Using a Computer is like Driving a Car

May 20, 2009 at 11:52 pm

I just ran into a situation that reminded me what some people want to do with Linux.  My example is cars.  Recently, we’ve begun to have trouble with our 6 year old van.  The Power Steering seems to be cutting in and out as is the AC.  I think this is a serpentine belt going out, but while driving back from Church, the scary thing happened and the check engine and the oil light came on simultaneously for a second or two then went out.  Everything was running ok except the aforementioned steering issue.  As I went home, the temp shot up to H after sitting at a light which I theorize could possibly be related to issue with the belt.  However, when I did get home and checked the oil, the dipstick was WAY low.  So, I went and got some oil and put it in and that made me think…why ISN’T there a gage to warn us before the red light goes on?  This is what users want from their computers whether it runs Linux or not.

Windows users, like my wife, want everything to be automatic.  Linux users after they are acclimated, generally accept what they have to do to run a Linux system.  However, thanks to Ubuntu making great strides in usability, now the Linux world is being invaded by people like my wife who want the computer to be an appliance.  They want it to do what they want it to do when they want to do it and they don’t care about the details that it takes to do it.

Windows and Mac OS X have been exposed to this for a while now.  Linux has only recently been open to this kind of an audience.  In fact, Linux already gets some things right by default, but not all.  Somethings are already better than the way Windows handles things.  Alot of things are not (Linux zealots hold your thoughts).

What I want to say is this a right kind of opinion?

Mechanics tell you you must do a oil change and must check the belts and transmission fluid and all sorts of things and still there are people who don’t do this and they get zapped.  This happened to us today.  How much would a car cost with all the intelligence it needs to tell us when to put new oil in or when it’s low?  How about when your shocks need changed before they fail?  What about a digitized indicator for brake wear??  What about all of these?  Cars would cost much higher than they do now.  Car companies are already having problems largely of their own doing, but I can’t discount all of the carbon emission stuff that’s being bandied about.  All of this emission control does cost car companies something.

On a computer running Windows, you must install antivirus programs and malware scanners at a minimum, but what if they had a process that would automatically copy from a CD to your cellphone and tag the songs correctly for each and every cell phone model and playing software out there.  Can’t do it and even if you did hit a majority 0f the phones, someone make end up liking some obscure peace of crap from 5 years ago and still want to use it with their PC.  Event then, there is more obscure stuff out there that isn’t supported because it’s old.

With Linux, it’s even worse because some manufacturers won’t provide a drawing or schematic or whatever details the developer may need to write a driver.  This makes supporting every single piece of hardware a impossibility and also makes this kind of “appliance software” a impossibility

A car has certain maintenance.  A computer, Windows or Linux based have thier own idiosyncratic things.  Until we realize this at some point, we will have unexpected behaviors.

What do you think?  Should cars or computers be more complicated by being less complicated to use?  Should Ubuntu keep putting effort into making it easier to use?

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