Ah, child labour. That forgotten resource; small, easily intimidated and full of energy. I’ve been doing my bit for European economic competitiveness, and I have enticed innocent children to become test subjects for a usability study. The little mites have been deceptively handed a Ubuntu laptop and left alone. The purpose of this study? To find out if Dapper Drake can be used by real (small) people.
I am astounded by the results of my research. They are better than my fan-boy GNU/Linux DNA dared to expect.
I powered up a laptop for Test Subject #1 (TB#1 hereafter) and waited for his initial reaction. Blankness. He didn’t know when Ubuntu had finished loading and was ready for use due to the unfamiliar desktop. I showed TB#1 the desktop menu and left him play. After half an hour I returned and asked “how’s it going?”
TB#1 kept his chubby eyes glued to the screen. “It’s OK. I’m just finding it hard to beat the computer.” I was curious. What was TB#1 trying to beat the computer at? What had TB#1 done to my nice default install of Ubuntu? I leaned over and looked at the screen. TB#1 was playing four-in-a-row.
“The computer moves so fast. Sometimes it moves too fast for me and I don’t have time to think,” said TB#1. I nodded my head. The test subject had discovered software of direct interest to his age-group. His youthful mind was being trashed by the game but that’s the price you pay for science.
I left the room. TB#1 was using my old laptop. It was not a valuable resource so I confidently wandered away. Three hours later I wandered back. TB#1 was gone, the laptop was powered down and plugged out. Hm. I started it. Clean mount. No problems. On the desktop was one new folder (default name) and one new file (default name). TB#1 had obviously been experimenting with the abilities of the computer. Excellent.
The next day TB#1 was back. He hovered around until I innocently suggested he might like to play with the laptop. He pretended to consider this suggestion and agreed. Shortly thereafter TB#1 was sitting in a sofa doing whatever nine year old humans do. I left him again for two hours. When I returned TB#1 was gone and the laptop was again neatly powered off.
There are some variables to take into account with my testing. TB#1 had a protector. Some kind of mother figure. However, the mother figure has no idea about computers. The last time she was sighted with a computer she was waving a mouse in the air and saying it didn’t seem to be working. Therefore her impact on the actual results of TB#1′s actions were minimal.
The second variable is that TB#1 has used an old computer. He has a Windows 95 machine at home (I kid you not). Therefore TB#1 has some awareness of the desktop paradigm.
Conclusion? Kids can use Ubuntu Dapper Drake. TB#1 has no objection except that four-in-a-row is too difficult. What a result. Well done Mark Shuttleworth and associates.