Multiple Windows Explorer in Windows 7

Pain!

Anyway, when I open two Windows Explorer, isn’t it understood that I need to do some comparison?

Why does it actually open up another Windows Explorer? It should just open up another column to move/compare the files, isn’t it?

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Simultilinguality

We have software.

We have many human languages.

We have Unicode.

We can install various software in various languages.

We can start an OS in a particular human language – but can’t change the human language of the computer in-between?

I work with people speaking multiple languages. I need such stuff. Sometime working with my one friend and needing Hindi, another time, another friend and needing Kannada, yet another time, Chinese.

Why can’t we come up with a standard protocol of “Simultaneous Multi-linguality” or “Simultilinguality”?

Do you want to help us enhance the product experience?

A lot of software nowadays ask this question. They collect anonymous crash reports and send it to the developer.

There are two other ways I can think user experience can be enhanced.

One I discussed in previous post titled “One Way Help“. If automatic crash logger sends Severity 1 issues, such an “Inverse Help” may send in Severity 2, 3 and 4 bugs.

The other idea is about the GUI layout. Outlook is the worst example of organizing menus. Just try to “Search” for the “Search”!

I don’t know what experts of GUI design say. I can see menu organization as a learning exercise. When I say “learning”, I mean “machine learning”.

A Hidden Markov Model or an Artificial Neural Network that learns the sequence of GUI controls pressed can get a gist of how the software is “controlled”.

Such learning can periodically and with explicit permission of the user, be sent to the software developer for realignment of frequently used GUI controls.

Based on various conventions (like “the top 10 controls should become buttons”) next version of the software can become very user friendly.

What do you say?

One Way Help

If readers of this blog remember, we had discussed about one ignored part of normal menus in applications – “Open/Save/Save as/Move to“.

Today, I was talking to one of my friends in marketing and I remembered my earlier wonder about why another part of UI is so much ignored.

That is “Help” menu!

Frankly, I think this is the LAST menu in the list of love of software developers. I am not sure whether the history of “Help” menu would go much deeper in time.

Typically such help is directed from the developer to the user. I will call it “One Way Help” – from developers to the users.

Ironically, users somehow live with the product. It is developers who need more help from users! Here is how.

If you are marketing a software, your biggest problem is “What do my customers want?”. [Even if you are doing FOSS, you still need to market your software.]

I have seen only Mozilla Firefox coming nearer to seeking a feedback through Help menu. That too is so buried and difficult to use, I wonder whether “its potential is realized” (that is “anyone uses it at all”).

****

These days word “Help” is substituted by a “?”.

In my humble opinion, bigger “!”  menu should be displayed beside it. Clicking on it should lead to a very user friendly plug-in to register feedback – complaints and more valuable, suggestions.

That will answer “What do my customers want?” straight from the horse’s mouse. [No typo.]

How could it be very user friendly?

Say you clicked on the “!”. This should

  1. Open a screen snapshot similar to “Print Preview” but removing all the text and selections and
  2. Open a comment box near each screen control for user to comment
  3. It should also allow drawing arrows between controls
  4. The user then enters entire problem or suggestion and then hits a “Submit” button
  5. On the lines with the crash reporter, such a closure should post the form to the website of the software

There could be a bunch of marketing objections to such an idea:

  • How to avoid duplications? We are already flooded with requests! [So I will throw the baby out with the bathwater.]
  • What guarantees that such an implementation will result in more business? [So the ostrich algorithm is the best one.]
  • None does that! [So, none needs it. The cart before the horse will run faster because it is already ahead.]
  • Customer needs are so different, we will have conflicting suggestions. [I can prove it without facilitating.]
  • It is just a UI! [ The best marketing strategy ignores the first word of what UI stands for.]
  • It may yield only to a better horse carriage, not to a car. [This is a golden argument, provided your next product is going to make such a change.]
  • It is useless! [So is the crash reporter.]

What do you think is the real reason?

Why doesn’t FOSS community adopt this approach universally? They NEED to improve usability. Can’t someone come up with libraries to achieve this?

File “Open”, “Save”, “Save as”, “Move to” – What an apathy!

I hate to write this!

Just go and open the File menu of your favorite application.

I want to draw your attention to two sections – one highly commercialized and innovation driven – and another wanting for attention.

The darling one is “Print Settings”, “Print” and “Print Preview”. Printer companies and EFI are making tons of money serving these options. A lot of innovation is being poured in.

The ignored one is “New”, “Open”, “Save”, “Save as” (and “Move to” in case of a mail client) section. It simply throws file browser / Windows Explorer.

Whatever innovation the Windowing system does in its file browser, is the ONLY innovation you have seen so far.

Usually it throws you to a default location that the programmer of the application software thought was fit.

For example, my MS Word forces default on me in “My Documents”. Now, that is pure absurdity. None in her/his right mind will keep any data in C:/ drive – much less in “My Documents”. What  useless default location!

A very careful observer might have noticed Windows 7 File Browser has imported “History” and “Favorites” concepts from Internet Browsers. It requires curiosity of a kindergarten kid to use the interface – and to add further, there is no way a user can declare some folder his/her favorite. Why can’t a red heart or a star for marking a location favorite be always displayed in the location bar – like Firefox?

I have seen such things happen when a designer works for bonus rather than for the love of product.

Why can’t multiple location list pop up in file browser each with one of the following? The user can then select it through a radio button – and drop down lists, if at all needed?

  1. History of THIS application for this user
  2. History of ALL applications for this user
  3. Favorites of THIS application for this user
  4. Favorites of ALL applications for this user
  5. What locations other applications are using for this session (“Environmentally aware”) for this user
  6. Default

Readers, do you have any other suggestions that we can add in our wish list?

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Hide unused icons? Yes, but do more please!

Every now and then Windows asks me “Do you want to clean up unused icons?”

Good feature. Say “yes” and unused icons clean up from the desktop. It tidies up the desktop.

What about the reverse feature? “Do you want to add frequently used icons on desktop?”

That would enhance user experience in equally great way!