Windows 8 Equals More Clicks

I’ve been developing software for 12 years. When I took over this company after being a software trainer for four years, I wrote down a mantra: "Fewer clicks equals less tech calls." That statement is a fact. I can prove it by looking up any call log to Dell or HP or Toshiba. Look at what issues get the most calls; they generally involve the tasks with the most clicks.

My car has buttons to control the radio on the steering wheel now. But the actual radio still has knobs, too. The world likes tradition; the world likes comfort. Don't try to push your idea on the masses. Let them migrate at will. You always need to leave the old layout intact, with options to turn on the new layout for geeks or others who might be interested.

Most people aren't geeks. They have zero interest in learning new systems. They just want to use a computer and get things done. Why would we change how we start our cars or unlock our doors, if it doesn’t involve reducing the time it takes to complete the task? That’s the way to lose customers.

In 1995, I bashed Windows for changing the word directory to folder. A coder commented, "I would welcome any change that reduces the number of letters in a term that’s used millions of times a day." I thought about it and said, “Wow, you’re right!”

OSs should have skins. That way, you could use the same skin for the rest of your life without ever having to relearn how to drive a car. The general population doesn’t like change, especially when it's something personal and something that’s used many times a day. Change is for a small group of individuals. Geeks just need options in Control Panel for geekifying their computers, but they should always be turned off by default. The geek will know where to find them and how to turn them on. The average person would never be interested enough to search for the options and turn them off. They should be off by default. Aero is ridiculous—nobody needs or wants it. It serves no purpose except to confuse people with what they're seeing.

Oh, the Ribbon idea is terrible, inefficient, impossible to train on, and completely non-intuitive. Menus, menus, menus … they’ve worked in restaurants for millennia. Menus are logical. I always know that File is first, Edit is second, View is third, and Help is last. So simply standardized, and perfectly intuitive.

The Ribbon is a bad idea, and Windows 8 is partially a bad idea. Windows Me was confirmed as a bad idea a decade ago. And Windows Vista? Vista is actually a good OS that kept the user experience intact. I will stick to that for as long as possible.

John Becker

 

Carrier Bloatware

I want to thank B. K. Winstead for his article “Carrier Bloatware: The Android Plague.” I learned a hard lesson after I bought my Droid Charge: Always check how much run-time memory a phone has before buying it. My phone, because of the Samsung and Verizon bloatware, is only good for people who don't buy apps or those that root the phone and remove the bloatware. I chose the latter.

—Paul Springer

Thanks for writing! It’s always great to hear from readers. And thanks for the app suggestions you left in the article comments—“Startup Manager (to limit what runs), Advanced Task Manager (to kill tasks that shouldn't be running), and SystemPanel (the best utility app ever!).” I’ve heard of them but haven’t tried them. I probably should. Honestly, as I wrote that article, I had to rein in my desire to rail against the carriers. I firmly believe something needs to be done about this problem, but the carriers have all the power as things stand. Perhaps a groundswell of consumer anger will occur eventually.

—B. K. Winstead

 

Another Free Security Tool

I reviewed Jeff James’s list of “13 Free Security Tools and Resources” and figured you could add another great tool to it. Paessler Router Traffic Grapher (PRTG) is a free tool available on CNET. Aside from the usual SNMP stats and trigger alerts that most network tools offer, the real gem of this tool is its ability to view network traffic by protocol via graphs. You can add your own channel and include it in the graph. A channel can be an IP address or protocol. I use this tool to monitor my Internet link, monitor the LAN port of my firewall, and monitor any internal computer device I want—all at the same time. The product is solid and hasn’t crashed once in the 5 years that I’ve used it. I love this tool.

Pierre Massé

 

Server Core in Server 2012

I remember reading Mark Minasi’s article "Sampling Server Core," in which he writes, "[I] fear that Server Core might not be widely used, because, well, while a stripped-down server might be attractive in many ways, most of us expect a stripped-down price as well. After all, I love my Honda Insight hybrid with its three-cylinder engine and 67mpg fuel efficiency, but I wouldn’t have purchased it if it had cost as much as a Jaguar.” At the time, Mark's opinion made perfect sense to me. I found his comment clever, fair and insightful. But with Windows Server 8 (now officially named Windows Server 2012) just around the corner, I see things differently. Server 2012 has Server Core as an option that you can turn on and off at will. So, in hindsight, I realize that Microsoft was right all along to offer Windows Server and Server Core for the same price, since Microsoft really meant Server Core to be a mode of operation that could be enabled and disabled at will and not a different product.
—Dimitrios Kalemis

So true, Dimitrios, but—and this is the important point—we don't know the price yet. You and I are playing with the Data Center version of Server 2012. For all I (or you) know, you'll have to have the expensive Enterprise version to get these wonderful features. Hey, I hope it isn't true, but it wouldn't surprise me all that much. It would, however, sadden me. Thanks for reading!

—Mark Minasi