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Comment: Re:UI polish, documentations (Score 1) 891

by bkaul (#29398673) Attached to: Why Users Drop Open Source Apps For Proprietary Alternatives

MS spent as much effort on the UI as they did on the actual product. This is very different than FOSS.

This is a key problem with FOSS right here. The developers don't see the UI as being a core part of the actual product. That's fine, I suppose, if you don't want users to interact with it, but if user interfaces remain an afterthought rather than a focus, then most users who aren't themselves developers (or among the fringe that chooses FOSS on principle) will rightfully say that the FOSS alternative is a vastly inferior product. For the user, the UI is perhaps the most important aspect.

Microsoft's strength has long been in user interfaces. They have the resources to do vast amounts of market research and user testing to develop interfaces that most people can interact with and actually get desired results. FOSS products are generally produced by developers who are most interested in how to code the underlying functionality, and a GUI is just slapped on as an afterthought. Products that are successful in the market are produced by people who view the UI as being of utmost importance, not an add-on to "the actual product."

Even in proprietary software, look at Windows Vista and Windows 7 as examples of how this plays out. With Vista, Microsoft concentrated on rewriting the entire OS in modern programming languages, changing the underlying structure of how the OS utilizes memory, etc. UI changes were made, but they weren't the main driver behind the product. It flopped, due primarily to bad press resulting from some major marketing gaffes (allowing Dell, et al to claim PCs with insufficient hardware were compatible) and drivers not being ready yet when Beta/RC versions were released. The product, as it exists now, really isn't as bad as its reputation makes it out to be. But since the user experience wasn't the focus, some significant flaws there have tarnished it. The perception of the problems with the user experience in Vista are in part responsible for the market share Apple has been able to gain in recent years. It's certainly the path of attack they've taken in their advertising.

Windows 7, on the other hand, does improve on the performance of Vista and incorporates the bug fixes from its service packs, etc. But its main selling point (other than being "not Vista") is a handful of simple, but significant, UI changes. The underlying core components are essentially the same as in Vista, with the improvements from Server 2008 thrown in. But the focus was on the user experience this time around, rather than technical details, and the results are apparent. Nearly everyone who's tried the release candidate is giving it rave reviews, and the currently prevailing opinion seems to be that it's likely to be a hit in the market. The reason for this is that Microsoft focused more strongly on the experience of the user, both by adding some slick new features and by eliminating the major annoyances (obnoxious UAC, slow boot times, etc.). Some of those issues are related to underlying technology - user experience is not solely a UI issue - but unless the product is made with an eye towards how the users will interact with it ... well, they just won't.

Whenever the user experience is thought of as secondary by the developers, users will notice that they're being condescended to. For some applications, e.g. Apache, which are primarily used by server administrators, it's not always a deal breaker, but for anything "on the desktop" it's critical.

Comment: Re:It's not the typing (Score 1) 494

by bkaul (#29132137) Attached to: Is Typing Ruining Your Ability To Spell?

In athletics, people go to ridiculous lengths to improve their performance a fraction of percent. Giving up entire good groups for years at a time. Cognitively, we treat ourselves like crap. So a person thinks "well, this texting syntax reduces my clarity of thought by 5% What's 5% anyway? Who really cares?" Yeah, and you can see the end result everywhere.

You make some excellent points, but what are these "good groups" that athletes give up? The clarity in that paragraph seems to be reduced ...

Comment: Re:Beware of namechanges (Score 1) 629

by bkaul (#28931073) Attached to: RadioShack To Rebrand As "The Shack"?
My local Radio Shack does sell soldering irons (and is the only place I know to get replacement tips), but you can also find soldering irons/guns at your local Lowe's or Home Depot. As with the RJ connectors above, it seems the bulk of the non-electronics parts are becoming hardware store merchandise, and we'll likely have to go to DigiKey or Mouser for the electronics. The last few times I've needed a capacitor to repair a motherboard, or something of the like, Radio Shack's selection has been essentially useless and I've had to order online anyway.

Comment: Re:What does this get them? (Score 1) 841

by bkaul (#28715197) Attached to: Apple Update Means Palm Pre Can No Longer Sync With iTunes

2. "United Statesians" didn't exactly roll off the tongue.

Not only that, but it would be overly vague, as Mexico's national name translates to essentially "The United States of Mexico" ... the United States of America, on the other hand is the only nation with "America" in its name, and American is the one word in the English language that people understand to refer to the citizens of this nation.

Comment: Isn't that the point? (Score 0, Troll) 631

by bkaul (#28563529) Attached to: FDA Considers Banning Acetaminophen-Based Pain Killers

Yes, let's protect people from their own stupidity.

I agree in principle with your opposition to a nanny state. But isn't the the whole reason the FDA mandates that some drugs be available by prescription only to protect them from their own stupidity? Considering that these drugs are already only available by prescription, I'm not sure I see the point in further restrictions, since they can be safely used as directed, but ...

Comment: Re:antimatter in the mix (Score 2, Insightful) 202

by bkaul (#28500281) Attached to: The Battle Between Google and Facebook

Microsoft's world domination by operating system monopoly is over, they are a dead man walking.

Microsoft is seeing continued growth in earnings, even in a down market, is about to release their strongest client OS offering yet, and is showing notable gains in server and entertainment markets. How exactly is the company a "dead man walking," except in a Linux or Apple fanboy's dream world? I'm not one to idolize Microsoft, but declaring them dead on no basis whatsoever - in a thread about Facebook and Google, no less - is really a bit over the top.

I suppose this is the year of Linux on the desktop, too? Wake me when you come back in contact with the real world. I won't be holding my breath ...

Comment: And Apple's Not? (Score 3, Insightful) 821

by bkaul (#28468141) Attached to: Microsoft Discloses Windows 7 Pricing
Apple charges $29 for their OS upgrade, but the Mac user who's getting that cheap upgrade paid 50% more up front for the computer that he bought from Apple. Microsoft, despite selling a few keyboards and mice, is not a hardware company, and doesn't make its money by maintaining exclusive manufacturing control of the hardware that Windows runs on.

Comment: Re:Unconvinced (Score 1) 288

by bkaul (#28466095) Attached to: Need a Favor? Talk To My Right Ear
I agree in principle, but most journals are copyrighted, and thus the link would just be to an abstract; the reader would (generally, if he doesn't have access to a university library or some such resource) have to pay for access to the full journal article. At least this story gave enough information about the publication that you'd be able to find it if you went looking for it (authors, journal, publisher, topic). Many don't even do that.

Adapt. Enjoy. Survive.

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