ITGS Syllabus

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Topic 44

GUI, command-line interface, voice recognition by Oliver Chan

Graphical User Interface (more commonly known as GUI):

Graphical User Interfaces, or GUIs (pronounced gooeys by some) is the user interface for the interaction with a computer that generally involves the inclusion of images and graphics along with text to display information to a user. The most popular operating systems in the market include Windows and Mac OS, both of which are graphical user interfaces.

Graphics user interfaces have changed the way we look at computers and it make it much more user-friendly than past computers.

Command Line Interface

Command Line Interface (CLI) is the interaction with a computer where both the input and the output are text. Generally, most users will never have to use the Command Line Interface when interacting with computers; however there is a minority that still utilize the CLI for specific tasks.

Graphical User Interface vs. Command Line Interface

There is a debate as to which interface is considered better. Although the Graphical User Interface is usually considered as superior to the Command Line Interface, there are quite a few arguments for the use of CLI.

Arguments FOR Graphical User Interfaces:

- Easy to learn
- Efficient use of monitor ‘real-estate’ (Displays information effectively)
- Presents all functions and commands in easy menus and toolbars, as opposed to having to memorize text commands in CLIs

Arguments FOR Command Line Interfaces:
- CLIs are much more resource efficient; uses less RAM
- Steeper learning curve for knowing commands, but once learned can lead to increased efficiency
- Repetitive tasks can be achieved using simple loops and scripts, where a GUI doing the same task would involve endless clicking and dragging (Click the button at this part of the screen, click this menu option, click this tab, etc.)

It is usually safe to say that GUIs are best for simple tasks, but when it comes to repetitive and/or complex tasks, a CLI is better suited for the job. It’s for this reason that most operating systems that use a Graphical User Interface generally include some sort of Command Line Interface, for example the Command Line Interfaces in Microsoft Windows and Apple Mac OS are respectively known as the Command Prompt and Terminal.

Voice Recognition

A new form of data input is through voice. The computer converts a sound signal and translates it back into doing some sort of command. The technology is still a work in progress, yet the technology can already be seen in some programs, such as Microsoft Office and the Opera web browser.

The main flaw in voice recognition lies in the process of converting the “sound signal” into the desired command. Generally, users are required to ‘voice train’ their voice recognition software, by reading passages of text so the computer can recognize how you pronounce words and phrases. This is problematic as voice training takes time, and requires lots of voice training to retain an accurate measure of your speech.

Another flaw in current speech recognition technology is that would have to be done in a quiet environment, as background noise would distort the received ‘sound signal’ and lead to executing the wrong commands.

Although it is still a work in progress, voice recognition has high potential of becoming a primary input method for computers. The efficiency increase of using computers would be very high. For example saying “System Properties” is much faster than having to use your mouse to move the pointer to Start, then Control Panel, then click the System Properties icon.

Social and Ethical Issues

The issues associated with interfaces in essence are next to nothing, but these interfaces are the tools in which unethical conduct such as piracy and hacking are carried out with. As we continually simplify the interaction with computers, we would also be simplifying the process of piracy and hacking, thus attracting more people to carry out such unethical acts. In other words, security is a trade off of simplicity, where no solution really exists, besides the conventional security measures we take when using computers (firewalls, antivirus software, etc.)


Blogger sam_shobeiri said...

I personally can not wait until speech recognition is improved to a point where everyone can use it with ease. I mean how cool it would be if you don't have to type! Essays will be much less hectic.

January 07, 2007 7:15 PM  
Blogger XiaoxiaoLi said...

Haha Sam has got the point here! Much improved speech recognition is certainly the goal of the new millennium. Blogs like this will be completed in seconds while probably even more beneficial to our education since the exchange of voices is more personal than mere text.

January 08, 2007 12:51 AM  

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