Anti-usability

Now let us not praise GnomeBaker, the Gnome CD writing application.

It actually seems to have been carefully designed for anti-usability. It doesn’t remember the things you want to it to remember; it remembers those things which are inconvenient and wrong for next time. Every action that you do has the opposite effect to that you expect; if it can do the wrong thing, or the right thing in the wrong situation, it will. This is not mere bad design; someone has sat down and done careful user studies of exactly how people use CD writing software, and then deliberately implemented a piece of software to frustrate them.

I’ve recently been suffering agonies because K3B is broken in debian-testing; I finally cracked today when I had to make a large and complicated data DVD and GnomeBaker persisted in getting things wrong at every possible opportunity. If you create a new folder in a folder that GB’s already seen, it won’t recognise that a new folder has appeared. If you force it to refresh the display, it shows the folder, but it can’t open it. If you write the DVD, it doesn’t give you any errors, but then you find the folder is empty on the DVD. If you go to another folder and come back, it doesn’t refresh the cache. If you exit the program and restart to force a cache refresh, you lose all the DVD project information you’ve already built up. There’s no way to save your project.

There’s more. If you select a bunch of folders with shift-click, and then try to drag them into the project area, GnomeBaker unselects everything but the file you clicked on. This is exactly the wrong behaviour, especially as Nautilus and every other Gnome app gets this right. It’s even in Gnome’s own usability standards. It doesn’t remember what size of disc you burnt last time and always defaults to a 700Mb CD. So if you drag a bunch of folders into the project, it tells you the disc is too small and throws all the folders away except the first few that fit. If you choose the right size disc and then re-drag the folders, it duplicates the folders you successfully dragged last time. You have to manually select them and remove them.

It also doesn’t cope with files with Unicode names or funny characters generally, and aborts the whole DVD until you fix it. Basically what I am saying is that the US intelligence agencies have been on the wrong track at Camp X-Ray and what they should actually be doing is forcing internees to create complicated DVD projects under time pressure using GnomeBaker. No-one can stand up to that kind of torture without breaking down and begging to confess. I found myself wanting to ring the American Embassy and turn myself in as an illegal combatant, just to make it stop.

What joy when I just bit the bullet and installed K3B from unstable. It did what I wanted straight away and worked. I have rarely felt such a sense of vengeful satisfaction as I did typing

keith@newman:~$ apt-get remove gnomebaker
keith@newman:~$ apt-get hunt down and destroy all those involved

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