Saturday, November 25, 2006


Why is it that so much software requires restarting your computer during, or after, installation? Or both? When I worked on Unix and similar operating systems, we installed, removed and re-installed with reckless abandon. What is this software doing that's do intimately connecting with operating system that it simply cannot be installed without completely rebooting the system?

For years, science fiction movies depicted computers as being vulnerable to paradoxes. Heroes in tight-fitting clothes would defeat the evil computer by posing an unanswerable question, thus causing the computer to spin its tapes and flash its lights helplessly for a few seconds before erupting in smoke and sparks, proving yet again the indomitable superiority of humankind. For years, we scoffed at those movies, joking about what an absurd depiction of cybernetics they offered.

But danged if those old movies and TV shows didn't get it right! In fact, they overstated the case for computers. You don't even need to pose an unanswerable question. All you need to do is try to install the latest word processors or Web browsers or graphics software. Sometimes not even that.

When I first started writing BASIC programs in high school, we used to dream of crashing the remote time-sharing system to which we were connected. Now I have a thousand times that much computer power under my desk, and I dream about getting through the day without having to restart.


1 comment:

A.R.Yngve said...

You know why we don't see nearly as many malfunctioning computers in movies and in TV today?

Because the sponsors who provide the hardware and software for production do not want their "merchandise" to be shown in a negative light.

(i.e. no bluescreens, no computer viruses, no spam problem, etc.)