[LINK] Linux for the Rest of Us
Thu Nov 21 09:30:07 EST 2002
At the risk of being lumped in with those who see the choice of
operating system as a religious thing... I'll respond to one comment
made by Bob here... and the point is NOT one about Microsoft vs Linux.
At 19:04 +1100 21/11/02, Bob Bain wrote:
> I'm a lazy bugger and don't wish to plough my way through expensive
>and massive tomes entitled "Red Hat in Easy Steps" or "How to deal
>with obscure and difficult configuration files."
> Computers should be and can be easy to use. Microsoft have proven
>this over the years.
The "over the years" is the trick, I suspect.
Whatever tool we use -- application software, operating system, sedan
car, light aircraft, power drill, pencil and paper -- it'll feel easy
to use if it's been part of your life over an extended period.
Conversely, anything new and works differently from what we're used
to will be "difficult" and "obscure".
Case in point: the mouse.
"Everyone" these days thinks of computer mouses being "intuitive" and
"easy to use". But back in 1985 when I got my first mouse (it was
attached to a "Fat" Mac 512k, for nostalgia buffs), I spent a long
time learning to use it. I had to hold it straight, not at an angle.
I had to keep an eye on what surface it sat upon -- mouse mats
weren't yet a ubiquitous promotional item, and my uneven pile of
magazines didn't provide a suitable surface. And I had to get used to
the way in which the pointer accelerated in a non-linear way --
something I later realized was awesomely good but at the time was
It all seemed so much clunkier than the keyboard. But then I'd
learned to use a keyboard when I was 4 years old...
Actually, I think we think computers are "easy to use" just because
the Industry has spent so much money telling us that. If they were
really easy to use, there wouldn't be such a market for training,
books and so on.
I suspect the vast majority of users -- who may use nothing more than
MS Windows, MS Office and MS Internet Explorer -- still find it all
FAR from being "easy to use". Many if not most users don't have their
head around when to single-click and when to double-click, for
instance, and will double-click everything.
Linkers are, of course, in general part of the elite (at least as far
as IT goes) and therefore it's easy for us to forget that this *is*
(I'll let someone else point out that the majority of "easy to use"
features and functions in Windows were actually developed elsewhere.
What Microsoft really excels at, and I'll take my hat off to them for
this, is marketing and contractual manipulation of the supply
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