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Re: Linux Books: Free as in Free Beer

Roy Schestowitz wrote:
> There  is no risk in exploration, provided that the user has common sense.
> A  spreadsheet application, for example, will not have menu entries  which
> reset  the computer or delete auxiliary files. Change to default  settings
> is easily reversible as well.

Well, that's how it should work, but many applications fall short.
Consider Microsoft Word, for example.  When you leave out the capital
letter at the start of a sentence, it handily autocorrects this for
you.  Suppose you don't want this.  No problem--it's fairly easy to
find the setting that controls this.

However, that doesn't affect this auto-capitalization for text entered
in tables.  To turn that off, you need to click on the little green
squiggly line that shows up when it makes a correction.  That gives a
pop-up menu that lets you turn this off.

Now, suppose later, you want to turn it back on?  If you haven't closed
the document, and can still find a place where it did a correction, you
can use the pop-up again to turn it back on.  However, if you close the
document (and under some other circumstances I don't fully understand),
the squiggle goes away, and from that point, there is no way in the GUI
to turn auto-capitalization back on!  The setting you can get to for
this only applies to text outside of table cells.

To get it back, you have to go outside the GUI and delete your
preferences file.

So, a little innocent playing around with a setting on a pop-up menu,
and you've arrived at a situation where you'll need to throw out your
preferences, resetting all your settings to their defaults.

Microsoft even has a usability lab and tests their products in it, and
this kind of thing gets through.

> @Tim: you are so overly fascinated by the Mac UI, but you fail to  realise
> that the GNOME and KDE teams (among many others) include usability profes-
> sionals, who /may/ work for free iduring their spare time:
>         http://dot.kde.org/1135283071/

You cite an effort that *may* lead to GUI improvements in KDE in the
future.  That doesn't help people using KDE *now*.

Grab a decent book on UI (Joel Spolsky's is widely available, not too
large, and an easy read, and several chapters are partly available
on-line), read it, then go through the major programs of whatever GUI
you use the most, and I bet you'll find plenty of places the GUI is
botched.  This goes for OS X, for Windows, and for Linux.

> As regards the Mac protecting the user from self, I will have to prove you
> wrong:
>         http://photomatt.net/2005/04/06/braindead-finder-behaviour/
> Many comments there are mine and they discuss the superior handling of sc-
> anerios as such in KDE.

I'm not convinced that case is a problem.  It does give a dialog that
says something like:

    An older item named "foo" already exists in this location. Do
    you want to replace it with the newer one you are moving?

with the choices being "Stop" and "Replace".  Neither choice is
selected as the default, so you can't just hit ENTER and get past this.

--Tim Smith
(using Google because Earthlink is having usenet problems)

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