This week I spent some time pondering Logical Tips subscribers. I realized that my mission is to support "educated computing." People who subscribe to this ezine are smart enough to realize that using a computer requires a little effort to learn how to use it.
Everybody is always harping about how the computer industry needs to simplify computers, so they are easier to use. And from a hardware standpoint, many aspects of computing are far easier than they have ever been. You don't have to open the case and move tiny jumpers or flip dip switches anymore to make things work. I'd have to say that USB is the best thing to happen to computing in a long time.
For example, last week I installed a new DVD writer, so I can back up larger amounts of data (4.7GB...cool!). Anyway, it connects using a USB port, so the installation was completely easy. I plugged it in and installed software using the standard wizard.
But when it comes to software I believe that you still have to have *some* degree of education to use a computer. I'm sorry, but a computer is not a TV; it involves more than pressing a button on a remote control. Yet it seems like some people *expect* that to happen with computers. You go to the store, buy the computer and suddenly expect to get a lot of work done. Sadly, it doesn't work that way, and fear, frustration, and annoyance ensue.
Unfortunately, all this whining has led to what I think of as a "dumbing down" of software to the point that in many cases it's almost unusable for people who actually know what they are doing. For example, one of the software programs that came with my new DVD drive has NO way to set the destination (i.e. where you want to write the files). I have a CD-RW drive, a regular DVD drive, and the new DVD writer attached to my computer. The stupid software was obsessed with writing to the CD-RW drive and there was no way to tell it otherwise.
I found the same thing when I was writing reviews of scanners. Half of the bundled scanner software products don't let you set the image resolution anymore. This type of thing does nothing but cause even MORE confusion for new users and frustration for experienced users.
So kudos to Logical Tips readers who actually *get* that to use a computer, it truly does help to understand how the thing works. After all, computing efficiency can't happen without a little learning.