Computers: The worm that turned: Mary Dejevsky's feminist attack on Windows last week struck a nerve

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MARY DEJEVSKY blames her lack of success with Windows on the fact that she is a woman. I am also a woman, and I have been using Windows without problems for several years. Ms Dejevsky's assumption that all women are born with an innate ability to type and an innate inability to perform any other technical task is untrue, sexist and grossly offensive.

J P Lodge

100415.1234@compuserve

.com

WHEN graphical user interfaces (GUIs) were becoming popular about 10 years ago, many of my male colleagues were of the opinion that 'real men don't use mice'. In fact, the infatuation with obscure and meaningless keyboard commands has always seemed to me to be a particular male domain, but not one that I personally have ever enjoyed.

It is of course frustrating to have to learn a new, seemingly unnecessary, skill when typing and a complex command language has already been mastered. However, what experienced users frequently forget is how difficult command languages are to learn. This is especially true of 'unforgiving' command-driven systems such as MS-Dos.

We should not lose sight of the fact that the less computers look - and behave - like our traditional ideas of computers, the more useful they will be to the population as a whole.

William Hudson

ac02@ns. cityscape. co. uk

PLEASE tell Mary Dejevsky to stop being sexist: there are lots of us men out here who loathe Windows, GUIs, icons, mice and the needless layers of over-hyped and -marketed software that get between user, keyboard, application and chip - and clog up disk and memory space - but make Bill Gates ever richer. Of course, the rot did start with Apple . . . reminds one of the Garden of Eden and Eve.

Stephen Palffy

spalffy@cix. compulink. co. uk

If I, AS A systems administrator, were to tell my female users that they could no longer use their PC's (all Windows driven) as their minds don't work in the correct way, I would soon find myself with a riot on my hands. If I was to follow this up by informing all my male users that they obviously had a keyboard problem (as they were male) I would soon be out of a job.

Cosma Papouis

papouis@tower-unix. city-

poly. ac. uk

SO MARY DEJEVSKY thinks us women would rather stick with key-based Dos, on the basis that we are great typists - 'once we learn how'. And she reckons graphic interfaces are designed by boys for boys.

Women are great cleaners and cooks, too - once we learn how - but I can't see that as a particularly sound reason for eschewing the services of a Hoover or a microwave - which, like Windows and the Apple Mac operating system, also happen to be designed by men.

I am a journalist, too, who uses my Mac to write and edit - but also to keep a database of contacts and jobs; to deliver my copy without either fax or courier; to do my accounts; to learn related programmes which earn me more money, and to source information from all over the world. So no, I don't want the computer-equivalent of a Nissan Micra. I want the computer-equivalent of a Ferrari 456GT. With bells and whistles and go-faster mice.

One final niggle. It is misleading to say that a Mac 'works on the same principle as the ubiquitous Windows on the PC'. It was Apple which invented the GUI and it remains a far more sophisticated animal than Windows will ever be. But don't worry, Mary. You'll fall in love with your Mac, just as I fell in love with mine. I used to think my Amstrad 9512 was the bee's knees.

Jemima Harrison

100332.1073@compuserve

.com

WINDOWS a feminist issue? I think not. Windows is a multi-tasking environment and women have been juggling several tasks in their heads simultaneously as they care for chidren and perform all those other 'traditional' household tasks since time immemorial.

Women also like to have fun, so you can keep your boring old mini: I'll have a Porsche. My lab is equipped with some rather nippy workstations: the performance does come in handy for simultaneous visualisations, document preparations and discussing the results over E-mail with colleagues. Yes, I can type fast, think, and move a mouse at the same time. But that's because I am a a physicist, for the fun of it, and a woman. I expect some of Apple's software team do it for fun, too.

Dr Sandy Chapman

University of Sussex.

YOU ARE NOT alone in hating Windows and it was encouraging to find that I'm not, either. (At a shameful low point, I faxed hate mail to Microsoft.) Your play-appeal analysis is sound. Look at the magazines in W H Smith's: men's are about play and toys, including the ones on the top shelf; women's are about people and life. Quite why the difference comes out as qwertyuiop is still a bit of a puzzle, mind.

My laptop came with Windows but it has been defenestrated. The machine didn't want to do it, but it is trained to obey. The only thing is, I'm a man. Until now I have never had so much as a moment's anxiety about what people nowadays call 'my orientation'. Should I be concerned?

Julian Roach

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