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[News] Misconceptions About Desktop Usability and How They Are Used for FUD

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The GNU/Linux Desktop and Borrowed Assumptions about Usability

,----[ Quote ]
| The trouble with this assumption -- like many others -- is that it easily 
| becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. All interface designers that I met have 
| told me that it is impossible to design a desktop application that includes 
| all possible functionality or meets the need of every possible user. Besides, 
| they add, if you tried, users would suffer the anxiety of having too many 
| choices. And so you get file managers, for instance, that have less than a 
| third of the functionality of basic commands like cp or mv.      



Needed: A Centralized, State-of-the-Art Open Source Usability Lab

,----[ Quote ]
| Over the past few years, we've seen many centralized, federated organizations
| arise in support of open source initiatives, such as The Linux Foundation.
| Through donations, and through the support of a powerful body like the Linux
| Foundation, I could see the launch of a professional usability lab that opens
| its doors to FOSS projects of all types. Usability is indeed an Achilles'
| heel for open source software, and this may be an area where the money and
| effort that proprietary software companies put into usability are worth
| emulating.


Amarok Playlist Usability Testing

,----[ Quote ]
| For a simple activity, creating and saving a playlist in Amarok seemed to be
| harder than necessary. However, there were only a few key usability issues,
| which when fixed, will result in a much more efficient and easier to use
| playlist feature. Usability issues included problems in interaction with the
| Collections list, poor or no labeling in the UI, and a few other details.
| A complete summary of the study, including observations and recommendations,
| are available in the final report:


Usability Hall of Shame: Excel

,----[ Quote ]
| Since May of this year, Iâve been trying to snap screenshots and videos of
| those special moments when my software (or hardware) interactions have beenâ
| less than stellar.


GNOME usability hackfest

,----[ Quote ]
| The GNOME user experience hackfest in Boston was a great way to spend the
| worst week in Wall St history!
| Though there wasnât a lot of hacking, there was a LOT of discussion, and we
| covered a lot of ground. There were at least 7 Canonical folks there, so it
| was a bit of a mini-sprint and a nice opportunity to meet the team at the
| same time. We had great participation from a number of organisations and free
| spirits, thereâs a widespread desire to see GNOME stay on the forefront of
| usability.


Canonical to fund upstream Linux usability improvements

,----[ Quote ]
| Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth announced Wednesday that his company,
| Canonical, will hire professional designers and interaction experts to
| improve the usability of the Linux desktop software ecosystem. They will work
| closely with upstream developers to bring a better experience to users of the
| open source operating system.


Arrogance or efficiency? Why Microsoft redesigned the Office user interface,
Part 1

,----[ Quote ]
| Earlier this year, I was writing an e-mail message using Microsoft Office
| Outlook 2007 and clicked on the button for adding one of my signature blocks.
| Presto! Most of my message disappeared! Investigation and testing showed that
| the behavior was unpredictable; sometimes, only the existing default
| signature was replaced by the new signature but occasionally the program
| became confused and wiped out portions of the text as well.


Usability in Open Source Software

,----[ Quote ]
| Celeste Lyn Paul is Senior Interaction Architect for User-Centered Design,
| Inc., organizes the KDE Usability Project, and works with open source
| projects such as KDE, Linux Foundation, OpenUsability, and Ubuntu.


Software Freedom vs. Usability: Must We Lose One To Gain The Other?

,----[ Quote ]
| For years, this type of software freedom was enough to drive a cult-like
| following that has, over time, grown into a virtual army of users. From the
| most hardcore personalities like Richard Stallman, to those who are simply
| more interested in seeing successful adoption of their vision, like Linus
| Torvalds, the history of open source software and free software has been
| turbulent. How do open source and free software differ? Let's start off with
| visionaries from both camps.



Linux VS Windows usability.

,----[ Quote ]
| It all boils down to knowing what you are doing. Trying to do anything
| without the required knowledge is hard and the professionals make everything
| look easy. I would say that in terms of usability Linux has the upper hand.


There Is No Grand Theory of Usability

,----[ Quote ]
| We have touched on this discussion a couple of times before on OSNews,
| most notably when we ran a poll on whether or not GNOME should include a
| patch to enable a global application menubar. The 175 comments to that
| story provided us with some very valuable insights concerning the matter;
| most importantly, it illustrated how hard it actually is to make a case
| for any (G)UI related standpoint, probably because in contrast to many
| other computing related issues, you cannot benchmark usability.
| [...]
| Now, it was not my intention to 'attack' the Macintosh interface; in
| fact, I prefer it over Windows' and GNOME's, and I make my KDE behave
| exactly like it.


beryl: usability (iv) - the wheel switcher

,----[ Quote ]
| You can activate the wheel switcher using the <super><tab> key
| combo. In terms of keyboard strokes, it works the same as <alt><tab>,
| you press <super><tab> to switch one application in the forward
| direction and <shift><super><tab> to go the other way.
| [...]
| The advantage that I see for this in terms of usability is that
| you can see all of the applications clearly, as they spin around
| the ring. This gives you plenty of time to focus in on the one you
| want, and watch its progress around the ring, so that you can make
| sure you stop in the right place. In my view, this is a great
| improvement on both beryl's standard switcher and also the
| switchers on non-composited window managers.


beryl: usability (v) - howto manage virtual desktops using the wall plugin

,----[ Quote ]
| On some window managers, moving your mouse to the side of a desktop,
| and you'd flip to the virtual desktop "situated" immediately to the
| left or right of the current desktop. The rotating cube has become
| very popular in terms of giving virtual desktops a physical identity
| on your computer - I have to say, giving virtual desktops more
| physicality has certainly encouraged me to use them more than
| when they were switched by means of key press, but without
| giving each desktop its own physical "space" in the computer.
| The latest versions of beryl have a new plugin called "wall",
| which gives virtual desktops a 2d space.


,----[ Quote ]
| grouper plugin and tabbed windows
| The grouper plugin allows you to join various windows into
| groups, and perform actions on all the windows as one. For
| example, if you resize one window in a group, all windows are
| resized. If you move one window in the group, they all move.
| [...]
| scale plugin and the four desktop corners
| Because the four corners of the desktop are the easiest parts to hit
| with your mouse, it makes sense to try and put some form of useful
| action in each of the four corners.


howto drag and drop files/text using the beryl scale plugin

,----[ Quote ]
| Under a normal window manager, you can drag and drop files/text
| between applications no problem at all. If the target window is
| hidden behind others, usually you drag the file/text up to the
| taskbar, wait for the relevant window to focus, and drop the
| ile.
| [...]
| This is a cool little feature that allows you to drag and drop
| files between applications on the same desktop, or different
| desktops.


,----[ Quote ]
| Problem is, I spread my applications across all 4 desktops, so
| that things feel uncluttered when I'm working on an application.
| However, when you want to keep an eye on several applications at
| a time, it's impossible - except, if you have beryl. What I do
| is set one of the corners of my desktop to activate the scale
| plugin to show all windows from all desktops (see here for a
| more detailed explanation). I also make sure that it shows
| minimised windows.


Gimp 2.3 (preview of 2.4)

,----[ Quote ]
| The major change for this release seems to be a big usability
| overhaul. New defaults are now in place that make the Gimp look
| a little bit like Photoshop, but still has many features that
| make it unique.


Poor Design by Microsoft - "Save As" Button in 2007 Excel has been located!

,----[ Quote ]
| In an experiment 4 out of 5 users took longer than 2 minutes to find
| the SAVE AS button. And 3 of those users needed to use the PAPER CLIP
| (CLIPPY). This is clearly poor design upon Microsoft. They never think
| about the end user. The menu structure is horrific and it has been
| proven inefficient!


The Vista taskbar: it's worse than XP's

,----[ Quote ]
| Rather than cutting the functionality altogether, Microsoft could
| have simply made undocking a toolbar a more deliberate action (e.g.
| via a context menu) rather than a drag-and-drop thing, so that Flora
| Average didn't do it accidentally with her less-than-stellar
| hand-mouse coordination while trying to open Microsoft Word.


Vista's "Open With" Dialog a MAJOR step back!

,----[ Quote ]
| The only program to choose from is the officially associated program.
| I went on to click ?Browse?, and I was greeted with the following
| window, where I had to manually search for Wordpad to open the
| configuration file! Leading to wastage of seconds from my life,
| just because Microsoft changed something that didn?t need any
| change at all.


Why power users will hate Vista

,----[ Quote ]
| I've been testing Vista in the last few days and I've been trying to
| wrap my head around it. I'm trying to figure an objective approach to
| it, but it's really hard, because I simply don't like most of the
| things I see. One of the reasons for this is the fact that Windows
| Vista doesn't offer anything new for Windows power users - actually,
| it's only taking away from them.


Why Has Microsoft Abandoned the Power User?

,----[ Quote ]
| I don't know about you, but I'm feeling abandoned these
| days, as Windows Vista and Internet Explorer are
| increasingly closed off.
| How about you -- do you see any evidence of this
| disturbing trend?


Microsoft Power Users, Part II

,----[ Quote ]
| There's no Microsoft Power User "WinHEC" out there. Microsoft
| is all about the developer, and seldom seems to cater to the
| true enthusiasts. There's a loosely-constructed MVP program
| (of which I am a member, with the Windows Digital Media
| distinction), but no real company mission to listen to what's
| going on in the world outside the Microsoft (to use their word)e
| cosystem. And because of that, we end up with sloppy,
| "just good enough" experiences. My earlier post on the
| pre-beta of Longhorn illustrates my point ENTIRELY.
| [...]


Robert McLaws: Windows Vista Edition

,----[ Quote ]
| Windows Defragmentation in Vista is the worst offender of all. It really has
| come full circle from the Windows 95 days.


Analyst slams Vista's 'backward' UI

,----[ Quote ]
| Windows Vista is a step back in usability, researcher claims


Vista Irritations

,----[ Quote ]
| According to this Slashdot article, copying, moving and deleting
| files is slower under Vista. At least now I know why extracting a
| compressed file under Vista is like watching paint dry/grass grow
| (I've only tried using Winzip 11).
| [...]
| Now we name our directory and it?s done right? Not quite, because
| after typing your directory name and pressing enter, it's time
| for yet more prompts...


Vista: Slow and Dangerous

,----[ Quote ]
| Most of the time I spent testing Vista was with sluggish pre-release
| versions. I expected things to improve when I ran the finished software
| on PCs configured for the new Windows version. I now realize that
| Vista really is slow unless you throw a lot of hardware at it.
| Microsoft claims it will run with 512 megabytes of memory. I had
| recommended a minimum of a gigabyte, but 2 GB is more like it if
| you want snappy performance.
| [...]
| The most exasperating thing about Vista, though, is the security
| feature called User Account Control. UAC, satirized in an Apple
| ad as a security guy who constantly interrupts a conversation,
| appears as a pop-up asking permission before Windows...

Version: GnuPG v1.4.9 (GNU/Linux)


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