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Re: A really good article on software usability



On Fri, 2007-01-05 at 10:25 -0700, David G. Miller wrote:
> "Mikkel L. Ellertson" <mikkel infinity-ltd com> wrote:
> 
> > David G. Miller wrote:
> >> > Les Mikesell <lesmikesell gmail com> wrote:
> >> > 
> >>     
snip
> Thanks for the tip.  While that will work, somehow I don't think of 
> editing my personal address book when it comes to allowing images from a 
> particular sender.  That an obscure way to allow something like this 
> exists goes a long way to the point of the original article: Linux apps 
> could be a lot more user friendly (admittedly, the author of the article 
> could have come up with better examples).
> 
> The one way commercial applications could successfully compete against 
> open source would be to focus on usability.  I don't see any way for the 
> open source community to do something like the ease of use analysis that 
> went into a product like the DOS version of WordPerfect.  Luckily for 
> open source, Microsoft and their ilk would rather continue to bloat 
> their products with features that appeal to smaller and smaller market 
> niches.  Commercial vendors also have an incentive to keep their 
> products bloated and hard to use since they make money from training and 
> support plus ease of use is subjective while a feature list is something 
> that can be easily advertised.
As it turns out, there are always risks to the "easy way".  In graphics,
it is possible to have virii and other nasties that can damage your
system, buried in the graphics execution code.  Thus not allowing images
except from those sites specifically chosen by the user is a security
requirement (note I said requirement, not feature).

	In addition, downloading all those graphics is not bad on a high speed
connection, but world wide there are still many users on modems or even
slower technology, and Linux is their one hope for reasonable download
times.

But, this is not a Linux issue, but a mail host, application and user
preference issue. I believe there are ways to set up evolution to permit
all images should you desire that. Evolution->Preferences->Mail
Preferences_> Loading Images-> Always load images from the Internet.

Again, though, there is some risk with this approach.  And as Anne has
pointed out, it is better to be safe and allow the user to choose his
degree of risk.

My problems currently revolve around the installation of Firefox 2.0,
and around certain Javascripts (apparently related to the use of style
sheets with multiple javascript pages loaded through definitions.  I
cannot yet put my finger on the entire problem.  I can't even define it
enough to post it as a reasonable question yet.  Would I like this to be
easier?  Sure, but I am aware that MS had obfuscated the entire process
by using their own version of the VM for Javascript, and that they have
"liberally" interpreted some of the standards, thus rendering the
standard somewhat less than a standard or we could blame the standard
draft team, but I don't think that is fair.

As to WordPerfect, why did it die?  Not because of design, nor for lack
of an audience, but why did it die?  Or for that matter WordStar, which
IMHO was the very best of the word processors for the English speaking
touch typist.  I still hate having to invoke the mouse for many
wordprocessing functions.

However the demise of CLI is more a question of ease of use and ease of
controlling the potential input by the user rather than one of true
capability.  A window, with a mouse limits the potential for
interaction, and thus simplifies the software interface, minimizes the
requirement for intelligent interation with the machine and software,
and reduces the capabilities of the machine, but gives simpler more
predictable access.  It is yet another tradeoff.  You can argue about
the benefit/cost analysis, but eventually for voice interaction to
become effective, some of thse issues must be addressed, and soon.

Regards,
Les H


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