[LAU] Jack max ports question

Paul Davis paul at linuxaudiosystems.com
Sun Aug 2 12:33:39 UTC 2015

You're busy describing the relationship people should have with technology.

One key aspects of your description is a feeling that I share with
you, more or less: computers are tools and people need to know how to
use the tools that are a part of their lives.

Nobody is expecting a "a more intelligent elite to take all decisions
for them" (well, perhaps not nobody, but not anyone i've met). Their
perspective, though, is quite different. That perspective is that the
*task* at hand is the important thing, and that the tool(s) should not
intrude on the task unless absolutely necessary. From this
perspective, a tool that requires them to understand and remember
information about the *tool* is a worse tool than one which has no
such requirement. From this perspective, tools that can be endlessly
tinkered with are for hobbyists and oddballs, because the tools are
never the goal, only the task, and if the tools requiring tinkering
with in order to accomplish the task, that means that the toolmaker
hasn't finished their work.

I don't like this view, and I don't think it is very productive or
healthy for society. But it isn't a new view, it isn't limited to
computers or software, and it is VERY entrenched in modern industrial

>> And even when they click it, they find that JACK is running on their
>> builtin hardware when they wanted it to use some USB device they have.
>> Then they can't figure out how to change it.
> With a GUI in front of them inviting them to change it.
>> the number of people who do not even realize that you need to tell
>> JACK which device to use is quite startling.
> With two or more sound cards, someone or something has to make
> a choice. That's not really rocket science.

This response and the previous one simply betray your status as a
highly technical, highly experienced tinkering nerd (all said in a
positive, respectful way). The issues with the presentation of JACK
configuration options have nothing to do with things being "complex"
(ala "rocket science", which also isn't really that complex :) but to
do with psychological aspects of human/computer interaction.

After you've talked (on IRC) to a dozen or more people who failed to
identify the need to choose a device, and tried to ask them why they
didn't see this need ... it is already too late. They already can no
longer identify or remember why the choice was inobvious to them. This
comes up at least once a week on #ardour, and every time I'm around
for it, I've tried to gently quiz the user in a way that avoids me
telling them the issue, to see if I can get an understanding of what
their mental model was that managed to avoid "need to choose device".
So far, I've been unable to do so. The closest I can get is that some
users may have a model in which all audio going in and out of a
computer, regardless of the number of devices, is part of a single,
monolithic system, and that they will be able to make their choice
about inputs and outputs once their are inside an application where
this is necessary. I still don't think this fully captures the mental
model that exists before someone realizes "oh yeah, I need to choose
the device". But in some ways, it is a solid model for a particular
class of users. Why should they have to tell JACK ahead of time what
device to use? Why doesn't it show ALL the inputs and outputs on their
computer, and just let them choose which ones to use? This is not a
silly view of the universe.

As for the "GUI inviting them to change it", that GUI included a
selector labelled "Interface", and other labelled "Capture Device" and
another labelled "Playback Device". If you wanted to change the device
that JACK used (having identified the requirement to do so), which of
these things do you think you might choose, as a less sophisticated

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