New computer & usability

Well, thanks to the swift action of Mary Miles, I have a new mac as of this morning. Now the slow process of restoring from backup (thankfully very recent!) and the re-installation of some software. I chose not to reinstall my applications directory since it will result in multiple versions of a variety of applications being installed. I can always restore individual apps later.

In any case, the process of updating from a backup has been a nice example in usability.  I starteded up the new Mac and, after asking me to confirm I wanted English as my default language (yes) and that I didn’t need the screen reader active during the setup process, it asked me if I wanted to move files from another computer/disk. I pointed it at my Time Machine backup and off I went. It’s as if they knew my computer had been stolen.

Sometimes “wizard” interfaces are irritating, of course, but this was just perfect. Wizards work, I think, for tasks you don’t do frequently. If I were going to get a new computer every day then I might get irritated at the series of questions. But, hopefully, this won’t be a frequent occurance and the hand holding was appreciated. I’m wondering as we think about site creation/setup in Sakai 3 how to balance the needs of the infrequent user with those of the expert user. I’m a fan of the “Don’t Ask Me This Again” checkbox…maybe that plays a role in these situations.

Now, onto the question of disk/file encryption.  File Vault? PGP Whole Disk Encryption? Other alternatives?


3 Responses

  1. Which Mac did you buy?

    • Well, I just told Mary to get me something comprable to my old MacBook Pro. So I’m the proud owner of a new 15″ MacBook Pro. Loving the gesture-aware trackpad. My 4th keyboard in the last 3 weeks has me hitting the occassional wrong key….hopefully I’ll adjust quickly.

  2. The Mac setup wizard has always made me smile. In fact the whole Mac experience makes me smile. Compare the Mac install wizard to the Windows one where every few minutes you are prompted for a new setting that the software should be able to either figure out for itself, or install and let you configure later.

    I moved away from using Windows computers a long time ago, I just got too frustrated at things that Windows prompted me to do that I shouldn’t have to deal with (or failed to do and crashed for no reason).

    Taking that to Sakai 3, I am also of the opinion that much will need to be via Preferences, Don’t ask me again, Forums stay the way I want you to look type scenarios.

    As for encryption, File Vault and Time Machine have some oddities about when it can backup the encrypted home directory. I have resorted to just making my own encrypted disk image (in Disk Utility) and storing stuff I need kept secret in there. Time machine then backs it up as normal.

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