[svlug] eWeek article on MS Outlook

J C Lawrence claw at kanga.nu
Mon May 15 16:38:56 PDT 2000

On Mon, 15 May 2000 13:33:48 -0700 
Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com> wrote:

> Quoting LennyBruceLee (lloyd at morpheme.com):

> Microsoft OSes have a concept called "opening" or "launching" a
> file, an action usually performed by double-clicking on something.
> This characterisation conceals the vital question, which the user
> _should_ be concerned about, of whether one is merely viewing the
> file, or executing (running) it.

While this is not original to MS, the desktop data centric model
espoused my MS, OS/2, MacOS, OSX etc, which is NOT original to MS,
deliberately blurs the line between data files and their
parent/relevent applications, with one of the ideas being that one
may "execute" a data file to have it automagically invoke its
relevent application to process it.  In this context, "double
clicking" is analagous to "executing", with the finer distinctions
being lost in the more general loss of the difference between
content (data) and generation (application).

Assign the blame at the right place: the desktop data-dentric model
and its (bad) implementation, not specifically to MS other than in
its bad implementation of a Bad Idea.

> To the extent Microsoft OSes make information available at all, on
> the executable vs. non-executable question, they do so via an
> impossibly large and disorderly array of file "type" indicators,
> implemented as three-letter filename extensions.  Unfortunately,
> those OSes suppress display of such extensions by default (!).

I understand that NT still supports portions of OS/2 legacy of
retaining such associations in Extended Attributes, but will not
generate such EAs by default.  EA's of course were another such
opaque data set that took much control out of users' hands.

> Obviously, there is a ghastly user-level hazard here that is in no
> way limited to Visual BASIC Scripting or to MS Outlook / MS
> Outlook Express: The OS's fundamental design actively _encourages_
> cluelessness and ignorance, _and_ actively stands in the way of
> users having crucial knowledge.

True.  The basic intent to make two very disperate items (data and
applications) generically indistinguishable is arguably, umm, dumb.

> And blaming MS Outlook and/or Visual BASIC Scripting ignores the
> real problem.  

I silently note that KDE's and Gnome's own motions toward the same
data-centric model (in this case implemented via MIME types IIRC)
will expose the same problem under a slightly different face.

> Glad it's not mine.


J C Lawrence                                 Home: claw at kanga.nu
----------(*)                              Other: coder at kanga.nu
--=| A man is as sane as he is dangerous to his environment |=--

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