Adobe Flash 10.3

The nice folks at Adobe (usually i would just say this truthfully, but by now, i can’t.) have just made available the new version of Adobe Flash 10.3.

I strongly recommend everyone that uses flash on the Mac to install it, basically because for the first time since Apple dumped that responsibility, we Mac Users get a “auto-update mechanism and notifications” for this hacking/security issues riddled plugin.

Wow. It only took them a year or so to get that. Amazing. You would think that there is no easy solution for that kind of stuff!

Ah, Adobe… Always faithful to their true self.

Usability, and why it is lost in the Windows world

I plugged my printer into a new MacBook Pro — my first mac ever. A week later I needed to print, so I started poking around for an ADD PRINTER process. Eventually I realized the OS has setup the printer. The OS is responsible for I/O and hardware, so why would it need me to participate. Why should the user be trained like a monkey to click NEXT, NEXT, NEXT, NEXT, FINISH.

Mac is a completely different mindset and design from the ground up. And great design pays off for a decade, the same way the bad designs of Windows 3.1 hurt Windows for a decade. It isn’t just about “OS” security. It is about the work environment that OS provides the user. Windows users (who arent geeks) feel helpless and at the mercy of this mysterious machine that keeps asking questions they don’t understand. Mac Users aren’t made to feel like morons because they don’t work in the computer industry. AND THAT is why they love and trust their machines.

And Windows people simply don’t get it, until they are willing to be a Mac users, no take backs, not using it only when I have to, not bothering to invest in it to have all the tricks you need to live on it the same way you did on Windows. When you jump fully in the pool you start to see the different perspective. Not that everything is rosey and perfection of a Computer Operating System. It isn’t about that, that is the Windows user’s view of a Mac User. The Mac people are busy using the computer to do something that has nothing to do with “OS”. OS isn’t their focus or concern.

A anonymous commenter on ZDNet

This is part of a comment on a gallery related to a “peter cried wolf” set of articles by Ed Bott at THe article itself is just another dose of “get ready, Macs are just as insecure as my faithful windows, so be prepared and start buying Norton stocks products.”

John Gruber has a nice timeline of other equal idiot valid articles here.

But this particular commentary is specially interesting. And true. And it touches another usability handicap of Windows that blows my mind. The User Account Control (UAC) and its endless stream of prompts.

Microsoft wanted, correctly i might say, that people started using the standard division of Administrator/User, starting from Windows Vista. It was the best choice they could have made and the major reason Vista is leaps and bounds a safer system than XP.

Until then to actually use Windows you had to be an admin, with all of the security faults it implied. I remember trying to set my Windows XP machine somewhere around 2005 (give or take) as an Admin/Reg.User duo and finding out that i couldn’t even plug in a usb flash drive as a regular user. (( This might have required that the admin pointed out point by point what every user could do. But i wasn’t ready, or am now, to loose time configuring something that should have been obvious that a regular user could do in a standard household environment and be properly set up from the first moment))

So, about 2 years ago, I was again recruited to give technical assistance to a relative, female, early fifties, school teacher. She had some basic knowledge of computers and still knew how to mess around on the control panel preferences. When she bought a Vista laptop, she setup herself as a Admin account. As it comes preconfigured.

When i picked up her computer to provide a “cleanup” i found out that she had completely disabled UAC. Why? because it kept annoying her and interrupting her workflow with prompts. Every single time from the startup to shutdown. So she did what most people did. Disable it. She wouldn’t know /think of setting her up as a second standard user, but she quickly found out where to disable the UAC. And as such there went the security. No wonder why i was being called.

I already knew why she had done it. If you are the admin, you are annoyed every time you are doing any kind of stuff that might alter the system. Even if it is “admin stuff”. So you would suffer a prompt every single time you opened up a “C:/Program Files” folder. Or every time you changed the wireless network. Or entered the Control Panel.

Jeeezzz!! IF i authenticated myself as the Administrator, if i already passworded my way in to admin land, then by Jove, leave me doing my stuff alone. Stop pestering me! I can’t possibly imagine what hell professional IT admins must have endured trying to use Vista. And then again, maybe that is why they didn’t and kept everyone using XP since then…

And this is what the commenter is referring about. If MS wanted people to setup the admin/user protocol, then force it, design it inherently, hide the admin (SUDO). But don’t do things halfheartedly with the firm intention of annoying the user so much that it must do what you wanted to him to do. Because he/she will find another solution. Probably easier and not at all what you wanted in the first place.

Adobe experience

Web designers are frequently among the most irritating persons in all of the “computer experience”. And among these, i specially have an issue with Adobe related ones.

I mean, not just those that use Flash for everything, including showing titles phrases (something i can’t possibly understand), but those guys that make the Adobe website. Which is a confusion statement on his own.

I know the few times i consulted the site i usually went back and forth trying to find whatever I was looking for, but what seemed was always on the next link I’d press, wasn’t.

Suppose that you would like to download the next flash player, or simply check if there was updates (as long as you have to use Flash, is always a vert good idea to maintain it as updated as possible). You write and there you go. And then to the Get Flash Player Downolad Page. OK. Fine so far. But now the web page tells you that the new version is 10.0.1234567 ?! Err… and that means what? Not a single indication of when was this version released or any indication that is “new”.

And now to my favourite part. You assume, correctly, that Adobe is likely to be able to know what version you have. And you look for it on the download page. I mean, that is undoubtedly the best place to put that info right? “The new version is 10.0.12345 and you have 10.0.12333” Seems a reasonable info to look for, right? But no. No siree! No option to look that.

And now you look at the links they provide below the download button. And none provides that info, nor indicate in anyway that it might contain that info. And you click on the first one that takes you to the Product info. Lot of seller’s talk. But not the info you are looking for. The second indicates all of the system requirements that you must need. And the third point out to something about wanting to redistribute the Flash player.

I’ll spare you the details but if you pressed any of this links and look for it, you wouldn’t get to the Flash Info page that finally tells you what version you have and what are the latest releases. I’ll usually just give up and look for it on Google.

Most browsers also give you the info on what version you have but either is not easy to get there or they are somewhere buried in a sub-sub menu that you wouldn’t remember to look. ((on Safari is on Help/Installed Plugins. Why it is not in Preferences/Extensions or similar beats me. I had to google to find out about this also because i would never guess that it was in the Help menu that is, you know, for help!))

And why this random rant about a small and trivial thing? Well, because yesterday i’ve read that Adobe had released a new flash player, with less hardware consumption and better security. So i went to the website to download it. And found this:

Screen shot 2011-02-10 at 11.14.58.png

Well, i know Chrome has its own Flash player but i happen to have other browsers on my computer (Safari, Firefox & Opera) and at least Firefox i use frequently as my “work” browser. And i would really like to update those now that i know that a new major version has been launched. I understand the info about Chrome not needing it, but let’s just assume for a moment that i know what i am doing and even so i would like to download it anyway. Nops. No luck. You can’t. At least using Chrome. The nice folks that do this website know better than you. A simple link below giving the option to download the damn file would be too complicated. Or something else. Beats me. It’s a Adobe experience. Should have known.