Computers are Getting Weirder

Note: Double-click top border of Task Manager to get your tabs back!

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I used to joke with people that some day computers would need psychologists to help diagnose their problems.  I think it is actually going to happen, though, because now, more than ever, computers are behaving inconsistently.

I can have 2 identically configured systems that behave differently.  That’s the first sign of moving from an engineered fix to a psychiatric fix, right? 😀  Now, I know that…at SOME level, the machines are not identical, just like people are not identical.  All it takes is one brand of capacitor not regulating power the same as another one, and I think that is the beginning of a ripple effect.

Some literalist probably read that and said “capacitors don’t matter as long as the specs are the same.”  That’s not the point… the point is there are thousands of hardware configurations – manufacturers changing their chips, board designs, etc.  Then the system integrators build a machine from any mix of these parts, and then the operating system, which used to live on a single floppy disk and now arrives on a DVD, gets applied and tries to bridge the gap between everything.  Add to that the “cascading cache” that a lot of these systems utilize everywhere and twice on Sunday… it becomes amazing that any of this stuff works at all!!

Anyway, this is more a random piece of computer era ponderance than a solution.   Today I turned on my Droid and my car dealership’s website wouldn’t render, so I went to my desktop and before I made it to the web I saw Skype was left open…so I tried to close it and it wouldn’t close.  This prompted me to open Task Manager – it opened and I closed Skype, but then I noticed task manager was missing all the tabs and it was missing the icon to close it :

Is this your Task Manager? Double-click the top border to bring back tabs and stuff

That’s when I realized that these kinds of inconsistencies have become common place, and people just tend to accept them as normal.  Cars can’t be built this way, neither can airplanes, so why is it OK that computers muddle through life and for all their “I am a computer, I don’t make mistakes” they are built imperfectly and contain enough man-made mistakes that they can’t function reliably? Rhetorical… but just kinda fun to think about.

So a quick Google query on the above screen yielded a post that explained “small footprint mode” for Task Manager.  But who mad that choice? Let’s just add a feature that we don’t explain and give the user ZERO visual context clues as to what happened.  Kee Kee!!  Serious? I thought it was a leap of faith when Droid pushed away from text to these weird icons that don’t mean anything to me… but once again Microsoft has to nuke the ambiguity fridge to retain market dominance.


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