Octave don't meet Palm user's musts

Re : Octave and the real world -- Will Lau
Posted by Jacques Turbé ® , Jul 04,2000,17:40 Post Reply Top of Thread Forum

I feel in "Real World", top speed you may achieve is not as important as average speed you get on the long run.
And speed is not as essential as user full control on his system.

I only tested Octave these last weeks. Great pleasure, very short learning of the star. Word guess looks magic ! Speed can be awesome when you are toying to learn (you accept to write anything that's coming). But, I very soon knew I would never use it on a PDA (remember, a PDA should be a true alternative to paper) for day to day use.

Thanks to Octave, my (short) practice with it led me to formulate these three "User Musts" for an entry method.

1. Fluency principle
I cannot bare to be interrupted by lacking words, and when I think of an existing word which is not in a general purpose glossary, I refuse not being allowed to input it fluently (i.e.: in the same mode as preceding words). Even with bigger dictionaries, that potential problem will remain (probability lower, but impact still high)

2. Goal convergence
When you write, you want to keep your brain focused on what you intend to say and how to word it. Writing is thinking. That's your goal (unless you're a copyist). Any operating consideration is a loss of efficiency.
Pen is best (you don't anymore think how to put your words with it), Grafiti is almost as good (because it builds on handwriting habits). Fitaly (and any keyboard) needs a part of your attention for keying. But at least it is always the same single operating mode.
With Octave you have so many things to watch at the same time : writing star at the bottom, guessed words window in the middle (which may add their own disturbance side-effects if you enjoy words), already typed text at top, and still keep thinking to what you'd want to write, and be alert on changing entry mode in case of new word, mistake, or back and forth grafiti use (easier for punctuation, brand Names entry, and so). You have too many things to think which are not thought.

3. Mistake allowance
When you make a mistake of any sort with a pen, graffiti or fitaly, the system do not complain and let you go. Octave gives a great help to prevent you from most spelling errors. But. It happens you write rather long words, say 7 letters and over. And it happens Octave don't guess the word that sould be in its dic. And it could happen it is all your fault. You didn't notice you've squeezed the 5th letter. You have an excuse: all the spelling is in your head (hush, that's another energy drain too), you don't (and can't) have any check on what you've already input. And Octave never gives you (of course) the word you're waiting for, and the "guess" window gets blank. The goback feature of Octave becomes, in that instance, worst than useless: it gives you confusing feed-back ! So I want to have the right to make my mistakes without getting blocked or lured.

All these means I must remain in command of the system I use, however "intelligent" it could be.

Octave might have rated high on my wants (speed, learning..), but it does not meet my user's must. So I drop it.

Octave is not a writing panacea for Palm. But Palm is a good working support to promote the use of Octave.With its star revamped into a minijoystick, Octave will be a confortable entry system on tiny equipments (where, because of size, data entry is occasional).


Jacques Turbé
A V o s M a r q u e s !

Related link: A V o s M a r q u e s !

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