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TSE  June 2001

TSE June 2001

Subject:

RE: Sequence vs depth

From:

"Arwin van Arum" <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 10 Jun 2001 19:17:59 +0200

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  "customers." How stupid, for example, to make computer screens wider than
  they are long, when we write on paper that's longer than it is wide!

There are displays which are A4 or letter-sized and portrait positioned.
However, don't forget that your vision provides a widescreen rather than a
portrait perspective. Your desk, too, is more often broad rather than deep.
Especially with Windows, you are free to use any part of your screen in any
way you like, so you can make a window which has a portrait perspective and
leave room for icons for starting other programs and such. Another factor is
that production-wise, a more-or-less square screen is easier (read cheaper)
to produce than a wider or a higher screen. You'd be about as foolish to buy
a widescreen for the same price that would give you a normal tv which is
just as wide as the widescreen, as the normal screen provides you with at
least as much viewspace for any given program, and often much more.

This might very well change, however, with TFT and other non-fosforised flat
panel cell displays, such as you see in good laptops. Those are easier to
produce in any rectangular form you desire. Philips has even got proto-types
of displays of a kind of plastic which you can fold or roll like a good old
scroll. Very neat.
   My accountant wouldn't computerize for years, because he said the
accounting
  programs were written by programmers who weren't accountants, and who
  therefore didn't understand what was needed in an acounting program. An
  architect friend had a similar complaint.

There are two problems. One s that, indeed, often programmers are just
programmers, nothing more and nothing less, and therefore have a limited
view of the world, including accountancy or interior decoration. Often, a
software package has been (first) designed by a programmer who was also an
amateur accountant, but almost as often software has been designed by
accountants who were lousy programmers.  The trick is to get one of each to
design the program together, but even today not that many players in the
software market have discovered this. Instead, what you often see is that an
accountant who knows nothing about computers will specify how the computer
program should work and what it should do, and a software programmer will
try to make a program that suits these specifications. This sounds good in
theory, but that is a gross neglect of the importance of being able to
sufficiently describe and explain what the software is supposed to do as
well as the importance of being able to understand these descriptions and
explanations and put them into software. The two need to understand each
other and help each other out constantly, pointing to neglects, asking
questions, and using expertise on both sides. I've often talked with people
who'd asked me to write a piece of software, and most of the time I got the
best results by teaching them how programming works, because I could use
that to teach them a language that they could use to describe their
actions - few people have any idea how many things we do which we are no
longer even aware of, but which are nevertheless essential to know and do
when we want to transfer such an activity to a computer.


My assessment of these and many similar shortcomings is that the self-styled
hotshots doing the designing lacked the simple ability to follow two trains
of thought at once. They got so wrapped up in "how am I going to design
this?" that they couldn't deal, at the same time, with "how is this going to
be used?"  In other words, it was exactly the kind of linear, stuck-in-a-rut
thinking that was supposed to have disappeared in the 50s.

A slightly harsh and one-sided representation, if you ask me. Many of the
first software packages were either designed by volunteers and hobbyists, or
with a very specific market in mind (often only one small expertise, or even
only one section in just one company). That these packages were unsuitable
for others shouldn't have been all that surprising. Twenty years ago, the
company I worked for (until it went bankrupt last month) had it's own
text-editor, because there weren't any all-purpose big text-editors back
then. And even today those all-purpose big text-editors aren't always the
most suitable around.

Arwin

pat



In a message dated 6/10/01 9:48:02 AM Eastern Daylight Time, [log in to unmask]
writes:



    [log in to unmask] wrote:

    > Reading a book from beginning to end is a linear process, in the sense
    > that
    > it can be graphed as a straight line. The line can be subdivided to
    > show
    > one's progress (i.e., at 10 am one had arrived at page 17, and at a
    > later
    > point in time one had arrived at page 47).

    Thanks, Pat.  I do understand what you mean by linear.  I still don't
    understand -- apropos your having said

    > I'm a bit surprised, though, at the drift of this thread. To me,
    > linear is
    > linear, whether the thread has gaps, is crooked instead of straight,
    > or
    > meanders around into improbable areas.

    why you are surprised, since the thread was about reading books in order
    and you introduced the notion of the linear in response to Rick
    mentioning hypertext.  I'm grateful for the introduction as overlapping
    terms can help sharpen definitions.  Linear and sequential are not the
    same in the matter of order, as you have pointed out.

    M.






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  <DIV><FONT face=3Darial,helvetica><FONT face=3D"Arial Narrow" lang=3D0 =
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  FAMILY=3D"SANSSERIF"><BR><STRONG>"customers." How stupid, for example, =
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  computer screens wider than <BR>they are long, when we write on paper =
that's=20
  longer than it is wide!&nbsp;&nbsp;</STRONG><SPAN=20
  class=3D535564416-10062001><FONT color=3D#0000ff face=3DArial=20
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  <DIV><FONT face=3Darial,helvetica><FONT face=3D"Arial Narrow" lang=3D0 =
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<DIV><FONT color=3D#0000ff face=3DArial size=3D2><SPAN =
class=3D535564416-10062001>There=20
are displays which are A4 or letter-sized and portrait positioned. =
However,=20
don't forget that your vision provides a widescreen rather than a =
portrait=20
perspective. Your desk, too, is more often broad rather than deep. =
Especially=20
with Windows, you are free to use any part of your screen in any way you =
like,=20
so you can make a window which has a portrait perspective and leave room =
for=20
icons for starting other programs and such. Another factor is that=20
production-wise, a more-or-less square screen is easier (read cheaper) =
to=20
produce than a wider or a higher screen. You'd be about as foolish to =
buy a=20
widescreen for the same price that would give you a normal tv which is =
just as=20
wide as the widescreen, as the normal screen provides you with at least =
as much=20
viewspace for any given program, and often much =
more.</SPAN></FONT></DIV>
<DIV><FONT color=3D#0000ff face=3DArial size=3D2><SPAN=20
class=3D535564416-10062001></SPAN></FONT>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV><FONT color=3D#0000ff face=3DArial size=3D2><SPAN =
class=3D535564416-10062001>This=20
might very well change,&nbsp;however, with TFT and other non-fosforised =
flat=20
panel cell displays, such as you see in good laptops. Those are easier =
to=20
produce in any&nbsp;rectangular form you desire. Philips has even got=20
proto-types of displays of a kind of plastic which you can fold or roll =
like a=20
good old scroll. Very neat.&nbsp; </SPAN></FONT></DIV>
<BLOCKQUOTE=20
style=3D"BORDER-LEFT: #0000ff 2px solid; MARGIN-LEFT: 5px; PADDING-LEFT: =
5px">
  <DIV><FONT face=3Darial,helvetica><FONT face=3D"Arial Narrow" lang=3D0 =
size=3D3=20
  FAMILY=3D"SANSSERIF"><SPAN =
class=3D535564416-10062001>&nbsp;</SPAN><STRONG>My=20
  accountant wouldn't computerize for years, because he said the =
accounting=20
  <BR>programs were written by programmers who weren't accountants, and =
who=20
  <BR>therefore didn't understand what was needed in an acounting =
program. An=20
  <BR>architect friend had a similar complaint.&nbsp;</STRONG><SPAN=20
  class=3D535564416-10062001><FONT color=3D#0000ff face=3DArial=20
  size=3D2>&nbsp;</FONT></SPAN></FONT></FONT></DIV>
  <DIV><FONT face=3Darial,helvetica><FONT face=3D"Arial Narrow" lang=3D0 =
size=3D3=20
  FAMILY=3D"SANSSERIF"><SPAN=20
  =
class=3D535564416-10062001></SPAN></FONT></FONT>&nbsp;</DIV></BLOCKQUOTE>=

<DIV><FONT color=3D#0000ff face=3DArial lang=3D0 size=3D2 =
FAMILY=3D"SANSSERIF"><SPAN=20
class=3D535564416-10062001>There are two problems. One s that, indeed, =
often=20
programmers are just programmers, nothing more and nothing less, and =
therefore=20
have a limited view of the world, including accountancy or&nbsp;interior =

decoration. Often, a software package has been&nbsp;(first) designed by =
a=20
programmer who was also an amateur accountant, but almost as often =
software has=20
been designed by accountants who were lousy programmers.  The trick is =
to get=20
one of each to design the program together, but even today not that many =
players=20
in the software market have discovered this. Instead, what you often see =
is that=20
an accountant who knows nothing about computers will specify how the =
computer=20
program should work and what it should do, and a software programmer =
will try to=20
make a program that suits these specifications. This sounds good in =
theory, but=20
that is a gross neglect of the importance of being able to sufficiently =
describe=20
and explain what the software is supposed to do as well as the =
importance of=20
being able to understand these descriptions and explanations and put =
them into=20
software. The two need to understand each other and help each other out=20
constantly, pointing to neglects, asking questions, and using expertise =
on both=20
sides.&nbsp;I've often talked with people who'd asked me to write a =
piece of=20
software, and&nbsp;most of the time I got the best results by teaching =
them how=20
programming works, because I could use that to teach them a language =
that they=20
could use to describe their actions - few people have any idea how many =
things=20
we do which we are no longer even&nbsp;aware of, but which are =
nevertheless=20
essential to know and do when we want to transfer such an activity to a=20
computer. </SPAN></FONT></DIV>
<DIV><FONT color=3D#0000ff face=3DArial lang=3D0 size=3D2 =
FAMILY=3D"SANSSERIF"><SPAN=20
class=3D535564416-10062001></SPAN></FONT>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV><FONT face=3Darial,helvetica><FONT face=3D"Arial Narrow" lang=3D0 =
size=3D3=20
FAMILY=3D"SANSSERIF"><BR><STRONG>My assessment of these and many similar =

shortcomings is that the self-styled <BR>hotshots doing the designing =
lacked the=20
simple ability to follow two trains <BR>of thought at once. They got so =
wrapped=20
up in "how am I going to design <BR>this?" that they couldn't deal, at =
the same=20
time, with "how is this going to <BR>be used?" &nbsp;In other words, it =
was=20
exactly the kind of linear, stuck-in-a-rut <BR>thinking that was =
supposed to=20
have disappeared in the 50s.&nbsp;</STRONG><SPAN =
class=3D535564416-10062001><FONT=20
color=3D#0000ff face=3DArial =
size=3D2>&nbsp;</FONT></SPAN></FONT></FONT></DIV>
<DIV><FONT face=3Darial,helvetica><FONT face=3D"Arial Narrow" lang=3D0 =
size=3D3=20
FAMILY=3D"SANSSERIF"><SPAN=20
class=3D535564416-10062001></SPAN></FONT></FONT>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV><FONT face=3Darial,helvetica><FONT face=3D"Arial Narrow" lang=3D0 =
size=3D3=20
FAMILY=3D"SANSSERIF"><SPAN class=3D535564416-10062001><FONT =
color=3D#0000ff>A slightly=20
harsh and one-sided representation, if you ask me. Many of the first =
software=20
packages were either designed by volunteers and hobbyists, or with a =
very=20
specific market in mind (often only one small expertise, or even only =
one=20
section in just one company). That these packages were unsuitable for =
others=20
shouldn't have been all that surprising. Twenty years ago, the company I =
worked=20
for&nbsp;(until it went bankrupt last month) had it's own=20
text-editor,&nbsp;because there weren't any all-purpose big text-editors =
back=20
then. And even today those all-purpose big text-editors aren't always =
the most=20
suitable around.&nbsp;</FONT></SPAN></FONT></FONT></DIV>
<DIV><FONT face=3Darial,helvetica><FONT face=3D"Arial Narrow" lang=3D0 =
size=3D3=20
FAMILY=3D"SANSSERIF"><SPAN class=3D535564416-10062001><FONT=20
color=3D#0000ff></FONT></SPAN></FONT></FONT>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV><FONT face=3Darial,helvetica><FONT face=3D"Arial Narrow" lang=3D0 =
size=3D3=20
FAMILY=3D"SANSSERIF"><SPAN class=3D535564416-10062001><FONT=20
color=3D#0000ff>Arwin&nbsp;&nbsp;</FONT></SPAN><BR><BR><STRONG>pat=20
<BR><BR><BR><BR>In a message dated 6/10/01 9:48:02 AM Eastern Daylight =
Time,=20
[log in to unmask] <BR>writes: <BR><BR></STRONG></FONT><FONT color=3D#000000 =
face=3DArial=20
lang=3D0 size=3D2 FAMILY=3D"SANSSERIF"><BR></DIV>
<BLOCKQUOTE=20
style=3D"BORDER-LEFT: #0000ff 2px solid; MARGIN-LEFT: 5px; PADDING-LEFT: =
5px">
  <BLOCKQUOTE=20
  style=3D"BORDER-LEFT: #0000ff 2px solid; MARGIN-LEFT: 5px; =
MARGIN-RIGHT: 0px; PADDING-LEFT: 5px"=20
  TYPE=3D"CITE">[log in to unmask] wrote: <BR><BR>&gt; Reading a book =
from=20
    beginning to end is a linear process, in the sense <BR>&gt; that =
<BR>&gt; it=20
    can be graphed as a straight line. The line can be subdivided to =
<BR>&gt;=20
    show <BR>&gt; one's progress (i.e., at 10 am one had arrived at page =
17, and=20
    at a <BR>&gt; later <BR>&gt; point in time one had arrived at page =
47).=20
    <BR><BR>Thanks, Pat. &nbsp;I do understand what you mean by linear. =
&nbsp;I=20
    still don't <BR>understand -- apropos your having said <BR><BR>&gt; =
I'm a=20
    bit surprised, though, at the drift of this thread. To me, <BR>&gt; =
linear=20
    is <BR>&gt; linear, whether the thread has gaps, is crooked instead =
of=20
    straight, <BR>&gt; or <BR>&gt; meanders around into improbable =
areas.=20
    <BR><BR>why you are surprised, since the thread was about reading =
books in=20
    order <BR>and you introduced the notion of the linear in response to =
Rick=20
    <BR>mentioning hypertext. &nbsp;I'm grateful for the introduction as =

    overlapping <BR>terms can help sharpen definitions. &nbsp;Linear and =

    sequential are not the <BR>same in the matter of order, as you have =
pointed=20
    out. <BR><BR>M. <BR><BR></FONT><FONT color=3D#000000 face=3DArial =
lang=3D0 size=3D3=20
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