Taking the attitude that it is up to the end user to build in new hardware, software or security is like asking him to build into his car the bumpers, engine, air-bags, and seatbelts, all by himself. Should we force travelers to build in the safety features normally built into an airplane while waiting for their flight at the airport? We have left the average PC user hanging without proper forethought on the part of software and hardware designers about what could go wrong, how to make it easy to use, how to make it easy to integrate with other computers or the internet or with other hardware and software, or preventing it from being broken into by malicious people. People will use a Palm Pilot in preference to a PC just because it is simpler.
Who asks a user to do these things? If a user has a problem with their car, they take it to the mechanic. Just as when they have a problem with their computer, they take it to their computer store to be repaired.
A car manufacturer cannot make a car safe, nor can it make it secure. The manufacturer can install air-bags and seatbelts to avoid getting into a lawsuit when the car does crash. It can put door-locks and car alarms in a car so they will not be held responsible when the car is stolen.
A computer vendor should install all of the software and hardware to run a computer. They should put some virus protection program and schedule a regular hard disk cleanup. But once the machine leaves the showroom, it is the responsibility of the owner.
A friend of mine bought a whizz-bang computer recently. He is not very computer savvy, so he has treated the machine pretty badly. When his machine stopped working, he took it back to the people that sold it to him, and they had a look at it. They told him that this had been caused because he was missing a file. They fixed the problem and sent him the bill.
My friend was less than happy to be charged $100 for the repairs, and rang and complained. He still refuses to pay saying that it is the computer company's fault for not checking that this file was present. But the computer was running perfectly when he brought it home and opened the box... During the weeks before the computer stopped working, he had been out joyriding with it every night. If this had been a mistreated car, the mechanic would not be held responsible because a person doesn't know how to treat their machinery.
No, it is the responsibility of evey driver to make sure that their brakes are still working. If they don't know how the car works, and how to maintain, they have to learn. Why is this not the same with computers. Why am I responsible because Jo Smith decided to open the attachment before checking it with a virus scanner?
Why is it that people are more than happy to pay a mechanic for servicing their car, but not their computer. People want brilliant tech-support, but they are not willing to pay the price for it.
This shows that the trend is toward and should be toward more centralized and simplistic services that work behind the scenes to protect and make it easier for the user to use their computer safely.
I agree with you. But who will pay for it? If the ISP told the user that they were going to virus scan every email and they were going to be charged 0.01 cents per email, many users would avoid using their email, or find a provider who did not have this charge. You don't believe me? How many people do you know that have bought their copy of Windows 95/98/ME? I can guarantee you that most copies owned have been distributed with a new PC.
People don't think that our work is worth paying for. Why?
My friend is a classic case. He asked me to fix up his computer. This required reinstalling windows and adding a hard drive, as well as tinkering with a few devices and adding some RAM. I told him that I would charge him 40 dollars (australian) an hour, a reasonable price. He said that he thought it was unreasonable for me to ask a friend for payment for something so minor.
He works in a retail store, so I asked him whether he would think it fair if I asked him to stock my shelves for me for no wages. To which he did not answer.
Should we propose a cost that is similar to or higher than the PC they just purchased? This may be affordable for corporations but is not for the average home user.
And if you look at the security systems in a corporation's headquarters and compare it to your system at home. Magnetic locks, security keycards, closed circuit television and usually a team of security guards. So, who should be making sure there is a guard watching my house? Who is going to supply me with the closed circuit television systems and the alarms?
The answer is me, because I am responsible for my personal security, and if I wanted the security of a guard and a CCTV system, I would have to pay a cost similar to the cost of my home.
The home user does not have the expertise to use products (hardware or software) that require steep learning curves, classes, large and involved manuals, or just much time to learn. So, simplicity is the second most important aspect.
No, I disagree with this. They don't need to do that to make sure their computer is secure. Operating Systems these days are pretty simple. What can't be learned through intuition can be learned through easily accessible help files, manuals, and the internet. But people aren't reading the manual.
A person who has never driven a car has to pass a test before they are allowed to drive a car, and then they have to go through a probationary period before they are granted a full license. Why should it not be expected that you will have to conquer a learning curve before you can confidently use it.
I have been using computers for years, and I am a confident user. I don't need to think too hard on simple tasks. When I first started using them, I had trouble figuring out how to save a text file.
This is the same with driving a car. When you first start driving, you are very nervous on the road, you need to focus most of your attention on aspects like accelleration and signalling. These are simple tasks that experienced drivers take for granted. But you forget, you needed lessons to learn how to drive. A veteran driver rarely consciously thinks on these subjects, as they have spent years learning them.
In the corporate environment we can afford to pay a sys. admin. to do these things. Not at home.
A corporation would pay a sysadmin to do these things, because they are protecting THEIR property. The home user should have to pay, just as a corporation has to pay for their security.
Look at it this way. A corporation could have a network set up, and they could employ a consultant one day a week, and whenever trouble comes up... This would be very expensive. The other option they have, which is much cheaper, is to hire a full/part-time employee who is qualified to do these things. This, in essence, means that the corporation LEARNS to maintain their network.
Why is it unreasonable to ask that an individual learn how to maintain their computer. And besides, what kind of a home user has a machine that needs a router or a firewall. The average user just logs in and gets their email, reads the news and downloads porn. The closest they will ever come to a hacker comes in the form of a virus. If you knew that image files from the net ended in JPG and GIF, and that Visual Basic Scripts ended in VBS, you would have know not to open the Anna Kornikova attachment now, wouldn't you?
Simplify the process of setting up, hooking up by automatically detecting and installing hardware and software.
And what will you do if the user buys a device that wasn't in existence when the system was built? How do you propose vendors are going to update the system to include this?
Features that are built in must be turned on by default in the OS, or in the applications so that the user does not have to know how or what to do.
And what about users who want to turn a particular feature off? How will they know to do this. What if I can't support all of those features? My computer could be overloaded because all of these "features" are turned on. So what good is this solution if the computer crashes.
People cannot be expected to know such settings or tools even exist if there is no tutorial in the OS
But there are!!! I have used the windows troubleshooting guide, and read the help files and manuals when I have needed to, and more often than not, I find the answer there. When you first load up Windows, you are greeted with a "What's new" screen that contains links to tutorials and the like. But users close this page, they don't bother to read this stuff. Haven't you ever heard the term RTFM (read the f$cking manual).
No, people shouldn't be expected to know all of these things without a little guidance. But when the guidance is there in the form of how-tos and help files etc, they should at least read it before saying they don't know what to do.
In many cases the options are left up to the user to decide, specifically when they do not know what to do or what they are.
The first thing a normal person does when they buy software is rip open the cover and run the set-up program. They don't stop and read the section in the manual on setting up the program. If they had of, they would have known what the options meant.
You can only make a program so dumb, and you can't assume that this will be what the user wants. My father uses Quickbooks, and it has quite a dumb set-up. It installed itself to c:\QBW, and was set to do all calculations on an accrual basis. But this was not how he wanted it set-up, and six months into the year when tax time came, he found out that all of his figures had been wrong because of this. Had the software asked these questions, instead of hiding them in the back of some preference tab and defaulting to a certain value, my father would not have made this mistake.
Now I don't have the time, expertise or equipment to do this. So I go to the dealership and JiffyLube to do these things. They can do it a lot faster than I can anyway.
So, what's your point? If my computer doesn't work, I take it to JiffyNerd and get it fixed.
But hang on!!! People hate mechanics. The usual joke goes that you went in for a new tire, and you left with new brake pads, radiator hose, four new tyres, and they realligned your wheels. But it's a big car, and you know nothing about how to fix it yourself, so you don't complain.
But when people's computers aren't working, they do complain.
If we have to say to ourselves "Aunt Minnie would not, or can not use this PC without my having to teach her how." We have failed.
Well, then we will always fail. One interface will always have a section of users who can understand it straight away, and a group of users who don't. There will always be questions that need answering. Really though, for things like email programs, it wouldn't be easy to create a CD that knows who you are and exactly how you want to set something... though it would be nice.
We should not complain that she is "naive" and "technically illiterate".
Can Aunt Minnie read?
Who taught Aunt Minnie how to rotate crops? Or were the fields laid out in such a way that they just rotate themselves. Yes, we should be making applications and computers that need no explaining, but we can't.
Try to apply this to the alphabet. A should be designed in such a way that we know that it is A without having to ask, should it not? But when I first saw the letter A, I didn't know what it was, until A was one of the Guest letters in Sesame Street.
Look dude, I used to share your view that software should be intuitive. But since I have worked in support, I have found that most users make mistakes because they didn't read or follow the instructions of use. They then call me up and ask me how to do it. So, I show them. But they don't pay attention.
I work on the documentation for our software at work, so I get given a lot of the support calls. My mother uses our software for work, so I get her to criticise my explanatory skills. So far, she hasn't been able to find much wrong with it. She can use the software, and very rarely needs to look beyond the manual when she needs help on something. My mother is so computer illiterate that if you tell her to click on the start button she says, "Start what?". But some of her younger employees who use the software, and who are always eager to show me how savvy they are on the computer constantly call me up asking me how to do this or that... Not one person who calls up support has read the manual.
I think that instead of asking why we make it so hard for the end user to learn computing, we should be asking why they are too lazy to spend a bit of time familiarising themselves with this new technology... Just like you had to do when you learnt to drive.
Intuitive interfaces draw heavily on your assumed knowledge. You know that if you put something in the trash can you are disposing of it. On a computer, you would be deleting it. But what if you had never seen a trash can before? It would just be another meaningles icon.
I mean, what if I had never laid eyes on a keyboard/typewriter before? Can we then say that you think a keyboard should have a more intuitive interface? It is all good and well to say that assumed knowledge is enough on its own, but you assume that people will assume things the same way you do.