Monday, March 03, 2014

How many seconds in a minute?

According to Apple, there are ten seconds in a minute!  Maybe even less.

Last week I downloaded and installed the latest Mavericks update on my Mac laptop.  Near the end of the lengthy process, it displayed “10 seconds left” for some part or another.  Twenty seconds later, the display was “10 seconds left” (or was it remaining?)  And again at thirty seconds on up to sixty seconds.  I don’t remember how soon after that time was displayed I started tracking the time, and I don’t remember how long after I had noted sixty seconds had passed before I stopped tracking.

But whatever, is this the lauded corporate “efficiency” that government supposedly lacks?  Whatever else is going on in the operating system that is inefficient.  I do know that Microsoft products have been getting slower to load.  I can almost go downstairs to pour a second cup of coffee while waiting for a spreadsheet to open.  This is even true of spreadsheets that don’t have a lot of data.

And of course, there are all the user complaints that seem to go on for years without resolution.

I do know from personal experience that not all problems are resolvable and that some take a long time to get enough data to solve.  In the sixties at Univac I was part of the small team that maintained the FORTRAN compiler.  We had a user report (number 498, I think) that we never solved.  Our main problem was trying to figure out what had happened on a computer we had no direct access to and not enough information to ask the right questions.  We never had another user report with the same problem.

On the other hand, I see complaints about the same problems year after year in the support communities for Apple and Microsoft.

What is the critical mass for these problems such that the big corporations will put enough resources into resolving these issues?

Here’s a radical idea!  For every unsolved problem a company has, the CEO should have his or her pay docked ten dollars per day.  Let’s be generous, and only count weekdays that are not holidays.  Would these problems go away sooner?

What about docking the CEOs pay for every day that false advertising is present.  Apple has made downloading Mavericks free to encourage people to move away from older operating systems.  Supposedly Numbers, Pages, and Keynote are free.  These are competitors to Microsoft’s Excel, Write, and Power Point.  These three Apple products are listed in a Top Ten Free downloads in the App Store.  However, if you place the cursor next to them, “$19.99” appears rather than “Free”.

Many users have complained about this for three months or more!  Is this another case of Adam Smith’s warning about trusting those who live by profit and have deceived and oppressed the public?