Are today's computers too slow or too fast? Gamers say they are too slow For almost everyone else, we see situations where the computers are too fast. The real problem is that software developers are not giving us enough control of speed.
I am currently working at a computer using Windows 2000. When I try a large cut and paste using the mouse, the cursor jumps around the screen so fast that selecting the right area is almost impossible. I have to switch back to the keyboard to regain control. Clearly there should be a way to slow down some user interactions so we can see what is happening.
Is this a new problem? No. Ten years before IBM invented the PC, personal computer owners were already inserting code to slow down programs so people could read the output at a reasonable speed.
The first generation of personal computers, using the Intel 8008 chip back in 1971, did not have disks. Everything happened at electronic speed. You had to limit output to a screen by adding pauses after every few lines.
The second generation of personal computers, back about 1973 and using the Intel 8080 or Zilog Z80, had slow floppy disks that effectively added the pauses for you. (In 1984 Apple released the first Mac with a different processing chip but the same storage configuration, a painfully slow machine for 1984).
The third generation of personal computers had hard disks that brought computers back to the "faster than the human eye" speed.
Years later, in 1981 when IBM released the fourth generation personal computer, their XT, a real time clock became standard. For some strange reason, few software developers grabbed the opportunity to control output based on the clock and a user speed setting.
22 years later most programs are still not using the clock with a user setting. I cannot set the cursor movement speed for selection actions. The keyboard is the only reliable method for data selection.
One of the very first add on products sold for the IBM PC was a program to slow down the computer so you could read what was happening on the screen. Later computers had a "Turbo" button where the computer could be set to normal speed, labelled "Turbo", or to a very slow speed, labelled "Normal". You could use the slow speed setting when running software designed for an earlier slower computer.
Some would say that installing Microsoft Windows is another way to slow down your computer. :-)
Windows 2000 has a special new feature not present in NT. Windows 2000 stops for five seconds once per hour. That is too slow. Every time the stoppage happens I want to switch back to NT.
Microsoft Word, under Windows 2000, also has a special slow down feature. Word randomly goes in to a mode where everything happens so slowly, it looks like a Java application. I have to stop typing mid sentence and wait while Word catches up. That is too slow.
The Windows 2000 and Word problems are persistent but inconsistent. When I try to record what is happening, nothing goes wrong. Both problems strike when I am too busy to take corrective action.
Both of these problems indicate the software is doing something I did not request at a time I did not request. Where are the user settings to say either I do not want the software doing what it is doing or that I do not want it at that time?
The problems also indicate that the software has no time interval processing to let other programs use the spare processing time. You would think that after 22 years of having a clock, software could finally read the time.
Software should be faster than a human can handle plus all interactions with humans should have speed settings to let us adjust the speed of input and output to the speed we want.