Archive for February, 2007

Command Line for the Common Man: The Command Line Comeback

Saturday, February 24th, 2007

Web 2.0 Style Command Prompt
Command line interfaces are bell-bottom out-of-fashion in the current Web 2.0 boom: I have yet to see an Ajax-enabled glass-reflected command prompt. Let’s face it, command line interfaces are extinct to the masses. The GUI dealt the first blow, and now the Web has nailed to coffin on the old style text interface, and it seems to have been a boon for the user. I don’t know if I can set up a printer on the command line, but I do know that I don’t want to try.

But maybe that isn’t the fault of command line interfaces in general. Maybe it’s just the command lines we’re used to. The hard part of learning Unix is memorizing command names as unfathomable as Stonehenge’s origin. And even if I do remember the command name, remembering its options is like bobbing for apples in a cement mixer. I still have to ask my co-workers what flags are needed for untaring a gzipped file. “tar -xfvz”. How could I forget?

If commands were memorable and their syntax forgiving, perhaps the command line wouldn’t be going the way of the punch card. And perhaps they aren’t. Perhaps, command lines are staged for a comeback.

Interface Puzzler #1 Answer

Tuesday, February 13th, 2007

puzzler.gifThanks to everyone who wrote in and gave solutions to the first Humanized Puzzler. There have been many more responses that we anticipated! I loved the discussion of the problem. Although I had meant for people to email the solutions privately instead of discussing publicly, in retrospect, the discussion was more valuable than the secrecy. The next puzzler will all be discussion.

I’d also like to apologize for taking so long in posting the solution. With the release of Enso, we’ve been very busy.

In short, the puzzler asked, “Can you design a car that isn’t forward/reverse modal?” For those who didn’t read the original post, check out the full question.

Few people were fooled by my implication that a solution was impossible. With modern automatic cars, almost any conceivable behavior is possible for shifting because the gear selector is simply an electronic switch physically decoupled from the transmission. The trick is choosing a good behavior.

Enso Update and Price Drop

Thursday, February 1st, 2007

Thanks to everyone who downloaded Enso and tried it out, and a special thanks to those who have already bought Enso. In the last week, we’ve gotten an enormous amount of feedback, and we’re working as hard as we can to respond to all the requests, complaints, compliments, and feature requests. Happily, we’ve fixed the first round of bugs. And, already on its way, is the next round of changes: adding the oft-requested features (like the ability to change Enso’s entry key and whether Enso is “sticky” or not).

In this update we’ve made two important changes.

First, we’ve heard a lot of feedback that Enso was just too expensive. We hear you. We are dropping the price of both Enso Launcher and Enso Words today. They are now $19.95 each. What’s more, we’ve added a discount for buying both products: people who purchase a second product will be charged $14.95. Personally, we hate it when we go buy a new product and then its price drops the next day and we can’t get that money back. So, we will be refunding the full difference to those who already purchased the software. Our goal is to make usable software that is also affordable.

Second, for those of you who have downloaded and installed Enso Launcher or Enso Words (or both), we issued an update to the software earlier this week. We hope that most of you didn’t even notice it go by. In that update, we fixed a number of bugs, most of which only occurred on a small number of computers. Among the things we fixed were: