Firefox URL Bar (longish)

Peter Garrett peter.garrett at
Thu Jan 5 07:31:39 GMT 2006

On Wed, 4 Jan 2006 15:44:34 -0700
Lakin Wecker <lakin.wecker at> wrote:

> First off, I don't see anywhere that the Human Beings in the slogan
> > means absolute beginners.
> No, it means the majority of computer users.  Am I the only one who believes
> that most users would benefit from not having to remember a set of keyboard
> shortcuts in order to efficiently use their applications?

This is purely anecdotal, but please see it as an attempt to put this
debate in context.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s I was working as a photographer, in a
museum which used some early incarnation of Windows/DOS. This was the "pre
- mouse" era.

The photographers only used  computers at most a few times a week,
except for the head of the photographic department and his assistant, who
used them on a daily basis for administrative tasks. 

What happened in that
workplace was that the administrative staff knew the required keyboard
shortcuts, because they had to, and used them daily. We photographers would
look over our shoulders and say "What's the combo for 'Save' ?" or
whatever we couldn't remember, and get the answer immediately from those
who knew. I don't recall anyone complaing that this was too hard - we just
assumed, rightly I think, that those who used computers for their daily
work had learnt the necessary skills.

Now this is not a plea for a return to the bad old days! I'm just

1) People who use computers in their work rather rapidly discover the
skills they need to achieve their purposes

2) People who rarely or briefly use computers for simple tasks can usually
cope fine (otherwise for example using webmail or surfing the web would
not be as popular as it clearly is).

3) People who are interested will find the information they require. I
offer myself as an example of the kind of person who started with little
knowledge of anything computer related, but has progressed well beyond the
beginner level.

I made a somewhat tongue-in-cheek comment earlier in this thread. The
reason for it was pretty much that I was scratching my head over the
passionate disagreements surfacing over mouse clicking.... My father is in
his mid eighties, yet is quite capable of using his computer, and in fact
has written several books with it. Are we simply being too precious about
seemingly minor issues here ? Human beings are pretty adaptable, and
generally not likely to be horrified by the number of mouse clicks they
need to use to select text.

By all means let's make Ubuntu easy to use - I fully agree with that aim.
But let's spend more time on bigger issues like making our excellent
installation GUIs more discoverable for Windows refugees, and having good
pathways for people to find the information they need to become competent
with the OS.



Unix is hard to learn. The process of learning it is one of multiple small
epiphanies. -- Neal Stephenson

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