Computers Stink by Jack Bellis

By Jack Bellis

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Of course, you probably stick to Qwerty because it’s too hard to learn a new way. ) Contact me for a free, simple keyboard training game that will teach you the Dvorak layout in about 10 hours. com/~jbellis. On a related topic, here’s a little puzzle. What is the longest word that can be formed from the letters on any single row of your regular QWERTY keyboard layout. Answer later in this chapter. Most Development Starts Over Again from the Beginning Things have changed so much so quickly in the computer business that everything is usually started over again with each new project.

A particularly subtle example occurs in Microsoft Mail, which uses a clever but secretive method on its main addressee look-up list, shown below. Here’s what it does when you don’t know a recipient’s name, and you try to get it from the list: if you type the first few letters of the recipient’s name, it goes deeper into the list, matching all of the letters you type (not just the first one). That’s fairly conventional, and apparent, as you watch the screen. But if you delay a few seconds before typing more letters, it starts over again as if you were typing the first letter of their name again.

It’s incredible—but quite understandable—the number of times I’ve seen people start a sentence with the caps lock in the wrong state, and go back and forth trying to get it right. Imagine in a country of 200 million people, how many times this happens every day. Add it up every week, month and year... it’s unfathomable for such a stupid oversight of interface design. It persists because it’s related to the hardware, which is controlled by a few manufacturers. I don’t expect to instantly prescribe a perfect solution to this problem.

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