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Re: laptop/edu-users

In general I've liked a lot of this discussion of user-types. I've been
quite busy, however, and not been able to read e-mail for some time. 

Here are some comments about user-types.

On Wed, 15 Jul 1998, Karsten M. Self wrote:

> I'll argue that there is a difference for the following reasons:
>  - "Laptops" (and other portables) as a class of machines collectively
> possess a number of hardware features which strongly differentiate them
> from any other hardware configuration.  You want to ask certain types of
> questions, you don't want (or need) to ask others).
>  - I suspect the majority of laptops are used in business for what
> someone (virtanen?) called "Road Warriors".  Typically sales and
> marketing staff, needing email, fax, file transfer, and presentation
> tools.  Other uses exist, but this is the big one.  So there's a strong
> uniformity of end use.
>  - Specific software/OS features working around
> hardware/weight/power/networking limitations are needed.  Again, a
> number of capabilities, much similarity across the field, and little in
> common with other HW configurations.
>  - I don't think we want to worry about specifics of hardware -- that's
> outside the scope of the OS.  We do want to worry about supporting
> special HW configurations or needs within the OS.
>  - I'm not arguing this because I'm a laptop user -- having nags waiting
> for me at home and work is bad enough -- I don't need to lug my
> addictions around with me.  I just think it's a significant interest
> area.

It was not my term, that Road Warrior, but I think it wasn't so bad. 

I agree with Karsten, that laptops are an important issue for the reasons
he pointed out. I've been using some time a small notebook and I really
liked it, because it is so small - and not powerful at all (286 with 20
mega hd)! It makes one to think different way of computing. Making notes
effectively and not using any graphics at all, but you can carry your
machine with you all the time wherever you go... Nowadays many laptops are
quite powerful as well, but they still are so small that they are used
differently... (sometimes I even took my notebook with me to a small
island in the middle of lake, charged the battery with a solar cell...) It
really might be a succes story, if someone made a specific really simple
and fast linux distribution for laptop users? 

With laptops it is important not to use much energy... not using much hd,
but keeping all the things most of the time in RAM. I used to setup my
machine that way, that hd stopped after 30 seconds, if it wasn't used. 
That kind of issues might be important considering the OS? 

> Agreed, would not be good.  The 'Laptop' checkoff could lead to seperate
> questions on hardware/hardware support, later in the survey.  This might
> be a better way to approach the issue.  A non-portable HW section could
> be the alternative -- again, focus on HW support in OS, not HW
> components request (maybe?).

Exactly. We need to focus on HW support in OS. There migh be some other
issues besides the one I pointed out? 

> I don't see other HW questions as having the same level of impact and
> importance.  Monitor, modem, networking support, etc., are not specific
> to HW or use.  Portables introduce their own can o' worms.

In the OS of a laptop there must be easy controlled settings of the
monitor turning off and so on because of energy issue... that way we might
consider making seul the most ecological OS as well?

> > Actually, that brings up another interesting point. Instead of just
> > collecting information and saying "thank you", why not compile the
> > information they've given about their interests and goals, and give
> > them a specialized set of recommendations once they've finished the
> > survey? This might answer virtanen's question earlier about "How can
> > we motivate people to take the survey?" -- we motivate them because
> > they get automated personalized advice once they're done. This has
> > other issues tho, like people experimenting with our survey to see
> > what advice we give for which user type, when they don't actually
> > belong to that user type. (And it's also more work. Whee.)

The best thing might be to give people some kind of new knowledge
while taking the survey. I'm on the line with Roger. Not exactly giving
advice, but new knowledge... somehow the survey could educate people about
computers, for example giving them free information collected by various
linux-projects so far and seul-project especially... Somehow the survey
should give people this kind of thoughts, with which we are experimenting
just now? (For example during a project of education, we made videotapes
of a gropu of teachers planning a lesson and argumenting about the ways
and contents of teaching. Later we found out that the best teaching would
have been to show the videos of the teachers planning the lessons.) 
A good survey isn't hiding the knowledge of the survey-planners, but
showing the survey-takers, how they could make a better survey or how
they could advice the survey planners to go on.. (I'm just thinking about
PRA-methods (participating rural appraisal) in development cooperation
projects, because I just wrote a comment for such a project report.)

> Mixed feelings.  Recommendations can be hard.  Remember the financial
> advice website which generated the same mix of a company's investment
> products for Bill Gates and the welfare mother?  This was maybe a year
> ago.  Big stink.  Has to be done right, with thought.  Tough.  
> Showing compiled stats can be interesting as well.  Motivation is
> generally tricky.

I agree that this issue is tough. But it is one of most important, too. If
we can make a small survey succesfully that way that people would answer
our questions,  we could probably get a lot of advice how to make it
better. If we could make it that way... that in the end of survey each one
who took it would get an advice, which kind of linux-setup she/he would
load on her/his machine from seul-website it could be a success? I mean
that included in this planning of user-types there might be
planned and ready-made distributions for each main user-types.

> > --Roger
> -- 
> Karsten M. Self (kmself@ix.netcom.com)