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Usability in the Movies -- Top 10 Bloopers 382

Posted by Zonk
from the toomanysecrets dept.
Ant writes "A UseIt.com article talks about user interfaces (UIs) in film that are more exciting than they are realistic, and heroes have far too easy a time using foreign systems. The way Hollywood depicts usability could fill many a blooper reel. Here are 10 of the most egregious mistakes made by moviemakers. From the article: '3. The 3D UI - In Minority Report, the characters operate a complex information space by gesturing wildly in the space in front of their screens. As Tog found when filming Starfire, it's very tiring to keep your arms in the air while using a computer. Gestures do have their place, but not as the primary user interface for office systems.'"
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Usability in the Movies -- Top 10 Bloopers

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  • by houghi (78078) on Monday December 25, 2006 @01:46AM (#17358018)
    As long as I can just 'overrule' every password that is blocked, I am fine with it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 25, 2006 @01:46AM (#17358022)
    I know this!
    • by Archangel Michael (180766) on Monday December 25, 2006 @02:00AM (#17358088) Journal
      One of the more Prophetic moments in Movies. Who would have known that Apple, a few years later, would be running a version of Unix a little girl could use.
      • Linux (Score:5, Insightful)

        by oGMo (379) on Monday December 25, 2006 @02:36AM (#17358248)

        Well, far before Apple (by about a decade) making Unix available to the common man, there was Linux. What was funny about that then was the unlikelihood of a kid having access to a Unix system. What was even funnier a few years later (by 97 or 98) was the fact that it was no longer unlikely! Kids, even 12-year-olds, had access to Linux and were using it and learning it.

        Really, when I saw this one, I had to check the date on the article, because I thought it was quite old. The biggest examples of most of these are things like the first Mission Impossible, Independence Day, and as mentioned, Jurassic Park.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by MikeFM (12491)
          I had a Linux system about the time I was 14 and I could use it very well. I'll take argument with the notion that UI is inconsistant and hard to use in Unix. Sitting down at a bash command line and most basic XWindow apps is the same on any system - even before KDE and Gnome made them more colorful. Of course the interface used in Jurrasic Park is retarded.. wasn't it some sort of experimental file explorer by SGI?
        • What I think is funny is that, in a movie that features dinosaurs, cloned using frog DNA, running amok and basically eating a theme park, the biggest complaint here is that a kid can figure out how to use a computer.

      • Well... would you rather have a 2-hour extension to the original movie, wherein the actor is portrayed to "realistically" grope her way around the system while the dino-robo's are out loose?

        No, I wouldn't want to watch someone debug or "bond" with a difficult system either. I'd rather see the results.

    • by solitas (916005)
      >> I know this!

      Agreeing to say lines like that, it's not surprising that she did more work _before_ jurassic park than _after_ it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Gordonjcp (186804)
      Leaving aside the plausibility of a 12-year-old knowing Unix,

      What an arrogant remark. What, 12-year-olds can't read, or something?
  • Ridiculous... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aendeuryu (844048) on Monday December 25, 2006 @01:47AM (#17358026)
    Ok ok, we get the point about the UI in Minority Report, but COME ON, it's not like it's the most implausible thing about the movie. Same with Star Trek... Oh yeah, a computer that speaks and understands English, that's weird. Fifteen space alien races we encounter for the first time that speak and understand English, TOTALLY NORMAL. A kid saving the day with a 3d unix interface. Yeah, that just totally ruined the whole movie for me, because up until that point I was totally believing in THE DINOSAURS...

    Methinks a bit of perspective is called for...
    • Re:Ridiculous... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ScrewMaster (602015) on Monday December 25, 2006 @01:52AM (#17358046)
      Yes, but on the other hand a glaring flaw in the depiction of a knowledge area with which you are familiar can detract from the experience. I'm sure there are many doctors and biomedical researchers that cringe every time they see movies about bioweapons and genetically-engineered mutant monsters.
      • Re:Ridiculous... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by aendeuryu (844048) on Monday December 25, 2006 @02:05AM (#17358102)
        But for the most part, these anomalies serve a purpose -- they help push the story forward, or at the very least keep it from getting pushed back. Consider this... every Slashdotter here is an expert when it comes to toilet use. Do we cry out in anger when an entire movie goes by and nobody uses the can? Of course not. It's just not important to the story, and I consider a character that never uses the facilities during the course of most movies' narrative timeframe to be a LOT more unrealistic than an overly flashy GUI.

        Movies, ESPECIALLY Hollywood sci-fi movies, aren't made primarily to be depictions of reality. Verisimilitude has its place, but not when it's going to slow down the narrative progress.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by rynthetyn (618982)
        That would be the reason why my family absolutely hates watching most movies with me. I have enough of a photographic memory that if I've read something somewhere, no matter when it was or how old I was, I remember it. Combine that with the fact that as a child, my mother's response to "I'm bored" was "Read a book," and her response to "But I don't have any books to read" was "Read the encyclopedia," and the upshot is that between reading the encyclopedia and all of the random books I've read over the years
      • Yes, but on the other hand a glaring flaw in the depiction of a knowledge area with which you are familiar can detract from the experience.
        that's a very good point. as a graphic designer i've nearly had movies ruined for me because the opening credits were so poorly typeset. seems impossible, i know, but i figure if their attention to detail is that lacking the rest of the movie likely suffers the same fate.
    • The point of watching is that you suspend your belief, but if they force you to do so on something stupid like the UI then it ruins the movie.

      And also, I don't agree with the original article on the Minority Report UI. It's not an UI for office work, if he stands there waving his hands for more than 15 minutes then he already failed. And the information presented did not appear easily processed for display in 2D.
    • I remember watching Minority Report and having the opposite response. The UI seemed very plausible. If we are talking about writing up word documents, then no. But if we are talking about video editing and imaging, it seemed very realistic. In fact, it was so realistic that someone created a set of input devices very similar to those in the movie. I remember there being an article here about it a few months ago. Someone was playing warcraft.
    • by 1u3hr (530656)
      but COME ON, it's not like it's the most implausible thing about the movie.

      Yeah. The article was about user interfaces, not impluasible movie science in general. There is a serious point towards the end, that because we see these magical UIs so often on TV and in the movies, a lot of people, and decision makers, want them in real life, no matter how impractical or counter productive they'd be. Life imitates art, and that's not always good. I've seen several stories about implementations of the "Minority R

    • "Oh yeah, a computer that speaks and understands English, that's weird." There's software out currently that translates voice into text, http://www.courant.com/technology/hc-techcol1221. a rtdec21,0,4539347.story?track=rss [courant.com] The reverse shouldn't be too hard either? With 100 years to perfect it, I'd be surprised if it's not in common use by then. As to the aliens speaking English, supposedly you're hearing what they're saying via the universal translator, not the actualy words they're speaking. Now as to t
  • by Salvance (1014001) * on Monday December 25, 2006 @01:48AM (#17358028) Homepage Journal
    My favorite is always the login screens. Someone turns on the computer, and within a second or two a big generic login screen pops up. What's funny is that it usually doesn't have a user name, just a password. Then once logged in, all of a sudden the character can access any file instantaneously.

    You've Got Mail is Always Good News is a good one from the list though. I'd love to see the movie of the same name change so that Meg Ryan opens up her Mac notebook to a "You've got mail", which turns out to be 37 advertisements for penis enlargement pills and viagra. Hehehe...
  • I realize that this was more about user interfaces than hardware, but I feel that there are as many hardware blunders in movies as software.

    I remember watching "The Lone Gunman" one day (thank God that show didn't make it!) and they needed more processing power to crack a password to take over a hijacked plane. "We could do this if had one of those new Octium 4's!" Well, they get one, right before the plane hits the building, they pull out their existing processor, I assume and Octium 3, and drop in the new
    • by zaxus (105404)
      Oh yea, your mother uses Macintosh!

      Actually, my mother uses a PC. My wife uses the Macintosh... :-)
    • by Cylix (55374)
      They must have compiled the kernel with hot pluggable CPU support!
    • Old Hardware issues. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 25, 2006 @03:13AM (#17358430)
      "I remember watching "The Lone Gunman" one day (thank God that show didn't make it!) and they needed more processing power to crack a password to take over a hijacked plane. "We could do this if had one of those new Octium 4's!" Well, they get one, right before the plane hits the building, they pull out their existing processor, I assume and Octium 3, and drop in the new Octium 4, without so much as powering the machine off... and BAM! They had their password and saved the plane. Oh, and no processors had any type of thermal anything!"

      Nothing odd. On mainframes you can pull complete assembies off, and add without powering down. Some of the old timers here can tell you of hardware that could take almost anything and survive. It's just consumer equipment that has lowered everyone's expectations.
      • by quantaman (517394)

        "I remember watching "The Lone Gunman" one day (thank God that show didn't make it!) and they needed more processing power to crack a password to take over a hijacked plane. "We could do this if had one of those new Octium 4's!" Well, they get one, right before the plane hits the building, they pull out their existing processor, I assume and Octium 3, and drop in the new Octium 4, without so much as powering the machine off... and BAM! They had their password and saved the plane. Oh, and no processors had any type of thermal anything!"

        Nothing odd. On mainframes you can pull complete assembies off, and add without powering down. Some of the old timers here can tell you of hardware that could take almost anything and survive. It's just consumer equipment that has lowered everyone's expectations.

        Also maybe the Octium 4's had quantum subprocessors which allowed them to crack the password!

    • by jwlidtnet (453355)
      Chris Carter's TV shows (and, apparently, anything related to them) always had terrible computer "simulations," long after it became even borderline acceptable for this to be the case. Millennium is a particular offender; I simply can't fathom the logic of having a "nerd character" (I forget the guy's name, but the Season 2 character who was introduced seemingly to be the "lone gunman" for the show) who gets things wrong so frequently. Frank Black's entire computer is a mockery of the reality of the interne
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by searchr (564109)
      It's hilarious that you mock that particular Lone Gunmen episode for not being correctly prophetic for something so marginal as the chip for their computer. It's like chastising a tv show for the characters always knowing exactly how to cock, reload, aim and use an assault rifle.

      That episode, by the way, was about terrorists hijacking a commercial plane and crashing it into the World Trade Center. It aired like six months before 9/11. Makes me wonder what sort of other depressing crap those other movies are
  • by sharp-bang (311928) <sharp.bang.slashdot@NoSPAM.gmail.com> on Monday December 25, 2006 @01:49AM (#17358036) Homepage
    He forgot the highly accurate Hollywood search engine, which enabled Tom Cruise to put a Bible verse into an Internet search engine in Mission Impossible and get three hits, yet not support Boolean searching until Deanna Troi invents it in Star Trek: the Next Generation.
  • #10? (Score:4, Informative)

    by mar1no (559482) on Monday December 25, 2006 @01:50AM (#17358038) Homepage
    Leaving aside the plausibility of a 12-year-old knowing Unix, simply knowing Unix is not enough to immediately use any application running on the system. Yes, she could probably have used vi on the security terminal. But the specialized security system would have required some learning time -- significant learning time if it were built on Unix, which has notoriously inconsistent user interface design and thus makes it harder to transfer skills from one application to the next.


    This guy didn't do his research. It wasn't that specialized of a security system.

    http://fsv.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]
    • Grandfather (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Tony (765) * on Monday December 25, 2006 @01:56PM (#17360646) Journal
      Her grandfather ran the place. If I were a rich grandfather, and my granddaughter loved computers, I would get her the same computers I used at my super-duper dino ranch. Duh. So she would've known Unix, and she would've known the interface they used at the installation.

      All this griping because the kid knew Unix was stupid. It makes sense in the context of the movie, which is all that matters. I mean, filling in dino DNA with frog DNA was ridiculous, but it worked within the confines of the movie.

      At twelve, I was programming assembly language on the Apple ][ for high-speed 3D wireframe graphics (like Bill Budge's cool toolkit, only sucky). It's not surprising a bright kid wouldn't know how to fly through a 3D interface on which she already had experience thanks to her understanding and very rich grandfather.
  • How it should work (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jours (663228) on Monday December 25, 2006 @01:51AM (#17358040)
    What, am I the only one reading this crap on Christmas Eve?

    Think about how tedious a computer scene would be if the user had to navigate Windows, KDE, or even Mac OS X. While the herione was trying to find her husband's company's secret documents she'd log in ... click on My Computer ... then My Network Places ... then log in again ... then private -> secret -> projects -> 2006 -> world domination ... and then wait for Office to load.

    The way it works in the movies is the way it should work. Log in, type "find Kyoto meeting minutes", a bunch of matrix-ish characters scroll across the screen, and there it is.
    • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Monday December 25, 2006 @01:54AM (#17358066)
      I read a one-liner that said, "Artificial Intelligence is the science of making computers behave like they do in the movies."
    • by edwardpickman (965122) on Monday December 25, 2006 @02:15AM (#17358150)
      It could be a nice story point that while they are desperately trying to save the world their XP computer starts constantly warning them that they need to update their system. It's not really a joke because I used to have my XP machine plugged into the internet. Well about a month ago I was in the middle of an important render when it decided it didn't want to wait any longer to install an update. It kept prompting me that it was about to reboot. I spent two hours every five minutes telling it not to reboot until the render finished. I immediately yanked the internet connection and haven't updated it since. I can see a hero trying to enter the code to stop a nuclear attack when the windows machine tells him it's going to reboot to update his system.
    • by syzler (748241) <david AT syzdek DOT net> on Monday December 25, 2006 @02:39AM (#17358260)
      The way it works in the movies is the way it should work. Log in, type "find Kyoto meeting minutes", a bunch of matrix-ish characters scroll across the screen, and there it is.

      I guess you don't use OS X. Apple aready has this feature, it is called Spotlight. Commnad-Space &ltsaerch term&gt and OS X will provide a list of matching files based on Meta data and file contents. Okay, it is missing the matrix style characters, but it is close.
    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      Think about how tedious a computer scene would be if the user had to navigate Windows, KDE, or even Mac OS X. While the herione was trying to find her husband's company's secret documents she'd log in ... click on My Computer ... then My Network Places ... then log in again ... then private -> secret -> projects -> 2006 -> world domination ... and then wait for Office to load.

      Uh, in the movies, as in real life, there would probably be a nice icon on the desktop. Now, only in the movies would the

  • As far as I could tell, that was just the interface for a particular computer. It might be tiring, but I think the idea is to be able to correlate data in a very fast manner. Other computers in the movie appeared to use a more "traditional" interface.
  • I do understand what they were driving at but the whole point of drastically advanced technology is that it would require less effort and input. You didn't hear them verbally entering code they were always asking for a complex taste to be performed. That task might require a dozen people normally but the computer is able to do it without assistence. When they performed more intensive tasks they did use a manual interface. Voice is inefficent for data entry but if the system is designed to run on it's own th
  • "... Unix, which has notoriously inconsistent user interface design ..."

    I do not think this is specific to Unix. Windows is equally as bad. The most consistent modern OS I have encountered is OSX, and even then there are a number of notable exceptions.

    Overall it was really a pointless article. Yes, movies frequently play fast and loose with reality. So what? Is that not what movies are all about?

    I think it's just a slow news day. Come to think of it, why the heck am I spending time on Slashdot on Chri

  • I find it amazing that the computer experts in TV and film never turn off the high pitched sound effects that play whenever a window opens, moves, a key is pressed, or a photo is "enhanced."

    That would drive me crazy.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by jpardey (569633)
      Actually, every computer professional has a midi footpad under every computer desk, so they can control beeping noises. Sort of like whenever I slide a lighting slider I say "woooosh" or "wht" depending on how fast I slide it.
    • Re:Sound effects? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ScrewMaster (602015) on Monday December 25, 2006 @02:09AM (#17358124)
      On the other hand, most of the people watching those experts in TV and film aren't experts and haven't the slightest idea how a real expert would behave. The idea in a movie is to make the action appear realistic to the majority of the audience. Whether it is actually realistic is secondary. Yes, that will alienate some small percentage of the said audience who have the experience to perceive the error, but from a cinematic perspective that's a small price to pay. Hey, this is Slashdot and most of us are computer-literate far beyond the norm, but you can bet your boots that there are many people from other disciplines that just want to rip their eyes out when they watch scenes that would just make us think, "Whoa ... cool."

      By way of example, in the original pilot of Star Trek (original series) the test audience felt the opening sequence felt unnatural, because when the Enterprise was zooming into view there was no sound. That was as it should have been, this being a starship traveling through vacuum parsecs from anything resembling an atmosphere. However, as soon as Roddenbery's people added the swoosh! sound effect, everybody was happy. I've seen both sequences and I must admit I prefer it with the sound, even though I know better.
      • by Bluesman (104513)
        The problem is, if you are not completely ignorant of any of these topics:

        Firearms
        Physics
        Chemistry
        The Military
        Women
        Children
        Men
        Automobiles
        Computers

        Then it's nearly impossible to watch a TV show or movie and not be constantly rolling your eyes. It's really hard to suspend disbelief when Jennifer Garner's semi-auto PISTOL runs out of ammo and then CLICKS when she pulls the trigger. The goddamn slide locks back, Hollywood assholes! Clicking only happens with revolvers!

        Thank you, I feel much better.
      • However, as soon as Roddenbery's people added the swoosh! sound effect, everybody was happy

        ...and yet, the lack of sound in the parts of 2001: A Space Odyssey is very effective in communicating the emptiness of space. During the sequences where the astronauts take the pods outside the spaceship, the sound cuts in and out depending on whether the scene is depicting the inside of the pods or the area around the spaceship. The technique is especially dramatic when Bowman enters through the emergency door, w

        • by Schemat1c (464768)
          Although Kubrick does use music over some of the space scenes, his editing actually makes the lack of sound an artistic element, something I don't recall from any other science fiction movie.

          Firefly used the silence of space very nicely and Battlestar Galactica at least muffles the sound a bit.
      • by keithmo (453716)
        The idea in a movie is to make the action appear realistic^W^W entertaining to the majority of the audience.

        I fixed that for your.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 25, 2006 @02:06AM (#17358108)
    I can't believe they left out the enhance functionality, making a someones face from twenty feet away appear crystal clear on a 320x240 ATM camera.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Dupple (1016592)
      I have the CSI plug in for Photoshop, don't you? :)
    • by quantaman (517394)

      I can't believe they left out the enhance functionality, making a someones face from twenty feet away appear crystal clear on a 320x240 ATM camera.
      The article is about unrealistic interfaces and usability issues that vanish in the movies and TV, image enhancement is unrealistic from a technologic perspective but not from a UI perspective.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 25, 2006 @02:10AM (#17358128)
    Twas the night before Christmas,
    As I clicked on my mouse,
    Across a pile of old floppies, I had tried to degauss;
    Windows kept hanging with a Blue Screen Of Death,
    While I cursed out Bill Gates under my breath.
    The missus slept, as did the kids and newborn,
    So I took the time to surf for some porn.
    I found a free site that contained many jpegs,
    (So that's just exactly, how chickens can lay eggs!)
    When out down the hall I heard a loud noise,
    I jumped out of my chair and put back the boys.

    I figured the wife must be up and about,
    If caught again, she'd toss my ass out.
    I laced up my robe and thought of a story
    About why I'm up and how to say sorry.
    I stuck out my head by the light of the john
    (One of the kids must've left the light on)
    I squint and I strain to see what is what
    When what hove into view was a giant red butt.
    The first thing I thought was to reach for a bat
    (Wait a minute. A red suit, fur trim and he's fat!)

    The Claus man is here with high-tech type gadgets
    The latest geek toys that run all the gamuts.
    New cell phones! New sound cards! New controllers and games!
    For Xbox! For Gamecube! For Playstation and MAMEs!
    Wireless Routers! And they're eleven G!
    Not slow! Not slow! Not slow like B!
    As dial-up was, before we all had high speed,
    Time seemed to slow as I watched with my greed.
    " All those wonderful toys" as the joker did say,
    Where does he get them? Best Buy and Ebay?

    And then, with a beeping, off went my pager,
    (Some idiot at work with a dumb question, I'll wager)
    As I fumbled to stop the beep-beeping sound,
    Santa had stopped and now turned around.
    It was unfortunate that he tripped the motion detector
    Because the police would soon be dispatched to our sector
    He dropped the toys to make quick his escape
    And he flew 'cross the room like that dude in the cape

    His ass -- How it rippled and flapped, I say truly
    It's explained in a principle by a guy named Bernoulli.
    Yes, he flew 'round the room just like he was Neo
    While playing a song by Letters To Cleo
    I silenced the alarm and he returned to the floor
    I said I was sorry, but boy, was he sore!
    He hitched up his belt and headed my way
    But I managed to calm him with some Grand Marnier.
    We laughed, we talked and he told me his troubles
    About a lawsuit, an affair and a chimp named Bubbles.

    He was falling down drunk. He walked with a sway.
    I thought I had better take the keys to the sleigh.
    I pulled out my cell phone and called for a cab
    To take the jolly old elf back to his lab.
    He spoke not a word, but threw up on my slippers.
    By the smell, for breakfast, he must've had kippers.
    That's about the time the policemen arrived,
    So I went for some coffee to get old Santa revived.
    In his current state and with no ID to display,
    The cops had no choice, but to haul him away.

    He gave me the finger as the cops drove out of sight,
    " HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD-NIGHT.

    • Not to be a grammar nazi, but the cadence was off in too many places. Rather than just bitch about it, I'm submitting a revision for your consideration. I tried to stay true to the original intent. [sigh] The silly "characters per line" restriction is preventing me from posting, so I'm going to ramble here a bit to get the stats up. Yep, nothing relevant to read here, so just skip down a bit.

      More crap for the "characters per line" restriction, dammit: Four score and seven years ago our fathers br
  • by MarcoAtWork (28889) on Monday December 25, 2006 @02:14AM (#17358144)
    My teachers (from grade school to college) had no problems gesturing and writing on whiteboards all day, also something tells me that painters, form carpenters, etc. etc. (especially in days gone by, without power nailers and spray guns) can keep their hands up in the air all day long no problem.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by fucksl4shd0t (630000)

      Errr, no. Teachers are exhausted after a full day's teaching for a reason. I used to work in the pit at an oil change place and I can tell you, keeping your hands up in the air ain't no picnic. In fact, after awhile on a busy day, you just want to go up top so you can let your arms hang slack.

  • Guestures will never take off as a means of user input. It will be a cold day in hell before Wii see that sort of interface on a home computing system.

    More seriously, what is so difficult to imagine a system in the future (ala MR) that can react to slight, minor movements (something the Wii allows for with it's remote - technically you need need to make over the top movements to use it, but that's fun to do). You needen't keep your hands in the air right out in front of you, though subtle and lazy movements
  • by MysticOne (142751) on Monday December 25, 2006 @02:23AM (#17358182) Homepage
    I'd have to disagree with the article when they say the voice interfaces, such as those used in Star Trek, would be inefficient. If the machine is able to understand natural language, I'd think it would be much easier for a person to simply have a dialog with the computer than it'd be to try and figure out how to properly word the stuff, type it in, and then pick things from the screen. Not to mention the fact that the machine would literally need hundreds of thousands or millions of options, depending on what the user wanted. If you already know what you want, why not just say it?

    Voice:
    "Computer, what's the status of the plasma conduit in section XYZ?"

    Alternative:
    Okay, Engineering -> Systems -> Energy -> Plasma Conduits -> Section XYZ -> Status

    Voice:
    "Computer, how many crew members on board are human, female, and single? Oh, and with big boobs?"

    Alternative:
    Hmmm, Personnel -> Crew Listing -> Filter based on species, gender, marital status -> ... wtf? no big boobs option?!

    Anyway. I just thought it seemed silly. A lot of times it's easier to say what you want than it is to write it out. If the computer can understand written english that isn't specially formatted, then why not take it to the next step and have it accept voice input? After all that is said, they did still have LCARS and all, so it isn't like voice interaction was the only way to work with the computer.

    • I think a voice interface would still be a problem. It's the content of the spoken message that is important.

      I can type "Show me the status of the plasma conduit in section XYZ", and I can also speak it aloud. Once it gets past speech recognition, it winds up essentially a list of tokens. English language words. Unless your speech recognition is so good it can glean different information from inflection.

      Really, what I think is best would be the ability for a computer to truly parse a spoken language

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by aridhol (112307)

      wtf? no big boobs option?!

      Just cross-reference your results with the uniform size database. One more reason for custom-tailored uniforms.

    • by forkazoo (138186)

      I'd have to disagree with the article when they say the voice interfaces, such as those used in Star Trek, would be inefficient. If the machine is able to understand natural language, I'd think it would be much easier for a person to simply have a dialog with the computer than it'd be to try and figure out how to properly word the stuff, type it in, and then pick things from the screen. Not to mention the fact that the machine would literally need hundreds of thousands or millions of options, depending on w

    • by p0tat03 (985078)

      "Computer, how many crew members on board are human, female, and single? Oh, and with big boobs?"

      "I think you want to query the crew database, filtering for species: human, gender: female, marital status: single, physical attributes: big-breasted. If this is correct please say yes."

      We *have* these systems, but their error rates are high enough that the computer must take ages to confirm every single minor action with the user, this is beyond annoying. Once we can trust the computer to never (or rather

    • by asuffield (111848)

      I'd have to disagree with the article when they say the voice interfaces, such as those used in Star Trek, would be inefficient. If the machine is able to understand natural language, ...

      And therein lies the issue. *If* your system is able to parse natural language correctly, all your interface problems are solved. The problem is that saying "understand natural language" actually means "think like a human", which means the problem is AI-complete. At that point the statement becomes less interesting - it say

  • Who writes these things? And why do they get posted on Slashdot endlessly?

    First off, I found the 3D interface from Minority Report to be fascinating; and given the unique function of the computer who is to say that it wasn't the most efficient manner of manipulating the data? Second, I noticed that in Star Trek characters generally used keypads/control panels for complex tasks, while others could be dictated more speedily and/or helped the character focus his or her thoughts. This seemed perfectly justifiab
  • by greenguy (162630) <estebandido&gmail,com> on Monday December 25, 2006 @02:30AM (#17358210) Homepage Journal
    Even on Christmas Eve, I figured someone would have mentioned this by now.

    Jeff Goldblum['s character] is able to plant a virus in the computer designed by AN ALIEN SPECIES. This assumes he has a good working knowledge of not only their user interface, but their hardware, software APIs, programming language, and arguably their natural language as well. Oh, and he learned all this in, like, a day. Granted, he had a Mac, but still.

    • by 1u3hr (530656)
      Goldblum['s character] is able to plant a virus in the computer designed by AN ALIEN SPECIES. This assumes he has a good working knowledge of not only their user interface, but their hardware, software APIs, programming language, and arguably their natural language as well. Oh, and he learned all this in, like, a day. Granted, he had a Mac, but still.

      More plausible than most of the movie. They've been studying an Alien fighter in the Area 51 bunker since 1947 (I assume it's the Roswell ship). So they had

  • I can't believe he the article doesn't mention "Independance Day" where Jeff Goldbloom takes a virus on his mac, and uploads it to the alien mothership, which takes down the shields of all the little fighters.

    I also liked how the aliens used earth's satelites to send a signal to co-ordinate the time that they would strike. Naturally, an alien race which has mastered faster-than-light travel and can take over our complex satelite system still hasn't figured out how to synchronize its watches.
  • ...the system in Minority Report is considered one of the worst UIs in movie history because moving your arms is "very tiring". Maybe having to move your arms is a good thing. Maybe you should have to run on the spot to scroll.

    There was an episode of Outer Limits (I think it was Outer Limits) where a race had become so dependent on their technology that their bodies had withered to non-functionality. It was an interesting forecast for ourselves, but it is more likely we will be disabled by obesity rather th
  • by greenguy (162630) <estebandido&gmail,com> on Monday December 25, 2006 @02:36AM (#17358246) Homepage Journal
    "Luke, you've switched off your targeting computer. What's wrong?"
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Great, now that you've brought that up, the next remaster of Episode IV will have the computer saying...

      "It looks like you're trying to target a two-meter exhaust port with proton torpedoes.
      Would you like some help with that?"
      • Great, now that you've brought that up, the next remaster of Episode IV will have the computer saying...

        "It looks like you're trying to target a two-meter exhaust port with proton torpedoes.

        And meanwhile, on the Death Star, shortly before Luke launches his torpedoes...

        Commence primary ignition...

        Bleep...Bleep...Vrrrrrmmmmmm...

        Stand by... Stand by...

        This is followed by a BSOD filling up the big view screen with the message:

        "This program has performed an illegal operation and will be shut down."


        This then giv

  • by noretsa (995866) on Monday December 25, 2006 @02:38AM (#17358258)
    Does anyone else question why we are taking user interface advice from a guy whose website looks like it was designed in notepad? The Minority Report user interface was actually designed by industry professionals at Microsoft Research, MIT, and Sun. These people all have a great pedigree in usability. The author suggests using a 3D interface is tiring but in the movie the police are required to parse through a large amount of 4-dimensional data in very short periods of time. This is because they need to stop the crime before it occurs. That interface is built around speed and control which is not something the critic considers. I find it ironic how the author derides gestural input while Slashdot has stories almost every day about how great that interface has worked for the Wii.
    • This website was refreshingly easy to read, honestly. Nicely contrasted text in a reasonably large font.
    • I would have a problem with waving around my arm full time on the job. I suppose that would make it a good excuse to avoid work at home.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MichaelSmith (789609)

      The author suggests using a 3D interface is tiring but in the movie the police are required to parse through a large amount of 4-dimensional data in very short periods of time.

      Most people describe the UI of the air traffic control system I work on as dull but thats because you need to give it your total attention for six hours straight without your eyes getting tired.

      Different requirements from your example, with the totally opposite outcome, but the argument that the UI has to suit the application is a g

    • Does anyone else question why we are taking user interface advice from a guy whose website looks like it was designed in notepad?

      No. Do you find it hard to read, or something?

      Your UID is even higher than mine, which betrays that you're new here. This is Jakob Nielsen [useit.com] we're talking about. He's not just some random dude with a website written in Notepad. He's a well-known UI expert with a (simple and) easy to read website which looks like it could very well have been written in Notepad. There's a big differen

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by fermion (181285)
      I will tell you what. Most websites are quite overengineered as a result of the compromise between usability and revenue generation. This is pretty much true of anything, but it is important to consider. In fact when evaluating an interface, the first thing that must be asked is what is the actual purpose of the interface.

      Let's take the ATM machine for example. Initially the machine was created to reduce the load on tellers for easily automated tasks. These machines would often directly generate reve

    • by Dhalka226 (559740)

      Does anyone else question why we are taking user interface advice from a guy whose website looks like it was designed in notepad?

      As a disclaimer, I found most of the points in the article to be exceptionally boring. A fair deal of it is true, but some of it--like complaining that font sizes are too big--seem like a stretch to fill a Top 10 list rather than a legitimate complaint.

      As to your question: No, because the issue is usability, not aesthetics. Sometimes really pretty things help you get things

  • He forgot how movie computers are always beeping and emitting other odd sounds at useless moments.
    • Forgot? Maybe he didn't comment on it as the most realistic ui portrayal? I use my computer as my alarm clock, which means at least once a day my wife goes to some website that makes a noise in speakers and a mxier that are cranked. It's always funny, too. :)
  • At least "The Voyage Home" got #2 right.
  • by PhreakOfTime (588141) on Monday December 25, 2006 @03:35AM (#17358512) Homepage

    Ok. It was kind of hard reading yet another person who does not understand that movies are NOT reality. But at times it was mildly amusing, and almost credible. I say almost, because right at the end of the article there is a one line sentence that made me realize the author of this piece has ZERO comprehension of the real world. Most likely because the author is too busy trying to force reality on an obviously non-reality based for of entertainment. The line was this;

    Users blame themselves when they can't use technology

    Im sorry, but having worked in IT for almost a decade now, I have yet to hear one person who blames themselves instead of the 'stupid computer'. Hell, in this society, we even call car wrecks 'accidents' because nobody has the stones to take responsibility. Yet, this guy somehow believes that people are blaming themselves that they dont know how to use a PC? The only thing I can even think comes close to this is the people who walk around using the phrase "Im computer illiterate" as some sort of badge of honor. To which I always think "If you cant take the time to educate yourself about something you know you should be trying to learn, do you think its a great idea to BRAG about it?"

    That one line in the article is more fanciful than ANY of the movie situations presented.

  • Gestures do have their place, but not as the primary user interface for office systems.

    Neo: How about I give you the finger.... and you give me my phone call?

    It is at this point that Agent Smith blocks Neo's VoIP ports, and... well, you know the rest.
  • so what? (Score:2, Funny)

    by digitaldoom (1026916)
    ~If you're wondering how he eats and breathes And other science facts, Just repeat to yourself "It's just a show, I should really just relax~ Just enjoy the movie!
  • The Gesture-Based Interface is for users who have an extra input peripheral; alongside their keyboard and mouse, they have a Nintendo WiiMote or a similar device.

    The WiiMote has started a revolution. Today, it costs 40$ USD for a device with an accelerometer, and IR camera with a motion dot tracking ASIC, 7 buttons, a D-Pad, a speaker, a rumble motor, a BlueTooth radio and controller with a built-in 8051 microcontroller, connected directly to an expansion port that lets you add peripherals to the base WiiMo
  • by Gnavpot (708731) on Monday December 25, 2006 @06:07AM (#17358950)
    From the summary:
    and heroes have far too easy a time using foreign systems.


    What really impress me is the hero's ability to navigate through an old-fashioned paper archive.

    The hero and the heroine break into the very big company, find the small room with the "Archives" sign on the door, open the drawer "E-G", browse through the nicely arranged folders, and pick the folder with the incrimination evidence.

    Where I work, we have paper archives all over the place. Even though we know the system, it can take a day finding the information we are looking for.

"A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices." -- William James

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