“Average” Users

There is no such thing as “the average user”. It’s statistics. The average user is the user if replicated to replace every user would give the same result.“If there’s one thing I wish more than anything for the Linux platform, it’s for developers of the desktop environments to stop preaching only to their respective choirs. It’s time for the designers, developers, thinkers, plotters, and planners to understand one thing — the average user should be their one and only target for 2015.” He/she is a virtual user, a concept, not reality. Still, in my experience with family/friends/students/teachers/coworkers, that average user is not someone who installs an OS, tweaks an OS or even installs a ton of applications. Many times I’ve had folks I consider close to the average user ask me for help installing a printer-driver or anti-virus application. They just want to turn on the machine and get IT.

M$ has not been serving those folks well what with EULAs, the necessity of anti-malware software, keeping track of stickers/genuine anything from M$, the vagaries of hunting for drivers, designed-in incompatibilities intended to force upgrades (and new hidden licensing fees) and re-re-reboots, lots of them… The average user wants none of those. GNU/Linux on the other hand, has most drivers built in to the kernel or typical desktop sub-systems like CUPS or SANE. There’s no EULA to read and “agree to”. There’s no licensing fee, hidden or otherwise. You get the software installed on your PC and it’s as good as yours as far as copyright and usage is concerned. You can even share it. The average user likes to share. He/she shares use of their PC with family, friends and visitors, simple actions which may or may not be compatible with a variety of EULAs which restrict rights to just the owner of the PC (“Typically, this means you can install one copy of the software on a personal computer and then you can use the software on that computer.
this license does not give you any right to, and you may not: use or virtualize features of the software separately; publish, copy (other than the permitted backup copy), rent, lease, or lend the software
The software is licensed to run on up to two processors on the licensed computer.
Device connections. You may allow up to 20 other devices to access the software installed on the licensed computer for the purpose of using file services, print services, Internet information services, and Internet connection sharing and telephony services on the licensed computer.”
).

Users of GNU/Linux don’t even need to read the GPL to be legal and can probably forget about malware and possibly even firewalls in their homes. They can leave that to the router if at all. The average user doesn’t have to install much software at all as most desktop distros include a web browser that people want to use, multimedia software and an office productivity suite like LibreOffice.

No, GNU/Linux is the desktop operating system for the average user, not that other OS. Then, why do most OEMs and retailers ship that other OS? It’s a bad habit. It’s an identifiable cash-flow. It’s a trap set by M$ when IBM granted them a monopoly on desktops OS for the IBM PC back in the day. M$ extended that to the GUI by making it difficult for developers to sell software licences for anything but that other OS so retailers had to sell it or nothing at all. Volume was key in the early days. It’s still important today, but in 2015 consumers will finally have choice almost everywhere on Earth: Android/Linux, GNU/Linux, Chrome OS, and FireFox OS and Tizen and… anything but that other OS, which is rapidly becoming irrelevant. Millions of desktop PCs running */Linux were sold in 2014. 2015 will be even better. Everyone sees that now and OEMs and retailers have awakened from their poison-induced sleep of decades. Check out your local retailers. How many units with an alternative OS do you see? Where I live, that other OS is hanging onto the last retail shelves by its fingertips. In fact, M$ is paying OEMs to install that other OS. There’s desperation for you. Is that a long term plan of business? Nope. It’s a delaying tactic by the salesmen. The longer that other OS can keep mindshare, the longer the cash cow works for them. In 2015 that all ends. M$ will have to work for a living instead of just printing licences.

See 2015: If wishes were penguins, everyone would fly.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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19 Responses to “Average” Users

  1. DrLoser says:

    Alternatively, if you are trying to claim that you, personally, have less common sense than a frog in a pan of boiling water, then I have no evidence to refute your claim, Robert.

    Just remember: you said it. Not I.

  2. DrLoser says:

    On the contrary, a sign on the wall warns visitors to Banff Hot Springs from staying in the water too long.

    Somehow, I have a faint suspicion that even a non-blinded, non-decapitated frog might be challenged in a fairly severe way when it comes to reading a sign on the wall at the visitors’ entrance to Banff Hot Springs, Robert.

    But don’t let me hold you back. That would be an interesting experiment.

    The terms of your current assumption, ie that a frog in a slowly-heated pan will not notice the temperature gradient until it boils to death, would appear, from a purely scientific viewpoint, to have little to do with a sign in English on a spa in Canada.

    And the conclusion you draw from your current assumption is flat-out contradicted by my cite, below. And supported by nothing more convincing than three German maniacs in the nineteenth century.

    Seriously, Robert. Do you ever once admit that your beliefs have been corrected by fact? Because, if not, you’re not the best exemplar of the scientific theorist than I can readily bring to mind.

    Frogs don’t work that way.

  3. DrLoser wrote, “It would appear to the naked eye (clearly not the eye of a blinded or decapitated frog) that your thesis re. slowly-boiled frogs is on shaky ground.”

    On the contrary, a sign on the wall warns visitors to Banff Hot Springs from staying in the water too long. You see, humans can’t regulate their body temperature by perspiring in hot water. I had no sense of time and had to be rescued. If I, a sentient being of a young age, could not figure it out, I doubt a frog could. Really, in a few minutes I was rendered helpless. The harm comes far sooner than the boiling point of water. Human systems are really altered by a few degrees rise in temperature.

  4. DrLoser says:

    I am, however, prepared to go above and beyond when it comes to cites on the Slow-Boiled Frog Question.

    In support of my contention that frogs just ain’t that stupid:

    Sedgwick, W.T. “On Variations of Reflex-Excitability in the Frog, Induced by Changes in Temperature” Studies from the Biological Laboratory Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University, 1888.

    In support of your contention that yes, frogs so are stupid:

    Goltz, F. Beitrage zur Lehre von den Functionen der Nervencentren des Frosches, Berlin, 1869.

    Heinzmann, A. “Ueber die Wirkung Sehr Allmäliger Aenderungen Thermischer Reize auf die Empfindungsnerven,” Archiv fur die Gesammte Physiologie, Bd. VI (1872): 222-236.

    Fratscher, Carl. “Ueber continuirliche und langsame Nervenreizung.” 1875.

    There you go, three to one in your favour!

    I should point out that in the case of Herr Goltz, the man was actually trying to scientifically determine the source of a frog’s soul. We can perhaps glide silently past this particular experiment.

    Further, I should point out that in all three German studies, the frogs in question were somewhat hampered in that they were either blinded or decapitated.

    It would appear to the naked eye (clearly not the eye of a blinded or decapitated frog) that your thesis re. slowly-boiled frogs is on shaky ground.

    Much like the other side of the analogy to which you applied it.

  5. DrLoser wrote, “I was trying to clarify your calculation for the benefit of those, like Dougie, who lack the technical apparatus to follow the formula.”

    High school mathematics is not beyond anyone who posts here. Where I live, anyone with even partial high school knows what an average is. Every report card likely has one. The curriculum covers the matter from around grade nine.

  6. DrLoser says:

    I did not use the term “mean”. I used the word, “average”, which has always/everywhere meant the arithmetic mean.

    In no way did I misquote you or misrepresent you, Robert. Indeed, if anything, I was trying to clarify your calculation for the benefit of those, like Dougie, who lack the technical apparatus to follow the formula.

    In other words, my question was not “which of the three commonly-accepted means did you reference?” but rather “Why on earth did you go to all that effort to reproduce a hifalutin’ formula on a web page when you might have been better advised just to say the arithmetic mean?

    Or “average.” Whichever you prefer. I don’t think you gained much by supplying the formula, though. I think even LibreOffice can manage that particular exercise with ease.

  7. DrLoser wrote, “that’s the Arithmetical Mean”.

    I did not use the term “mean”. I used the word, “average”, which has always/everywhere meant the arithmetic mean.
    “A mean proportion, medial sum or quantity, made out of unequal sums or quantities; an arithmetical mean. Thus, if A loses 5 dollars, B 9, and C 16, the sum is 30, and the average 10.[1913 Webster]”

  8. DrLoser says:

    Of course, there’s always the possibility that you were a brilliant freak.

    Equally, there’s always the possibility that you were a rotten Maths teacher. I’d imagine that would shave 1% or 2% off even the scores of a child mathematical genius.

    Not that I’m proposing this as the reason for your pupils’ failure, of course. Could be anything. Could be the lousy school meals (although, pace Jeeves, I assume they had enough fish in their diet). Could be their generally deprived backgrounds. Might even be that they weren’t Jewish or Russian. (There’s an astonishingly high number of mathematical savants who are Jewish or Russian. Nice to know that there’s at least one Manitoban in there.)

    I can’t help but feel that your Maths class students weren’t particularly helped in their quest for Perfect Mathematical Excellence by your tendency to run down school corridors screaming “Help! Help! There’s A Fire! No, wait, Worse! An XP virus! I must circle the wagons and re-wire the entire school with CAT-3 at once!”

    Now, that may have been the rational and indeed absolutely necessary thing to do, Robert. After all, it freed your students up for a nice afternoon cleaning fluff out of fans.

    But you’d have to admit, it didn’t leave much time for basic mathematical education, did it?

  9. DrLoser says:

    Proceeding from your 100% score in mathematics, Robert, let’s examine your knowledge of practical biology, shall we?

    If heated slowly enough the frog doesn’t notice the temperature and dies.

    No, it doesn’t.

  10. DrLoser says:

    How many students, for instance, get perfect scores in maths? I did, but in all my years of teaching, I never met such a student.

    Apparently standards in the scholastic measurement of mathematical aptitude have become somewhat more stringent since you were a youngster, Robert.

    Of course, there’s always the possibility that you were a brilliant freak.

  11. DrLoser says:

    No, it doesn’t. Average being defined as \frac{\sum_{i=1}^{N} t_i}{N}. Just replace all users with N copies of one user giving the same throughput.

    Well, first of all, that’s the Arithmetical Mean as far as I can see, Robert. Nice of you to clarify, if not by the simple method of saying “it’s the arithmetical mean, you clod.”

    I think most people would understand that, without the hifalutin’ equation.

    It does rather leave out the median and the Geometric Mean, however, doesn’t it? (Exercise for the reader: which one of the three is per definitionem always between the other two?)

    And it also seems to me that you are assuming a Normal Distribution. Which is admirably and concisely stated by your lemma: “Just replace all users with N copies of one user giving the same throughput.”

    Well, I could, but that’s just sort of circular. There are other probabilistic distributions, as of course you are aware. Is there any particular reason in this case to settle on the Normal?

    Because I don’t see one.

  12. dougman wrote that other OS is “INSANE.”

    Exactly why I left it so many years ago and helped many others escape the trap. It’s like the frog in the pot of cold water. If heated slowly enough the frog doesn’t notice the temperature and dies. M$ similarly cooks peoples’ brains so that they think this crap is normal. IT is supposed to enlighten our lives but M$ keeps people in dungeons.

  13. dougman says:

    LOL… this was funny to read.

    https://gigaom.com/2015/01/02/no-the-229-hp-stream-13-isnt-a-chromebook-killer/

    “Setting up a Chromebook and getting to work with the most up-to-date software takes about three minutes, maybe five if you’re slow. That’s not the case with the HP Stream 13, although it’s much improved over computers from just a few years ago.

    It took me about 10 minutes before I could use the Windows laptop since it was going though various setup processes”

    To add, 164 days out of date for anti-virus, 58-minutes to download 46 updates, then install and reboot. They one must validate the device, next is updating the apps.

    INSANE.

  14. ram says:

    Between Android/Linux and Chrome/Linux for small to medium sized devices, and now Tizen/Linux on ALL Samsung smart TVs at the large screen end, Microsoft is totally screwed. Niche areas such as media, engineering, medical, financial, and scientific workstations are already almost exclusively Linux (based on Debian and RedHat distributions mostly). Supercomputing and servers are overwhelmingly Linux. Only some (corrupt) government offices are still wedded to Microsoft but even there they are using Mozilla Firefox, LibreOffice, and VLC in order to have some level of data interchange with the public and government contractors. The same can be said of the government machines that are on Apple systems. Microsoft is definitely in its twilight.

  15. dougman says:

    Correct…”Doesn’t need”…feel free to edit Robert.

  16. DrLoser wrote, “which particular statistical distribution are we talking here? Because that choice makes a significant difference to the conversation.”

    No, it doesn’t. Average being defined as $latex \frac{\sum_{i=1}^{N} t_i}{N}$. Just replace all users with $latex N$ copies of one user giving the same throughput. Don’t go talking about the “power user” because they are few and far between and hardly affect anything. Just look in schools. How many students, for instance, get perfect scores in maths? I did, but in all my years of teaching, I never met such a student.

  17. dougman wrote, “Today 80% of the average computer users, do need a M$ OS anymore. “

    I presume you were thinking, “do not need a M$ OS anymore” because my Little Woman does far more with GNU/Linux than she ever did with that other OS.

  18. dougman says:

    Today 80% of the average computer users, do not* need a M$ OS anymore. This is why M$ is starting to build on services for the long-term.

    Now, the average user can just use Chromebooks to do everything they need.
    *“not” added per user’s request – RP

  19. DrLoser says:

    There is no such thing as “the average user”. It’s statistics.

    The second half of that claim is very profound, Robert. It is, indeed, “statistics.”

    The first half is meaningless gibberish.

    Now, which particular statistical distribution are we talking here? Because that choice makes a significant difference to the conversation.

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