Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

Costs of Progress

My friend Eric sent me this article, a tongue-in-cheek comparison between a Mac Plus running System 6 and a modern AMD Dualcore system running WinXP. It's not a very serious article, and does have some flaws, but there are a lot of points - older Macs (and PCs running DOS) were much faster for a number of common tasks than modern systems (many of the criticisms apply equally well to Windows, OSX, and most Linux desktops) - old Macs booted quickly, and apart from the bootup menu in later versions of DOS, old PCs booted even more quickly. On Linux, there's been a lot of work recently on some distros to change the initrc/runlevel system to make the system usable while it's still finishing boot, but even that won't reach the speed of the old times, I suspect. The one thing that makes the competition really unfair (although they could've remedied it by using MultiFinder, or DesQView if they had gone the DOS route) is that multitasking is no longer an optional feature - it's essential across the board, even for bare-bones business use (email plus either a spreadsheet or word processor). Cut'n'Paste and some other associated features (as well as security and network function) begin to take us the long way towards justifying the costs modern operating systems, but it would be interesting to have an in-depth "justification session" with a hostile random user and a systems geek "on their side", digging through modern OS's to actually attempt to argue every significant set of design decisions that make today's PC so much slower and more complex than a Mac Plus running System 6. MacOSX today has a rather nice interface that tries for simplicity, but looking back, System 6 really was a nice and simple operating system in several ways (and with AtEase, although inappropriate for a clued person, it was even simpler).

Late last night while doing some maintenance on some servers at work, I had a good time playing tetrinet with chrisamaphone and mkehrt. A resolution: play tetrinet more. Bonus: When I'm not too tired, it puts me in the mood to program.

Today/tonight are rather busy - preparing for vacation (I leave Pgh early tomorrow morning). Vacation that involves Opera (or a musical, or other theatre-type entertainment) always feels twice as awesome as other vacation (even if packing appropriate clothing changes things from a bulging-computerbag matter to a mandate for luggage). I suspect the cats will be angry that I'm leaving them for two weekends in a row.. As soon as I get back, I'll be diving right into running my fMRI experiment at full pace. Eep.


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