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Middle Ground

 
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jabailo



Joined: 20 Mar 2006
Posts: 1273
Location: Kent (East Hill), WA

PostPosted: Sat May 13, 2006 5:59 pm    Post subject: Middle Ground Reply with quote

For decades people have endlessly espoused on making computers "easier to use". They start, of course, with the premise that computers are hard to use. But they never really examine this and they never really look around to see what things are easy to use when it comes to technology.

My pet peeve is the GUI. I think the GUI is the most oversold concept in computing today. And, unfortunately, it's become such a staple of the desktop that its inadequacies doom computers to being underutilized by their owners.

The GUI dumbs down the interface to the primary abilities of the computer. The argument for this is that "people" (i.e. dumb people, like your aunt or niece) cannot master command or programming languages to manipulate the hardware.

So, a system is created for the illiterate.

Yet, when I look around, I see text being used in myriads of ways by the "average" person. Take chat for example, and IM. These are used by millions and millions of people to communcate very, very effectively. "C U L8R" -- see you later. People naturally create words, syntax, grammers around these text based technologies to communicate.

Word Perfect. Word Perfect was among the most successful and best beloved word processors ever created. However, it required the use and knowledge of very specialized key commands to manipulate, and an expert class grew up around being a "word processor". That was swept aside by marketing and pricing as it was declared by fiat that Word Perfect was too hard to use. However, there were in fact, millions of people who could use it and use it very effectively.

So now we have the GUI. Is the result that people can sit at the PC and suddenly word process? Well, in 2003 I taught an entry level free course in PCs and MS Word at the local public library. It was an enormous struggle. The menuing system for simple formating, and pagination alone was near impossible to teach. At the end of the course, I began to think that I didn't know how to use the application rather than teaching the other people!

That is why I founded Texeme in part. I believe that we can create specialized languages for the manipulation of technology. One current product is Computerese -- a TUI or Text User Interface to master the desktop with a simple command syntax. We are also building a text server for a multiplayer fiction game. More to come later.


Last edited by jabailo on Sun May 12, 2013 6:31 pm; edited 1 time in total
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brian-hansen
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Joined: 17 Mar 2006
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PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2006 1:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your post reminds me of something encountered in the field of speech recognition. Back in the 90's, folks (myself included) tried to outline the features and drawbacks of different varieties of "SLI"s (spoken language interfaces) as an analogy to the GUI.

One of the problems was the "rejection problem". Basically, there was no way to constrain users to say things that were sensible, unlike GUI's in which *only* sensible things could be "clicked".

It seems to me that there might be a middle ground b/t GUI's and TUI's. GUI's have at least one really terrific property in drop-down menus. These serve to illustrate the range of choices and to make the choice quickly. Perhaps a TUI could have text plus drop downs?

-Brian
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jabailo



Joined: 20 Mar 2006
Posts: 1273
Location: Kent (East Hill), WA

PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2006 6:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
One of the problems was the "rejection problem". Basically, there was no way to constrain users to say things that were sensible, unlike GUI's in which *only* sensible things could be "clicked".


Well, a part of my design is to remove "sensible" or "intuitive" when it comes to designing the TUI. The keyword here is /learned/. I maintain, based on experience that people learn the GUI -- it's not intuitive beyond the basics. My second argument is that many people are quite capable of inventing and learning very arcane text /slangs/ to communicate in IM.

Therefore, the idea is not to "understand English" but to create a new language, that is optimal for manipulating a computer -- and yet in the spirit of these learned text slangs.

Quote:
It seems to me that there might be a middle ground b/t GUI's and TUI's. GUI's have at least one really terrific property in drop-down menus. These serve to illustrate the range of choices and to make the choice quickly. Perhaps a TUI could have text plus drop downs?


What I like is the help feature of many commands in Linux and at the DOS command line.

dir /?

This shows the directory command and all its alternatives.

So, in a TUI, for manipulating a GUI, you might say

DRAG /?

And get a list of

DRAG WINDOW
DRAG APPLICATION
DRAG LEFT
DRAG RIGHT
DRAG UP

with an explanation..and so on.

Also, there would be auto-compete:

DR <Hit tab key> AG

And so on...
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jabailo



Joined: 20 Mar 2006
Posts: 1273
Location: Kent (East Hill), WA

PostPosted: Sun May 12, 2013 6:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Bloomberg Terminal implements a command text syntax (although orders can be constructed through color coded keys on a specialized keyboard):

Quote:
[I]f someone is interested in the Vodafone stock listed in the London market, one enters VOD LN <Equity> <GO> where VOD is the company's ticker, and LN is the venue code for London. A detailed option list related to Vodafone UK stock will pop up, the person can then choose different options by pressing related keys or using the mouse to select the option.

Similarly, USDEUR <Curncy> <GO> displays the US dollar / Euro exchange rate.

other common Bloomberg commands for Equity:

HP - Display the detailed 1 year price of that stock
DVD - Dividend / Split Summary of that stock
CACS - Corporate Actions related to that stock
CN - News feeds related to that stock

Thus, if someone interested in the Vodafone UK stock price, they can in fact directly type in VOD LN <Equity> HP <GO>.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloomberg_Terminal
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jabailo



Joined: 20 Mar 2006
Posts: 1273
Location: Kent (East Hill), WA

PostPosted: Sun May 12, 2013 6:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The PRIME OS

Quote:
The PRIMOS command line is interesting in the fact that it utilizes two prompts
in it's execution. These prompts are 'OK,' and 'ER!'. There is no difference
in the two, save that the 'ER!' prompt is displayed only after you make a mist-
ake and are given an error message. After successful execution of a command,
however, you will see the 'OK,' prompt again. You can alter these prompts with
a special command, but I will save that for the section I have planned on cust-
omizing your environment.

Of all the most popular command lines (PRIMOS, UNIX, VAX/VMS) I like the PRIMOS
command line the most. You can have separate commands on the same command line
(just separate them with a semicolon), and so forth.

No command (along with all options and arguments) can be longer than 160 char-
acters.


http://www.elite-hackers.com/files/textfiles/primos1.txt

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prime_Computer
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