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TGR, Gutenberg, Rubric

March 2015

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TGR, Gutenberg, Rubric

A Need for Speed

My first computer (that I owned) was a 512k Fat Mac with a single floppy drive. The operating system for the computer came on a disc and had to be inserted in order to start the computer. Any software you used came on a separate disc and you had to remove the system and insert the software. Of course, if you wanted to save your work, you needed a storage disc. I bought the system specifically to run Aldus PageMaker, a high-end publishing program. It was a disc-swap fest. Saving a four-page newsletter could take as much as 15-20 minutes and require anywhere from 25 to 100 disc-swaps. When the local Apple Regional Center upgraded my system to 800k and gave me a second disc drive (for services rendered), I was in heaven. It cut the number of disc-swaps to a fraction and saving files could be done in 5-10 minutes most of the time. It was a year later (1987) that I paid an enormous sum (nearly $1000) for a 20megabyte hard drive. From that point on, floppy discs were just for backup. I couldn't imagine ever needing more than 20 megabytes of storage, system, program, and fonts.

Of course, today I operate on a Pentium Dual Core system with 2 gigs of RAM and 750 gigabytes of internal storage with a terabyte of network backup. Wow! I get extremely impatient if a program (now Adobe InDesign) takes me more than a couple of seconds to save. My computer was purchased in 2007--top of the line. In a recent home inventory, I discovered that it was the slowest and oldest of all the computers in my household. Even my Netbook has the same amount of RAM and nearly as fast a processor.

But it's not more computer speed that I feel I'm in need of. I passed an acquaintence on the street a few days ago who greeted me by name. I know the person well. I said "Hi" and engaged in a minute's friendly dialog before we each went our way. Then I thought "Jan." Of course, it was too late to call the person by name--that special intimate touch that connects us to other people. A two-second delay in response time is enough to let the moment pass. The connection is lost.

If I pick up the phone when it rings, the person on the other end has about two seconds to respond. If no one is greeting me in that time, I hang up, assuming it is a machine dialed call. I wonder how many people hang up on me mentally when we are talking because my delay is too long.

I don't think I'm losing my memory. I remember it all eventually. I just think my hard drive is so full that it is taking longer to sort out the data. Or maybe...

Maybe we've all just got so used to millisecond response from our computers--impatience when it takes the machine two seconds to respond--that we expect the same RAM-enhanced, quad-core processing from each other that we get from our computers. I'm not getting slower in my response-time, but my expectation has been warped by the box on my desk.

So when we meet on the street, be confident in the fact that I know you. I just need to swap discs to get your name.

[edit]The Macintosh Computer turns 27 today: http://is.gd/8FHryl [/edit]
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