Re: Preferences [Was: a whole lot of other things, too]


Now this thread has nothing to do with network configuration anymore. ;-)

Rui Miguel Silva Seabra <rms 1407 org> writes: 
> what's
> bad is the erradication of pleasure from user experience of more
> advanced users.

Plenty of very advanced users (myself included) have zero interest in
all those Sawfish options, and click "don't show again" on all the web
browser warning dialogs, knowing exactly what the risks of doing that
are. Some even (horrors) use Windows or OS X from time to time and
like many things about the experience.

So I think you're wrong to say that your desire for more preferences
is an attribute of advanced users vs. non-advanced. It's also wrong to
say that people _want_ to learn about or think about this sort of
stuff. Because most don't. I don't. I don't care. I want the computer
to work and stay out of my way. ;-) 

Red Hat is full of nontechnical people using Linux; and _none_ of them
change the defaults appreciably. At most they change the desktop
background. It's not because they don't know how; it's because they do
not care to know and knowing has no benefit for them.

> I'm not knit picking, I'm just worried about the current course of
> things.

I'm going to be vain and quote my own article:

    So how do you decide which preferences to have?

    On hearing that preferences have a cost, some people get upset
    that we're going to remove every preference, or that their
    favorite one is gone, or whatever.

    Step back for a minute and think about the preferences problem.

    For any program, there are literally an infinite number of
    possible preferences. Each one has a cost. A program with infinite
    preferences is therefore infinitely bad. But clearly some
    preferences are genuinely useful and important. So the UI
    developer's job is to choose the useful subset of possible

    An argument that "preferences are good" or "preferences are bad"
    is clearly unproductive. Only an argument that draws a line
    between when a preference should exist, and when it should not, is
    a meaningful argument that impacts real-world developer decisions.

You're just saying "preferences are good" - that isn't useful. How
would you decide which to have?

But in any case, even assuming you were right and there _was_ an
inherent conflict between advanced and normal users - which I think is
pretty much untrue - the whole _point_ of GNOME is to bring UNIX/Linux
to more nontechnical users, and that always has been the point. So if
there's a conflict, yes, advanced users lose. _IF_ there's a conflict,
someone has to lose, by definition. That's what conflict means.

In summary:

 - you state that there's an advanced vs. not advanced conflict
 - you then want GNOME to cater to advanced users
 - but the whole point of GNOME always has been to make 
   the desktop easy to use for non-advanced users


 - it's clearly impossible to claim that _all_ preferences should
   exist, since there can be an infinite number and each has a cost;
   and you haven't given any guidelines for when you'd include one or

> Using workspaces instead of a workspace/viewport combination meant a
> serious loss of productivity for me.

Based on seeing many advanced users' desktops, I'd say almost no one
uses both at once, even among advanced users. Many advanced users
don't even know the difference between the two. KDE has pretty much
never supported viewports and lots of advanced users use KDE.

So step back and ask yourself why you're different from these other
advanced users. Is it simply that you're _used_ to doing things the
way you do them?

I would bet that's the reason. You had to change how you work. Then
you got grumpy about it. I understand that completely.

However, two points:

 - you started your mail by asking all users to change how they work
   in order to learn a bunch of boring things about their computer
   that have nothing to do with getting their work done. But you won't
   change how _you_ work. ;-) Inconsistent!

 - if we don't ask anyone to change how they work, then we must ship a
   desktop that's configurable to be like any other desktop ever
   shipped by anyone ever. Which is indeed what many free software UIs
   are like. Bloated, low-quality, bad combinations of every idea from
   Mac, Windows, OS/2, Amiga, RISC OS, CDE, etc. etc. etc. 

I totally understand and sympathize that no one likes to change how
they work. I don't either. But if we want GNOME to be any good, we
have to be better than traditional free software, and that means
asking current free software users to change.


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