7 comments on “Want to make an computer or operating system that does not shit people up the wall?

  1. Not only is King Balor of Hellboy II: The Golden Army fame not a woman, he is about as Dwarf-like as I am Elf-like.

    Ha! I have that problem on Google Image searches, too. It seems to get worse the vaguer/more subjective your search terms are. I get the best results when I’m looking for, say, lots of different pics of a particular, existing comic-book character … I can’t imagine using Google Images to find art resembling a character I have created.

    • Indeed, the Google image search is a lot like trying to use a shotgun to hit a target that a sniper’s rifle was designed for. Part of the problem is probably that people are allowed to put tags on things that bear almost no relation to their actual content, and search engines just take the tags at their words. Another example of where regulation would benefit the IT world no end, sadly.

  2. In response to the post as a whole, I don’t have much. You know a lot more about this stuff than I do, but I absolutely agree that computers need voice input, or other more accessible ways for people with limited fine-motor capacity (or endurance … my brother is a programmer who is also plagued by recurring flare-ups of pain from a wrist injury, so he *really* needs some way to program without using his hands for hours and hours and thus aggravating his injury! I have asked him if any speech-to-text program like Dragon exists that works for the various programming languages as Dragon works for English, but he told me no, there’s not a big enough market share for any programming language to make such a thing commercially viable).

    I haven’t used an iPad, but there is something about their interface that I like, the degree to which they let you manipulate what’s on the screen with your fingers. Obviously it’s not perfect for everybody — I myself would probably have trouble with it, accidentally doing all sorts of things with involuntary or imprecise movements — but when I think about accessibility in a computer I tend to think mostly of two things (putting to one side the learning-curve issue, which you have addressed in your post): making it easier for people with motor impairments to use a computer, and also making it easier for people with speech impairments to use a computer. (This because the most obvious solution to the first problem is voice commands, which pose problems of their own for people whose speech is slurred, who cannot control their enunciation to the degree a computer would need.)

    It’s a dilemma in my mind, because I can’t conceive of a computer interface that is simultaneously accessible to people with both types of impairment.

    (One thing comes to my mind, but it’s still pretty experimental: brain electrodes! Have the computer pick up your thoughts, and act on them. There is some work being done with that, but I don’t suppose such a thing will be available to regular people for at least five, maybe ten years?)

    • One of the biggest problems of an exclusively commericalist or excessively capitalist society is that even when people are desperately crying out for something to be done, the gatekeepers will just sit there and say “nup, not enuff money in it” or similar. It is a sucky situation that is being aggravated a great deal by the overpopulation problem, which pretty much confirms everything that the eMpTyV generation think of the baby boomers. Namely, that they are shitheads with no idea about reality or the reality of the world that their children live in. It still comes as a genuine surprise to baby boomers when they are told that the boys and girls who turned eighteen during the 1980s are the first lot of young adults in recorded history to have been unable to maintain the lifestyle that their parents did.

      But to get back to the topic, what you are describing, or rather what you are saying your brother described, is a classic example of market failure. A market failure that a government of the sort my parents enjoyed a very healthy economic lifestyle due to would step in and correct. Of course people are going to either stop using computers or sustain crippling injuries under such circumstances. What else can they do? Because in this day and age where corporations are apparently people (but unlike actual people are excused from paying taxes), governments are completely limp-wristed in terms of intervening and stopping market failures of this variety from worsening lives. In spite of the fact that the historical record clearly shows that by stepping in and doing something, the government has created a lot of improvements in overall standard of living. *sigh*

      Of course, a complication to setting up a computer with speech recognition is that every speech interpreter the box uses is going to need to be “trained”. Every person, regardless of who they are, speaks slightly differently from the person next to them. Even transient things like respiratory illness has an effect on the voice’s sound, so a system will need to be capable of receiving input, analysing it, and telling itself “okay, the user is ill, their voice is going to sound a little different for a while”, and so forth.

      Unfortunately, there are always going to be some people who will not be able to access the system irrespective of what is offered as a means of input. I can think of a few examples. The main point was not so much the means of input as the need for alternatives, real credible ones.

      (I am not sure that I want my computer interpreting every flash of thought that comes through my head, either. Some of the thoughts I have whilst sitting here on my lonesome and trying to make sense of what is around me… they are pretty ugly. I definitely do not want that getting onto the typed page.)

  3. I gave up on google images, pretty much. I ask a friend to find it, ask a friend to make it, or make it myself, pretty much. The OS thing doesn’t bother me as much because I found a Linux distro with a curve slightly further from vertical and got a friend who used the same distro to teach me. (I know precisely nothing about how to use a command line in anything other than Windows, and I made this one work.) But yeah, they really do need to do a better job overall with that learning curve thing. And ditch QWERTY, and work on voice recognition until it actually works.

    • If making it myself, or asking a friend to make the images I need for a text, were a viable option for me, I would definitely have done that. Unfortunately, such an option does not presently exist. And unfortunately, what you are saying about the Linux distribution in question is pretty much proving my point about the Linux community in general. The fact that you had a friend sit down and teach you how to meaningfully operate the system is a very, very different experience to what I had with Linux, where frustrated queries only received mockery, abuse, and name-calling.

      Which, come to think of it, reminds me of every public persona’s most fervent prayer. My enemies, my detractors, my critics, I fear not. But heaven protect me from my fans.

  4. I doubt there are computers capable of imprinting upon people, if one speaks of real-life tangible ones. Fictional, yes, but not tangible. However, if they DID exist, then the following would happen: 1) your fingers would not tie themselves in a knot, no matter *what* your blood sugar was doing. (An imprinted computer would both correct the resulting errors AND tell you that you needed to get some carbohydrate…) 2) because an imprinted computer would be capable of true mind-reading, it would do what you wanted, not what you told it. 3) an imprinted computer would HELP you learn how to use it.
    You’ll know you have one when it tells you, as it’s coming up from a chill-state, something like ‘the transducer shows presence”, followed by a climbing level of aquisition. Level five or better indicates that it knows you well enough that it will provide a LOT of help when and if you should need it.

Chuck shit at me here

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