Monday, April 28, 2008


No...not stoners. Computer users.
In my IT classes, IT message boards, and other areas, I found that many IT people often blame users for computer problem. The infamous ID ten T error (IDIOT), or "the problem is between the computer chair and the keyboard". I disagree. Users aren't idiots, and they shouldn't need to speak binary to use a computer.

Windows is a excellent system. Yes, I actually said that. Windows is easy to use, easy to install software, and very user friendly. The problem I have isn't with Windows. I have a problem with Microsoft's business practices, especially those practices that led to a 95% market share (probably more, actually. I also have a problem with the code for Windows being closed source, and not just in the ethical sense. I feel safer when source code is 'peer reviewed', so-to-speak (or write). From what programmers tell me, much of the closed source software is closed, not just for business reasons, but because the code is so full of garbage the programmers would be embarrassed to let it out.

Windows is an excellent system because is easy to use. Between Ubuntu, Mac OSX, and Windows, Windows is probably the easiest. I'd say Ubuntu would be next, but I'm sure I'd get heat from the Maccult people, so I won't say that. I'll just think it. (Thinking) OSX is an excellent system, and also easy to use, but not as easy as Windows. Microsoft has invested a lot in research for usability, and it shows. With millions of computer users, usability feedback is readily available.

All the system copy each other's 'usability' ideas. Window managers, desktop layout, file managers, Graphical User Interfaces, etc. While some of the companies may like to think they have software patents on some of the ideas (like Microsoft and double-clicking the mouse) those patents will eventually fall when challenge. That, or the companies will realize that the USA's stupid patent laws are holding innovation back.

Mac OSX has some usability features that help users. Primarily, for most tasks, there is only one way to get something done. I call this the 'franchise' approach.

McDonald's tries to create all it's equipment so that you have to try to mess up. Ideally, everything at a McDonald's would be so easy to use, the user wouldn't need an education to perform the task. Mac OSX seems to follow this model, and for the most part it works well.

I use and recommend Ubuntu for two reason:
  1. Of all the Linux distros, it's the most usable for the common person. I know the PCLinuxOS people will complain, but I'll remind them of one thing: PCLinuxOS is rpm based. Nuff said.
  2. Ubuntu, like most Linux distro, give you the ability to lock-step usability like Mac OSX (with Gnome), or have incredible variety and choice like Windows (with KDE). Gnome provides choices too, but Gnome is easier to use for the average user.
The reality is; what we now know as the Graphical User Interface will change drastically in the next few year. Windows, Mac, and Linux will progress fast. Usability will increase also.

The difficulty of computers today is NOT the users fault.

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