Convince me, please! - too much about "GUI"
bsilver at chrononomicon.com
Fri Aug 10 06:49:37 PDT 2007
Rolf G Nielsen wrote:
> Reid Linnemann wrote:
>> My ten year old niece has been brainwashed by the GUI quagmire. She
>> saw my FreeBSD 6-STABLE console on my amd64 3000+ and wanted to know
>> why i was using such an "old" computer. She had the visual aspect of
>> the user interface ingrained as a measure of the capabilities of the
>> machine. Granted, it could be only because she's ten, but I think we'd
>> find a lot of people think that something has to have more blinky
>> lights and chrome to be better or faster.
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> I seriously doubt that it's only because she's ten. A friend of mine
> (who's 37) defines user-friendliness based on the number of tasks he can
> complete through a GUI. I used to think like that too, but not any
> longer. I first tried FreeBSD in 1998, but I couldn't get anything
> running. I just had no idea how, and I was expecting a nice
> "user-friendly" GUI, like Windoze, but without the constant crashes.
> In 1999 I purchased "The complete FreeBSD, 3rd edition" with CDs
> included, and this my second try was a lot more sucessful. I was still
> after a fancy GUI, but this time I got things working. Not without
> effort though.
> Over the years since I first tried FreeBSD, my ideas about ease of use
> have changed quite a lot. I no longer define user-friendliness based on
> what I can do in the GUI; actually, I'm often annoyed by all the menus,
> submenus and all the whistles and bells. It's really a lot easier to
> edit a text file to change some setting, than browsing through heaps of
> buttons, drop-down lists and all that.
I think what everyone seems to be missing is that you know something
about your computer.
You want a directory? "Dir." Unless you're using Unix. Then it's
"ls." How would you have known this without some background in using
the system, if you were just plunked down in front of it? (Jurassic
Park..."Hey! I know this!")
For people interested in computers, it isn't a chore to learn about
various commands or even learning how to learn about commands. It's not
a chore to learn how the system works. For computer oriented people the
user-friendliness bar is far higher in tolerance than for your average user.
The computer user is as enthused about learning how to find a file (or
know where the hell they're storing the #@!$! file...) as I am finding
out the differences among radial tire options for my car or what the
building codes are for my home when remodeling or learning why my tax
forms are so @#$%! difficult to navigate through.
User friendliness means they *don't need to think about a task*, and
they will put up with a small amount of hassle to achieve a task as long
as it isn't a pain in the arse for them to get from A to B.
Sorry, but the quickest way for them to sit down and figure something
out without having to refer to extra books and cheatsheets is by a (well
designed) GUI. It can give them something to experiment with, and the
interface presents them with a pointer and a mouse and menus to hint at
options rather than a directionless blinking cursor. They can interact
with it. If well designed, it can guide them through tasks.
The command line is MUCH faster for many tasks, given that you know what
you're doing with it. Train someone on a rote task and the command line
would be just fine for what they would do. "Type this...then this...then
this...then hit enter...then print this..." and the CLI is very user
For users to feel comfortable on their own or in doing something
flexible, the GUI is just more comfortable for them and it reduces the
need to actually have to think.
So it does little good for presumably tech-oriented people to proclaim
how the command line is leaps and bounds friendlier/faster to use.
Anyone who does user support should know that the average user would be
required to think in order to use the system if it simply presents them
with a flashing cursor. What do I do? What do I type? Does it read
English? What is my paperwork even called?
And before I reach for the asbestos suit, yes, there's a learning curve
to GUIs. But the GUI still makes them more comfortable than using the
keyboard. Crimony, the given the inability for people to even use the
words LOSE and LOOSE properly, why the hell would anyone think the
masses would find the keyboard more intuitive or easier to use with
computers than a simple palm-sized plastic block with a button on it?
Until computer interfaces are as easy to use as the LCARS system on the
Enterprise or the computer interface on Atlantis (Stargate, if you're
unfamiliar), the most comfortable thing for users to interact with will
be pretty pictures and dancing eye candy to act as a reinforcement and
reward for users who don't give a #!#% about how or why the computer works.
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