Re: Draining the Swamp: A Technical User's Experience

On Tue, May 07, 2002 at 11:44:49PM +0100, Rui Miguel Silva Seabra was heard to remark:
> On Tue, 2002-05-07 at 22:39, Linas Vepstas wrote:
> > Occasionally, I want to tweak some parameter or another in my window
> > manager (such as 'focus-follows-mouse' or 'click-to-focus') and it
> > can take quite a while to figure out where this is hidden.   I'm never
> > quite sure which path through the menu tree will get me to this option,
> > thus, exploring the menus leads to a lot of dead ends before I find it.
> > Similarly: making the gnome panel auto-hide.  I know its configurable,
> > somewhere.  But I configure this so infrequently, I forget where it is. 
> > Every user has some infrequent (bi-annual) configuration that they do,
> > and those of us who are memory-crippled can't remember how, and must 
> > search. 
> I have to confess I find this situation a little too forced to be
> believable when it comes from people who know best...

Now I understand how flame wars start.  I could not be more honest than
I was in the paragraph above.  The example is *not* forced, it is 
a very very real example for myself.  I am actually rather insulted by
this reply.

If you're so smart, why don't you be honest with yourself?  Get out a stop
watch, really, don't just pretend ... and time yourself on how long it
takes for *you* to find the auto-hide configuration on gnome panel. 
Or the click-to-focus thingy, say, on sawmill.  If you write back, and
tell me that you were able to accomplish these tasks in under 2 minutes,
I'll accuse you of lying or faking your results!

I just spent 2 minutes looking for auto-hide enable.  After finding
'panel' on 'desktop' (not the first place I looked) I clicked on it. 
I got sliders for setting the animation speed and hide delay speed and
show delay speed and etc. but no button to enable/disable it.
I examined every tab.  After 2 minutes I could not find the auto-hide
enable button, althought I know that it is there somewhere, because
I've set it in the past.


> But maybe that can be because when I install a new program I explore
> it... I see all options in the setting dialog and try them out, to see
> whether they'll make my experience with the app better or not.

I don't have time for this.  I've got more important things to do, like
having a life.   Either the program is easy to use without investing this 
kind of learning, or its crap.   I beleive the vast majority of users
are not going to spend any time at all axploring a new program.  Its
(for most people) a non-rewarding, boring way to spend ones time.
Wanna explore?  Buy an adventure game. 

The only times that I've taken the effort to do this was (1) at trade
shows, scoping out products from the competition, and (2) when I
couldn't figure out immediately how to do something I had to do, and
had to spend an afternoon trying each and every menu item in a desperate
struggle to find the feature I was needing....

> > Maybe  searchable, hyper-linked help that will take you instantly to
> > that configuration item?  A 'search engine' for things that can be
> > configured?
> I think this is a little too hard... 

Too hard to implement?   It's easy, I think, tedious, maybe.  You have
to list everything a user might want to do, index it, make it
searchable, and link it to the right panel in control-center.  The
technology to do this is easy; the hard part is writing down everything
that someone might want to do, and making sure it links to the right


pub  1024D/01045933 2001-02-01 Linas Vepstas (Labas!) <linas linas org>
PGP Key fingerprint = 8305 2521 6000 0B5E 8984  3F54 64A9 9A82 0104 5933

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