good products vs. consumers who do not know how to use them

by Forrest Sheng Bao

"Where does the pipe come from? " - Giselle in Enchanted, 2007

"UNIX is user-friendly. It's just picky who there friends are." - Anonymous

I bought an Apple Mighty Mouse few days ago. After bringing it home, I plugged it into my Linux desktop. But, soon, I found a problem. The right-click was recognized as left-click and the menu popped up. The "error rate" is around 30%. So it was very annoying. I got to click the right side of the mouse shell one or two more times if such case happened.

I was very angry. Why would Apple built such an "ambiguous" product to torture Mac users? I complained to my roommate; This mouse have design flaw. I thought there are two pressure sensor under the mouse shell, each one on each side. I tried to press the mouse toward the right-click direction. But the problem was still there.

In despair, I did some Google search and I was led to Apple's official page about the design to this mouse. Then I found this sentence: "Capacitive sensors under Mighty Mouse’s seamless top shell detect where your fingers are and predict your clicking intentions, so you don’t need two buttons — just two fingers."

Bingo! The trouble I had was because of my bad habit on using mice - I liked to put both index and middle fingers on the mouse buttons, which are replaced by one shell in Apple mouse. The Mighty mouse does not determine the clicking side by pressure but the location of my finger. Since I like putting two fingers on the mouse (it has no problem to traditional two-button mice), the Mighty mouse sensor cannot the side I am pressing. So if I only keep one finger on the shell, the problem could be solved. So I did a test. Aw! No problem any more.

So, I would suggest Apple put this sentence on their mouse manual: Only keep one finger on the mouse shell for left- or right-click for the mouse is touch-sensitive rather than pressure-sensitive.

Ok, let us dig down a bit. In this incident, is it because of the design defects of Apple Mighty Mouse? Is it due to me? Of course not. Apple stuffs are over-revolutionary that I don't know how to use them - shame on me, who is of computer science and electrical engineering dual-degree major. In industries, we have had many cases that a good idea cannot conquer the market because consumers are lack of the knowledge on how to use them. I think even Apple should look backward and ask themselves why they can't win Microsoft.

Let us take a look at our star, Linux. For quite a long time, geeks only care about how to make things done in an efficient or powerful way. But, it requires users to have some knowledge. For instance, geeks like to use the shell, the command line interface, or easier, the interface like the old DOS. Let's make the case more complex that geeks like to use pipe and output redirection on the shell. Wow! My grandma would ask me "where does the pipe come from?" In this case, Linux is facing a consumer that does not know how to use it.

So we cannot always *boast* how stable, fast, powerful, efficient, fancy, cool, sci-fi (and blah blah blah) Linux is. The Windows user would just ask you one question: "How to use it in five minutes?" A mouse-click on an English menu without beating around the bush would be much easier than a line of command on the shell, though shell is very powerful. I agree with current philosophy of Ubuntu Linux development team. Ubuntu is a "Linux for human beings". So we should make grandmas be able to use it without going to college for a bachelor degree in engineering. If a user does not know how to use your products, all your lofting ideas are useless.

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