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The humble software progress bar is a near universal
experience shared between user and computer. From the
very start, say the installation of an operating system,
Recently I had occasion to install Windows XP on a
relatively modern machine. On the left it has a cutesy
progress bar, and unusually, a sentence above
will complete in approximately 57 minutes" in my case.
This is actually admirable, they attempted to ascribe
meaning and a real unit to the progress bar.
because I was installing to a very fast disk, from a very
disk via a very fast board, this estimate came crashing
down. It ultimately took <6 minutes. It was off by
Estimates that are off by tenfold* aren't very useful. The
initial estimate gave enough time for a French coffee
when in actual fact I only had enough time for an
lunch break. I can forgive this example however, the
software could know nothing of the hardware it was
What about now, what headway have we made? Well,
none, as far as I can tell. Transferring large datasets
around still gives wildly inaccurate progress bars**. That
on a computer that should know it's hardware, knows the
data you have selected and knows the speed of the
interfaces through which it is being moved. Even then,
such progress bars will jump to 22% hang around there
a while, race through to 94% and then stay there for 66%
the total time before completing and disappearing. This
can be solved.
Wouldn't it be reasonable for an operating system to
information to it's maker via some fantastical huge
network? where it can then be incorporated into new
versions of the operating system/updates. All it would
is a little packet of information with:
A brief breakdown of the computer "AMD Ryzen 3600,
RAM NVME SSD"
and some typical operations "Install Adobe Photoshop"
"Move 100Gb Tiff files to USB 3 SSD" "AutoSave the
Powerpoint that has been autosaved 9x this afternoon
still has a stop-start progress bar".
Then the operating system can inform it's own progress
bars: "Oh, he's moving 5gb tiff files and 300kb of txt files
a spinning HDD, that's 1s to spin up the drive, 10s/gb
3s for the rest, let's create a nice linear 54s progress bar
and check every 2s or so if we're on track " or "Oh, install
Photoshop on the main SSD, that takes 4 minutes +/- 5s
comparable systems recorded so far".
For completely novel operations, the computer could
a look at the task: "hmm, move 113,000 of these 1500-
5500k .czi files, not sure how they will behave. Let's
1 of each, extrapolate from there and see how we did"
of like PID control for computer operations.
Enforcement will be achieved via varying the frequency
that hooded operatives tase the relevant company's
and upper management in darkened car parks /airport
bathrooms /their children's schools.
*while completely normal, or in fact, bloody impressive
some of the trickier sciences.
** and it still doesn't check, at least in Windows, whether
there is enough space. There's no priority ranking for a
it all now, fast, I want to go home" Vs. "Do it in the
background you have hours".
Sort of inspired by
[bs0u0155, Oct 12 2020]
Randall Munroe got there before you [hippo, Oct 12 2020]
||// hooded operatives tase the relevant company's middle and upper management //
||Er, is that job going out to competitive tender by any chance ?
||Will we pay you on a per-capita basis, or will it be a flat fee ? Invoices net montly account are fine, but if you'd prefer it, you can have used, unmarked notes in a negotiable currency.
||Prior experience in this very specialised area of endeavour leads us to recommend that (a) efforts are directed disproportionately to the higher levels of management, but also applied to significant majority shareholders, and (b) the method of education is varied depending on the offender; beatings with rubber hose (which can be done without leaving significant bruising, despite being very painful), waterboarding, pepper spray on the genitalia, and sherbert (the actual confectionary, not a euphemism) blown up the nostrils all have a very satisfactory effect on encouraging compliance.
||I can see that outsourcing to "Compliance Enforcement
Specialist" companies has some advantages. When
progress is noticed, a small delivery of carrots will be
made to complete the metaphor/satisfy the
||Other software improvements that could be achieved
include, but are not limited to:
||Not putting the "get rid of the window completely" button
right next to the "I am extremely interested in this
window, fill the whole screen with it" button.
||Not putting the "I'm off home now, please eject this drive
full of useful data" menu button next to the "this drive is
of no further use, nuke the contents please" button.
That's the equivalent of "I would like the steak please and
for my friend, please shoot him and dispose of the
body"... "oh, sorry, I meant the chicken, they're right next
to each other easy mistake... Bob? you OK Bob?"
||Not putting the "rename" menu item next to the "delete"
||I like this - a sort of crowd-sourced estimation.
A better* way of getting a really accurate,
linear progress bar is to have the computer
estimate a really long time for you to copy those
files, like 2 hours to copy a couple of Gb, and then
just to make sure it does take exactly that long, by
slowing down the copy process to comply with
the exact linear progression of the progress bar.
*[for specific interpretations of the word
||// by slowing down the copy process to comply with the exact linear progression of the progress bar. //
||"You work for Apple, and we claim our Five Hundred Pounds for something only worth Forty Pounds".
||//...and we claim our...// - you can do this by
downloading the iClaim app onto your iPhone.
Youll have to enter your name and credit card
details, purely for identity verification purposes.
||We do not own, or have access to, an iPhoney. We do, however, have a selection of hammers of varying sizes, kept in a sturdy box clearly labelled "iPhoney Improvement Kit".
||It resides on the footplate of our steam road-roller, which has prominent placards reading "Mobile iPhoney Modification Service" and a big, illuminated flashing arrow sign pointing to just in front of the roller.
||Regarding waiting while software does stuff, SolidWorks
have gone completely stupid.
When you do something on SolidWorks that takes some
time, the Windows cursor changes to the spinny blue ring
as expected. This is fine.
After a time, the blue ring turns back into the standard
pointer, and you think "it's finished thinking, I can carry
But no! The SolidWorks "taskbar" panel (does that have a
"proper" name?) ALSO (sometimes...) has either an
hourglass or a green progress bar, which (as per this idea)
is a completely vague representation of actual progress.
So you actually have no idea if it has finished thinking,
besides trying to click on something and seeing what
||//You work for Apple, and we claim our Five Hundred
Pounds for something only worth Forty Pounds//
||I just went to apple.com and had a look at what they could
offer me in comparison to a $2200 Ryzen7/rtx2080 rig. I
started laughing at the >$5000 base price, I stopped
laughing when an equivalent spec went north of $13k on
||The xkcd captures the feeling quite well!
||Windows XP on a fairly relatively modern
machine? Relative to what? Microsoft stopped
supporting XP over six years ago.
||// Microsoft stopped supporting XP over six years ago. //
||Pr. "Microsoft stopped telling you that they couldn't help, and you needed to pay for an upgrade to the newest version of Windoze over six years ago" ...
||And stopped providing security updates, or even
making a half-assed effort to ensure compatibility
with newer hardware or software. On top of that,
progress bar time estimates arent
any better these days either.
||We know. Do you want to join the re-education programme staff ? No previous experience necessary, all training, equipment and protective clothing (including two pairs of bloodstain-resistant steel-toecapped Kicking Boots) provided (unless you want to bring your own favourite weapon), excellent health plan, vacation and social benefits, and you get to beat on overpaid worthless bozos who don't understand technology until they plead for mercy through swollen, bloody lips.
||No thanks, twas ever thus. And anyone still using
it deserves what they get.
||//Relative to what? Microsoft stopped supporting XP over
six years ago//
||When you have mission-critical custom software running
expensive hardware* it's trivial to throw new-ish ~5yo
hardware at it for a performance/reliability boost with
what would otherwise be on it's way to lining some IT
bod's pocket via eBay. If it's single purpose and air-
gapped. Security doesn't matter.
||//progress bar time estimates arent any better these
||That, as described, is the point. I then went on to
outline, at least theoretically, how that might be
||*I use this to sound cool. Really, we just can't afford a re-
write, and that makes us stuck with XP, like the US