Ciaran McCreesh wrote:
The problem is that the usability experts are (deliberately) thinking
like the average computer illiterate man on the street, rather than
considering the idea that maybe it's best to have to learn how to use
powerful, expensive equipment.

that's because they are the users. it appears to me you're advocating the equivalent of only designing cars for Formula One race car drivers because that is it's best to have to learn how to use powerful, expensive equipment.

I've used OSX. It's horrible. The entire operating system is designed to
hide as much as possible of what's actually going on, and instead
presenting it in hugely flawed metaphors.

personally I think it's wonderful. Ninety percent of the time it does what I expect and I figure out the odd corners store the data the section of my brain that formally held VI command sequences. and I had space left over.

now windows on the other hand just plain sucks all-around.

And when the metaphors break down, the users are utterly screwed, even
if they *do* have a technical background, because they've been trained
so hard to think in terms of these daft metaphors. Oh, and don't expect
any help from technical people either, because they can't get the
information they need or do the things they need to do because it's all
hidden behind broken abstractions.

I watch OS X users and they end up befuddled far less than Windows or Linux GUI users. The proof is in the observation. Watch usability studies in a real HCI lab and the Macintosh usability stands out in a good way

| If you want to see how bad things are, try telling a naive user to
| type  what you want them to type.  Corrections only come after they
| have  completed typing what you just said.  Welcome to my world.

Which is why naive users shouldn't be unleashed upon computers without
some kind of training first.

it's an experiment you can do to demonstrate how bad usability is. If you cannot tell someone what to do and have them get it right on the first try, then the system is wrong, horribly wrong. in other words, it's not the user's fault as much as you try to blame them.

It's about being useful. In order for it to be useful, you need to learn
how to use it. Given a choice between giving the user power or making
things easy for a user who isn't prepared to spend a few minutes
learning, we make things powerful.

if it's about being useful, why have we not replaced primitive shells with shells built around clean languages like python? why do we still keep editors like Emacs and VI. Why is resolv.conv and creat missing one letter? why he do our file systems not keep a history of what we have changed?

The list just goes on and on. so much of are systems are arcane requiring memorization rather than knowledge in order to be able to get a reasonable amount of work done.

I have mentioned this before and I will (I promise) publish the scripts I have for automating the install process of gentoo. Building was not hard. I'm not happy with usability for customization but the point is something like this could have been built into gentoo distributions a year or two ago. Installation would become trivial but still the hand breaking manual option would still the available. This would improve usability of the install process, make it repeatable and generally improve the user experience. It's not rocket science either from a technical or psychological perspective. so why did have to wait for a former developer with keyboard crippled hands to create them?

Did I mention that vim is the pinnacle of user interface design?

I could've sworn it was Emacs with mutt running a close third.



The result of the duopoly that currently defines "competition" is that
prices and service suck. We're the world's leader in Internet
technology - except that we're not.
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