Saturday, February 5

muscle memory

The problem with switching from one of anything to something else is ... muscle memory. Take Java IDEs. Get used to a particular editor for shortcut keys ... and it's hell to shift. You perpetually press the wrong keys and do something else. It might be a bit before you even notice that the shortcut key didn't do what you expected; and then you remember .. oops. Wrong editor.

The same problem, of course, exists on a much larger scale with an operating system. When KDE remapped the Windows Key shortcuts to work on their desktop environment, there was a firestorm of protest. Why emulate the evil empire's products, asked detractors. Well, simple. If you don't remap the extra keys, those are just little pieces of plastic that will be mishit by people with fat fingers. And that might explain why I find Macs so hard to get used to as well. One mouse button might be fun... but when you automatically try to do a right click for a context menu and it doesn't work, your first thought isn't "Oh, this is a Mac", but more like "Why the heck is it so hard to have another fricking button in there". It applies equally well to applications. In the earlier days of Netscape (version 3.x and 4.x), I had switched to and fro from Internet Explorer and kept on getting tripped up by the shortcut to get to the address bar. Alt-L in Netscape (Location) and Alt-D in IE (Address). Who needs to remember all that ? Well. No one. Which might explain why Firefox maps the address bar to Alt-D as well. If you want people to switch, eliminate barriers.


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