[mythtv] MythTV Usability Report

Tom E. Craddock Jr. sigtom at sigtom.com
Mon Jan 9 21:43:49 UTC 2006

Matt wrote:
> On 1/8/06, Donavan Stanley <jdonavan at jdonavan.net> wrote:
>>Craig Tinson wrote:
>>>My views are summed up by what Myles said - users really should not
>>>need to read the manual where possible. Let me be clear what I mean by
>>>users here - I don't mean the techie dude who set up the box, but I
>>>mean the moms, dads, girlfriends, boyfriends and hangers on in the
>>>living room.
>>I'm sorry but that's absolute BS.   Of course the users should need to
>>read the manual. A VCR comes with a manual for crying out loud.  Any
>>usability study for a suite of software as complex as MythTV that
>>doesn't involve some sort of basic user knowledge or R of TFM is
>>seriously flawed.
> My Fiance didn't RTFM.  She asked me questions if she had them as I'm
> sure alot of people's family members do... either way, if you were to
> build a myth setup for your mom and dad, or grandparents - completely
> done, no configuration needed - would you expect them to log on to
> mythtv.org and read the docs or search google for various mythtv
> wiki's and how-to's in order to use the system or know all the nifty
> extra things that it can do?  Not saying that can't, or that they
> shouldn't, but why not eliminate those things that might frequently
> trip those kind of users up?
> Matt

I just recently moved in w/a buddy of mine.  I havent had a roomate 
since the 90's and I hadnt even started using linux yet back then.  On 
the day my roommate and I set up the home network, modded Xboxes, wifi 
routers, over half a dozen nix servers in a closet, HDTVs, sound 
systems, cable, laptops and finally the main MythTV Frontend connected 
to a HDTV, I did, what I think is what anyone with half a brain in his 
head, would do; sat down and showed him how to use the main features of 
MythTV.  That included using a Remote Control and a Keyboard thats kept 
tucked out of the way.  Once he had asked about every damn question 
under the sun (hes a cable installer for a local Cable Co, so he was 
able to ask some pretty in depth questions) I showed him the MythTV 
manual online.  I told him, hell is even easy to remember when you look 
at the TV and see the Logo, MythTV, just add .org to it, and yer there; 
and once your there, hell the link says DOCUMENTATION on it.  He, his 
fiancee whom I havent said one word about its use, and their 9 yr old 
son have all been happily using MythTV for over 3 months now, just 
becuase I required those that use what I have to be smart enough to use 

Why is there such an aversion to reading a manual?  To requiring those 
that use the technology we provide for them (since I doubt that 
non-mythtv builders with not enough smarts to find the docs at the 
mythtv.org site are setting up mythtv systems, it has to be those who 
are on this list amongst like others) to put at least SOME thought 
behind its use?  Why do people continue to encourage the lazy and 
seflish attitude that your family members and friends apprently 
prcatice? When did not reading a manual become a GOOD thing?

One last note.  I mentioned my roommates job, I do the same thing. 
Wanna know what the #1 question I get after explaining the Cable Co's 
DVR to the customer is:

Wheres the Manual?

And #2 is:

Can I get the manual ONLINE?

So to me, that shows that if use Joe Schmoe of the Cable Cos DVR can 
understand and know enough to go to the web and find the manual for the 
DVR I just left em, then I can at LEAST expect that someone I take the 
time and effort to hand build, config, and install a DVR for would be 
able to do the same thing.


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