Thursday, July 15, 2010

Standard operating procedures

Lately I've been very sore about the standard programs that standard computers and accessories are standardly packaged with. I've always had issues with Windows Media Player, and the version that came with Windows 7 doesn't make it very clear how to rip audio from a CD, a process — like it or not — that is a very standard procedure among computer users today.

Don't get me started on Apples / iTunes. I know this is a great program and it's very easy to do things with it, etc. etc. But it does operate how Apple wants you to operate it, and when you want to transfer music files among friends or among non-Apple products, or do things with your music outside of iTunes, it can be a hassle.

Now, I'm talking about simple things beyond music, too. My computer at work (which is less than two years old) has two disc trays, one of which can burn CDs & DVDs. But when I went to do something as simple as playing a DVD in the computer, Windows Media Player could not do it because it didn't have the right codecs (or some shit).

Why not?

I'd run across software problems like this before, and now my standard solution is to simply download a light program that can do what I want easily instead of fiddling with updates and drivers and whatever else makes software and hardware communicate.

Enter one of my favorite sites, Don't ask me how portable applications like these work. All I know is that I can download a very light program — Media Player Classic, VLC Media Player, GIMP, InfraRecorder — to do basically anything I want to do on a computer. And I don't even have to install a program on the hard drive.

I understand that there's a push and pull in terms of making programs flexible and options-filled while still making them user friendly. But I also know that the average computer user doesn't want to read anything, and that the above-average computer user is simply someone who's willing to Google their computer problems and then read the links.

So, I guess I'm talking to the programmers out there who make you click "Actions > Manage Tracks..." on InfraRecorder before you can rip audio from your CD. Why not put it on your elegant home menu page?

(Img created in GIMP)


1 comment:

  1. I totally agree with you at this. Microsoft started to be popular because of its icons that made it easy for the users. Why not keep it at that. Yes, there are more and more people becoming digitally literate but it is not an excuse to make things harder. At the end of the day, people stick to what is efficient and easy to use. period.