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2021-06-20

Intuitive?

tags: grumpy


There is a word, the use of which can get me mad fast.


Intuitive


Ok, since I'm into computing, the context around intuitive most often is something about the steps (clicks, key presses) involved to get something "computy" done.


It is my firm believe, that most of this user interface intuitivity is not more than conditioning.


Or do you honestly think, that "Quit" belongs into a "File" menu? I don't. Apperently we have been conditioned to believe that the "Quit" button should be the last item in the leftmost menu. And yes, that's where I would be looking for it.


But honestly, I try Ctrl-d first. That is the end-of-file marker in unixy systems. And most of the programs I use on the shell are doing the right thing, i.e. exit, even the shell itself. Try Ctrl-d on GUI programs. Firefox wants to save a bookmark. Wutt? Quitting goes with Ctrl-q on some and Ctrl-w on others (e.g. evince). Intuitive, eh?


Another not so intuitive "item" is Ctrl-x for cut, Ctrl-c for copy, Ctrl-v for paste. For me Ctrl-c is "Send this program blocking my shell a kill signal and end it NOW and you better not ask any questions, got it?". In day job I have to use Windows to some extent. But since more than 20 years I actively refuse to mentally rebind Ctrl-c. I use Ctrl-Insert and Shift-Insert instead, if I have to. I do not want to develop the habit of pressing Ctrl-c without thinking, because it might kill my build after 20 minutes (with 3 more minutes to go). So, no. Not intuitively at all.


And another thing that bites me daily: Marking something with the mouse should copy the text into the clipboard without questions. This works on all unixy systems I had the pleasure to use. Not so on Windows. Very intutively, eh? And by the way: text only, no formatting fonts or whatever meta is attached to the text, please! Sigh.



Related, but not the same thing: icons. My vision is fairly ok, but I cannot ever remember, what all these icons are for. Not in programs (I removed it in my emacs configuration), and not on the desktop. Using i3 or sway. I never see the desktop anyway, or the wallpaper, for that matter.



My point is this:


Do not use the word "intuitive" in computing, if you can possibly avoid it. What looks like a no-brainer to one person might be inconceivable to me or someone else. Thank you so much!


And while you are at it, add "simple" and possibly "easy" to the same list. Nothing is simple or easy, if you just have no bloody clue how to go about something.


Oh, and "obvious". As my math professor kept saying "Afterwards, everything is obvious". :-)



Cheers,

~ew



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