Originally Posted by hmurchison
This "dumbing down" meme is an anathema. Often I read about something "dumbing down" in some self aggrandizing post meant to substantiate the Power User status of the poster I presume.
However I think it's anything but dumbing down. The metamorphosis of the modern day personal computer is moving towards automating the mundane stuff so the user doesn't have to.
Many brilliant minds in history have had many quirky ways but the common denominator of many IMO was an ability to focus their brain power on areas that needed it and reduce to urge to micro manage everything. In fact Einstein said
"Never memorize something that you can look up"
If you know an app is in the applications folder and you're wasting time trying to create another layer of folder structure it's futile and a waste of your brain power. In essence it is YOU that may be dumbing down and failing to see the efficiency increase in simply trusting your tool.
Originally Posted by addabox
Well said. Thank-you.
I think you particularly hit the nail on the head with the self-aggrandizing that goes with this line of thought-- it comes from the same place as the tiresome "real work" and how iOS can't do it meme that we keep hearing about, which I guess ultimately derives from the old "Macs are toys" canard of yore.
All of it hides behind the pretense that the critic is doing some kind of super awesome intense extra hard stuff that only the most powerful, sophisticated, customizable devices could possibly handle, possibly coding and hacking and air traffic control and aircraft carrier design, all simultaneously, on 8 monitors with a custom interface and a home automation controller to keep the neighbors at bay.
It will take some time before file system jockeys die out, until then anyone who has mastered some kind of arcane folder-fu will bristle and preen that making such manipulations transparent is like taking a hammer from their hands. In fact, I would say in general that the computer world is full of people who believe the means are
the ends-- that endless dicking around with computer cruft is
the "real work" that we all need to be doing. I will not miss them.
The parable of Slim and Jamie...
In 1960, I went to work as a (the) programmer for a subsidiary of a large aerospace company who was going to be one of the 1st installations of the new IBM 1401 computer (to replace their punched-card accounting machines).
The computer manager (data processing) reported to the Payroll department headed by Slim..
One of the first applications I programmed was computing the various amounts (Gross, withholding, deductions, Net...) for writing paychecks for several thousand employees,
Several of the mandated "withholding" deductions involved calculating a percent of gross pay up to a maximum limit of a certain amount per year.
So, I wrote the program to compute the percent deduction, add it to the year-to-date withheld, then if it would exceed the maximum limit -- reduce the deduction so it would just meet the maximum.
I worked hard on the app and proudly asked Slim to supply some test data so I could really shake down the program for bugs...
After, several weeks of testing, Slim said he had found something wrong -- nobody ever went over the maximum withholding limits.
Confused, I asked him to explain. Slim demonstrated how a percentage deduction applied to gross pay would take an employees deduction over the maximum limit for that deduction (there were several).
I asked what they did then? Slim said that after the payroll checks were printed, they would make another pass at thousands of weekly payroll records to see who had too much deducted and how much they needed to refund to each employee. Then, they would make another "special" tax refund payroll all the way through and cut "tax refund" paychecks for those affected.
I showed Slim how the computer program avoided this issue by adjusting the deduction so it would never go over the limit -- thus eliminating the need for the whole "tax refund" process.
Slim said you couldn't do it that way -- the "company" had been doing the "tax refund" process for 30 years and it was the only way to do it.
To no avail, I tried to convince Slim that the "new way" was common practice and better and cheaper -- it cost "the company" about $20 to process each paycheck.
I escalated as far up in the organization as I dared go, and lost. After walking around the airfield for 2 hours, I swallowed my ego and reluctantly changed the program...
A month or so later, I got my first "tax refund" check for 19 cents -- yes, "the company" paid $20 to print a check for 19 cents.
I put it in my wallet and forgot about it...
A few weeks went by and Slim approached me: The bank reconciliation showed that I had not cashed my 19 cent "tax refund" check.
I explained that it wasn't worth my time -- and that most local places charged a fee of 25 cents to cash a payroll check.
Slim insisted that I had to cash the check. I insisted that I didn't. Slim said that if I didn't he would cancel the check (from the bank's end) and write it off...
I told Slim when he did that, I would pay the 25 cent fee and cash the 19 cent paycheck at a popular local establishment...
Jamie was an assistant to the president of this same aerospace subsidiary -- and had convinced them to buy the computer in the first place.
Jamie, was frequently called upon for special duties and to solve unusual problems.
The company was a prime government contractor and we had slews of government auditors on site -- continuously auditing our books.
One of the "problems" Jamie was charged to solve:
Each month "the company" received telephone bills for several tens of thousands of dollars. The individual calls needed to be identified and apportioned/charged to the various government contracts (that were continuously audited).
The bills were analyzed, encoded, and keypunched into cards (most calls were apportioned to multiple contracts).
Jamie asked if I would write a computer program to report the calls and allocate/apportion them to the contracts -- it was currently being done manually.
Jamie explained what was needed, and I wrote the program! When Jamie got his first report he was ecstatic! Weeks of error-prone manual effort was done in less than an hour.
He checked out the computer report line-for-line against the manual report... He was happy -- everything balanced, but he was a little confused...
When apportioning a call to multiple contracts, the situation often arose where the cost of the call could not be evenly apportioned -- a $1.00 call / 7 contracts == $.1428 == $.14 per contract... $.14 x 7 == $.98 ~= $1.00.
I asked Jaimie how he handled it manually. He explained that they would carry the extra decimals for all calls and arbitrarily round up a certain contract's allocation to the next penny -- so the total of all call allocations == the total apportioned to all contracts.
He showed me how he did it manually... I told him the computer program was doing the same thing using a process called decimal accumulation... and showed him how it was less arbitrary than the manual method.
Jamie said "cool!".