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Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Smart Applications & Stupid Mode

Sean Mcgrath points out that If software applications were people, they would be very hard to deal with. Just as any human help trying to act without thinking gets in the way and slows down, many applications are like that. Software is well intentioned but very, very dumb. These two traits combined can spell exasperation for end-users.
Mcgrath is spot on when he writes that the average computer is brim full of well intentioned applications. However, they do not know the overall context of what you are trying to achieve. They do not see any bigger picture. Their well-meaning help can end up being more hindrance than help. If you had a room of people that behaved as described here, how would you orchestrate them to get a complex task completed? You would tell them all to do exactly what you say and no more. You would explain that in order to coordinate the overall activity you need to be clear on exactly what everybody is doing. No well meaning "helpful" extras please. What about software applications? Can we take the same tack with them? Unfortunately no. Many applications have "helpful" behavior hard wired into them. It is often simply not possible to put a "smart" application into "stupid" mode to simplify coordinating its activity with other similar applications. A useful ticklist items when evaluating an application could be how comprehensively one can switch off its well meaning but sometimes counter-productive "helpful" behavior. The ideal operating system has the concept of "smart stupidity". All applications that run on this operating system implement the "no-smart" option .I have always found the help to be a tad nuisance - that includes the microsoft online help - which says more often than not that a possible cause for failure could be due to some device drivers installed before..

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Sadagopan's Weblog on Emerging Technologies, Trends,Thoughts, Ideas & Cyberworld
"All views expressed are my personal views are not related in any way to my employer"