Console heroes don't miskate

Ken Dyke ken_i_m at elegantinnovations.net
Tue Oct 8 08:06:17 PDT 2002


On Tue, 2002-10-08 at 03:19, Richard Lightman wrote:
> People do not use the console simply for the pleasure of typing.

True.  Most writers use a GUI wordprocessor.

> A decent GUI has keyboard shortcuts, so you do not have to move
> you hand all the way to the mouse and back without good reason.

Or for any reason at all.  Taking my hands off the keyboard disrupts my
thoughts (even if it is only for a msec).  By learning my tools well, I
do not think about my hands at all.  Reaching for the mouse breaks this.

> Here are some advantages of the console:
> 
> 1) The commands you learn on the console can be used in scripts.
>    GUI's teach you very little about scripting.
> 
> 2) One of the major reasons for the existance of GUI's it to provide
>    a method of slowing down the operator. You have to sit there
>    waiting for the dialog boxes to appear before you can click on
>    the buttons. On the console, you can use type ahead and scripts
>    more easily.

I have certainly heard about how the qwerty keyboard layout was to slow
typists down.  I have never heard this about GUI.  When I first read
about Xerox's PARC, Smalltalk, and the GUI stuff they were doing there
back in 1982 I do not recall anything about slowing the user down.  The
impression I got was that they were trying to flatten the learning curve
for newbies.  PARC -> Apple -> Mircrosoft  MS has flattened the learning
curve and lowered the entry point so that most any moron can use a
Wintel box.  They did this by taking power away from the user.

I am see many of the same design assumptions MS made, being taken by
some major distros and GUI environments (*cough*redhat*cough*).  One
assumption is that the user does not know what they are doing so hide
config options.  The lower the level of the option i.e. the more
fundamental and system-wide, the more layers of crap are put in the
way.  Not to sound like I am waging a jihad against such design there
are some situations where there are good reasons for doing this.  I
would not give a Hole-Hawg to someone who has trouble not burning
themselves with a curling iron when styling their hair.  Then there are
times when it is nice to merely put the gear selector in 'drive' and
head down the highway and look at the sights.

> 3) Console+GPM uses far less resources than X+Desktop.

Command line tools without GPM uses even less resources, including human
resources, by not having to move the hand over to the mouse and back.
> 
> 4) Some console commands and options are not supported on the
>    desktop.
> 
> 5) I am mildly dyslexic - I find reading bright text on a dark
>    background for easier than black on white. I have got konqueror
>    to use my choice of fonts and colours most of the time, but
>    it was much easier to configure lynx, and that always uses
>    my choices.
> 
> 
> There are some things that are easier to do in a GUI than on the
> console.

The GIMP is a GUI tool for a reason.
However, there are some GUI tools that suck.  WYSIWYG html editors
suck.  They have given birth to a whole school of webpage design that
sucks.

> I do not use
> a console to prove that I can cope with adversity. I use it because
> for the majority of what I want to do, I find it is the best
> environment. I am sure that other people with different needs have
> made different choices.

It is about using the right tool for the job.  The assumption made here
is that the user of the toolset knows how to use them properly and
well.  The second assumption is that the job is worth doing and clearly
defined.

-- 
I think, therefore, ken_i_m
Chief Gadgeteer,
Elegant Innovations

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