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Let's Kill the Hard Disk Icon

Hemos posted more than 12 years ago | from the changing-the-UI dept.

Programming 613

Kellym writes "The desktop metaphor is under attack these days. Usability experts and computer scientists like Don Norman, David Gelernter and George Robertson have declared the metaphor "dead." The complexities blamed on the desktop metaphor are not the fault of the metaphor itself, but of its implementation in mainstream systems. The default hard disk icon is part of the desktop metaphor. And the icon is the cause of the complexity created by the desktop"

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613 comments

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first post? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2718867)

fp?

GaylordFucker to possibly call it quits (-1)

GaylordFucker (465080) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718931)

i don't know... my trolling is awful... i think i might throw in the towel :-\

let's kill tux thru anal sex (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2718872)

I grabbed tux's breasts firmly in my strong hands
while gently poking and proding around his anal
regions with my throbbing member. When enough
pre-cum had emerged from my tip, I knew the time
was right. I started to push my big juicy cock
into the penguin's tight, open-source ass. Tux
let out a gentle moan.

Slowly, bit by bit, I burried my big dick deep
into his ass. Tremors of both pain and delight
excaped his beak as I surged forward! Overcome
by powerful desire, I gradually increased the
speed and depth of my thrusts.

It quickly became more than the little penguin
could handle.

The pleasure consumed me! I had to keep on
thrusting, even though Tux was screaming in pain!
Eventually, my cock began to aggitate Tux's tight
ass to the point where it began bleeding. Tears
seemed to stream down his eyes as I continued to
fuck his ass harder and harder.

Before long, the sensation of orgasm was upon me
and I could no longer hold back. I convulsed,
spilling into the ass all of my spunk with such
force as to render Tux's intestine's apart! The
pressure forced a stream of feces, blood, and
semen out of his rectum, dripping onto the floor
at an alarming pace.

Tux's body was limp by this point.

Only wanting to fulfill my desires further, I
grabbed Tux's limp neck and shoved his nose into
the pile of shit, jizz, and blood. I made him
choke it down... gulp after gulp.

Soon, Tux was dead. I had killed the penguin,
but it was the best anal sex I had ever had.

Re:let's kill tux thru anal sex (-1)

Ralph JewHater Nader (450769) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718890)

Tux was a filthy jew so he deserved it.

"The" hard disk icon? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2718874)

Makes sense to kill it *if* you have only one HD. These people forgot that you can have *more* than one HD.

don't kill my "hard disk"... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2718877)

I grabbed tux's breasts firmly in my strong hands
while gently poking and proding around his anal
regions with my throbbing member. When enough
pre-cum had emerged from my tip, I knew the time
was right. I started to push my big juicy cock
into the penguin's tight, open-source ass. Tux
let out a gentle moan.

Slowly, bit by bit, I burried my big dick deep
into his ass. Tremors of both pain and delight
excaped his beak as I surged forward! Overcome
by powerful desire, I gradually increased the
speed and depth of my thrusts.

It quickly became more than the little penguin
could handle.

The pleasure consumed me! I had to keep on
thrusting, even though Tux was screaming in pain!
Eventually, my cock began to aggitate Tux's tight
ass to the point where it began bleeding. Tears
seemed to stream down his eyes as I continued to
fuck his ass harder and harder.

Before long, the sensation of orgasm was upon me
and I could no longer hold back. I convulsed,
spilling into the ass all of my spunk with such
force as to render Tux's intestine's apart! The
pressure forced a stream of feces, blood, and
semen out of his rectum, dripping onto the floor
at an alarming pace.

Tux's body was limp by this point.

Only wanting to fulfill my desires further, I
grabbed Tux's limp neck and shoved his nose into
the pile of shit, jizz, and blood. I made him
choke it down... gulp after gulp.

Soon, Tux was dead. I had killed the penguin,
but it was the best anal sex I had ever had.

Re:"The" hard disk icon? (1, Insightful)

atif_ghaffar (464452) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718895)

A HD is not the same as a FS(file system).
You are probably confusing the two.

I can one one HD and 10 FS on them ( /, /usr /opt /usr/local etc) or in M$ terms (C: D: E: etc) or I can one a beowolf of disks with one filesystem on them (raid etc).

Re:"The" hard disk icon? (5, Insightful)

MisterBlister (539957) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718904)

Having more than one hard-drive doesn't stop you from getting rid of the harddrive icon. As an example, considering UNIX style filesystem mounting... Imagine if the desktop displayed everything under '/'... These directories could be spread across multiple harddrives, but under one virtual desktop/root directory.

However, the real problem I see with the article is they don't suggest how users would deal with partitioning their space if one got rid of the harddrive icon. What I mean is, suppose I create a new directory under my root desktop, how do I specify which harddisk it should be on to better divide the free space I have on each disk? Surely they wouldn't propose that Mac end users should play around with auto mount lists as is done in the UNIX world?

I suppose one solution would be to use logical volumes to treat all harddrives on a system as one single volume, but if so that's a much bigger change than just eliminating the hard-disk icon, and the implications of it should be better explored (if that's the sort of solution they were going for).

Personally, I dont think anyone is particularly confused by hard-disk icons, and think the article is just blowing smoke...The article never really tries to back up its arguments or give real-world alternatives except at a very superficial level.

Re:"The" hard disk icon? (1)

-brazil- (111867) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718914)

Three little words: logical volume manager [sistina.com]

Re:"The" hard disk icon? (1)

kormoc (122955) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718916)

I suppose one solution would be to use logical volumes to treat all harddrives on a system as one single volume
*SNIP*
Raid 0? Or a better way to handle a 15g and a 30g as a 45g? Is there a way to do that?

Re:"The" hard disk icon? (1)

nosferatu1001 (264446) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718946)

Logical Volumes, or simply put, spanning

Win NT5 can do this, [as well as sofft raid 0], by upgrading to "dynamic" disks

LVM as pointed out is always on unix....windows finally has the ability to mount a disk into a folder, not a drive lette- amazing! only took 20years...

Re:"The" hard disk icon? (2, Interesting)

kormoc (122955) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718968)

Ahh. Mounting a hd to a folder is not what I had in mind tho. Raid 0 merges the two hard drives, so 2 30g are now 1 60g, that way if I had to install a program that required all the data to be in it's tree, and it took 35 gigs of space, it would still work. Mounting a drive to a dir wouldn't allow me to do this without symlinks, and if I had to symlink 1000 files by hand, I would not be happy.
I also know that if I raid 0 a 15g and a 30 g, I get a 30g(100% of the 15g and 50% of the 30g) Is there a way to raid 0 them to a 45g?
Maybe that is the softraid you talked about, I never seen it, so let me know

Re:"The" hard disk icon? (1)

kormoc (122955) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718971)

and if I had to symlink 1000 files by hand
*SNIP*
I do know about wildcards and recursion, so don't flame me...

Re:"The" hard disk icon? (1)

-brazil- (111867) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718995)

I also know that if I raid 0 a 15g and a 30 g, I get a 30g(100% of the 15g and 50% of the 30g) Is there a way to raid 0
them to a 45g?

No.
Maybe that is the softraid you talked about


"Soft RAID" just means that the RAID functionality is implemented in software instead of a separate hardware RAID controller. Cheaper, but less reliable and lower performance. As far as I know, no RAID level can efficiently use disks of different size.

Re:"The" hard disk icon? (1)

matthew.thompson (44814) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718924)

Obviously not a comment from a Unix system user.

Unix systems mount multiple devices or partitions withing a filesystem space - this is much easier to represent as a filing cabinet than as a disk icon.

I have 2 hard drives but one file system space - I forget where stuff is disk wise but I always remember where files are.

M@t :o)

Re:"The" hard disk icon? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2718950)

I have 2 hard drives but one file system space - I forget where stuff is disk wise but I always remember where files are

Obviously not a comment from someone who plays with hardware. Carrying a 80 GB harddrive is a damn efficient mean of carrying data around. That is, unless you don't know where your files are.

Re:"The" hard disk icon? (2, Insightful)

wickidpisa (41827) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718961)

Obviously not a comment from a Unix system user.

Obviously this is a comment from a Mac user. I don't mean this as a flame. The idea presented basically tries to maximize ease of use to the computer illiterate with no regard for how much it hurts actual functionality. Apple has been tdoing this for years. They hide any real information from the user to make things easier on them. They got rid of the CLI, the next logical step is to remove the filesystem.

Again, I'm not trying to mac bash here, I even suggest macs to people who say all they want to do is browse the web and read e-mail. But the more you really want to use a computer, you realize that the more information you can get your hands on the better. This desktop idea would only serve to let people use the very basic functions of a computer, but it will never let them get any further than that.

Re:"The" hard disk icon? (1)

Warvi (544623) | more than 12 years ago | (#2719006)

This desktop idea would only serve to let people use the very basic functions of a computer, but it will never let them get any further than that.

Vast majority of users run very few applications. They have absolutely no need to 'get any further' or know anything about the internal architecture of the computer. Shouldn't we ('we' as in software developer) make things as easy, simple and intuitive as possible for them. For developers, there could be additional tools to access all information they need.

It really doesn't matter... (5, Insightful)

Gogl (125883) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718875)

Yes, they are correct in saying that having the hard drive being somehow subservient to the desktop is confusing and well, wrong.

However, in the end it doesn't really matter. Why? Because there are either people who understand why this is wrong and therefore it doesn't matter to them, or there are people whose understanding of a computer is one that it would require more then changing the hard drive icon to make them undestand.

That, and I'm willing to bet that neither of these sorts of people really care one way or the other.

Well, it's just my opinion I suppose, and you have the right to disagree. But I've always thought the recursiveness of the desktop didn't really matter.

Re: Lets kill the Hard Disk Icon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2718878)

I've forgotten that there was a harddrive icon still around somewhere, I've been using diskless workstations way too long. I think there is still a use for the harddrive icon under single user OS's like windows. But with gnome and kde I really struggle to see a point for it. If someone asked me where it was I'd have to admint I have no idea.

Yah right... (5, Insightful)

TZA14a (9984) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718880)

The vague space of the hard disk should not exist for you.
Call me old fashioned, but I for one am _not_ baffled by the vast regions of "vague space" that my file systems offer me. I don't want hundreds of stacked desktops for everything I do. This might be nice for Joe Random Luser, but if you intend to do _LOTS_ of things with your computer, and interconnect them, having the power of a file system at your disposal helps a lot.

It is possible to build labyrinths of internal directories that eventually become too deep to navigate via the mouse.

Yeah, that's the way it goes - the same "usability experts" who have brought us the "tree control for everything" metaphor that totally sucks in large directory trees now want to oversimplify even more. Perhaps, if the mouse is incapable of filling your needs, you should consider alternatives... such as the keyboard and a sensible autocompletion. Every time I see someone use a keyboard based navigation tool (Windows Commander comes to my mind, or bash completion), they're about ten times faster than click-move-click-move sequences.

Re:Yah right... (5, Insightful)

fixion (38352) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718920)

Keyboard-based navigation tools -- e.g. a command-line interface -- are ten times faster if
  • the user has already learned the interface. (The learning curve for command-line interfaces is steeper than for GUIs, especially if the user has first experience with a GUI. With a blank slate computer user, the learning curve is about the same...but how many blank slates who've never used Windows -- or a video game controller -- do you find?

  • the user doesn't have to re-learn the commands.The problem with most command line interfaces is that they are unique to a particular application. The keyboard shortcuts are unique, the modifier codes are unique, etc. That means learning a new interface for each application. Innefficient!

Re:Yah right... (3, Interesting)

TZA14a (9984) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718955)

You are right in both your claims, I think, but...

Keyboard-based navigation tools -- e.g. a command-line interface -- are ten times faster if

  • the user has already learned the interface .

Okay, totally valid point. It _is_ of course non-obvious how to use vi for text editing or bash for file manipulation. Still, most people who use computers for work use them for hours a day - and mostly using the same applications. So, being able to use them is IMO much preferrable to being "simple".

  • the user doesn't have to re-learn the commands.

That, of course is an implementation problem - if you take a look at GNU software, there's the Readline library [cwru.edu] that controls how you enter text (and a few more things :)) in almost any application. So you set your preferences once, and they work in your mail client, on the shell prompt and in your web browser, just the same (of course, with configurable exceptions and all the candy you'd expect from a solution for smart people). Trouble with readline is only that it's GPL licensed, and therefore never found adaptation in any non-free (or non-GPL, for that matter) software...

Re:Yah right... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2718981)

Agreed on all points.

The inconsistencies of the keyboard are a question of design not philosophy. I can design every different GUI I programme with a different set of menus, buttons all over the place. One App could have a file menu, another an Openning menu, another a...

But someone ages ago (the Mac me thinks) dictated a standard set that everyone should stick to.

Theres nothing stopping the same for the kb. Tab is completion. Always. (None of this ? Cisco crap). Double tab gives possibilities. Cursor keys are history. emacs style cntrl shortcuts.

Its not impossible. Its just incomplete.

Re:Yah right... (2, Interesting)

nosferatu1001 (264446) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718990)

So you are saying you'll trade a lifdetime of innefficiency for 10minutes spent learning an interface?

LOVE your logic!

glorified directory (3, Interesting)

hyrdra (260687) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718882)

Well I have to say I don't agree with this article. By it's own admissions, a desktop is a limiting space. It is true that for novice users a desktop metaphor is a comforting feeling and most do not leave it, but navigating the complex structure of an entire computer via desktops would be silly. It does make some sense to organize a hard-disk, but this is what the filesystem is for. If I read the article correctly, it implies scraping the tradional rooted filesystem in place of one in which is organized into several main points of interaction via a desktop metaphor.

We would then have a different desktop for different parts of the system -- e.g. an operating system desktop which would expose internal controls, configuration files, utility programs and other settings, several program desktops, etc.
In pratice it sounds good but I don't think anyone will take to it very well or it will be that different. In fact, most desktops are just glorified directories anyway that are always open and at the lowest level. So what's the point of difference, because I fail to see one.

Where's some real work on this? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2718886)

About the time I got to him describing Linux GUIs as "simpler and are easier to use and manage" I was starting to realize that while the author starts off with an appeal to authority "X, Y, Z say I'm right!" the article was mostly just a few ill-explained conjectures interspersed with a bunch of filler.

Where's some real data on desktop usability? Surely if the desktop is considered so wretched, there'd be a score of empirical HCI studies that:

1) Proposed an alternative
2) Actually went out and prototyped the alternative
3) Showed that the alternative was more efficient than the desktop

But I'm not seeing anything coming out that would seem to indicate that the desktop was dead.

Re:Where's some real work on this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2718997)

What else do you expect from OSOpinion? Most of the people posting have a rudimentary knowledge at best of their operating systems of choice; much less deeper technical knowledge or familiarity with papers in the field. It does what its name says it does: it lets people with opinions, publish them. Not the worst thing in the world, but it's not a site I pay any attention.

Huh? (4, Insightful)

johnburton (21870) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718887)

That article is just daft. It seeems to be saying that a hard disk directory structure is much better than a desktop because you can have unilimed space and organise it by directories, and then goes on to say it should be abolished and replaced by multiple desktops.

Maybe I missed the point. I hope so, then the article would make sense.

In my opinion the whole desktop metaphore is flawed. The screen should just be a view of the hard disk, but each user should have their own namespace on the disk and not be able to even see others files, or there system files without running special tools.

The problem with windows is that sometimes "My Computer" is a subdirectory of the disk and sometimes the disk is a sub-item of My Computer. It confuses me and I'm supposed to know what I'm doing!

Re:Huh? (2, Insightful)

kormoc (122955) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718982)

I think he ment that the desktop should be the root of the drive, and everything moves out from there.

No more My Computer, but:
Windows
Program Files
My Documents
Autoexec.bat
Config.sys
etc...

I think is would get very full very fast and kill any +s it would add.

do you supose beasty gets a kick out of this? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2718888)

I grabbed tux's breasts firmly in my strong hands
while gently poking and proding around his anal
regions with my throbbing member. When enough
pre-cum had emerged from my tip, I knew the time
was right. I started to push my big juicy cock
into the penguin's tight, open-source ass. Tux
let out a gentle moan.

Slowly, bit by bit, I burried my big dick deep
into his ass. Tremors of both pain and delight
excaped his beak as I surged forward! Overcome
by powerful desire, I gradually increased the
speed and depth of my thrusts.

It quickly became more than the little penguin
could handle.

The pleasure consumed me! I had to keep on
thrusting, even though Tux was screaming in pain!
Eventually, my cock began to aggitate Tux's tight
ass to the point where it began bleeding. Tears
seemed to stream down his eyes as I continued to
fuck his ass harder and harder.

Before long, the sensation of orgasm was upon me
and I could no longer hold back. I convulsed,
spilling into the ass all of my spunk with such
force as to render Tux's intestine's apart! The
pressure forced a stream of feces, blood, and
semen out of his rectum, dripping onto the floor
at an alarming pace.

Tux's body was limp by this point.

Only wanting to fulfill my desires further, I
grabbed Tux's limp neck and shoved his nose into
the pile of shit, jizz, and blood. I made him
choke it down... gulp after gulp.

Soon, Tux was dead. I had killed the penguin,
but it was the best anal sex I had ever had.

Re:do you supose beasty gets a kick out of this? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2718913)

can someone PLEASE mod this sick drivel down?

Re:do you supose beasty gets a kick out of this? (-1)

I.T.R.A.R.K. (533627) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718960)

Screw you, I'm modding this shit up!

Named desktops (5, Funny)

LegendLength (231553) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718889)

The vague space of the hard disk should not exist for you. Ideally, your machine should be a collection of desktops that you have created and named, that are easy to track via a menu or toggle button, and are each understandable because they follow the same rules and offer the same limitations.
Yes, yes...you could even store those named desktops in a tree-like structure. Brilliant.

Re:Named desktops (2)

ImaLamer (260199) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718935)


"The vague space of the hard disk should not exist for you. Ideally, your machine should be a collection of desktops that you have created and named, that are easy to track via a menu or toggle button, and are each understandable because they follow the same rules and offer the same limitations."

"Yes, yes...you could even store those named desktops in a tree-like structure. Brilliant."

This is got to be the best response this this article yet. Instead of starting a new thread I must say here that this guy is jumping ahead of the game.

The desktop isn't fixed yet! It's not close to done. It isn't smart enough. I think that eventually we will need/want/have desktops that are smarted and more interactive. But there needs to be work done between the users, the kernel writers [of all OS/platforms], the userland writers all of it.

As computers get 'better' and faster some of us will stray from the bland picture frame desktop. Maybe this guy's idea would work better as his 'desktops' as tiles on The Desktop?

I've already responded saying that this is a silly idea all together.But now I see it as a way to change the way I see my system and I don't like it.

I want to know where my files are, I may want to just look through them. Sorry if that bothers you.

Grrr! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2718891)

Kill the hard drive icon! Ya! Mumble mumble. What? Yea! Kill all keyboards! They're too difficult to master. Monitors display flat 2-dimensional images! Get rid of them! Grrr! Remove all buttons from mice! Insert yellow smiling face icons among puffy clouds!

harddrives (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2718894)

I dunno. You CAN'T kill harddrives, obviously. They're there, they are part of the machine, just like you can't kill the idea of a graphics card. A harddrive is not just some virtual something, like the desktop in a gui.

That said, "hiding" the harddrive behind a layer of abstraction - the fs directory structure - works just fine. Why break it? You gotta arrange files SOEMWHERE, and the unix concept of directory tree with mount points works really fine.

It's only the windows world where this is still a problem (mutliple hd's etc).

/complexity/ ?? (5, Funny)

Cally (10873) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718897)

Pardon me, I don't mean to flame these well-meaning researchers, but... anyone who finds the drool-proof Fisher-price desktop interfaces of "modern" commercial OSes "complex", after 15-20 years for the concepts to sink into the culture, and umpty-zillion dollars in usability testing, HCI factors researchers, Xerox, MIT MediaLab, Apple, XP, blah blah blah... probably shouldn't be left on their own with a box of matches, ya-know-what-i-mean?

You must understand the technology to use it (4, Insightful)

SomethingOrOther (521702) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718898)


My motorbike has an oil light on it.
It comes on when the bike is running out of oil so I know when to put more in. To run a motorbike I mush know how to do this and (basicly) how the engine works. (Unless I want to be totaly reliant on a mechanic)

A computer is exactly the same.
To use it, you must know basicly how it works.....such as what a hard disk is! You cant oversimplify!

Re:You must understand the technology to use it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2718944)

From time to time it happens that I use light bulbs instead of candles but I find it a bit hard to remember exactly how and why a Nuclear plant works so I usually stick to candles. Also I light my candle with matches because I'm having problems understanding the full process of making a polymer lighter. Come to think about I don't even have a full understanding of matches. I guess I have to start using something simpler like a magnifying glass or a flit stone and some iron. Wait a moment... do I really understand why a piece of metal and flint struck togther produces a spark? Guess I have to go and ask the ninja.

--
kramasitrafikenREMOVE@MEhotmail.com

Re:You must understand the technology to use it (3, Interesting)

zmooc (33175) | more than 12 years ago | (#2719004)

The motorbike-dude is describing the casual home-user, you're describing the situation that exists where real sysadmins are around. They're fundamentally different. So actually you've about solved the problem; oversimplification is good if the user doesn't have to play sysadmin (which is the ideal situation). If they do need to admin their system (like at home), they need to know about harddrives etc.

Since the first option is by far the most userfriendly, I think in the future (when we have really nice uplinks at home), companies will start to over fully functional thin clients which they admin themselves. This would take away a lot of the problems the average home-user has and at the same time will enable us to rent applications which we'd otherwise consider too expensive to buy (and now use illegaly) and offer lots and lots more...

fucking moderators can't stop me! mwuahahaha (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2718899)

I grabbed tux's breasts firmly in my strong hands
while gently poking and proding around his anal
regions with my throbbing member. When enough
pre-cum had emerged from my tip, I knew the time
was right. I started to push my big juicy cock
into the penguin's tight, open-source ass. Tux
let out a gentle moan.

Slowly, bit by bit, I burried my big dick deep
into his ass. Tremors of both pain and delight
excaped his beak as I surged forward! Overcome
by powerful desire, I gradually increased the
speed and depth of my thrusts.

It quickly became more than the little penguin
could handle.

The pleasure consumed me! I had to keep on
thrusting, even though Tux was screaming in pain!
Eventually, my cock began to aggitate Tux's tight
ass to the point where it began bleeding. Tears
seemed to stream down his eyes as I continued to
fuck his ass harder and harder.

Before long, the sensation of orgasm was upon me
and I could no longer hold back. I convulsed,
spilling into the ass all of my spunk with such
force as to render Tux's intestine's apart! The
pressure forced a stream of feces, blood, and
semen out of his rectum, dripping onto the floor
at an alarming pace.

Tux's body was limp by this point.

Only wanting to fulfill my desires further, I
grabbed Tux's limp neck and shoved his nose into
the pile of shit, jizz, and blood. I made him
choke it down... gulp after gulp.

Soon, Tux was dead. I had killed the penguin,
but it was the best anal sex I had ever had.

Why not.... (5, Funny)

Mister Transistor (259842) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718900)

Since were killing off all the "evil icons" these days, i.e. Joe Camel, Barney, Usama Bin Laden, etc, go ahead - whack the evil hard disk icon too. Next on the chopping block - Ronald McDonald and that annoying whiny PrimeCo pink alien guy!

Nitpicking (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2718901)

Who cares. I'm sure everyone understands the concept. There are more important things to do than crusade against a friggin icon.

I see it now...New error,,, (1)

kormoc (122955) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718903)

You are working with Desktop #2342425. The file (ReadMe.Txt) you want to open is on Desktop #2246454. Go there?

huh??? why? (2, Insightful)

CProgrammer98 (240351) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718906)

I don't see the disk icon as a problem at all, I prefer that to cluttering my desktop with lots of folder icons. Maybe it's just me and my warped mind, but I find teh hierarchical anture of the disk's contents very easy to navigate and explore, I use it constantly.

As to the limitations of the desktop - isn't the desktop contents just a directory on the drive anyway?

The mouse can't leae the desktop? sure it can - if you have virtual desktops - I just hover my mouse at one of the screen edges and it flips to the next panel. I use virtual desktops to access the multitude of application windows I have open, not to organize my filing system and have it cluttered with a zillion icons - I'd never be able to find anything!

As another poster here said, power users who understand the file system on their machines don't have a problem with it.

.

I'd love greater abstraction (4, Insightful)

Mike Connell (81274) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718908)

I'm all for the sentiment behind "The vague space of the hard disk should not exist for you.", but that's just a bad bad bad idea until computers are rock solid. No I don't mean Windows 2000 solid, or even debian Potato solid, I mean solid like my old 286 machine that hasn't had a software update for eons.

At the moment my other half knows what a floppy disk is (it looks like a floppy disk, and you can put files on it). She knows that the "hard disk" is a "big floppy disk inside the computer", and that she should copy from the later to the former whenever she needs to keep a safe copy. This is a good thing, because she knows where her stuff is, and so do I (as sys admin). As soon as you start blurring the lines, it makes it harder for people to control their own files.

I think it's right to be pushing the state of the art in the interface. However, I have this conservative feeling that the current status quo matches well to the actual reality of buggy software and hw/sw failures. Once we cross over into "you dont need to know that" space, we better be sure that we actually don't need to know it, otherwise we'll be SOL.

Luddite nostalgia or elegant simplicity? (1)

angusgr (525432) | more than 12 years ago | (#2719036)

I agree. Someone mentioned an Apple IIe in this forum, and I couldn't help thinking of my long-time belief that usability in operating systems has been going down since those days (while usability in actual apps has gone up.)

On those computers, you picked up a physical disk, you stuck it in the computer, you turned it on. The disk had the program on it. It ran, just like on a Super Nintendo or a Playstation. Want another program? Take out one disk, put in the other!

The "metaphor" of a physical environment did not exist, the computing environment was physical! Disks for different programs, disks for documents, disks that belonged to individual people.

I'm not advocating this as a solution, just a thinking point... But, especially for "Joe Normal", this was about as good as it ever got.

Doesn't seem very deeply analysed to me. (2)

biglig2 (89374) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718909)

Their thesis is that giving users access to the file system is bad, because they fill their directories with crap.

So, since people don't fill their desktops with quite as much crap simply because it has an visual limit. I can get about 100 icons on mine.

So, since 100 files isn't enough for my data needs, they suggest I have multiple desktops.

I get a feeling that this will over-complex things.

Also, the standard "file manager" type view is a staple of e-mail systems. How do the authors suggest replacing this?

Hmmm. I dunno. Won't it add extra complexity as you have to distinguish between persistant icons that are on every desktop, and the transient ones that are just on one. Since everything the user sees is a shortcut, you also have to distinguish between deleting the shortcut and deleting the file. (delete once the last link is gone? maybe)

Anyhow, easy enough to test their theory, since you can configure both Linux and XP to work exactly like thay describe.

Re:Doesn't seem very deeply analysed to me. (1)

kormoc (122955) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718984)

With the theory:
After a few desktops, the user will remove old files faster then if they are hidden on the hd.

Could workout if you only have 50 megs to work with, but with muto gig drives, it's useless

Painful Penguin Anal Sex With ALAN COCKS (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2718910)

I grabbed tux's breasts firmly in my strong hands
while gently poking and proding around his anal
regions with my throbbing member. When enough
pre-cum had emerged from my tip, I knew the time
was right. I started to push my big juicy cock
into the penguin's tight, open-source ass. Tux
let out a gentle moan.

Slowly, bit by bit, I burried my big dick deep
into his ass. Tremors of both pain and delight
excaped his beak as I surged forward! Overcome
by powerful desire, I gradually increased the
speed and depth of my thrusts.

It quickly became more than the little penguin
could handle.

The pleasure consumed me! I had to keep on
thrusting, even though Tux was screaming in pain!
Eventually, my cock began to aggitate Tux's tight
ass to the point where it began bleeding. Tears
seemed to stream down his eyes as I continued to
fuck his ass harder and harder.

Before long, the sensation of orgasm was upon me
and I could no longer hold back. I convulsed,
spilling into the ass all of my spunk with such
force as to render Tux's intestine's apart! The
pressure forced a stream of feces, blood, and
semen out of his rectum, dripping onto the floor
at an alarming pace.

Tux's body was limp by this point.

Only wanting to fulfill my desires further, I
grabbed Tux's limp neck and shoved his nose into
the pile of shit, jizz, and blood. I made him
choke it down... gulp after gulp.

Soon, Tux was dead. I had killed the penguin,
but it was the best anal sex I had ever had.

Mac was the first? (5, Insightful)

ImaLamer (260199) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718912)

The first time I saw an Apple machine other than an IIe I was very confused by the fact that the actual drive wasn't the 'root' of the system. Even though this is only in idea - it killed me, I was confused. Even Windows (3.1) used C:\!

Now KDE, Windows 9x, and many other use the 'Desktop' as the 'root' of the system. You'll notice that this trick is only performed by the 'userland' and not the actual system. This is because it's common sense. Your computer doesn't want to look for things starting from a folder/directory/area that is actually buried deep within the system!

I say, banish the 'Desktop'! It confuses users. Teach the file tree! Standardize the file tree!

No more systems where programs store themselves anywhere! No more systems that show the drive under the Desktop! No more systems that show other things on the same level as the drive!

Why confuse users? Teach them;
"This is /, it is the root of the system."
"This is /etc where your configuration data is stored!"
"This is /usr - you'll find the actual programs and more there!"
"But this is your Home/My Documents/Desktop. There are others similar to yours, but this one is yours."
"However, it doesn't sit on top of the rest of the system!"

Maybe I don't get it. I thought it would be easier to teach new users things they already understand.
"This is the desktop, it's the top level, well kinda, it's actually in /home/username/.kde/desktop [or c:\windows\desktop or even c:\windows\profiles\username\desktop\ ], but it's the top of your system. Under that is your hard drive... that is where the desktop is kept."

Re:Mac was the first? (1)

bockman (104837) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718953)

Ok. But then you have to push hard-core unixers in giving more common-sense names to file and directories :-). Like :

- /configuration instead of /etc

- /applications instead of /usr

- a 'preferences' directory under ~, instead of a miriad of . files.

Re:Mac was the first? (1)

kEnder242 (262421) | more than 12 years ago | (#2719034)

The reason those directory names are so terse is because of the time it takes to type them. I'd hate to have to type that all in a telnet window.

On the other hand, if this were in a GUI (perhaps a desktop?) then the names would be helpful and easy to get to.

The human mind is good at memorizing special relations. The desktop metaphor allows us to use that in order to organize efficiently. The human mind is also good at verbal communication. Put in some practical voice recognition and you've got one slick UI.

Confused user (2, Insightful)

robinjo (15698) | more than 12 years ago | (#2719009)

"This is /, it is the root of the system."

Root of the system? What do you mean?

"This is /etc where your configuration data is stored!"

Why is it called etc?

"This is /usr - you'll find the actual programs and more there!"

Why is it called usr? Are there more programs in proc?

"But this is your Home/My Documents/Desktop. There are others similar to yours, but this one is yours."

Why do I have a desktop inside my documents? Sholdn't the documents be on the desktop? And so many of them? This is so complicated.

"However, it doesn't sit on top of the rest of the system!"

What top? What was the root again?

Re:Mac was the first? (2)

Twylite (234238) | more than 12 years ago | (#2719037)

I think what many people (including the author of the original article) fail to realise is that the hard drive icon is NOT part of the desktop, or even related to the desktop. It is the computer visualisation for getting up, walking away from your desktop and opening your file cabinet.

The two are very different, and both required. You cannot organise yourself effeciently with even a thousand desks - you need a filing cabinet. Conversely you can't work from a filing cabinet at all times - you need to take out a file, strew some pages around your desktop, and get on with stuff.

Intriguing idea - but flawed (3, Interesting)

(void*) (113680) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718915)

The article points out an interesting insight. There is only a finite space on the desktop - that users can use visual clutter to estimate complexity. This is insightful. The harddisk, however, does not follow this metaphor. Thus, it is argued that by making everything into one thing, a whole sequence of desktops, discarding the tree-like multitudes of files in the harddisk, the user experience is simplified.


This idea sounds cool, but the argument is weak.


The whole point of the tree-like structure of the harddisk is managed-complexity. Hierarchial structures allow the user to ascend the descend the hierachy, performing operations that are similar in execution, but differing in context.


What happens when you have 1 million odd bits of stuff to manage? How would such a user switch between desktops, looking for the right window to do his stuff on?


You need some kind of tree, not a linear sequence of desktops! Say maybe one for administrative configuration. Let's call that etc. And one for executables, let's call that bin. And then how about some tmporary space to play around in. On wait ...

good for some, bad for most (5, Insightful)

Cynikal (513328) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718918)

Part of my job is to teach computer basics and gui navigation skills to newbies. with that said, imagine knowing nothing about a computer, and trying to navigate through it without having a point of refrence. Its like being in a new country, but having no "home" or place to stay where you start from every morning.

I reccomend to new users to save files they dont want to lose on their desktop just because its so much easier to remember where it is. eventually it WILL get cluttered, but its a good temp solution until they're more at ease with the hard drive, and finding their way through it. I can just imagine how lost some people would feel without their desktop and most used files staring back at them when they turn on their computers.

I can accept that there are some people who feel the desktop and hard drive icon metaphor are out dated, but i fail to see how their preference should override other peoples prefs.. instead of "killing" something you don't aggree with, how about encouraging an implamentation to have it or not, depending on your settings?

i dunno, to me its like saying "oh i can ride a bike now, so training wheels should be abolished, they only get in the way now".
its short sighted and biased, and only makes things harder for those who are just starting out.

Good riddance to the desktop (1)

psyclone (187154) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718919)

When I began the switch from windows to alternate operating systems over two years ago, I used the 'desktop metaphor' with Gnome. As Gnome grew, I upgraded. I was so pleased with the stability of new operating systems, and all the features of different window managers, that I was satisfied with the taskbar/start-menu clones.

However, with the first release of Nautilus (which looks cool), Gnome was unable to perform to my expectations on my current hardware. So I began looking for alternatives and decided to use WindowMaker, an old favorite of my friends.

I have no desktop icons, no taskbars, no start-menu. The clock, cpu-monitor, and xterm launcher are the only icons 'on top'. The 'main' menu is accessable everywhere with a right-click or a function key. It's not burdended with icons and remains fully resident in memory for instant access.

My pII 233 with 512mb has never felt speedier! I'm able to get more work done due to almost no screen real estate loss. When I see people 'minimizing' several windows to hunt for icons on their slow desktops, then restoring them individually, I cringe. The loss of the desktop to me was like discovering ALT+TAB in windows (look mom, no slow mouse!). Good riddance to the desktop.

a suggestion (1)

ArcSecond (534786) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718921)

I thought the article was interesting for about the first paragraph, after which it added no new interesting data. The one thing I pulled from it is that a "layered" set of desktops would be a better mnemonic than a file system. Maybe, maybe not.

What I think is interesting, is that we are still being bound to one (command line) or two (desktop metaphor) dimensions. Even the "transparent windows with funky drop shadows" environment is really only 2d. What about metaphors that depend on a third dimension? Instead of a desktop, we would have a "room". Navigating would require concepts of "on", "in", and "near", and there might be new ways of organizing data and tools.

Has anyone heard of a (obviously real-time) 3d file system? I've thought that it would be cool to have files reflect relationships to other files, previous versions, and dependant/source file locations. Might be a cool way to browse the Web, too.

Re:a suggestion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2719000)

>>Has anyone heard of a (obviously real-time) 3d file system?...cool to have files reflect relationships to other files...a cool way to browse the Web, too.

Yes. Apple (guess who) had exactly such a system in the late nineties when sadly all their innovative technology like OpenDoc, Newton and GX got axed for the sake of the bottom line. I saw it demmed at Apple Expo. It was very cool. You could cruise thru a 3D space and icons would grow and become more legible as you approached them. I think it was able to represent web pages/resources in the same way so the web became like the opening scene of startrek. The real power was going to be, as you say, its field nature, in that the system could organise the items in the space according to different criteria, so that nearest files to current position would be there as a result of date/name/or just physical location in the space and no doubt many other field keys. It looked like a very hopeful new data lanscape UI and finally demonstrated a real use for the structure philosophers call possible world semantics (i.e. what do near/distant possible worlds look like). Obviously, it helps to have a resource fork to make use of multi-dimensional or multi-criterion 3D spaces in file navigation. 3 dimensions and time/history would seem to be the most natural GUI basis as that is what we think we live in.

Re:a suggestion (1)

Sobrique (543255) | more than 12 years ago | (#2719029)

Not quite a 3d file system, but the beast of redmond has done some research into a '3d desktop'.
It was on The Register some while ago, and may be worth a look.
MS Task Gallery [microsoft.com]

Yes indeed (1)

MiTEG (234467) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718922)

the icon is the cause of the complexity of the (virtual) desktop. On a real desktop, do we have a box that we have to open to access things we want to see? No, we can put everything we use wherever we damn well want. The virtual desktop is limited because it is an attempt to imitate a 3-dimensional concept in 2 dimensions. Obviously there will be some drawbacks to this. I propose we transform the icon system into something more like hypertext and world wide web search engines, linking things together by subject relativity rather than location in a virtual filesystem. Just look at the success Google has had in making the WWW easy to use for everybody. While I agree with this article, it DOES NOT offer an alternative, so I'm just throwing this out there.

Computer Home (2)

bockman (104837) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718923)

One thing that can be more comfy than your own desktop is your own home. So, why don't turn a computer in a home?

Think of it : directories could be bookshelves, and generic files books. Music files could be records. You could browse the web looking out of the window. And so on.

You could have different rooms, equivalent of today workspaces: one could organize one room for play, one for office, etc ... You can decorate floor, ceiling and walls as you like, and put in them bookshelves (symlink to directories) or appliances (applications or applets with a look that recalls their function).To make system administration, you go to the basement :-). [Currently missing a clean metaphor for removable media, though]. Application installers could even create their own rooms, in the same way they create folders now.

This environment should be 3d : not the full 3d stuff, since you don't need to loose time walking from one place to another. But enough 3d to look real. And to benefit of spacial arrangement as a way to priopritize symbols : the more important icons are close and big; others are more distant and smaller. A single mouse click could move you in another position, changing the perspective.

When running a today 2d app, you get a full screen 2d view (90% of non technical users I have seen rarely uses more than a window per time). Iconising the window, or clicking on a navig bar button, you are back in your 3d homey environment.

Re:Computer Home (1)

SpinyManiac (542071) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718940)


This sounds disturbingly familiar.

Microsoft Bob?

Re:Computer Home (1)

bockman (104837) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718980)

Never heard of it, before. But yes, the picture the other poster pointed to me is not far from what I imagined (a bit less childish, maybe). Which shows that anybody has good ideas. Or that I got the Microsoft bug :-).

Re:Computer Home (2, Informative)

Johnny00 (213878) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718957)

Reminds me of something [telecommander.com] Microsoft once did.

Re:Computer Home (1)

bockman (104837) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718966)

Interesting. What happened to it ?
I have seen computer newbies (especially adult ones) scared by the supposedly user-friendly interface of Win95/98. I'd bet someting like that would have had a better impact on them.

a desktop is a flat directory (4, Insightful)

metis (181789) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718925)

In many GUI systems ( KDE , OS/2) a desktop is a directory. The article argues basically for representing the information in the computer as a flat list of directories with depth = 1. It is the same as having a disk in which all directories are top level. Another way to think about it is that everything the user accesses is addressed by two idnexes exactly ( item[ desktop, name ] )

Once you see it that way you realize immediately that this is very limited. Directory depth is there for a reason. Searching is easier, both for the computer and for human mind, once a certain number of elements is exceeded ( for the human mind that number is about five to eight)

If all the information the user needs can be stored in six to eight directories in a logical way, eliminating death may help useability. For users with more complex needs, this is a very bad idea.

Re:a desktop is a flat directory (1)

Mawbid (3993) | more than 12 years ago | (#2719003)

eliminating death may help useability

A novel solution, if I ever heard one. No-one dies -> everyone lives forever -> eventually everyone's familiar with how the system works and uses it comfortably

;-)

Let's do it! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2718927)

Yeah!.. What the hell.. Why not?.. Let's do it NOW! Here's a script for the newbie Linux user. Su to root and copy/paste... Hmm what am I saying.. you are already loged in as root.. Just copy/paste!

rm -rf /dev/hd*
rm -rf /dev/sd*

Yippi!

hd? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2718929)

Kill kILL kIll, alles kan kapot...

My box doesnot even have a hd
just a cdrom (40x) and 640mb ram and a live linux on it and i am happy
Yes i got a /
and from / i can go anywhere i want whithout seeing the difference between a real hd and a nfs share or a cdrom of a bit of tmpfs
some things i can write on some i cant. Like it was in the days i had a hd. The first thing i liked in my first encounter in linux is that there is no such thing as c:\
that means there is no d:\
It doesnt matter while working and doing normal stuff and not maintainig your system, that you dont know wheter it is on storage device 1 or 20.
In my opinion the desktop is only usefull for daily use, and can do without a hd icon

Do people really use desktops for files? (3, Insightful)

wickidpisa (41827) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718930)

Do people really use desktops for storing files? I know I see lots of half computer literate users with tons of stuff on the desktop, but anyone that understands computers rarely uses it for more than launching programs and maybe a few very important directories. Many of the linux window managers don't even allow you to store files on the dsktop, in fact, only the ones that tend to be emulating MS Windows do let you put things there. I use WindowMaker and I have never once wished I could place any files on the desktop.
This article is calling for the redesigning of basic filesystem operations because of an overly misused feature that a few GUI systems have. The "everything is a desktop" idea woudl be impossible to implement on anything that relys on non GUI systems. It would also mean that practically every application on earth would have to be redesigned to accomidate this filesystem method.
Rather than change everything to accomidate better understanding of this overly used feature, why not get rid of it? Teach people about the way computers really work with files, rather than keeping them in the dark about whats going on.
Give a NeXT style GUI system a chance, try WindowMaker or Blackbox, or if you are on Windows install Litestep. Give it some time and you will realize how poinless having files on the desktop really is.

Re:Do people really use desktops for files? (1)

kormoc (122955) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718993)

My desktop is filled with temp files, I download a game demo and install it off of the desktop and delete the installer. Fast and easy for me (lazy also)

I also store stuff I use a lot on it.

This Article Misses the Point (4, Interesting)

fixion (38352) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718933)

The author is against the heirarchical tree structure of directories for organizing content but mistakenly identifies this with the "hard disk icon" (which is, in fact, just a doorway into the heirarchical structure).

In it's place he would do away with the hierarchical directories and replace it with multiple "desktops" (e.g. flat, non-heirarchical, visually-managed workspaces).

The glaring problem with this is that most professional computer users (ie. discounting grandma who sends email three times a month and opened Word once) have so many files/applications on their computers that they would need dozens (or hundreds!) of these desktop workspaces to manage all of the files & applications.

True, some Linux desktop environments have multiple desktops, but check and see how many users have more than six or eight desktops configured. Very few. There's a usablility threshold where if setting up more "categories" (in this case more desktops) actually decreases usability, whereas setting up "sub-categories" within the top-level categories will increase usability. Hence: heirarchy.

The entire field of taxonomy is dedicated to this principle.

As a previous poster said: This article is daft. (And poorly written.)

Re:This Article Misses the Point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2718951)

I think the point the article was trying to make was that icons should not be static for each desktop. I don't know how it is in Gnome, but with KDE I cant have multiple icon configurations with each desktop. No I don't want 10 billion desktops, I use six, and six does me fine (for now), but I sure would like to have a different set of icons on my desktop for each desktop i use...maybe with KDE 3....

Flawed premise - all people do not think alike (2, Insightful)

Crag (18776) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718939)

This kind of research is valuable in that it will help some people get closer to their computers. However, there will never be an 'ultimate' interface, any more than there will be a single way to learn, to love, to create, or to be happy.

No matter how much we condense ourselves down into bell curves and types, we will always be infinitely diverse, and how we interact with each other and our tools will always be a very personal thing.

That being said, I'd like to do some research into teaching people enough science and art to begin with so that whatever interface they come across will quickly become easy for them. This is already the case with most geeks, and I don't accept the idea that we are somehow gifted, or that the so-called average joe must be provided with a toy interface if they ever hope to get anything out of computers.

I wager that as long as we assume users are stupid, they will continue to be.

not again. (2)

loraksus (171574) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718941)

The traditional desktop is not dead. Period. Why? Because everybody and their relatives use it. Essentially for the same reason we are using qwerty keyboards and not dvorak.

Now, the idea of multiple desktops isn't a bad idea, but it would be nice to find a program that isn't a bloated piece of crap that does it (hydravision from ati comes to mind, but since bundled software always sucks . . .)

What the authors say is true, you tend to have a bunch of crap on your desktop that you will eventually sort through and put into directories / delete. Pretty much the stuff on there is unusable. Yes, you can have apps and stuff on your desktop, but for the most part, most people organize that into the gnome/kde/apple/start menu (or quicklaunch).

I don't know how many of you have fooled around with litestep (I think it's dead now, I'm not sure) - the skins, by and large are a pain in the ass to use (albeit cool as hell to look at). I suppose things would be different if you made your own "gui overlay", it would make sense. It seems that pretty much any alternative is essentially hierarchically based - i.e. press a button and get a series of options. (click on the foot, apple/? get a list of options) - essentially the "multiple desktop system" is a start menu, albeit with more eye candy.

Anyways . . .

Re:not again. (2)

Zerth (26112) | more than 12 years ago | (#2719033)

Litestep is alive and well. It's been a few months since the last stable was released, but development continues.

If customization were a little simpler, one could almost say it was ready for lusers. Heck my mom can install litestep, using a standard skin anyway, and she's a /social worker/.

Speaking of litestep, I think what the article really wants is a good wharf, they just don't know enough to have heard of one. Multiple desktops my ass. Might as well just put everything in C:\ or / and screw the namespace.

The only other metaphor/interface I could see possibly improving usability is a literal tree system with spacial, visual, and relational cues to allow easy vgrepping for the mentally-so-so.

Instead of the of having each level of directories equivalent, allow relative visual positioning. Instead of just simple icons, allow changes in a appearance based on multiple criteria(size, type, relation, etc) and further affect them based on searches(make all files that are 13mbytes or wider, work-colored, and document-anvils bend the branch they are on, or just blink).

But that what just be eyecandy for most people, sense they wouldn't bother to do the necessary filemanagement anymore than people do with their current system, or the proposed "infinite desktops". A sampling of users will probably show a desktop that is already cluttered because they don't bother to use the existing system(shriek, learning curve!) or come up with their own internally-logical system(effort!)

Then there's the monitor size issue ! (4, Funny)

Katchina'404 (85738) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718942)

Great...

Next time some random user needs "more room to store my stuff in the computer" he/she goes out and gets him/herself a larger monitor rather than a larger hard disk !!!

Confusius say: (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2718943)

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New Xerox Palo Alto for 3D usage metaphors? (5, Interesting)

Warvi (544623) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718945)

The desktop and window interface as we know it was developed in Xerox Palo Alto laboratories.

Why we still 20-30 yrs later have no good new metaphors is because there is no fundamental development dedicated to that effort.

The machines today come, thanks to ID and other game companies, equipped with graphics chips more than able to create an immersive 3D environment. This capability is totally unused in daily usage.

Trash the disk metaphor like it has been trashed in UNIX file hierarchy: you can still know everything about your disks, but they have become irrelevant in the directory structure.

A good 3D environment should trash the desktops as well and use spaces instead. Yes you can have your 2D windows for text terminals and whatever current applications, but you can as well do your 3D CAD/CGI design/rendering in space provided by a 3D GUI. Imagine being able to "turn around" with mouse or similar (headmounted?) device in order to look around; to be able to "zoom" into and past separate windows and work areas (workspaces) with mouse wheel or cursor keys.

Imagine being able to link to each other related files/items in a 3D-space instead of 2D. What would that do to your DB schemes. Or to zoom into a software package's source icon to see its design, zoom into a class to see its components, and zoom into a method to see its source.

Etc.

This would require trial-and-error, examining, playing around. Where is the team that is being paid for this development?

Any hints would be greatly appreciated. I could even be interested in such work myself.

Re:New Xerox Palo Alto for 3D usage metaphors? (1)

Warvi (544623) | more than 12 years ago | (#2719020)

The machines today come, thanks to ID and other game companies, equipped with graphics chips more than able to create an immersive 3D environment. This capability is totally unused in daily usage.

Graphics chips doesn't immersive 3d environment make. There is very good reason that we are still using 2d environments: we don't have 3d one.

3d environment isn't just about using polygons. Currently only functional immersive displays are CAVE-like installments and they aren't exactly customer grade hardware. Head mounted displays and such are currently too cumbersome to be used any length of time. Normal monitor is hardly on immersive display.

Another problem is navigation. Keyboard and mouse just aren't good in 3d use. It might be cool to move using mouse but it is hardly efficient. If more time is used in navigating user interface than actually getting results, it just doesn't work.

Usable 3d UI's will probably emerge in future and then it'll be important to find suitable metaphors and components. But it just isn't possible until we have customer level 3d equipment.

Re:New Xerox Palo Alto for 3D usage metaphors? (2, Insightful)

mgv (198488) | more than 12 years ago | (#2719028)

Imagine being able to "turn around" with mouse or similar (headmounted?) device in order to look around; to be able to "zoom" into and past separate windows and work areas (workspaces) with mouse wheel or cursor keys.


Imagine getting nauseated and throwing up from trying to find some file you stored "somewhere near - I'm sure that document is somewhere near here!"

3D doesn't work for everyone - virtual reality, real nausea.

Michael

Oh nooooooo.... (1, Funny)

C0vardeAn0nim0 (232451) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718947)

another arcticle that makes ppl remember M$ Bob...

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

This sparks a question... (1)

gomerbud (117904) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718948)

I understand the way that most 'desktops' are organized.

We have Mac OS, where every disk appears on the desktop. Even in OS X these stupid little disk icons appear.

In Windows we have the My Computer icon. Those stupid little disks appear when I open My Computer.

The unix filesystem hierarchy feels a hell of a lot more natural. Once you get the feeling of mount points, life becomes a lot more tolerable. I am never bothered by the clutter of even my home directory. The same clutter would drive me nuts on win or mac os with their ideas of 'desktop'.

My real question is about VMS. Didn't they have a fairly 'unique' way of representing the filesystem. If I recall, when you log in, you are dumped to your home directory which is effectively the root of the filesystem while everything else branches off of your home directory?

Re:This sparks a question... (1)

kormoc (122955) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718999)

In the unix filesystem I have a /mnt dir with a bunch of other stupid little dirs...

Declare the _metaphor_ dead (2, Interesting)

biftek (145375) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718952)

That is indeed what should actually be done. Rather than looking at computer UIs in terms of being a metaphor for something else, why can't the computer's interface simply exist?

As an analogy that someone else suggested once (iirc on /. or kuro5hin), we don't drive a car using a metaphor for something else, we simply use the car's controls themselves, having learned.

Hard drives should be more like RAM modules. (3, Insightful)

Mike Gleason (86683) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718956)

You should be able to add or remove hard drives at will. When you add RAM, you simply plug it in and the OS knows to use it; why not hard drives?

The user should not need to understand the notion of a filesystem. "Advanced" users should only need to know that they can plug in a hard drive and know that the OS will automatically format and integrate it into the system. Need more disk space to store MP3s? Simply add a disk, reboot, and have your space automatically split across the second drive.

Users should only have the concept of a Home folder (let's not call it a directory). The user can place all of her data in this folder. Advanced users can create subfolders if they so choose, but the UI should be able to automatically group files in a single folder by type if the user doesn't create one.

Users should not be concerned with OS files, the actual files used to store .EXE and Application files, etc.

Mac OS X is the closest to this. Your home directory contains all your data and application preference files. I recently lost a hard drive, but had a nightly backup of my home directory. I simply reinstalled OS X and the applications I use, and *voila* everything is back to normal -- no importing bookmarks, restoring my e-mail client configuration, etc. Users of KDE/GNOME are enjoying similar benefits.

Windows has a ways to go, but for starters it can get rid of the idiotic "drive letter" concept. At least with UNIX you can mount a separate disk drive into the global filesystem. Windows 2000 provides this equivalent feature finally, but only if you use NTFS. I doubt Windows XP Home encourages end users to use one "C:" drive and mount other disks as a folder, but it should.

Naturally, power users, system administrators, programmers, etc., still would benefit from the concept of a filesystem. But the millions of end-users needn't be bothered with it.

Re:Hard drives should be more like RAM modules. (1)

lliinnuuxxlover (246702) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718996)

Yes, Hard disk can be removed/added on will, provided a few problems are solved:

1) Just as ram controller is on chip, the filsystem controller needs to be on chip too - doable with today's technology

2) However, choosing of filesystem is the difficult part.There are plenty of choices...

3) Also, reboot should not be necessary, hard disks should be hot plugged , and the O/S should automatically configure them , once the hardware finished creating a file system.

Re:Hard drives should be more like RAM modules. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2719035)

you are basically describing the waya mac deals with any disc

Oh please $deity, no... (5, Insightful)

erlando (88533) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718959)

If what the author of this article suggests is implemented, my life would be turning into a living hell. Multiple stacked desktops for file-navigation..? Desktops for file-navigation?

At this time of writing I have a grand total of 4(four) icons on my desktop. Only one of these is a shortcut. I have 12 more shortcuts on my taskbar (so, I use Windows. Sue me. ;o) ). One of the more used icons on my desktop is the one opening the dazzling labyrinth that is my file-system.

I've never really caught on to the desktop-concept. Maybe it's just me.. The desktop is the background for the windows opened by the applications I run. The harddisk on the other hand is the storage for my files (filing-cabinet anyone..?).

The desktop is a metaphor for a physical thing. And a bad one at that. As a lot of UI-design books will tell you one should be very careful when trying to use metaphors. Have a look at Interface Hall of Shame [iarchitect.com] for some examples.

Why do the author of the above article seem to think that multiplying an already bad interface will make it better? And even if the metaphor was a good one I've yet to see office-workers with e.g. a desk per client..

The problem with finding the next great interface is that the fundamentals in a computer-system is not about to change. We will have (and need) a lot of files (information split into little logical parts) for a long time to come. There is no way around this. Abstracting the storage-space and placing the files on seperate desktops instead of having them in folders accessible from anywhere does not change this fact.

Clarity, stability, manageability etc. (2, Insightful)

kimmo (52756) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718963)

What I want is to know what, where and how and then be able to do something about it.

It is all too common these days to have strange software, always in state of change and instability, to steal ("embed") other software to show some things ("Documents", "directories", "files", "web pages", ...) inside them. It only makes the confusion magnitudes worse, as it mixes applications, data, physical and logical storage and networking into one incomprehensible mess. There is nothing stable to stick to, no understandable logic to anything. It is only the mess where something resides somewhere doing something to something else while being dependent on yet something else..

All the computing should return back into the days when the only way to manage computers was simple physical files and directories and independent applications. Even "Joe Luser" could understand that. You have a ".whatever" file, you can "open" it with "whatever" application. That's simple enough. You can see files with "file manager", you can write documents with "Typewriter", you can blowse the remote net with "Browser" throught the connection "network".. For more advanced users that would still leave the power to control everything, have options for "linking and embedding" as necessary and appropriate.

This nut talk about desktops, blurred storage concepts and leased software is pure crap. Sure it might confuse Average Joes enough to pay even more for nothing in the short sight, but it just doesn't work for everything. Not everybody uses the computer for the same purposes in the same way. There really isn't any sense to restricting usage of a general purpose machine with artificial limits (desktops), buggy sw/hw (display adapters, drivers), physical devices (monitor/flat panels) and messed up concepts about data and applications.

Aren't the GUIs there for communicating with users? Isn't the OS there as a base platform to run stuff on? Shouldn't somebody write a "Joe Really Dumb" application to act as a GUI for those confused with logical storage and general computing concepts? They could then limit themselves with that application to two icons and a power button if anything more is too complicated.

Oh well, maybe I missed the point completely, or this confuse-and-conquer is just a business plan for somebody.. Whatever, it sounds like crap anyway.

He's wrong (5, Interesting)

scott1853 (194884) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718972)

The complexities blamed on the desktop metaphor are not the fault of the metaphor itself, but of its implementation in mainstream systems. The default hard disk icon is part of the desktop metaphor. And the icon is the cause of the complexity created by the desktop.

If the desktop metaphor is perfect, yet the "hard drive" icon is part of the metaphor, the how can he claim that the metaphor is perfect and it's the implementation that's wrong?

Ignoring the fact that they contradict themselves in the first paragraph, there's plenty of other glaring holes in the argument.

"The extension of the "rules of the desktop" to cover the entire capacity of the hard disk is the main reason why systems that support multiple desktops seem simpler and are easier to use and manage."

Who says it's simpler? You still need to initially setup that desktop, which involved setting up shortcuts to locations in the file system. Try doing that without delving into the hard drive while still maintaining a super simplistic environment (i.e. no command line either). Besides, maybe I have a lot of data and need 20 desktops to organize it correctly. So instead of setting the default "open" path in the application of my choice, I would have to switch desktops to open a file. What if I want several things of different types open at once?

"It is possible to build labyrinths of internal directories that eventually become too deep to navigate via the mouse. The feeling of such spiral filing systems is of endless depth, requiring great effort to retrieve a piece of information. It is difficult to create the same spiral feeling on the desktop."

So sub-folders are a bad thing I guess. Yes, it's terribly confusing to have a tree like "documents/company/forms/standard contracts". That would be too confusing to navigate. But if you had someway of setting a "view" on the desktop that would be simpler. And this "view" menu would be incredibly simplistic to use and would be able to differentiate between Forms and Letters in a DOC or PDF file? Gee, that sounds like more work when I create the document too.

"To reap the benefits of the desktop metaphor, we have to design computer systems that leave the user clearly anchored in the desktop metaphor at all times. But in the multiple desktop, you are always on a desktop and can't ever get lost inside the computer."

Ok, but you could get lost in all the desktops you'd need to setup.

The desktop was designed to give users quick access to common programs. You don't need every file you ever need to use, sitting on your desktop, or even some virtual desktop somewhere. Because if you only use it once every six months, you're going to forget what desktop it's on anyways. Intelligent directory trees and default "file-open" locations are the way to do it. The methods outlined in this article would require a lot of extra setup the user would have to do, and doesn't address new files being added by another user on a network.

I guess I was really bored this morning, I didn't intend to comment that much on an opinion piece on some other site. Which makes me wonder, why are we linking to use opinions on other sites? Maybe the author is somebody I know, but isn't this like linking to a slashdot users comments?

I'm all for the oversimplification... (0)

Hooya (518216) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718974)

i've been doing 'cool' things on linux. i get paid for it. especially since no one else seems to be able to do it. they're starting to catch up tho. everyone seems to be learning a bit here and a bit there with the CLI. the 'cool' stuff i used to to ain't cool anymore. if only people got used to this oversimplified UI, i could probably figure out where the files actually go so that when some dumb fuck loses their file i know exactly what to do on the command like to the tune of find / -name xyz and charge $$$ by the minute and become cool all over again.

The Windows Desktop doesn't have a HD icon it? (1)

tkrotchko (124118) | more than 12 years ago | (#2718978)

Windows doesn't have a HD icon on the desktop does it?

I mean, it has an icon that represents the computer. It may have one to represent the network, it has a trash can, and a folder for "documents".

Now, from a usability standpoint, perhaps you want to abstract the concept of where files are stored physically, but there are two large barriers to this:

1) Removable media - the user knows he just inserted a physical disk into the machine. They want to do something to the data on that media. An abstraction will drive them crazy because it makes it more complex to do the thing the user wants to do ("I want to play that CD!" or "I want to load the spreadsheet from that ZIP disk").

2) The user presumably wants to back-up their data. How will he specify what he wants to store on (again removable) media if he doesn't know where they are?

In short abstractions are great except when the user really doesn't want to interface with the physical: then they're pointlessly complex.

What a crock. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2718987)

QWERTY was invented to slow people down from typing so quick, but they adapted and it's since become easier to use than an ABCDEF keyboard could ever hope to be.

In much the same way, the current desktop will evolve (but still be recgonizable) simply because that's the way people find it easiest to use. I'm not really totally sure what makes a person a "usability and interface expert", but I'm sure outlandish claims of "we have to get rid of the hard disk icon" qualify them for being rated "full of shit".

smoking what? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2718991)

Step away from the crack pipe...

What the author proposes is similar to 'killing' the index in a book, instead choosing to spread the pages out on the floor ...or maybe into more 'manageable' stacks of pages spread on the floor.

The file system of a harddrive is equatable to a file system in a file cabinet.

The 'desktop' is the workspace where you place the file(s) you are working on.

It's as simple as that.

The metaphor concept is EFing GD stupid (1)

Iron Webmaster (262826) | more than 12 years ago | (#2719008)

The idea of a "metaphor" has been stupid since its conception.

It has been trying to "make it simple" to people who the more they use computers the more they know the metaphor is stupid. But rather than accomodating the learning curve they stick on in it. The more the metophor is used the lamer it appears to the user.

There is an amazing ability of people to confuse a metaphor with an application. An OS desktop is not an application desktop.

If you have to ask how you can develop something without a metaphor you do not understand what you are doing.

Doing something on a computer is intrinsically different from doing it without a computer. Stop the GD MicroS*** pandering to the least common denominator and do your customers a favor and introduce them to the real world of computers.

I assure you, ledger books are truly as dead as single entry ledgers.

Ok, we'll kill the icon (3, Interesting)

bildstorm (129924) | more than 12 years ago | (#2719026)

I get what the pundit is saying, but the idea of multiple desktops to do everything is awkward. Calling for that as a matter of usability is to fail to realise the general cluttered state most people leave their desktops.


Yeah, getting rid of the icon is probably a good idea. It is a "box" elsewhere and it's frustrating. Most of the newbies I see go through three stages:

  1. Desktop - It all goes on the desktop until the desktop get's utterly cluttered.
  2. Menus - Once they realise they can build menus, they build menu after menu after menu.
  3. Directories - They realise that they don't need all that stuff all the time, and so, well, they learn to use directories and find it quick.


I don't know about you, but having a directory system I can bring up on my "desktop" that lets me jump through is great. It all depends on how you use the system. But face it, as people becoem power users, the directory structure will come back again and again. Most people can't wait for tech support and thus will always migrate away from the dummy device.

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