"Ad hoc connection" icon in the network menu is very confusing

Bug #438111 reported by Mat Tomaszewski on 2009-09-28
10
This bug affects 1 person
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
Humanity
Undecided
Unassigned
Network Manager Applet
New
Wishlist
Ubuntu network, Bluetooth, keyboard menus
Incomplete
Undecided
Unassigned
humanity-icon-theme (Ubuntu)
Undecided
Unassigned
network-manager-applet (Ubuntu)
Wishlist
Unassigned

Bug Description

This icon (monitor with blue waves next to the network icon) is confusing and potentially misleading. It should not be displayed in the applet menu.

Vish (vish) wrote :

It is not a bug in Humanity , If humanity does not assign the icon for the ad-hoc , the hi-color icon will be displayed which simply shows a monitor. Which would look even more weird , with an off palatte hi-color icon.

But the nm-applet displaying the ad-hoc icon is surely confusing to an average user.

Changed in humanity:
status: New → Invalid
Mat Tomaszewski (mat.t.) wrote :

Screenshot attached. The user could be led to think that this connection is somehow "preferred" or even that the icon represents the *actual* wireless connection itself (use of waves).

I personally did not understand what the icon meant when I first saw it.

Mat Tomaszewski (mat.t.) wrote :

@mac_v

So really, we have two bugs here. The fact that the icon is displayed in the first place, and the graphical treatment of the icon itself. The latter is a bug in Humanity.

Alexander Sack (asac) wrote :

ad-hoc networks are considered dangerous to some degree, so just removing the hint that this is a different type of network isn't the right solution - users must be able to identify that those networks are not "normal" APs.

However, Its understood that the current icon isn't perfect. Suggestions welcome.

Changed in network-manager-applet (Ubuntu):
status: New → Confirmed
Vish (vish) wrote :

Hm , ok , i just did the present icon similar to the hi-color one , so if there are any ideas for a better one that'd be nice..

Changed in humanity:
assignee: nobody → mac_v (drkvi-a)
status: Invalid → Confirmed
Mat Tomaszewski (mat.t.) wrote :

OK, so in this case we need an icon that would discourage from using this network, rather than the opposite :)

@ asac

In what way are they dangerous?

Alexander Sack (asac) wrote :

yes. the icon should express that you are connecting to a computer rather than a stationary AP. You should never connect to such an AP unless you know who set up that AP.

The increased risk is that i go to airport and setup adhoc and once users go through me i can do all kind of nasty man in the middle attacks ...

Alexander Sack (asac) wrote :

also functionally wise its not given that you can access the internet through adhoc networks. so usually you dont want to use ad-hoc networks.

Vish (vish) wrote :

Asac , Mat , I'v edited the icon with a warning overlay. I think this would do without making user very scary of ad-hoc :)

Is this sufficient?

Changed in humanity:
status: Confirmed → Fix Committed
Alexander Sack (asac) wrote :

Could you attach a screenshot?

Vish (vish) wrote :

Asac believes the present icon is sufficient for ad-hoc device.
This bug is solved in Humanity.

Since the icon is for a device , we cannot add further warnings to the ad-hoc icon since the icon might be used elsewhere in the app too.

It would be more ideal , if nm displayed another icon for such risky devices , symbolizing security alert. At which point a new icon can be made. But for now this issue is solved in humanity

Changed in humanity:
assignee: mac_v (drkvi-a) → nobody
status: Fix Committed → Fix Released
Alexander Sack (asac) wrote :

security risk is not the only property that should be expressed by ad-hoc icon. The main purpose it should fulfil is to signal users that this is something special, run by individuals (or special purpose devices) and usually is not ment to be a path to access the internet.

So rather giving users explicit warning it should signal that this is something private a user usually has no interest connecting to.

Vish (vish) on 2009-09-30
Changed in humanity-icon-theme (Ubuntu):
status: New → Fix Committed
Mat Tomaszewski (mat.t.) wrote :

@asac

Thanks for explaining. If this is the case, the current icon does a particularly bad job in explaining it, when appearing in the menu. Before I knew what ad-hoc connection was, all it said to me was "this is a preferred/better wireless connection, please use it". We haven't done any user testing on this yet, but I would be very surprised if the inexperienced users read the icon differently.

I understand that this icon is used elsewhere and works well in the preferences dialog, but it should definitely not be used in the network menu, as it potentially does more harm than good.

This bug is invalid in Humanity, but is still valid in n-m.

Changed in humanity-icon-theme (Ubuntu):
status: Fix Committed → Invalid
Changed in humanity:
status: Fix Released → Invalid
Alexander Sack (asac) wrote :

it is not clear to me why you think its not a bug in humanity. Network Manager uses the nm-device-adhoc.png icon. Thats a distinct icon and you can improve it in humanity without touching NM.

Alexander Sack (asac) wrote :

you can argue that NM should come up with a great icon for adhoc first and then humanity can just make a similar icon, but as I said above, upstream (and me) don't know a better icon, so please fix this in humanity first and once you found a great solution we can adapt the same approach on nm/hicolor side.

Changed in humanity-icon-theme (Ubuntu):
status: Invalid → Triaged
Mat Tomaszewski (mat.t.) wrote :

OK, so my point is that the confusion comes from the fact that the current icon does not represent a warning. The ad-hoc connection icon itself may be good, but the fact that it appears alongside regular wireless connection icon is confusing. So again, I don't necessarily think we should change the icon, I think we should definitely not display it in the menu.

How about, instead of the current icon, have a little open lock with an exclamation mark?

Vish (vish) wrote :

Asac , The problem , is not the upstream icon or Humanity's icon. Though i agree the present humanity's icon for the device can be improved. [working on it right now.]

But the problem , is simply placing the device icon is not going to make it clear for users. I suggest using a third icon in that menu , for security risk. [A broken shield] while the rest done need the icon.

Changed in humanity:
assignee: nobody → mac_v (drkvi-a)
status: Invalid → In Progress
Vish (vish) wrote :

* while the rest of the on-security risk connections dont need to display the icon.

Vish (vish) wrote :

*non-security risk

Vish (vish) wrote :

There also need to be tooltips , for each of the icons ,
- the signal strengths > tootlips mentioning "exact percentage"
- adhoc > "Ad-hoc wireless device"
- security risk icon > "Security risk"... or even better working

Mat Tomaszewski (mat.t.) wrote :

Whoa, let's hold it there :)

Just to be clear:

- definitely no third icon. We could either remove the ad-hoc icon entirely, or replace it with a security warning icon
- definitely no tooltips. The icons should do the job, if they don't, they're bad icons :)

Alexander Sack (asac) wrote :

> - definitely no third icon. We could either remove the ad-hoc icon entirely, or replace it with a security warning icon

like i said here https://bugs.edge.launchpad.net/humanity/+bug/438111/comments/12 .... i dont think security risk is the only driving factor here. What the icon should tell users is that this is something private (maybe run by individuals?) ... where you usually don't want to connect to unless you know this network.

Alexander Sack (asac) wrote :

one idea would be to mark "normal" APs as being a way to the internet (maybe a globe?) ... while adhoc networks are usually a way to get to some other machine or private network.

Mat Tomaszewski (mat.t.) wrote :

Good point, I understand that. The issue is, this is extremely difficult to convey with the icon. I'm not sure if globe would be a good solution, as in some cases you will be able to connect to the internet via ad-hoc connection, and, conversely, you won't be able to do so with the standard connection. This, again, could greatly add to the confusion.
In OSX, this is solved by displaying the ad-hoc connections in the separate category, called "Computer-to-computer networks". I think it makes a lot of sense and could actually be the best solution here.

Vish (vish) wrote :

Hmm... I like Mat's idea [or the OSX idea ;p ], no need for a second or third icon. Just separate the list according to the connections.

So the "Ad-hoc [Private run networks] " could be the heading for these connections... Or a better title.

I dont think there can be any good way to solve this with just the use of an icon. So marking this as invalid for Humanity.

Changed in humanity:
assignee: mac_v (drkvi-a) → nobody
status: In Progress → Invalid
Changed in humanity-icon-theme (Ubuntu):
status: Triaged → Invalid
Alexander Sack (asac) wrote :

the separate section is an obvious approach, though showing it as "Computer to Computer" would not fix the problem you mentioned above: that some ad hocs are still good for internet, while some normal are not.

Anyway. this is topic for karmic+1; if design team has interested in defining where the new upstream nm-applet goes we should discuss that early in cycle.

Alexander Sack wrote:
> the separate section is an obvious approach, though showing it as
> "Computer to Computer" would not fix the problem you mentioned above:
> that some ad hocs are still good for internet, while some normal are
> not.
>
> Anyway. this is topic for karmic+1; if design team has interested in
> defining where the new upstream nm-applet goes we should discuss that
> early in cycle.
>
>
Sounds good. We should keep the bug open for now and do in-depth user
testing of the new applet. If the concerns prove valid, we'll take
appropriate action in Lucid.

Alexander Sack (asac) on 2009-09-30
Changed in network-manager-applet (Ubuntu):
importance: Undecided → Wishlist
milestone: none → later
status: Confirmed → Triaged
Matthew Paul Thomas (mpt) wrote :

Alexander, is there a way to tell, without connecting to each of them in turn, which "ad hocs are still good for internet [and which] are not"?

Vish (vish) on 2010-01-20
Changed in network-manager-applet:
importance: Undecided → Unknown
status: New → Unknown
Vish (vish) wrote :

Mat Tomaszewski , asac , mpt , could you comment on bgo?
Upstream wants to know why this has to be changed in network manager .

Tony Espy (awe) wrote :

@Vish

I'm not sure I understand your request for further comment?

The issue is that the icon displayed in the applet's menu doesn't do a good job of conveying the fact that an available network is "adhoc" ( which means it's another computer providing the network as opposed to an access point ).

The feeling is that removing this indication could be a potential security risk ( think man-in-the-middle attack ).

The thought was that we need some user testing before committing to a re-design.

Changed in network-manager-applet:
status: Unknown → New
Changed in network-manager-applet:
importance: Unknown → Wishlist
Olli Ries (ories) wrote :

please reopen if the issue still exists in Ubuntu 12.04

Changed in network-manager-applet (Ubuntu):
status: Triaged → Incomplete
Changed in humanity-icon-theme (Ubuntu):
status: Invalid → Incomplete
Changed in ubuntu-indicator-mods:
status: New → Incomplete
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