Stop the bling, fergawdssake!

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Greywolf

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Nov 12, 2011, 9:16:57 AM11/12/11
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In a thread on m.s.thunderbird, I recommended downgrading if extensions
don't work. I just downgraded my wife's FF8 to 3.6.24, because the Skype
plugin won't work with FF8.

The upgrades above 3.x for the most part are mere bling and vinyl
stick-ons, with zero or negative effects on usability. Updates should
concentrate on security. IMO, 3.6 is as usable as any browser is likely
to get.

NB (or should I shout, maybe?):

Compared to other browsers, the _only_ advantage of FF has is the
add-ons. Any updates that break extensions therefore reduce the value of
Firefox.

HTH,
Wolf K.

André Neves

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Nov 12, 2011, 12:07:34 PM11/12/11
to FF Usability
It seems to me like you're blaming Firefox for Microsoft's inability
to, or lack of will to, keep the Skype extension up to date.
Am I wrong?
I hope so, because this would be a "dick move".

I also very strongly disagree with your opinion that the upgrades
above 3.x have zero or negative effects on usability:
- The area of the browser window for display of webpages was augmented
immensely;
- The condensed menu speeds access to the most used features;
- There is a print preview option; <3
- There are tab groups;
- The about window checks, and tells the user, whether Firefox is up
to date - further offering an option to get those updates;
- The downloads window no longer jumps on your face when you get stuff;
- etc?

These contradict, IMO, your opinion.
Many others are too good for me to have noticed, or they feel so
natural that I can't remember them as differences from 3.x .
And I am not even a usability person, I am just a power user who
infrequently reads dev-usability.

I'm sorry, I think your contribution lacks solid fundaments.
Maybe you can review and improve it?

Greywolf

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Nov 12, 2011, 4:16:02 PM11/12/11
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On 12/11/2011 12:07 PM, André Neves wrote:
> It seems to me like you're blaming Firefox for Microsoft's inability
> to, or lack of will to, keep the Skype extension up to date.
> Am I wrong?
> I hope so, because this would be a "dick move".

Well, there's no incentive for MS to keep the plugin compatible with FF....

> I also very strongly disagree with your opinion that the upgrades
> above 3.x have zero or negative effects on usability:
> - The area of the browser window for display of webpages was augmented
> immensely;

Two lines is "immensely"????? Anyhow, not an issue, now that all new
monitors are hi-res.

> - The condensed menu speeds access to the most used features;

Menu design, button placement, etc is a perennial issue, and theoretical
talk is pointless. Consider that Apple placed the application's menu bar
on the desktop, because theoretically that would result in shorter mouse
moves. It's one of the dumbest design decision ever made IMO.

There are few logical aspects to menu design - I know, I designed lots
of menus, back when I was writing small apps for myself because no one
made what I wanted. Many of the choices are arbitrary, and for many
their placement is a matter of history. Eg, Options" vs "Preferences"
and "Tools" vs "Edit" for the location of those choices on DOS- vs
*nix-derived OSs.

Any time a design feature is largely or wholly arbitrary, it's
_necessary_ to agree on and adhere to some standard, else people will
make silly (and in some contexts lethal) mistakes. Aircraft designers of
aircraft have figured this out, so why do program developers resist
standards? And even pride themselves on change for the sake of change?

Watch actual users and how they use the menus: Once a person is used to
a particular menu design, they mouse to what they want automatically.
It's like driving a car: over 90% of what we do while driving we do
automatically (and therefore very fast, BTW.)

IME, condensed menus in practice means submenus, and each submenu adds
an extra move.

As for speed of access to most-used features: I've found that typing in
a familiar URL is often faster than finding it in Bookmarks.

> - There is a print preview option;<3

Yup, and NB that was added before 3.

> - There are tab groups;

Tab groups? If you just mean tabs, well, that began with 3.

> - The about window checks, and tells the user, whether Firefox is up
> to date - further offering an option to get those updates;

Providing a program's version number is SOP for many years now. As for
the option to get the latest updates: redundant, since FF checks for
updates by default. But lately, you have go to a sub-menu and uncheck
"Automatically download..." Bah! Double bah! Triple bah! No app should
update by default, not even for, nay _especially_ not for the average
(naive) user.

> - The downloads window no longer jumps on your face when you get stuff;

I don't understand. I want to see the d/l window, so I can decide where
to put the stuff. Which I do 90% of the time. Dumping it all into one
place by default is not a time saver in the long run.

> - etc?

- Changes in names, eg, from Organise Bookmarks to Show All Bookmarks:
why? Users knew what the old name meant.
- Hiding the Menu bar by default. I think having the option to hide it
is fine, but hiding it by default? You should've heard my wife's wails
when it disappeared after an automatic update (now turned off). And my
curses until I found that clicking on an "empty spot" brought up the
menu to unhide it. The "logical"access to that would be right-click on
title bar, right?

> These contradict, IMO, your opinion.
> Many others are too good for me to have noticed, or they feel so
> natural that I can't remember them as differences from 3.x .

IOW, you've habituated yourself to the later versions of FF. Good for
you. But that merely demonstrates my point, which is, that a program
update should require little new learning, and no unlearning.

We've gone back to 3.6.24 on both machines because every change above 3
required unlearning something. Updates shouldn't do that. Learning
something new for a new feature is fine. Unlearning something because a
feature was changed or hidden is bad design.

> And I am not even a usability person, I am just a power user who
> infrequently reads dev-usability.
>
> I'm sorry, I think your contribution lacks solid fundaments.
> Maybe you can review and improve it?

Well, I'm a power user, too (and I bottom post). I'm also a design geek,
who appreciates all aspects of design. That's why I can tell the
difference between an elegant kettle and a usable one, for example. I
also taught logic, so I know the difference between logical and
reasonable. And, as said, I've designed and written programs to suit
myself, during which exercises I found that designing the user-interface
was a knottier problem than designing program structure. Why? Because
any program worth writing/using has several different paths through its
task-space. Setting up a menu system so that it's easy to navigate any
needed path is not trivial. See the Travelling Salesman problem for a
sense of how difficult it is.

The ergonomics of program design are not AFAIK well understood, though
many attempts have been made. But since I was the go-to guy for
computers in my school when we first started using them, I've had enough
practical experience watching how people use computers to tell you that
the first rule of program design is:

Study how people actually do a task; then design a program that enables
them to do it without thinking about how they do it.

Easier said than done.

Have a good day,
Wolf K.

Ken Springer

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Nov 12, 2011, 9:46:33 PM11/12/11
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Hey, Greywolf,

On 11/12/11 2:16 PM, Greywolf wrote:
> Two lines is "immensely"????? Anyhow, not an issue, now that all new
> monitors are hi-res.

But there are a lot of users who do not have hi-res monitors. :-)


--
Ken

Mac OS X 10.6.8
Firefox 8.0.1
Thunderbird 8.0.1
LibreOffice 3.3.4

Henri Sivonen

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Nov 13, 2011, 7:23:11 AM11/13/11
to dev-us...@lists.mozilla.org
On Sat, Nov 12, 2011 at 4:16 PM, Greywolf <wek...@sympatico.ca> wrote:
> I just downgraded my wife's FF8 to 3.6.24, because the Skype
> plugin won't work with FF8.

This is the first time I've seen anyone complain about the Skype
extension *not* loading into Firefox. I've seen people complaining
about the Skype extension loading into Firefox numerous times, because
the Skype extension has made the Firefox user experience worse (see
for example http://arstechnica.com/open-source/news/2011/01/mozilla-blocks-skype-add-on-caused-33k-firefox-crashes-in-a-week.ars
). In particular, the Skype extension is notorious for getting
re-enabled after Skype updates if the user has previously chosen to
disable it.

I'm curious, why do you or your wife need the Skype extension (as
opposed to initiating or receiving Skype calls from the UI offered by
the Skype app itself)?

--
Henri Sivonen
hsiv...@iki.fi
http://hsivonen.iki.fi/

Gervase Markham

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Nov 13, 2011, 10:43:21 AM11/13/11
to André Neves
On 12/11/11 18:07, André Neves wrote:
> I hope so, because this would be a "dick move".

I know Greywolf is frustrated, but this kind of language is not helpful.
Please don't use it here.

> I also very strongly disagree with your opinion that the upgrades
> above 3.x have zero or negative effects on usability:

Your points here are reasonable. However, Henri's point is probably more
convincing :-)

Gerv

Greywolf

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Nov 13, 2011, 1:05:40 PM11/13/11
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On 12/11/2011 9:46 PM, Ken Springer wrote:
> Hey, Greywolf,
>
> On 11/12/11 2:16 PM, Greywolf wrote:
>> Two lines is "immensely"????? Anyhow, not an issue, now that all new
>> monitors are hi-res.
>
> But there are a lot of users who do not have hi-res monitors. :-)
>
>

True. But my objection distills to this: the hidden menu-bar is the
default, not an option (as it should be, for those that need it.)

Actually, I believe that adding options is a Good Thing. (Eg, I want
real archiving added to Tbird, not the mbox "folder" that passes for
archiving. Real archiving would be located outside Tbird, on a separate
partition if available, and would save messages by filenames adapted
from Subject and/or From, as specified by the user.)

However, no matter how sweet the new option or feature, DO NOT CHANGE
THE UI DEFAULTS. The user base is increasingly made up of _average_
users, who are too easily confused when the UI changes after an update.

Data-point: my wife thought she'd done something foolish, and that's why
the menu-bar disappeared. She thought it was her fault. Now, was that a
good user experience for her?

I didn't think so, either.

HTH,
Wolf K.

Greywolf

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Nov 13, 2011, 1:11:32 PM11/13/11
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Well, if it was clear that you don't actually need the FF Skype
extension, I wouldn't have bothered. But that was not clear. See, the
obvious inference is that Skype somehow needed the browser to function
properly, else hwy would there be an extension for it? So I just dumped
FF8, Just In Case. Foolish by hindsight, but wotthehell, I wasn't about
to waste my time trying to figure that out.

I suppose someone will now tell me I should've known or tried to find
out (they'd certainly do so on the Linux NGs, which I no longer bother
with). But why should I? We are well past the time when a user shoiuld
have to know arcane details about the need for/behaviour of/effects of a
plug-in or extension. A computer is an appliance. It should just work.

HTH
Wolf K.
Message has been deleted

Ron Hunter

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Nov 13, 2011, 3:30:03 PM11/13/11
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If everyone thought that way, we would still be waiting for someone to
invent the wheel.

Greywolf

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Nov 13, 2011, 4:33:28 PM11/13/11
to
On 13/11/2011 1:35 PM, Sailfish wrote:
> Did you get just as upset that ATT dropped the rotary UI and went to
> touch-tone? Do you use the Jitterbug phone since it has a simple UI? How
> about TVs, do you pine over the good ol' days when you could use a
> rotary dial to change the channel?

You're missing my point. I'm not objecting to new UIs, I'm objecting to
changing existing UIs for no reason other than "It's sweet..." or "It's
cool..." or some other irrelevant reason.

To use your examples: I would've objected strenuously to changing the
placement of the numbers on the rotary dials. I think you would, too.

For that matter, apart from the arrangement of the numbers, it seems no
two cell/cordless phones use the same buttons or the same arrangements
of those buttons. Re,mote controls for TVs etc are even worse. This
causes all kinds of bafflements, and sometimes worse. No doubt some
dumb-ass "intellectual property" crapola prevents makers from using a
standard set and arrangement of buttons. Or some silly superstition
about "freedom of choice." Imagine the chaos if we had the same
"freedom" in the number and arrangement of the controls of a car.....

If the FF UI were a brand new design, I wouldn't object. But it's not.
The changes are just tweaks to an existing design. I'll repeat: new
features and a wider range of options for customising existing features,
are Good Things. Hiding stuff that was visible, or moving stuff from one
menu to another (something that MS is notorious for doing), etc, are Bad
Things.


> To paraphrase Omar Khayyam:
>
> The Moving Technology changes; and, having changed,
> Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
> Shall lure it back to cancel half a UI element,
> Nor all your Tears wash out an Icon of it

Nicely done. ;-)

If the FF UI were new technology, your revision would very apt.

But the FF UI is a rotary dial trying to look like a touchtone phone.

HTH
Wolf K.

PS: We have kept one rotary phone, it's the only one that will work when
the power goes out.

Greywolf

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Nov 13, 2011, 4:59:45 PM11/13/11
to
That must be one of the most irrelevant red herrings ever. It's
illogical: if we were waiting for it, it must have already been thought
of. It's also ad-hominem [snip retaliatory ad-hominem in first draft:
see, I'm being nice; :-)]

As plainly as I can:
I'm not objecting to _what_ was done (make the menu bar hidable), but
_how_ it was done (hide it as default).

Extending the option of hiding to the menu-bar is just fine. Hiding it
as default is not. The one is a minor innovation, and good of its kind.
The other is a violation of design principles, the first of which is,
Never make a change to an existing function such that a user is likely
to be confused (or worse).

To put it another way: design me a wheel of a UI, something radically
new, in which interaction is done differently than selecting actions
with a movable pointer, and I will be interested to see how it works,
and whether it does get me there faster than walking on my own two feet.

It's been done. If it's not available on desktops and laptops within the
next year or so, those machines will die out.

HTH
Wolf K.
Message has been deleted

Art Kocsis

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Nov 13, 2011, 6:58:54 PM11/13/11
to Moz Dev-Usability, Greywolf
At 11/13/2011 13:33, Greywolf wrote:
>On 13/11/2011 1:35 PM, Sailfish wrote:
>>Did you get just as upset that ATT dropped the rotary UI and went to
>>touch-tone? Do you use the Jitterbug phone since it has a simple UI? How
>>about TVs, do you pine over the good ol' days when you could use a
>>rotary dial to change the channel?
>
>You're missing my point. I'm not objecting to new UIs, I'm objecting to
>changing existing UIs for no reason other than "It's sweet..." or "It's
>cool..." or some other irrelevant reason.
>
>To use your examples: I would've objected strenuously to changing the
>placement of the numbers on the rotary dials. I think you would, too.

The touch-tone phone is a perfect example of an arbitrary change to a UI
that has caused nothing but pain, confusion and a plethora of mistakes:

The layout of the touch-tone phone is completely OPPOSITE to the layout of
a ten-key adding machine! The ten-key layout had been standard for decades
and many people had committed it to muscle memory. The arbitrary reversal
(just to be different?) has caused no end of pain and confusion. The IBM
keyboard is another classic example of misguided change for changes' sake.

Another example of the costs of opposite arbitrary choices: Go to the UK or
New Zealand and drive a car (or vice versa if you are already there). Or
even step off the side walk in traffic and notice which direction you look.
Here the consequences may be fatal.

Greywolf, I applaud your attempt to bring some sense the madness but as you
can see the vested interests are in full defensive mode.


Namaste', Art

André Neves

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Nov 13, 2011, 8:11:43 PM11/13/11
to dev-us...@lists.mozilla.org
On Mon, Nov 14, 2011 at 12:58 AM, Art Kocsis <Art...@sbcglobal.net> wrote:
> Another example of the costs of opposite arbitrary choices: Go to the UK or
> New Zealand and drive a car (or vice versa if you are already there). Or
> even step off the side walk in traffic and notice which direction you look.
> Here the consequences may be fatal.
Actually, according to Wikipedia, «originally most traffic drove on
the left worldwide».
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right-_and_left-hand_traffic#History

So I guess the choice to change was the one to drive on the right hand side.
And I don't think it was arbitrary either.

HTH

Greywolf

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Nov 13, 2011, 10:25:35 PM11/13/11
to
You can make equally good cases for driving left and for driving right.
Thus, either choice is arbitrary. But making different choices in
different parts of the world is stupid.

Wolf K.

Art Kocsis

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Nov 13, 2011, 10:52:55 PM11/13/11
to Moz Dev-Usability
I had assumed (perhaps wrongly), that most of the posters here are in the
US and
The original reasons for right or left side road travel are speculation and
may
have some truth. However, for vehicular traffic, today it is arbitrary.
Regardless,
it was a poor example as the thread subject is changing UIs, not simply
choices.

The touch-tone phone interface change from the ten-key adding machine is still
a perfect example of a UI change that had no real benefit yet caused untold
confusion.

BTW - I could speculate that we drive on the right because the plethora of
operational controls on the early cars: gear shifting, spark advance, choke
settings, etc. and the right hand is (usually) far more dexterous and stronger
than the left.

Namaste', Art

At 11/13/2011 17:11, drakferion wrote:
>On Mon, Nov 14, 2011 at 12:58 AM, Art Kocsis <Art...@sbcglobal.net> wrote:
> > Another example of the costs of opposite arbitrary choices: Go to the
> UK or
> > New Zealand and drive a car (or vice versa if you are already there). Or
> > even step off the side walk in traffic and notice which direction you
> look.
> > Here the consequences may be fatal.

>Actually, according to Wikipedia, Originally most traffic drove on the
>left worldwide.

Henri Sivonen

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Nov 14, 2011, 2:47:24 AM11/14/11
to dev-us...@lists.mozilla.org
On Sun, Nov 13, 2011 at 8:11 PM, Greywolf <wek...@sympatico.ca> wrote:
> Well, if it was clear that you don't actually need the FF Skype extension, I
> wouldn't have bothered.

Filed https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=702202

Desiree

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Nov 14, 2011, 4:49:39 AM11/14/11
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"Greywolf" <wek...@sympatico.ca> wrote in message
news:oJqdnQovWZ7JlV3T...@mozilla.org...
> On 13/11/2011 7:23 AM, Henri Sivonen wrote:
>> On Sat, Nov 12, 2011 at 4:16 PM, Greywolf<wek...@sympatico.ca> wrote:
>>> I just downgraded my wife's FF8 to 3.6.24, because the Skype
>>> plugin won't work with FF8.

>>
>> I'm curious, why do you or your wife need the Skype extension (as
>> opposed to initiating or receiving Skype calls from the UI offered by
>> the Skype app itself)?
>>
>
> Well, if it was clear that you don't actually need the FF Skype extension,
> I wouldn't have bothered. But that was not clear.
> I suppose someone will now tell me I should've known or tried to find out
> (they'd certainly do so on the Linux NGs, which I no longer bother with).
> But why should I? We are well past the time when a user shoiuld have to
> know arcane details about the need for/behaviour of/effects of a plug-in
> or extension. A computer is an appliance. It should just work.

Really? And where did you get this idea that a computer is a toaster? It is
many years away from being a toaster. This attitude is precisely the reason
so many users get infected...over and over and over. They refuse to
understand that at this stage of the game it is still absolutely necessary
that one learn how to use a computer properly and how to properly protect it
and this is an ongoing learning process. If a computer was a toaster, I
wouldn't have one. I have one because the challenge of learning all about
computers and computer security and different browsers, different OSes, etc
is an interesting challenge. If a computer was boring like a toaster why
would I want one? If you want a computer that is like a toaster in that it
"just works" then I strongly suggest you get a computer from Apple and
forget PC's. I would never get an Apple computer as they are extremely
simplistic in design and boring as heck to use. I speak as a senior citizen
who got her first computer when she was 56 (Windows 98). So, if someone my
age is not afraid to learn, and continually learn, about computers and finds
the challenge exciting, I really can't understand at all how younger folks
can have this petulant attitude that a computer has got be like a toaster.
Get a Mac and quit complaining.

As to the menu bar being hidden, I agree that was a stupid move on Mozilla's
part (didn't they learn anything from the same disaster that Microsoft
encountered when they hid the menu bar on IE 7? I immediately unhid it) but
then Mozilla has been losing touch with users ever since 1.5 so it is no big
surprise. What many of us, who have been with either Mozilla Suite/SeaMonkey
and/or Phoenix/Firebird/Fx as both evolved have learned, is do NOT upgrade!
You find a version you like then stay with it. Mozilla would have a lot more
users if they would continue to support older versions for security upgrades
(not just 3.6 which I never even had as I stayed with 1.5 for reasons
regarding extensions until version 4). That way, those who demand a shiny
new toy every 5 minutes (but don't want to put any effort into learning how
to use the new toy) would be happy with the insane new, frantic, afraid of
that horrible Chrome browser so update Fx everytime we turn around attitude
and those who have found a version they like and want to stay with for a
year could also be happy because they would get security updates for a year.

Mozilla has turned blind to its user base. I was told that home users cannot
get the Enterprise version. That is the version I want as I am quite happy
with Fx 4 (except for no security updates and there are some surrounding SSL
that I really need). I will take the security risks. I will not be forced
into this insane updating pace Mozilla has begun. I don't understand though
why I am blocked as a home user from getting the Enterprise version with its
less insane update pace. I never thought I would praise Microsoft and IE
(which I dislike) but Microsoft stands by its product for a long period.
Mozilla has shown that it does NOT stand by its product and that ultimately
is going to cost Mozilla dearly. I have version 4 heavily tweaked to my
liking. I do not want to have change tweaks, add other tweaks, learn a new
UI, drop incompatible extensions when my extensions are the reason I use Fx,
everytime I turn around. Fx is not my only browser. I do the same with the
others because even Opera is now going with this stupid frantic pace of
upgrading. I am someone who understands a computer is not a toaster and am
fine with that so if I am having problems with accepting frantic, almost
constant browser upgrading I can't fathom the depth of these problems for
the users who think computers are toasters and this is the majority of
users. A computer is not a toaster and won't be for many more years, but a
browser can and should be more like a toaster that you don't need to
constantly upgrade.
>
> HTH
> Wolf K.


Greywolf

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Nov 14, 2011, 8:39:49 AM11/14/11
to
On 14/11/2011 2:47 AM, Henri Sivonen wrote:
> On Sun, Nov 13, 2011 at 8:11 PM, Greywolf<wek...@sympatico.ca> wrote:
>> Well, if it was clear that you don't actually need the FF Skype extension, I
>> wouldn't have bothered.
>
> Filed https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=702202
>

Good move, thanks,
Wolf K.

Greywolf

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Nov 14, 2011, 9:28:06 AM11/14/11
to
On 14/11/2011 4:49 AM, Desiree wrote:

I wrote:
>> A computer is an appliance. It should just work.
Desiree wrote:
> Really? And where did you get this idea that a computer is a toaster? It is
> many years away from being a toaster

An appliance is a machine/device that you can use without having to know
how it works. All you need to know is which buttons/levers/etc to
push/pull/etc. Every new technology eventually becomes an appliance in
this sense. The fact that a toaster is simpler than a car or computer
makes no difference.

> This attitude is precisely the reason
> so many users get infected...over and over and over. They refuse to
> understand that at this stage of the game it is still absolutely necessary
> that one learn how to use a computer properly and how to properly protect it
> and this is an ongoing learning process.

You're both right and wrong. True, direct attacks still succeed,
especially with people who don't maintain their computers. I've
countered this tendency by reminding them that they maintain their cars
regularly, so... You might be surprised at how many people then have
that look of surprised recognition of an obvious insight.

Anyhow, the majority of infections now come not from direct attacks, but
from naivete: people are just too trusting, and click on phishing scams,
etc.

> If a computer was a toaster, I
> wouldn't have one. I have one because the challenge of learning all about
> computers and computer security and different browsers, different OSes, etc
> is an interesting challenge.

Quite. You're hobbyist. So am I. But I don't expect other people to be
as fascinated by the technology as I am.

> If a computer was boring like a toaster why
> would I want one?

Because you'd want to do what most people use it for: a tool for
interaction with other people, a source of entertainment, etc. You
remind me of people who buy ancient cars and motorbikes, spend all their
time fixing them up, but never use them to drive over to Aunt Sally's
for a visit. For that, they use their boring sedan, which is (of course)
an appliance. ;-)

> If you want a computer that is like a toaster in that it
> "just works" then I strongly suggest you get a computer from Apple and
> forget PC's. I would never get an Apple computer as they are extremely
> simplistic in design and boring as heck to use.

Well, I saw a musician demonstrate how he uses his iPad for composition,
including collaborative composition over the 'net. That's not boring at
all. And NB that he hasn't a clue how the thing works. He just uses it.
Plugs it into his keyboard, or an interface with his electric guitar,
and away he goes. When he connects the Pad to speakers, the sound is
gorgeous.

> I speak as a senior citizen
> who got her first computer when she was 56 (Windows 98).

I could now list all the things that give me bragging rights over you.
;-) I never used W98 because it was too buggy for my taste. Win3.x was
better, despite its limitations. I went to OS/2 instead.

> So, if someone my
> age is not afraid to learn, and continually learn, about computers and finds
> the challenge exciting, I really can't understand at all how younger folks
> can have this petulant attitude that a computer has got be like a toaster.
> Get a Mac and quit complaining.

H'm, interesting assumptions you're making here.

I've been involved in computing since the 1960s. I actually first
learned programming in binary code. I gave a seminar in natural language
processing to a graduate computer science class: my ideas I now realise
were about 20 years ahead of their time. I thought they were obvious,
errors and all, so I didn't write a paper. I should've, but I was more
interested in the puzzles than in making a name for myself. ;-)

I've owned computers since 1982. I've seen the PC go from an obscure
basement-geek hobby (remember BYTE magazine?) to an almost mature
technology. I still spend far too much time messing about with computers
(we have 4 in the house, including a Mac). I'm waiting for a true
handheld computer (some tablets are almost there). But NAS is long
overdue here, next major project. Then I'll network the TV, an
disconnect from satellite.

So why do I think a computer should be an appliance? Because it already
is one. That is, people aren't buying them because they want to learn
about them, but because they want to use them to do interesting and
useful things. Thus, design focus should now shift to making the
computer suited to these customers. That's what the Mozilla team seems
to have forgotten. That's the downside of of OSS and volunteer
developers: they are fascinated by the technology, and don't have enough
awareness of the ordinary user's POV. That's why I rant here (and
elsewhere) ;-)

> As to the menu bar being hidden, I agree that was a stupid move on Mozilla's
> part (didn't they learn anything from the same disaster that Microsoft
> encountered when they hid the menu bar on IE 7? [snip extended critique]

So you agree with me after all. ;-)

> Mozilla has turned blind to its user base. I was told that home users cannot
> get the Enterprise version. [snip rant]

Yup, my sentiments too.

Ken Springer

unread,
Nov 14, 2011, 11:15:31 AM11/14/11
to
On 11/13/11 4:58 PM, Art Kocsis wrote:
> The layout of the touch-tone phone is completely OPPOSITE to the layout of
> a ten-key adding machine! The ten-key layout had been standard for decades
> and many people had committed it to muscle memory. The arbitrary reversal
> (just to be different?) has caused no end of pain and confusion. The IBM
> keyboard is another classic example of misguided change for changes' sake.

This may or may not be true, but somewhere in my history, I read or was
told the change was intentional.

In those days, many phone switches were mechanical. Someone with good
10 key skills could tie those switches up in knots, as the switches
could not keep up with the speed 10 key users could input a phone number.

Having watched one of those old switches in motion, it isn't hard for me
to see someone inputting 3 or 4 digits for a phone number before the
switch could process the first digit.

Ron Hunter

unread,
Nov 14, 2011, 6:21:56 PM11/14/11
to
Sounds like another stupid choice made for mechanical limitations, like
the Scholes keyboard.

Ken Springer

unread,
Nov 14, 2011, 9:54:25 PM11/14/11
to
In retrospect, the QWERTY keyboard seems to make little sense, in light
of the fact I've seen studies where typists who master the DVORAK
keyboard can outpace QWERTY keyboard users. And the QWERTY keyboard
seems to have come about to prevent jamming of the typewriter keys by
fast typists.

There does seem to be no definitive reason for the layout issue.
Besides the theory I mentioned, I found another reference where doing it
with the "1" at the upper left meant the letters that are associated
with a number are in a logical (read alphabetical) order, and not reversed.

One of those imponderables of history.

Ron Hunter

unread,
Nov 15, 2011, 3:30:26 AM11/15/11
to
The justification made sense when typewriters were being designed. At
that point, 'keyjams' were frequent, and the keyboard was actually
designed so that the keys used most were located where they wouldn't
conflict. The net result was a gain in throughput because the typist
didn't spend as much time clearing keyjams. It did slow down the typing
speed, IF keyjams did not happen, but did its job for overall
throughput. Of course, after electronic keyboard became available, the
layout seemed downright illogical, but by then, millions of people had
been trained to 'touch typing', and wouldn't have liked having to start
over. I am one of those people, and I have never been able to get used
to 'non-ballistic' electronic keyboards.

Ken Springer

unread,
Nov 15, 2011, 6:44:57 AM11/15/11
to
I've never been able to get used to those ergonomic/natural shaped
keyboards.

Greywolf

unread,
Nov 15, 2011, 8:03:40 AM11/15/11
to
Arguments about the relative efficiency of the QWERTY vs the Dvorak
layouts miss the point, which is: the difference applies only to typing
English. (1)

IOW, you would need different layouts for different languages. Duh!

So having a so-so standard that came about for mechanical reasons is
just fine (2). A standard that's slightly suboptimal for each is optimal
for all, because optimisjng it for some users would make unacceptably
suboptimal for others.

The same principle holds for components of a system: Optimising one
comes at the expense of seriously suboptimising one or more others. That
would make the system as whole suboptimal. Better to have all elements
slightly (=acceptably) sub-optimal. This is of course a non-intuitive,
paradoxical insight, hence the unwillingness of component optimisers to
compromise. It explains why you can't design a perfect UI by improving
its components one at a time; you are likely to make it worse rather
than better.

(1) The difference in typing speed is about 10% for English, IIRC, and
only for the most expert typists when typing continuously. In actual
practice, typing is interrupted at frequent intervals, which eats up the
supposed advantage of the Dvorak layout. Hence change is not worth the
cost or effort.

(2) The reference to key-jamming as the motivation for the QWERTY layout
is correct. Even so, it's possible to jam a QWERTY keyboard when the
typewriter becomes clogged with dirt, oxidised grease, etc. I know that
from experience. ;-)

[...]

HTH
Wolf K.


André Neves

unread,
Nov 15, 2011, 10:31:42 AM11/15/11
to dev-us...@lists.mozilla.org
> Arguments about the relative efficiency of the QWERTY vs the Dvorak layouts
> miss the point, which is: the difference applies only to typing English. (1)
>
> IOW, you would need different layouts for different languages. Duh!

There are different layouts for different languages.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dvorak_Simplified_Keyboard#Other_languages
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QWERTZ

Ken Springer

unread,
Nov 15, 2011, 7:05:30 PM11/15/11
to
On 11/15/11 6:03 AM, Greywolf wrote:

> The same principle holds for components of a system: Optimising one
> comes at the expense of seriously suboptimising one or more others. That
> would make the system as whole suboptimal. Better to have all elements
> slightly (=acceptably) sub-optimal. This is of course a non-intuitive,
> paradoxical insight, hence the unwillingness of component optimisers to
> compromise. It explains why you can't design a perfect UI by improving
> its components one at a time; you are likely to make it worse rather
> than better.

And it all boils down to the fact there is no utopia anywhere for
anything that will please everybody . LOL

> (2) The reference to key-jamming as the motivation for the QWERTY layout
> is correct. Even so, it's possible to jam a QWERTY keyboard when the
> typewriter becomes clogged with dirt, oxidised grease, etc. I know that
> from experience. ;-)

I was *so* good at jamming those keys in high school! :: grin ::

Ron Hunter

unread,
Nov 15, 2011, 8:49:23 PM11/15/11
to
Nor have I. My wife, who is not a 'touch typist' likes hers because it
is easier on her carpal tunnel syndrome. I have a hard time typing on it.

Ron Hunter

unread,
Nov 15, 2011, 8:51:14 PM11/15/11
to
You mean like having to slap the carriage return lever? Grin.

Ron Hunter

unread,
Nov 15, 2011, 8:52:31 PM11/15/11
to
All you had to do was get the timing too close and tap two keys on
opposite sides of the set at the same time, JAM! Easy.

Alex Limi

unread,
Nov 15, 2011, 9:00:46 PM11/15/11
to Ron Hunter, dev-us...@lists.mozilla.org
Hi guys,

I'm the moderator of this news group, and I'd like to kindly request that
you take your one-on-one discussion to private email.

Thanks!

--
Alex Limi · Firefox UX Team · +limi <http://profiles.google.com/limi> ·
@limi <http://twitter.com/limi/> · limi.net
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