Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Usability Testing Hardy Heron With a Girlfriend

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the sleeping-on-the-couch-tonight dept.

Software 846

toomin writes "Reviews of the latest Ubuntu version, 8.04 Hardy Heron, are everywhere, but most of them are undertaken by geeks familiar with Linux. This guy sits his girlfriend down at a brand-new Ubuntu installation and asks her to perform some basic tasks. Some of them are surprisingly easy, others frustrate and annoy. There are lots of little usability tweaks he stumbles upon just by seeing the desktop experience from the point of view of the mainstream user."

cancel ×

846 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

I call Shenanigans!! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23222048)

A Linux geek with a girlfriend?? Yeah right!

He does what with his girlfriend ? (5, Funny)

BattleCat (244240) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222058)

Something is surely wrong, when instead of fscking her right proper he sits her down with Ubuntu...

Re:He does what with his girlfriend ? (1)

grm_wnr (781219) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222140)

I'm pretty sure running fsck was task number 13.

Usability Testing Hardon With a Girlfriend ? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23222062)

This is Slashdot, not PenthouseDot or PlayboyDot.
We don't have girlfriends to test the usability of our hardon's with.

Oh... Hardy Herron, who's that ?

Smart move (5, Insightful)

caution live frogs (1196367) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222064)

That's how user testing should be done. It is really much too difficult for someone familiar with the program or OS to see what is not obvious or confusing to a novice user. The people that program the UI don't always think like a user - they usually think like a programmer, and that doesn't always work.

Re:Smart move (5, Interesting)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222322)

I agree. I expected this article to be a little silly, but it was well thought out.

The new user was given a bunch of common tasks (play some music, draw a picture, play a video on youtube, use an instant messenger on MSN network, install a commonly used application (skype), edit a photo) and asked to perform them on a default installation of Ubuntu.

Well done. The Ubuntu team (and other linux distributions) can learn a lot from this article alone. Hopefully it will give a target for other usability testing in the future.

(And, no, I have nothing to do with the article author or website.)

Re:Smart move (5, Insightful)

Bombula (670389) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222336)

What is positively astonishing is how persistent this problem is. Look back at the thousands of linux threads over the last 10 years, and you will see the SAME complaint again and again, and again. And again. And AGAIN. It is farking ridiculous.

How hard is it to sit down and run a simple test like the (excellent) one this guy did with his girlfriend for every release?

To Ubtunu's credit, most of the fault lies with the applications and not with the OS itself. Well-designed apps like Skype make things simple and intuitive for new users. But Ubuntu itself could develop specs for developers that required basic intros, wizards, etc for introducing and explaining the simple but non-obvious stuff to new users. Conversion rates would then skyrocket.

Again, there is no logical reason why this hasn't been implemented before. The only explanation is therefore stupidity on the part of the developers - both on the OS and the app side. Cue the irony tag, given how clever most of these folks like to think they are. I guess what it shows is that being a math jock or code monkey with a stratospheric IQ doesn't make you a good UI designer any more than it makes you a suave and charming socialite.

Re:Smart move (5, Funny)

ray-auch (454705) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222386)

> Again, there is no logical reason why this hasn't been implemented before.

The word "girlfriend" should be a clue...

Re:Smart move (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23222504)

Sure, but I'm sure plenty of linux nerds have mums or dads (or sisters or brothers or uncles or grandparents or grandmothers)...

Re:Smart move (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222524)

Plus, you can only pop her noob cherry once.

Re:Smart move (1)

skoaldipper (752281) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222412)

The people that program the UI don't always think like a user - they usually think like a programmer, and that doesn't always work.
Except for vi. A UI designed by programmers, for programmers, but used by people like myself to cast the illusion they really are.

Yeah, right. (4, Funny)

Aaron Isotton (958761) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222068)

In other news, man tests usability of Duke Nukem Forever running on GNU Hurd by making his GIRLFRIEND play it.

Usability testing WHAT?? with girlfriend (1)

siride (974284) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222080)

Man, they REALLY should have picked a different name for this release. Of course a headline like this would come along, and of course I'd misread the title, again. At least this time it's sort of appropriate.

Re:Usability testing WHAT?? with girlfriend (1)

Isaac-Lew (623) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222194)

Just refer to the release by its release number (8.04) - especially in a business setting. Is that really so difficult?

Re:Usability testing WHAT?? with girlfriend (1)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222434)

"The XP stands for "eXPerience"

Yeah, I think you can just STFU now...

No Windows Clone (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23222086)

Linux is not, and should not be a clone of Windows. However, most people will never use anything other than Windows, because they don't have to. They won't want to have to take the time to learn a new OS.

Re:No Windows Clone (2, Insightful)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222246)

They won't want to have to take the time to learn a new OS.

well they have to when transitioning from XP to Vista...

Re:No Windows Clone (5, Insightful)

grm_wnr (781219) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222272)

And most people would rather stay with XP instead of moving to Vista. Just like they'd rather stay with XP than moving to Ubuntu.

Task # 3: Steal music? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23222088)

ROFL, that's priceless. Might not be something I'd splash all over /. mind you...

Puts a whole new spin on the term... (2, Funny)

csoto (220540) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222090)

"backporting." Ahem. Thank you. I'm here all week. Try the prime rib!

Re:Puts a whole new spin on the term... (0, Redundant)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222462)

I can't be the only one who misread the headline as 'Usability Testing Hairy Hardon With a Girlfriend'.

this is an improvement, but the real test is on (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23222092)

1) a woman named Tillie

2) she must be an aunt (geeky nephews apparently OK)

My Test Result: (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23222098)

Why thank you. My girlfriend said, my "Hardy Heron" is quite useable and pleasant to work with. Your mileage may vary, of course.

Re:My Test Result: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23222222)

your girlfriend likes my hardon, too.

Exceptionally good. (4, Informative)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222100)

1) Use internet. Successful.
2) Watch youtube. Unsuccessful. No Flash.
3) Use torrent. Successful (but this is not a novice user task)
4) Draw pic. 1/2 Successful. Chose wrong tool.
5) Burn music. Unsuccessful
6) Mouse speed change. Successful.
7) Theme change. Successful.
8) Desktop background change. Successful.
9) Scree resolution change. Unsuccessful.
10) Advanced image manipulation. Successful
11) MSN. Unsuccessful
12) Install & Use skype. Successful.

Note, the problem with 5) burning music was not the actual burning, but finding the mp3s on a windows partition.

So, 8/12. (maybe 9.5/12)

To be honest, I've seen experience computer users have more trouble doing the above tasks when switching from windows to OS X.

Kudos to Ubuntu.

Re:Exceptionally good. (5, Insightful)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222232)

2) Watch youtube. Unsuccessful. No Flash.
11) MSN. Unsuccessful

Yeah well, I have a girlfriend too, and all she ever does on a computer is watch music videos on YouTube, write e-mails and chat on MSN. Maybe you'd like to weight your rating based on how important something is to the person tested (by asking them). Downloading a torrent and changing your mouse speed will probably rate to 0 while MSN will probably rate to "Why the hell would I need a computer if not for MSN?".

Re:Exceptionally good. (4, Insightful)

Barny (103770) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222296)

Yeah, have had that problem with YouTube on ubuntu as well, and it only happens if YouTube is the first site you go to, they fubar their refer to adobe.

If she had of gone to, say, ANYWHERE else first it would have been fine and just popped up with a bar saying "i can haz plugin?", say yes and bam, its all good.

Long and short, it should have flash already on it.

Oh and she was lucky it was the 32bit version, installing and using skype is pretty hard when there ain't a 64bit binary available for the platform (last time I looked anyway).

Re:Exceptionally good. (1)

gapagos (1264716) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222374)

Hehehe... I think he should multiply the negative points of unsuccessful YouTube/MSN by the amounts of YouTube videos watched / MSN logins between the 1st and 2nd time the average person tried to change his mouse speed.

We'd probaly reach.... NEGATIVE INFINITY!!! lol

Re:Exceptionally good. (1)

laejoh (648921) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222432)

I see your girlfriend, and raise you an elliptical reflector disk!

Re:Exceptionally good. (4, Interesting)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222490)

Yeah well, I have a girlfriend too, and all she ever does on a computer is watch music videos on YouTube, write e-mails and chat on MSN

And how well do you think your girlfriend would go on a vanilla windows install with no flash installed, MSN account not setup, etc?

If the article's author had setup flash / pidgin / explained the difference between GIMP & Open Office draw, his girlfriend would have had few problems.

I'd suggest to you (honestly) - that if all your gf really does is youtube, mail & chat, then she'd be much better off on Ubuntu than windows.

Re:Exceptionally good. (2, Funny)

papna (1242200) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222250)

Kudos to Ubuntu.
Why Kudos? Wouldn't it be better to use a native Gnome word of praise?

Panegnyric to Ubuntu. (1)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222370)

Indeed sir, you are correct.

Kudos to Kubuntu; Panegnyric to Ubuntu.

Re:Exceptionally good. (1)

PhireN (916388) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222258)

9) Scree resolution change. Unsuccessful.
She was actually successful, in changing the resolution.
But he never said which res, and when she picked the smallest available res, a bug prevented selection of a higher res.

It deserves at least half a point.

2) Watch youtube. Unsuccessful. No Flash.
Not quite that simple, youtube used javascript to redirect to the adobe website. most other sites would of triggered Firefox's plugin installer.

Re:Exceptionally good. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23222302)

2) Watch youtube. Unsuccessful. No Flash.
As one of new features Totem now has a youtube plugin, she should have read the release notes. Picture quality is better and it uses far less resources, but theres still something to improve with buffering and network usage.

Re:Exceptionally good. (4, Insightful)

grm_wnr (781219) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222340)

>she should have read the release notes

Ahaha, good one. I thought the very point of this exercise was that users do not behave like developers expect or would like them to. Reading release notes is certainly among the things they rarely ever do, and so this hints at Ubuntu doing something wrong more than anything else.

Re:Exceptionally good. (3, Interesting)

gapagos (1264716) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222328)

Personally I find all these issues are sufficiently discouraging for any non-linux-eager person to abandon his efforts and go back to Windows.

That being said, what's encouraging is how little needs to be done in order to solve all these issues.

Maybe the Ubuntu community could work on making a pre-installed by default "Tutorial" slideshow guide or something like that to inform Average Joe about some basics in Ubuntu and prevent him from hitting a wall like she did.

Personally, I'm a Ubuntu user since 6.04, and I'm far from being computer-literate. Well, I'm a little bit computer-literate but I have no computer background and know nothing about terminal if it wasn't for some advice on Ubuntu IRC help rooms and some forum browsing, and my own motivation to use Linux.
I did try Mandrivia and OpenSuSE in the past, and I gave it up on it pretty quickly because of the lack of support I could find.
Ubuntu, on the other hand, has a very large community and a lot of support, so it has a big chance of hitting mainstream, IF we can overcome the kind of issues this article mentioned.

However, the kind of issues are precisely why I do NOT currently recommend to my friends to try out Linux, because I know they'll have a similarly negative experience and unlike me, won't have the motivation to seek for advice on forums, chat rooms or google.

If we can help the user figure it out more on its own, however, Ubuntu has a LOT of potential. Most of the harder work has already been done!

Re:Exceptionally good. (1)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222510)

"3) Use torrent. Successful (but this is not a novice user task)"

I strongly disagree. BitTorrent is incredibly mainstream as "how to get TV programs." So just changing the menu item to "Transmission (BitTorrent)" should be enough to make the scifi-seeking n00b happy.

i'm upgrading! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23222112)

i hear that the new beta of girlfriend has built in ubuntu support

Girlfriend? (5, Funny)

angryfirelord (1082111) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222116)

This is slashdot! I don't have a girlfriend, you insensitive clod!

Re:Girlfriend? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23222162)

wheres the whatsagirlfriend tag?

Re:Girlfriend? (5, Funny)

grm_wnr (781219) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222178)

Open synaptic and install girlfriend (or just apt-get girlfriend like a true geek). Beware of the dependencies though.

Re:Girlfriend? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23222298)

Don't use apt-get, use aptitude. Otherwise, if you uninstall girlfriend, you'll get stuck with the dependencies.

Re:Girlfriend? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23222392)

or...

$apt-get girlfriend-1.0.0
$apt-get autoremove clothing
$apt-get autoclean

Re:Girlfriend? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23222448)

For the love of god don't do it! Girlfriend is extremely buggy.
 
The feature list might seem very appealing, but it is dwarfed by the incredible amount of bloat that comes with it! E.g. every four weeks or so it performs not only sub-par it will actually crash certain programs you would want to start as long as girlfriend is sitting in the background.
 
Girlfriend will also - seemingly randomly - and with increasing rate escalate its privileges and delete all sorts of stuff in the background, even though you didn't start it as super user.

Oh yea, and if you choose to renice girlfriend to a lower priority in order to get some work done girlfriend will actually take your computer and throw it out the window!

Re:Girlfriend? (5, Funny)

hedleyroos (817147) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222486)

Real geeks compile their girlfriends from source.

Re:Girlfriend? (5, Funny)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222522)

That's sudo apt-get girlfriend. It typically requires full access and control of your system.

Re:Girlfriend? (1)

Janek Kozicki (722688) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222310)

but a wife and three daughters, -1 month, 2 years and 4 years old :)

Arr matey. (4, Funny)

grm_wnr (781219) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222118)

I laughed heartily at the fact that a common user scenario includes how to torrent a Spice Girls album. Not that I think that's not the case; it was just pretty refreshing to see how blatant this guy is about it.

Re:Arr matey. (4, Funny)

jimicus (737525) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222190)

They chose Spice Girls because not even the RIAA, with their inflated ideas of what each infraction costs, could possibly demand more than about 20 US cents with a striaght face.

Re:Arr matey. (1)

Travis Mansbridge (830557) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222308)

US cents
Oooh, nice burn!

Re:Arr matey. (1)

futlib (1278238) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222202)

It's a very interesting article, but I would NOT tell my wife to use bittorrent to get some copyrighted material. It's dangerous these days, and I'd risk to be sued about it. Maybe some "DO NOT DO THIS AT HOME" notice? Otherwise he'll be called an evil pirate and hung at the cliff!

Re:Arr matey. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23222378)

I laughed heartily at the fact that a common user scenario includes how to torrent a Spice Girls album.


Would now be an appropriate time for an appropriate double-entendre?


Something like "Phwoar, mate, and I wouldn't mind SEEDING the Spice Girls, I can tell you!"

Well, sorta flawed review (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23222122)

This entire review is focused on that Ubuntu should work and act just like Windows. This is the one thing I tell most Linux-newcomers I aid support to, that it isn't going to - and thank go.. rms for that. Just like Windows requires some basic knowledge on how Windows works, Ubuntu needs the same thing - well, for Ubuntu. Throwing disses at Ubuntu because it isn't Windows is just silly.

For instance - instead of going searching for debs and tarballs everywhere possible on the net, with the knowledge on how to use Synaptic, she could have opened the program, made a few clicks, and it was dealt with - and with the tested and safe repositories, one doesn't need to worry about malicious code either.

I do think that 8.04 isn't a very good release though - which is why I advice newcomers to use 7.10 just a bit longer.

Re:Well, sorta flawed review (2, Insightful)

daveime (1253762) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222156)

This entire review is focused on that Ubuntu should work and act just like Windows

Yes, because that would be FAR too easy ... real geeks need things to be unique to their "domain", so they can lord over the rest of the plebs with their advanced technical knowhow.

</sarcasm>

Re:Well, sorta flawed review (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23222224)

BS.

Just because it's different, doesn't mean it's hard. She could have gone through so many of those tasks with Synaptic, and saved herself from both possible anthritis and a massive loss of time she'd never get back.

Re:Well, sorta flawed review (3, Insightful)

daveime (1253762) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222240)

I wish I'd taken that train of thought a little further before clicking submit.

IF Ubuntu (or release of your choice), WAS more like Windows, just think how much higher the adoption rate would be for it. Imagine how EASY it would be if you could show people with only a Windows background, "look, you do the same things and get the same result - only this one is free, doesn't come cluttered with DRM, isn't susceptible to malware etc etc".

It could be the BIG selling point, if only you'd give in to the pressure. But comments like this just perpetuate the "elitist" attitude of Open Source ... it's not necessarily "better" because it's "different" ... in fact I think the opposite.

If only you'd see the wood for the trees, you could have your open source "revolution" we've been waiting for for 25 years.

Re:Well, sorta flawed review (1)

ProppaT (557551) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222346)

The point is, the world is used to using Windows as flawed as it may be. Windows hasn't had to change/improve its interface much because it's the standard and everybody knows it.

GUI interface isn't a new thing and at this point we should honestly be a little better at creating interfaces that are dummy proof. New GUI's should be BETTER than Windows and should be to the easy enough to use that anyone that can read and know how to use a mouse can use them.

I agree, a better test would be to take a computer illiterate person and have them use both operating systems to see which is easier. That being said, until Ubuntu and other O/S's streamline browsing system directories, it isn't going to happen. In Windows and Mac OS, if you're a computer dummy you can find all of your files because the OS's default them to specific directories that are easy to find. There's no such handholding in the world of Linux, and I think that's it's biggest flaw at this point for mainstream users.

Just an excuse to show his girlfriend off (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23222130)

As expected the article had to include a picture of the girlfriend. This is just the geek's equivalent of a grandparent carrying a photo of the grandchild and showing it off to friends at the golf club. We know you're proud of your girlfriend and good on you for finding a nice girl, but she doesn't really have any relevance to Ubuntu.

BS (0, Offtopic)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222136)

It's more like the guy wants to trumpet to the world, "Look! I have a girlfriend! No really!" He even includes her photo, the sure tipoff. If he had just wanted a novice computer user, he could have used anyone else - but no, here it is linked from Slashdot in all its glory, and he can brag to everyone about his point-and-lick interface.

Re:BS (1)

PottedMeat (1158195) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222230)

Didn't sound like that to me but maybe it just sounds different to people who've actually had a gf?

Now drop the binoculars and back away from the window.

PM

Re:BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23222262)

It's called puppy love. Ah the memories...

Only on Hardy Heron? Pah, I'm using... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23222138)

...Rampant Rabbit with my girlfriend and we're getting on with it just fine thanks.

Great user experience, good performance, can't fault it. She's very pleased.

Recommended.

Re:Only on Hardy Heron? Pah, I'm using... (2, Funny)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222168)

I'm a Hairy Hippie using the Horny Hardon, and I'm pissed off because neither of these codenames were accepted for the current release.

ports... (5, Funny)

Anoraknid the Sartor (9334) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222152)

Where do I get this "with a girlfriend" release? .. of course with my luck, the "girlfriend" will be the openbsd version, and ship with all ports closed by default.

Window Size complaint. (3, Informative)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222154)

His note that if you go too small of screen size you cant click on the buttons of the dialog. This happens a LOT in windows with dons of the dialogs and YES even the screen size dialog.

She would have failed that test under windows.

Re:Window Size complaint. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23222218)

And in linux at least you can move the window while holding down the Alt key. In Windows you are screwed (press enter for default action of escape for cancel is about it).

Re:Window Size complaint. (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222254)

His note that if you go too small of screen size you cant click on the buttons of the dialog. This happens a LOT in windows with dons of the dialogs and YES even the screen size dialog. She would have failed that test under windows.
I once knew someone who set their desktop font size to something insane so that you could only see the top left corner of the top left icon label on the desktop. Safe mode didn't use safe desktop fonts to he had to reinstall windows.

Re:Window Size complaint. (3, Informative)

grm_wnr (781219) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222260)

Last time I checked Windows still had the 15 second reset countdown when you change screen resolution.

Re:Window Size complaint. (3, Informative)

JustinOpinion (1246824) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222380)

Ubuntu has something similar. From TFA:

However, she clicked "Keep settings" straight away, and couldn't work out how to get it back...
This is exactly the same problem you would have in Windows if you changed the resolution and immediately clicked the "Keep these settings" button in that 15-second dialog. After you've done that, you may find it difficult to navigate back and change it to the previous resolution.

The problem here has a lot to do with new users being inundated with confusing dialog boxes, and just clicking "OK" at the first opportunity. This problem occurs both on Windows and Ubuntu. Not that this excuses Ubuntu: a usability problem should be fixed, even if it occurs on other platforms as well.

Re:Window Size complaint. (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222456)

The problem here has a lot to do with new users being inundated with confusing dialog boxes, and just clicking "OK" at the first opportunity. This problem occurs both on Windows and Ubuntu. Not that this excuses Ubuntu: a usability problem should be fixed, even if it occurs on other platforms as well.
If I connect to an SSH service in Nautilus I get a passphrase dialog, and another dialog saying that I can cancel the current action by pressing cancel. Sometimes the cancel dialog sits on top of the passphrase dialog. Then a third dialog asks me for a different password to unlock the keyring.

Re:Window Size complaint. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23222498)

That's fine if you have changed the resolution too high and your monitor wonks out. This problem is that on the Ubuntu default resolution, when you try to increase the resolution to a monitor native setting, you can't because the dialog isn't built to fit within the standard Ubuntu screen resolution. So unless you know how to modify your xorg.conf file by hand, you cannot use the GUI for the initial setting on most screens.

Re:Window Size complaint. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23222276)

I'd just like to point out that you *can* move windows around that go off-screen by pressing Alt, and left-click/dragging anywhere in the window. A bit unintuitive and hidden, but once you figure it out, it's one of those things you don't forget.

Re:Window Size complaint. (1)

OzRoy (602691) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222338)

That really isn't the point. She failed the test due to a problem in the system. Whether other systems have the same problem or not is irrelevant and should never be used as an excuse.

Re:Window Size complaint. (1)

complete loony (663508) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222464)

Last time I checked windows wouldn't let you go below 800x600 unless you called the ChangeDisplaySettings API directly.

Re:Window Size complaint. (1)

Zarel (900479) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222466)

His note that if you go too small of screen size you cant click on the buttons of the dialog. This happens a LOT in windows with dons of the dialogs and YES even the screen size dialog.

She would have failed that test under windows.
While others have pointed out that you can Alt+drag to move windows in Linux, the idea is that you can't change the screen resolution. In Windows, at least most of the system is designed to be usable at 640x480; it's usually the third-party applications that have problems. The Display Properties dialog that lets you set screen resolution is only around 450 pixels high. In Linux (Both KDE and GNOME), the dialog is huge, and any novice user who doesn't know how to Alt+drag will indeed have a hard time getting out of a 640x480 resolution (Which is troublesome, since driver problems will sometimes kick you back to that resolution; at least Windows will only kick you back to 800x600) (God forbid you actually want to use a desktop Linux distro at 640x480).

Usability Testing a girlfriend with a Hardy Heron (1)

doofusclam (528746) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222184)

... would have been a more interesting headline...

Interesting (5, Interesting)

chuckymonkey (1059244) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222186)

That's pretty interesting. On a tangentially related note, a guy I work with just install Ubuntu as his first linux. A friend and I were talking about 8.04 and he overheard us, so he walked up and started asking questions about it which we answered. The next day he shows up to work and says that he installed it and is really liking it. What is this world coming to when a normal guy one day hears about linux and the next successfully installs it without asking the local nerds for help? It was really interesting, he said the hardest thing was burning the ISO, other than that he said it was easier to use and set up than windows. Trust me when I say that this guy is very very average when it comes to computer smarts, this was a huge leap for him and it was no trouble at all. That's how I know linux is heading mainstream.

Re:Interesting (4, Insightful)

nkh (750837) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222402)

I can confirm that this is a rather strange world we're living in. My wife wants to switch to Ubuntu (and thus wiping Windows XP from her computer) because of some reasons I had not expected (from my point of view as a hardcore developer):
  • Frozen Bubble is available on Linux, as well as a lot of good games
  • Less viruses than XP, and so no need for an anti-virus
  • Firefox and "MSN" chat are available on Linux
  • Free IT support when I'm available at home
I know that it may seem redundant but computer noobs switch for very strange reasons and we must listen to their needs if we want Linux to "succeed on the desktop."

broadcom wireless (1)

phrostie (121428) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222200)

still no wireless out of the box.

if i have to tweak it to get it to work i might as well stick with my old debian.

but other than that it looked good.
btw, the live CD took forever to boot compared to other live CDs i've used.

Great Stuff (1)

nbritton (823086) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222214)

Yea man, my girlfriend and I love hardy heroin. xD

Let's see what the wife thinks... (1)

TheMonkeyhouse (1271112) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222252)

I installed 8.04 on Friday as a dual boot on my XP box and loved it. Was having a blast setting up my system, learning about the Ubuntu features (first time user), searching and installing new apps, downloading torrents and just loving the differences and speed.

So the ball and chain comes home and sees my new desktop and immediately wants to know what it is and why she can't have it on her notebook. I tell her she can but i want to make sure that she can still do all the stuff she needs to do for work on it. So she has to wait for a bit and my life is hell for a bit longer.

But i might try this approach and let her install a dual boot to see how it goes and how she likes it.

Have her install Wubi (2, Informative)

Constantine XVI (880691) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222294)

Hand her the disc, tell her to click the "Install inside Windows" option, and let her loose from there. Completely non-destructive, and so simple your wife could (probably) do it.

Re:Let's see what the wife thinks... (1)

Siridar (85255) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222314)

Why not try out a live-CD image? From memory, you can use a USB stick to hold all volatile/user data. Either that, or you can use a script to make a live-usb stick - I did this to get ubuntu on to my EEE.

Where do you want to do today? (0)

jw3 (99683) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222268)

Just a few quotes:

Obviously not having experience with a vector-based illustrator was Erin's downfall in this task - but, then, how many people have used one?

don't understand why GIMP doesn't just layout its windows like photoshop does. It wouldn't lose usability, surely, and it would help the transition of first-time-users immensely.

I'd love to see a welcome screen for the first time you open up your desktop, with little videos explaining a few key concepts to how Linux and Ubuntu work. Maybe it could ask "What do you want to do?" and then explain how they could do this.

Come on. Is he serious? What does that thing do on slashdot? Slow news day, eh?

j.

P.S. It should be "Where do you want to go today" and not "What do you want to do"

My wife was able to install the flashplayer! (1)

futlib (1278238) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222270)

I wasn't even at home, I had her account ready all the time in case she wanted to use a cool computer, not that laptop all the time. Apparently, some day she did, and I had a pretty vanilla Feisty back then. Hell, she downloaded that very tar.gz, followed the instructions on Adobe's site and when I came home, she was sitting on my PC browsing YouTube. I was so pwnd'd when I asked her to give me the keyboard to install that flashplayer.

What? (1)

MonsterTrimble (1205334) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222282)

So this guy is basically complaining because his girlfriend (who has never, ever used Linux before) couldn't find application names like 'Torrent Client', it's Ubuntu's fault there are things called repositories, and that everything from Windows doesn't work on Linux. Bravo. I will give the guy some credit - the flash issue with youtube is a pain in the ass - but really, he's testing how someone who drives a Geo Metro can handle a Freightliner. Sure, they can roll the windows up and down, but double clutching? They're lost. My money says this: Give her a week learning the system and I bet the experience is a hell of a lot better.

Use Google... (1)

ruinevil (852677) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222288)

Other than the putting the his head on her body, which she did successfully anyways, most the other 8 things could be done by searching the web. Which she was able to do.

ubuntu is all fun and games...until... (2, Interesting)

Machine9 (627913) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222332)

you update to the new release, and have to manually fiddle with modprobe to get it to engage your wifi card properly =/

I managed to get that working, but am now left with a problem that frankly has me stumped, in 7.10 I had no issues what-so-ever watching a video while simultaneously talking to someone on skype. Since updating, these two things have become mutually exclusive...
launching a video, and then trying to make a skype call yields an uninformative error in skype "call failed: there's a problem with the audio output". Starting a skype call, and then launching a video results in the video opening but being unable to actually "play".

colour me clueless...I have no idea what to do haha.

Re:ubuntu is all fun and games...until... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23222382)

8.04 is suffering with sound issues, due to an (imho) premature implementation of pulseaudio. I don't know how to fix it, but try ubuntuforums.org.

Sigh (1)

NotZed (19455) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222376)


Look, comparing ubuntu to windows is all well and good. It's what 'mainstream users' think computers are - windows.

But for fucks sake, don't use it as a reason to turn Ubuntu into windows! It's already losing it's "linux-ness" by being too newbie focussed.

Anyway - most of the 'problems' were with proprietary software. That is the fault of the proprietary vendors - how about laying blame where it belongs. A bare bones windows install doesn't even have half of those programs - she'd be pretty proper fucked on windows doing all those things if someone hadn't loaded her box with 'pirated' shit to start with. Some of the comments of the author indicate he doesn't really know what's going on either (e.g. using gimp to 'photoshop' a picture, and wondering why gimp isn't identical to photoshop. hint: it isn't photoshop).

Welcome to the 1970s (2, Insightful)

Tom (822) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222404)

Wow, what a novel, totally-unheard-off idea! Usability tests! And actually, you know, doing them, instead of just talking about them. And with, you know, actual users. Wow! Quick, get a patent about that!

Frankly, this is why I gave up about Linux-on-the-desktop back in, I'm not sure, 2000 or so. When the Gnome User Interface mailing list was full of people with great and groundbreaking ideas, most of them blatant violations of everything that HCI had long dumped as bullshit, others completely untested, the rest copies of windos ("because that's what people know and expect"). Most importantly, there wasn't a single expert in the field on the list or - to my knowledge - in the entire Gnome project. Yes, including me, having read a bunch of books on the subject doesn't make me an expert, it just allowed me to spot the I-have-no-idea-but-I'll-pretend-I-do guys more easily.

Linux has suffered tremendeously due to this disregard of the normal, non-geek user. You know, the kind of person whose VCR flashes "12:00" because the UI on VCRs is total shit and only geeks really bother with it because we are the only ones who consider bugs and technical problems to be a challenge instead of, say, bugs and technical problems.

Test using Kubuntu? (4, Interesting)

Danathar (267989) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222414)

I'd like to see the same test with Kubuntu. Not saying that it's better but I'd like to see the results with KDE as well.

New user mode (3, Interesting)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222422)

I think many of these observations were valid and maybe points up the need for a "New To Ubuntu" mode that provides extra assistance for common transitional tasks. But, please, in consideration for those of us a little more technically inclined, provide a way to turn the new user mode off. Or offer it as a separate distro.

I'd be willing to bet the larger fraction of Ubuntu users are fairly tech savvy. If the developers try to foist Ubuntu Bob on users that don't want or need it, they'll lose their most loyal users. Bad for all of us. But if there isn't some kind of transitional assistance for new users, that will inhibit getting users from other operating systems into the ark.

The great thing about Linux is that it doesn't have to be all things to all people. You can shape a distro to the specific needs of particular users.

Carry On Ubuntu (1)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222440)

"Gor blimee, luv! Go a bit easier on the hardy heron, will ya? I'm still wearing me truss!"

You want what? (1)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222450)

I'd love to see a welcome screen for the first time you open up your desktop, with little videos explaining a few key concepts to how Linux and Ubuntu work. Maybe it could ask "What do you want to do?" and then explain how they could do this.

He didn't just suggest that Linux adds Clipit, did he?

Yes, some introductory tutorials can be useful, but if you add too many "what do you want to do" helpers then people just curse it for interfering. If you ask people "what is your level? beginner, normal, power user" then they'll debate it and either go too low and get too much help or go too high and feel abandonned.

IMO a better alternative (where it wasn't something minor like "computer was set up strangely with a Windows partition that didn't have a decent name and so she couldn't find MP3s") would be something more obvious as a source of tutorials so people can read it if they want it.

Hairy Hardon? (1)

pinkfloydhomer (999075) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222468)

Usability testing your hairy hard-on with a girlfriend, are we?

With a what? (1)

MyShinyMetalAss (788814) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222472)

With a what?

Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23222474)

Somebody discovered that user testing is part of making useful products? Common knowledge for most software manufacturers...

It's a fine line... (4, Insightful)

JustinOpinion (1246824) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222484)

The article several times suggests that the solution to some of these problems is, essentially, user education: having balloons that signal "new item installed" or wizards open the first time you launch a program, telling you how the program works.

The problem is that this approach often doesn't work. For one thing, it annoys the piss out of experience users. For another thing, new users tend to ignore most of that information... mainly because they are being overwhelmed by new information and can't possibly assimilate it all.

Take, for instance, the problem that was encountered when changing screen resolution. The tester changed the resolution easily, but then she clicked the "Keep settings" immediately, which locked her into graphic settings that were hard to change back. Part of the problem, I suppose is that the system allowed the user to make a ridiculous change. But part of the problem is also, perhaps, that the user is very used to clicking "OK" on any dialog that gets in the way: there are too many new things to read and learn, and the easiest way to get things done (in the mind of a new user) is to dismiss those annoying boxes as quickly as possible. Would a second popup, that described in detail why this low resolution was a bad idea (and how to undo it when desired), have changed anything? Doubtful. Most users would just click "OK" without reading it.

All this to say that I'm by no means convinced that adding more balloons, wizards, and dialog boxes will magically make it easier for users to figure out what's going on. I don't know what the solution is: usability is a tough problem. There is a place for helpful information (balloons, tool-tips, etc.), reminders, and wizards. But too much of this becomes decidedly counter-productive.

of whom? (0, Redundant)

thetsguy (1211146) | more than 6 years ago | (#23222514)

Was that guy testing the usability of his girlfriend or Hardy Heron?
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>