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The Orlando Sentinel from Orlando, Florida • Page 39
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The Orlando Sentinel from Orlando, Florida • Page 39

Orlando, Florida
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The Orlando Sentinel, Friday, June 1 1 1 993 E-5 Gangland with kosher flavor By James Warren CHICAGO TRIBUNE Simplicity is key for guidebooks COMPUTERS from E-1 Jews have toward an unsavory part of their past. While Italians have a more difficult time dealing with the legacy of Capone and other Italian-American crooks, in part because of stereotyping they helped inspire, it's claimed that Jews have virtually embraced their gangsters, who tended to be modestly educated second-generation Americans of Eastern European, working-class and traditional (rather than Orthodox) parentage. Why? The argument here is that the crooks' success provided an antidote to a Jewish self-image of victimization. (Available via 1 S. Franklin Chicago, 111. 60606. June 21 Sew Republic has Croatian author Sla-venka Drakulic wondering if the detailed written and video documentation of the atroc- You know of, and may love, kosher-style hot dogs. But kosher-style crooks? The June issue of inevitably engaging JUF News, from the Jewish United Fund, offers an all-you-want-ed-to-know, self-deprecating treatise on Chicago's rich history of Jewish gangsters, which it titles "Kosher-Style Capones." Relying heavily on Joe Kraus, a historian of "gangster lore" and editor of the newsletter of the Chicago Jewish Historical Society, the magazine opens with a tale about gangster Jacob "Greasy Thumb" Guzik, Al Capone's business manager. ers' advocate. "The developers at Microsoft live, eat and breath computers," she said. "But most people who use them don't, and don't want to." When customers call Microsoft, unable to figure out something about, say, a word-processing or a spreadsheet program, the usability experts are summoned. If needed, the experts suggest changes in the software. A common fix-it is to add what is known as a dialogue box to subsequent versions of the software. These boxes take the computer novice through the tricky parts of an operation by providing step-by-step instructions on the screen at the stroke of a "help" key. "The improvements aren't home runs," Dieli said. "They're base hits." Changes in software aside, some folks will still need help understanding computers. "I don't see the struggle with technology going away," said Gookin, the Dummies author. And for the next few years, his plans are set: "More books for more understandable, some companies have taken small but helpful steps. After polling customers, Zenith Data Systems sliced in half the manuals for a new line of personal computers. "We went and trimmed out a lot of technical material that was of marginal value or that people absolutely don't want to know," said Brian Manser, manager of product strategy for Zenith Data Systems. In the name of making computers less forbidding, industry giants like the IBM and Microsoft operate full-fledged research programs, staffed by teams of psychologists, graphic designers and learning experts. Mary Dieli is the manager of what Microsoft calls its "usability" department Microsoft makes both DOS (Disk Operating System) and Windows, a software program that sits on top of DOS, translating arcane commands into pictures and icons. Dieli's staff of 20 runs two laboratories where volunteers are asked to putter with computers while they are being observed through one-way mirrors. Dieli sees herself as a custom Guzik is said to have walked into the office of the city's Yiddish paper, the Jewish Forward, in the ities of the war in Bosnia, rather than sensitizing us and helping us avoid repeating history, reflects a 1930s and complained about its unrelenting attacks distinctly different phenomenon namely our increased hardening toward atrocities and a resulting inability to perceive larger truths. June Spin profiles tough nun Mary Rose McGeady, head of New York's famous Covenant House shelter for runaway teens, who admits her selling job is tough. "My God, they make so much money in prostitution they tell me they make $40 a trick, $60 without a condom." on him. The editor asked why he cared about what a dinky paper like his printed. Guzik replied, "I care because my mother reads it." The anecdote is used not because Jewish crooks were more under their moms' thrall than their ethnic counterparts, though folklore would have one believe it, says Kraus. No, it's because the monthly believes it hints at a benign, even good-humored attitude Culture, as well as technology, is to blame for computing's complexity. It still has the hallmarks of an industry dominated by technological elites. To read a computer manual is to decipher the foreign language of the prompt," the "user interface" and the dreaded "disk error." The writers are apparently paid by the word. Today's slender notebook computers are probably the only product category for which the operating manual is bigger than the product. In the computer industry, every company claims these days to kneel before the altar of the customer. No computer executive seems able to string together three sentences without proclaiming his company "customer driven" or "customer focused." Yet despite such talk, the computer business is still hooked on technology, pursuing the latest widgetry with abandon, convinced that customers will always follow. It is, after all, one of the few multibillion-dollar industries and perhaps the only legal one that routinely refers to its customers as "users." Dan Gookin, 32, the author of DOS for Dummies and a self-confessed computer nerd, insists that personal computers are needlessly difficult to use. And he believes he knows why. "The biggest problem is that there's still a lot of dorks in computing," Gookin said. "They're the kind of people who were in chess club in high school real bright but wound up in their self-centered little technical world, and they can't communicate with oth- er people." A harsh judgment, perhaps, but many computer executives ac- knowledge their shortcomings in dealing with laypeople. The experts are also sympathetic to the troubles 'of computer neophytes, for they often have difficulties of their own with new machines. So many computer companies are beginning at last to try to 'make their wares less intimidating, inspired by the lodestone of consumer mass market, with its promise of riches. Already the rewards are evident at Apple Computer a com-'pany that built its reputation on the claim that its machines were easier to use than computers run on DOS. The company's Apple and Macintosh computers were first to display pictures and icons on the screen instead of pure computerspeak. Still, they must be a struggle for some people. MACsfor Dummies by David Pogue, is also in bookstores. In the rush to make computers WHILE THEY LAST If STOCK AND Of THE WAY! DON'T WAIT! LIMITED SUPPLY! One of the World's Greatest Symphony Orchestras is as close as Daytona Beach. 1993 EAGLE TALON DL 1 993 EAGLE VISION TSi OWNER'S CHOICE PROTECTION PLAN POWERTRAIN OR 3SG BUMPER TO BUMPER MSRP excluding tide, taxes, and options. Actual prices may vary. 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