Linked by Eugenia Loli on Mon 17th Mar 2003 22:49 UTC
Graphics, User Interfaces So many operating systems and so many graphical desktop environments... This article is a comparison of the UI and usability of several Desktop Environments (DEs), that have been widely used, admired and reviled: Windows XP Luna, BeOS 6 (Dano/Zeta), Mac OS X Aqua and Unix's KDE and Gnome. Read on which one got our best score on our long term test and usage.
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Eugenia is no journalist. Why care?
by Adam on Tue 18th Mar 2003 14:05 UTC

Taken from an informed post on Slashdot:

Some quotes:

1. What we are comparing here is the overall user experience

2. I decided to include in this test only operating systems that I can reboot at any time

3. the way things work in a way most people expect

The translation

1. What we are comparing here is *my* overall user experience

2. I decided to include in this test only operating systems that I can reboot at any time, thus rejecting any scientific methodology or averaging effects which may significant when determining membership of a particularly fuzzy data set

3. the way things work in a way *I* expect as a long time user of $MYFAVOURITE desktop environment

I'm not going to go on, all of Eugenia articles are like this. Stating opinions as if they were facts does not make them facts. "The buttons are overwhelming" is not the same as "the temparature of the solution was 26 degrees". None of this is helpful - I (as a random member of the computing community) do not care what Eugenia's preferences for colour, widget style and theme are. I care whether these environments can be made to work the way I want them to. I (as the adminstrator for other desktops) care whether these environments have the ability to make my users happier; if their particular preferences can be accommodated.

This brings me to what these sorts of reviews should focus on... absolutes only. e.g.

features of WinXP: themeable, log multiple users on simultaneously, clean fonts, ability to choose classic style or luna

features of KDE: virtual desktops, themeable, transparent menus, adjustable levels of eye candy, full featured keyboard shortcut editors


Writing those lists just now I noticed how hard it is to keep my own opinions out of it, but it can be done and a journalist should certainly be doing that. If a personal opinion were required, it would be preferable that a third party was used as the source of opinions as we are more likely to hear a balanced view than the rantings of one particular user.

In such a subjective area - more care must be taken to remain objective. It is not sufficient to simply write at the top of the article "I realise this is subjective but...."; I'm sure what she meant, as a professional journalist, was "I realise this is subjective so I have taken the following steps to minimize any influence my own opinions may have on this review"

This is a difficult task, articles such as these must by definition include some element of opinion; comments like "The menus were slow to respond" are acceptable even though "slow" is a subjective term; but one I would be willing to allow under the assumption that an experienced computer used could assign fuzzy terms like "slow" and "fast" with the same skill that we can all use terms like "hot" and "cold". This is not an excuse to decend into the completely unquantifiable "I want my UI pixel perfect".

All these environments will gain equally from a more balanced review process and as such we will all gain.


In the end Eugenia is hilarious, but with nothing of any real value to offer. Why should any of us listen to her when she clearly has no problems declaring this to be the 'Definitive' review and stating that she has no bias when in fact anyone (no matter what the favorite desktop) that reads the article can tell immediately that it is littered with opinions, contradictions, and generally a bunch of subjective blather.