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Author Topic: Reality Check.  (Read 6340 times)
nightflier
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Vectorian
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« on: November 28, 2008, 10:15:59 pm »

Ah, Thanksgiving, a time for socializing and gorging on food and drink. I took the opportunity to show VL Light to some of my kid's friends, just to see how they reacted to it. These are "kids" with three years of college behind them, supposedly tech savvy and connected. I wanted to see how intuitive the GUI was to someone who had never seen it before. I was not all that surprised that "Dillo", "HV3", or "Opera" meant nothing to them, but not even the top entry on the menu, labeled "Browser", was of any help. They could not get on the Internet without me showing them how. After some discussion, the consensus was that there needed to be an icon on the desktop labeled "Internet".

A lot of people criticize distros which look too much like the dominant desktop OS, but I understand why it is so. A standard has been set, much like the qwerty keyboard. Never mind that the keys are deliberately positioned so as to slow down your typing (early mechanical typewriters would jam if you typed too fast on them).

Still, I'm inclined to keep Light in a configuration that makes sense to me, and hopefully a lot of VL regulars, rather than dumb it down and make look like something that it isn't.

Opinions?
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GrannyGeek
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« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2008, 10:55:42 pm »

>>  I'm inclined to keep Light in a configuration that makes sense to me, and hopefully a lot of VL regulars, rather than dumb it down and make look like something that it isn't. >>

I haven't used Light and I don't know what its possibilities are as far as customizing, but the beauty of Linux as that you can set up the system for many levels of users. People who can't figure out how to get on the Internet except through an icon labeled "Internet" are not likely to install and set up an operating system. So for that kind of user, you would give them the icon labeled "internet," and an icon labeled "Word Processor" and "E-mail" and "Media Player" and whatever else they need from the get-go.

>> A lot of people criticize distros which look too much like the dominant desktop OS, but I understand why it is so. A standard has been set >>

I think Linux has to look familiar to a Windows user who is not trying out Linux due to hatred of Windows. Most Windows users don't hate it. It's "good enough" for what they want to do. If a Linux desktop looks too unfamiliar to this type of user, they're not likely to be enchanted by its unfamiliarity and seized by the desire to explore it.  Most people just aren't that interested in computers and they don't appreciate learning curves.

>> supposedly tech savvy and connected >>

I'm skeptical about just how "tech savvy" an average young person is. Like most computer users, they know how to do what they want to do and that's about all you can be sure of.
--GrannyGeek
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Registered Linux User #397786

Happily running VL 7 Gold on  a Sempron LE-1300 desktop (2.3 GHz), 4 G RAM,  GeForce 6150 SE onboard graphics and on an HP Pavilion dv7 i7, 6 gigs, Intel 2nd Generation Integrated Graphics Controller
stretchedthin
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Vectorian
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Posts: 3780


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« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2008, 11:15:43 pm »

Your Thanksgiving day reminds me of an article I just read in Linux Format magazine, called 'The Girlfriend Test'
Basically, the writer challenged his girlfriend to...

Bookmark a website in firefox
Write and print a letter in openoffice
Rip a CD
Send an instant message
Create a pie chart in OpenOffice
Put the ripped cd on her ipod
Photoshop her head on to his body.
Watch a video on you tube
and Make a phone call using skype.

The results where much the same as your guests.

He wrote a number of ideas in his findings which I took as this... conform or educate.  Conforming would be to recognize that windows is the defacto standard and emulate it.  The alternative would be to start including welcome screens or tutorials front and center within the Linux distro that would give new users the benefits and concepts of using Linux and programs on that distro.

My opinion is mostly, the later.  Distro's need there own identities and a big part of that is there own look and feel.  However, menu entries that read CD/DVD Burner, rather than k3b, would be a lot less confusing to new users.

Your Thoughts
 
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Triarius Fidelis
Vecteloper
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Posts: 2399


Domine, exaudi vocem meam


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« Reply #3 on: November 29, 2008, 12:11:24 am »

>> A lot of people criticize distros which look too much like the dominant desktop OS, but I understand why it is so. A standard has been set >>

I think Linux has to look familiar to a Windows user who is not trying out Linux due to hatred of Windows. Most Windows users don't hate it. It's "good enough" for what they want to do. If a Linux desktop looks too unfamiliar to this type of user, they're not likely to be enchanted by its unfamiliarity and seized by the desire to explore it.  Most people just aren't that interested in computers and they don't appreciate learning curves.

Most people aren't auto mechanics, but if they drive cars, they should know how to change oil and tires, and not drive recklessly on the highway.

On second thought, never mind.
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"Leatherface, you BITCH! Ho Chi Minh, hah hah hah!"

Formerly known as "Epic Fail Guy" and "Döden" in recent months
tomh38
Vectorian
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« Reply #4 on: November 29, 2008, 03:42:51 am »

My girlfriend uses Vector Linux ...

The only problem she's had is setting up file associations in Thunderbird (which is the email app I recommended to her).  Then again, her system she had to use at work for years was some proprietary Unix.  She's also used various iterations of Windows over the years.  She's learned that with any GUI if you sit down and start experimenting you can learn most of what you need to know.  The rest is either documented somewhere, or a question has been asked and answered and can be found on Google.  Just because somebody can't figure something out immediately doesn't mean they can't ever understand it.  The main thing is they not give up too easily.

Tom
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"I'm doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won't be big and professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones." - Linus Torvalds, April 1991
Lyn
Vectorian
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Posts: 650



« Reply #5 on: November 29, 2008, 04:14:14 am »

Mmmm well I used to work as an IT instructor - and from a generation that had grown up using computers most were unaware of the basics.  And indeed on one level why should they know them, after all as long as they can do what they need to do why should they know all the ins and outs.  Having said that the level of ignorance extended to not knowing what an operating system was and what an application was.  This stems from most of them having everything bundled with the machine when they buy it. 
It also extended to not knowing what a web browser was or what a word processor was.  They knew that you could surf the internet with Internet Explorer and they knew you could use Word to write letters with.   One of the qualifications I taught was the European Computer Driving License, which was supposedly software/OS neutral.   It did include a module on the basics of computing, ie what hardware is, what software is, what is an application and what is an Operating system.  Many found this one of the hardest modules - as it dealt with concepts rather than a sequence of key presses.  The module on file types and file organisation was also difficult for many. 

As to computer interfaces, well there is little choice there, going back to early GUIs like GEM you see icons and file managers - ok no start button but that came later.  Once certain paradigms are set its difficult to move away.  All GUIs live in a common ecosystem as it were, so all will be influenced by each other.  With Linux we have the luxury of choice, so my preferred gui is IceWM, which I have got to look the way I like, and is nice and lightweight.  Others like XFCE or KDE or GNOME etc, but most seem to have a menu button, ok flux and WindowMaker don't but they then all have a click on the desktop to bring up a list of programs.  So even without the menu button they have the same functionality. 

In reality it takes little time to learn to use any desktop.  OK the programs will have obscure names (Gimp, Access, Xine, Excel etc) but usually you can find out what they do by launching them... so a little exploring can go a long way. 

Of course tutorials etc are good, here I will mention the multimedia bonus disk which comes with a nice manual that can get you started with some of the applications.

It would be nice if there was a link/icon that lead to simple tutorial videos for people, but this is something that I think is beyond the scope of Vector as present constituted.  Though a nice side project for someone.  And certainly I'd be against putting them on the CD (though on a bonus cd for paid for versions might be an idea), a link to a website would be good.
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Triarius Fidelis
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Domine, exaudi vocem meam


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« Reply #6 on: November 29, 2008, 04:21:49 pm »

In reality it takes little time to learn to use any desktop.  OK the programs will have obscure names (Gimp, Access, Xine, Excel etc) but usually you can find out what they do by launching them... so a little exploring can go a long way.

snowwhite.exe ... what's this?
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"Leatherface, you BITCH! Ho Chi Minh, hah hah hah!"

Formerly known as "Epic Fail Guy" and "Döden" in recent months
overthere
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« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2008, 06:25:25 pm »

NO..antonio...don't do it...

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Everything Is Relative
Lyn
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Posts: 650



« Reply #8 on: November 30, 2008, 02:44:16 am »

LOL well I didn't say it wouldn't break the system....
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tomh38
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Posts: 913



« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2008, 06:42:55 am »

I told my girlfriend about "The Girlfriend Test."  Her response, without knowing the details of the test, was "bring it on."

Passed every question, except you have to substitute "sony mp3 player" for "ipod" and "gimp" for "photoshop."

Tom
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"I'm doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won't be big and professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones." - Linus Torvalds, April 1991
tomh38
Vectorian
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Posts: 913



« Reply #10 on: November 30, 2008, 08:30:13 am »

Some of what I'm writing in this post will repeat things other people have said.

stretchedthin posted "The Girlfriend Test" and wrote that he took his friend's conclusions as "conform or educate."  I'm not disputing this.  I think that the main GUIs for Linux (Gnome, KDE, more recently for me Xfce) are close enough to what you find in various versions of Windows and the Mac OS that the "conform" part is already achieved.  More conformity at this point would lead to diminishing returns, in my humble and therefore correct opinion.  Grin

Two examples come to mind.  I have a cousin who was born with a severe cognitive impairment.  Even the most basic things come with difficulty for him.  Let me be clear about this:  the guy is retarded.  But, five years ago his family got him a computer with Windows XP.  He can do most of the things on that list.  The most likely exception is the pie chart, since it involves abstraction, which is pretty much beyond him.  Second example:  I have a friend who is a university professor.  He's very good in his field, and very knowledgeable about things outside his field.  His IQ is probably 100 points higher than my cousin's.  Nevertheless, he can barely use his computer.  His secretary prints out his email.  He writes out his responses longhand and she uses his machine to send them.

What's the difference?  It's not age, since these two men aren't more than five years apart in age.  The only thing I can think of is that my cousin has a great desire to learn how to use his computer, whereas my professor friend has none, and may in fact be afraid to do so (or he may think it's beneath him ... I really don't know, but it wouldn't be the first time I would have encountered the attitude).

Tom
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"I'm doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won't be big and professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones." - Linus Torvalds, April 1991
overthere
Vectorian
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Posts: 1281



« Reply #11 on: November 30, 2008, 03:52:54 pm »

well...there are those who think all computers are the same and give little recognition of the fact that there are different parts inside..most of these people think the operating system is part of the computer and when it gets messed up, the computer has malfunctioned..
I feel that these folks have little interest in computers as art in the sence that conformity is not nessessarily a good thing. but I can see where the start button strategically placed left as in windows and double click icons may be handy for that group. The beauty of vector is that it defaults to stupid mode but offers some alternative artistic expessions for those who want it and tools to add more. choice matters regardless
one would think that someone seeking an alternative to windows would expect to find something refreshingly, even totally different, otherwise why bother. that's why I like useing vl's fluxbox..I am not saying xfce is stupid for those who went there...just that it is a good default for the conformity crowd. I am drawn to vectors variety..are there any others that offer as many options in one distro..
conformity in programs has it's merit..xmms and winamp are very easy to use and similar. in this case both do what one may expect a player to do..ie play a folder of music files...adding each song to a play list can be tedious..so the functionality has value..I do not think windows gui is nessessarily the best possible functionality. in flux box if I put a cd in the drive and click a button it shows me whats on it and if I know it is a dvd and I wantr to play it I click another button and it plays..in winxp I have already proceeded to activate the player when a dialog ask what I want to do with the dvd..
umm..ok I'll stop typeing
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Everything Is Relative
nightflier
Administrator
Vectorian
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Posts: 4024



« Reply #12 on: November 30, 2008, 06:50:06 pm »

I really didn't mean to complain about the end users. My frustration was more with how wrong my assumptions were. I was surprised because many of them have switched from Windows to Mac, and seem to be doing fine there. Personally, I think the difference between Windows and Mac GUI is greater than going from Win to IceWM. I struggle to get anywhere on my daughter's OSX laptop. Maybe the coolness factor is a big motivating factor.

Still, the week was not without rewards. I installed Linux on a laptop for my girlfriend's dad, in a dual boot configuration with WXP. I got his Verizon Wireless Aircard working and turned him loose. At age 69 he only needed a few pointers to get started. He was amazed by how much faster everything was and requested that the boot menu default to Linux.  Grin

After thinking some more about it, I do not think it would be feasible to customize the menu with descriptive names, since it is auto-generated using the names provided by the program packages themselves.

I have started on a tutorial that I plan to have a launcher shortcut for right at the desktop. Now, what icon should I use, and what name should I give it?  Wink
« Last Edit: November 30, 2008, 06:58:31 pm by nightflier » Logged
Lyn
Vectorian
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Posts: 650



« Reply #13 on: December 01, 2008, 01:26:03 am »


I have started on a tutorial that I plan to have a launcher shortcut for right at the desktop. Now, what icon should I use, and what name should I give it?  Wink

Well that is an interesting one, depends on the content, hints and tips maybe or tutorial would do?
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tomh38
Vectorian
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Posts: 913



« Reply #14 on: December 01, 2008, 03:50:16 am »

nightflier:  I don't own a Mac, don't want one ... even if somebody gave me one for nothing I would probably put some variety of Linux on it.  Still, occasionally I've used Macs since the 80s, and I agree with you - the UI is certainly no more intuitive than Windows.  I do think that at least since the first iPods came out the "coolness" factor has attracted a lot of people.  Apple does have great marketing.  Also, I want to be clear that I have nothing against Apple, their products, or the people who use them.  It's just not my thing.

I'd like to offer my help with your tutorial.  Anything I can do ... or nothing if you don't need my help.  As far as what to call it, I would suggest deciding that once it's finished.  That usually works for me on projects.

Tom
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"I'm doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won't be big and professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones." - Linus Torvalds, April 1991
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