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.


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.