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Ask Slashdot: Is the Recycle Bin a Good GUI Metaphor?

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the why-call-it-a-recycle-bin-when-it's-trash? dept.

GUI 465

dsginter writes "During a recent Windows 7 upgrade, I disabled the 'Recycle Bin' from appearing on the user desktop. Why? Because this allows the users to retrieve errant deletions. While this was the goal of the 'Recycle Bin' in the first place, most people (including myself) are in the good habit of keeping a tidy workspace and 'taking out the trash' when they see that it is full. For some people, their OCD meant that deleting a file was a two step process: delete the file and then empty the recycle bin. By disabling it from view, I have found that the original function is restored for the smattering of times that it is actually needed. Why are we wasting pixels on such a poor metaphor?" Going further, is there some combination of metaphor and method of use that you'd find more useful or natural?

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Autocratic Admin? (5, Insightful)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324682)

I think you are out of line *forcing* other users to abide by your view of how the desktop should operate.

Re:Autocratic Admin? (2)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324722)

Or maybe, as a UI bonus, it can be used as a FIFO for disk space: when it's full, it deletes the oldest file first. Except that would fragment the file system to hell.

Re:Autocratic Admin? (2)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324790)

You could avoid it creating fragmentation with a bit more intelligence. Keep deleting the oldest files until a suitably large contiguous block is available for what's needed.

Re:Autocratic Admin? (3, Interesting)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324854)

Fragmentation of the file system is no issue in our times.
Hard Disks are so big, you basically always have a big enough chunk to save a file.
E.g. if you save a movie ... no modern OS is spreading that big file over lots of small groups of blocks.
Open a big word document, save it again. You can basically bet that the file is saved in a new location on the hard disk and not on top of the old file. That is the reason why "restore lost files" tools work.


Re:Autocratic Admin? (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35325080)

No, that's not why "restore lost files" tools work. They work because when you delete something the data on hard drive is still there. Pushing delete wont overwrite it.

Re:Autocratic Admin? (2)

michelcolman (1208008) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325084)

That is true if old files are always deleted by emptying the trash. But if all the files are kept until the disk is completely full and only then deleted one by one to make sufficient space, fragmentation is going to be terrible unless some kind of defragmentation is done at that time (which will slow the file system to a crawl whenever you save a big file). Or is your disk big enough to contain every file you'll ever make?

Re:Autocratic Admin? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325162)

Fragmentation hasn't been a problem for a really long time, it's just that some filesystems like NTFS don't spend the time to place files in a way that prevents it. I don't think I've ever seen a UFS filesystem with more than a couple percent fragmentation that wasn't practically completely filled up.

Re:Autocratic Admin? (4, Insightful)

FutureDomain (1073116) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324886)

I've always wanted this feature. Eliminate the "Recycle Bin" and just have a feature like Time Machine that will let you retrieve earlier versions of a file and previously deleted files. A Log-structured file system [wikipedia.org] would eliminate the fragmentation issue, make the implementation of this feature easier, and also provide some performance enhancements.

Re:Autocratic Admin? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35324990)

Isn't this in part the idea behind btrfs?

Re:Autocratic Admin? (-1, Redundant)

uglyduckling (103926) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325006)

You mean, like Time Machine? It occurred to me recently that the Trash Can on my Mac is basically pointless, because except for files that I've only had on the drive for less than a couple of minutes, there's always a copy in Time Machine.

Re:Autocratic Admin? (3, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325058)

I don't suppose you've ever heard of something called VMS by any chance?

Re:Autocratic Admin? (4, Informative)

wampus (1932) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325072)

You just described NTFS shadow copies. Also, the recycle bin can have a set maximum size and it will start deleting the oldest files if it is never emptied.

Re:Autocratic Admin? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35325132)

Right-click on a file/folder/drive, select properties and look at the tab "Previous Versions". If you are running Windows Vista/7 (except vista home basic), you'll be amazed.

Re:Autocratic Admin? (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324906)

With the "previous versions" feature, does Windows 7 even require a recycle bin? Seems like it would be almost completely useless. I haven't used the recycle bin in years. I'm quite confident when I delete a file, that I really wan to delete it. I almost always use SHIFT+delete when deleting files.

Re:Autocratic Admin? (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324960)

Or maybe, as a UI bonus, it can be used as a FIFO for disk space: when it's full, it deletes the oldest file first. Except that would fragment the file system to hell.

Why not make the recycle bin a separate filesystem? Allocate a block of disk of pre-defined size for the recycle bin. When a file is deleted, compress and copy the data to the recycle bin reserved disk area, and then zero out the sectors the file used to reside in.

Who cares if the contents inside that block of pre-defined disk sectors are fragmented or not? The fragmentation will drop to zero every time someone empties the recycle bin.

If the pre-defined area runs out of space, there are different possible policies, depending on the admin preference.

  • Expand the recycle bin holding area to accomadate new files (possibly up to a pre-defined limit); Expansion could work either by allocating additional sectors somewhere else, OR by creating a whole new pre-defined block on the disk and migrating the old recycle bin to the new block -- requirement is just an amount of contiguous disk space sufficient to hold the recycle bin storage volume
  • Bypass the recycle bin if the file is too large to fit in the recycle bin. Possibly requiring admin intervention or some special manual / less-convenient action, so the user can guarantee the deletion is not errant.
  • Age out old recycle bin contents. Delete the oldest items, possibly with a configurable number of days the item must have been deleted for, before it is eligible for aging out.
  • Or... Refuse to delete more stuff, when the recycle bin runs out of space, display an error message, indicating the user should empty their recycle bin. Don't prompt to do so for them Force the user to find the recycle bin and open it, in order to purge items.
  • Or... Apply stronger compression to items in the recycle bin to free up space. An example, might be finding 50mb JPEGs in the recycle bin and re-encoding them to a lower quality value. Or compressing the item in the recycle bin using 7-zip / LZMA compression, instead of faster pkzip.

Re:Autocratic Admin? (4, Informative)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325110)

Why not make the recycle bin a separate filesystem? Allocate a block of disk of pre-defined size for the recycle bin.

Because that would cause deletions that now run in O(1) to run in O(n) (at least); a deleted file (maybe an 80 gig video file) would have to be copied to the deletion FS before the deletion operation was complete. The idea of the Trash Can (eff this Recycle Bin noise) is that it's an abstraction that lives on top of the filesystem and allows interaction with files without regard for their filesystem, or if they're even filesystem entities at all; they might be resources on a WebDAV server, or references to files on an FTP or SMB. Trash Cans are entities of the Desktop Manager and are used for managing the user's session with the Desktop, and only presents of facade of underlying operations. And your rules for dealing with all the exceptional cases basically would make it impossible for a casual user to know if his file was even going to stay in the trash, or if they'd even be able to go in the trash at all (instead of going straight to being unlink) with a sudo, or constantly putting up "Are you sure you want to... This can only be deleted if..." messages).

Re:Autocratic Admin? (3, Insightful)

Rinnon (1474161) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324738)

I disagree. In the workplace, you're not the owner of your machine. I've never worked in an office that allowed me to do whatever I wanted with a computer. Maybe certain websites were blocked, maybe I couldn't install stuff. Maybe something I would have liked on the Desktop wasn't there. In a lot of cases, Admin can setup your computer however they want, because THEY are the ones who have to fix it when it's broken. I think he's well in line with what he should be allowed to do. The very first time someone deletes something and wants it back, and he can do it in 35 seconds, they'll be glad he did it.

Re:Autocratic Admin? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35324798)

But an admin disabling the Recycle Bin because he thinks it's a shitty metaphor is just fucking stupid. Your users might except the recycle bin to be there, or they might even *gasp* use it correctly!

Re:Autocratic Admin? (1)

uglyduckling (103926) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325024)

He hasn't disabled it, he's removed it from the desktop to try to discourage the user from immediately emptying it after deleting a file. I'm sure a user with the knowledge/insight to wonder where it's gone and miss its functionality would be able to re-enable the icon or at least request the admin to do so.

Re:Autocratic Admin? (0)

shentino (1139071) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325056)

That's beside the point.

The point is that, as stupid as it may be, the owner of the machine SHOULD have omnipotent power over what happens, and is or is not allowed. Challenging IT's computer sovereignty is something only upper management has any business doing. Users who attempt to do so should get sanctioned, and rightly so.

Whether or not the admin is himself competent is another story.

Re:Autocratic Admin? (5, Insightful)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325166)

The point is that, as stupid as it may be, the owner of the machine SHOULD have omnipotent power over what happens, and is or is not allowed.

Nonsense. A computer provided to an employee is a tool for that employee's use. To get the best results, that employee ought to be able to configure and customize that tool in any way that helps them work more efficiently.

I work with Real Computers, and don't use a "Trash Can" or "Recycle Bin", but if some pissant sysadmin told me I wasn't allowed to alias rm to '/bin/rm -i' or ls to 'ls -F', I'd laugh in their face; and if I were sanctioned by management for doing so, they'd find themselves without my services, since it would be pointless to continue working for a company so clearly doomed.

Challenging IT's computer sovereignty...

"Sovereignty?" It is to laugh.

Re:Autocratic Admin? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35324874)

To a certain extent you are correct; it is their machine and they can do as they please. However, users have certain expectations when using a general-purpose Windows PC. I guess my point is where do you draw the line? Personally I think this particular case of the Recycle Bin is just being petty; his actions seem more OCD to me than that of his users. You don't disable some standard feature just because their ideas of how to use it don't line up with yours; that's just dumb. What's next, are you going to force "Details View" on all your users? Give me a break.

Re:Autocratic Admin? (1)

Rinnon (1474161) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325140)

I'm not defending the action itself, only his right as the IT dept in his company to do it. It was suggested that he was out of line, and I think to the contrary. He was mandated to run IT as efficiently as possible, and anything he thinks is going to make his job more efficient, is his right to implement. Whether or not this move will be helpful or wise in the long run wasn't what the Parent was talking about.

Re:Autocratic Admin? (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325152)

What's next, are you going to force "Details View" on all your users? Give me a break.

Ack! No! Information leak... security alert... Force thumbnail view on all non-admin users. And disable 'right click properties' on any file name/icon.

Re:Autocratic Admin? (2)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325126)

I disagree. In the workplace, you're not the owner of your machine. I've never worked in an office that allowed me to do whatever I wanted with a computer.

I am forced to agree with the OP. Removing tools from users' desktops based on admins' personal opinion about how they should delete things is autocratic and out of line.

While it's true in the workplace you're not the owner of the machine, neither is the "admin", you have a job to do, and a computer is assigned to you for you to do your job, that job involves the computer, and you generally have certain rights granted by your employer to decide how you accomplish your job.

An admin also has a certain job to do, and they also have a certain amount of discretion. An admin is called autocratic when they preemptively take measures that interfere with employees' discretion in how they choose to accomplish their job; specifically, the measures are unreasonable.

When the admin exceeds the discretion, they are out of line. Just as when an employee exceeds their discretion and decides to do something against understood company policy to their computer, such as installing software, they are out of line; in the exact same way, the admin is out of line, if they take it upon themselves to constrain employees in significant ways that management has not approved of.

Maybe certain websites were blocked, maybe I couldn't install stuff. Maybe something I would have liked on the Desktop wasn't there.

Generally if websites are blocked, this will mean management has called for the admin to act; which would generally mean it needs to be done to meet a legal requirement or to curtail actual abuse. If an admin choose to start blocking certain websites on their own, they would be considered an autocratic unreasonable admin, if management had not called for blocking those sites -- possible exception, if workers were unintentionally accessing the sites, the sites were malicious in nature, and if the admin had been tasked by management to stop recreational use of computers and the website had no possible business purpose, or if the workers' were workers managed / their jobs supervised by the same person who happened to be admin.

Of course there's such as a concept as 'autocratic management' (and micro-management) as well.

Re:Autocratic Admin? (2)

jimicus (737525) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325022)

That's the admins job - essentially to save people from themselves.

It's why so many companies lock down the desktop to a varying degree - Windows (to be fair, any desktop OS) has a whole plethora of ways that the innocent can shoot themselves in the foot. One of the aims of locking down the desktop is to reduce this, and hence reduce helpdesk calls.

Regarding the recycling bin - you heard the (probably apocryphal) one about the secretary who used the paper recycling box on her desk as a "pending" tray? Then one day she forgot to empty it before she left for the night....

I've seen someone treat the Windows recycling bin the exact same way. She came unstuck one day when she deleted some very large files, which caused Windows to actually delete some of the stuff in the recycle bin to clear some space. She was completely unaware that Windows would do that, and really got very shirty - "But I've always done that!".

You can write this off as a single example of a clueless user if you like, but the thing is I guarantee that anyone who's worked on a helpdesk for any length of time has similar stories.

Retarded (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35324686)

This is a pointless and fucktarded article.

Way to go editors.

just a copy of Trash (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35324696)

The sole purpose of the recycle bin is to be a copy of the Trash. NeXT's "black hole" was the same thing.

What we are seeing are user interface designers copying a nearly 30 year old design from Macintosh, because as far as they are concerned it is the "only" way to do things. If you suggest something different, they immediately bristle, because they've been taken out of their comfort zone.

"It has to be this way. This is what users want."

Except that nobody has ever asked the user about any alternatives.

Re:just a copy of Trash (1)

morari (1080535) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325028)

As far as Windows goes, I've been in the habit of moving the Recycling Bin off of my desktop for years now. It wastes space in an area that I like to keep as clean and free from icon as possible. If I'm not actively working on a project, it shouldn't be on my desktop. It's kind of like my real world tables, I suppose. Where is the Recycling Bin to go if not on the desktop? Well, I put it in the Start Menu where you would normal have all of those useless "recently used" links.

Shift+Delete (5, Funny)

NemosomeN (670035) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324700)

Stop being a pussy.

Re:Shift+Delete (2)

Cl1mh4224rd (265427) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324796)

That's a bad habit that I got into. My best option was to make a normal deletion "easier" by disabling the notification when I hit the Delete button. I mean, that's what the Recycle Bin is for; to save your ass from accidental deletions. Notifications are just another layer and should be limited to the more "permanent" deletions, like Shift+Delete.

Sure, there are free recovery tools to really save your ass, but you run a greater risk relying on those over the Recycle Bin.

Re:Shift+Delete (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35324826)

Shift+Delete is even more dangerous than a trashcan which instantly deletes files would be. There's a disconnect between the selection and the keyboard action. That's not too big of a problem when you accidentally copy the wrong item, but instantly deleting via keyboard shortcut can be catastrophic if you make an error of judgment about the currently active selection, like which side of an explorer window is active. I had to involuntarily test my backup strategy once because of that, so now I avoid shift+delete.

Re:Shift+Delete (1)

HalAtWork (926717) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324882)

Yup, I never use the bin, and there's no real reason to delete anything anyway unless it's software that I don't want to use anymore, and that can easily be re-downloaded. I wouldn't really care the bin was just hidden from me until I need it as specified in the summary, but I don't think I'd need it personally.

Versioning on the other hand is much more important, but for that I just save as a new file every time, I don't especially need a file system designed for it, that seems too abstract a concept for me to put faith into. I'll never know when old versions will just disappear, and under what terms they will be kept, it seems harder to keep track of from a user standpoint. Usually just the ~ last changed version is enough for me to recover from a stupid mistake, and that's built-in.

Thank you. (3, Insightful)

msauve (701917) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325020)

Much more useful to Shift-Delete files you really want (albeit insecurely) gone, and don't worry about the ones in the Trash, which are only taking up otherwise unused disk space. From the summary:

Why are we wasting pixels on such a poor metaphor?

It's only a poor metaphor for the few really anal retentive people who can't be bothered to learn how and why their OS works. But that's not right - the metaphor isn't in error - Trash works just like a trash can. Put stuff in and take it out, empty it when it's full or stinks. What the writer wants is an incinerator.

Re:Shift+Delete (1)

greatica (1586137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325090)

In terms of UI, I have to agree. My recycle bin has been much more useful in Ubuntu than Windows. Why? Because OCD or not - In Windows you have a trash can sitting right there in front of you waiting to be emptied (or "cleaned" if you will). I probably clean my recycle bin in Windows 2 or 3 times a day. In Ubuntu, I hardly notice it because sits quietly in the lower right corner.

In Windows, I have maybe the last 4 hours of data. In Ubuntu, I have the last 4 months. Definitely a use case in terms of UI improvement for myself.

You Gotta Be Kidding! (5, Insightful)

mwandaw (1276328) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324714)

I understand that we should always try to improve on the current state of affairs. However, in this case, I think the the "solution" is the answer to a question that no one has asked.

flame on (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35324716)

here's a metaphor for you : how about a nice cup of STFU give me real news not this drivel.

OMG GOOD JOB!!! (4, Funny)

gavron (1300111) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324728)

Yes, you got a stupid one past the editors at slashdot.

Let the resume' building commence.

You so smart.

No, really.

Here's a pixel for your effort: .

Re:OMG GOOD JOB!!! (1)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324794)

I'm visually impaired you insensitive clod!

Re:OMG GOOD JOB!!! (0)

gavron (1300111) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324914)

> I'm visually impaired

Then take the pirate patch off your eye.

> You insensitive clod!

You're suggesting I'm a patch of dirt? You can't even see right...


Not exactly a world emergency this one (1)

bazorg (911295) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324736)

OK, people don't use their computers all in the same way. I don't know what made the author think that the majority deletes everything immediately after dropping files in the recycle bin. I don't. Can't tell if I'm with the majority, but I can tell that my behaviour changed as the hard drive space increased. With my current PC, it is not unusual that I have several gigabytes of stuff in the recycle bin. Occasionally I see total free space getting low-ish and I remember that I haven't purged the bin for months. 64x64 pixels wasted out of a total 1600x900 in my case. So what?

Re:Not exactly a world emergency this one (4, Insightful)

schnablebg (678930) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325054)

It doesn't even "waste" any pixels unless you are using the entirety of your desktop to keep files or shortcuts, in which case you much bigger problems than a freakin' icon metaphor.

Simple. (1)

Securityemo (1407943) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324746)

Super+X to spawn a VT, rm filen[tab], enter, Ctrl+D.

Re:Simple. (1)

forkazoo (138186) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324872)

Super+X to spawn a VT, rm filen[tab], enter, Ctrl+D.

And if it was important, it was in SVN anyway, so I can always get it back from the server if I deleted the wrong thing. The Recycle Bin exists because Microsoft wanted to emulate the Macintosh as much as possible in Windows 95. The Trash can exists because the designers of the original Macintosh wanted to build one of the only general purpose computers without any sort of command line.

And, in a nod towards elegance over safety, the original trash can was emptied across reboots. I apparently have 88 items in my trash can. So, apparently not everybody is consumed by iconic OCD and needs to empty it immediately. (Is the current Recycle Bin icon particularly ugly when full? I haven't really kept track of recent Widows version, but it seems like that sort of thing might have a subtle impact on user behaviors.)

When they see that it is full (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35324748)

Even if I delete a tiny little file, the trashcan icon goes from completely empty to totally full.

Perhaps the trashcan graphic could show the actual size of the deleted files relative to the space allocated on the hard drive for said files.

That way you would only need consider taking out the trash when the can is actually full.

Re:When they see that it is full (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35325074)

How about a pot that as you fill with deleted files, a plant grows out of it?

Steve Jobs Mansion (1, Funny)

Essequemodeia (1030028) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324750)

Rename the Recycle Bin "Steve Jobs Mansion" and a committee will prevent you from emptying it for 10 years.

Recycling bytes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35324758)

I always thought of the recycling bin as a place where you "recycle" storage memory to be used again for somewhere else. Delete 5 MB now, use it again for something else later.

Re:Recycling bytes? (1)

Cl1mh4224rd (265427) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325038)

Maybe the submitter doesn't believe in recycling. He may be more comfortable with an OS that, when deleting a file, makes those clusters unusable until he reformats.

Why does it exist in the first place? (1)

guruevi (827432) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324770)

I don't see why you can't just symlink it to /dev/null. If you are going to delete something, delete it already. If you might want to save it, save it. For all the rest (accidental deletion) there are snapshots, versioning systems or backups. The 'Recycle Bin' or 'Trash' is not used properly by anyone because it adds an unnecessary step. I loathe taking out the trash at home and I wish that everything you put there could automatically go wherever it goes when I put it on the curb. Computers are supposed to make stuff easy, not replicate real life.

Re:Why does it exist in the first place? (1)

rbarreira (836272) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324800)

For all the rest (accidental deletion) there are snapshots, versioning systems or backups.

What about accidental deletion before you do snapshots, versioning or backups?

5-7-5 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35324774)

oh recycle bin
loss is never permanent
till i run DBAN

out of disk space (3, Insightful)

LordKronos (470910) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324778)

Why are we wasting pixels on such a poor metaphor

Because, I actually want to have an easy way to empty the recycle bin. It's utilization of disk space wasn't a major concern for many year, but now with the introduction of SSDs, and the fact that huge SSDs are not yet affordable, I find myself running out of space on mine quite often. When I do, I tend to find I've got some large files sitting in the recycle bin.

Why are windows trash cans such a pain? (2)

westyvw (653833) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324780)

Why is the Windows trash can a folder, yet I can not just browse the contents? In KDE I can just look in the folder and treat it just like any other, and I can purge by date to clean it up. All files are exactly what they were before but with the one additional option to restore it.

Re:Why are windows trash cans such a pain? (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324892)

Wait, it's not? I open mine and I get an explorer list of everything in it. Sure, I can't view the actual files, or go into subdirectories, without restoring them. But I can sort by date modified, size, date deleted, container type, name, or location - and those are just the default columns.

Re:Why are windows trash cans such a pain? (1)

uglyduckling (103926) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325064)

You just answered your own question - if you can't view the files or navigate subdirectories then it's not a folder, it's a special-case that opens a window that happens to have the same GUI decorations as a standard Explorer window with the one function of selecting files in order to restore them.

deleted items (1)

jd142 (129673) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324784)

I know an Outlook user at work who uses Deleted Items as a place to *store* emails. We've always been tempted to ask him if he stores his lunch in his trashcan.

Good idea, weak implementation (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324792)

I like the idea of a recoverable deletion bucket. But, it should be less intrusive. Deletions should occur without prompts and if users want to recover files, they know where to go. Additionally, the system should treat the deletion bucket like a stack where deleted files are permanently removed as more disk space is needed.

Re:Good idea, weak implementation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35325004)

where deleted files are permanently removed as more disk space is needed

While this seems like a nice idea have you ever heard of fragmentation? If files where deleted that way you would guarantee that you will never get a continuous area for larger files causing them to be split over the memory occupied by your recently deleted files.

To the idea of using a stack, this would ensure that your most recent deletions would disappear almost immediately thanks to some process updating its log-file, a FIFO queue should be better at this.

Good idea (1)

cfc-12 (1195347) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324802)

As far as I can tell, the recycle bin was an attempt to emulate the trash can in the Macintosh UI. The difference was that, like so many other things (and this is coming from a life long Windows user, not an Apple fanatic), Microsoft did it badly where Apple did it well.

It's hard to pinpoint exactly what the difference is, but in Windows it just doesn't seem to make sense. It just looks like any other desktop icon, whereas in the Macintosh it clearly has a special purpose. Possibly because it's always there at the bottom right hand side of the screen (where it seems like it should be, don't ask me why), whereas Windows just moves it around as it sees fit.

So no, I don't see anything wrong at all with the poster's policy of removing it from the desktop. Anything that removes a possible source of confusion for users is a good thing in my book.

Re:Good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35324938)

Oh that's why it is so intuitive to put a floppy in the trash to eject it. Hmmmm?

Back to the recycle bin, I've actually had more than one user use the recycle bin as a regular folder, as a place to store files they want to keep. I'm sure users have thought of more clever ways to fuck themselves.

Re:Good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35325040)

Apple's Trashcan UI was originally done well, but they destroyed that original UI in 1987, and it has been less useful since then. Originally, an item put in the trash remained in the trash until the next application launch (and remember this was pre-multitasking MacOS, so the application launch meant the Finder went away.) Things got thrown in the trash, but users rarely needed to empty the trash themselves. (It was sort o like the janitors at my office. I throw things in the bin, the next morning the things are gone. If I throw away the wrong thing, I can fish around for it that day, but I can't fetch yesterday's stuff)

When Apple added their first attempt at multitasking the MacOS, the Finder never really goes away when a new application launches, so there was no longer a well defined time to empty the trash. So then things hung around until shutdown or boot time (I forget which) and people needed to empty the trash by a menu item.

When Windows 95 added the Recycle Bin, they more closely mimicked the MultiFinder file deletion UI, without thinking of the false steps that brought Apple there.

Disable recycle bin, period (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35324806)

If you select and delete a file that you don't mean to delete AND you confirm its deletion on the big warning that says HEY, YOU ARE ABOUT TO DELETE THIS FILE, ARE YOU SURE?, then you deserve to lose the file.

Is it that difficult to think before you delete? All the "recycle bin" and similar things do is promote stupid and clumsy users.

Dynamic Recycle Bin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35324810)

Many users have this problem/symptom/disorder. Causing the recycle bin to appear only when hard disks are full (as opposed to the current popup box or hard limit methods currently available) would be an ideal workaround.

This should actually be do-able under Linux with a little scripting. Since the OCD user stereotype described here probably doesn't fit in the "uses lots specialized windows apps that don't run under wine" category, that could be an ideal, workable solution.

You're the worst type of admin (5, Insightful)

Y-Crate (540566) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324818)

How could this possibly be a good idea? And how can you implement this and then accuse every other Windows user of having OCD? Pot. Kettle. Black.

This is an absurd personal preference to force on your users, and a good example of an admin crossing the line from "ensuring the system works well" to "forcing the users to compromise their workflow because of the personal whims of the admin". Admins are supposed to keep users from interfering with the operation of the system, but it's equally important that they don't interfere with what the users are doing more than they absolutely have to.

This is right up there with admins who don't set the time properly / leave the display at a ridiculously low resolution, then lock down the preference setting so it can't be adjusted.

Re:You're the worst type of admin (3, Insightful)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324940)

On the contrary, he's streamlining the system so that it works for his users. I seriously doubt that the users like to have to delete, confirm a delete, and then empty the bin. They're also probably pissed if they accidentally get rid of a file and he can't recover it because they've emptied the bin.

There's no great use to having the bin icon on the desktop. It's a convenience if you happen to frequently delete a lot of files you meant to keep (huh?), but otherwise it's probably a "me to" remnant of some UI designer that though the apple trashcan was a good idea.

Re:You're the worst type of admin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35325016)

Still, he's changing the user's normal work-flow without consulting them. They're used to emptying the bin. Now when they delete a file, they'll waste a few minutes trying to find the icon, get frustrated that they can't find it, then complain that it's missing.

Fuck Whether N=NP (1)

kevinNCSU (1531307) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324836)

Fuck whether or not N=NP. Can users handle the power and responsibility of a recycle bin icon on their desktop? This, THIS is the most important open question in Computer Science. Naturally, this too is equivalent to the God Poutine question [qwantz.com].

Eh, depends... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324838)

Frankly, the "Recycle bin/trash" is a good(but not perfect) UI convention for a great many common computing situations. It serves as a reasonable recovery point/"in retrospect I fucked up" self help tool. It also imposes basically no requirements on the system/filesystem architecture. Would minor little additions(like having it automatically sort items by date/time of deletion) make it better? Sure. Is there anything fundamentally wrong? Not really.

Now, in high-resource environments, there is a much stronger case to be made that the "recycle bin" is obsolete and must die; but only if the system/FS/programs can be modified to accommodate the necessary changes. If, say, I mostly deal in text of some sort(writer, lawyer, programmer) even a modern laptop drive(never mind the cheap network storage) is Ludicrous Storage. Why can't I traverse a high-granularity timeline of every change made to every file I deal with?

That's the thing: For situations where you have to contend with legacy limitations, or where user space requirements are still comparatively close to the limits imposed by available technology, the "recycle bin" UI metaphor is pretty damn good. It is basically just a folder(with a tiny dollop of metadata to allow "restore this item") so it imposes minimal requirements; but still helps save users from common fuckups.

However, for environments where storage is massively ahead of traditional user requirements, and one has the liberty to re-examine certain legacy restrictions, you could arguably do much, much, better, with full versioning of all kinds of stuff.

Re:Eh, depends... (1)

uglyduckling (103926) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325094)

Why can't I traverse a high-granularity timeline of every change made to every file I deal with?

It's coming in OS X Lion. With Time Machine on hourly backups to a local drive or over a fast network it's practically there now. [/fanboi]

Define arrogance... (0)

centre21 (232258) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324864)

How nice it must be to be so perfect a being that you never accidentally delete a file. For the rest of us mere mortals, I think we'd all prefer to keep our options open.

See your shrink, your meds need adjusting (1)

swb (14022) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324866)

Really -- you're focusing on lost desktop space and some kind of extra effort to delete files "permanently"?

IMHO, the bigger issue is that the Trash (MS called it Recycle because it sounded more PC and Apple already had a Trash) metaphor combined with large disk drives allows people to turn the Trash into a storage place (like Outlook's Deleted Items).

OK, this is and of itself isn't an issue, but periodically the trash gets emptied and then usually someone (sorry, women in marketing, but you're the most common victims) is on the war path because the trash worked like it was supposed to.

It'd make more sense if there was a trash "policy" that was time based and not disk space based. Like trash at home, it gets "deleted" every week when the garbage man comes.

Re:See your shrink, your meds need adjusting (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325130)

to be fair its a huge amount of screen space ... if your using CGA

What a swaste of time post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35324920)

This entire post and thread of comments is a waste of space and peoples time (which is what you claimed to be trying to eliminate int he first place)!

More natural metaphor (1)

mpetnuch (717102) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324932)

What about the "Laundry Basket"? I'm never really taking things out of the trash, but in the morning you sure as hell can see me searching through the laundry basket to find that shirt that always seems to disappear.

Re:More natural metaphor (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325096)

No. The trash bin is a good metaphor because the meatspace version is not immediately destructive. You can always pull stuff back out of the trash before the can has been emptied because it got filled up. ....I think someone has entirely too much time on their hands and Slashdot is having a really slow news day.

I don't think so (1)

gweihir (88907) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324946)

The recycling bin is wrong for several reasons:

- It is an icon, and all icons except this one represent applications. It breaks the metaphor.
- The concept of an undelete-store has some merit, but it absolutely needs to have a limited lifetime for its content.
- It is hard to find as it has no fixed location. And it eats icon space without good reason.
- Because it has no fixed position, the notion of drag&drop to it is fundamentally broken. Delete has to be a fixed gesture or command, not a variable one, as it is a unique operation. In addition, having it as an icon is accident-prone.

Personally, I have set deletes to be permanent and do not use the recycling bin anymore. I never have caused real damage by accidental deletions. Anything important has to be backed-up anyways, as disks do fail.

In my view, the recycling bin is one of the results of Microsofts attempt to allow users to stay incompetent, instead of requiring them to lift their competence level a bit and become proficient. If you consider how much time people spend to learn how to read and write, refusing to learn a bit more in order to be a competent computer user is just plain stupid.

That said, most computer users are low-skill (with regard to computers) and want to stay that way. They will not even understand why a better set-up could make them more productive. Remember the first rule of teaching: Only those that want to learn can be taught. Most computer users do not want to learn. Hence I advise you not to mess with the MS way of doing things, stupid as it may be.

Re:I don't think so (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325108)

> - It is an icon, and all icons except this one represent applications. It breaks the metaphor.

        Where are you from? Mars.

        Icons can represent more than just applications and it's always been this way.

Re:I don't think so (1)

Steve Hamlin (29353) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325124)

"all icons except this one (Recycle Bin) represent applications."

??? Maybe on your desktop. Icons on a Windows desktop can be, or be shortcuts to, applications, files, filesystem locations, URLs (smb, http, ftp). The Windows Desktop is simply a filesystem directory like any other.

I suppose in one sense those are all OPENED by applications, if by applications you mean passing the link to explorer.exe to handle - but in that case then the Recycle icon opens the explorer.exe application to a specific directory.

"I never have caused real damage by accidental deletions. Anything important has to be backed-up anyways, as disks do fail."

And what happens if a user hits delete before the next backup runs?

Re:I don't think so (1)

uglyduckling (103926) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325148)

Icons also represent documents, folders, and "the Desktop", whatever that means. I think the Recycle Bin is supposed to be like a folder, which is why it can be moved around, although in reality it's a special case GUI function. I prefer the Mac metaphor where it has a fixed location although it's annoying that there's no way to get a link to it on the left bar of a Finder window, which means always dragging all the way down (or across in my case) to the edge of the dock. It's redundant really, because you can always create a folder on the fly when doing some mass deletions, check everything you wanted to keep is still there, then delete the folder, but it is useful for newbies to feel confident when deleting.

Fix the filesystem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35324956)

I use ZFS and automatically snapshot the filesystem once a minute. Any snapshotting filesystem will allow you to restore previous versions of files (or accidentally deleted files). I don't really see the use of a trash can.

Shift Delete (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35324972)

I have switched over to shift-delete because that skips the recycle bin and permanently deletes it, so the visibility of the recycle bin won't help me.

Taking it one step further (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35325018)

Honestly I'm not sure why the OS doesn't keep iterations of files by default. I know the recycle bin example is catching some flack, but I agree with the notion that this is a dated concept.

I was a big OS/2 fan because it had a shredder (5, Funny)

brokeninside (34168) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325042)

I thought that was THE metaphor for deleting files, dragging them to the shredder.

Plus, my wife edited a .wav of a chainsaw buzzing followed by a scream and associated it with the action of shredding a file. That added to the effect, you shred a file, hear it get cut up and scream its last. The message it re-inforced was FILE DONE GONE!

Multiple trashcans FTW! (5, Funny)

Twinbee (767046) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325046)

I've only just skimmed the summary, but I completely agree, it'd be wonderful to have multiple recycle bins, each a different colour so I can organize my trash. I put red files/icons in the red trash, and green ones in the green etc. I'm pretty sure this helps the OS with housekeeping, because it makes it easier to restore the bits for future files. Sometimes, the colour is not seen before, so I've set up a system to pick the trashcan colour from a colour wheel - this helps organization further.

On top of this scheme, I have various levels of trash: shallow, deep, and megadeep. When I first delete a file, it goes into the shallow trash so that I can restore the file immediately if I've made a mistake. If I'm really sure I don't want a file, or I need more disk space, every so often, I dig into the shallow trash, and move them into the deeper trashcan, and again with the other levels, finally to be deleted at the end of the chain. It's cumbersome, but this way I can make sure I won't delete very important files too easily.

OCD Problem, Not OS (2)

TheNinjaroach (878876) | more than 3 years ago | (#35325082)

The problem you describe lies with your need to empty the Recycle Bin.

Leaving it on the Desktop is nice for the times you really *do* want to permanently empty those files as well as the times you want to undelete.

Off topic: Why force your personal preference on the users of your company? I think that's poor form. Let them decide how they want to use their own workspace.
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