Windows 7 Released to Manufacturing

This is a discussion on Windows 7 Released to Manufacturing within the General Discussions forums, part of the Community Boards category; Originally Posted by sean If you're into that, of course it's not. Problem is, most people aren't interested enough to ...

  1. #91
    (?<!re)tired Mario F.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sean View Post
    If you're into that, of course it's not. Problem is, most people aren't interested enough to put that much work in - they just expect it to do the job without them having to think about. That being right or wrong, is up for debate. But there are definitely different expectations people have from their computers in all parts of the spectrum.
    Absolutely. But the problem again is not the people. It's the fact we put in their hands unproven technologies, with very little in terms of safeguards and with the aggravation of making it easy for them to screw it... I mean, use it.

    Now, if there is an actual effort for the machine to provide an incentive for these technologies to be better understood before being used, maybe then we wouldn't have so many users surfing the web that can't tell spam from a legit email from malware, or don't have a minimal knowledge on viruses and how to protect themselves. An ignorant user on the net is a liability to everyone.

    I don't extend this criticism to everything that has been branded with "easy of use". But I'd rather see this term being applied in the context of applied knowledge, instead as a way to hide knowledge. We simply don't have the machines or the technology yet to make user-friendliness a reality in computing without serious consequences in terms of security, privacy and even usability, considering user-friendliness is in fact a deterrent of new knowledge and learning to do new things in the computer.

    The result is everywhere to be seen. It's exactly the less knowledgeable, running user-friendly systems the ones most affected by privacy intrusion and security breaches.

    But hey! I'm going nowhere with this. It's just an exercise. Just my view on how wrong we got it.
    Last edited by Mario F.; 07-30-2009 at 09:22 PM.
    The programmer’s wife tells him: “Run to the store and pick up a loaf of bread. If they have eggs, get a dozen.”
    The programmer comes home with 12 loaves of bread.


    Originally Posted by brewbuck:
    Reimplementing a large system in another language to get a 25% performance boost is nonsense. It would be cheaper to just get a computer which is 25% faster.

  2. #92
    (?<!re)tired Mario F.'s Avatar
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    I'm probably being boring, or most readers have been dismissing my commentaries on this matter as nonsense. Still I feel the need to say a little more. More specifically, explaining exactly what I mean and give concrete examples on how things can and should be improved. Something I felt should be said on my previous post, but it was too late in the nigh (4:00 am here) ad I decided to skip.

    It's up to you folks to ignore or not the rest of the post. This is a one man opinion and nothing more.

    ...

    Utopian vs. Dystopian
    This is not a new discussion to me. I had it with a few folks in the recent past and it has been occasionally dismissed as utopia.

    Well, it's not really. I'm not up for dreaming of a better world in which everyone knows about computers. I'm about the idea of minimizing the impact the lack of knowledge in the usage of a tool has been having in technological advancements and the issues it brought of (national|personal) security and of (personal|corporate) privacy. And this is no mere concept. You can hardly name a tool in the past that has been used so incompetently and irresponsibly as the personal computer. I dare you.

    What in fact we are witnessing, in my opinion, is a move towards a future dystopian reality where computer usage is ruled by a total dependence on third-parties to secure our privacy and our system. Lack of knowledge is not the actual problem. The actual problem is not promoting knowledge by offering tools that hide it from the unknowledgeable user and thus do not motivate him to pursue that knowledge. A user-friendly concept, in this context, is a proposal on the likes of "Don't care about your security. We will take care of that for you. You don't need to know a thing or worry about it". Anyone can find this thought scary. Especially when it keeps being proven over, and over, and over again, they fail miserably.

    Technology and Society
    Sean brings the prime counter argument when he mentions Technology is meant to make our lives easier. But how much more easy do we want to go before we build ourselves a Idiocracy.

    I happen to agree entirely with that notion. But "making our lives easier" is a thought that warrants some thinking. What does that mean exactly? I my opinion, my life is not made easier if a user-friendly tool comes with so many security holes. My life will be made much easier if, in the reality of a technology that still doesn't provide all the safeguards, I'm willing to invest my time in understanding it to an acceptable degree. My (Mario) computing life is incredibly more easy to that of my wife, by at least a factor of 10.

    I often look at computing science as one of the few sciences that has been evolving and tested outside safe and controlled lab conditions. Experimented on live human subjects. I'm not to say this has been a bad thing entirely. But in decades to come when finally connectivity becomes a full-proof safe reality capable of sustaining a fast evolving and technological mature society (by being safe is the only way!), we will be looked as the dark ages of computing science... or more benignly, as its sacrificing pioneers. And "user-friendly", probably the reason for the "dark ages" noun.

    Learning
    I could go the easy route by simply repeating the old(?) adage "you cannot bring a technological solution to a social problem" and be done with it. That surely would make my argument easier. In essence, stating that no technological achievement will fix the real problem that is people shunning at having to learn something new. Certainly user-friendly is not even a technological solution to that. I actually sustain it is a technological buffer. But at least we can agree it is a technological mend, in that it doesn't really solve the problem. Just patches it away.

    Sometime recently I watched an interesting documentary on the Odyssey Channel (Spanish/Portuguese. But forget that Discovery crap. At least see the Documentary Channel). It displayed the daily lives of 2nd generation refugees living their entire lives in the Morocco desert (PDF document. Their situation hasn't improved much since then). One of their few outside contacts was through UN somewhat regular visits with food, clothes and medication. Incidentally.. sort of... they would also bring a projector and a movie with wehich they would use to entertain the refugees. The movies became thus the main source of attraction for these folks.

    Motivated by their adherence, the person in charge decided to propose and initiate a program in which they would teach the younger refugees how to operate a camera, film and edit their own movies. And people that never touched technology beyond the basic tools we tend to forget today, rapidly learn how to become movie directors... a skill I don't have. The final documentary was co-authored by those refugee villagers. I never wrote or shot a documentary, neither I have the skills to do so.

    So... what's the thought?

    Technology cannot be applied to social problems? Usually it can't. But it can motivate people in the right direction. And it does this by creating a learning incentive. "User-friendly" as is in our computers today is mostly doing the opposite thing. When you hear "It has to be easy to use. I don't want to have to learn how to use it", and you apply that thought to a piece of software or an entire operating system, you are agreeing to an idiot. A well intentioned idiot. But an idiot nonetheless.

    The fact our current culture seems to promote idiocy (from the aforementioned Discovery Channel, to celebrity magazines, or the immensely rewarding entertainment business, to name a few) is definitely at the source. Computers aren't to blame. User-friendly is just a byproduct of this culture.

    What can be done?
    This has become a long post. I tend to write too much for my own good and lack any prediction skills when I start what I often think will not become a wall of text. But I promised some real examples of what could and should be done. So, here's a few quick thoughts, thrown at random that can be better explained if anyone asks about them.

    UAC - Windows UAC is the ugly duckling of user-friendly. There's nothing user friendly about it actually. However it is advertised as such. Go figure. In any case, UAC should provide users with proper information on why it is being fired, what can cause it to be fired, and whether this is a problem or not. The introduction of heuristics, an UAC oriented knowledge base, and a redesigned interface motivating the user for a Click-And-Learn computer usage pattern, would stop many from asking for "this thing to be turned off!" or simply clicking accept automatically. Meanwhile, they would gain in knowledge that would serve them better in soon appreciating the tool and better learn how to safely tame it.

    OS versions - Not so much distinct versions, but the ability for the operating system to ask a simple question during boot : "What's your level of Expertise? Choose from the options below." The operating system would then set itself up accordingly, providing not only changes to the user interface, but also turning on and off certain applications/services/features/whatever disabling any ability for the user to use them. Low expertise modes would also turn the operating system "Learning Mode Center", in which actions would be explained to he user as they took them... where surfing the web, connecting to a device or installing an application would be an interactive experience tutored by a smart system meant not to Stop-Learn-And-Do, but to Learn-As-You-Do.

    Learning Program - Built for Windows 7 type of programs only serve to acknowledge (and badly) some sort of system compatibility. But software that is Built for Learning, is software that takes advantage of the above mentioned Learning Center windows framework and that provides many buying customers with a much more satisfying knowledge they are going to really learn how to use it. Any doubts a nervous customer would choose "Built for Learning?"
    Last edited by Mario F.; 07-31-2009 at 09:55 AM.
    The programmer’s wife tells him: “Run to the store and pick up a loaf of bread. If they have eggs, get a dozen.”
    The programmer comes home with 12 loaves of bread.


    Originally Posted by brewbuck:
    Reimplementing a large system in another language to get a 25% performance boost is nonsense. It would be cheaper to just get a computer which is 25% faster.

  3. #93
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    Computers aren't to blame. User-friendly is just a byproduct of this culture.
    I would agree with that - I think it's the same phenomenon that's encouraged debt. People aren't encouraged to understand what's really going on - they just get told that a certain something-or-other solves a problem for them, and they agree to it. They ignore all the long-term consequences that don't make themselves obvious.

    Sean brings the prime counter argument when he mentions Technology is meant to make our lives easier.
    I didn't intend to say that that is the purpose of current technology. What I mean to say is that that should be the goal in developing technology - it should help solve a problem. Users need to understand how that technology works. For instance - computers can be used to speed up massive amounts of computation. I don't think that such a computer should be used by someone who doesn't understand the limits of floating-point arithmetic, however.

    So I think both the users have a responsibility to try and understand, and developers have a responsibility to design things so the user CAN understand. Making things 'user friendly' is all-too-often used to refer to making things overly-simple and hiding things from the user.

  4. #94
    Unregistered User Yarin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sean
    So I think both the users have a responsibility to try and understand, and developers have a responsibility to design things so the user CAN understand. Making things 'user friendly' is all-too-often used to refer to making things overly-simple and hiding things from the user.
    Responsibility? Developers are only going to make things according to how the average user wants them - which is, super, super simple. Anything that affords the user even a little control in the way things are done, and the software is labeled "un-user-friendly", "too complicated", etc., so no one buys it and you're out of business.
    A class that doesn't overload all operators just isn't finished yet. -- SmugCeePlusPlusWeenie
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  5. #95
    spurious conceit MK27's Avatar
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    Cool

    Windows is totally user friendly -- at least, the only thing I have ever heard of that could be considered more easy and friendly is Mac OS (according to my mom, who switched), which Mac has a huge advantage in that they control the hardware too.

    However, there is an obvious circularity in that what has come to constitute "easy, friendly, and familiar" is the windows interface, because it's ubiquitous. That is a real phenomenon, and sometimes I could believe they simply put *no* thought at all into its evolution because it doesn't matter; windows will always be windows no matter what.

    That attitude isn't unique to MS tho. You would think, looking at a lot of gtk apps, that they all have to look a certain way or something because of how gtk is, but from programming it I know that's not the case. The orthodoxy wrt GUI design is to always do things the same: eg, the user expects a pull down with a file selection option like this, etc. Anyone who has looked at a book on GUI programming knows this; it is explicit and often repeated. At MS is presumably enforced. But that also enforces a lack of diversity, which if you think about how evolution is supposed to work, it's clear how the whole thing has just become more and more "mindless" cookie cutter interfaces, which is what people have been taught to expect.

    Raising the question (for me): What kind of knowledge would people have if the standard had evolved differently? Like, not saying they need to know more, but what could they have known instead? And if they wanted to know more, could whatever that means have been made slightly easier? If not, a low user knowledge base is a consequence of the design, because the user's curiosity has been discouraged. As is, most people understand their car much better than their computer, partially because windows, et. al. has no hood to look under.

    MS's real problems result, IMO, from their paranoia about money and their policies about maintaining a certain level of "opacity".
    Last edited by MK27; 07-31-2009 at 10:52 AM.
    C programming resources:
    GNU C Function and Macro Index -- glibc reference manual
    The C Book -- nice online learner guide
    Current ISO draft standard
    CCAN -- new CPAN like open source library repository
    3 (different) GNU debugger tutorials: #1 -- #2 -- #3
    cpwiki -- our wiki on sourceforge

  6. #96
    C++まいる!Cをこわせ! Elysia's Avatar
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    Ah, Mario brings up some very very good points. And I do fully agree - the best way to make sure everything works is by making sure the user knows what she/he is doing. And how do we teach something to someone? Reading manuals is boring and tedious and 99% of all people don't do it (when applied to software, games and operating systems).
    I know someone once argued once that tutorials are bad and that they belong to games, but i don't think so. As Mario pointed out, having the software actually educate users in how things work and how to do things is probably the best way of teaching users how to properly use the software.

    I do think that the whole "level" of expertise is a bad idea, though. How do you define when someone is ready for a higher level of expertise or if they want to do it? No, I think the better idea is to gradually ramp it up, should the user choose it. Obviously, this idea is probably an area of much discussion of how it should be implemented, though.

    And I do fully agree with UAC. It has come into so much fire, and Microsoft still do not fix it. I can't understand why.
    Quote Originally Posted by Adak View Post
    io.h certainly IS included in some modern compilers. It is no longer part of the standard for C, but it is nevertheless, included in the very latest Pelles C versions.
    Quote Originally Posted by Salem View Post
    You mean it's included as a crutch to help ancient programmers limp along without them having to relearn too much.

    Outside of your DOS world, your header file is meaningless.

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    Responsibility? Developers are only going to make things according to how the average user wants them
    Exactly - that's why I don't think society will naturally fix this problem, because it goes against competitiveness, and we're a naturally competitive people. It's like communism. I think it would be great if everybody shared with others and we gave to the poor, and all men really were equal. But the problem is, that system generally takes away people comptetitiveness, and then everything start to fail. Nice idea, but it just sucks.

    @mk27 - you have officially changed your avatar this week more often than I have changed my pants.

  8. #98
    spurious conceit MK27's Avatar
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    Developers are only going to make things according to how the average user wants them
    Are you sure that shouldn't be "average developers are only going to make users how they want them"?

    Quote Originally Posted by sean View Post
    @mk27 - you have officially changed your avatar this week more often than I have changed my pants.
    Please post things like this in the "personal hygiene" forum from now on.

    ps. I think Adult Forest Fairy has some staying power, so you can keep your filthy trousers on.
    C programming resources:
    GNU C Function and Macro Index -- glibc reference manual
    The C Book -- nice online learner guide
    Current ISO draft standard
    CCAN -- new CPAN like open source library repository
    3 (different) GNU debugger tutorials: #1 -- #2 -- #3
    cpwiki -- our wiki on sourceforge

  9. #99
    Registered User whiteflags's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elysia View Post

    I do think that the whole "level" of expertise is a bad idea, though. How do you define when someone is ready for a higher level of expertise or if they want to do it? No, I think the better idea is to gradually ramp it up, should the user choose it. Obviously, this idea is probably an area of much discussion of how it should be implemented, though.
    I think most of the problem comes from not being able to draw a line in the sand. Maybe there should be just two: Novice and Power User, and so as not to be annoying when you become a power user, the Learn as You Do stuff will not repeat itself endlessly or go away. It should be kept long term in some repository of knowledge, like Help and Support, that is referenced when one is lost. This would also foster good RTFM behavior (at least IMO).

    The only thing that would make power user installs different is that this feature comes preinstalled and would need to be turned on. As for the other things, like UAC and how it should behave, I liken it to the custom route on any other piece of software. It should work for many people who are not your grandmother.

    I agree that if UAC would attempt to tell people somehow what's happening and whether it's a problem would remove 99% of its annoyance, but it should come with a "degrees of safety" configuration. You should choose an initial setting for the install and can putz with it later for whatever crazy reason you can conceive. That would require knowing how it works (what does it look for?) so, we'll see, I guess.
    Last edited by whiteflags; 07-31-2009 at 01:13 PM.

  10. #100
    spurious conceit MK27's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elysia View Post
    I think the better idea is to gradually ramp it up, should the user choose it.
    I think that is the best idea Elysia has ever had xP

    People being what they are, it would probably work really well. Like, if you want to keep things Simple, you can. Then if you are curious about Advanced, you get a different looking filebrowser with power features.

    Finally, with "More Advanced" you could recompile parts of the OS with your own hardcoded modifications and bug patches! Okay, better ixnay that one for the MS platform...
    C programming resources:
    GNU C Function and Macro Index -- glibc reference manual
    The C Book -- nice online learner guide
    Current ISO draft standard
    CCAN -- new CPAN like open source library repository
    3 (different) GNU debugger tutorials: #1 -- #2 -- #3
    cpwiki -- our wiki on sourceforge

  11. #101
    Unregistered User Yarin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MK27 View Post
    Are you sure that shouldn't be "average developers are only going to make users how they want them"?
    No. If the people want it, they'll go somewhere else to get if you don't have it (just look at the recent large IE > FF conversion), thus, the only real way for you to stay in business is to make it how they want it.
    I do still agree though that people should be more willing to learn more about the software they use, and do so; but hey, people ought to do a lot of things they don't - what's new?
    A class that doesn't overload all operators just isn't finished yet. -- SmugCeePlusPlusWeenie
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  12. #102
    spurious conceit MK27's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yarin View Post
    No. If the people want it, they'll go somewhere else to get if you don't have it (just look at the recent large IE > FF conversion), thus, the only real way for you to stay in business is to make it how they want it.
    I hate to get out my dumb stick on this one, but not all apples are oranges, analogy wise: they are going to go WHERE exactly? Microsoft is a MONOPOLY in so far as they provide a vendor supported OS for generic PC's. Apple does not do that. Linux does not do that. Only Microsoft does that. They do not really have competitors (other than the TV set*).

    Since there is no other choice, the idea that somehow the form of the thing is somehow dictated by users in the manner you imply is totally absurd. Microsoft surely responds to user feedback in a variety of ways, but it is not in the sense that there is some other Microsoft around doing something similar but different whose activity deserves attention.

    * or itself, hence vista flopped because of XP
    Last edited by MK27; 07-31-2009 at 10:49 PM.
    C programming resources:
    GNU C Function and Macro Index -- glibc reference manual
    The C Book -- nice online learner guide
    Current ISO draft standard
    CCAN -- new CPAN like open source library repository
    3 (different) GNU debugger tutorials: #1 -- #2 -- #3
    cpwiki -- our wiki on sourceforge

  13. #103
    Unregistered User Yarin's Avatar
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    I guess I was wandering off topic a little bit. Yes, as far as the OS goes, they definitely have a monopoly. I was more so referring to software in general, which is why I gave the browser example. But monopoly or no monopoly, as sorry as it is, most people still like and want stupidware.
    A class that doesn't overload all operators just isn't finished yet. -- SmugCeePlusPlusWeenie
    A year spent in artificial intelligence is enough to make one believe in God. -- Alan J. Perlis

  14. #104
    Super Moderator VirtualAce's Avatar
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    Windows wants to hide everything from the users and take control of everything. Maybe it should be renamed U.S. government?

  15. #105
    (?<!re)tired Mario F.'s Avatar
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    Got access today to Windows 7 RTM. I understand I will eventually be making this upgrade wether I like it or not. I'm currently taking a break from my project and have been organizing stuff on my disk, making backups, deleting unnecessary stuff, playing games, and whatnot. So I figure this might be a good time. Won't have a better one for a long while.

    So, I'd really appreciate -- and be thankful of -- any unbiased opinion of those folks in here who have been using it. Particularly if you felt the RC was stable and what's the things you didn't like in 7 (I know all about what is liked).

    I'm also very much interested on hearing from anyone who has been using the recently released Windows XP Mode RC.
    The programmer’s wife tells him: “Run to the store and pick up a loaf of bread. If they have eggs, get a dozen.”
    The programmer comes home with 12 loaves of bread.


    Originally Posted by brewbuck:
    Reimplementing a large system in another language to get a 25% performance boost is nonsense. It would be cheaper to just get a computer which is 25% faster.

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