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Re: A really good article on software usability

On Fri, 2007-01-05 at 10:18 -0600, Les Mikesell wrote:
> On Fri, 2007-01-05 at 15:15 +0000, Anne Wilson 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.
> > >
> > > 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.  
> > 
> > <scream.......>  Where have I seen that idea?  Oh yes, in systems that I won't 
> > use.
> Does your refrigerator ask you every time you are nearby if you would
> like it to keep your food cool or not?  Instead of prompting every
> time for whether or not you'd like to save or lose all your work,
> why don't programs have a default for how many revisions you'd
> like it to keep and always save all changes unless explicitly told
> to exit without saving?  If it ends up saving work you wanted to
> throw away, then you'd have an after-the-fact way to fix the
> unusual case instead of being bothered every time selecting the
> obvious choice.  And by the way, I don't mean that programs shouldn't
> have a way to select choices, I mean that they should have the
> obvious defaults already set and a way that you can change the
> defaults if you have some unusual need.  And the rest of the time
> they should know that humans are creatures of habit.  This mode
> also sets things up for someone else to help a user make the right
> choices once or an administrator to set up a whole office without
> having to make everyone memorize the meta-alt-cokebottle magic
> keypresses that they might need every time to repeat the choices.
Disk sizes are larger, but not infinite (at least for most users.) This
means that with large edits (think graphics and movies), you get disk
full quite rapidly.  For professional users on large systems, this means
even larger disk arrays.  In my development at my last job, one file
would often be several Gigabytes, and a single project might require up
to 100 files.  During translation I required 3x space, during simulation
I requred another 1.5x space, and a single project could easily consume
up to 500G at least temporarily.  I was usually involved with 3 or so
projects at a time.  If intermediates, and simulation logs were saved
multiple times, I would easily outrun most storage systems in the small
office where i was employed.  Not to mention what this would do to RAID,
tape and bulk backup systems.

This is yet another case of one size doesn't fit all.  Moreover as
computer capabilities continue to climb, and expectations of higher
resolution graphics, 3d databases, and animation increase, these demands
are going to climb at an exponential rate.  I am not saying it is not a
good idea, but only that we don't know the storage effects at this time
on some of the emerging technologies.

	Isn't one of Murphy's laws that computer data and programs will always
expand to overflow any existing storage medium and only at the most
inopportune times?

Les H

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