General Question

flo's avatar

What are the appropriate words for these definitions?

Asked by flo (7793 points ) June 22nd, 2011

1)) ease of use, comprehensibility of the interface, comprehensiveness of functionalities, streamlining of the options. Radically clutters up the code and makes it much more error prone.

2)probability of the program not crashing while you’re working. Needs as little errors as possible, hence needs more streamlined code. Further proof of this is that server programs generally don’t come with a graphical interface, because they need to be always up and working with as little maintenance as possible.

The reason I’m asking is, I wrote in a thread: “Doesn’t reliabilty increase usability? I mean if people find something unreliable they would be less inlcined to want to use it, no?” I got the answer “no”.

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16 Answers

koanhead's avatar

In 1) I think you are talking about “bloat” or “feature creep”. It’s a bit hard to tell because of the way the question is phrased.

In 2) I think you are talking about “robustness”. This has little to do with interfaces and more to do with modularity.

Most server programs do, in fact, have one or more graphical interface available. The difference is that these interfaces (called “frontends”) are usually separate from the program itself, which can quite happily operate without them.
Server programs are very much about interfaces- but interfaces between programs, not between a program and a person.

flo's avatar

@koanhead Re.the definitions, I should have put them in quotation marks, since they were given to me as explanations to my “Doesn’t reliabilty increase usability?”
“No it does not.“Usabilty means…Reliabilty means…
I’ll provide the Permalink:
Here

Zaku's avatar

“1)) ease of use, streamlining of the options.” = USABILITY
1b) “comprehensibility of the interface, comprehensiveness of functionalities” = COMPREHENSIVENESS or FUNCTIONALITY or FEATURES

“Radically clutters up the code and makes it much more error prone.” = CODE CLUTTER or SLOPPILY-IMPLEMENTED AFTERTHOUGHTS

“2)probability of the program not crashing while you’re working.” = RELIABILITY or I like to call it “BUGLESSNESS”

“Needs as little errors as possible, hence needs more streamlined code.” = ONE THEORY OF BEST CODING STRATEGY

“Further proof of this is that server programs generally don’t come with a graphical interface, because they need to be always up and working with as little maintenance as possible.” = A PESSIMISTIC NOTION THAT UI FEATURES NECESSARILY LEAD TO BUGS

Zaku's avatar

The person you were writing to, seems to have been using his own meaning for “usability”, which to him is about adding features for users, which he associates with bugs. Reliability does not increase such features, and buggy features especially don’t go hand-in-hand with lack of bugs. Sounds like he may have been traumatized in the past by bad experiences.

However if one just means by “usability” that the software is more usable, surely a more reliable program, is more usable that the same program with less reliability, and vice versa. If that is the only change.

koanhead's avatar

@flo That’s all very well, but I’ve no intention in engaging either you or Thammuz in an argument over computer science definitions.
@Zaku has pretty much the right idea so far as I can tell.

Do you have some reason for asking about these things other than as ammunition for an argument on the internet?

jerv's avatar

I believe that the first is probably Rococo when all of those things are true. That said, it is possible to increase useability and reliability at the same time in the same piece of software; you can streamline it, and make it easier to use without creating bugs…. unless the code has hit critical mass or was just hammer-fucked from the beginning as many claim Windoze is.

As for the other, I have to reply Mu

Usability and reliability are largely but not entirely independent of each other; while increasing reliability usually increases useability, the reverse is not necessarily true.

But the most relevant point here is @koanhead‘s parting shot, and given my experiences with Thammuz, it really isn’t worth it. Not a bad guy overall, but also one of the few people I know who can compete with @koanhead for stubbornness.

flo's avatar

@koanhead No, I had/have no intention of taking it and using it as an ammunition. My interest is to just remove the confusion from my head. To me, a lay person, reliabilty increases usabilty, whether it quilting equipments or anything else. Those two words sound general terms to my ears.
@Zaku‘s _“surely a more reliable program, is more usable that the same program with less reliability, and vice versa. If that is the only change.“_makes sense.

koanhead's avatar

It turns out there’s a wikipedia page on Usability which is somewhat enlightening.

flo's avatar

@koanhead Yes. I wish they would make computers for the rest of us. Those of us who just want to tell the computer what we want to do and it does it.

For example If an employer is answering a rquestion about an employee “Is she reliable?” She is going to answer: “In puntuality, yes very reliable, but in using the equipments safely not at all.

Buglessness, Crash-free-ness sound closer to the “probability of the program not crashing while you’re working” I’m just guessing.

flo's avatar

Buglessness as per the suggestion of @Zaku

koanhead's avatar

@flo People are trying to make computers as easy and intuitive to use as possible, and have been for several decades now. Please believe me when I say I understand your frustration and I am sympathetic to your desires.

However, a computer is just a framework; any given program is still just a machine. What you are asking for is either magic or human intervention. While it may be possible that a computer program can exhibit that level of intuition and conversance, it’s not near by any means.

I recommend to you this book and this blog post both of which summarize the problems involved. I also encourage you to complain to the vendors of the software you use and have problems with. These vendors pay people like me good money to hear your complaints. They need and want to hear from you, even if they may not enjoy it very much.

If you are a user of Free / Libre / open-source software, then you should also let your feelings and problems be known- but you might wish to be a little less harsh with those folk (or not, as you see fit) since the developers and the people answering your questions are all volunteers. ESR has written a handy and insightful guide to communicating with these types.

And of course you may always come to me with assistance in these matters- but I’m not the guy who can fix the bugs in the software you use.

flo's avatar

@koanhead I thank you so much. But I think I’m making it sound like I am a computer user without meaning to. Even what is considered the most basic is much for me. See, that is problem. Thanks for the recommmendation of the bookand blogpost.

koanhead's avatar

@flo You are a computer user: surely you are not using Fluther by telegraph!

But using a computer is like driving a car. The operator has a responsibility to have a basic level of competence, without which accidents can happen. If the car manufacturer has done a poor job in building the car, the buyer has a right, perhaps even a responsibility, to complain about it and seek a refund or repair.

flo's avatar

@koanhead I mean am a very minimal user of the computer it gives me more work. So, my brain is not meant for it is what I meant.

jerv's avatar

@koanhead I am reminded of the story abou thte guy who set the cruise control on his RV, went into the back to grab a beverage, and then sued because he got into an accident. There are things that you and I consider common sense, but apparently aren’t.

Many a netbook was returned because people didn’t bother to read the box and see that the reason it was cheaper then the otherwise identical one next to it on the shelf was that it had Linux instead of Windows, and more were returned because people couldn’t figure Linux out merely because it looks different. Even a few seconds worth f due diligence or the faintest glimmer of literacy would’ve avoided that issue. Hell, one of the Windoze boxes I repaired fairly recently caused a problem because I removed the IE icon from the desktop and installed Firefox. While the system owner was cool with it, his wife freaked out and didn’t understand that it connected to the same internet!

The catch is to where to draw the line between the makers responsibility to make good products and the user’s responsibility to be competent. And considering some of the stuff you and I have seen, I am inclined to believe that things are better made than some people think, they merely don’t want to learn. I mean, whose fault is it if a cellphone gets ruined because you put it through the laundry? Some would say the makers should make them waterproof.

@flo My experience is that people who can’t learn computers often have other deficits that interfere with their lives. Are you able to cook? Can you even use silverware safely? How about tying your own shoes? My wife is far from tech-savvy, and her eyes have glazed over just about every time @koanhead and I “talk shop”, but even she has learned computers well enough to avoid many of the problems I’ve seen on other people’s computers merely by having common sense.
If you are the type of person who folds or hangs their clean laundry instead of throwing it into a pile on the floor and/or put dishes away instead or strewing them around the kitchen then you already know why defragging your hard drive is important.
If you are not the type of person who hands out copies of your car and house keys and your credit cards to random people on the street, you already know the importance of setting your wireless router to use WPA encryption.
If you are the type of person who waits until someone you dislike is not within earshot (as opposed to badmouthing them right in front of their face), you already know why there are certain things you don’t want to say in your Facebook status updates. People have been fired and/or divorced for forgetting that!
You already know more than you think you know :)

flo's avatar

So much lead.

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