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Old 24th December 2019, 08:18 AM   #41
Donal
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
You can switch the electro shock off?
You can. But why?
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Old 24th December 2019, 10:41 AM   #42
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Originally Posted by Donal View Post
You can. But why?
Exactly. Per Chance the Rapper:
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Old 24th December 2019, 11:09 AM   #43
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Originally Posted by Orphia Nay View Post
Because it's scary seeing our future.


Like when you freak out multiple times (and you've always been admired for your incredible patience), and cry DO NOT ASK ME FOR ANY MORE HELP.


They ring again the next day.
The good news is that my parents' situation is probably not my own future. They're not needing tech support because they're old, but rather, because they've just never been technical.

I remember bringing my first wife over to my parents' house when we dating, which would have been almost 33 years ago. My parents were younger then than I am now. I spent 6 hours doing household maintenance and reviewing gadget usage. Again.

I must reiterate that point: we're not talking computers here. I was re-educating my mom about how to change the vacuum bag. How to use the 1960s vintage electronic oven. I was replacing burned out lightbulbs because my dad was anxious about getting electrocuted and they were living in a half dark house. Filter on the furnace. Oiled some hinges, nailed in some popped up nailheads in the hardwood.

My wife was silent for about 5 minutes on the drive home, and then she just said: "OK, so I'm assuming you're adopted?"

At that time, I could tell they had forgotten how to use the CD player as well. It had the same CD in it as I had put in for the demo when I gifted it to them that Christmas. The reason I bought the CD player was that he was struggling with the record player. At this point he would have been 45 or so.

Worth mentioning: dad was struggling with the tape deck because mom had zero interest in operating it, since gadgets (tv, stereo, camera, anything you could class as a 'tool') were man stuff, with the exception of the stove and vacuum and washer/dryer, which were women's work. Just to zero in to how odd this is - which I didn't appreciate when I was a kid - my mom gets other people to operate the tv. Turning it on, off, changing channels and volume. She's afraid to do it herself in case she breaks it or gets electrocuted.

I have bought my parents ipods, macbooks and ipads over the years, always with tutorial courses that they attend devoutly. At the end of the course they still can't remember how to turn them on, much less use them. It's all just solid confusion for them. I spoke to one of the tutors back in the ipod days, he asked if my mom had had a stroke or something. I had to explain that no, this is just her baseline level of ability with gadgets.

And I've written down step by step instructions on some basic things they may want to try based on 'user stories' developed from talking to them. eg: listen to music (I set up a Google Home for them, hoping voice controls would work better than GUIs). When I go to visit they ask me to show them these steps. I remind them they're written down in the notes I provided. They have no memory of said notes, they're nowhere to be found. (my parents are also chronically disorganized - the notes are probably in the waist-high piles of paper that are rendering half of the rooms in their condo unusable).

It's a bit sad, because a lot of the world is unavailable to them. Their friends offer to send them photos as email attachments. My mother has to say, she doesn't know how to do that. My mother has never taken a photograph. My dad stopped taking pictures in the 80s when cameras started needing batteries.

The reality is that a segment of the population genuinely are not gadget people, and it may be intrinsic rather than learned. Hard to tell in their case.

Incidentally, I did usability analysis for a living back in the 90s, and try to keep current with what we know about the psychology of interface design. I've always been interested in whether there's a baseline minimum ability needed to understand how to operate a device below which no further design improvements will help. My parents probably influenced my interest in this.

I came across this report a few years ago, but the information is probably still reliable. Basically, the world is not very technically competent. This may just be a human condition rather than poor education/training. [Across 33 rich countries, only 5% of the population has high computer-related abilities, and only a third of people can complete medium-complexity tasks.]
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Old 30th December 2019, 06:14 PM   #44
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Originally Posted by blutoski View Post
(Much good stuff snipped for brevity.)

I came across this report a few years ago, but the information is probably still reliable. Basically, the world is not very technically competent. This may just be a human condition rather than poor education/training. [Across 33 rich countries, only 5% of the population has high computer-related abilities, and only a third of people can complete medium-complexity tasks.]
A very interesting article. The study in question was mentioned by Jakob Nielson, who has made a career of making computers easier for humans to use.

The study's bottom line:
  • Only about 5% of computer users can solve complex problems. Unfortunately this is the level many computer programmers and even designers are at, and they forget about the 95% of people who can't solve complex problems.
  • 26% of the adult population can figure out how to do relatively complex tasks such as " find a sustainability-related document that was sent to you by John Smith in October last year."
  • 29% of the adult population can figure out how to do simple tasks such as "Use the reply all function on an email" or "Find all emails from Jane Smith."
  • 5% of the adult population simply can't use a computer. That seems to be forgotten by companies and governments who are pushing access to services to the web.
To me it looks like they're missing a category between the bottom 5% and the 29% that can figure out how to do simple tasks. A proportion of that 29% can't even figure out how to do simple tasks. They rely on rigidly defined procedures and rote memorization, and freak out when something changes.

I'm a computer professional, one of those 5% (7% in Canada) who all too often forgets about the other 95%.

For me, one of the frustrating trade-offs I find in systems that try to make things simple for the end user (a laudable goal) is they often make it tough for people who have to troubleshoot those systems when they go awry. A classic example of this is shutting down Windows. Often Windows will fail to shut down, but even after twenty years I haven't found any way to get Windows to tell me what it's doing during shutdown so I'll know where to look for problems.

Modern Linux systems also hide the shutdown details from those who don't need to know about them. But a simple press of the Esc key enables a display of the steps being run, so I can see immediately what process is holding things up. It's a wonderful compromise between simplicity and usability.

Too bad not all of Linux is like that. Unix was designed by the 5% for the 5%. Modern Linux distributions push the usability to the next 26% who can solve moderately complex problems, but it's still a far cry from systems that work for the 95% of the population that can use computers.
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Old 31st December 2019, 02:53 AM   #45
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Originally Posted by Blue Mountain View Post
A very interesting article. The study in question was mentioned by Jakob Nielson, who has made a career of making computers easier for humans to use.
Well said.
There's a book I have 2 copies of, one for me and one for lending and I've lent it a lot. Simple and Usable. As a programmer since 1984 over several OSes and languages etc it made me stop and rethink a lot. It has a lovely layout of basically 1 idea simply explained per page. A lot of it is based on watching people interact with websites etc rather than the 3 users yelling that what they really need is to search by regexes.
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Old 31st December 2019, 03:22 PM   #46
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When I was at EA for one particular game I had some consumers of games come in and play through the claimed 5 "easy tutorials" (think it was 5); according to the team it would take about 20 minutes to play through the tutorials. The team were gobsmacked to actually see how a new user coped with the tutorials. I kept the sessions to 30 minutes, not one person even started the last two tutorials, computer literate folk tend to vastly over estimate the ability of the "average" user.
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Old 2nd January 2020, 07:50 AM   #47
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
When I was at EA for one particular game I had some consumers of games come in and play through the claimed 5 "easy tutorials" (think it was 5); according to the team it would take about 20 minutes to play through the tutorials. The team were gobsmacked to actually see how a new user coped with the tutorials. I kept the sessions to 30 minutes, not one person even started the last two tutorials, computer literate folk tend to vastly over estimate the ability of the "average" user.
One of the things we had to focus on at my previous job was to be less technical when dealing with end users. We tend to speak in technical terms we know, while the end user has beginner level knowledge.
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Old 2nd January 2020, 10:48 AM   #48
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Originally Posted by plague311 View Post
One of the things we had to focus on at my previous job was to be less technical when dealing with end users. We tend to speak in technical terms we know, while the end user has beginner level knowledge.
It's something I have to watch for myself. I've become very familiar with the glazed expression non-technical people get when I say something that might as well be in Chinese, as far as them having any hope of understanding it
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Old 2nd January 2020, 11:11 AM   #49
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I used to get that talking to other IT staff at HSBC. So many were so narrowly trained. And this was me talking about their supposed areas of expertise.
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Old 2nd January 2020, 05:13 PM   #50
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Originally Posted by Blue Mountain View Post
A very interesting article. The study in question was mentioned by Jakob Nielson, who has made a career of making computers easier for humans to use.
He was my role model in the 90s when I did usability analysis as a business. It made me stand out from the other WAWs back in those days, as they tended to be either graphic designers who made pretty, useless, sites, or programmers who made highly functional but confusing sites.

I tried to be that intersection in the three circle Venn diagram that provided visual aesthetics, mechanical functionality, and usability in the customer's favour.

The expression at the time was to remind the software people that "You are not the user."

I have a friend (met at a Skeptics in the Pub) who is an engineer, and he once showed me his gadget that he wanted to bring to market. It was a handheld keychain sized electronic doohickie that could give you your daily to do list, time, date, &c. This was the early 90s. It was a custom IC he built at SFU in a chip lab. He was really proud of it.

Ok, BUT, there was one button to perform all functions. Changing modes, scrolling forward, backward through the list... Every command was a dog's breakfast of pressing sequences exactly so many milliseconds apart and holding for exactly so many milliseconds (sort of like Morse code) that no human could possibly remember except for the designer, and he felt that was a finished product.

I told him the interface was too complicated. He disagreed: "It comes with a manual," so problem solved.



Originally Posted by Blue Mountain View Post
The study's bottom line:
  • Only about 5% of computer users can solve complex problems. Unfortunately this is the level many computer programmers and even designers are at, and they forget about the 95% of people who can't solve complex problems.
  • 26% of the adult population can figure out how to do relatively complex tasks such as " find a sustainability-related document that was sent to you by John Smith in October last year."
  • 29% of the adult population can figure out how to do simple tasks such as "Use the reply all function on an email" or "Find all emails from Jane Smith."
  • 5% of the adult population simply can't use a computer. That seems to be forgotten by companies and governments who are pushing access to services to the web.
To me it looks like they're missing a category between the bottom 5% and the 29% that can figure out how to do simple tasks. A proportion of that 29% can't even figure out how to do simple tasks. They rely on rigidly defined procedures and rote memorization, and freak out when something changes.
I agree. There's a segment in there that's sort of Cargo Cult users. My friend presses command-S to save constantly, and in every program, because somebody told him to save often and he's pathologically afraid to lose work. OK, I get it, yeah, but for the love of all that is holy, why is he doing this in the browser? There's fifty thousand .html files saved on his desktop, and they're just copies of the web pages he was browsing.

And the mail program. The desktop has hundreds of copies of emails he was composing and sent. The context isn't there to judge when to use the thing he even knows how to do.
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Old 2nd January 2020, 05:31 PM   #51
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Just got a text from sister with a screen shot -- "Is this supposed to take so long? Like, hours?"

It was a progress bar showing Windows Updates. With text underneath: "Last Check For Updates: July 22, 2015".

I replied "Yes."
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Old 3rd January 2020, 01:03 PM   #52
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Originally Posted by alfaniner View Post
Just got a text from sister with a screen shot -- "Is this supposed to take so long? Like, hours?"

It was a progress bar showing Windows Updates. With text underneath: "Last Check For Updates: July 22, 2015".

I replied "Yes."
Hahaha "longer"
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Old 3rd January 2020, 02:56 PM   #53
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Originally Posted by plague311 View Post
Hahaha "longer"

Well, I did tell her to let it run overnight and to see if the Progress bar moved. (This was about 6pm). I haven't heard back by 4pm today so maybe it did something.
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Old 3rd January 2020, 05:03 PM   #54
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Originally Posted by alfaniner View Post

Well, I did tell her to let it run overnight and to see if the Progress bar moved. (This was about 6pm). I haven't heard back by 4pm today so maybe it did something.
After leaving it for several days, she'll find a dialog on screen saying "Updates found, do you want to install?"

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Old 4th January 2020, 04:23 AM   #55
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Originally Posted by alfaniner View Post


Well, I did tell her to let it run overnight and to see if the Progress bar moved. (This was about 6pm). I haven't heard back by 4pm today so maybe it did something.
I had something similar with a friend, told them to leave it until the following morning.

They rang me up the next morning and said "Still not working, I did what you said and left it overnight but when I switched it back on this morning it's still saying updating"

I may have had to pay a plasterer to fill in the dents in my wall.
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Old 4th January 2020, 04:38 AM   #56
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
I had something similar with a friend, told them to leave it until the following morning.

They rang me up the next morning and said "Still not working, I did what you said and left it overnight but when I switched it back on this morning it's still saying updating"

I may have had to pay a plasterer to fill in the dents in my wall.
Of course (though you might know for certain), it’s possible that by ‘it’ they meant the screen rather than the whole computer. Confusion about which bits do what, exactly, is only too common.
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Old 4th January 2020, 06:29 AM   #57
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Originally Posted by zooterkin View Post
Of course (though you might know for certain), it’s possible that by ‘it’ they meant the screen rather than the whole computer. Confusion about which bits do what, exactly, is only too common.
Well aware of the "it's not working, there is nothing on the screen" "is it all switched on?" "Yes there's lights flashing and everything" ... several exchanges and then a "would it help if I switched the monitor on?"
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Old 12th January 2020, 11:53 PM   #58
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Old 13th January 2020, 01:18 AM   #59
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A problem from the ages...
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Old 13th January 2020, 02:17 AM   #60
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This thread gives new meaning to the term "parental controls"..
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Old 14th January 2020, 01:26 PM   #61
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I've pretty much abandoned family IT support (a fair bit of connecting to machines in other countries thanks to my friends at Teamviewer) after one too many instances of "did you read the error message before clicking on OK?"
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Old 14th January 2020, 01:39 PM   #62
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A couple of more serious points.

The family support is getting more difficult partly because the technology is getting ever more complicated and partly because the family are getting older. My father, for example, is over 80. He used to run the accounting and IT side of a business that had pretty seriously techie infrastructure, for example implementing and running LANs on Novell Netware 2 and 3, back in the day when a 386 server with 4 megs of RAM was a major bit of kit. But he's been retired 20 years and just doesn't have the exposure to that kind of thing anymore, so when I'm trying to provide support he doesn't have the same grasp and instincts as he used to.

Then on the expectations and communications front: last week I was invited to an introductory session on a new piece of specialised analysis software my employers are considering buying. The vendors gave us an intro and demo and a bunch of guided exercises and I was completely lost. And, and I'm not saying this to boast of my qualities, I have a PhD in Computer Science and 25 years of experience in the field. I just wasn't familiar with a lot of their concepts and what for them was simply click here and click here and drag there was baffling. It was worse than playing computer games with my nephews.
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Old 14th January 2020, 02:15 PM   #63
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Originally Posted by malbui View Post
I've pretty much abandoned family IT support (a fair bit of connecting to machines in other countries thanks to my friends at Teamviewer) after one too many instances of "did you read the error message before clicking on OK?"
Nameless family member: My photos have all gone!

Me: Did it come up with a box asking you if you wanted to delete the photos?

NFM: Yes, but I wasn't sure what to do so I clicked on OK
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Old 14th January 2020, 02:17 PM   #64
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
Nameless family member: My photos have all gone!

Me: Did it come up with a box asking you if you wanted to delete the photos?

NFM: Yes, but I wasn't sure what to do so I clicked on OK
Are we related?
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Old 14th January 2020, 02:39 PM   #65
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Originally Posted by alfaniner View Post
Maybe a Kindle Fire 10? That has enough apps on it that it might be useful for the purpose.
Full disclosure - I mostly use apple stuff. I got a Kindle Fire for cheap just to check it out, and I was shocked at the number of spammy/scammy looking apps in the app store. The apple walled garden seems to have a lot less of that.

Family IT thing now is moving mrs carlito to a password manager. She has lost her apple login twice, and the master password to the password manager once so far. New password is written down "somewhere," I think maybe in the box with the ashes for our old cat.

I see the passwords that she chooses and I just cringe. Adding "2019" because it requires a number causes me to imagine some smartass techie from an old spy / mystery movie hacking into her accounts and commenting on such a thing.
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Old 14th January 2020, 04:18 PM   #66
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
Nameless family member: My photos have all gone!

Me: Did it come up with a box asking you if you wanted to delete the photos?

NFM: Yes, but I wasn't sure what to do so I clicked on OK
Originally Posted by malbui View Post
Are we related?
You can always recover from backup.






Yeah, right.
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Old 14th January 2020, 08:10 PM   #67
grmcdorman
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Originally Posted by Blue Mountain View Post
You can always recover from backup.






Yeah, right.
What is this "backup" thing you speak of?

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Old 14th January 2020, 08:39 PM   #68
alfaniner
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I just disassembled a PS3 to try to find out a problem with the inoperable Blu-Ray drive, thinking it was just clogged with dust or whatever. Now that I have everything back together, the entire system doesn't work. I thought I got everything back in there right. Never mind that I had three screws left over...

I had tried to make a backup before that. Several times, using several different options. All failed for one reason or another. I said, screw it, it's my old PS3 anyway, way out of warranty.

I posted the above on Facebook, hopefully as a warning to family members who expect me to fix every damn thing.
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