Linked by Kostis Kapelonis on Mon 29th Nov 2004 18:55 UTC
Editorial The IT sector today is a complete mess. The end-users rarely understand this, but most insiders reach a point when they realize that things should be different. The problems are numerous but they all reduce to a basic principle. IT and consumer electronics companies are interested more about money than helping people solve their problems. Of course companies need to make a profit and nobody denies that. They should however make money by helping people and not by creating more problems for them.
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Some thoughts to contribute
by David on Tue 30th Nov 2004 02:49 UTC

I think a distinction needs to be made between something being "complex" and something being "convoluted." Computers can do complex tasks but they do them ina convoluted way. THe entire GUi system of drag drop, whilst making simple tasks easier, ahs amde the system even messier when involving large cvolumes of data. How much time is spent maximising and minimising and shuffling icons around nad reconfiguring screens? How long do programmers now spend on the designs of a screen and how unuasable does a program become when tooma ny options are avaialbe or the GUI is inconsistent.

How hard is it to provide 'phone support when trying to describe where to click in screen after screen?

How hard is it for a user to fix a problem whne the GUI has abstracted the way a computer works via "desktop" metaphors to the point that they do not understand what breaks.

Too many, the CLI is a step backwards but think about it, taking Linux/Unix as an aexample:

1. Configuration data is stored in plain text files. They can be cryptic but at least there is a consistent method of configuring the machine. Open the file in the text editor and modify.

2. Use of languages like LaTeX allow for consistency in creating files and allow them to be easily transported fom platform to platform, again using hte text editor as the interface. Yes, the inital learning curve is steep but so to is that of learning to drive, since we are using the analogy. Most still find editing HTML easier than using graphical web design programs, especially when troubleshooting code.

3. The lack of abstraction means that the user understands the reason for basic maintenance.

4. It is easier to read instructions down the telephone support line and request a user type these in than try to remember the layout of screen after screen.

5. Piping provides consistent ways of manipulating files.

6. One more input device (the mouse) is eliminated. Despite claims that these have made computing easier, they have not. Many users never even use the right-button and are unaware of its function.

Yes, there are limitations to the CLI but it is grossly under-rated. There is an initial learning curve but it pays far greater dividends than the GUI ever will.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.