Computer: Text Feature
Proper text handling   (+2, -6)  [vote for, against]
Exciting new attempts to cross Computer Science majors with English majors

I'm just sick of this, and I've seen virtually no computer programs that do it properly. (particularly with regards to filenames, e.g. as an OS)

Why are programmers so incapable of having computers recognize articles in localized languages and dealing with them appropriately. Filenames that start with 'The,' or 'A' shouldn't use those words for sorting purposes.

Filenames that have numerals should not only not require leading zeros (because 3 is before 20 and should be sorted accordingly) but should probably even have the numbers properly justified so that they're readable.

Tooltips (or some vaguely equivalent feature) could point out proper capitalization, spelling, etc. for files. Given the preponderance of music and video files that should be named with title capitalization, this would be pretty handy. After all, a quick look around many servers reveals that few people have a clue how to do that.

This shouldn't just be applicable for English alone, but should be built into the localization rules for other languages, so that 'Die Bart Die' doesn't get stuck among the D's. (assuming here that German has similar rules)

Certainly it was horrible to play with WinXP the other day, only to find that it lumped together punctuation and numerals. (not to mention that although you can tap a key and it will scroll to the files beginning with that letter, it merely errors if you push a letter that has no files, rather than going to the nearest match)

when will the developers of the world learn? Perhaps it will be when we beat them senseless with Strunk & White. Who's with me?
-- cpt kangarooski, Feb 16 2002

Natural Order
A MacOS extension to sort numbers the One True Way. [cpt kangarooski, Feb 16 2002]

Ah yeah, those developers. Those stupid, silly, idiotic developers. What do they know?
-- bristolz, Feb 16 2002

Should the machine become more user friendly, or should the user become more 'machine friendly'?

The users can hope to understand the machine/system to make their life easier. The machine/system cannot understand the users.

Imagine a hammer made of soft foam: the thumb is happier, but the roof still leaks. Are we feeding creampuffs to Zombies here?
-- xrayTed, Feb 16 2002

"Ah yeah, those developers. Those stupid, silly, idiotic developers. What do they know?"

I just thought that was worth repeating to any one who might have missed the meaning the first time around. Those rather wonderful "idiotic" developers use the same systems every day that the rest of us fumble around with, and end up giving us something more useful to work with than we had yesterday...It's not like they were hoarding all the "good stuff" for their own personal, exclusive use.
-- jurist, Feb 16 2002

Nevertheless, these are simple rules that are easily added to a computer. I'm hardly asking for a full-blown AI that will decide to take over the world. If you want to look at a prior historical example that came out in favor of general user-friendliness, look at the logic behind the old bit-paired keyboards. (although if we really wanted users to make concessions to the computer, we could just give them a single binary switch and an enter key)
-- cpt kangarooski, Feb 16 2002

"Nevertheless, these are simple rules that are easily added to a computer."
Nevertheless, it's just as easy to name a file 'Bart, Die Die'. Voted for the idea anyway as the underlying issue (computers are still too difficult to work with) is true.
-- phoenix, Feb 16 2002

Tiger, I'm not arguing against intelligent, ergonomic, UI design. I'm saying that having a few key insights into the system can be beneficial (in terms of sort order, etc.). I'm also saying that it would be easier for a human to understand those key aspects of what is essentially a simple machine (albeit complex), than for a developer to make a program that will anticipate all the crazy things that users do. That's not directed personally at anyone here; I have a 'real-life' filesystem example:

\\server...\9189 overview.xls
\\server...\Job #9192 overview.xls
\\server...\Job 9188 overview.xls
\\server...\job No. #9191 overview.xls
\\server...\Overview of job No. # 9187.xls

The algorithm to sort these files, and anticipate the filename for job 9193 is not trivial.
Why not have a little sympathy for the machine? You will probably find yourself no less human rself no less human ess human human an<run-time error 9194>
-- xrayTed, Feb 16 2002

Then let's start with something simple and work our way up:

Merely removing the need for leading zeroes. It's something science teachers can't stop going on about, and which commonly leads to sorting errors. This is demonstrably achievable (see link above). So why are UI designers generally failing to include such functionality?
-- cpt kangarooski, Feb 17 2002

The "natural order" utility linked seems like an interesting concept, though I'm a little curious what it means when it says leading blanks on numbers are ignored; how would the following items rank (if underbars were spaces): AB A_B A__B A1 A_1 A__1 A2?

BTW, the because of how Hypercard (at least 1.x and 2.0) handles its relational operators, they cannot be used for sorting. Believe it or not, "12" < "3X" < "4" < "12". Hopefully the rules in this program were designed to avoid such problems?
-- supercat, Feb 17 2002

XRayTed: Your hammer metaphor is faulty. A computer can be made friendlier without impairing its function. It might take a few more processor cycles to do the job and thus be slower but then so does hammering carefully.
-- sirrobin, Feb 17 2002

Supercat: Natural Order sorts your examples as follows:
A__1, A__B, A_1, A_B, A1, A2, AB assuming underbars are spaces.
I would have had the answer sooner but I forgot to reinstall Natural Order on my last system upgrade.
-- sirrobin, Feb 17 2002

This is a partially correct complaint, unfortunately drowned in a general and disrespectful rant. If you don't even recognize that this is a hard problem, and if any shortcoming of a program, however minor, elicits nothing but sneers from you because it failed to second-guess you in those oh so simple things like which language you speak, or what particular meaning you're assigning to a letter, don't expect to be taken seriously by the people working to solve it.
-- jutta, Feb 17 2002

Okay, so blanks are considered not to be part of a number. How 'bout commas? Okay, that's mean.

So would it be safe to say that Natural Order's sorting sequence is equivalent to converting every sequence of consecutive digits into a 'meta-character' which sorts between blanks and anything else? If such conversion is done on each operand independently of the other, then it would seem relational operators would preserve ranking.
-- supercat, Feb 17 2002

[sirrobin]: faulty? No. Obtuse? Misplaced? Well, OK, sure. Processor cycles are, generally, not the issue: my point is that an operating system already does sorting. By allowing yourself to ‘give in’ to the system and make explicit, discrete choices, you gain an advantage: your work becomes more organized by principle. Please note: this is more 'advice', rather than a generalization.
btw, if you ever stop to watch a roofer at work (applying shingles), you will notice that they will rarely use more than two or three ‘processor cycles’ to drive a nail. Band-aids? I don’t think so. Aren’t those the things they put on little kids?
-- xrayTed, Feb 17 2002

You realize [po] is short for POwer user? 8^)

To summarize: The general populous is waiting for HAL. The kind of people who could build HAL don't need to.
-- phoenix, Feb 17 2002

I am out of my depth in here as Peter is aware but treading water and not drowning. I am not insulted at all but I intend to get my own back at playtime!
-- po, Feb 17 2002

First a problem: how to sort 20020209, 020131, 12:37 10092001, 08102001? (Ha ha, I didn't tell you that some are in British and some in US date formats, and one is hexadecimal.)

Anyway, I think jutta's right, and Rods is sort of too. If you have meaningful metadata associated with a file (like an ID3 tag for MP3, or you fill in your title and author fields in a Word document), then it shouldn't matter what you call a file. As to sorting files by number and alphabetical order you have 3 options: number it properly, get software that numbers it properly, or include metadata with the correct numbering. Trying to deal with all numbers in filenames in the same "intelligent" way is asking for trouble - what if they're dates, or times, or usernames? It's the responsibility of a user to decide what data means, not the computer.
-- pottedstu, Feb 18 2002

random, halfbakery