Most frequent computer activity – waiting

Though computers are becoming faster and the older machines become obsolete in a very short time, computers still lack a feature, which would make them a lot more comfortable to use – it is the nuisance having to wait for many applications to finish their job. Do you think that your high-end computer – which may have cost you several thousand dollars cannot be faster? Try to think about the time you spend waiting for something while working on the computer…

Starting the computer and operating system

If you want to show your new photos, which are stored on the hard disk of your fast computer, to some newbies, who are used to televisions turning on immediately, you might get some cold remarks about your computer performance because it is taking so long. After turning on a computer, detection tasks are carried out, many tests, such as a check of computing memory, are executed before booting of an operating system finally starts.

I feel enormous pity that an operating system called BeOS was not widely recognized. It had a proper graphical user interface (GUI) and many applications would boot “literally” within five seconds. Those who remember BeOS can surely confirm it. DOS booting is quite fast as well… It is pointless to mention the booting of Windows or Linux distributions – it is desperately time-consuming. Though the producers are boasting about how fast the booting of the new version of their operating system is, you still have to wait for many seconds regardless of the speed of your computer. Laptop users who use sleep/hibernate mode are slightly better off but it is not a cure-all.

Waiting

Waiting for a baby is much more pleasant than waiting for computer to start (sxc.hu)

Running applications

The next wait appears when you want to start an application. There is no immediate reaction. You will hear whirring from the hard disk after which you get, if you are lucky enough, the first part of the application window. Obviously, I do not take into account systems which use CLI (command line interface). To start a simple application on such a system is much faster. Nevertheless, if you start a database application you will wait for awhile as well.

Game loading

Which message do gamers hate the most? Is it “Game over” or “Loading”? Maybe they cannot be compared to each other. However, a lengthy loading of a new level, saved position or an animation which has been placed between two levels can be really annoying.

Traffic Jam

Waiting in traffic jam (sxc.hu)

Comfortable file transfer? Nonsense!

Do you remember what it was like when you stored files on floppy disks? I do, though I have not used this device for many years. You just put a floppy disk into a floppy drive and immediately start copying. In the course of time, computer engineers have been inventing new devices to store files on but they somehow overlooked the fact that the devices should be both as simple and as fast as floppy disks. Apparently, you cannot store much on a floppy disk nowadays and its file transfer rate is not the best one. But:

A long time ago you could start copying bunch of files from the well known Norton Commander immediately and then pull the floppy out of the drive after the LED turned off. And what about transferring files between two PCs nowadays? How long does it take to connect to your colleagues’ PC? And what about WiFi? How long will it take you to set the options to be able to transfer a couple of files between two computers?

Floppy disks should be replaced with flash disks, which are reliable and plugged into USB ports. They are faster and higher capacity than floppy disks. However, you still need to wait. If you are lucky and you plug a flash disk into the same USB port as it was plugged last time it will eliminate the time you would need helplessly waiting for the automatic installation of the driver. Even though the driver has already been installed, it takes the operating system awhile to register the flash disk before it allows you to work with it.

Absolut absurdity? Waiting for turn off.

The most absurd thing is to wait for a computer to turn off. I will once again look at it from the view of a newbie who will hardly ever understand why you cannot just press a power-off switch to turn off the computer. The situation has improved since ATX power supplies were introduced. We easily forgot about messages like “You can shut the computer down”.

However, many of us will wait to make sure that it shuts down properly. It might happen (and it sometimes does) that an application or a process will prevent the computer from shutting down and if you are a Windows user you may get a snide sneer from a devotee of another operating system – the whole process of shutting down stops and the computer might be in this state all night long until you wake up in the morning and confirm that the blocking application or a process should be really closed and the computer can, in fact, shut down.

Where is a reason?

While writing this article, I realized that the cause of the waiting is actually very simple. It consists in the trick played by software and hardware producers. Try running a ten-year old operating system on an average computer. What speed! What performance! It’s really cool, isn’t it? And now try running, for instance, Windows Vista or some up-to-date Linux distribution on a high-end computer. Do you see the difference?

Taking into consideration the above-mentioned facts, I think that hardware suitable for operating systems which have been made at about the same time, and which would make programs or games run smoothly, has not been created yet. I think that hardware will never live up to the software demands. We will be offered new applications with really incredible functions that we most surely cannot live without. However, to be able to use them, we will need to buy better hardware. The curiosity and desire to have it all in new format means that a user is quite reluctant to run old software applications using new hardware. Even if we wanted to, the producer of such software would stop developing it and would claim that it is no longer officially supported or maintained.