8.01.2007

What do you need a computer to do?

How many people out there use a computer for one simple task?

Let's say, just writing and printing documents in a word processing program. You can go out and pay a hojillion dollars for a dual core Xeon loaded with Windows Vista and a gig of RAM and only ever use it for word processing, but is that really efficient?

One guy took a stopwatch to a 3 GHz P4 and a couple of "obsolete" machines. He put MS Word in the startup files of each and held the stopwatch while booting the machines.

The results may surprise you.

4 comments:

Sigivald said...

You're absolutely right as far as your statement goes - an obsolete Mac* (or PC, for that matter) is no worse for word processing than a modern PC, and for things that aren't gaming or crazy video processing or the like, there's no need for a "new" PC to get the job done.

But that test is bogus on several different levels**; it tests only boot speed and time to import a large text file. It's not even loading a Word .doc file; and actual performance in Word with .doc files is more important to word processing ability.

(I remember using a Classic and a IIsi to do papers in Word 5.1a; it wasn't fast. A modern PC with even the latest version of Office is faster for things like searching a huge document and, I think, applying big styling changes.

If it wasn't so much darn work I'd consider doing a comparison test at home, but I don't even know if my Word 5.1a floppies are still good, or if I made archive images on a CD anywhere...)

* I have like a dozen of them. I love them. They're still obsolete.

** I *heart* LEM - they're my go-to resource for Macintosh reference. But this analysis is still silly.

Tam said...

Point taken, but then again, how much of what's even contained in a modern copy of Word is fluff?

Do I need embedded hyperlinks to type a term paper?

(A telling thing is that if I think Blogger is acting wonky, I quickly "right click/select all/copy" and save in Notepad, rather than waiting for Word to open...)

It would be interesting to see a slightly more objective analysis, though.

Joseph said...

Back in June, I got an old Performa 6230CD from my English teacher. It had belonged to a Health teacher, who had used it for word processing up until a year or two ago, when it got sent to the corner of my English teacher's classroom, along with a couple of old printers. It still works fine, but I can see why they replaced it - no Ethernet. Too bad, because patch cables are cheap, and I'd like to try the interwebz on it just for the fun of it......

Casey Tompkins said...

Some things to consider: I have a Zenith PC/XT clone which boots from a hard drive in around 10 seconds. I have an Epson QX-10 (CP/M operating system) which boots in about 5 seconds.

Does anyone claim that these machines are competitive with modern systems?

That said, I agree with the general statement that older machines (Mac or PC) are still quite useful for general-purpose work such as basic word-processing, email, and web-browsing.

I must take issue with one statement: I do not find Windows 2000 to be "bloated!" In fact, one may run Win2k reasonably well on a 128Mb system, where WinXP is painfully, unacceptably slow. I speak from experience. :)

One hesitates to ask what the authors think of Vista... Heh.

I would probably agree with them, as I expect the only way I will install Vista on my home systems is at gunpoint.