SPUG: OT: Wolfram Alpha

Michael R. Wolf MichaelRWolf at att.net
Mon May 3 12:39:41 PDT 2010

A few months ago, I posted a note regarding Wolfram Alpha.

I just noticed that the iPhone app went on sale for $2 (down from $40  
or $50):  http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/wolframalpha/id334989259?mt=8&ign-mpt=uo%3D2

Although I still believe that the user interface is too "smart" to be  
as useful as it could be, this is still A GREAT VALUE, even if you  
only end up using a small portion of it.  It'll pay for itself in  
"smug points" the first time it helps you win a "bar bet"!


P.S.  The best summary I read at the time of why the "smart" UI was  
unusable/uncontrolable is as follows:

      "Stupid is predictable; predictable is learnable; learnable is  

P.P.S.  More details...

On Mar 4, 2010, at 6:05 PM, Dave Olszewski wrote:

> I saw this article last year which puts to words nicely the issues you
> and I seem to have with it:
> http://unqualified-reservations.blogspot.com/2009/07/wolfram-alpha-and-hubristic-user.html

Here's my favorite pull-quote from the (overly long and rantish)  

     "Briefly, intelligent user interfaces should be limited to  
applications in which the user does not expect to control the behavior  
of the product. If the product is used as a tool, its interface should  
be as unintelligent as possible. Stupid is predictable; predictable is  
learnable; learnable is usable."

Michael R. Wolf
     All mammals learn by playing!
         MichaelRWolf at att.net

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