A Tale of Two Tablets (and a lesson learned)

September 27, 2011

an iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab

Having recently had the opportunity to work with both an iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab, I have the following impressions (which are predicated upon the fact that I am a long time PC user.)

iPad

  • very easy to learn to use
  • easier screen turn on (thanks to physical home button)
  • slightly faster “on” from power off state
  • pretty simple and intuitive operation — launch app from home menu, use app, push single home button to return to app menu
  • pretty good for simple, input only text entry; painful for editing existing text
  • Overall, a very elegant casual consumption device.

Galaxy

  • harder to learn to use
  • slightly slower and slight less convenient screen turn on
  • longer initial startup from power off state
  • once acclimating, felt more sophisticated, akin to my desktop PC experience, especially with web browsing and office-like tasks
  • great for simple, input only text entry; painful for editing existing text
  • Overall, seems more powerful in the traditional computing sense.

Which did I like better? Honestly, I liked both, but for different reasons. It would be difficult to pick between the two. But here’s the ironic twist to this tale… Read the rest of this entry »

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Microsoft on File Management

September 18, 2011

A few weeks back Microsoft posted a note about upcoming Improvements in Windows Explorer (in Windows 8). I’ve previously identified file management as the second most important concept for computer literacy (in The Top 15 Most Important Understandings Needed for Solid PC Literacy). I can also say without any hesitation that the single most difficult, most time consuming, and frequently edited/re-written chapter (for both writing and illustrating) in The Ultimate PC Primer was the one on storage and file management. As such, I was thrilled to have confirmation from Microsoft that they’re taking the importance of file management for all level of users seriously. They call out Windows Explorer as

the most widely used desktop tool

More importantly, they admit that only a small group of “power users” push Explorer to its limits (and add plugins) while the majority use a handful of common features — copy, paste, rename, delete — frequently.  As a result, they claim:

Our goal is to improve the usage experience for a majority of customers

and continue to say that their number 1 goal with the Windows Explorer rebuild is:

Optimize Explorer for file management tasks. Return Explorer to its roots as an efficient file manager and expose some hidden gems, those file management commands already in Explorer that many customers might not even know exist.

I don’t often find occasion to publicly thank Microsoft, but in this case I’m quite glad they’re affirming the importance of arming users with better ability to manage their files. I also applaud their broad confirmation that power users don’t represent all users. Now that said, much of their work is focused on the Ribbon. While I have yet to encounter a single user who likes the Ribbon, Microsoft seems to have done quite a bit of research on this. So if we must use the Ribbon — is it too much to ask to give users the choice? — at least they’re planning on bringing the most commonly used features to the top left of it. We’ll see how this (and Windows 8 in general) is received once delivered.

In the meantime, if you know a newcomer to computing who has yet to grasp what file management is all about, check out Lesson 9 in The Ultimate PC Primer. Nearly all illustrations in there apply to all past and current versions of Windows Explorer (and the overall lesson will apply to storage and file management in nearly any operating system).