Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 4th Nov 2007 19:24 UTC
Graphics, User Interfaces This is the third article in a series on common usability and graphical user interface related terms [part I | part II]. On the internet, and especially in forum discussions like we all have here on OSNews, it is almost certain that in any given discussion, someone will most likely bring up usability and GUI related terms - things like spatial memory, widgets, consistency, Fitts' Law, and more. The aim of this series is to explain these terms, learn something about their origins, and finally rate their importance in the field of usability and (graphical) user interface design. In part III today, we focus on the desk accessory, popularly known as the widget, applet, mini-app, gadget, or whatever the fashionable term is these days.
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multi-tasking
by rhyder on Mon 5th Nov 2007 00:31 UTC
rhyder
Member since:
2005-09-28

"A long, long time ago, multitasking was something of a novelty to many computer users. "

What was really amazing - from the perspective of an RISC OS/Amiga user - was the hard sell that multitasking needed with some people. "Why would I [i]want</> to run more than one program at once?".

Reply Score: 4

RE: multi-tasking
by flanque on Mon 5th Nov 2007 01:21 in reply to "multi-tasking"
flanque Member since:
2005-12-15

I think history is littered with comments and predictions that in hindsight seem rediculous.

I remember thinking when I upgraded from a 4MHz Amstrad 80286 to a 16MHz 286SX I'd never need another computer again.

Even these days people make comments like why do we need CPUs with 80 cores (or whatever number they insert here) but in my view we'll definitely find a way to use them and want even more thereafter.

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[2]: multi-tasking
by Soulbender on Mon 5th Nov 2007 03:38 in reply to "RE: multi-tasking"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

Even these days people make comments like why do we need CPUs with 80 cores


Because we dont need them, not now. In the future, for sure, but not now. This is quite different from the multitasking case which had obvious immediate advantages.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[3]: multi-tasking
by Adurbe on Mon 5th Nov 2007 19:47 in reply to "RE: multi-tasking"
Adurbe Member since:
2005-07-06

We don't NEED 80 cores, we WANT 80 cores

If all you want to do is edit a text document then your 16MHz 286SX is still as capable as it ever was. The thing s we now expect our computers to do FAR FAR more than that (watching dvds). This is what drives us to upgrade

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: multi-tasking
by Doc Pain on Mon 5th Nov 2007 05:57 in reply to "multi-tasking"
Doc Pain Member since:
2006-10-08

"What was really amazing - from the perspective of an RISC OS/Amiga user - was the hard sell that multitasking needed with some people. "Why would I want to run more than one program at once?"."

Even today, when MICROS~1 are able to run things quasi-simultanously, there are still users out there who dont get familiar with a multitasking concept, expecially when mapped onto GUI elements.

I'd like to illustrate this with a few typical sentences:

- I don't use it at this moment, so I don't want to see it.

- I'm done with it, now I must close the application.

- If I need to see another application, I will have to close this one I'm working at.

- This window annoys me, I don't need it.

So, in order to browse the web for an information, the word processor needs to be closed. Allthoug switching applications on screen, or even screens theirselves (virtual desktops), would be the more comfortable way here, it seems to be too complicated.

Hard to understand, I know... :-)

Then, there are users who want their desktop clean if the computer doesn't do anything, and there are the ones who need everything at once (many applications opened, desktop littered with icons, as many widgets as possible).

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: multi-tasking
by npang on Mon 5th Nov 2007 13:06 in reply to "RE: multi-tasking"
npang Member since:
2006-11-26

The problem here is the interface. Today's computer systems are needlessly complex and actually works against many human principles. In Jef Raskin's book, the Humane Interface, Raskin shows how the computers of today are needlessly complex and so, necessitates a complete user interaction overhaul. The book also describes one vision of how a general purpose computer system should operate. The system he proposes fixes all of the interaction examples that you have described.

Edited 2007-11-05 13:08

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: multi-tasking
by Morin on Mon 5th Nov 2007 16:21 in reply to "multi-tasking"
Morin Member since:
2005-12-31

> What was really amazing - from the perspective of an RISC OS/Amiga
> user - was the hard sell that multitasking needed with some people.
> "Why would I want</> to run more than one program at once?".

I'd be similarly cautious if you asked me. Let's see what applications I have currently running:

- A web browser (obviously). That's what I'm typing this comment in, so it is needed. I have a background tab open which I'm currently not using. I will use it in the future, but not now.

- Other applications like Eclipse and Finder (file browser), which I don't use at the moment.

Here we already have the first point: Saving and restoring the state of these applications would do the job as well. Multitasking is a solution, but not the only one. Going on:

- Email and ICQ client: These applications aren't doing anything at the moment. They are waiting for incoming events. Even when an event arrives, they will quickly handle it and then go to sleep again.

Event handling is an obvious case for the "widgets as drivers" idea that the people at Apple had. Again multitasking can do the job, but others can do as well.

- iTunes: Yes, here I am actually running a second program.
- Background tasks: ... and some more.

Finally we have some use-cases for multitasking. But they are much less obvious than some people think.

Reply Parent Score: 3