A thought on Jono’s Menu Discoverability in Ubuntu 11.10

Jono writes on his blog:

My thesis as to why is pretty simple: people learn by exploration. Let’s do a quick exercise. Write down on a piece of paper the last three devices that you purchased. They might televisions, cell phones, kitchen appliances, games consoles, or whatever else. Every one of these devices comes with it’s own interface to operate it. Now, how many of those devices did you sit down and read the instructions for? I am willing to bet it was close to none.

You learned those devices by poking around, trying things out, clicking, pressing, pushing, and otherwise playing with and exploring it. Many of these devices will have had entirely new interfaces to you which you had not used before, yet you figured them out. Some elements of the interfaces will have been obvious (e.g. buttons protruded to indicate that they can be pressed) and some elements less-so.

Now, I don’t disagree with Jono, but I can see how confusing it could be for a new user to not have the close, minimize and maximize buttons up on the top where they are visible.  I was not taken by surprise when I upgraded the netbook, since I new the change was coming.  I can see that if someone wasn’t expecting the change, they’d have a problem, but the new interface isn’t really that different from the old interface.

I got to know Ubuntu by playing with it.  Matter-of-fact, I just installed Ubuntu to a friend’s laptop; I’m hoping she will play with it and learn how things are done.  I think the interface is pretty easy to use, and I hope she will as well.

This experiment would prove to me that anyone can use Ubuntu.  She’s not a computer whiz at all, but I think trying a different OS will help her overcome her fear of “breaking” something.  Seriously; I’ve set up her laptop wtih all the programs she needs, and she can easily find other programs in the software center… Updates won’t be a problem, since I’ve set up her password and automatic updates.

We’ll see.  This project just came into my hands because she hated Vista and I can’t see making her drop $200 for Win7, especially if she just uses email and browsing and some light games.  This way she won’t be stuck with a virus or something.

Yay for spreading the open-source love.



2 thoughts on “A thought on Jono’s Menu Discoverability in Ubuntu 11.10”

  1. Ubuntu is awesome. I think something that may deter new, non-power users is probably the lack of common codecs. I get that Canonical is avoiding license fees and promoting open-source alternatives. It’s just a shame that a lot of newbies won’t bother looking for ubuntu-restricted-extras. Good thing there are people like us that offer friends free tech support.

  2. The thing is, you can install the common codecs during the installation process (there’s a checkbox down at the bottom when you choose your options for install, I think). This is generally enough, but I’ve noticed that when I try to rip CDs and I don’t have the needed codecs, Banshee will open up software center and tell me exactly what is needed.So different from when I was first playing with Ubuntu! I remember having to remember strange package names and all sorts of other stuff when I installed; that’s not the case. And there are some really nice tutorials for libdvdcss2 out there, and it’s easy to install the .sh and run the command.Then again, I have no problem running commands in the terminal. I know some people do, but if I’m having them try out Ubuntu, I try to have all that stuff set for them before they even touch the computer.

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