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« Think. Different. Or Whatever. | Main | I'm Just Going to Continue Chanting Until Jesus Tells Me I Can Forget About Iraq »

March 03, 2005

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Well, yeah, Photoshop is going to confuse most people. Its ready availability in pirated form and its synonymity with image manipulation have turned it into the de facto standard for graphic work, but remember that's it's a professional-grade graphic artistry tool, meant for people who have taken at least one course in it. No AOL mom or casual photo-taker is going to shell out ~$600 for such a program.

Yeah, I realize. Maybe that wasn't the best example. My point is only that more powerful software is harder to use, and that for ordinary users like me, even basic things like ClearType may be overlooked.

Great post. One of the problems is that very complex software is now hidden behind slick GUI interfaces, which give the impression that the software is really quite simple and easy to use, effectively. For many, this turns into a workplace nightmare.

I think the best example, right now, is MS Access, which is installed on the computer of very nearly every white collar worker in America. They are expected to do something useful with this program, which, despite it's warm, fuzzy exterior, is a fully functional, if crappy, relational database. Having been taught nothing about even the most basic concepts of database normalization, millions of workers are sent forth, every day, by their bosses, to create millions of unworkable databases, using oversimplified wizards paired with help files specifically designed for more advanced users. They do this, in part, because the GUI makes it look easy. That, and they took some worthless 2 hour class at some point, and put Access on their resume because it looks good.

The results are almost always a disaster of ugly grey forms hiding relational databases, housing few, if any, reasonable relationships. The data is no more useful than if they had it written on index cards, cocktail napkins, and toilet paper, after taking a few hits of acid.

Inevitably, the whole mess gets pushed off on to some poor bastard who also made the mistake of putting Access on their resume. That person, if they are lucky, might take the initiative to call their company's help desk and spend countless hours on the phone trying to fix the god-awful mess, all the while ignoring whatever he or she was actually hired to do.

Thanks for the tip on ClearType. That's the kind of thing I'm paid to know about (a sad life), and I didn't have a clue. I'm not so sure about the results so far. I'm not sure whether it's the ClearType or the all the booze and whatever, but my eyes are having a hard time focusing on the screen right now.

Access is a great example, Chris, thanks. Part of the issue is geeks who think users should put as much time and effort into figuring the damn program out as they put into devising it; part is the triumph of marketing over reality.

Dude, you need a better monitor if ClearType is making things, uh, clearer...try one of the 17" LCDs; they're getting very inexpensive.

pi - obviously. I am a cheap bastard though. I am using some Dell CRT I got back in the 90s.

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