Ubuntu's Amazing New Invention



  • http://www.pcpro.co.uk/news/372385/ubuntu-rips-up-drop-down-menus

    @From the Article said:

    Instead of hunting through drop-down menus to find application commands,
    Ubuntu’s Head-Up Display (HUD) lets users type what they want to do into a
    search box. The system suggests possible commands as the user begins
    typing – entering “Rad” would bring up the Radial blur command in the
    GIMP art package, for example.

    WOW.  What an amazing idea.  Just type what you want the computer to do.  Why didn't someone think of this sooner?

    @From the Article said:

    The HUD will be introduced with the next version of Ubuntu, 12.04, which
    is a long-term support version due to be released in April.

    Most likely Aprl First?

     



  • I predict Scribblenauts-esque problems with this. By that I mean typing in "large stone" doesn't do anything, but "big rock" does.



  • @El_Heffe said:

    @From the Article said:

    Instead of hunting through drop-down menus to find application commands,
    Ubuntu’s Head-Up Display (HUD) lets users type what they want to do into a
    search box. The system suggests possible commands as the user begins
    typing – entering “Rad” would bring up the Radial blur command in the
    GIMP art package, for example.

     

     

    Apart from the (probably stupid) suggestions,  that's a command line with tab completion. Which officially, the End User Will Never Understand or Tolerate.

    So I'm confused, is this a serious idea, a joke, or some ignorant marketeer's froth?

     Or just the latest demonstration that Ubuntu has been hijacked by fools? See Unity etc

     



  • @GreyWolf said:

    So I'm confused, is this a serious idea, a joke, or some ignorant marketeer's froth?

     Or just the latest demonstration that Ubuntu has been hijacked by fools? See Unity etc

     

    Of course not. It's just Ubuntu's answer to Spotlight and Window's Start Search. Nothing more nothing less. Well, maybe a little more ambitious, but that's to be expected.

     



  • @lettucemode said:

    I predict Scribblenauts-esque problems with this. By that I mean typing in "large stone" doesn't do anything, but "big rock" does.
     

    Wheeee



  • Oh no! A new idea in UI! QUICK CALL IT DUMB BEFORE YOU'VE EVEN SEEN IT WORKING! Whatever you do don't open your mind to new ideas! You haven't seen this before, it MUST be EVIL!!

    ... now that the typical poster's reaction is done with.

    What they're doing here is taking the idea from the Windows 7 control panel, and adapting it to other applications. It will work as long as they keep a few things in mind:
    1) This needs to *supplement* the normal UI, not replace it
    2) This system won't contribute to long-term learning unless (after you've searched for an option) it shows you how to access it more quickly in the future. (Windows 7 control panel kind of fails at this point.)

    The other thing Microsoft does to make this work for them is they look at their analytics data (which naturally I'm sure Ubuntu does not collect or, if they do, does not use) to find out what keywords people were typing in that did not come up with the correct answer-- the "Scribblenauts" problem* lettucemode points out-- so they can update the keywords over time.

    Don't jerk your knees and don't panic. Chrome removing "http://" from the URL bar didn't end the world, and neither will this.

    *) Scribblenauts? Seriously? You never played an old school text adventure? Where 2/3rds of the challenge is, "I need to tell the woman to use the rock to smash the glass, but I don't know how to type it in a way the parser understands!"



  • @blakeyrat said:

    The other thing Microsoft does to make this work for them is they look at their analytics data (which naturally I'm sure Ubuntu does not collect or, if they do, does not use) to find out what keywords people were typing in that did not come up with the correct answer-- the "Scribblenauts" problem* lettucemode points out-- so they can update the keywords over time.

    I don't think they go down to this level of data collection. I believe that they collect things like what people are installing...at least, ISTR opting out of that. I couldn't quickly find any links about this, but, FTFA:

    HUD also uses fuzzy matching and learns from past searches to ensure the correct commands are offered to users.

    That's not clear whether a particular user benefits from what others have been doing, or if your system just learns about you. At this point, this sort of functionality seems fairly obvious, as we use searches more and more in other ways. Obviously, web searches, email, etc., and the windows start menu search, KDE's alt-F2, Gnome's equivalent, whatever OSX does (I've seen comments that you can already search an application's menu in OSX, but I haven't used it enough to know).

    I've often wanted something like this as I've gotten accustomed to simply searching for stuff, and been frustrated that searching hadn't been extended to this sort of thing. If it's in my computer in some textual way, it just seems like there should be a search method to get at it.

    I'm not sure I like the name, though.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    What they're doing here is taking the idea from the Windows 7 control panel, and adapting it to other applications. It will work as long as they keep a few things in mind:

    It's integrated into multiple parts of W7. For example it's been in the startmenu since Vista (cmiiw, but it's definitly in W7). MS probably has a fancy name for it too.


    I use it almost exclusively. only 2 ways I start programs in W7 are right from the taskbar or "Windows key -> first few letters -> enter"



  • @blakeyrat said:

    Where 2/3rds of the challenge is, "I need to tell the woman to use the rock to smash the glass, but I don't know how to type it in a way the parser understands!"
     

    Yeah, that always sucked so bad. I never played those games beyond like three commands. Fortuntately, advances have been made in display technology.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    2) This system won't contribute to long-term learning unless (after you've searched for an option) it shows you how to access it more quickly in the future. (Windows 7 control panel kind of fails at this point.)
     

     

    Kind of.  You can right-click the search result and "pin to (taskbar / start menu)" (at least in some cases), but right-click anything is never obvious unless they directly tell you to do it.

     



  • @dtech said:

    it's been in the startmenu since Vista (cmiiw,
     

    It's funny how short Vista had been around before being usurped by 7. The users seem to forget that pretty much the only obvious new features of 7 are the shitty new task bar, Aero Peek, and slightly bigger window controls. The other obvious features (such as the super Search) are pretty much all present in Vista.



  • @dhromed said:

    The other obvious features (such as the super Search) are pretty much all present in Vista.

    I'm going to quibble here, because compared to 7, the Vista search sucks. So while it's technically probably better considered just an improvement on a feature introduced in Vista, from a usability perspective, they're two very different animals. In any case, "Super Search" seems fairly appropriate to 7, but not at all for Vista.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    2) This system won't contribute to long-term learning unless (after you've searched for an option) it shows you how to access it more quickly in the future. (Windows 7Vista control panel kind of fails at this point.)

    FTFY. And I'm also still annoyed at the way MS broke Explorer in Vista with a) a useless and pointless breadcrumb trail, and b) changing the organisation of the node tree in the left-hand pane AGAIN, to another even less justifiable and more confusing order. What on earth was wrong with starting the tree from DRIVE LETTERS, then working down from there? I don't want nonsense like 'Desktop,' 'Favorites,' or 'Libraries' (WTF are Libraries supposed to be anyway?) at the root of that tree by default. And yes, I do know one can change the 'root node' of Explorer; and no, I don't feel I should need to hunt down a GUID in the Registry to be able to do that. Those sorts of changes, far from contributing to long-term learning, do even MORE to hide where things really are on disk from the users.



  • I upgraded to Vista when it came out, and to 7 when it came out. I'm not trying to slight Vista, it was a good OS, but the truth is I simply don't remember what features it added, because its been so long since I've used it. So I say 7.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    Scribblenauts? Seriously? You never played an old school text adventure? Where 2/3rds of the challenge is, "I need to tell the woman to use the rock to smash the glass, but I don't know how to type it in a way the parser understands!"

    Hooray for guess-the-syntax quests!  Although, to be fair, they seem to be more of a modern problem.  Zork generally did a really good job at handling input that users could realistically be expected to type at this point.

    And then there's the ones that don't even try.  I don't remember the details, but one text adventure I  played from the late 90s had a room where typing GIVE FOO TO BAR (esentially) would activate an event, even if BAR wasn't in the room or you didn't have the FOO in your inventory!

     



  • @blakeyrat said:

    I upgraded to Vista when it came out, and to 7 when it came out. I'm not trying to slight Vista, it was a good OS, but the truth is I simply don't remember what features it added, because its been so long since I've used it. So I say 7.
     

    The main thing that I noticed is the compositing window manager, where every window essentially has its own frame buffer, instead of all of them drawing directly onto one shared by the entire desktop.  It makes a very noticeable difference if you're doing any sort of game programming, since dragging one window in front of another no longer invalidates the back window.  I wish they'd had that back in W95, but realistically I don't think it would have been possible with then-current hardware.



  • I seem to remember OS X having something like this. You could search for a word in the otherwise stupid fixed menu bar and it'd find it and point it out. If only it could do the same with its cryptic symbols. ^ means shift which took a week of working with it to accidentally discover.



  • @Cad Delworth said:

    @blakeyrat said:
    2) This system won't contribute to long-term learning unless (after you've searched for an option) it shows you how to access it more quickly in the future. (Windows 7Vista control panel kind of fails at this point.)

    FTFY. And I'm also still annoyed at the way MS broke Explorer in Vista with a) a useless and pointless breadcrumb trail, and b) changing the organisation of the node tree in the left-hand pane AGAIN, to another even less justifiable and more confusing order. What on earth was wrong with starting the tree from DRIVE LETTERS, then working down from there? I don't want nonsense like 'Desktop,' 'Favorites,' or 'Libraries' (WTF are Libraries supposed to be anyway?) at the root of that tree by default. And yes, I do know one can change the 'root node' of Explorer; and no, I don't feel I should need to hunt down a GUID in the Registry to be able to do that. Those sorts of changes, far from contributing to long-term learning, do even MORE to hide where things really are on disk from the users.
     

    Windows 7 does start its tree with drive letters, but that storage system is labeled 'computer' other top level items inclued 'favorites', and 'libraries' each top level item is a different class of thing, only the 'Computer' item gives you direct access to the storage hierarchy on the computer.

    Libraries are user configurable location aggregators, so if you like to save your documents in say 'C:\Filez' and never in 'My Documents' you can just add c:\filez to the documents library and windows will show it in the document library; there are also default libraies for pictures, music, and videos. Libraries are also integrated into win7's backup feature.

    @blakeyrat said:

    ...

    *) Scribblenauts? Seriously?
    You never played an old school text adventure? Where 2/3rds of the
    challenge is, "I need to tell the woman to use the rock to smash the
    glass, but I don't know how to type it in a way the parser understands!"


    Have you seen Get Lamp? The designers of those games considered the parser part of the puzzle!



  • @esoterik said:

    Have you seen Get Lamp? The designers of those games considered the parser part of the puzzle!
     

    I hate them already.



  • @boomzilla said:

    whatever OSX does

    It does [url=http://mactoids.com/wp-content/uploads/leopard-help-menu.jpg]this[/url]. The blue arrow pointing to the menu entry moves a little to draw attention to itself.

    @Mason Wheeler said:

    The main thing that I noticed is the compositing window manager (…) I wish they'd had that back in W95, but realistically I don't think it would have been possible with then-current hardware.

    NeXT systems could do that in the early '90s already. Yes, I know they cost tons of money — but the hardware of the time [i]could[/i] handle it.

    @nexekho said:

    ^ means shift which took a week of working with it to accidentally discover.

    ^ means Control like it has done since the 1970s or before … ⇧ in the menu is shift, like it is on the keyboard :)



  • For now I'm sticking with Linux Mint Debian Edition with XFCE, with composition disabled and one panel at the bottom. I haven't had to adapt to a new UI metaphor since Windows 95, and I hope to keep it that way.




  • @dtfinch said:

    For now I'm sticking with Linux Mint Debian Edition with XFCE, with composition disabled and one panel at the bottom. I haven't had to adapt to a new UI metaphor since Windows 95, and I hope to keep it that way. Now, get off my lawn!
    FTFY



  • @dtfinch said:

    For now I'm sticking with Linux Mint Debian Edition with XFCE, with composition disabled and one panel at the bottom.

    What's it like? I dumped Julia (Mint 10) onto a USB pen for this Lenovo netbook and was quite impressed with it (ubuntu that's got common apps installed, basically - quite idiot-proof) so did an install to an SD card and (after some pissing around with ATI drivers) have full compiz with wobbly windows, transparent backdrops and rotating cube.

    Contemplating dropping onto the desktop in my office also, but not tried any other Mint variants.



  • @Cad Delworth said:

    (WTF are Libraries supposed to be anyway?)
     

    Libraries are views that treat multiple folders as if they were a single folder.  When you're reading files anyway.



  • @Cassidy said:

    @dtfinch said:

    For now I'm sticking with Linux Mint Debian Edition with XFCE, with composition disabled and one panel at the bottom.

    What's it like? I dumped Julia (Mint 10) onto a USB pen for this Lenovo netbook and was quite impressed with it (ubuntu that's got common apps installed, basically - quite idiot-proof) so did an install to an SD card and (after some pissing around with ATI drivers) have full compiz with wobbly windows, transparent backdrops and rotating cube.

    Contemplating dropping onto the desktop in my office also, but not tried any other Mint variants.

     

    the first Mint 11 is also  quite nice. can't remember its name for the life of me, although i believe it has lynx in it.



  • @Cassidy said:

    What's it like? I dumped Julia (Mint 10) onto a USB pen for this Lenovo netbook and was quite impressed with it (ubuntu that's got common apps installed, basically - quite idiot-proof) so did an install to an SD card and (after some pissing around with ATI drivers) have full compiz with wobbly windows, transparent backdrops and rotating cube.

    Contemplating dropping onto the desktop in my office also, but not tried any other Mint variants.


     

    Installing Wine build dependencies was harder on LMDE than it was on Ubuntu, and I couldn't find a good debian Wine repository, so I had to hunt down each package individually rather than saying "apt-get build-dep wine1.3". I also ended up installing Firefox manually because they were still stuck on version 4 or 5, but they finally moved up to 9 last week. And it was a pain getting XFCE to stop reopening old apps from the last
    session on startup, resulting from a bug (#7915) where it'd ignore the
    option of whether or not to do so.

    The first update I did on LMDE upgraded the kernel without upgrading the nvidia drivers, and they stopped working. There was a forum post I was supposed to know about and read saying to expect that and how to work around it. But since I didn't read it, I ended up removing their nvidia packages and installing the drivers manually. The update also broke a bunch of media related packages because they moved those to a different repository, also explained in the post. But all is well now.



  • Mmm... okay, so some farting around required.

    On my tower with a 8800 card in, I just selected the "use additional drivers" link, updated every package as far as possible (including kernel) and next boot everything came up sweet as a nut.

    On this netbook (Radeon HD card), I did the same but Julia threw a strop - natively I had the cube, but as soon as I added the additional drivers (fglrx stuff) compiz wasn't playing ball. I had to download the .run script from ATI's webshite, let it build drivers for Ubuntu/maverick (since that's what Mint 10 was based on) and manually dpkg those. Still no joy - drivers installed, but the applets reported an issue and wouldn't initialise. In the end I just ran the script and let it do its thang.. and everything worked perfectly. Feh.

    I know I needn't have to jump through hoops to get this working, but the amount of hoops I had to go through to get XBMC native build working with a 6600GT card last month means this latest bout of faffing around wasn't surprising, nor did it particularly put me off. I don't think your experiences will put me off either, but ta for the heads-up that roses n chocs may be required before the bitch puts out.



  • I can only imagine the results of learning. Being in inkscape, drawing a santa for children, hitting alt tab by mistake, trying to glow the santa and having firefox menu suggest "how, did you mean blow..." NO!



  • @boomzilla said:

    If it's in my computer in some textual way, it just seems like there should be a search method to get at it.

    I'm not sure I like the name, though.

    You mean like SSDS?




  • @boomzilla said:

    If it's in my computer in some textual way, it just seems like there should be a search method to get at it.

    I'm not sure I like the name, though.

     

    Swampy, is that you?




  • @GreyWolf said:

    @El_Heffe said:

    @From the Article said:

    Instead of hunting through drop-down menus to find application commands,
    Ubuntu’s Head-Up Display (HUD) lets users type what they want to do into a
    search box. The system suggests possible commands as the user begins
    typing – entering “Rad” would bring up the Radial blur command in the
    GIMP art package, for example.

     

     

    Apart from the (probably stupid) suggestions,  that's a command line with tab completion. Which officially, the End User Will Never Understand or Tolerate.

    So I'm confused, is this a serious idea, a joke, or some ignorant marketeer's froth?

     Or just the latest demonstration that Ubuntu has been hijacked by fools? See Unity etc

     


    I dunno, to me it looks like it makes two considerable improvements to the usual command line:

    1. It's a dropdown menu with search function, which makes finding commands much easier than tab completion. You don't have to know exactly what the command you want to run is - just typing in "del" for example should show you all different commands to delete things, and then you can just pick the one you want from there. Basically just like the search bar in Firefox and Chrome, applied to commands.
    2. It's context-sensitive. Typing "del" won't bring up "delete files" if you're currently working in an image editor. You could type "object" and see all available commands that operate on objects.

    Done right, I can see this being much easier to use than a command line - much closer to actually typing what you want to do in plain English. I think people will have a much easier time with "type delete, click "delete old files", fill in the date" than whatever invocation you'd have to do involving find and rm and xargs to do the same.



  • @lolwtf said:

    I dunno, to me it looks like it makes two considerable improvements to the usual command line:

    1. It's a dropdown menu with search function, which makes finding commands much easier than tab completion.
    The article is a bit light on details, but based on comments by the Ubuntu guy and the one shitty graphic they use for illustration, it appears that this new desgin isn't menus with search added -- there are no menus at all and any time you want to do something you have to type into a search box.  I may be wrong but that's how it looks to me.@lolwtf said:
    You don't have to know exactly what the command you want to run is - just typing in "del" for example should show you all different commands to delete things, and then you can just pick the one you want from there.
    And what happens when someone types "remove" instead of "delete"?  They may or may not get a useful list of commands to choose from.@lolwtf said:
    much closer to actually typing what you want to do in plain English
    Which is guaranted to fail  because there are too many ways to say the same thing.  "remove" or "delete",  "large stone" or "big rock".  The whole point of menus is that the user doesn't have to play a game of Guess The Syntax.  Click on a menu and there's a list of commands to choose from.  It isn't perfect, but it works reasonably well.  Sure, you have to use a program a few times to learn where stuff is on the menus, but, so what?  The new Ubuntu design seems to be based on the premise that everyone is stupid and never advances beyond the level of an absolute beginner who is using a computer for the first time.  This just strikes me as another case of trying to fix something that isn't actually broken.

     



  • We run 8.04 LTS on our servers with no GUI. I run 11.04 with Fluxbox. I'm looking forward to 12.04 LTS. A nice thing about Linux is that you can pick your window manager; you don't get stuck with somebody's bright idea. Personally I like menus.

    HUD? Can't wait to see the Chinese version (grin).



  • @El_Heffe said:

    @lolwtf said:
    much closer to actually typing what you want to do in plain English
    Which is guaranted to fail  because there are too many ways to say the same thing.  "remove" or "delete",  "large stone" or "big rock".  The whole point of menus is that the user doesn't have to play a game of Guess The Syntax.  Click on a menu and there's a list of commands to choose from.  It isn't perfect, but it works reasonably well.  Sure, you have to use a program a few times to learn where stuff is on the menus, but, so what?  The new Ubuntu design seems to be based on the premise that everyone is stupid and never advances beyond the level of an absolute beginner who is using a computer for the first time.  This just strikes me as another case of trying to fix something that isn't actually broken.

    This HUD thing could be a useful addition to menus, for locating those rarely-used commands that are hidden three levels deep. However, replacing menus entirely is just another step in the quest for dumbing down the user interface that Gnome and Ubuntu have embarked upon.

    Blender added this sort of system in the 2.5 series. You press space and type in part of the command you want to do. It still has traditional menus and buttons, but I find that if I can't do something with a keyboard shortcut (which are fully configurable btw), it's faster to use the command search feature than to find the appropriate menu item or button. Another interesting innovation is that for commands that take parameters, you run the command first and can change the parameters afterwards, with the view changing in real time as you do.



  • @El_Heffe said:

    The article is a bit light on details, but based on comments by the Ubuntu guy and the one shitty graphic they use for illustration, it appears that this new desgin isn't menus with search added -- there are no menus at all and any time you want to do something you have to type into a search box.

    That's the impression I got from it as well.

    Frankly, if they think removing menus (or making them more difficult to use) will somehow improve usability, they are all completely fucking insane.

    No one likes typing to get the computer to do something if it can be accomplished with less effort with the mouse.

    Besides this, they are missing the obvious benefit of menus - once you know where something is in the menu, the next time you go to use it, you also see related features you may never have known existed.

    While it's true that they could have figured that out by reading the manual, lets be realistic- no one ever reads the manual except as an absolute last resort in complex programs like photoshop.

    If they really intend to go through with this, they should at least stop calling it a Heads-Up Display and start using a more descriptive name like Fucked-Up Display.



  • @esoterik said:

    Windows 7 does start its tree with drive letters, but that storage system is labeled 'computer' other top level items inclued 'favorites', and 'libraries' each top level item is a different class of thing, only the 'Computer' item gives you direct access to the storage hierarchy on the computer.


    I am aware of that. My point is that I never use Favorites nor Libraries, and nor do the Win7 users I support remotely. Until I recently managed to convince those users' HO to globally change the default display settings to NOT do things like animation and fading, each mouse click or mouse move sent across PCAnywhere to their PCs took 20 seconds to respond and update the screen on my PC. With Libraries or Favorites showing as the default in Explorer, it would waste maybe three minutes of my time to even get 'Computer' SHOWING in the left hand pane, let alone the time taken to navigate to the directory I needed to get to. Mercifully the mouse interactions are now near-instant, but it's still a PITA to have to scroll down past useless crap like Libraries and Favorites to get to what should be the default top entry: Computer. Unless of course you feel Win 7 Professional should be no different from Win 7 Home? For me, the clue is in the word PROFESSIONAL. And in a PROFESSIONAL OS, most of the time you will want to be starting your navigation in Explorer from DRIVES, not some Fisher-Price-stylee virtual crud like Libraries or Favorites.



  • @Cad Delworth said:

    @esoterik said:

    Windows 7 does start its tree with drive letters, but that storage system is labeled 'computer' other top level items inclued 'favorites', and 'libraries' each top level item is a different class of thing, only the 'Computer' item gives you direct access to the storage hierarchy on the computer.

    I am aware of that. My point is that I never use Favorites nor Libraries, and nor do the Win7 users I support remotely. Until I recently managed to convince those users' HO to globally change the default display settings to NOT do things like animation and fading, each mouse click or mouse move sent across PCAnywhere to their PCs took 20 seconds to respond and update the screen on my PC. With Libraries or Favorites showing as the default in Explorer, it would waste maybe three minutes of my time to even get 'Computer' SHOWING in the left hand pane, let alone the time taken to navigate to the directory I needed to get to. Mercifully the mouse interactions are now near-instant, but it's still a PITA to have to scroll down past useless crap like Libraries and Favorites to get to what should be the default top entry: Computer. Unless of course you feel Win 7 Professional should be no different from Win 7 Home? For me, the clue is in the word PROFESSIONAL. And in a PROFESSIONAL OS, most of the time you will want to be starting your navigation in Explorer from DRIVES, not some Fisher-Price-stylee virtual crud like Libraries or Favorites.

    You can change the target of explorer.exe to whatever directory you like best



  • In what universe does Windows 7 and PCAnywhere co-exist?



  • Unsurprisingly, in mine. I work for a company that provides helpdesks for pharma company sales reps. The desk I currently work with has Win7 on all the field machines, and we have to use PCAnywhere (via Citrix, for another kick in the goolies) for any remote-control work we need to do (i.e. anything that requires admin privileges or where the user can't adequately provide a description or follow our directions.)

    We tend to have the exact problem described above, where any menu fading/animation takes forever to update on our end (because it wants to show us every. damn. frame), though somehow PCAnywhere is configured to turn off Aero and some of those effects as soon as a remote session is established.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    In what universe does Windows 7 and PCAnywhere co-exist?

    I don't understand what this is trying to say. Does Windows 7 have something new that makes this obsolete?



  • @boomzilla said:

    @blakeyrat said:
    In what universe does Windows 7 and PCAnywhere co-exist?

    I don't understand what this is trying to say. Does Windows 7 have something new that makes this obsolete?

    Last time I saw PCAnywhere used, or even talked about, was on Windows 2000. I thought the incorporation of Remote Desktop into every professional Windows install made it pretty obsolete.

    Maybe I'm just ignorant-- why do you use PCAnywhere for?



  • @blakeyrat said:

    Last time I saw PCAnywhere used, or even talked about, was on Windows 2000. I thought the incorporation of Remote Desktop into every professional Windows install made it pretty obsolete.

    I've seen TV commercials for it at least in the last couple of years.

    @blakeyrat said:

    Maybe I'm just ignorant-- why do you use PCAnywhere for?

    I've never used it, myself. My understanding was that it made it so that you didn't need a VPN or other direct network access to the remote machine, since you go through their central server. It always seemed like something more geared toward the home user or small business, since you wouldn't have to worry about VPN or port forwarding or whatever. I'm pretty certain that my company blocks them altogether as a security risk, but that doesn't mean (to me) that it couldn't be a reasonable solution for someone else with a different setup.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    Last time I saw PCAnywhere used, or even talked about, was on Windows 2000. I thought the incorporation of Remote Desktop into every professional Windows install made it pretty obsolete.

    That.

    I used PCAnywhere to support customers with NT4/Win95 boxen, and when W2K came along (with terminal services and telnet server) I could see PCA vanishing.

    I occasionally use Teamviewer to do remote control, but that's only because I can run it on ubuntuto view and change my Father running Win7 on his netbuke, and use RDesktop on Linux to remote into works servers.

    (I'm guessing there's a way of configuring Remote Desktop to allow remote control using rdesktop also, but not investigated it too deeply).



  • @blakeyrat said:

    Maybe I'm just ignorant-- why do you use PCAnywhere for?

    Isn't the difference that Remote Desktop will log out the current user, whereas something like PCAnywhere let you take control of a user's computer directly? So PCAnywhere is useful because it can be used for tech support - you can help someone with their computer from your computer with their user permissions. Maybe Remote Desktop has this feature and I'm ignorant.



  • See, Remote Desktop has one GREAT downside.

    It doesn't let you share the session.

    pcAnywhere, TeamViewer, DamewareMRC, heck, even VNC, "attach" to the user's session. You see whatever he has/had open, he (may) still see his screen too.

    RDP either opens a completely new session (on terminal servers), or "reconnects" the current one to you - but to do the latter you need to actually log in as the target user with his password, and then the console session, i.e. user's screen, will show a variation of "computer locked" screen. And if he logs back in, he takes the session away from you again.

    Now, XP had this "remote assistance" thing no one ever used because it required MSN Messenger. I have no idea, maybe this one shares the screen.

    The one remaining problem with RDP is that it's damn hard to make it work via proxies and internet without VPNing in and opening a bunch of ports that're multiplexed between most of the system services. And most companies tend to keep those blocked on workstations.





    EDIT: Damn, that's the downside to opening all the unread topics in tabs and spending a hour to read through all of them... I didn't see the post above.



  • @lettucemode said:

    Isn't the difference that Remote Desktop will log out the current user, whereas something like PCAnywhere let you take control of a user's computer directly?

    Yes, that's because it's remote control software and not SPYWARE.

    @lettucemode said:

    So PCAnywhere is useful because it can be used for tech support - you can help someone with their computer from your computer with their user permissions.

    You could just remote desktop in with their credentials, since you apparently have access to them.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    @lettucemode said:
    So PCAnywhere is useful because it can be used for tech support - you can help someone with their computer from your computer with their user permissions.

    You could just remote desktop in with their credentials, since you apparently have access to them.

    No, he didn't say that he had access to anyone else's credentials. That's another benefit here. The remote user just has to have to have permission to use whatever remote control software is being used, which might be given by the user clicking a button or something when the remote computer asks to connect. Big difference. Also, with RDP, you and the user can't be watching the same thing, as was discussed above. That can save tons of time when the user can see the proper actions as opposed to the common sorts of misunderstandings between help desk folks and users.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    @lettucemode said:
    Isn't the difference that Remote Desktop will log out the current user, whereas something like PCAnywhere let you take control of a user's computer directly?

    Yes, that's because it's remote control software and not SPYWARE.

    So.. PCAnywhere letting you take control of a user's computer remotely is.. spyware but not.. remote control software. I think you're conflating terms there.

    I think the point lettucemode was trying to highlight is that PCanywhere permits desktop sharing, but Remote Desktop only allows single-user sessions. However...

    @bannedfromcoding said:

    Now, XP had this "remote assistance"
    thing no one ever used because it required MSN Messenger. I have no
    idea, maybe this one shares the screen.

    No idea is correct: I've used it, and never had MSN Messenger. Colleague in USA had a database issue, so fired up Remote Assistance his end, enabling me to use Rdesktop to connect to him. We spoke via my Teamspeak server whilst he watched commands I was typing to diagnose and troubleshoot his issue.

    Whilst this may not be Remote Desktop (on the controlled end), it's still desktop sharing - and meant that PCAnywhere became unnecessary.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    @lettucemode said:
    Isn't the difference that Remote Desktop will log out the current user, whereas something like PCAnywhere let you take control of a user's computer directly?

    Yes, that's because it's remote control software and not SPYWARE.

     

    Speaking of spyware...Symantec is saying that Anonymous stole the source code for PCAnywhere back in 2006 and that users should disable it unless it's needed for something critical.



  • @Cassidy said:

    So.. PCAnywhere letting you take control of a user's computer remotely is.. spyware but not.. remote control software. I think you're conflating terms there.

    No I'm not. PCAnywhere can be used to observe your actions without the end-user being aware of it. That is spyware. That is also remote control software.

    Windows Remote Desktop does not allow that, because it logs the local user out before allowing the remote user in. That's just remote control software.

    Spyware is scummy. Remote control software isn't scummy. Unless it's also spyware, in which case it's scummy.


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