Thursday, October 13, 2005

Computer Software.

Do you ever have problems using computer software? Not me. I find that at this point in software's evolution, it has generally been through a rigorous QA/usability evaluation, and if the user will simply take the calm, sober, and SINCERE time to assess the product's purposes and limitations, all will be well. I am sick to death of overhearing nitwits whining about the latest version of this-or-that, either in public or on the various usability boards I peruse.

Take this morning, for example. I was having an Espresso at Greg's Uptown Diner, trying to shake off the sleepies after a late, frenzied night on the History channel messageboards, when in wandered a couple of crisply-dressed, sharply-coiffed executive women. Each wore a cellular telephone on her belt, and expensive jewelry. To my amusement, they sat at the table next to mine and began to chatter this way and that about FormatMaker 7, a freeware spreadsheet program in which I am especially well-versed.

Most FM7 newbies will first have trouble with the GUI, which does not waste screen real estate on graphical icons, and instead has a row of numbers, representing command categories, which, when moused over while pressing Shift, drop down into sub-command columns, represented by single letters. One can blitz through this program using keyboard-based power-shortkeycuts. If you want visual proof, I have several .avi files of me doing just that, available via my members-only ftp site.

Apparently their CTO was trying to save the company money by using freeware, (smart move, definitely) but his users (these two nincompoops, for example) were simply unwilling to spend even one hour familiarizing themselves with the software they would more than likely be using for the rest of their lives. Imagine a Colonial wheelwright who refused to learn the settings of his lathe, or an ancient Greek baker who simply would not let other bakers tell him the ingredients of bread. Ludicrous.

Espresso is, fortunately, a small drink, so I was able to finish on my own time and leave before I had to sit through any more gut-wrenching, ignorant disparaging of this brilliant program. ("Where's the SAVE button?" "How do you freaking PRINT?" "How come I have to launch it from the COMMAND LINE?!" Boo-hoo-tardoo and good riddance to you!)