Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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Matthew Thomas has a bunch of great links on his blog today, one of which links to a very true article about polite applications. If you agree with what I muttered a few days ago, you'll love that article. It's very detailed and covers many important points.

Polite Software Stays Focused. When I order salad in a good restaurant, I get a good salad. In a bad restaurant, I get the third degree along with it: "Spinach, Caesar, or mixed greens? Onions? Croutons? Grated cheese? Parmesan or Romano? Full serving or dinner size? French, Italian, oil and vinegar, or Thousand Island? Dressing on the side? Served before or after the main course?" Even the most demanding gourmet just doesn't care that much about the salad to be subjected to such a grilling, but interactive systems behave this way all the time. Adobe's Photoshop program is notorious for peppering the user with lots of obnoxious and unnecessary little questions, each in a separate dialog box.

Impolite software asks lots of annoying questions. Choices are generally not all that desirable, and being offered them is not a benefit, but an ordeal.

Points very well made. They should put texts like these into the console output of compilers. Perhaps it would help. In fact, I think a few of the points mentioned are already being addressed slowly. But it's hardly worth mentioning.

There was an interesting article against all that rating and evaluation junk in higher education in die tageszeitung this morning, pointing out that over-formalising the rating process trivialises what is done at universities. It didn't even account all the practical issues, with all the resources departments have to spend on being evaluated. This was put most to the point by one of my lecturers back at Warwick who came into his lecture one morning apologising that he wasn't as well prepared as usual as he was too busy with TQA.

December 10, 2002, 23:27

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