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A Close(r) Look At OLPC Human Interface Guidelines

Hemos posted more than 7 years ago | from the making-the-audience-understand dept.

GUI 152

feranick writes "There have been a lot of articles on Slashdot about the OLPC project, most of them regarding the hardware, the social impact or the cost of the operation itself. However the software development, specifically in the GUI didn't get so far much attention. This blog summarizes some of the OLPC global interface guidelines. You will see that what is really new in the laptop is not the laptop itself, but the completely new idea behind the design, where instead of applications you have activities, documents are now journals, 'application bundles can be signed by whoever works on them — because there is a view source key on the keyboard, anybody can modify an app and distribute it'. It really looks like if this is successfully, we could see a new breakthrough in GUI design also in mainstream PCs: "This UI is quite simply one of the deepest and most interesting redesigns of the desktop user interface ever produced. It makes MacOS look like what it is — boring and unoriginal.""

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Endless Submenus (5, Interesting)

jrwr00 (1035020) | more than 7 years ago | (#17194140)

The most annoying thing i can thing of in a UI and i find it every where, is the endless menus!
there should be some way to work this out

Re:Endless Submenus (1)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 7 years ago | (#17194482)

you could just use a command line interface instead and memorize all the commands ;-p

the other options are (in a convenient menu format, that is easy to read and available without extra training):

a) get rid of options
b) use a programmable input device, like a keyboard
c) use voice command
d) add other options here ;-p

Re:Endless Submenus (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 7 years ago | (#17197780)

d1) Use most typical but limited options

Note: This is what the Mac UI often does, so the submitter would have to stop whining about it.

Re:Endless Submenus (2, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#17194662)

Microsoft would agree with you. That's one reason why they've adopted the "ribbons" interface for Office 2007 [microsoft.com]

Now, personally, I see this as a minor evolutionary improvement on the 'tool palette' interface [adobe.com] made popular by Adobe Systems' Photoshop and Illustrator appliations, but that's just me.

Re:Endless Submenus (3, Interesting)

LetterRip (30937) | more than 7 years ago | (#17197258)

Tabs for UI panels containing new buttons has been available for a very long time for 3D applications - Blender 3D has had it from about its inception. Look at the bottom of our screenshot at the wiki here. How does calling it 'ribbons' make it innovative? I'll be kinda peeved if they tried to take a patent on it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Blender_node_sc reen_242a.jpg [wikipedia.org]

LetterRip

Re:Endless Submenus (1)

The_Wilschon (782534) | more than 7 years ago | (#17195094)

I'd rather have a well organized tree structure than a single flat menu with everything in it any day.

mirror of the blog in the article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17195120)

http://mirrordot.org/stories/0d5335e04a5fd31cdcfcc ee3d0484fd9/index.html [mirrordot.org] Posted anonymously, because that's what all the cool kids do.

I thought it was going to look like windows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17194144)

When Bill gets his way?

So why slag off MacOS? (5, Insightful)

Toby The Economist (811138) | more than 7 years ago | (#17194158)

> "This UI is quite simply one of the deepest and most interesting redesigns of the desktop
> user interface ever produced. It makes MacOS look like what it is -- boring and unoriginal."

Wrong answer.

If something is good, it *is*, of its own accord. There is no need to assert *something else is bad* - unless you're feeling insecure.

Re:So why slag off MacOS? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17194192)

There's also no reason for a Mac fanboy to get defensive about some blogger's offhand comment, unless -- again -- you're feeling insecure.

Re:So why slag off MacOS? (1)

Toby The Economist (811138) | more than 7 years ago | (#17194274)

I can't stand Macs.

I have a W2K box at home. I can't stand XP, either.

Re:So why slag off MacOS? (1)

cloudmaster (10662) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198280)

The only thing different in appearence on my XP box is the words "Windows XP Professional" along the side of the start menu. Everything else, using the "calssic look n feel", looks the same.

Re:So why slag off MacOS? (3, Insightful)

King_TJ (85913) | more than 7 years ago | (#17194202)

Yeah... not to mention, anyone making something brand new can easily "shoot fish in a barrel" by pointing at a design that's years older, complaining it's "boring" or "unoriginal" by comparison.

Are the latest changes coming out for OS X Leopard "boring and unoriginal"? Heck, we don't even know about half of them yet!

Nonetheless, many of these "unoriginal" ideas are actually "conventions" adopted by all major OS's because there was some agreement that they were "best of breed" ways to illustrate or accomplish something. That's not always a "bad" thing!

Re:So why slag off MacOS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17195768)

OTOH we lose many ideas, simply because people will only use one GUI design.

There used to be those funny XaW scrollbars. Left-click to scroll down, right-click to scroll up (the further down you clicked on the bar, the more you scrolled), middle-click to scroll to some place immediately (unlike Windows/Mac, where clicking somewhere outside the thumb will only move one "page" up/down). In general, the middle mouse button is heavily under-used (always was, but many mice only have two buttons (IMHO the wheel doesn't count).

As long as I mostly used Unix apps, I felt much more productive with three mouse buttons than with a scrollwheel and Windows-style apps. Sadly they won.

Another feature that seems totally lost is focus-follows-mouse. On the Mac or Nextstep this makes sense; after all, the foreground application is the one that has a menu floating around somewhere (unlike Windows, where the menubar is in every window, which isn't the best place for it, sometimes). But if you have the menu inside the window, and you have multiple windows/applications (after all, why should one single app cover the whole screen? And what do you do if you have multiple screens? yes, Windows, Adobe and all other Windows-style developers, I'm talking to you), it's simply great to move the mouse somewhere, type something, without RAISING the stupid window on click, if you don't want that window to cover all other windows, and even without clicking at all. It's much faster that way. If you want to raise the background window, alt-click, or click the frame.

Sadly, with everybody conditioned to the Windows way, you can't sell people any non-standard interface anymore, no matter how productive it is. Even a Mac is a hard sell for most people (even I found it a bit "different" at first, and I love to try new interfaces).

So why slag off Johnny? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17194350)

"If something is good, it *is*, of its own accord. There is no need to assert *something else is bad* - unless you're feeling insecure."

My dick is better than everyone elses.

Re:So why slag off MacOS? (1)

cunamara (937584) | more than 7 years ago | (#17194612)

Mac OS is the easy target to attack when discussing OSes, because the Mac made the GUI a mainstream thing. Sure there were other GUIs before the Mac, but they were not aimed at home computer appliance users. It remains easier to use than Windows (I haven't seen Vista at all so I have no comparison). While OS X isn't the market leader, it is the user experience leader- hence making it the target of attack. Heck, every day at work I get to compare my productivity with that of peers using Windows. The Mac interface makes my life a lot easier than theirs, in terms of computer usage. I get my reports written faster, with better looking results. My income has actually gone up since I bought my iBook.

Re:So why slag off MacOS? (1)

DrLex (811382) | more than 7 years ago | (#17195176)

You could also read that phrase as "This thing must IMHO be incredibly cool because it's even cooler than MacOS". Which makes it a compliment instead of an attack.

Re:So why slag off MacOS? (1, Interesting)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 7 years ago | (#17196450)

I made that (throwaway) comment because I had recently written about a few parts of the Mac GUI that annoyed me, and because the Mac is usually touted as being innovative in the UI space. I disagree, I don't think it's all that innovative compared to the OLPC, hence the comparison. Of course, the one sentence that mentioned the Mac got picked for the Slashdot front page and now the article itself is Slashdotted, nobody will read the full thing. C'est la vie ;)

Re:So why slag off MacOS? (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 7 years ago | (#17196938)

True, but to be fair, many articles/posts promoting MacOS do so by saying something else (usually Windows) is bad ;) ("Windows crashes, therefore MacOS is better!")

Because Jobs fired the HCI team in 1997. (1)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 7 years ago | (#17197580)

But Mac OS X's GUI IS bad -- at least compared to Mac OS 9. UI design has never been the same at Apple since jobs fired practically the entire HCI research department back in 1997 around when Mac OS X was first being designed.

Initial Alpha builds of Rhapsody kept the Mac OS 9 user experience intact. Soon after the firing came the introduction of the Dock, the changes to erase stability of spatial reference, and the dumping of many of Mac OS 9's nicer UI features. It also allowed the company to release the OS in a state where the Finder was barely unusable in icon view mode. Oh, and the HCI labs would've thrown a fit if they'd still been there and Apple was releasing apps that didn't even use the same sets of widgets as those in the rest of the operating system. (Hence the confusion of Aqua and "brushed metal" apps.)

Back when the HCI labs were going strong at Apple, a lot of innovative research into HCI was being constantly churned out there. Innovation and a consistent user experience were king. Now, though, it's all flash and no substance. It's why I no longer count myself as a Mac fan. I put up with the instability and the poor multitasking in the Classic days because the user experience was still so much better than everything else. Nowdays, I purely run my Mac from the command line because the Finder is such utter and complete crap compared even to Explorer under Windows.

Thank God somebody's still advancing UI research with a focus on consistency and ease of use beyond the first three days of owning the machine.

So? (3, Insightful)

ral315 (741081) | more than 7 years ago | (#17194176)

Applications are activities, documents are journals...hell, why don't we call the laptop a leg-sittin' typing machine? To call the renaming of anything a major GUI change is absurd.

Re:So? (2, Informative)

CaymanIslandCarpedie (868408) | more than 7 years ago | (#17194326)

Agreed, but this seems a bit more than JUST renaming. On the other hand its also not exactly new. There are many OS GUI interfaces which have tried similar things. Even MS had something that at least sounds similar from a high level (Microsoft Bob [wikipedia.org] ). Since OLPC is aimed at children around the world who may not even know what a "folder" is and not businesses, this "more friendly metaphores" could work well.

Anyway, seems a bit more than just renaming but certainly not new.

Re:So? (1)

nick.ian.k (987094) | more than 7 years ago | (#17195138)

Applications are activities, documents are journals...hell, why don't we call the laptop a leg-sittin' typing machine? To call the renaming of anything a major GUI change is absurd.

Okay, but then we'll have to do the nitpicky semantic two-step. Your statement's fine if you're using "GUI" to collectively reference all of the graphical components displayed on the screen which allow the user to manipulate various aspects of the OS, navigate between different windows, and so on.

But the concept-shift described in the interface guidelines extends quite a ways beyond the GUI proper. The GUI is just a component of the overall user interface; the conceptual framework for the whole thing is another. "Activities" are a great way to group applications together. If it's implemented successfully, it'll work because it makes more sense to say, "I'm going to write a letter" or "I'm going to edit a photograph" rather than to target particular applications. Indeed, the latter is a big point of failing for many day-to-day users: they learn how to do something in the most literal and linear sense with a specific application, rather than actually thinking about the nature and structure of the task at hand, and thus the day they're forced to use something different.

Yes, we still haven't seen it, and yes, it might be poorly implemented -hell, maybe even worse than "kid-friendly" dumb-down exercises like KidDesk. But there's no denying the idea behind it is great. Problem solving skills beat rote hands down every time and in just about every way: ultimately, it's better to teach how to learn than how to X with Y.

Re:So? (1)

nick.ian.k (987094) | more than 7 years ago | (#17195194)

and thus the day they're forced to use something different

they're lost.

(Sorry, don't know how I missed that one.)

Re:So? (1)

NickFortune (613926) | more than 7 years ago | (#17195512)

Filesystems are journals, and primarily keep track of the things a child has done.

That fact that documents get saved, and can be access via the journal is almost secondary.

It's a shift in emphasis, and a restructuring of the storage metaphor in order to make the system more accessible to young minds.

Of course, it may turn out to be cosmetic - almost certainly will unless they're using something really exotic for the file system - but if the result is a better way to think about computer tasks it could still be valuable

OpenDoc & Lifebooks (2, Informative)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 7 years ago | (#17197784)

Because there's a difference, and it's very familiar to any old Mac hand as OpenDoc. [wikipedia.org] Read up on OpenDoc and Publish and Subscribe and then go back and read the OLPC design requirements until you see what I'm thinking. Also, look up the UI concept of Lifebooks. Activities are identical to OpenDoc components, and the Journal is a Lifebook.

The OLPC isn't doing anything new, per se, but it's bringing together a lot of old UI design concepts that have been sitting on the shelf untried for years and years.

Personally, I'm psyched. These are great ideas that have been considered impractical because they're somewhat incompatible with the current desktop metaphor and would lead to confusion. Also, previous attempts at some of these concepts had design flaws that are correctable upon reflection. Starting from scratch allows the OLPC to completely revitalize the HCI field. I'm suddenly filled with a lot more hope for the future of UI design than I have been in nearly a decade.

Flame bait... (1)

mspohr (589790) | more than 7 years ago | (#17194186)

You do realize that your criticism of the Mac will start a flame war...?

We didn't really need this as part of the discussion.

Re:Flame bait... (1)

feranick (858651) | more than 7 years ago | (#17196132)

I do. I am just quoting from a blog. And if that was really a flame bait, the editors would have never published the story....

New (3, Insightful)

Hijacked Public (999535) | more than 7 years ago | (#17194204)

the completely new idea behind the design, where instead of applications you have activities, documents


This is new? The people from Xerox Parc are going to disagree.

Re:New (3, Insightful)

radtea (464814) | more than 7 years ago | (#17194968)

This is new?

Not only is the idea of "activities, not applications" old, it is not even a good idea. It puts a very important kind of choice in the hands of the person with the least information about what the user wants to do, which is extremely bad design.

People have heirarchies of goals. For example, I want to pass some course so I need to edit some document so I need to start ... What I want to do at each level and how it relates to the other levels is entirely up to me, and no one else is going to be able to figure out what the appropriate choices are for me because they lack almost all of the relevant information about my heirarchy of goals. The "activities not applications" idea ties these levels together in a way that cannot be generally appropriate because the person doing the tying is perfectly ignorant of what the user actually wants to do.

To take a hardware example, a nail gun is not a replacement for a hammer, as it is almost completely useless for many of the functions that hammers are routinely used for, like smashing things. Frequently, I want to use a hammer for something other than driving nails, and if some idiot developer handed me a nail gun because they presumed they knew what I was going to do with the hammer it would be annoying to say the least. Why should a developer be choosing what tool I use? And what business does a developer have in deciding what "activities" are legitimate? I want a toolbox that I can do with what I please, not a finite, static list of "activities" that are tied to a bunch of tools that are unrelated to those activities except in some developer's imagination.

There is a role for guidance in UI design--a system that suggests a tool for a given job--but to design the whole UI around the notion that the UI designer personally knows what activities a user will want to perform and that the UI designer personally knows how the user will want to perform them is simply a mistake. There are some tasks where the association is sort of clear, but the fact that "some A are B" does not imply that "all A are B", now does it? To defend this kind of design one needs to be able to prove that in the majority of cases the UI desiger, who has no clue about the user's actual goals, is more likely to make appropriate judgments about how to achieve them than the user ever will. This is a tall order.

The fact is that a lot of what users do is ill-defined and amorphous and not easily subject to classification. For example: what "activity" am I engaged in right now? Posting to /.? Editing a text field in a form? Editing a document? Maybe I type all my posts off-line and then paste them to the form so I maintain a local copy, and thankfully I am not limited in my choices by the bounds of someone else's imagination.

Re:New (4, Interesting)

ronanbear (924575) | more than 7 years ago | (#17195780)

But it could also be seen as a way of grouping things. Put your nail gun and your hammer together in your toolbox so that you can either easily when you want to put a nail in something. Keep them with your nails In fact have a whole section for fasteners where your rivot gun and ball hammer are grouped together with your rivets.

The metaphor isn't about using less tools it's about using them together. MacOS has an applications folder where everything goes. People might have 4 or 5 programs that can view/edit photos depending on their needs. Why not keep them separate (at a UI level) from your compilers.

Re:New (0)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 7 years ago | (#17196832)

I think you're reading too much into it. As far as I can tell, an "activity" is just a fusion of application+document. It means you don't have weird states like an application that's running but can't be used because it has no document loaded, or a document you can't open because you don't have the application. That's it. It's one of the less revolutionary things about Sugar, in fact, so I don't know why it was picked for the summary.

Re:New (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 7 years ago | (#17197544)

As far as I can tell, an "activity" is just a fusion of application+document. It means you don't have weird states like an application that's running but can't be used because it has no document loaded, or a document you can't open because you don't have the application.

What if I want to run an application that does not open documents? What if I want to view metadata about a document in a proprietary format that I can't decode? Maybe I'm just not understanding this revolutionary new concept, or maybe it is just a piss poor concept.

Re:New (1)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198288)

"Document" in this case just means "application state". For a game or whatever, the "document" would be whatever level you are up to, etc.

By the way, to whoever is modding every post I make down, go get a life.

Re:New (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198338)

"Document" in this case just means "application state".

I don't understand. The idea is that you always want your applications to be in some given state or the last state it was in? So if I have an image viewer I can't leave it open without any open images? If I quit it with open images it has those images open the next time I open it? Plenty of programs already do that. So what exactly is this concept? I searched Google but found nothing relevant.

Re:New (1)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198710)

Yes, some apps preserve state but that's a per-app feature and not supported or tied into the operating system or UI. As far as Windows is concerned, there are applications and documents, and if an application happens to "remember" that it was last working on XYZ document that's nice but not anything it gets involved with. Tying them together is pretty central to the whole presence/collaboration work they have going on there - people share "activities" rather than apps or documents, and the details are sorted out in the background.

You are right that this isn't anything amazingly revolutionary. It's a nice cleanup from where we are today but people have been trying to head in that direction for a long time. Still there are plenty of other things about it that are more interesting.

Re:New (3, Insightful)

nasch (598556) | more than 7 years ago | (#17197294)

To take a hardware example, a nail gun is not a replacement for a hammer...
I don't think your example is great. You're suggesting that in your analogy you would say "I want a hammer" and the developer would give you a nail gun. Well you didn't ask for an activity, you asked for a tool. If you're asking to start an activity, you would say "I want to drive nails" and then you would get an appropriate tool. If you just want to smash something and not drive nails, then you should have said "I want to smash something".

There is a role for guidance in UI design--a system that suggests a tool for a given job--but to design the whole UI around the notion that the UI designer personally knows what activities a user will want to perform and that the UI designer personally knows how the user will want to perform them is simply a mistake.
You may be considering yourself as the user, which would be a mistake. This system is designed so a 6-year-old who has never seen a computer can use it without being taught how. I think designing the system to remove as many choices as possible from the user is not just not a mistake, but probably the only way it could work.

Re:New (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17195468)

'This is new? The people from Xerox Parc are going to disagree.'

Alan Kay is working on OLPC, dufus.

OLPC Hardware (3, Informative)

bestinshow (985111) | more than 7 years ago | (#17194214)

The OLPC hardware is very nice actually. I've held it in my hands, and it is sturdy and looks nice. The worst part is the keyboard, which is dire - hopefully this is something they will work on in the future to improve. Sadly it had run out of battery when I got my mitts on it, so I cannot comment on the user interface, and the operation thereof.

However there are some interesting points in the blog post - it just depends on whether they are valid for the OLPC.

Fitts Law in corners for example works well when you have a mouse you can fling into the corner. But the OLPC has a trackpad, and we all know they're not so good for flinging the cursor into the corner. Something localised would be far better, for example a double-tap + pop-up directional menu for actions. Also Mac OS X lets you assign the corners to actions, contrary to his post. Many people disable these because they're annoying!

Re:OLPC Hardware (4, Insightful)

Bastian (66383) | more than 7 years ago | (#17194600)

Fitts Law in corners for example works well when you have a mouse you can fling into the corner. But the OLPC has a trackpad, and we all know they're not so good for flinging the cursor into the corner. Something localised would be far better, for example a double-tap + pop-up directional menu for actions. Also Mac OS X lets you assign the corners to actions, contrary to his post. Many people disable these because they're annoying!

(sneaking off topic. mod me down!)

And because they violate everything a reasonable UI person holds dear. I'll grant that OS X didn't originally make great use of the corners. One is for the Apple menu, which is rarely needed, and the other is for the clock's menu, which is almost never needed. However, keeping those in the corners and then adding an option to have the corner respond to other actions is a bit annoying - now there's no easy way to know exactly what the corner will do until you try it. That, or discover it automagically because none of the Exposé actions require a click.

Which gets to the next problem. These corner actions are generally things that radically rearrange the screen, start a screen saver, etc. Without a click. This is extremely undesirable when you consider that Fitts Law cuts both ways - the corners are such easy targets that most users will frequently hit them even when they don't intend to. For example, it's common for me to fling the cursor off toward a corner when I want to get it out of my way so I can read a document more easily or whatever. With hot corners enabled, I'll often end up hitting one of those corners, which ironically massively re-arranges the screen, usually in a way that makes it completely impossible for me to continue my reading. Just about the exact opposite of what I was intending to do. Similar problems for when I'm trying to use a UI element that's close to a corner (window resizing controls, Apple menu, etc.)

The only hot corner I like and use is the one which keeps the screen saver from activating. It's also the only one that doesn't have a nasty habit of mucking with the screen when I don't want it to.

Re:OLPC Hardware (2, Interesting)

mcdermd (901583) | more than 7 years ago | (#17197792)

I actually use the lower left and right corners to trigger Expose actions all the time. It's become second nature for me to use it to drag files, text, etc. between different apps and between the desktop and apps. You can't very well drag to the corner, then click and expect the object to stay "dragged". The only thing that I don't like about it is there is no company-approved software to allow me to do this on the Windows XP box I use at work.

Re:OLPC Hardware (1)

Bastian (66383) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198326)

You can't very well drag to the corner, then click and expect the object to stay "dragged".

You can't, but you can use splat-tab and all the Exposé hotkeys while dragging.

From a UI perspective, it'd be nice if Apple added Exposé silkstreens to the F9-F12 keys the way they have done for the volume and brightness controls. Though I suppose that wouldn't work so well if a user wants to reassign those keys. Of course, I'm not sure reassigning the Exposé hotkeys is any more useful than reassigning the volume control hotkeys would be.

Re:OLPC Hardware (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#17194912)

But the OLPC has a trackpad, and we all know they're not so good for flinging the cursor into the corner.


Actually, it depends on the touchpad's drivers and how they handle acceleration, etc. I've found that the some drivers work very well in this regard, in particular the Synaptics Windows drivers. The drivers that come with X.org (at least on Xubuntu) aren't bad, either, but they're not nearly as configurable.

Letting 4 year olds mess with the code? (1)

jrwr00 (1035020) | more than 7 years ago | (#17194216)

when i was read this i found this " While Bulletin-boards provide a layer of abstraction on top of any given activity, the View Source button allows one to look behind the activity, peeling away layers of abstraction in order to reveal the underlying codebase which makes it tick. " So i think what they mean is they are going to let them mess with the code, or explore the code and just make new programs?

Re:Letting 4 year olds mess with the code? (4, Funny)

tttonyyy (726776) | more than 7 years ago | (#17194498)

Letting 4 year olds mess with the code?
Of course - this is the new OBPC (One Brick Per Child) project!

Re:Letting 4 year olds mess with the code? (1, Informative)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 7 years ago | (#17196782)

You can't permenantly brick the OLPC laptops, they are designed to have a hard reset function that wipes the system and restores it from the original image. The idea is you can play around with your hearts content but it's trivial to undo the damage if you do somehow temporarily brick it.

Re:Letting 4 year olds mess with the code? (1)

monopole (44023) | more than 7 years ago | (#17197666)

Perfect! This is another reason that this needs to be sold in the first world. If you give people a system that they can not break and let them play with it, and code on it, they will learn computers much more quickly and effectively. in addition this is a perfect system for rental/kinkos/hotel systems, When the customer is done with the system just do a hard reset and you have a pristine system for the next customer. If you keep all data (as opposed to executable code/macros/etc) on a usb key or the web, all support comes down to a hard reset. Bubblepack computing.

Re:Letting 4 year olds mess with the code? (1)

jrwr00 (1035020) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198480)

i think thid product would sell to even the USA Kiddies, i would love to of had one for my first computer

Unoriginal? (2)

bigtomrodney (993427) | more than 7 years ago | (#17194218)

This UI is quite simply one of the deepest and most interesting redesigns of the desktop user interface ever produced. It makes MacOS look like what it is -- boring and unoriginal.
I think there are a lot of interesting aspects to the GUI, but as it is it doesn't make much sense outside of a project like OLPC. If of course the above quote referred to MacOS 2, then maybe but it looks more like something from that generation. Calling modern interfaces unoriginal beside olpc is a stretch in my opinion.

The Concept of Friends and Neighbors (1)

monkeyboythom (796957) | more than 7 years ago | (#17194278)

While interesting to show a localized mesh, I cannot help but wonder if the insidious side of human nature could arise, such as the segregation of children due to their dual-tone color scheme for the XO character or even worse, using the wireless beacon mode to search for and hunt down different real human tribes.

Can we produce enough OTHPC? [One Tinfoil Hat Per Child]

View Source Key (5, Funny)

jamesl (106902) | more than 7 years ago | (#17194296)

A View Source Key -- now there's a top level UI component that hundreds of millions of computer users have been begging for.

Re:View Source Key (1)

mystik (38627) | more than 7 years ago | (#17194762)

You better believe that's a useful key. Imagine, Stopping your word processor, changing the way a piece of code runs, resuming it, and reaping the benefts of your instant fix???

/me waits patiently for SqueakOS

Re:View Source Key (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17196090)

Many computer users today are like monkeys looking at picture books. "View Source" is for the children. Microsoft has the world treating computers as mysterious black (okay, beige) boxes. Their operating system is subtly or not-so-subtly designed to discourage exploration and systematic understanding and encourage rote-learning of how to perform specific tasks (change the window borders and button positions on an office secretary's desktop and watch the confusion and horror). Hell, pigeons can deal with that...

For the future of humanity, it's vital that programming joins "reading, writing and arithmetic" as part of a well-rounded trivial education. Programming is a skill at the level of reading and writing and arithmetic. Microsoft are the dark-ages literate priesthood with an illiterate population of peasants to exploit. That ends this century.

 

Re:View Source Key (1)

ghjm (8918) | more than 7 years ago | (#17199406)

You have no idea how many secretaries have asked me when they're going to get a "Reveal Codes" option in Word, like they had in WordPerfect. Some of them are now too young to remember WordPerfect, so the concept of "Reveal Codes" has passed into legend and oral tradition, with the older secretaries passing it on to the younger ones.

If you tell them: "View Source" is the new "Reveal Codes" they will be all over it in a heartbeat.

-Graham

Mod me whatever....but... (-1, Troll)

lectos (409804) | more than 7 years ago | (#17194412)

If humans would spend as much time, money, and effort with feeding children as they are with giving third world countries hand cranked computers with pretty picture interfaces, the world would be a better place.

Thank you for the green foot pedal computer with the fishes on the screen! I wish I could eat them...I am so hungry...

A picture of food isn't nourishing (1)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 7 years ago | (#17194478)

it's true. And feeding children is important.

So is giving children tools to teach them, and bring them up from poverty. Both efforts are important.

Re:Mod me whatever....but... (3, Interesting)

styryx (952942) | more than 7 years ago | (#17194636)

Giving food will only sustain a larger famine. It actually makes the problem worse.
Just so you know as well, there is a world food shortage. Food is basically oil in terms of scarcity and world-wide production. We don't have the food to feed the world. The world needs to learn how to do it themselves. Therefore if we spent all our time and effort giving people food the world would actually be a worse place. Giving people the ability to learn how to do things for themselves, as opposed to only teaching them how to put out their hand and beg for food is surely a much better approach to the problem.

There was another obvious point: You can still give them food at the same time. The OLPC project does not prevent aid! Also, I love how everyone is so specific to "omg teh children". Because as soon as people become adults we really just couldn't care less, huh? Perhaps if they had some/any education before they became adults they'd be able to take care of the children themselves. Also, let's just skip the arms trade arguments altogether and blame the OLPC project for the proliferation of the problem.

Re:Mod me whatever....but... (4, Interesting)

Rand310 (264407) | more than 7 years ago | (#17194668)

Food is good and all, but the fact is that in most of the countries this laptop is aimed at, people eat well. They're frankly some of the oldest cultures around (Arabic, Thai, Nigerian) and have survived because they know how to make and produce and eat food. That's not the issue. I spent a month working in the villages of rural Thailand. These people eat well but they have nothing to do. They just sit around during the summer and talk, as there is no extra water for farming, no economy to support, and no need to do anything other than talk. Everyone is doing just fine.

What is needed is education, access to the world beyond their village and the "city" miles away. These laptops will possibly (though again, efficacy has yet to be proven) encourage such interaction, learning and initialization into the modern world. Furthermore, the people are not stupid. The one computer that was in the government office was used regularly by middle and high-schoolers downloading music, reading up on the latest news from Bangkok, the weather, or various other games. But creation of original content, for access within the village, is another issue altogether.

As a side - those people were some of the happiest people I have ever met. They were not hungry, were not in a hurry, never spent much time indoors, never needed anything more than what they had. By connecting them to the capitalistic global society with these laptops we take away their status quo. They will be hungry, not for food, but for education, for money, for placement within the larger world. And it will destroy the villages as they know it. For better or worse.

Something to think about.

Re:Mod me whatever....but... (1)

CantStopDancing (1036410) | more than 7 years ago | (#17197820)

Everyone is doing just fine...What is needed is..
Ah, the battle cry of meddling colonists everywhere. Those people over there are happy! How can we screw them up?

If they are truly doing "just fine", let alone "the happiest people I have ever met", what on earth makes you think they need *anything* else ?

Re:Mod me whatever....but... (2, Funny)

E++99 (880734) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198050)

These people eat well but they have nothing to do. They just sit around during the summer and talk, as there is no extra water for farming, no economy to support, and no need to do anything other than talk. Everyone is doing just fine.

As a side - those people were some of the happiest people I have ever met. They were not hungry, were not in a hurry, never spent much time indoors, never needed anything more than what they had.

THIS IS MORE URGENT THAN I THOUGHT!!! WE MUST SEND THEM LAPTOPS SO THEY STOP SITTING AROUND TALKING AND BEING HAPPY!!!

Re:Mod me whatever....but... (1)

wwahammy (765566) | more than 7 years ago | (#17194888)

I personally hover between your view that this whole thing is a huge waste of time and money that could be better spent elsewhere and the view that OLPC is going to help end poverty because of the educational opportunities of the platform. At this point I think that the upside is bigger than the downside. OLPC has no place in areas with famine conditions and money should be spent for found but there are many, many places in the world where people are poor but not at immediate risk of death. I think one of the best examples of where OLPC could bring about a benefit is in Nigeria when many religious leaders objected to polio vaccines. Without a basic understanding of medicine, illness and biology people saw polio vaccines being given and when some of those same people got AIDS it seemed like the nurses were giving AIDS to people. They weren't of course but how do you explain that? If people can start from an early age with even a very basic education in modern medicine, we help people learn how to protect themselves from illness and know what to do if someone is sick (when you need to go to a doctor when it will clear up on its own, etc.). That's just in the area of medicine. Will it all work out like that? I don't know but I really hope it does.

oh... there we go again (5, Insightful)

cpotoso (606303) | more than 7 years ago | (#17195122)

Typical american view of the world: everyone is starving out there. FYI: the OLPC is not intended to starving people, it is *not* food... It is intended for people who get their *basic* needs met already with the idea of helping themselves get out of poverty and hopefully improving the general economy of the country as well. Gee, what's so difficult to grasp? Following your argument we should not give any education to the poor either since what they need is food? What huge nonsense.

Re:oh... there we go again (1)

E++99 (880734) | more than 7 years ago | (#17197886)

Typical american view of the world: everyone is starving out there. FYI: the OLPC is not intended to starving people, it is *not* food... It is intended for people who get their *basic* needs met already with the idea of helping themselves get out of poverty and hopefully improving the general economy of the country as well. Gee, what's so difficult to grasp? Following your argument we should not give any education to the poor either since what they need is food? What huge nonsense.

I'm stunned to learn that these laptops will not be edible. I say at the very least we should encrust them with caffine-enfused salt, so that these poor children can lick them as they code.

Re:Mod me whatever....but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17195276)

The world would be a better place if allegedly educated indiciduals in the first world stopped thinking that the world outside the US and western europe consists of starving masses in shanty towns.

This is not destined for Somalia or Darfur.

This is for middle income countries where an important goal is to educate the kids properly, but can't afford to buy Dells, never mind the kind of power distribution grid we take for granted.

Re:Mod me whatever....but... (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 7 years ago | (#17195342)

I am willing to bet humans spend a lot more "time, money, and effort" feeing children than they did on this project though.

If we were to spend the same amount of resources feeding people as we did on this (and similar) projects things would be far worse.

Re:Mod me whatever....but... (2, Insightful)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 7 years ago | (#17195620)

If humans would spend as much time, money, and effort with feeding children as they are with giving third world countries hand cranked computers with pretty picture interfaces, the world would be a better place.

A smart businessman looks for return on investment. Right now many countries spend huge amounts providing food to other countries. This investment is much larger than the OLPC project. The food donated in this way destroys the local market for food, decimating the remains of the agricultural sector (the only real industry in many places) and making them dependent upon future handouts. The way around this is to provide them with more the the results of an industry, but with all the tools and knowledge necessary to build the industry from scratch. For agriculture that can compete, this means the entire industrial base to make farm equipment, irrigation, fertilizers, pesticides, GM foods, etc. This investment would be huge, but some level of it is provided in some places. Alternately, for a relatively tiny investment we can provide them with all the tools and knowledge needed to compete in the computer/intellectual property market. The OLPC project gives them everything needed to gain education and learn to create applications and information on computers.

Thank you for the green foot pedal computer with the fishes on the screen! I wish I could eat them...I am so hungry...

Sorry, but your world view is out of date. For the most part, people do have food. They just don't have jobs so they can build a life... partly because we gave them food. It is humane to give starving people food, but it is much better to give starving people both food and a means of making money so they can buy their own food in future.

Re:Negreponte's got this straight, tho (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17195926)

If humans would spend as much time, money, and effort with feeding children as they are with giving third world countries hand cranked computers with pretty picture interfaces, the world would be a better place.
The OLPC project is the cover story in the latest Technology Review magazine. The article is more about the OLPC project as a new form of philanthropy, and less about the technology. But Negreponte's realistic about where this fits: "I have not met anybody who claims they are too poor to invest in education, nor anybody that said it was a waste of money," Negroponte says. "If somebody is dying of hunger, food comes first. If somebody is dying from war, peace comes first. But if the world is going to be a better place, the tools for doing so always include education."

The whole article can be accessed through the www.technologyreview.com website.

Mac bashing (1)

jimmichie (993747) | more than 7 years ago | (#17194442)

For "boring and unoriginal" I read "uncluttered and familiar". People who want to accomplish a task on a computer don't want an interface they have to learn to use from scratch. If the point of the OLPC is to help children to learn to program, then an interface they have to explore to use and can tweak by a little coding is a good thing. But for most people an OS like OS X is just fine, thank you. Really, what was the point of the last sentence in the summary if not Mac bashing?

Just so you all understand: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17195494)

I'm not the OP but it is somewhat obvious to me. Unfortunately not to all here.

Mac OS interface here is not a reference to the Mac itself, as I see, but to the paradigm created at Xerox Palo Alto labs (the Star system, IIRC), also know as WIMP -- windows, icons, mouse & pointer.

Many know the Mac, few the Star. Now, regarding Windows and Linux, we all know both came later; Linux has a lot of different ideas, including keyboard-only interfaces and Windows is lame.

Maybe the original poster should use "wimp" instead of Mac, but still...

A new UI? (2, Insightful)

mvnicosia (937268) | more than 7 years ago | (#17194460)

Perhaps I missed it, but is there a new type of keyboard or trackpad or input device for this project? If I still point with a mouse and type with a keyboard, it's not revolutionary. They may have organized a few things better, but let's look for something more intuitive to call "revolutionary". My two cents that no one will read because of my damned karma.

Re:A new UI? (1)

bestinshow (985111) | more than 7 years ago | (#17194650)

The linked HIG shows you the combo graphics-tablet and trackpad input interface.

With a finger it works as a trackpad (well, the centre portion does). With a stylus the entire input area works as a graphics tablet. It's as wide as the device, but not that tall, think of it like an widened traditional trackpad.

It could have potential. I'd have to use it to form an opinion.

Re:A new UI? (1)

mvnicosia (937268) | more than 7 years ago | (#17195010)

Haven't we seen Apple patent submissions for trackpads of a similar nature? Again, it all just doesn't fit my view of "revolutionary" (not that I don't think it has the potential to be cool, I guess we'll see).

Re:A new UI? (1)

bestinshow (985111) | more than 7 years ago | (#17196316)

It's probably quite hard to be amazingly revolutionary in a device that costs $140 to build, considering the other hardware contained within, so the only revolutionary aspect can be the following:

1) Software / UI
2) Keyboard layout / simplification
3) Intelligent use of input mechanisms within the software

There's a lot of work that can be done with (1) if you don't care about losing what we have at the moment. This seems to be the main thrust of the 'revolution', but until we use it, we will not know if they're going down a path with good chances of survival and evolution towards better things, or if they're going to hit a wall. They've done (2) as well, and (3) ties in with (1) once you're writing applications rather than UI systems.

Vaporware (-1, Flamebait)

NineNine (235196) | more than 7 years ago | (#17194464)

Let's keep in mind that this entire project is still completely vaporware. I won't believe that any of this project is actually possible until I see it. Right now, it's still just a PR whore (Negropointe) making shit out of thin air.
 
In fact, I'm starting a new project. It's called the "$10 automobile project". The first guidelines for it is that every $10 car must 1. Fly 2. be able to be fueled by any substance, including garbage, rock, dirt, air, and water. 3. Navigate itself based on what the user is thinking he/she would like to go, and coordinating with the on-board GPS navigation system.

OK, now somebody write some news articles about me.

Re:Vaporware (1)

Chabil Ha' (875116) | more than 7 years ago | (#17194840)

Ahh, but to get any media credence, you need to get a handful of 3rd world countries to buy into your idea. Then you can have your recognition.

Re:Vaporware (1)

MartinJW (961693) | more than 7 years ago | (#17194854)

OK, now somebody write some news articles about me.
Here you go Man dreams of a better future [blogspot.com]

Re:Vaporware (1)

arivanov (12034) | more than 7 years ago | (#17194936)

You are describing an old Yugo (real cost 10$), which left the road (hence it flies) while running on rakia-gazoline mix (rakia is local balkan brandy which is often made of garbage, shit and a few other similar ingredients). So the only missing feature is the nag-vigation system. Well, that is easy to achieve. All you need is to put the biosat nag-vigation system you picked up in one of the local mehanas in control of the vehicle. If he/she has drunk as much as local nag-vigation systems can drink, you have achieved that goal as well. The car is definitely going based on user "thinking" to the extent the user is still capable to think after 1 litre or rakia with minimal meze. Voila - not that hard after all. You see them all the time in some countries. In fact dodging them is part of being a driver in these places

Re:Vaporware (1)

pdabbadabba (720526) | more than 7 years ago | (#17195166)

But first, my good sir, you will need letterhead and business cards. Then we will write news articles.

Re:Vaporware (3, Insightful)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 7 years ago | (#17196862)

I saw a demo of Sugar running on an actual laptop only last Thursday. It exists, therefore, it cannot be vapourware.

Re:Vaporware (1)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 7 years ago | (#17197004)

You could download it and run it yourself you know.

OG: Original GUI (3, Informative)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#17194576)

"It makes MacOS look like what it is -- boring and unoriginal."

The new GUI might be revolutionary, and useful, and create the new paradigm. Just like MacOS did.

OLPC might make the now mature MacOS look boring. But if it makes MacOS look "unoriginal", just because so many have copied it, then the audience must be a world of children with the first laptop they've ever seen. Because MacOS originated the features that MacOS still keeps the cutting edge - until something like OLPC maybe replaces it. Even if so many others have copied it, MacOS is the original.

Unless you want to dig into MacOS's roots, like the Apple Lisa, or the Xerox Star. Which were prototypes, even the failed release Lisa. All PC design has been evolutionary, however big a leap one subsystem (like a GUI, or a LAN, or a laser printer on it, or an input peripheral like a mouse) makes. But those seminal roots just show how original was the MacOS, which made it work with its original improvements and integrations.

We should replace the ancient Mac GUI paradigm. It was revolutionary in the home and office, because it finally put the home and office on the screen, replacing the algebra classroom and typesetter formes. The original. Now it's over two decades old, and we're all more familiar with PCs than with file cabinets and document scrolls. So when we improve the paradigm, it's good to target the original. Pretending that MacOS isn't original makes it harder to beat it.

Re:OG: Original GUI (2, Funny)

BigBuckHunter (722855) | more than 7 years ago | (#17195672)

The new GUI might be revolutionary, and useful, and create the new paradigm. We should replace the ancient Mac GUI paradigm. So when we improve the paradigm

You don't happen to be in management, do you? I believe you now hold the slashdot record for number of reoccurring uses of the word "paradigm" in a single non-Babylon-5 related post.

BBH

Re:OG: Original GUI (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#17195812)

We're talking about a paradigm. So the name of the subject pops up a lot. Are you charging by the word you read? You don't happen to be in accounting, do you?

Re:OG: Original GUI (1)

BigBuckHunter (722855) | more than 7 years ago | (#17197966)

We're talking about a paradigm. So the name of the subject pops up a lot. Are you charging by the word you read? You don't happen to be in accounting, do you?

Worse, I'm a tax collector. I charge "cliche" tax. Every time someone uses a globe in their corporate logo, I get a buck. A bridge is 50 cents. Two joining hands are 25 cents. Use a bridge embossed over a globe, it's $1.50. I trademarked all the popular logo cliches before the bubble and made a fortune.

BBH

Re:OG: Original GUI (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#17199188)

I hope you kept all your receipts, because that post demonstrates that "recognizable symbols" are different from cliches when the word is the closest accurate name for the phenomenon. While triggering the cliche charge for the "I trademarked it before the Bubble" joke.

What words for "paradigm" are tax exempt, anyway?

As anyone else used the OLPC GUI interface? (1)

Calyth (168525) | more than 7 years ago | (#17195820)

All those good points about OSX aside, has anyone else used the OLPC GUI interface?
I can guarantee that it will drive all those who have used a computer before nuts, and I do question whether a children who have not used a computer before be able to do any better either.

Hardly "boring and unoriginal"! (Off-topicky...) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17195002)

It makes MacOS look like what it is -- boring and unoriginal.

Great, the tired old PARC attack lives on. How about the blunt fact that Mac's creator, Jef Raskin, published on ergonomic (including graphical) user interfaces years before Xerox PARC was founded? Although Engelbart deserves all the fame he has and then some, there was a good dose of pure original vision in Apple's Macintosh just as well.

(The Mac and the first Mac OS were so original that Raskin had trouble getting funds for the project until his GUI idea got approved for the Lisa as well, and so original that the jealous Steve Jobs tried to kill the project multiple times before he finally visited PARC with Raskin, hijacked the project, and smoked Raskin out of Apple to work on the intriguingly "turn-coat" Canon Cat.)

I've played with it (4, Informative)

wandazulu (265281) | more than 7 years ago | (#17195090)

There's a VMWare image of the OLPC system (forget where...found the link on OSNews.com) and I downloaded it and played with it a bit. The "Sugar" interface is one those things that presumably works better on the intended hardware, because moving the mouse around to get to the "desktop" or whatever it was got old really fast.

The other issue, which I can appreciate is a very non-trivial task because it has to work with non-computer savvy kids (and presumably adults) in a variety of languages, is that the icons didn't make any sense to me, nor did most of the interface. I got that the globe icon was a browser, but that was pretty much it. A couple of apps I still don't understand what they do.

Being that it's Linux underneath, the standard ctrl-alt-backspace killed the interface and I was able to log in as root (no password) and poke around. The one programming language they include is Perl, and that got me thinking about why not give the kids an interface or some capability to develop their own software too? The next killer app could be written by a kid on a OLPC machine. It looked like they also included a version of Squeak (Smalltalk) as well, but I only saw the interface come up once and wasn't able to get back to it again. Would they ship the docs in all languages as well?

Re:I've played with it (1)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 7 years ago | (#17196968)

There should also be Python and Logo on the machine.

The best UI in the world.... (3, Insightful)

mjeffers (61490) | more than 7 years ago | (#17195638)

is the one that hasn't been usability tested yet.

from http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Ask_OLPC_a_Question [laptop.org]
"There is very little public information about requirements gathering, usability and user testing. In other words, how do you know whether the OLPC (i) will meet your users' needs and (ii) is easy enough for them to use? Have the target user groups been characterized? What ongoing plans do you have for this? I`d Like test the OLPC in Argentina, Please contct with me to know how. Thanks.

        As far as I know, there are two local groups in Argentina with test boards (don't know if anybody has the 2B1/XO prototypes though). They are Ututo and Tuquito. I know Ututo had some explicit arrangements to let other people use/test the boards. If anybody knows about other groups (or about any local XOs) please let me know (or post in the OLPC Argentina pages. --Xavi 07:23, 6 December 2006 (EST)"

Before you go off spouting that you've designed a radical new UI that's better than anything else you might want to usability test it. Now I couldn't find anything on the link to Ututo and the link to Tuquito doesn't seem to have any English content but from the answer to the question it doesn't sound like there's a real plan for user testing a radical new UI that will be given to people who, according to the HIG are young and inexperienced.

To the designer's credit both of those criteria (young and inexperienced) give you the best possible scenario for introducing a new UI since children are more willing to play around and experiment and inexperienced computer users don't have the legacy of using an OS that worked any different from what you're giving them. Even with those advantages I'd hope that a project that is intended for a global audience would have more substantial usability testing plans than "lets give a couple to some people in Argentina and see what they think". I'm certainly not going to go all gaga over an untested UI that starts by throwing out decades of learning about how people interact with software.

mod uP (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17195752)

THE PROJECT TO exempl1fied by Downward spiral. In

"A modest 128MB of memory" (2, Informative)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 7 years ago | (#17196960)

For a couple of seconds there, I thought "Wow! The same amount as the original 1984 Macintosh." My, how times change...

Remember when John McCarthy said (sorry, I don't have the exact quotation... if anyone does I'd love to have it and the source) that there were no theoretical barriers to artificial intelligence any more, they knew how to do it and the only thing they needed was a "million words of memory?"

Horizontal ToC mediawiki extension? (2, Informative)

almondjoy (162478) | more than 7 years ago | (#17197130)

The link to the OLPC Human Interface Guidelines [laptop.org] shows a horizontally oriented graphical table of contents - colored table cells to contain links to each section. And then whole page is rendered with with all of the editable sections rendered to show visual containment inside a bunch of DIVs, w/forward/backward nav, etc. Does anyone know if that is core, or some type of mediawiki extension? I'd like to experiment with it further. Can someone point me to the source of that extension for mediawiki? Its very interesting.

Re:Horizontal ToC mediawiki extension? (1)

whetu (1011913) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198502)

On any Mediawiki site, you can simply go to the page Special:Version and you'll see the licence, the version and any extensions that have been installed

http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Special:Version [laptop.org] Doesn't seem to be promising, so you can then check the code of the page to see if there's some kind of tag that they're using, alas, in this case it seems that they've disabled the standard TOC with a __NOTOC__ and manually built this one: http://wiki.laptop.org/index.php?title=OLPC_Human_ Interface_Guidelines&action=edit [laptop.org]

I do agree though, the horizontal TOC representation looks like a better use of whitespace

Let "them" test it...? (1)

KlaymenDK (713149) | more than 7 years ago | (#17197166)

This is a refreshing new take on computing, and quite possibly a necessary and due one, too ... but I can't help wondering if this is a case of "hey mac, this new gadget of yours looks GREAT ....but you try it first and we'll see how it works out, mmkay?"

I agree that it is creative and ballsy and everything, but has it even been tested? Wouldn't it be even more ballsy to test it on ourseves before peddling it as an educational tool to the poorer part of the world? I know I'm being rather critical here, and will probably be flamed for it. Flame away, let's debate it. :)

I should also say that I am quite FOR the OLPC project as a whole; I wish we could do this for the entire planet. I'm sure doing so would increase the incentive of making it truly good -- as well as wreak havoc on traditional networking, security, and that whole business, which indubitably would benefit the consumer in the long run.

Re:Let "them" test it...? (1)

grcumb (781340) | more than 7 years ago | (#17199782)

I agree that it is creative and ballsy and everything, but has it even been tested? Wouldn't it be even more ballsy to test it on ourseves before peddling it as an educational tool to the poorer part of the world?

Good idea. Why don't you go to laptop.org and download your own copy of the software and, well, test it, then? I did, and I found it has far more strengths than weaknesses. I really feel that they got inside the head of a first-time computer user; not confusing them with details, and creating simple mnemonic cues.

I know I'm being rather critical here, and will probably be flamed for it. Flame away, let's debate it. :)

Well, I might flame you for ignorance (the link to the download was listed on slashdot not so very long ago) but not for intention. Your thoughts are right on target; the only thing is, you're not the first one to think - and do - something about it. So take off that asbestos suit and do some testing of your own. 8^)

Memory usage? (1)

CantStopDancing (1036410) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198076)

For something that claims to abstract the details of processes, applications, etc from the user, I'm wondering why the designers chose to highlight activities on the home screen by memory usage. It seems like it would be more useful to map relative size to time-spent-in-activity, or some user-defined level of importance, than something as arbitrary (to the user) and irrelevant (again, to the user) as the amount of memory taken up by "an activity".

Perhaps memory usage could at a pinch be shown as a second dimension, such as colour (red background == lots of memory used), but the primary (size) should I think be something or more import to the user.

Hrm. Now that I think about it some, there are many more metrics that could be visualised on this page - number of friends in the same activity; number of times the activity was accessed, etc. Can anyone comment on why memory usage was selected?

Designed by Committee (1)

Brandybuck (704397) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198266)

A GUI designed by committee. This is sure to be as wildly popular as Ada, a language designed by committee.

Bob? (1)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 7 years ago | (#17198736)

Weren't some or many of these things in Microsoft Bob?
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