software should work
> like an appliance.  If the thing that needs to be done can be
> predicted, just do it without offering any choices.  Doesn't work
> for everything of course, but in many cases the best user interface
> is no user interface.  Consider how itunes syncs with an ipod for
> example. If everything fits, you plug it in and do nothing.  The
> device syncs with your library and charges up. It is the obvious
> thing to do and it does it with no annoying questions about
> whether you would like to sync now or charge the battery or
> anything else.  Likewise if you subscribe to podcasts you can set
> it up to always download new ones when available - and to remove them
> after listening - and the 'listened' status propagates back from
> the ipod during a sync.  And you can make a 'smart playlist' that
> has new podcasts.  So, with this setup you just plug the ipod in
> occasionally and you always have up to date podcasts available
> and in a playlist.  Where's the Linux software that matches this
> ease of use?  Or that even lets me set up something once by picking
> from a few selections, then never asks again?
> 

The point about 'sync' is well taken.  However, in it's rawest form
Linux has far more 'Help' than other systems.  There is an answer for
the meaning of 'sync' out there.  Finding in a timely fashion it is the
hard part.

I believe that Linux and Linux applications do not need to choose
between what features, prompts or plugins to include and what to leave
out.  It can do both.  It can start as an appliance, with simple, clear,
'just works' defaults but also have a powerful configuration editor so
that once people are familiar with the basic tools they can begin to
make personalized adjustments.  If prompts, asking me to save are
annoying, then let me turn them off.

*Most* applications today are in the tweak and fiddle stage of
development and no longer need major new features added.  Developers and
maintainers could spend some time making their software 'babies' highly
configurable rather than more ponderous by adding new stuff.
-- 
Regards Bill


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