Thursday, September 16, 2004

Users' shoes

No fewer than three times over the past two days I've run into something utterly boneheaded from a usability standpoint.

Don't get me wrong, I largely agree with the decisions these developers had taken that led me my frustrations, but in each case the developers had solved the technical problem and left us poor users in the lurch.

Case in point, and not to pick on these folks specifically: Codepage handling in VFAT filesystem under linux in 2.6.8 kernel.

VFAT filesystems have codepages, and the codepage is apparently important to know how to (for example) translate upper-case to lower-case in filenames.  The mount command allows you to specific the codepage to use.

When I migrated to 2.6.8 kernel this morning, I was surprised to find that my mounts didn't work. Seems the default codepage now has to be specified as a real codepage number, and that if it doesn't match the reality of the partition then no mount will occur.  Prior kernels somehow worked without anything being specified. At least for me.

Now don't get me wrong, I understand something of why they made this change, and even agree. If you are  interested in the reasoning, see the description of the change in the 2.6.8 changelog (searching for NLS_DEFAULT should turn it up).

However, where these developers utterly failed is in not providing any comment on how to determine which codepage is in use on the drive!  I've spent an hour or so in Google, searched for codepage in /usr/src/linux/Documentation, and even found a list of windows codepages, tried several (this, by the way, is what I call BFMI or Brute Force Massive Ignorance), all to no avail.  The codepage is encoded in the filesystem somehow, tell me what the number is!  And if for some reason that is impossible, then provide some description of how to figure it out manually.

I don't appear to be the only person to express this frustration.

Usability, dudes. Yes, you got the right technical solution, but what are users supposed to do with it?

[Comments from my previous blog]

1. Leena left...
Tuesday, 16 January 2007 5:20 am
Thanks for providing such a useful information about shoes, i usually visit it to check some new stuff and discussion

Also check some kool designs here, found it useful

2. glen martin left...
 Thursday, 1 March 2007 6:12 pm

You're kidding, right?

No comments:

Post a Comment