h a l f b a k e r y
Not so much a thought experiment as a single neuron misfire.
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The progress bar has been a feature of computer
software/operating systems for as long as I can remember.
A typical example would be the install of a new piece of
software onto your computer.
You open setup.exe, untick some bundled garbage and
agree to the terms and hit "install". Now a box
with a progress bar in it. The bar races to 10% in the first 2
seconds and, being a human accustomed to the linearity of
time you think "ah, so we're only 15-20s away from being
done here, no time for tea". Then the progress bar races to
53% and you think "huh, faster than I thought, the software
engineers must not have anticipated the sheer power of my
mighty rig!". But then it hangs at 91% for 4 minutes and you
wasted perfectly good tea-making time. In this situation,
the progress bar was useless, or worse, misleading.
Modern devices are, if possible, worse still. Progress is
often indicated by a circle with a rotating highlight or
similar, no information is conveyed at all. This situation
must be changed.
Software install times can easily be measured during
testing, the various parts of install can also be timed and
assigned as milestones for the progress bar. Where
variation occurs is when diverse hardware has different
performance characteristics. A fast CPU PC writing to slow
large-capacity storage HDDs might be fast at some
processes and slow at others while another machine might
have very fast disk write speeds but a low-power CPU. But,
PC's have some level of self-awareness. Windows 7 had
scores for CPU/RAM/Graphics/Storage etc. This info is the
You separate your progress into the limiting hardware, and
use the local hardware score as a modifier for the time/bar
progress. Then, when install is complete, the hardware
config and times for various parts of the install can be
uploaded and used to inform future installs.
If the progress bar is linear and accurate, we can all go and
make a nice cup of tea. If it isn't, the software company
CEO is led away in chains.
If your progress bar isn't progressing, try moving the mouse rapidly from side to side, or round and round in tiny circles
[hippo, Jun 16 2021]
||//no information is conveyed at all//
||Not entirely true, it does at least impart the information
the download has stalled & your computer is frozen if the
wheel stops spinning .. which lets you switch off & restart
rather than sit there like a twit for an hour or so thinking
'this is a big install'.
||But I'm all for leading any company CEO's away in chains these
||//has stalled & your computer is frozen//
||hmm, not really, you nearly always have to work that out by
other means. I've used plenty of software that freezes
during processing, then unfreezes when done, but you can
work out that the rest of the computer is fine - most easily
done by jabbing the "scroll lock" key to see if the light
||The scroll key? hadn't thought of that one, will have to
||//The scroll key? hadn't thought of that one,//
||That's the use I have found for it. If I honest, I'm not sure
what it's intended function is, I just know a properly crashed
computer doesn't change the keyboard light when you press
||I'm old enough to remember the intended purpose of all those
||I actually prefer old DOS systems to modern ones,
possibly my deeply supressed masochism expressing itself :)
.. but I did prefer having control over my system & being able
wipe it completely & reinstall from the DOS up with a trusted
store bought disk to purge any viruses, impossible to get
something like that any more unfortunately.
||My keyboard doesn't have the handy "Lock" lights. It's a
The only place I found that Scroll-Lock actually did anything
was in Excel spreadsheets; it makes the cursor key move the
page instead of the "selected cell".
||This is the old age question of factual user informnation
versus the prowess of the software or system. Sadly,
because of societal pressure the latter is the default.
||But then again, software and hardware is getting more and
more complex and nuanced. It's easy to miss consequences.
||I was skeptical, but after some though this could be
done. (or at least improved to the point of being
||Component- based software design is going to make this
||Application A depends on components X and Y, and X depends
on Z, etc.
||X may already be installed. If it's not, the installation of A is held
up while X is installed and so on, recursively.
||The component installations may have their own progress bars,
which don't know they're being triggered from within a larger
||Meanwhile, CEOs seeking to avoid chains will break up each
installation into a number of components of trivial size, whose
individual progress bars will flash past to quickly for you to see
whether they're moving smoothly or not, and none of which
betrays any potentially incriminating information about whether,
in the overarching installation, you have time for tea.
||Another solution is to use image-recognition algorithms to measure the average time for the user to disappear from view and re-appear carrying a cop of hot tea (can use an IR camera to do the image recognition). hen, calibrate the progress bar so it always allows just enough time for the user to go and get a cuppa, no matter how quick the task is.
||[ixaum] sure was skeptical ( hah ) but i like this +