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NOTE: use Perl; is on undef hiatus. You can read content, but you can't post it. More info will be forthcoming forthcomingly.

All the Perl that's Practical to Extract and Report

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  • You can't protect the stupid and/or the impatient from themselves. :) For everyone else, there are snapshots and backups. :) Natch.
    • It's important to realize that the user is not stupid, the interface (and by extension, the designer) is. "The user is an idiot" is all too often a way to avoid looking a bad design in the face. This is the overarching theme of The Design Of Everyday Things [amazon.com]. It's like a self-help book for battered users. It's not your fault the computer beats you.

      But users are impatient, and rightfully so. Computers are there to make the user's life easier, not vice-versa. They have better things to do. If anyone keeps asks the same question over and over again and the answer is always the same, you're going to get impatient. Your alertness to the warning will rapidly drop off and you'll ignore it. The computer who cried wolf.

      The most important aspect of a slip is how fast they happen and how fast you realize it. A split-second's lapse of judgment can make you push the wrong button, and just as fast you realize the mistake and want to undo it. If the solution to a one second lapse is to spend minutes, possibly hours, to restore from a probably days old backup which might not even have the file you just blew away, then your design is broken.

      And who is the user going to ask to do that restore? And who are they going to grumble at when it's too old? Yep, the sysadmin. To just say "stupid user, restore from backup" just makes more work for you.

      Computers making more work for humans defeats the point.

      • This can be solved with better tools [ext3cow.com]. I haven't used that particular one, but I've seen other variations on the concept. If you delete your important file, restore it.

        And, of course, do not under-estimate the value of using a revision control system for system administration...

      • Actually, in most well run userland systems, snapshots and restores are available for the users to do for themselves. I've always aliased rm and a few other commands as it's inevitable that I'm going to fuck up at some point. The downside of command-line power is having the power to do just what you describe. Every Yin has it's Yang.

        And if computers were here to make our lives easier and to give us so much free time then why does it seem like we give them more of our time with each passing year and where

        • And if computers were here to make our lives easier and to give us so much free time then why does it seem like we give them more of our time with each passing year

          BECAUSE THE INTERFACES SUCK! DOET has a chapter on computers that was written, IIRC, in the 80s laying out all the interface design mistakes they're making and why they're so hard to use. Reading it in 2008 is painful because we're still making those same mistakes.

          And where is our star trek future?

          iPhone. It's the closest thing to the ST:TNG PADD [memory-alpha.org] yet. I just noticed Donald Norman has a new book, The Invisible Computer [librarything.com] which probably addresses exactly that.