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.
Permalink for comment
To read all comments associated with this story, please click here.
A few responses
by Archangel on Tue 30th Nov 2004 08:15 UTC

The continuous saving thing is an interesting idea; it doesn't have to be per-character but if it wrote the doc back to disk every paragraph or so it'd be acceptable - you'd never lose a lot of work, no more than you do at present anyway.

The issue I see with this is users have to break their bad habits - closing and reopening a file to lose unsaved changes. This is a bad habit, especially since it doesn't work everywhere - works in Word and Excel but not in Access. Obviously Access isn't used as much, but you certainly figure that one out pretty early on.

The defragging thing - hell yes! Why does Linux defrag automatically but Windows doesn't? Why doesn't Microsoft hire a few programmers to make it do that - it can't be all that difficult!
And not only is it something the user shouldn't have to worry about, it _is_ significant to performance.
Windows XP doesn't do it by default - I've seen a machine that did do it at startup, but it had been set to do that specifically via some piece of software, and that's masking the problem in a nasty fashion anyway - startup now takes 10 seconds longer each time.
It's not just a FAT thing either; NTFS fragments rather nicely too, and I've heard HFS/HFS+ do too (can't comment though).

GMail is an improvement to the webmail problem, but it presents an interesting issue: if grandma uses GMail and exchanges lots of pictures with her knitting group, she may actually fill it up (over some years). Now she has to figure out why it doesn't work any more and learn something new.
Admittedly it's not likely to happen much...

One thing I'd like to see lost is the damn Recycle Bin/Trash thing. With all these flash undeletey things about (System Restore etc) it shouldn't actually be necessary. And frankly it's a bloody nightmare; you delete some documents because you know your disk will get full. Sooner or later it does anyway, and you discover you've got 500MB in your Recycle Bin - so you have to tell it to delete all these files *again*. Not totally intuitive.

The worst offender in this regard seems to be OSX; I don't know how it managed it, but I saw a 128 USB key a while back that was "full", despite having nearly nothing on it. Some investigation revealed a .Trashed folder or some such, with 100MB of crap in it. Obviously removing this solved things; but why was it there in the first place? Why wasn't it overwritted automatically when we tried to copy more files to the key? No doubt "Emptying Trash" would probably have solved it, but that wasn't made totally obvious.

The shadow files didn't help either; every single file was accompanied by a hidden counterpart. Which destroys interoperability; on a Windows machine you've got twice as many .jpg's, and Windows thinks they are all valid jpg's. One more minefield for the casual user to navigate...

On the other hand, I can't say I'm all for too much of this; "ease of use" generally entails a lack of control. You let the music program "manage" your music, and suddenly it's moved the files everywhere. The wizard decides you can't do something, so it won't let you - despite the fact that you'd really like it to try anyway.

Possibly computers are too hard for the average person to use. Let's face it, they're not really getting any easier; we replace CLI's with GUI's (yeah, they are easier for most people... but a good CLI should still be available) which makes it easier, but now we've got spyware and viruses which make it harder. We can update the software over the interwebby thing, but on the other hand the user now has to worry about updating their software. Maybe it's like a car; you can get in it and not worry about the processes going on too much, but you have to know what the rev counter means and what to do with the gear lever or you'll break it.

As an aside on the software update thing; anyone else think that stinks? You can't make it nice for the users (*especially* not with the disaster Windows makes of it).
Does anyone remember patching their copy of Win 3.11? Neither do I.... Okay, we've got an internet to worry about security threats from now, but that just shows bad planning; what's the point of having an internet to make finding information easier if it's a trial going near your computer?