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Re: Useful Dumb User Questions

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  • Subject: [mg9020] Re: [mg8988] Useful Dumb User Questions
  • From: Mark Evans <evans at>
  • Date: Wed, 8 Oct 1997 00:05:18 -0400
  • Organization: None
  • Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at

In one day I have received several answers to my post.  Three out of
four are in agreement, while Jens-Peer Kuska's reply is a shining
example of exactly the condescension I am talking about.

The comparison of Mathematica with Microsoft Windows is nearly exact. 
Both products have a commanding lead in their field, both are hard to
use in many ways, and both have a lot of hidden behaviors that only the
home company knows about.  Both also claim to make your life easier!

The caricature of my comments by Kuska is out of place.  I am not
talking about school girls and factory workers.  Since he asks, let me
say that the people I have in mind are typically Ph.D.'s in technical
fields who are simply not expert programmers.  I have tried to teach
Mathematica to many of them.  The fact that they read the manual and
still don't "get it" tells me that the program is hard to use.  I have
been evangelizing Mathematica for years, but find that these people
typically tinker with it and then fall back to their old tools because
they encounter so many error messages.

Version 3 is an amazing product, but keep in mind that other programs
have allowed typset input for a long time, although I won't name names
because of the way in which this newsgroup is moderated.

I watch other dumb users sit down at some of these programs and "get it"
almost immediately.  So therefore I conclude that MMA is hard to use,
even though it is not hard for me personally, and in fact I find it very


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