6. A brief history of visual interfaces
In the beginning was the command line. Evolving from teletype terminals, the command line provided the most fundamental interactive interface to the computer. The operator typed in a command, and the computer did the action requested. In the mid to late 1980s, computer systems began to sport graphical user interfaces. The "desktop" concept was still nascent, but generally used separate windows for separate processes. In this article, I provide a brief history of graphical user interfaces and their evolution.7. Making your first contribution to open source software
A reader recently emailed me to ask how to get involved in open source software if you haven't done that before. Great question! I believe that open source software needs to be personal to you if you're going to do it at all. But how to get started? Start by looking at the project website for the program you like. They may have a bug list or a bug tracker or some other bug database of "known bugs" or "known feature requests" that you could work on. Here are a few projects I would recommend to you.8. Examining User eXperience
In most cases, usability and UX are strongly aligned. And that makes sense. If you can use the software to get your work done, you probably have a good opinion of the software (good usability, positive UX). And if you can't use the software to do real work, then you probably won't have a great opinion of it (bad usability, negative UX). A review of this year's UX test for GNOME, and how we might improve it next time.9. Possibilities
This year, I was invited to attend a speech by Vice President Joe Biden. Biden is an incredible speaker. While his address focused primarily on transportation benefits from a federal stimulus package, Biden spoke on several other topics too. I felt motivated by one particular point he made about America: Possibilities. This point connected with me. Afterwards, I reflected on Biden's story and realized that is one reason why I am so invested in open source software. It's about possibilities.10. FreeDOS 1.2 Release Candidate 1 (and 2)
You may know that I am involved in many open source software projects. Aside from my usability work with GNOME, I am probably best known as the founder and project coordinator of the FreeDOS Project. This year, we worked to create a new version of the FreeDOS distribution. I don't usually write about FreeDOS on my Usability blog, but since this was a major update for FreeDOS, I shared a few news items here. We released FreeDOS 1.2 Release Candidate 1 on October 31, and FreeDOS 1.2 Release Candidate 2 on November 24. Look for the final version of FreeDOS 1.2 in a few days, on December 25!