The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Why is this thing so slow?

Once upon a time I did some technical support work. I really wasn't cut out for it. I was even more impatient then than I am now. And patience is absolutely necessary for a technical support person.

Yes, I am much more mellow now than I once was. I bit the heads (figuratively speaking, of course) off of more than a few co-workers in those days. With good reason, I still believe. Not that I was perfect or great at my job but I was better than average. In fact, looking around at my fellow workers caused me to stop supporting nuclear power plants. In my observations, cutting corners was simply human nature. But cutting corners and acting in haste (and/or ignorance) often, if not always, leads to trouble.

I was one of those tasked with keeping telecommunications equipment operating smoothly. Engineers at Bell Labs were tasked with eliminating as many of us as possible. I started on electro-mechanical equipment in 1970 and graduated to digital (computerized) switching in 1977. In 1977, the Bell System folks taught me about computers; how they worked and how they broke, and how to repair them. Well, by "them", I mean the equipment they would be using... not just any computer.

But computers all operate on the same, or similar, principles. I was fascinated by how much I was taught about the inner workings of the company's equipment also applied to what we called "micro-computers" in those days. But I digress.

Faye reminded me the other night about how poorly I treated my co-workers in those days. I felt I was justified then... still do, actually. But it wasn't polite or even smart to treat them that way. It didn't help them get better at their jobs nor entice them to cooperate with me. It only instilled a fear of having to deal with me.

My regular shift when I worked was midnight to 8AM. There was an 8AM to 4PM shift and a 4PM to midnight shift. More often than not, I would come in to work and find some piece of equipment in trouble. The evening shift would have worked on it for anywhere from all night to just a short period of time. And, more often than not, I would have to undo much of what they did trying to repair it.

I did this myself from time to time. Fix first what I fouled up in trying to fix the original problem, that is. At least, until I developed better skills at diagnosing the problem. Making mistakes is how you learn, they say. And I made a number of them along the way. For some reason, that didn't make me more tolerant of others' errors, though I suppose it should have.

After awhile, I learned to not ask what they thought was the problem or pay much attention to what they did to correct it. It was easier to sit down, have a cup of coffee, and then tackle the problem as if it had just appeared.

What I learned over time and observation was that the more complex computer troubles are self inflicted.

Like the old joke about a car's trouble being a "loose nut behind the wheel" is also true of computers. We updated that joke to computers having "input problems"... the person using the keyboard is the cause.

That's why there are those online services advertised that will "speed up your computer"; companies like "" and "". What they really do is clean up a lot of the fluff (let's call it "digital lint") that clogs up your hard drive and computer memory. Over time, you collect a lot of programs that leave at least a portion of themselves in the computer's memory. As that memory fills up, the computer has to swap things out of memory in order to have enough space to load that bloated program you want to use. I say "bloated" because it is.  It's like that old adage about work taking as long (or longer) than whatever time is allocated for it. Computer programs once fit nicely in 64 megs, or less, of memory. But as memory got cheaper and operating systems more able to access it, program size got much bigger. There are a lot of reasons this happened and I won't go into them.

So what these services do is clean out unused memory resident programs, redundant services, and make memory usage more efficient. And you could do that on your own with just a little knowledge. In fact, with just a little caution and knowledge, you could prevent that buildup in the first place.

To prevent virus and trojan infections:

Don't open any file attachments from unknown sources.
Don't open any file attachments from known sources until you confirm that person you know actually sent it.
Run a reliable anti-virus program.

I recommend and use AVG Free. It is one of the best. It does not take control of your computer and clog it up as some (most) of the commercial anti-virus suites do. It just does what we want done the most: check for and intercept trojan programs , viruses, and other malware. And it is, as its name implies, free for private/home use.

To prevent the slowdowns, uninstall programs you haven't used in months or years. It's not hard to do. 

Update (4/2/2012),2817,2402410,00.asp?google_editors_picks=true
Useful article.

1 comment:

Torggil said...

Interesting.  There are several programs I haven't used in a while.  I'm always hesitant to delete them tho.  And my stupid spacebar seems to be going.