November 29, 2006: Does No One Understand How to Shutdown?

Following Joel Spolsky’s blog entry about how to shut down your Windows machine, Arno Gourdol write about the shutdown features of Max OS X. Both writers keep talking about all of these features that “no one uses” but I think they are forgetting that not every computer user is a writer. For example, at my day job we have a couple of key requirements that need to be met that, I believe, are not uncommon in the workplace. These requirements are: your computer must be locked every time that you walk away from it and your computer must be left on even when you aren’t around (for maintenance and management reasons.) The result?

The fast “lock my computer” features of Windows is critical because every time I have to get a drink or use the facilities or walk to someone’s cubicle or whatever I have to lock my machine. Not shutdown and restart. Lock. It has to be FAST. I can’t have my apps closing when I do it. So from a corporate standpoint the lock feature is absolutely necessary or no work would ever get done (a full shutdown and restart takes about five to eight minutes – imagine if I did that twenty times a day or more!)

At the end of the day, and anytime that my computer gets sluggish, I restart it so that it is ready to go and fresh. The last thing that I want to do is shut it down at the end of the day and have to sit around waiting for it to power down (especially if there are patches waiting to be installed) and then power it back up manually. That would cost me a significant amount of time where I would just be sitting in the office waiting to manually do a task that is insanely obvious for the computer itself to do. And lets face it, everyone you know restarts their computer constantly. It is the answer to anything that is wrong. Every time something stops working we restart. Is it a hundred times a day? No. Is it just as often as we “shut down”? Easily.

From a server standpoint (which both Windows and Mac OS X can be used as, as well as many OS’s not talked about my Joel or Arno) you often do not have physical access to a machine and need to be able to issue a reboot. Imagine how difficult customer support would be if a machine needed a reboot but the only option was to send a tech out to a customer site just because the machine had to be powered off and manually restarted again. The cost of desk side support would skyrocket.

Both Joel and Arno also argue that the “sleep” functionality need only be exposed through the physical interface of closing the laptop lid. That’s great except that desktops don’t have lids. So the answer, I guess, is that only laptops should have a power saving, fast on mode? I suppose that they think that spinning down harddrives and powering off monitors is a total waste and too complex for the average human to handle. Why should monitors have power buttons one must wonder once we go down this insane path! Why not just unplug them if they don’t need power and let them sit there on but showing nothing until the computer uses them. Turning them on and off is too complex apparently.

Both Joel and Arno seem to think that almost all computer users are unintelligent, lazy, confused people using laptops who never need them to run with the lid shut, seldom worry about their own free time being used up manually shutting down and restarting their laptops and never lock them for security reasons or log out before letting someone else use the machine. In their Utopian world there is no security needed ever and every person has their own personal laptop with them and running and working and online and full battery at all times so they never need to share. Ever.

Arno even gets so bold as to say that there is no one in the other corner defending the importance of these choices. Um, hello! I think the idea of dropping most of these functions is completely insane and clearly shows a lack of understanding as to the average uses of a computer. There are many environments in which computers are used today but the leader is still in the workplace and the needs of the workplace computing environment are being completely ignored. As are the needs of the most basically literate computer user. The harsh reality is that the needs of the computers users that cannot figure out when they want to power off their computer or when they want to reboot it to get it working again (I mean really, who gets confused about whether or not they want to turn something off?) are hardly needs that can be met through any amount of simplification. More importantly, even if we could make computers easy enough to use for people so completely incompetent we would still face the fact that these people have little to no average value to add to the world and should not be catered to at the cost of the productivity of the people who drive the economy and offer value to their fellow human beings.

I am not saying that it wouldn’t be valuable for Microsoft to whip up a “Windows Vista Clueless Edition” just to make a few extra dollars off of the moronic crowd but they sure cannot risk losing their key markets just because a few idiots can’t figure out what it is they want to do and think that Microsoft should make that decision for them. Once you let Microsoft decide whether or not you want you computer to be powered on why not let them choose your bank, car, spouse and what you want to eat for dinner? Simply put, there is a minimum of personal decision making that every single living person must perform in order to be classified above the level of vegetable. Next the “no power decision” crowd will be complaining about how un-userfriendly their television is because it doesn’t turn on whenever someone sits down in front of it (because only people sitting want to watch television and, in fact, EVERY person sitting down wants to watch television) and that they constantly have to actually CHOOSE what show they want to watch. How inconvenient!

I managed to load almost a thousand more pictures onto Flickr today! Just about everything that I have access to at the moment has been uploaded. I don’t have my entire collection scanned yet but the bulk of it has been and is now uploaded. I figure that there are a few hundred left to go mostly being sports pictures from when I was in high school. I don’t have easy access to my prints and slides when I am in New Jersey so I am only guessing. I will need to take some time and get those done. There is a lot more motivation now that I have them available online and can actually make use of them. I have made all of the images licensed under the Creative Commons so that other people can make use of them as well. No reason to horde them to myself. Maybe people will find creative uses for them. All ready I can see the total number of people checking out the pictures climbing. People must be enjoying them.

I am scheduled to be taking the early shift tomorrow which means that I have to be up and running around five in the morning so that I can be in to the office by six thirty. I will be very tired tomorrow. I have gotten used to sleeping in a bit the last few weeks. Oreo won’t get his regular Thursday with me either. That is very sad. We really enjoy our days hanging out together. But I will be home early so he will just stay home and wait for me. In the evening Dominica, Susan and I are going out to see the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra perform at one of their near but non-Newark venues.

While I was doing some work on Flickr today I remember a kid from my class at Pavilion Baptist School, Jacy Lennon. I did a quick search on his name and there was only two hits on Google. Both were local to where I grew up, Batavia and LeRoy, and both were for someone of the same age three years apart. Both links were police blotters for someone charged with felony DWI. One link was for 1999 and one for 2002. So I would say that there is about a 99.999% chance that that is him. Since the only one in the whole Googlesphere is local to my high school and the right age I think that it has to be him. Over the years my class at PBS only ever had about twenty five people in it. That is another one accounted for. We know where almost everyone is these days. But then again there weren’t very many of us.

After work a bunch of us from my team went out to the local pub for some drinks to celebrate the promotion of our new manager. We were out for about two hours. Dominica had plenty of homework to do so she was happy being home working on that.

I left the pub just a little after eight. Dominica called to let me know that she had just found out that her cousin has been diagnosed with cancer. We don’t know any real details but she was almost positive that it was non-small cell lung cancer, the same that my mother had. It had all ready spread to his lymphatic system by the time that they caught it. But that is all that we know at this point. So obviously we are asking everyone to keep him and his family in prayer.

Dominica ordered in Domino’s again tonight and food was waiting for me when I got home. At that point she decided to give up on her homework for the evening and we watched most of the original 1945 version of Christmas in Connecticut which both of us are pretty sure is not as good as the Dyan Cannon remake even taking into account the fact that Kris Kristofferson is in it and the fact that it was made for television. We didn’t finish the movie though because it was getting late and I have to be up extra early tomorrow morning.

I did spend the evening struggling through doing some editing on Ulead’s video editing studio. So far I am not impressed but it does function which is more than I was able to say for Pinnacle’s studio so we will see. I have downloaded Adobe’s attempt at a similar product so I will be testing that out sooner or later. I would like to have a chance to try out Kino as well but Kino only runs on Linux and I don’t have an IEEE1394 card on my Linux box to do the DV capture with. I have heard that Kino works pretty well though.

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