Almost Everything on Computers Is Perceptually Slower Than It Was in 1983

Megalith

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In an extensive tweet storm, one user argues that GUI and mouse (which have sidelined keyboard interfaces) have resulted in slower computing. “GUIs are in no way more intuitive than keyboard interfaces… GUIs require you to learn how to use a mouse, how input focus works, how multiple windows work, how modal dialogs work… I believe well-designed keyboard interfaces and well-designed GUI interfaces have exactly the same learning curve.”

The problem is you can't prove that now because we spent the last 25 years teaching people ONLY GUI and mouse. Nobody will agree with me, citing anecdotes and examples that are meaningless in the current zeitgeist. All UIs require a common language. The common language of quality keyboard interfaces was no different than GUIs. People get upset by OPAQUE keyboard interfaces, which I don't disagree with. The POS software I posted earlier is not opaque. Once you understand the basic language of keyboard UI, those textmode interfaces are completely intuitive by the same standards.
 

Sonicks

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Couldn't get through all of that, I gotta admit.

Sounds like the ranting of an old guy unwilling to adjust to change.

I don't disagree with the basic notion of what he's saying but man does he go overboard. I can navigate Windows with mostly a keyboard and it is much faster than utilizing a mouse but hating on maps? Wtf. Somebody crapped in this guy's corn flakes.
 

Grahamkracka

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If what you're doing only requires textual input, sure. Too bad for this guy computing has expanded it's role and interface requirements.

I've had to work with ancient government computer generated hardware models that only used keyboard navigation.... so much so the keystrokes are second nature. A mouse cuts the process of moving things around and making changes to from minutes to seconds....while also reducing the number parameters I have to remember while making such changes.
 

illram

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1_YPaOnkZqqxPwg08Jxa1uyw.png
 

SuperSubZero

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He lost me at the second sentence, because an amber terminal in 1998? Even my small-town local library had a Windows machine in 1998.
 

OutOfPhase

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I understand his point, but he's wrong in most cases. Yes, you can make great and fast character mode apps. You could of course do the same in a GUI, but they are of course not tailored to rely upon "muscle memory" as a design goal. That's kinda the point.

Sit anyone who hasn't used Wordperfect 5, regardless of age, right in front of it and ask them to make something beyond a wall of text.

Now do the same with Word for Windows 1.0. Compare, contrast.
 

Monkey God

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No. I continually try to adopt Linux/Command line ways of working and every time I want to do something new I need spend 30 minutes googling arcane command line entries that usually don't work for one reason or another. I am quite sure that ONCE you have actually learned a significant amount knowledge you can do very well, but I stick with W7/GUI because not only do I know where stuff is I can very quickly with a few clicks get to 99% of what I need to do even if I don't remember exactly where it is. 99% of Windows stuff is available under control panel or Administration. GUI allows you do be functional without having a head full of memorized command line BS. If you want command line, you can use it with old school CMD Prompt or Powershell but very few things rely on only that.

Installing something in Ubuntu for example is 5 paragraphs reading some guys instructions online of updating source URL's and PGP keys and then running apt-get but dont forget sudo and then sorry there was a dependency you missed. This process changes for damn near everything you want. I tried to install Tor/Browser the other day on Ubuntu and finally gave up after an hour. Just not worth it. Took me 3 minutes in W7.

With Windows, I download a file, scan it for viruses, check the file checksum if I am extra paranoid then click it to run it. If I need escalated privileges, the OS asks for permission, it doesn't just error out. ALL of that can be done with the GUI and there's nothing new to learn for each individual app. Done.

Sorry, I don't want to spend a decade memorizing arcane BS that changes continually to get work done, I just want to get work done.
 
D

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power shell exist for a reason.

That said, studies were conducted long ago. People perceived the mouse as more friendly and easier to use even though it took them more time to move the mouse and more steps to complete the same task over keyboard shortcuts.

I keyboard shortcut a lot of stuff in Visual Studio.
 

raz-0

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I started using computers in the late 70s. I started using the internet in 1984. I've programmed character based interfaces using curses. The guy writing this article is an idiot.


TUIs work GREAT for form fills. Absolutely awesome. However, a vast portion of computer usage is not form fills. Word processing, spreadsheets, graphics editing, even the command line for unix. They all have one common issue, and that is the number of actions you can take is VAST and greatly exceeds the amount of input options you have on a keyboard. Give someone a GUI, a mouse, and a common way of formatting interfaces, and they can play and explore and probably figure stuff out. GIve them a command line with a vast array of commands, and well you'll figure out jack and shit without something like man pages. Even then, you need to know about man -k and apropos. And hope your install's man pages aren't a pile of shit.
 

Lenard

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it depends on the task you are trying to perform. Basic Data Entry is 10x faster using a good application with keyboard inputs. Photoshop is considerably less so.
 

Axiomatic

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So my wife's job at HPE, when she was still working there 25 years, was website "usability studies." Would you be interested to know that men generally prefer mouse and GUI (due to our visual nature) while women seem to be more competent with either keyboard commands or mouse + GUI? (making less mistakes driving the UI in either case) This doesn't change this study in any other way than our female friends/spouses are smarter than us knuckle-dragging men. :-P
 

Zarathustra[H]

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He lost me at the second sentence, because an amber terminal in 1998? Even my small-town local library had a Windows machine in 1998.

Depends on the local budget, and what th epriorities of the institution are. Some places didn't replace their ANSI terminals for a long long time. At college at umass some of our libraries still had ANSI terminals in 2003 when I graduated.
 

Zarathustra[H]

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I somewhat agree with this article in a "light" fashion.

It really depends on what you are doing.

There are some things I greatly prefer the terminal for. Setting up and configuring servers is one of those things. Editing a searchable well commented text file with in order to configure server software is MUCH more convenient and quicker than hunting and pecking through multiple tabs in a configuration window looking for that one checkbox to click on.

General desktop use? Not so much. Much prefer the GUI in this setting, but I still resort to the terminal every now and then for certain things. Sometimes it's just faster and more convenient.

My perspective is a "both" perspective, not an either or perspective. I like having a GUI for the things I want a GUI for, while retaining the ability to go to a console when that is more convenient. I feel a little limited when using Windows because the dos command line and powershell both feel limited to me compared to the linux shells I am used to.

It's all application specific.

There are some people who just seem to have irrational fears of the command line, and that is unfortunate.
 

bigdogchris

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Where I work some of the people use a keyboard only interface application and they fly through it. Way faster than if they had a mouse version.
 

Frito11

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where i work i used to do order entry, we switched over from a terminal system to microsoft dynamics ax a few years ago. i'm glad i don't do order entry anymore because it was way faster and easier with a terminal program and keyboard than it is now being all windows based.
The only advantage in data entry to GUI based is the learning curve is shorter but for people that knew every code and keystroke by heart it's way way faster to use keyboard only entry systems.
 

ir0nw0lf

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OOO, that person was trying to impress by tossing "zeitgeist" into all that. o_O
 

shspvr

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He lost me at the second sentence, because an amber terminal in 1998? Even my small-town local library had a Windows machine in 1998.
Dude where you been? as for green, amber, white all petty much just monochrome display have been around for year well on in to 2010's hell min device still used this type of display
 

dgingeri

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I remember back, early in my career, when working for Merrill Lynch, who, at the time, still had an AS/400 for their customer information system. It would take half an hour to create a user account because of having to hit certain keys and wait for several minutes for the AS/400 to respond, all on green screen terminals or terminal emulators on a PC. Around the same time period, I was working on DOS 6.22 user machines, and some programs would take several minutes to come up.

No, command line is not faster. Having to remember the syntax of the commands to construct commands to make the machine do what you want it to do was/is time consuming and a pain in the butt. This guy is SO wrong.
 

travisty

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No. I continually try to adopt Linux/Command line ways of working and every time I want to do something new I need spend 30 minutes googling arcane command line entries that usually don't work for one reason or another. I am quite sure that ONCE you have actually learned a significant amount knowledge you can do very well, but I stick with W7/GUI because not only do I know where stuff is I can very quickly with a few clicks get to 99% of what I need to do even if I don't remember exactly where it is. 99% of Windows stuff is available under control panel or Administration. GUI allows you do be functional without having a head full of memorized command line BS. If you want command line, you can use it with old school CMD Prompt or Powershell but very few things rely on only that.

Installing something in Ubuntu for example is 5 paragraphs reading some guys instructions online of updating source URL's and PGP keys and then running apt-get but dont forget sudo and then sorry there was a dependency you missed. This process changes for damn near everything you want. I tried to install Tor/Browser the other day on Ubuntu and finally gave up after an hour. Just not worth it. Took me 3 minutes in W7.

With Windows, I download a file, scan it for viruses, check the file checksum if I am extra paranoid then click it to run it. If I need escalated privileges, the OS asks for permission, it doesn't just error out. ALL of that can be done with the GUI and there's nothing new to learn for each individual app. Done.

Sorry, I don't want to spend a decade memorizing arcane BS that changes continually to get work done, I just want to get work done.

Just quoting this as it's everything i would have said.

I've seen people programming away in VI proclaiming it superior to IDEs. Yeah come back to me when you have all the debug info that an IDE does in that same window... heck it can't even mark incorrect code in any meaningful way until compile time - outside of VI :rolleyes:

There's a reason GUIs are everywhere now - they're easier. Can you do more with command line? Sure. For the other 99% of things give me a GUI.
 

Jovian

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No, command line is not faster. Having to remember the syntax of the commands to construct commands to make the machine do what you want it to do was/is time consuming and a pain in the butt. This guy is SO wrong.

This is the reason I side with GUI being easier and faster for those starting out. Once proficient in what ever you need to do in command line only then is it faster.
 

ChadD

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I don't disagree with this guy really. It would be wonderful to see a real text based GUI developed at a high level.

Linux is great for allowing you to run different GUI DEs... or things like Open box. You can get close if you hack a bunch of stuff together. Still its not a polished experience. A simple keyboard gui where one could multi task / select files / launch programs could be just as easy as mouse input and be much more reliable and fast. I swear todays computers really don't feel any faster then machines I used in the 80s... there just "prettier" while taking the same amount of time it seems.
 

dgingeri

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This is the reason I side with GUI being easier and faster for those starting out. Once proficient in what ever you need to do in command line only then is it faster.
I've been a systems admin for 7 years and in IT support for 20. The GUI is still faster than command line in everything I do. I'm quite proficient in many aspects of Windows, and powershell and command line really, really suck at doing most everything. I use it for ping, tracert, and nslookup, and that is about it.
 

DocNo

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Watching people with "upgraded" cash registers from the traditional vendors have to navigate a GUI is always amusing. I can remember when we migrated from a green screen COBOL based financial system to SAP - that was a cluster. Yes, it took a few years to be proficient, but man could you move through the character based app. SAP? Was a mouse click hell with no keyboard shortcuts for several critical functions.

Not a GUI vs. CLI issue as much as a poorly designed GUI app. Which I think is probably the real problem here - developers with GUI apps that don't bother to enable the same kinds of usability you could obtain through muscle memory and the efficiency of never having to take your hands off the keyboard with pure CLI apps. Theoretically you can have a GUI app that is also as efficient as a CLI only app (BBedit is one that comes to mind) but they are pretty damn rare.
 

steakman1971

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The best thing about a gui is I can launch multiple terminal screens that lets me access shell. I also use vi every day.
I get the point of the article. GUI's don't necessarily make things easier or faster - a poorly designed GUI can be a nightmare to navigate. If you want to use a scripting language, command line tools are usually the only way to go.
I find tools like sed, awk, grep to be very powerful. I can do a lot with a very few commands. Will admit the learning curve to these tools isn't necessarily easy...however, not everyone needs to use them.
 

defaultluser

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If what you're doing only requires textual input, sure. Too bad for this guy computing has expanded it's role and interface requirements.

I've had to work with ancient government computer generated hardware models that only used keyboard navigation.... so much so the keystrokes are second nature. A mouse cuts the process of moving things around and making changes to from minutes to seconds....while also reducing the number parameters I have to remember while making such changes.

Yeah, this guy forgets what a pain in the ass it was to Edit documents before the GUI and WYSIWYG. OR copying the contents of a document from ONE EDITOR TO ANOTHER.

You can still use the tab key to tab through multiple fields on most web pages or Windows applications, if you're doing basic data entry. The GUI hasn't erased that innovation.

But for the most part we've graduated from the days of basic data entry on computers, because much of that is automated. So now we must do much more complex operations on that data, and the GUI makes more sense for that.
 

Jagger100

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He lost me at the second sentence, because an amber terminal in 1998? Even my small-town local library had a Windows machine in 1998.
You identified the problem. Windows it is poor GUI implementation. Who thinks after I start typing if the mouse slips a few pixels out of the 'box' I don't want to finish inputting my text. There use to be settings for this.
 

cyclone3d

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I remember back in the TUI days when I would type and then have to wait for the characters to show up on the screen. Same for Windows 3.0 and 3.1.

Slower now.. yeah right.

As for the interface being better one way or the other - that is completely application dependent. Most text interfaces suck AND most GUI interfaces suck. It is like the programmer just put everything wherever they wanted and since they programmed it they knew where stuff was and didn't think even once about how horrible the interface was for everybody else.
 

Dman014

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I do have to say it has gotten annoying in the network world with the drive to GUI config. Some things that used to be quick commands to type now you go to a web page wait for it to load type something wait for it to load. Luckily most devices have options for both GUI and CLI still.
 

Seventyfive

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Maybe this is why Bloomberg still looks like a DOS program. And this whole time I thought it was because they're cheap as shit and just milking us with their exorbitant fees.

EdF-trade-1.png
 

defaultluser

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You identified the problem. Windows it is poor GUI implementation. Who thinks after I start typing if the mouse slips a few pixels out of the 'box' I don't want to finish inputting my text. There use to be settings for this.

You're thinking of Unix.

Windows keeps focus on where you last put the cursor, even when you move the mouse.

I just typed this response while running my mouse over several different Windows applications and roll-over previews from the task bar. Windows doesn't lose focus unless you click or alt-tab.
 
D

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“GUIs are in no way more intuitive than keyboard interfaces…

So that guy just popped out of his Mom's womb one day and automagically knew how to do everything with a keyboard in hand. He was able to use the keyboard (I mean really, the spacing of the keys vs his tiny fingers, get the fuck out, his typing speed was probably 1 wpm that's 1 word per month) with his toys with the command line, instructing them on how move and provide visual cues for his still developing eyes to learn from, right?

Contrast that with his natural awareness of seeing something, firing off some brain cells to learn coordination between the visual and the physical, those brain cells firing more instructing the muscles that are still developing to move the arm and hand towards whatever is being seen and then - gasp! - touching it physically.

Maybe this is some Benjamin Button kinda thing and this idiot is just aging backwards or something, I have no idea, but it was a good laugh to read. Visual and physical interfaces are what Humans work best with since that's how we comprehend and interact with our physical world around us at any given moment in time. To suggest otherwise is basically being ridiculous on most every level that matters.

Maybe this is why Bloomberg still looks like a DOS program. And this whole time I thought it was because they're cheap as shit and just milking us with their exorbitant fees.

The reason that still looks like that is because the output of information with basic textual representation has nothing to do with the input of it. The most efficient way to display mass amounts of a variety of information is still "basic text" on a display of any kind whether it's a page of paper or a "computer" display/monitor.
 

BinarySynapse

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So my wife's job at HPE, when she was still working there 25 years, was website "usability studies." Would you be interested to know that men generally prefer mouse and GUI (due to our visual nature) while women seem to be more competent with either keyboard commands or mouse + GUI? (making less mistakes driving the UI in either case) This doesn't change this study in any other way than our female friends/spouses are smarter than us knuckle-dragging men. :-P

I wonder if the woman who berated me for not using keyboard shortcuts in Excel on a Skype conference call was your wife. (I worked for HPE up until last March).
 

Pyro411

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Yikes that article was TL;DR

I'm guessing it can be boiled down to 2 things that he's writing about... Code Bloat & Feature Creep?
 

Zarathustra[H]

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No, command line is not faster. Having to remember the syntax of the commands to construct commands to make the machine do what you want it to do was/is time consuming and a pain in the butt. This guy is SO wrong.


I disagree. In most cases a -h or --help switch lists all your options. No need to remember lists of stuff, but when you do you get even faster.

It is true that there is a learning curve, and only once that learning curve is overcome does one become faster, but the point the author made is that GUI systems have a learning curve too.

I remember my mom trying to use a mouse for the first time back in the 90's. It was fairly amusing watching her aim and miss the buttons she was going for.

The point the author is making is that mice and pointers are more intuitive to us, only because most of us have already been forced to overcome that learning curve, whereas most People aren't forced to overcome the text interface learning curve, and thus many have an irrational fear of it.

As humans we have pretty well developed brains for navigating 2d and 3d Space, but the fact remains that the more you minimise searching, navigating, aiming and clicking, the less time a task takes. The fewer degrees of freedom a task requires us to compute, a smaller slice of our brain is needed to process the task.

As mentioned before, there are tasks that a GUI is better for as well. Notably most desktop applications, but IMHO setting up and managing servers, and inventory control and POS systems like the author mentions are areas where a terminal interface is undoubtedly more efficient.
 

joseardzm

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I get his point, there are some very advanced systems or software doing things that are very basic and that an older computer could to faster.
 

dgingeri

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I wonder if the woman who berated me for not using keyboard shortcuts in Excel on a Skype conference call was your wife. (I worked for HPE up until last March).
There are keyboard shortcuts in Excel?
 
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