I was reminded, reading Creig's note in the Letters section of the June 2014 issue, of some experiences with usability -- in particular, order processors and, under separate cover, staff entering data and launching a process. Brought back memories.

Years ago I had a client, a commercial meat distributor, that had a group of folks working the phones taking orders from customers for next day delivery. They worked on Wyse 60 terminals with a curses form front ending a database (type just enough for the customer look-up, just enough of each item for a look-up, hit the carriage return and away you go). Hands never left the keyboard.

Same thing with data entry folks and launch the process; curses, type, whack, away you go.

The mean distributor, a family operation, had a young kid who got a Mac and convinced his dad and uncles to switch. The in-house sales guys hated the things, having to grab and blasted mouse to things -- complaints daily about what a pain entering and editing and fooling around was and slower than molasses with all the overhead on the LAN (expensive LAN, too). Guy ordered Wyse 100's (he gave away the Wyse 60's to the schools), went back to the twisted pair serial cables, happy campers in the order department.

Same thing with the processor folk -- they worked in a terminal emulator on XP PCs, type it and go.

I'm constantly reminded of the shortcomings of clikc-'n'-drool versus the ease of just type it -- many forms have drop-downs for the state you live in, and most of them will not let you type enough to get "Michigan" and you're forced to grab the damned mouse? Lots of those, and lots of other nonsense that requires moving your hand somewhere to grab something, find the pointer, click something, let go of the mouse, move your hand back, get on the right keys and go some more until the next mouse grab.

Usability, to me, means consideration of the user and how much effort is going to be expended to get something simple done. Far too many designers are so taken with click-'n'-drool that they forget about the poor slob that has to use the thing all day long.

I still do user interfaces with curses (well, ncurses nowadays) and have some pretty happy clients' data entry folks.

Jus' sayin'.

Thomas Ronayne