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    but finally, what is he proposing? one click instead of two for a search. so what? that isn’t a version upgrade kind of change. that’s a tweak if i’ve ever heard one. a good tweak, sure. but so what? part of the problem i see is that everyone keeps insisting that mac will have to keep innovating the interface at the pace of the step between the apple ii and the mac. that’s ridiculous. he says in that article its still point and click and that isn’t good. why not? how much innovation has gone on in the interface of the automobile since about 1930? before that, tremendous amounts. but then, standards that were good – or at least adequate – took hold, and everyone learned the standards and that was that. tweaks were all that was left. all the hot air i’ve read about 3d interfaces and crap, it doesn’t sound simpler. i think what we’re seeing is that the mouse is a pretty great pointer. that the basic macos/windows interface is a good model. ever watched a three year old at a computer? they get it. they even understand click-and-drag vs. click-then-drag, after a moment of experimentation.


    what’s so wrong with the basic standards? i mean, tons of refinement on tweaks are needed, but shit.

    that guys just full of sour grapes.

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    yah, some of ‘is args are thin. “just start typing” he sez and the computer should save that .. I guess he’s the kinda guy that scribbles notes directly onto his desk and not a pad of paper, and with his fingernail at that, not a pencil. Wouldn’t know a tool if it bit ‘im in the ass.

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    I have just added a Mac OS X laptop to my formerly PC-centric personal life. I don’t know how many times I have downloaded software or gone to perform a task on the Mac and thought to myself, “I can’t be done, as I have not performed enough steps.” You know what? It was done in one to five steps less than Windows. Even UNIX software is eased. I occasionally revert to command line in OS X and to tidy some things up out of habit, but OS X was thinking for me. Painful hours of setting up a server, snap, done. The best part is it runs solid, just like UNIX should.

    I usually like Raskin’s work and writings, but this one is a little off to me. Mac OS X is a long stride from where other operating systems are and were. No, it is not perfect. But were it perfect would the world need us? I am not flipping burgers, so let it need a little improvement and keep some of us happy and busy. (My goal is to add more keystrokes to OS X so I have to use the mouse even less.)

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    “Bottom line, we really haven’t made significant progress interface-wise from the original Mac. In some ways things have retrogressed. We can do a lot more with the machines, but we haven’t made an interface to keep up with the Internet world”

    I think this is the key point – and it’s far from sour grapes!

    Yes, you can always make a search work better, but that’s not revolutionary. We have a long way to go to re-define the paradigm of what a computer is – ie what the benefits of having one are, and therefore how the OS is designed.

    This thinking may not change how a mouse works, or give us entirely new input devices, but I’m sure given the chance we could come up with a different structure to the OS – eg ways to access our work (would we need files and folders?), ways to do our work (would we need applications??) and ways to communicate (trash email apps!).

    Cheers, d

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    He’s basically paraphrasing, in an incomplete and somewhat confusing fashion, the things he said in “The Humane Interface.” He actually makes some excellent points regarding potential improvements to computer interface designs in this book. I recommend it, it’s a very interesting read.

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    He does make some good points, but this line:

    “Why can’t I just type 59 times 54.6 wherever I happen to be — in PhotoShop, the word processor, or wherever — and tell the machine to give me the answer, please, right now?”

    Yeah, and why can’t my TV make toast? And my living room couch drive me to the store? What about context? How confusing would it be to have a tool that could do anything at any point?

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    Eric Scheid

    Why can’t he just type 59 * 54.6 wherever he happens to be and get the right answer … I know I can: 59*54.6 = 3221.4.

    Admittedly, I’ve added a tool to my system that lets me do just that: type a formula, select it, hit a magic key, get the answer typed back in right there.

    This raises an important point though: why don’t computers ship with this function already installed? Probably because not everyone wants to do precise calculations everywhere, while others want to insert current stock prices (type the ticker mnemonic, hit a key, there it is), while others want to insert the correct zip code for a given address … and others want to do other things. The reason computers don’t ship with all these functions built in is because there are just too many, the feature bloat would kill the usability.

    My kitchen has a toaster for toasting bread. I don’t have a bread maker. Nor many hundreds of other possible tools. I do have a drip-percolator for coffee. It doesn’t have a japanese tea making kit. There is only so much space in the kitchen, and only so much time in my schedule, to fit in just what I want … I don’t want to be searching through a zillion cupboards for the toaster.

    Make computers easier to customise and tune, much much easier. That could be the new paradigm.

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    The funny thing is, Apple actually is making some strides in the direction Raskin is talking about. iPhoto is a good example. It does a heck of a job of streamlining the process of taking pictures from a digital camera and moving them to the web or prints or even a book. You don’t even have to know where the pictures are or what they’re called.

    As it turns out, when I tried iPhoto, I found its insistance on holding my hand so much to be somewhat disconcerting. I’ve been using computers for so long that I want to know where the photos are, and I want to know what they’re called, and I want to have some control over things like cropping the prints and who makes the prints and the like.

    I doubt my experience is representative of the mainstream, though.

    I would like to see a computer of today designed by Jef Raskin. I’ve been bitching about how difficult computers are to use for a few years now, and how I want my next computer to be built on the principles that built Palm OS (simplicity simplicity simplicity!), but given my experience with iPhoto, I sometimes wonder if I would use a computer that gave me what I want. 🙂

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    I recently defended Raskin on Macslash somewhere, since I also really liked his book and think his ideas, in general, are fascinating.

    At this point, though, Raskin’s more of a futurist than, say, David Gelernter on interface issues. Great ideas, but no prototypes, nothing tangible that anyone can try out or that can be sold to customers. He’s pretty much just a speculative curmudgeon with some admittedly appealing ideas. But he’s not building anything, AFAIK.

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    re: david’s comments

    oh come on. think about my automobile analogy. they tried hand brakes and all kinds of control configurations before settling down on the basic ui that we have had ever since. there have been many many improvements, but still, its basically the same ui. why?
    its at least adequate and everyone understands it, has learned it.

    what is wrong with files and folders? they live on in the analog world because they’re a good answer, and i think they live on in computer ui because they’re a good answer. a simple logical analogy that works. what do you want that you’re not getting?

    my four year old gets it. my dad is still stuggling. this seems not to be unique, but a fairly common state of things. changing the ui might stand to confuse one or both of them, but changing the ui won’t help dad.

    bitching about a lack of progress without concrete examples of what’s failing and what might replace it is totally unconvincing. and so far, i haven’t read any convincing argument that the current failures are really that serious, or that proposed solutions really sound helpful.

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