[vox-if] How'd it go?

Christopher James McKenzie mckenzie at cs.ucdavis.edu
Tue Oct 24 18:16:31 PDT 2006

Alex Mandel wrote:
> choice of window managers. So it would be good to give them 5 minutes to
> look at Gnome, KDE, XFCE and maybe another really commmon one.

That is a good point, but I think you have to be very careful to have a 
constructive solution.  When VCRs first came out, producers thought that 
consumers would be scared by the number of buttons on the device.  This 
was a widely held belief, if the consumer sees a lot of buttons he 
thinks "Complicated! Never mind! I will take this one."

As a result, the producers took out buttons to like, set the clock.  So 
in order to set the clock on a VCR it became a much more complex task.

It would have, in the long run, been unconditionally simpler to have 
more buttons.

This completely nonsensical doctrine persists today.  If your product 
does 10 functions and has 1 button, it is seen to be elegant.  Where as 
in truth, it is difficult to use and cumbersome.

The moral of the story is that the uninformed user can't be trusted that 
he knows what he wants.  The "Less buttons means easier to use" is the 
Exact opposite of the truth.

Usually how I approach the problem is I ask the person what he or she 
wishes to do with the machine.  Based on the answer, I make a 

For example, I have actually said "You want windows." a few times like 
when someone asked, "I want a gaming machine with good support for newer 

> The other major consideration is graphical package manager. Synaptic was
> a life saver for me. I can search the descriptions of packages to try

Yes, being able to install binaries from a repository via some 
point-and-click interface is great for beginners, I agree.  And I also 
admit to being completely out of the loop on them.  I am almost 
completely unaware of what different distributions provide...sorry.


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