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4. Tinkering Techniques

Chapter 4. Tinkering Techniques

The most important part of software design is the interface. The interface is the only link we humans have with the machines we use—the better the interface, the better the link, and the more useful the machine will be. Because the Windows XP software has already been designed and written, the most we can hope to do is to tinker with it so that it works more like we think it should.

The first thing I do when I hit a roadblock or find a “feature” in Windows is jump into the Registry and try to fix it. The more I hack away at Windows’s flaws, the easier it gets, and the leaner, cleaner, and less annoying Windows becomes. The solutions in this chapter illustrate this point.

The unfortunate methodology behind the design of the Windows interface is that it’s supposed to be usable by the lowest common denominator: the person who has never seen Windows before. Don’t get me wrong, one of the most important interface design considerations is its ability to be used by the uninitiated. But there are three main problems with this approach if not done correctly. One, such an interface can be inherently condescending. Two, no user is a beginner forever. Three, users are not all the same.


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