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#1 2004-04-25 06:19:34

rasat
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From: Finland, working in Romania
Registered: 2002-12-27
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PC-Phobia

Why are people so afraid of PCs? Are they fundamentally flawed, and can Linux help do something about it?

I am not asking this question as a informal jibe, either. I would like to know what it is about computers that so intimidates people. People don't get this worried about their telephones, or their TVs, or their microwaves. But they do tend to fret about their VCRs and TiVOs. Why? Because the interfaces are not as intuitive. Does the same apply to the average PC GUI?

Linux Today
Editor's Note: PC-Phobia--Would a New GUI Paradigm Help?

http://linuxtoday.com/developer/2004042302626OPDT

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#2 2004-04-25 18:16:11

Dusty
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Re: PC-Phobia

This is interesting. I'm planning on doing major research into some sort of new desktop paradigm for a school project. This guy doesn't give much food for thought, but it does interest me that I'm not the only one dissatisfied with the current model.

Dusty

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#3 2004-04-25 19:18:01

aCoder
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From: Medina, OH
Registered: 2004-03-07
Posts: 359
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Re: PC-Phobia

I agree.  The only thing I'm always unhappy with is my GUI.  As for how to fix that...


If you develop an ear for sounds that are musical it is like developing an ego. You begin to refuse sounds that are not musical and that way cut yourself off from a good deal of experience.
  - John Cage

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#4 2004-04-26 02:25:43

Zephirias
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From: Pennsylvania, USA
Registered: 2004-04-26
Posts: 179

Re: PC-Phobia

This being my first post here, I might as well say hello. Being a Linux user for the past year or so, I think that the main problem is the GUI. If it's not user-friendly, people get scared off. If they could just fix this, Linux would finally start to take off even further than it already has in the past few months.


"Technically, you would only need one time traveler convention."

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#5 2004-04-26 04:59:37

rasat
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From: Finland, working in Romania
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Re: PC-Phobia

The article is interesting and I think many users are aware of this phobia / feel the fear but few want to admit or speak about it.

What would be a PC-phobia free GUI? This requires a study... starting from a self-study. The developer him/herself has to analyze his/her feeling / experience with different GUIs and equipments.

If I would use this model of development, I felt good with the first GUI of Caldera (icons categorized in different window groups.... similar to Windows 3.x). When KDE was introduced there was a fear, hiding programs behind a menu. Palm (PDA) GUIs are nice showing all functions in visible categories either as icon or push button.

Beautiful / clean desk creates an illusion / speculation, and fear of doing something wrong. A desk with everything visible awakens a curiosity / feeling of adventure / discovery.

To develop a GUI on a honest personal experience, will certainly not satisfy everyone. But if several developers create a personal GUI model and compare the results, an average GUI maybe created.

EDIT.
Today I like my iconless / clean desk because knowing what's inside. But many of my friends feel uneasy to use my PC.

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#6 2004-04-26 06:15:40

dp
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From: Zürich, Switzerland
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Re: PC-Phobia

rasat wrote:

...But many of my friends feel uneasy to use my PC.

that's the reason i boot into a black console and not into a gui-login per default :-)


The impossible missions are the only ones which succeed.

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#7 2004-04-26 06:53:03

robot5x
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Registered: 2004-01-26
Posts: 266

Re: PC-Phobia

The problem is that everyone thinks and rationalises things in different ways - what may be intuitive for me may be just plain weird for someone else. So the choice is then to have a whole range of different GUIs or one standard well-developed GUI and to force everyone to get used to that.
Personally, I'm not organised or rational so the filing-system basis of modern GUIs does not make sense - but I appreciate that it can be quick and logical once you are used to it. Something like Sun's Looking Glass is for right-brainers and, I imagine, more inspirational to children - for me, I'm too past it to change my ways so I'm stuck with my filing system for now. An interesting debate tho.

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#8 2004-04-26 08:17:59

rasat
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Re: PC-Phobia

robot5x wrote:

Something like Sun's Looking Glass...

Project Looking Glass by Sun Microsystems:
http://wwws.sun.com/software/looking_glass/details.html

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#9 2004-04-26 11:56:36

i3839
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Registered: 2004-02-04
Posts: 1,185

Re: PC-Phobia

What GUI are you talking about exactly? The most GUI-like program I use is a webbrowser, and webpages themselves are a kind of GUI, so no matter how you change the rest, that will always stay the same.

Other than that, I tried Gnome and KDE a bit... One big disappointment, I really expected more from them. KDE makes me feel and act like a noob, Gnome frustrates me with lack of features. After those two I suddenly had much more respect for Xfce4. Personally I use Fluxbox because it behaves the most comfortable and leaves the most space left (black background, no GUI in sight, especially useful with smaller monitors). I do all the filebrowsing in a xterm though, most GUI's never heard of tab completion. I really recommend Xfce4 for people who want an IDE.

About Sun'd Looking Glass...
Screens are flat, simple as that, and as long as programs aren't designed in a 3D way, having a 3D desktop is useless eyecandy. I guess people will love it, but I don't expect it to lessen the PC-Phobia.

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#10 2004-04-26 15:40:19

Dusty
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Re: PC-Phobia

i3839 wrote:

Screens are flat, simple as that, and as long as programs aren't designed in a 3D way, having a 3D desktop is useless eyecandy. I guess people will love it, but I don't expect it to lessen the PC-Phobia.

My initial interest in a better way to navigate a system went into developing a different concept of 3D navigation, not based on VR (computers are better --less limited-- than reality, so why imitate it?). My experiments resulted in the conclusion that my plans were effective, but could have been more easily understood by cutting out the third dimension. My basic premise was to store objects infinitely in three space, I found that the same effect could easily store objects infinitely in 2 space.

I visualize best from the command line, and prefer developing tools for it. Many programs work better (even editors, IMHO) as a GUI, however.  I don't use a desktop metaphor (I use fluxbox devel too), and hate the mouse (everything is hotkeyed); mouse takes too much time.

My main problem with current windowing systems is not, in fact, the desktop, but the windows. I suppose windows are akin to sheets of paper on a desk, and we all know how hard it is to keep paper organized. Keeping stuff on separate desktops helps, but each sheet might now be many steps away from where it was originally.

I think windows shouldn't overlap (anybody ever try rat poison wm? it sucked but illustrates my idea).  The thing is to not have to fit them all on the screen. Think of a wall covered in maps or a storyboard. Everything is visible, but you can only look at one thing at a time. Think of an infinite wall and the screen can pan over the items on the wall. Related items can be stored close together, unrelated items grouped apart.

Also, I think all-inclusive programs (like web browsers that keep bookmarks, or mail managers that keep the mail inside the manager) are counter productive. Mail should be kept in the filesystem so you can store a message with the project files (report, program source, data, whatever) it relates to. Similarly, bookmarks should be stored in the fs. To visit a page, open the browser on that bookmark, surf around a bit, close it.

My current setup has the browser, mail, and editor programs open at all times, as well as several terminals. Its hard to juggle between them, even with virtual desktops.

Now then, that's my general overview and way too many words on what I plan to do in my project management research. :-D

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#11 2004-04-26 16:38:00

i3839
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Re: PC-Phobia

I use the mouse for navigation, and keys to do things. With the mouse I change workspaces, select windows, move windows, etc. With keys I start programs up, write text, use a terminal etc. Overlapping windows is something useful, if I look at my desk I see a bunch of stacks of overlapping papers, if they wouldn't overlap I could only see the one on top and it would be much harder to find the others, or there would be simply not enough space for them. Lucky it's less of a problem in Fluxbox because you can group windows together, but still then I have often a smaller window at the same place as a bigger window (e.g. a term or text editor on top of Firefox), with middle click on a window it goes to the background, so it's easy to access the smaller window. The advantage is that the big window can stay big (maximized).

The infinite 2D space idea sounds as a very big workspace to me. If you do ctrl+alt+- in X the resolution changes, but the workspace stays the same size and you can move around with moving the mouse pointer to the edge. Problem of infinity is that you aren't forced to keep things tidy because you always have enough space to drop your mess, and it's also big enough to get lost easily. For me more than 2 workspaces is already confusing, I only have 3 when I really have a lot windows open and are doing a lot of things at the same time (say 4 things at the same time and/or more than 10 windows). Normally I have one workspace with a maximized Firefox, and two or so rxvt terminals at the other.

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#12 2004-04-26 17:22:15

Dusty
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From: Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada
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Re: PC-Phobia

i3839 wrote:

The infinite 2D space idea sounds as a very big workspace to me. If you do ctrl+alt+- in X the resolution changes, but the workspace stays the same size and you can move around with moving the mouse pointer to the edge. Problem of infinity is that you aren't forced to keep things tidy because you always have enough space to drop your mess, and it's also big enough to get lost easily. For me more than 2 workspaces is already confusing, I only have 3 when I really have a lot windows open and are doing a lot of things at the same time (say 4 things at the same time and/or more than 10 windows). Normally I have one workspace with a maximized Firefox, and two or so rxvt terminals at the other.

These are good points that I will keep in mind as I experiment. My notice has been that I don't use a very large percentage of infinity anyway. Having separate work spaces physically divides work that should be logically connected. For example, if I am working on a program, I usually have a web browser with some reference open on one workspace, and editor open on another, an xterm on yet another... I could put these in a fluxbox group but I never got the hang of groups, which means that to date I don't like them. I don't like using the mouse for navigation, because it takes longer than (for xample) alt-tab...

Its an unsolved problem. :-D

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#13 2004-04-26 18:45:13

i3839
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Registered: 2004-02-04
Posts: 1,185

Re: PC-Phobia

The main limiting factor is screenspace I think, that's why workspaces are so useful. I have a 14 inch monitor, but luckily it can handle 1024x768, but still it's small. A webbrowser needs just too much space to really share it's workspace with other windows. Tabs are very useful when coding; a lot of code files, header files, etc.are open then, but fit in virtually one window. Same for xterms, they can often easily be grouped. I always have all the windows I need on the same workspace, with as only exception Firefox. Navigating with the mouse seems natural for me, but when moving to another window I switch attention anyway, so having to get and move the mouse isn't really interrupting. Besides, GUI programs in general are made to be used with the mouse.

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#14 2004-04-26 20:46:01

aCoder
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From: Medina, OH
Registered: 2004-03-07
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Re: PC-Phobia

I think the mouse's limitations are really just forms, buttons, menus.  GUI config tools are counter-intuitive for that very reason, since they have you using the mouse for everything it makes harder.  The wheel, however, is the greatest thing I've ever had attached to my PC.  It allows for one-touch workspace switching, option toggles, weapon switching wink , and, of course, scrolling.


If you develop an ear for sounds that are musical it is like developing an ego. You begin to refuse sounds that are not musical and that way cut yourself off from a good deal of experience.
  - John Cage

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#15 2004-04-27 03:58:57

rasat
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From: Finland, working in Romania
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Re: PC-Phobia

Dusty wrote:

Think of a wall covered in maps or a storyboard. Everything is visible, but you can only look at one thing at a time.

Mail should be kept in the filesystem so you can store a message with the project files (report, program source, data, whatever) it relates to.

When I was working as a designer, my working table was 2.4m x 1.5m to keep visible all current works. The future plan was to find a hall where to setup 2 or 3 such tables each for a particular work level/category.

The workspace system in Linux, is an ideal set of "tables". Currently I am using 6 workspaces. But its not enough...... something is still missing. I have tried adding more workspaces but doesn't help rather become confusing. What Dusty is saying "<b>...problem with current windowing systems is not, in fact, the desktop, but the windows</b>", I think it touches the missing part (in my case).

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#16 2004-04-27 22:39:11

aCoder
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From: Medina, OH
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Re: PC-Phobia

I have an idea for a GUI, which I'm hoping to start work on this summer, once school's out, and I've decided that it would be interesting to see what difference it would make to stop thinking in desktops, and having a certain number of them you could switch between, but having one desktop, as large as you want it, mostly resource-dependent for many of us, and be able to zoom into an area on it or zoom out, in order to see more of the desktop on the physical screen.  I also decided that areas should be able to be sectioned off for certain types of apps, or really, whatever conditions you feel like.  It will also have sort of a 'spatial' ideal to the way it handles windows, in the sense that they won't really be windows at all, but just the applications.  That's not to say that you can't resize, move, etc. them, though.  It's hard to explain without a visual.  Once I get something ready, I'll get hosting and post some of my concept sketches and notes.


If you develop an ear for sounds that are musical it is like developing an ego. You begin to refuse sounds that are not musical and that way cut yourself off from a good deal of experience.
  - John Cage

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#17 2004-04-27 22:53:41

Dusty
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From: Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada
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Re: PC-Phobia

aCoder wrote:

I have an idea for a GUI, which I'm hoping to start work on this summer

A lot of that is exactly what I've been thinking about, would you be interested in working on it together?

You might want to join Rasat, punkrockguy and I on the ADM, they just told me we're planning on doing a window manager too. :-D

http://bliss-solutions.org/archlinux/pr … /index.php
http://bliss-solutions.org/archlinux/wi … layManager

To be honest,  have too much on my plate, but I'm getting tired of eating and sleeping, so I can handle it. :-D

Dusty

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#18 2004-04-28 03:39:44

aCoder
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From: Medina, OH
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Posts: 359
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Re: PC-Phobia

Sounds like fun!  I'll warn you though, I may not be much help at the moment, both because I'm loaded down with end of the year work at school, and because my coding skills are mediocre at best, although mostly from a lack of experience/practice.  As for what experience I have:  I've played with Java a little, mostly to see what was so great, still have no idea, and I love Python.  I'm pretty sure anything can be done in Python, and if it can't, than write a new module!  The only thing I've actually accomplished with Python, however, is automating everything I don't feel like doing on my PC, which is always nice, but I'm surprised I actually did all that work just to avoid work, (Does that make me lazy, or creatively industrious?).  Yeah, I saw a lot of discussion about Python, which I'll join, and I'll be happy to help out where I can, although I'm pretty sure my desktop needs to be written from scratch, in Python, (of course!), so don't expect me to jump on the PLWM bandwagon, because I don't plan on building a WM, but I'll gladly help with yours.


If you develop an ear for sounds that are musical it is like developing an ego. You begin to refuse sounds that are not musical and that way cut yourself off from a good deal of experience.
  - John Cage

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#19 2004-04-28 03:40:54

aCoder
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From: Medina, OH
Registered: 2004-03-07
Posts: 359
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Re: PC-Phobia

Just in case no one's figured this out yet:

I think everyone would love thier PCs more if fortune-mod was incorporated into everything! big_smile


If you develop an ear for sounds that are musical it is like developing an ego. You begin to refuse sounds that are not musical and that way cut yourself off from a good deal of experience.
  - John Cage

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#20 2004-04-28 03:47:54

rasat
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From: Finland, working in Romania
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Re: PC-Phobia

Dusty wrote:

....they just told me we're planning on doing a window manager too. :-D

For those who are interested, there is a new forum "Arch Window Manager".
http://bliss-solutions.org/archlinux/pr … /index.php

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#21 2004-04-28 04:02:36

Dusty
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From: Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada
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Re: PC-Phobia

aCoder wrote:

Sounds like fun!  I'll warn you though, I may not be much help at the moment, both because I'm loaded down with end of the year work at school,

Story of my life, plus I'm in line for a full-time job this summer.  As I mentioned, this is an active area of interest for me, I'm thinking of doing a project on it for school.

and because my coding skills are mediocre at best, although mostly from a lack of experience/practice.  As for what experience I have:  I've played with Java a little, mostly to see what was so great, still have no idea, and I love Python.

I've mastered Java, having grown up on it, and I love Python, which I just started.  We should be good together.

so don't expect me to jump on the PLWM bandwagon, because I don't plan on building a WM, but I'll gladly help with yours.

Sounds cool. There's also a project out there called pywm, which isn't being maintained, but has a lot of code that might be interesting to such a project. If I remember correctly, it already has infinite workspace ideas.  also, kahakai is scripted in python.

I haven't got anything working, this is all on my "will do someday" list. I found it interesting that you have been thinking on the same lines as me.

my e-mail:

dusty@buchuki.com

Dusty

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#22 2004-04-28 10:45:02

rasat
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From: Finland, working in Romania
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Re: PC-Phobia

Dusty wrote:

There's also a project out there called pywm, which isn't being maintained, but has a lot of code that might be interesting to such a project. If I remember correctly, it already has infinite workspace ideas.

PyWM looks interesting... huge workspace. Take a look at the screenshots:
http://pywm.sourceforge.net/index.html

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#23 2004-04-28 17:46:51

Dusty
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From: Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada
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Re: PC-Phobia

tileable window managers...

http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2004/2/17/18567/0942

expose, never heard of it, if there's not something like this for linux,I'm gonna cry (or start coding...)!

http://www.apple.com/macosx/features/expose/

Dusty

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#24 2004-04-29 00:03:30

Zephirias
Member
From: Pennsylvania, USA
Registered: 2004-04-26
Posts: 179

Re: PC-Phobia

aCoder and Dusty, I'd be gald to help with Documentation or whatnot, sounds like a neat idea. smile


"Technically, you would only need one time traveler convention."

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#25 2004-04-29 00:12:49

aCoder
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From: Medina, OH
Registered: 2004-03-07
Posts: 359
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Re: PC-Phobia

expose is sort of the same idea, only with Windows.  Now, if you take away the Windows, panel, menu, and MacOS, put it on Linux, add some bloat free eye candy, all in python, and place it on an infinite plane that occurs somewhere between you and whatever happens to be in the back of your monitor, and you've got a revolutionary desktop.  3-4 days seems like a reasonable release deadline. wink

Seriously, I like the idea of pywm as a codebase, although most of it will probably be unrecognizable by the time it's properly modernized and functional as a windowless window manager.  I just don't think we could get anywhere with plwm, since there's not enough there to provide a good interface to build a desktop, which is really what we need done, since window management would be from scratch.


If you develop an ear for sounds that are musical it is like developing an ego. You begin to refuse sounds that are not musical and that way cut yourself off from a good deal of experience.
  - John Cage

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