ap, Windows BASIC

0 views
Skip to first unread message

Giving C News a *HUG*

unread,
Jun 26, 1991, 9:42:36 AM6/26/91
to
en...@ifi.uio.no (Erik Naggum) writes:
> Can you imagine a telephone which is so easy to use that you don't
> need any time learning how to use it? [...]
> Now think of all the incredible losers in the world who
> could actually _need_ a menu-based phone.

You certainly picked a bad example there.

Telephones are *incredibly* badly designed; everything from the upside-down
keypad to the stupid numeric "star 2 6 hash" commands.

There are week-long training courses for secretaries to teach them to use
their telephones, because the telephones are so appallingly badly designed.
Most businessmen have no idea how to use their telephones for even a quarter
of the things they can be used for.

I used to use a telephone with features like forward call, redial, multiple
lines, and so on; it had oodles of those little dinky calculator-style
buttons all over it, and loads of multi-coloured LEDs. It was like Wesley's
control panel in Star Trek.

In order to make it useful, there was a one-page "Quick Reference Card",
listing all the stupid numeric codes you were supposed to remember in order
to do everyday things like tranferring calls.

I sat and looked at the card, doodled on some paper for a bit, and worked out
that you could encode just about every function supported by this telephone
into about ten or twenty buttons. The buttons would have words on them, and
you'd indicate what you wanted to do by pushing buttons to make a sentence.
The buttons would be arranged in columns going from left to right, so you'd
pick no more than one from each column.

Of course, it would be trickier to decode internally. So we have telephones
with "[*] [5] [6] [#] [2] [3]" instead of "[Transfer call] [to] [2] [3]",
because it's easier for the hardware people to handle. And we have telephones
with one button for each combination of operations, rather than a smaller set
of buttons which you can push more than one of.

It was almost enough to make me want to buy a Mac just so that I could use
Hypercard to design a proper telephone front-end and have the Mac beep the
correct tones into my bozo-phone.


mathew


& Wise

unread,
Jun 26, 1991, 5:21:30 PM6/26/91
to

en...@ifi.uio.no (Erik Naggum) writes:
> Can you imagine a telephone which is so easy to use that you don't
> need any time learning how to use it? [...]
> Now think of all the incredible losers in the world who
> could actually _need_ a menu-based phone.

We (the University of Massachusetts/Amherst) spent a bundle of money
for a state-of-the-art phone system. The bid winner was Ericsson.
Our phones include such meaningful operations as
# 2 # - call diversion
* 2 * - cancel call diversion ( or is it the other way around...)

If you press 6 when you get a busy signal, the system will call you
back when the line becomes free... etc... Even the technologically
sophisticated users can't use the *@&^!~ thing... It needs more than
a menu, it needs a complete rewrite!

Of course, "state of the art" is a little known synonym for "closed
and proprietary" so we can't even use a Mac to dial (as was
suggested), since it doesn't listen to tones! Why, when they were
going to require us to use their brand of phones, they couldn't have
put meaningful buttons on them I will never know. Especially
since there *ARE* buttons and lights for special features (read: more
monthly charges) like voice mail (which replaces the answering
machines we can't use).
/s
--
Alexander Erskine Wise /\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\ Software Development Laboratory
/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\ WI...@CS.UMASS.EDU /\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\
\/\/\ This situation calls for large amounts of unadulterated CHOCOLATE! /\/\/\

Erik Naggum

unread,
Jun 26, 1991, 6:42:07 PM6/26/91
to
There are subtle reasons that the "comment" field which is used in
news is not the right thing, such as the "name" which appears below.

Giving C News a *HUG* <mat...@mantis.co.uk> writes:
|
| en...@ifi.uio.no (Erik Naggum) writes:
| > Can you imagine a telephone which is so easy to use that you don't
| > need any time learning how to use it? [...]
| > Now think of all the incredible losers in the world who
| > could actually _need_ a menu-based phone.
|
| You certainly picked a bad example there.

I think it would be proper to quote from the article I wrote a little
more substantially, such as making it clear what I said. Not all news
readers are able to grab the parent of an article, and they might not
even get alt.religion.computers in the first place.

I actually wrote:
|
| Can you imagine a telephone which is so easy to use that you don't

| need any time learning how to use it? Think of it, a number, access
| codes, dialtones, busy tone, ringing, push buttons, tones, flash, etc,
| etc, are not at all user-friendly. It would be much better if you had
| a menu on the phone on which you could select with a mouse that you
| wanted to move your phone to another office, select from a menu which
| person you wanted to talk to, have voice feedback, "Your party is
| busy", "Your party is now being summoned to answer the phone. Please
| wait." And instead of ringing at the other end, the phone would say
| "A PC salesman from Bogus, Inc would like to speak with you, shall I
| tell him to bug off and forget it?" Now think of how many times you
| use a phone. Now think of all the incredible losers in the world who
| could actually _need_ a menu-based phone. Surely that is the way to
| go.

Now try to observe through some magic hyper-medium approximately where
in my cheek my tongue is located.

Think of it, _any_ command, request, message, idea, novel, etc, can be
encoded with the means of 12 push-buttons (*, #, 0-9). I already said
it's "not at all user-friendly". I don't think three-hundred button
phones would be an improvement, either. Somehow, I think I'd like to
talk to the damn phone and say things like, "I'll be over at Lene's,
but I don't want anybody to disturb unless it's an emergency, so
forward calls to the pager, unless it's Debbie or Anne, in which case
just take their number and I'll call back. If that rodent Paul calls,
I'm in Bergen until August." However, a "phone" which can handle this
usually demands both salary, benefits and limited working hours, plus
lunch breaks. I'd settle for numeric code sequences any day.

My phone and the central office I'm connected to is pretty lame in
comparison to what I should be able to get with SS#7. I miss call
waiting, caller-id, call forward on busy, call forward on no answer,
world-wide call forward, etc. I would _really_ like to have some kind
of notification that a busy party has hung up and is free, so I can
work while people finish talking on the phone rather than my having to
poll them at irregular intervals. How I invoke those functions is a
secondary matter to having them. If I can't have them because some
user interface creep decides that he has to invent another bloody
user-friendly interface first, I'm likely to strangle said creep if I
get the chance. (This is of course not to deride the importance of a
decent user interface, but the current trend in user interface design
in which the difference between a small furry animal with fangs and a
user is size, fur and fangs, not stuff like memory and intelligence.)

Actually, I'd like a system wherein I notify people I'd like to talk
to that I would to talk to them, and then our computers can schedule
the time when that should occur with minimal waste of time. Such a
system is more or less deployed, and it's called e-mail.

All in all, I think telephones are terrible instruments, but not
because of the supposedly evil user interface they have. They _inter-
rupt_ me, and require synchronosity, and I spend many hours a week
trying to find/reach/etc the person I want to talk to. The Telcos are
rumored to earn more money from people being on "hold" than people
actually talking to eachother. Now, _that_ is user-inimical.

If you need user-friendly, call Manpower, but it costs money.

| There are week-long training courses for secretaries to teach them
| to use their telephones, because the telephones are so appallingly
| badly designed. Most businessmen have no idea how to use their
| telephones for even a quarter of the things they can be used for.

This tends to have the effect that secretaries can teach their bosses
something for a change, or put them down, if need be. More power to
the atrocious telephone user interface! :-)

</Erik>
--
Erik Naggum Professional Programmer +47-2-836-863
Naggum Software Electronic Text <er...@naggum.no>
0118 OSLO, NORWAY Computer Communications <en...@ifi.uio.no>

Mark Roseman

unread,
Jun 26, 1991, 7:02:44 PM6/26/91
to
It's interesting... I did some contract research/development for one of
the manufacturers of fancy business sets, in this case one of the types
with the lcd screen, tons of features, and oodles of buttons.

They did a fair bit of usability studies, or so I was led to believe,
but I still couldn't understand how some of the things in there got there.
I've seen people use these phones - they are not obvious! (On the plus
side, there's none of this *26 crap, unless you want a feature that you
don't have a button for, in which case its improved - you can press
the "feature" button then 26 :-) ).

I did an HCI course last year which involved a design/implementation project.
The one chosen was a PC front end for handling all the admin stuff. Some
guy saw it after his company had spent $$$ on a training session with the
manufacturer just so end-users could handle them, to say nothing of whoever
gets stuck configuring them!
--
==============================================================================
Mark Roseman
Dept. of Computer Science, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alta. T2N 1N4
(403) 220-5769 ros...@cpsc.ucalgary.ca {ubc-cs|alberta}!calgary!roseman

anne-marie k gorman

unread,
Jun 27, 1991, 10:39:16 AM6/27/91
to
In article <PLi642...@mantis.co.uk> mat...@mantis.co.uk (Giving C News a *HUG*) writes:

>Telephones are *incredibly* badly designed; everything from the upside-down

>keypad...

Actually, from the point of view of the phone company, teh upside-down keypad
is very well designed. Back when push-button phones were being invented,
extensive testing was carried out to see which configuration of buttons gave
the lowest number of incorrectly dialed numbers. Since the phone company
gives you credit when you dial a wrong number, but it still cost them money
to put the call through, they wanted to minimize their costs by minimizing
teh number of calls that they would have to issue credits for. Their experi-
ments showed that the 'upside-down' layout minimized errors, even though it
was different from teh 'standard' adding-machine style layout.

Anne-Marie

Giving C News a *HUG*

unread,
Jun 27, 1991, 9:21:12 AM6/27/91
to
en...@ifi.uio.no (Erik Naggum) writes:
> There are subtle reasons that the "comment" field which is used in
> news is not the right thing, such as the "name" which appears below.

My news postings don't have Comment: fields. Only my mail does.

[ Quoting his own article in an indignant fashion ]


> | Now think of all the incredible losers in the world who
> | could actually _need_ a menu-based phone.

This is where you went off the rails. It may be some amazing piece of
Norwegian subtlety, but I'm afraid it didn't work very well once translated.

> Think of it, _any_ command, request, message, idea, novel, etc, can be
> encoded with the means of 12 push-buttons (*, #, 0-9). I already said
> it's "not at all user-friendly". I don't think three-hundred button
> phones would be an improvement, either.

Great. I'm not proposing either of those approaches (12 button or hundreds
of buttons), because they're both awful.

> Somehow, I think I'd like to

> talk to the damn phone [...]


> However, a "phone" which can handle this
> usually demands both salary, benefits and limited working hours, plus
> lunch breaks. I'd settle for numeric code sequences any day.

Well, I wouldn't. I don't expect a voice interface, but I expect something
better than code sequences.

> How I invoke those functions is a
> secondary matter to having them.

No. It doesn't matter how many functions there are; if the user interface is
so badly-designed that you can't remember how to use any of them, they may as
well not be there. The phone system we have here does things like call
forwarding, but because of the lousy design nobody in the office uses the
features.

> If I can't have them because some
> user interface creep decides that he has to invent another bloody
> user-friendly interface first, I'm likely to strangle said creep if I
> get the chance.

Look, we already have phones with crappy numeric codes and two hundred page
instruction manuals written in half-translated Japanese. I'm suggesting that
the 99% of people who can't handle such devices should be given an
alternative.


mathew


Ed Vielmetti

unread,
Jun 27, 1991, 4:44:51 PM6/27/91
to

A reasonable voice mail system is the one that's answering the NEARNET
Hotline, 1-617-873-8730. The menus aren't too long, and you don't
need operator assistance to look someone up by name -- punch in the
first letters of the last name on the phone and it gives you the full
name and extension of the person involved. All it needs to know is
the email address and it's just about perfect.

--Ed

Industrial Poet

unread,
Jun 28, 1991, 9:02:13 AM6/28/91
to
gor...@acsu.buffalo.edu (anne-marie k gorman) writes [about telephone
keypads]:

> Their experi-
> ments showed that the 'upside-down' layout minimized errors, even though it
> was different from teh 'standard' adding-machine style layout.

I think that's probably because it slows people down; which is also a good
idea from the telephone company's point of view (here in the UK we are only
now getting rid of the last mechanical exchanges.)


mathew


Scott McGregor

unread,
Jun 27, 1991, 1:16:13 PM6/27/91
to
In article <PLi642...@mantis.co.uk>, mat...@mantis.co.uk (Giving C

News a *HUG*) writes:
>en...@ifi.uio.no (Erik Naggum) writes:
>> Can you imagine a telephone which is so easy to use that you don't
>> need any time learning how to use it? [...]
>> Now think of all the incredible losers in the world who
>> could actually _need_ a menu-based phone.

You certainly picked a bad example there.

> Telephones are *incredibly* badly designed; everything from the upside-down
> keypad to the stupid numeric "star 2 6 hash" commands.

I don't have the reference, but I once read a number of articles about the
design of the touch tone key pad. Both the adopted style (1 top left, 9
bottom right) and the "calculator style" (1 bottom left, and 9 bottom
right) were
tried. The adopted style was heavily preferred over the calculator style.
Some reasons were that at the time, only a small minority of people
regularly used calculators at the time. Additionally, many prefixes
were still given in alphabetic mode: (PEnnsylvania 6-5000!) and people
were confused looking for the ABC (already associated with number 2 from
dial days) at the bottom middle position. So while the keypad may seem
backward today, it may have been a victim of "backward compatability" to
dials, and the typical knowledge skills of yesteryear. (It is also
interesting to note that children often have a hard time learning to use
calculator style keyboards because they are used to looking for the "1"
at the top!

> There are week-long training courses for secretaries to teach them to use
> their telephones, because the telephones are so appallingly badly designed.
> Most businessmen have no idea how to use their telephones for even a quarter
> of the things they can be used for.

Don Norman has written and lectured considerably about the reduced
features in todays all electronic (12 or 13 key) phones where features
are all overloaded
on the numeric keys, vs. the old days with the multiple button -multi line
mechanical sets, with the blinking hold button, etc. His comments are
great.

> I sat and looked at the card, doodled on some paper for a bit, and worked out
> that you could encode just about every function supported by this telephone
> into about ten or twenty buttons. The buttons would have words on them, and
> you'd indicate what you wanted to do by pushing buttons to make a sentence.
> The buttons would be arranged in columns going from left to right, so you'd
> pick no more than one from each column.

> Of course, it would be trickier to decode internally. So we have telephones
> with "[*] [5] [6] [#] [2] [3]" instead of "[Transfer call] [to] [2] [3]",
> because it's easier for the hardware people to handle. And we have
> telephones with one button for each combination of operations, rather than a
> smaller set of buttons which you can push more than one of.

Not so hard to decode as you might think. I once visited with a manager
who purchased a ten memory autodialer. It was connected on the line just in
front of his normal phane, had ten keys each with a label area. The first one
was hand labelled HOLD (CALL PARK), the second was UNHOLD (CALL RETRIEVE), then
CALL TRANSFER, CALL FORWARD ON, CALL FORWARD OFF, AREA PICKUP,
VOICEMAIL, SECRETARY, BOSS, and finally HOME. Obviously, the first 6
were all just telephone features of the *56#23 variety, and only the
last 4 actual other phones to call. An obvious solution to the problem
of remembering those codes, but one that seems seldom used. He said he
got the autodialer himself from some electronics store Radio Shack for a
few bucks of his personal money, and he felt they were well spent.

Scott McGregor
Atherton Technology
mcgr...@atherton.com


Michael S. Pereckas

unread,
Jun 28, 1991, 12:01:46 PM6/28/91
to
In <81...@eerie.acsu.Buffalo.EDU> gor...@acsu.buffalo.edu (anne-marie k gorman) writes:

>Actually, from the point of view of the phone company, teh upside-down keypad
>is very well designed. Back when push-button phones were being invented,
>extensive testing was carried out to see which configuration of buttons gave
>the lowest number of incorrectly dialed numbers. Since the phone company
>gives you credit when you dial a wrong number, but it still cost them money
>to put the call through, they wanted to minimize their costs by minimizing
>teh number of calls that they would have to issue credits for. Their experi-
>ments showed that the 'upside-down' layout minimized errors, even though it
>was different from teh 'standard' adding-machine style layout.

I for one mess up on phone keypads all the time. I'm always hitting 3
when I mean 9, or whatever. In any case, the reasons for choosing the
telephone layout back in the semi-distant past may have been good, but
why must *all* phones today use it? Why can't I get any phone with a
keypad laid out like the computers and calculators that I and so many
other people use so much?

Why not a little switch so I can have it either way, like the switch
on the bottom of my Northgate computer keyboard to swap the caps lock
and control from the historically correct layout to the usable layout?
Of course, then you'd have a keycap problem. I'm sure that could be
overcome. We could call it the programmer's phone. The phone mortal
lusers wouldn't understand.


--

< Michael Pereckas <> m-per...@uiuc.edu <> Just another student... >
``You can be real patient if you don't have a central nervous system''
---Dr. Ronald Pine

Tom Bootland

unread,
Jun 28, 1991, 12:21:27 PM6/28/91
to
In article <20B841...@mantis.co.uk> mat...@mantis.co.uk (Giving C News a *HUG*) writes:

< text deleted>

>Look, we already have phones with crappy numeric codes and two hundred page
>instruction manuals written in half-translated Japanese. I'm suggesting that
>the 99% of people who can't handle such devices should be given an
>alternative.
>
>mathew
>

There are alternatives, but they cost more. I'm only really familiar with
Mitel products, so I'll mention them, but most PBX manufacturers have sets
with similar functionality ( I'm not going to comment on ease of use :-) ).

Mitel supports the standard 2500 type set (just the 12 basic keys), and to
access all the neato features, you need to know the feature access code
that is programmed on your PBX for that feature - which is what you're
dissatisified with.

For more $$, you could get a SuperSet 4 (SS4). This phone has an LCD display
consisting of 1 line with space for 16 characters, that displays time/date
when the set is idle, and the other party when talking. Underneath the lcd
there are 6 keys that we call softkeys because they have no fixed label.
What each key does is indicated by a label displayed along the bottom of the
LCD screen that lines up with the keys. These labels change with the state
of the set, so if you can see it, you can use it. The softkeys supply
the more common features such as: transfer, conference, callback, etc.
Where input from the user is needed, you are prompted via the LCD screen.

So, better interfaces are available, they're just more expensive.

(There are other sets falling between the two in price and functionality, but
they're not relevant to this discussion.)

Disclaimer: don't hold Mitel responsible for the above, because I'm speaking
only for myself.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tom Bootland bo...@Mitel.Software.com
Mitel Corp.
Kanata, Ontario, Canada.

Morgan Schweers

unread,
Jun 28, 1991, 9:51:26 PM6/28/91
to
Some time ago mat...@mantis.co.uk (Giving C News a *HUG*) happily mumbled:
>en...@ifi.uio.no (Erik Naggum) writes:
>> Can you imagine a telephone which is so easy to use that you don't
>> need any time learning how to use it? [...]
>> Now think of all the incredible losers in the world who
>> could actually _need_ a menu-based phone.
>
>You certainly picked a bad example there.
>
>Telephones are *incredibly* badly designed; everything from the upside-down
>keypad to the stupid numeric "star 2 6 hash" commands.
>
>[much support for Erik's comment deleted]
Greetings,
Heh heh heh... So let me get this straight. You would prefer a
mildly powerful but 100% unportable development system over a VERY
powerful and portable system. Right?

To clarify... VB is, evidently, a reasonable adaptation of BASIC.
Claiming, however, that this legitimizes BASIC is like putting a powerful
engine in a VW Bug to convince people to buy VW Bugs. All these new features
are 'bags on the side' of BASIC. It makes it 'better', but doesn't change
the important information about the language. (Like it's lack of pointers,
and it's lack of proper syntax checking.)

If you do use VB as a language, you'll never be able to port your
application to another environment. If you use C[++] as a language
you'll be able to port to *FAR* more systems, easily. If portability
isn't an issue *AND* pointers aren't needed, then you're not likely
doing much real programming. Either that, or you're a wee bit short-
sighted. (There comes a time in most projects when someone says,
"Oooh! Wouldn't it be Neat-O-Keen if we could sell this under the
XYZZY platform as well?" Either that or, "Oh! The LOS (Little Operating
System) isn't the Hot Thing(tm) anymore! I guess we'll all port our
software to the BOS (Bigger Operating System)!")
In summary, Get A Real Language! (*heh heh heh* I love comp.flame... I
can say things like that!)

The person who claimed that C and Pascal wouldn't warn you about mistyped
variables made me laugh... I love it when people rail against languages
they've clearly never used. *grin* C assumes that the programmer is right,
but also assumes that the programmer *CAN BE WRONG*! If it didn't assume that
then there wouldn't be any compile-time error messages. As someone else said,
the 'Oh! A new variable! No problem!' approach went out with some random
early version of Fortran.

I'm reading this from comp.flame, so I don't want to hear about
inappropriate crossposting!

>mathew
-- Morgan Schweers

P.S. If YOUR site doesn't get comp.flame, COMPLAIN TO YOUR ADMINISTRATOR!
--
m...@netcom.com | Morgan Schweers | Good code, good food, good sex. Is
m...@gnu.ai.mit.edu| These messages | anything else important? -- Freela
Kilroy Balore | are not the +--------------------------------------
Freela | opinion of anyone.| I *AM* an AI. I'm not real...

Chris Shaw

unread,
Jun 28, 1991, 10:12:42 PM6/28/91
to
In article msp3...@uxa.cso.uiuc.edu (Michael S. Pereckas) writes:
>why must *all* phones today use it? Why can't I get any phone with a
>keypad laid out like the computers and calculators that I and so many
>other people use so much?
>< Michael Pereckas <> m-per...@uiuc.edu <> Just another student... >

This is surely a stupid suggestion. Let's say I'm visiting you in your office,
and you collapse and I dial 911. Instead, I get 377. Pretty clever. You die
because you're too arrogant to learn the difference between the two systems.

The real question is, why don't the "idiot" calculator companies and terminal
makers make a telephone-compatible layout? That way, all numeric keypads
on all equipment could be compatible if you like, without the safety
problems associated with a surprising interface change. I think it's
safe to say that the telephone layout gets regular use by an order of
magnitude more people than the calculator layout. In other words, the
calculator-style keypads are either used heavily or not at all, whereas
the telephone layout is used by almost everybody. Therefore, the calculator
companies should change, since the change affects less people.

Assuming that this is a significant problem, which it isn't.

--
Chris Shaw University of Alberta
cds...@cs.UAlberta.ca CatchPhrase: Bogus as HELL !

David Feustel

unread,
Jun 29, 1991, 9:51:59 AM6/29/91
to
I'm not sure what proper syntax checking is, but VB does some
checking. Also, the big plus of VB is the ease of putting together
windows-interfaced applications. You can write DLLS in C++ and call
them from VB to do the computation, letting VB handle the windows.
--
David Feustel, 1930 Curdes Ave, Fort Wayne, IN 46805, (219) 482-9631
EMAIL: feu...@netcom.com

I voted for Bush once. As it's turning out, once was once too often.

Erik Naggum

unread,
Jun 29, 1991, 8:15:43 PM6/29/91
to
Giving C News a *HUG* <mat...@mantis.co.uk> writes:
|
| > How I invoke those functions is a
| > secondary matter to having them.
|
| No.

Yes. _I_ want fuctionality. If _you_ want user interface first, go
ahead. Invent the wheel with that attitude. You see, you need to
interface to _something_, despite the loads of graphical user-
interface software with nice exterior and nobody home.

| > If I can't have them because some
| > user interface creep decides that he has to invent another bloody
| > user-friendly interface first, I'm likely to strangle said creep if I
| > get the chance.
|
| Look, we already have phones with crappy numeric codes and two
| hundred page instruction manuals written in half-translated
| Japanese. I'm suggesting that the 99% of people who can't handle
| such devices should be given an alternative.

There are a few interesting recommendations from CCITT and other
recognized standards bodies that you might wish to learn about. Most
of these are quite easy to master (as opposed to "learn", which is a
transient phase in any human being's development, anyway). There is
the AT&T (BELL) command set, mostly in use in Northern America, the
CEPT command set, mostly in use in _mainland_ Europe (I know for
certain that UK is, true to form, ignoring inventions from the
continent in this area), and a Japanese command set whose acronym I've
forgotten.

Contrary to what you and perhaps somebody else might believe, the
telephone network providers have been working with user interfaces to
their network for some time. They even write about it in books
published regularly. The latest edition of their recommendations may
be found in the Blue Book (or 1988 edition) E series recommendations
from the CCITT (Comite Consultatif Internationale de Telegraphique et
Telephonique -- The International Consultative Committee on Telegraphy
and Telephony), located in Geneva. If my memory serves me right, you
can write them at

CCITT, General Secretariat
1, rue de Varembe
CH-1311 Geneve
Switzerland

If that isn't right, the Swiss postal workers will probably get it
where it's supposed to get, anyhow. You can also call less user-
friendly institutions such as British Telecom, and request the E
series recommendations from them. I've forgotten the relevant volume
and fascicle numbers, as well as the relevant number of the recom-
mendations.

</Erik>

PS: See also my sizzling article in alt.flame to the less ingenious
comments by "Giving C News a *HUG*" a.k.a. "mathew".

Industrial Poet

unread,
Jul 1, 1991, 9:10:59 AM7/1/91
to
feu...@netcom.COM (David Feustel) writes:
> I'm not sure what proper syntax checking is, but VB does some
> checking. Also, the big plus of VB is the ease of putting together
> windows-interfaced applications. You can write DLLS in C++ and call
> them from VB to do the computation, letting VB handle the windows.

You can do that with Actor, too. In fact, why not get one of those packages
which lets you draw the user interface on screen and then builds the C code
to handle the messy stuff?


mathew


Industrial Poet

unread,
Jul 1, 1991, 9:47:26 AM7/1/91
to
en...@ifi.uio.no (Erik Naggum) writes:
> Giving C News a *HUG* <mat...@mantis.co.uk> writes:
> | > How I invoke those functions is a
> | > secondary matter to having them.
> |
> | No.
[ Rest of paragraph deleted by Erik "Selective Quotation" Naggum ]
>
> Yes. _I_ want fuctionality.

You *have* functionality. There are a million and one badly-designed phones
out there. I'm asking for something else for everyone else to use.

> There are a few interesting recommendations from CCITT and other
> recognized standards bodies that you might wish to learn about. Most
> of these are quite easy to master (as opposed to "learn", which is a
> transient phase in any human being's development, anyway). There is
> the AT&T (BELL) command set, mostly in use in Northern America, the
> CEPT command set, mostly in use in _mainland_ Europe (I know for
> certain that UK is, true to form, ignoring inventions from the
> continent in this area), and a Japanese command set whose acronym I've
> forgotten.

Great! So instead of having a random set of stupid numeric commands on every
single phone, I only have to learn four different sets of stupid numeric
commands in order to be fairly confident of being able to use any phone I
happen to meet.

There's an ISO standard for control keys on text editors. Add Emacs, vi and
Wordstar and you have four standards which most editors are likely to be
fairly close to. Presumably you therefore think menus and mice are a waste
of time for text editors, and everyone should memorize those four sets of
standard commands.

> Contrary to what you and perhaps somebody else might believe, the
> telephone network providers have been working with user interfaces to
> their network for some time. They even write about it in books
> published regularly.

I don't give a flying duck what they *write* about. What I see when I walk
into the shop which sells telephones is a selection of units all of which are
badly designed. I judge by actions, not words.

> PS: See also my sizzling article in alt.flame to the less ingenious
> comments by "Giving C News a *HUG*" a.k.a. "mathew".

And see my comments about his 'ingenious' out-of-context quotation.


mathew


David Feustel

unread,
Jul 1, 1991, 6:07:44 PM7/1/91
to
That's just what VB does.

--
David Feustel, 1930 Curdes Ave, Fort Wayne, IN 46805, (219) 482-9631
EMAIL: feu...@netcom.com

Vote Jay Rockefeller for President in '92.

Industrial Poet

unread,
Jul 2, 1991, 11:51:45 AM7/2/91
to
feu...@netcom.COM (David Feustel) writes:
> Also, the big plus of VB is the ease of putting together
> windows-interfaced applications. You can write DLLS in C++ and call
> them from VB to do the computation, letting VB handle the windows.

Industrial Poet <mat...@mantis.co.uk> writes:
> You can do that with Actor, too. In fact, why not get one of those packages
> which lets you draw the user interface on screen and then builds the C code
> to handle the messy stuff?

feu...@netcom.COM (David Feustel) writes:
> That's just what VB does.

What, Visual BASIC writes C code? Why don't they call it Visual C?

In case you've *already* forgotten, the objection is to the "BASIC" part, not
the "Visual" part. I'm suggesting that people get Visual something-else
rather than Visual BASIC.


mathew


Richard Brooksby

unread,
Oct 10, 1991, 5:08:04 AM10/10/91
to
In article <PLi642...@mantis.co.uk> mat...@mantis.co.uk (Giving C News a *HUG*) writes:

Telephones are *incredibly* badly designed; everything from the
upside-down keypad to the stupid numeric "star 2 6 hash" commands.

The telephones here have a large number of little lights, which can
(to quote the manual) `flicker', `flutter', or `flash'. These words
are always italicized in the manual; they're obviously intended to
denote different behaviour. However, nowhere does it explain the
difference. I have buttons labelled RG-TR (with a light that seems to
go on and off at random intervals throughout the day), ABDIAL, DND,
ICM, etc. etc. etc. AND when you dial the special codes to do special
things, there is no feedback --- the machine sits there silently until
the entire code is completed.

Of course, it would be trickier to decode internally. So we have
telephones with "[*] [5] [6] [#] [2] [3]" instead of "[Transfer
call] [to] [2] [3]", because it's easier for the hardware people to
handle.

I think it might be one of those closed-group intertia things. You
know, the telephone designers only design telephones like the ones
they've already seen, and never talk to other technologists. To them
it's all obvious, of course.
--
ric...@harlqn.co.uk (Internet)
RP...@UK.AC.CAMBRIDGE.PHOENIX (JANET)
Richard ``Two addresses'' Brooksby

Bob Kerns

unread,
Oct 15, 1991, 3:05:16 PM10/15/91
to
In article <RICHARD.91...@wundt.harlqn.co.uk>, ric...@harlqn.co.uk (Richard Brooksby) writes:
> In article <PLi642...@mantis.co.uk> mat...@mantis.co.uk (Giving C News a *HUG*) writes:

Say, what? *HUG*?

> Of course, it would be trickier to decode internally. So we have
> telephones with "[*] [5] [6] [#] [2] [3]" instead of "[Transfer
> call] [to] [2] [3]", because it's easier for the hardware people to
> handle.
>
> I think it might be one of those closed-group intertia things. You
> know, the telephone designers only design telephones like the ones
> they've already seen, and never talk to other technologists. To them
> it's all obvious, of course.

I belive you've hit the nail on the head. The most compelling
evidence of this is the telphone user's manuals I've seen, which
uniformly use, without explanation, telephony technical terms
like 'trunk', 'reorder tone', etc. Now, I happen to have a pretty
good background in telephony as it was 15-20 years ago, so I have
the basic vocabulary, but there is NO WAY the typical user is going
to be able to use such a "user's manual".

And in fact, despite my technical advantages, I have pretty much
given up on using the 'advanced' features like call transfer, because
I never know what is going to happen. There's not enough feedback,
there's no standardization between switches as to how you tell it what
to do or how it acts as it is doing it.

If I have given up on the phone UI, then I would have to say
that it could not fail any worse.

Now, it happens that my phone is connected into my computer, so
all of this may change.

----------------

I think another reason why the phone interface stays the same is
a bit of misguided desire for compatibility and familiarity of
interface. It's misguided, because the old interface, being
mostly designed for the conveninece of the hardware, is brittle,
and does not adapt well to new requirements.

Nosy

unread,
Oct 15, 1991, 7:19:37 PM10/15/91
to
<In article <RICHARD.91...@wundt.harlqn.co.uk> ric...@harlqn.co.uk (Richard Brooksby) writes:
< In article <PLi642...@mantis.co.uk> mat...@mantis.co.uk (Giving C News a *HUG*) writes:

< Telephones are *incredibly* badly designed; everything from the
< upside-down keypad to the stupid numeric "star 2 6 hash" commands.

< The telephones here have a large number of little lights, which can
< (to quote the manual) `flicker', `flutter', or `flash'. These words
< are always italicized in the manual; they're obviously intended to
< denote different behaviour. However, nowhere does it explain the
< difference.

Oh, well, that's easy. "Flicker" is repeated flicks,
as in "butterfly flicks". "Flutter" is what ones
heart does when the "flicker" is administered properly.

As for "flash", do any of the little lights have
tiny little overcoats?

< I have buttons labelled RG-TR (with a light that seems to
< go on and off at random intervals throughout the day),

Probably MI-5 or whatever set of numbers is appropriate
for Big Brothers Boys will be by to see you about
revealing NATO secrets.

< ABDIAL,

That one is obvious; it is connected to the demon
ABDIAL somehow. Push it. If you survive, let us
know what happened. If you don't, well, stick
around a Ouija board & maybe you can tell us what
happened.

< DND, ICM,

More NATO-ese, no doubt. Don't you still have an
Official Secrets Act over there?

<etc. etc. etc. AND when you dial the special codes to do special
< things, there is no feedback --- the machine sits there silently until
< the entire code is completed.

AH! This was obviously designed by the clods who were
deemed "TOO STUPID TO DESIGN ATM MACHINE INTERFACES".
I wouldn't want to meet them.


ObPeeve: extremely stupid design which one can see how to
improve...but one isn't allowed to do so.

To the Ground

unread,
Oct 16, 1991, 10:22:54 AM10/16/91
to
ric...@harlqn.co.uk (Richard Brooksby) writes:
> In article <PLi642...@mantis.co.uk> mat...@mantis.co.uk (Giving C News a *
> Telephones are *incredibly* badly designed; everything from the
> upside-down keypad to the stupid numeric "star 2 6 hash" commands.
[...]

> ICM, etc. etc. etc. AND when you dial the special codes to do special
> things, there is no feedback --- the machine sits there silently until
> the entire code is completed.

We have something called "The MCX telephone system" by Norton
Telecommunications Group PLC. Its most adorable feature is that to get
an outside line, you have to dial '9' first. Irritating, but bearable.
Here's the punchline:

To forward all calls, you type 15 followed by the number then replace the
handset. 10, 13, and 14 also forward calls.

I suppose it didn't occur to the Einsteins who designed the system that
people might *forget* to type 9, and that they might happen to dial a number
which started with 1{0|3|4|5}. Or that random computer glitches might
result in modems dialling such numbers.

It didn't occur to them that it might be a nice idea to require some
sort of confirmation, like pushing * or # at the beginning or end. So
as a result, every now and again people end up being unable to call us
for hours at a time.


mathew
[ Norton Telecommunications may use the above endorsement in advertising ]


Logan Shaw

unread,
Oct 17, 1991, 2:16:37 AM10/17/91
to
In article <V5yw01...@mantis.co.uk> mat...@mantis.co.uk (To the Ground) writes:
>We have something called "The MCX telephone system" by Norton
>Telecommunications Group PLC. Its most adorable feature is that to get
>an outside line, you have to dial '9' first. Irritating, but bearable.

'Norton Telecommunications'? What are they trying to do, rip off people by
sounding like "Northern Telecom"? (Northern Telecom makes, among other
things, phone switches that both MCI and US Sprint use).

>Here's the punchline:
>
>To forward all calls, you type 15 followed by the number then replace the
>handset. 10, 13, and 14 also forward calls.
>

>It didn't occur to them that it might be a nice idea to require some
>sort of confirmation, like pushing * or # at the beginning or end. So
>as a result, every now and again people end up being unable to call us
>for hours at a time.

An even simpler way would have been for them to check how many digits have
been collected after the 15. If that wouldn't make a valid number of
digits for a phone number, it wouldn't forward the phone. That way, if
your modem was calling the time and temp number in Austin, it would dial
1 512 973 3555. The phone system would go "geez - 129733555 isn't a valid
number - let's not forward that" and you'd never have the problem.
And that wouldn't even require any kind of extra work for the users.

Adios,
Logan
--
: Our trial is which car to buy. Temptation is that extra dessert. :
|In the land of orange juice you're better off with the right kind of shirt.|
| But take away the naivete; expose the sources of our fears. |
:We'll run to missiles if we're pushed too far- proceed to blow it all away.:

Barry Margolin

unread,
Oct 17, 1991, 12:25:55 PM10/17/91
to
In article <59...@ut-emx.uucp> ls...@ccwf.cc.utexas.edu (Logan Shaw) writes:
>In article <V5yw01...@mantis.co.uk> mat...@mantis.co.uk (To the Ground) writes:
>>We have something called "The MCX telephone system" by Norton
>>Telecommunications Group PLC. Its most adorable feature is that to get
>>an outside line, you have to dial '9' first. Irritating, but bearable.

That's a pretty standard mechanism. Every PBX I've ever used did that,
except for some old key systems that required you to select specific
outside lines.

>>To forward all calls, you type 15 followed by the number then replace the
>>handset. 10, 13, and 14 also forward calls.
>>It didn't occur to them that it might be a nice idea to require some
>>sort of confirmation, like pushing * or # at the beginning or end.

>An even simpler way would have been for them to check how many digits have


>been collected after the 15.

That's not always a sufficient check. MIT's old Centrex phone system used
a two-digit prefix to forward calls, and extensions within the system could
be called using five digits. Thus, if someone forgot to dial 9 before an
outside local call, the first two of the seven digits they dialed could be
the forward prefix, and the remaining five digits could be a valid
extension.

Unfortunately, requiring an * confirmation at the end wasn't feasible,
since the system supported pulse phones.

Most modern digital or tone-only PBX's that I've used solve this problem by
requiring the user to press "*" or "#" as part of the prefix for special
operations, so it might be *15 followed by the number. But perhaps the MCX
system is designed to support pulse phones.
--
Barry Margolin, Thinking Machines Corp.

bar...@think.com
{uunet,harvard}!think!barmar

Joe Pfeiffer

unread,
Oct 17, 1991, 4:50:27 PM10/17/91
to
In article <RICHARD.91...@wundt.harlqn.co.uk> ric...@harlqn.co.uk (Richard Brooksby) writes:

In-reply-to: mat...@mantis.co.uk's message of 26 Jun 91 13:42:36 GMT

In article <PLi642...@mantis.co.uk> mat...@mantis.co.uk (Giving C News a *HUG*) writes:

Telephones are *incredibly* badly designed; everything from the
upside-down keypad to the stupid numeric "star 2 6 hash" commands.

I think it might be one of those closed-group intertia things. You


know, the telephone designers only design telephones like the ones
they've already seen, and never talk to other technologists. To them
it's all obvious, of course.

But they're getting \worse/! If they were just designed like they've
always been, we'd still have Hold buttons! Norman has a chapter or
thereabouts on telephone systems.

-Joe.

To the Ground

unread,
Oct 18, 1991, 10:40:55 AM10/18/91
to
ls...@ccwf.cc.utexas.edu (Logan Shaw) writes:
> An even simpler way would have been for them to check how many digits have
> been collected after the 15. If that wouldn't make a valid number of
> digits for a phone number, it wouldn't forward the phone.

Errm...

3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 digit numbers can all be valid UK phone numbers.
And if the first three digits are 010, it might be *any* length greater
than five...

Of course, the system of telephone numbers is a mess because it keeps
getting kludged to make extra space instead of being redesigned from scratch.


mathew


To the Ground

unread,
Oct 18, 1991, 11:01:02 AM10/18/91
to
bar...@think.com (Barry Margolin) writes:
> In article <59...@ut-emx.uucp> ls...@ccwf.cc.utexas.edu (Logan Shaw) writes:
> >In article <V5yw01...@mantis.co.uk> mat...@mantis.co.uk (To the Ground) w
> >>To forward all calls, you type 15 followed by the number then replace the
> >>handset. 10, 13, and 14 also forward calls.
[...]

> Most modern digital or tone-only PBX's that I've used solve this problem by
> requiring the user to press "*" or "#" as part of the prefix for special
> operations, so it might be *15 followed by the number. But perhaps the MCX
> system is designed to support pulse phones.

Seems unlikely, as returning a forwarded call requires the recall button,
and various other functions require # and *. However, pulse dial does work
to get an outside line.


mathew


Reply all
Reply to author
Forward
0 new messages