I dropped and broke my AC adapter a few weeks back on a business trip. Toshiba sent a replacement battery that arrived yesterday, but that didn't let me turn on my notebook. I couldn't bare to go another hour without my computer so I purchased a universal AC adapter at Radio Shack. I can finally do some hacking; by applying that great store of apathy I've built up working overtime for Direct Holdings Americas nÃ© Time Life.
In lew of a computer, I've been using my daughter's iBook. It is a very nice computer. Mail is a fine app, and I covet her iTunes. I've spent time watching Indy's play habits. It's a lesson in accessibility and I would like GNOME to allow my children do use a computer as well as a Mac.
Indy is 5, she can read a few words. She likes to draw, type, collect photos, play music and video. MacOS has a text to speech tool. All dialogs are read aloud to her so she has a clue what might be wrong when browsing or playing a disc. Her own game is to type her flash cards into a word processor, select the words, then push the listen key to hear what she typed. She worked that lesson out by herself! I can send her instant messages from work that she can select and hear them. Granted she cannot type much, but it is gratifying. She uses the spoken commands to interact with the desktop, but she could do much more if she had a speech to text tool.
GNOME has a education apps and tools, but children could accomplish a lot more if we treated them as a class of user that needs assistance. On the usability side of the issue, many apps are simply too featured for the average user to master. My daughter has no difficulty using the iPhoto and iTunes to collect photos and music. She can even burn. My point is that the 10% that users really need from apps are all the interface should have. Menus and processes are not nearly as compressible as the hands on interactivity that user has with the UI.
PS. John Flect, high birth rates are common in societies where children can contribute to the families economic welfare. Indeed, extra children are needed because of high mortality rates--adults must have children who will support their parents when the parents are old. It's the same pyramid model that the US welfare system is based upon. Rich societies don't just spend more on children, laws prevent children from working to pay their keep. Fewer children are needed because we have good sanitation and medication ensure that only one or two children to help in old age. The laws that protect children from exploitation also prevent them from earn rewards during the most creative time of their life. I felt utterly stifled in the 80's being a good programmer, but unable earn a decent wage compared to the certificated lusers who were of age. Thankfully, young hackers have open source engage their time and energy, but still no economic rewards. I plan to phase Indy into the open source art and testing world starting in five years, with a full rollout of her talent when she's 18.