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Fred Moody on the Solow Paradox, MS 305

lactose_intolerant was one of the several trillion who wrote to us with Fred Moody's last column. It's a little ditty delving into why Solow Paradox's (despite computers, workers' productivity has not increased) exists. Hint: It's got something to do with a crashing operating system. Of course, that doesn't explain why productivity wasn't rising pre-Windows, but c'est la vie.
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Fred Moody on the Solow Paradox, MS

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  • Sir, I implore you, the Return Key! Hit it on occasion!


    ..."4 out of 5 people think the 5th one is an idiot."
  • It's the inevitable consequences of moving the GUI subsystem into the kernel. That might make sense for a desktop OS, where a loss of stability might conceivably be tolerated for the sake of video performance. It makes absolutely no sense for a server OS. For a server, having to wait a few more seconds total per day to click on your GUI admin tools is a small price to pay for having the system stay up for a long period.

    If you ask me, if they insisted on moving GUI into the kernel, they should've only put it into the NT Workstation product (if that!) and left NT Server in the slow-but-stable configuration.

  • I always, always make back-ups to. All it takes is one person to overwrite your document (esp if you're not using CVS or something like that) and *poof*. Save! CRTL+S! Is it so hard? I learned the hard way after losing several graphics that I had been working on for a long time - if I remembered to save every 10 mins in that case - wow, what a difference!
  • Moody is just trolling and/or trying to gain hits from the Slashdot Effect. His estimated cost of crashes is unsubstantiated: pure fiction. I am not a Windows fan or anything, but Moody clearly did no research for this "opinion." He just wrote down the first thing that popped into his head.
  • Simple. 95/98/NT has a MUCH lower learning curve than any of those systems you mentioned, and is also many, many times cheaper too.

    Add in that OS/2 didn't have developer support (and was even more resouce intensive than M$) and Mac had 4 bad CEOs in a row, and well... what do you get? Linux is great. But my Mom can't use it until is becomes less technoese. :-)


    ..."If the plural of mouse is mice, what is the plural of spouse?"
  • Ok I'm sold!
    Let's see, I have 100 users and a 10 user license for NT is $984.28. Totalling $9842.80. My Red Hat disk cost about $80.00.
    Uhhh, never mind.
  • When a good admin implements it with solid hardware, NT is very stable. How's that?


  • What you are talking about is manufacturing capacity, and you're right, overcapacity is bad, what Solow was talking about was profit per employee which should be the final result of productivity gains. That we want as much of as we can get.

    By the way, I'd bet dollars to donuts that China's problems don't stem from a lack of market controls but from their top down command economy.
  • The OS itself doesn't have memory leaks, that's just plain wrong. The OS used to, and they were patched. Poorly written applications do. Run away processes are easily killed with the "kill" application that can even kill system services.

  • Lack of proper market controls.

    The key word here being "proper." Top-down command economy equals improper market controls.

  • "Productivity" is simply "how much you produce, per unit time, for which you can obtain goods and services." (Or, "so you can accomplish your goal," whatever.) Being a per-unit-time thing, it says absolutely nothing about how much time you spend, nor how hard you worked while spending it.

    The hacker who develops a tool to automate part of her work makes herself more productive, so she can go home sooner, or so she can get on to the next hack. Anyone who cares about what she's doing wants to be more productive at it. Accusing her of therefore being a brainwashed tool of The Man is silly.

    Yet people today are working as hard (or harder, depending on what you read) than people did in pre-industrial times.

    Huh? Are you familiar with the term (in common usage into the early 20th century) "from can-see to can't-see?" It refers to the work schedule for preindustrial agriculture: predawn to postdusk.

    Yeah, we live a little longer (arguably -- opinions differ) and we have better teeth (no question)

    Well, no. There were always people who lived to be a hundred, but most were dead before 40, and most of those died before 7, or at birth, taking their mothers with them. Visit any pre-1850 cemetery: A lot of men are buried next to their successive wives and their infant childen -- and those were the people who could afford headstones.

    People had worse teeth in Terry Gilliam's Jabberwocky, but in real life they didn't soak their mouths in nearly as much sugar and acid as we do. Moderns can do more for their teeth when they go bad, but they go bad much more.

    Modern life is hard and stressful in unique ways, but reactionary longings for a golden age gone by are a waste of time.

    Personally, I think this is off-topic, but the top of this thread got moderated up.

  • I handle about 1500 users here in our LAN. I get two requests a day to restore a file. Two.
    And you are happy with 600 lost files a year? (Ignoring the lost files which you don't hear about, of course)
  • If your father had called ahead, they could have saved him the trip if it wasn't in stock...

    If the clerk was new and didn't know where everything was yet...

    If you father will be a regular customer and they garden supply house sets up an extranet that lets him check the inventory himself and preorder so that it is waiting on the loading dock when he gets there...

    Your fathers pruning shears are great, so long as he keeps them sharp and uses them correctly. Dull shears used wrong could damage the plant more and take longer than ripping the branches off.

    Computerization, in and of itself, does not improve a poor process or break a good one.
  • No, our systems are ghosted and identical and just don't crash often. Users are instructed to call the helpdesk when they crashed (EVERY time). They're plain-jane IBM machines running Windows 95 (standard installs, policied so they can't install other apps that can cause crashes). Most of the crashes are due to hardware and the machines are promptly fixed.

    Maybe we're just lucky, but this is how I thought a network is supposed to be run.

  • True, compared to previous versions of NT, 4.0 is much much better. However there are some rather disturbing things that my co-workers and I have noticed.

    1) User programs are allowed to write to the system directory. This can probably be stopped by setting the permissions of winnt\system[xx] but this keeps a lot of programs from installing at all.

    2) NT 4.0 occasionally doesn't know that a process is gone. We've noticed this mostly with IE4, MSDev, and just a handful of others. Since they don't showup in the process list, it's unlikely that it's the app's fault. Anyone know more?

    3) (Secutiry & a little off topic) Anyone can take ownership of files. I'm a little foggy on this point. I haven't tested it thoroughly. But, it seems that, as documented, any user can take ownership of a file. Hmmm... Can anyone tell me this isn't so? (Please do)

    All in all, my experience is that MS OSes are far *FAR* from being the "install and walk away" boxes a previous poster claimed.

  • To answer some of your concerns, broter:
    1) Proper permissions can manually be set. Win2k has an automatic tightening procedure that addresses this. There is also a utility in the WinNT Reskit that can do this. NT Server, of course, allows full access to everyone on the whole drive (via NTFS permissions). This is because users should not be allowed to log on locally to NT Server(and aren't by default).

    2) What do you mean by "a process is gone"? Are you talking about processes listed in task manager that aren't visible to you? That's just the opposite, it SHOULD be gone, but NT is telling you that it really isn't. IE seems to occasionally do this. Outlook does this if you close it while it's checking/downloading/uploading mail.

    3) Ownership is meaningless in NTFS permissions. Administrators can take full control of any object that has an ACL (unlike Netware, which does allow administrative lockouts). A regular user without explicit permissions on a file cannot take it over...I'm not sure why you're seeing this. Permission has to be given could be on a higher level directory if the permissions are inherited onto the object they're attempting to take over.

    Maybe I just confused you more :)
  • As a hardened windows programmer, I can assure you that it's accurate. A common problem with developing on Win32 (with MSDev products) is that when things go wrong they tend to go whacky!

    Frequently, installing a tool will change a system dll. This has undefined results.

    If you're doing a long term test, it can get difficult to tell whether your code is buggy, or if NT is just going wierd. I've seen some very good programmers go nuts over this.

    Let me qualify this: it's not all the OS's fault. A lot of it is the build environment, other apps, & the million+ lines of code you're compiling. But then, the OS should be solid enough to let user apps go totally berzerk and not die a terrible death.

    I'm not trying to say anything about the common clerk plugging away at a Word document. I haven't been around them much and don't know how MS OSes act there. The closest I've been to taht is ISP tech support. Quite frankly, if I never do tech support for Win95/98 or the ilk again, it will be too soon.

    (Also, it's funny that me writing this is contributing to the lack of productivity...)
  • Productivity is not profits. Productivity is output divided by labor used to produce it. There are several measures of productivity in use. One is GDP divided by size of the labor force. Output for manufacturing is generally easy to calculate. It is the value of product produced. The problem is the definition of output for service industries. It is generally taken to be the cost of the inputs. Spending more in a service industry to get more value per worker actually decreases productivity as we currently measure it. Here's a link to a paper on the problems with interpreting Productivity Stastistics [] and a short quote.

    Zvi Griliches (1994) presented some evidence on the plausibility of the mismeasurement view. He classified output into sectors that were relatively "measurable," such as manufacturing, and "unmeasurable," such as finance. He then noted that the fraction of output in measurable sectors had declined over time.
  • Who said I lost 600 files a year? We do backups, the files are RESTORED.
  • Cool, thanks. That actually answers quite a few of my questions.

    For the record, NT occationally gives the "shall I wait?" dialog box when you execute a forced shutdown via the API. That's my main gripe.

    Sorry for the confusion.
  • Yup the article was pretty bogus but let me ask you a question about the rest of your statement.

    If we assume that people will pay more for a superior product then why hasn't the superior automobile you are now able to design led to greater profits? And if improving quality doesn't lead to greater profits where is the incentive to improve quality?

    Here's two possible answers for you:

    1) GM and Chrysler have both posted record profits in recent years.

    2) In a near monopolistic market there is little incentive to improve quality, but when you have high quality asian and european competitors a failure to improve quality will result in a LOSS of profits, so you find yourself running faster just to stand still.
  • Solow's paradox was true at the time, (1987) but it ain't so no mo...

    Most PC's used DOS, and people had a lot of trouble with command line interfaces. I know because I supported them. (backslash? c prompt? say what?) Also, there were few productivity gains back then because people got so little for the money. A 16mhz 386 with 1mb was hot stuff, and cost $5k or so. People had to be taught "how to work a computer", and this cost more money. Today, "computer illiteracy" is kind of like "automobile illiteracy".

    Fred is wrong. His "analysis" presumes that users NEVER learn to save stuff, and ALWAYS need 2 hrs to recover. Not true. Yes, Windows does crash too often, etc., and there are better operating systems out there, but many people can go days (days!!) without losing documents and needing 2 hours to recover.

    We have had thousands and thousands of people downsized over the years, and many (most?) of them did actual work that their company still needed to have done after they were fired. Somebody picked up the slack, and it wasn't all done by making the survivors ever harder. The survivors got more efficient, managers learned to type, etc.

  • the operating system...the a very stable and solid product. My desktop crashes periodically, but if you're smart, you just restart it (a.k.a. kill the explorer process.) The active desktop is crap (web page desktop). It kept crashing my desktop process. The desktop process I guess would be analagous to an X window manager???

    It's all of the other MS crap that causes so much trouble. Excel is constantly crashing. Access has the ability to bring a system to a halt. I was glad to see that the new Access is multithreaded, but I'm sure it has the same problems. Internet Explorer I find is a solid program.

    But, take some mission critical software:

    Exchange Server freaks out all the time.

    SQL Server 7.0 is S#1T. It's got a gigantic memory leak. Download a table in access and used memory goes up by a couple hundred megabytes! I guess we'll have to wait until service pack 5,000 to fix that one.

    Proxy Server is not too good either. It's a pain to configure, for one thing.

    etc. etc.

    So, the point is that those NT Kernel people at Microsoft are doing a decent job and balme the OS when the real problem is the OS.

  • Sure it is. A crash per day is too much even for statistics :)

    On the other hand, Solow Paradox exists. Well, they say it does....

    I think this happens because (not to claim to be an expert) the overall productivity is a sum of, at least, two values- 'tool' productivity and 'human' productivity. The first one is growing since Stone Ages, and we haven't reached a limit in improvement of our tools. Technology still has a way to go and a room to play.

    In the meantime, psychology and physiology put their limits on productivity. We need to sleep, to eat, to rest etc. And we are still unable to use our brain at 100% of its power. I expect in the nearest future humankind will face previously unknown problems and main efforts will be concentrated on unleashing the power of mind.

    Just IMHO....
  • Productivity has not increased ... kind of an all emcompasing saying, akin to "Music has not gotten more complex since 1800".

    But this is my take:

    Projects are getting bigger and bigger, and more information is needed to tackle any given project. Just like it may have taken us a few months to build a house back in 1900, now that we have more tools, we build more complex and bigger houses. So the end product takes the same amount of time to build. But the resultant product is more complex anyhow ....

  • Actually, it's "C'est la vie."

    "Ce la vie" no verb.


  • Frankly it seems that this time a lot of people came in to hold up on Windows. Good thing as Linux frantics were becoming quite monotonous.

    But unfortunately your Windows hype is no better than the Linux one. Frankly, Windows doesn't crash? IT CRASHES AND CRASHES BADLY! But these crashes also are dependent on many things. My work environment does not live with Windows and that's the reason I left M$ world. But I would not recomend 80% of users to do the same thing. And maybe 50% of them may live under Windows without problems. Meanwhile the other 50% may need to start thinking about Linux in the future...
  • from the article If you remove computer manufacturing from the rest of the information economy, Gordon writes, productivity since 1995 "has been abysmal rather than admirable."

    important part here "since 1995"

    also from the article Nobel laureate and economist Robert Solow, in what The Economist calls "the Solow paradox," noted a few years ago that "you can see the computer age everywhere these days except in the productivity statistics."

    important part here "noted a few years ago"

    This seems to put net access back in the running for the "recent" uselessness (in a productivity sense), since Solow's studies and the paradox wouldn't include it as a factor, and the other data is within the 'Nets "useful" time period.

    One thing. surprisingly, not noted in the article, old Gordo's law. Which I would now take to mean, every 18 months I have to figure out something else to seem to be doing while my computer works twice as fast. Which would actually coincide nicely with the Slow Paradox (misspelled for flavor)
  • There is an article [] in the July 1997 issue of Scientific American about this. It contains results of a survey by the Gartner group about why PC's cost/waste so much time and money.

    The largest notch in Gartner's tally, however, is for the time that employees waste "futzing" with their computers rather than working on them. That costs employers another $5,590 per computer each year, the group estimates. Its guess may be low. SBT Accounting Systems in San Rafael, Calif., found in a 6,000-person survey that office workers futz with their machines an average of 5.1 hours--more than half a workday--each week. One fifth of that time was wasted waiting for programs to run or for help to arrive. Double-checking printouts for accuracy and format ran a close second. Lots of time goes into rearranging disk files. And then there are games; Microsoft Windows comes with four preinstalled. All told, SBT estimates, futzing costs American businesses on the order of $100 billion a year in lost productivity.

    I also remember there was a followup letter to the editor that pointed out that this only applies to office workers. Engineers and scientists have gotten HUGE productivity gains from workstations.

  • The real culprit is the net, as the /.'ers are all so aware. :)
  • Microsoft® has created a program that can do the work of 10 office employees - problem is it takes 30 office employees to run it.

  • What!?! You mean someone would waste the precious resources of their employer surfing the net and reading /.???

    I'm.... researching! Keeping my technical knowledge up... yeah, thats it!

  • Dude... 3 grand is nothing. The products engineers sell typically price higher than a McCheesburger and McFries, yunno.
  • This isn't inefficiency of technology, it's inefficiency of process. Every auto parts store I've been to, I ask for the part, they yank it off the shelf immediately if they know exactly what I'm asking for while the other guy at the counter punches it in. Then when the part gets up to the counter, he compares the part numbers and hands it to me where I take it to the checkout. The part has a box or a tag that's barcoded.

    If there's only one guy at the distributorship and people are lining up waiting for a long time, then they're simply understaffed.
  • One crash a day is a pretty wild number, way high. I supported Windows, hated every minute of having to deal with this awful perpetually broken brittle piece of crap operating system. But if someone's computer crashed every single day, damn straight they'd be calling the helpdesk eventually, and I can tell you we didn't get calls from every single person in the company.

    Geez, he can't even get slashdot to agree with him on this one...
  • Productivity is a measure of the dollar value produced by the median worker in a field. You compare productivity of two different times by multiplying the dollar value produced by each worker by an inflation factor. So several things can be improperly measured: the amount of value produced by the worker, the inflation factor, how many people are in a field, etc.

    I beleive productivity has increased, and the reason that it is not measured is because the value of the dollar has actually been increasing. Economists use the Consumer Price Index among other tools to judge the value of a dollar. This usually means seeing how much a dollar will buy you today as opposed to yesterday.

    One thing that the CPI cannot measure is the quality of the goods you are buying. If a car lasts twice as long now as it did 10 years ago, is it not worth 1.5 to 2 times as much? If a car only costs 1.25 times as much now as it did 10 years ago, then then we have experienced _deflation_, the value of the dollar has actually increased rather than decreased. So a worker who built a car today is only credited with the current cost of the car, when in reality the price of the car has remained about the same while its value has increased dramatically.

    Also, the CPI does not take into account the value of being able to buy new alternatives to old goods that can be much cheaper, and new goods and services that never existed before. VCR's made viewing movies much cheaper, but the CPI failed to properly take this into account.

    So my basic argument boils down to: the productivity increases have not manifested themselves as much in quantity of goods produced per man-hour but the quality and variety of goods.
  • Yes, like "I accidentally deleted that file" or "my drive crashed and I need that file" or "employee X quit, this is his manager, I need these files he was working on".

    Human error, hardware failures, and reorganization all still do happen.
  • > No internet access at home, eh?

    Access? Yes. T1? No.
  • I do agree that the "lost" productivity is probably going into hard to measure areas.

    On the topic of MS OSes, having dealt with Countrywide Home Loans' database and internet departments I'm not so sure that you're company's experience with MS OSes is too universal. They had top of the line hardware in happy little server farms with MS employees on site to boot [sic]. But it was still a hassle. As I've mentioned in previous posts, every Friday (or was it Sunday?) was reboot night in the server room. SQL Server had many problems too.

    If this was just an application problem, like another poster suggested, you should be able to reclaim that lost memory by stopping and restarting the process. The OS should know what belongs to it and throw it back into the unused bit bucket. That simply doesn't happen.

    I'm trying to be a fair-minded optimist. Maybe W2K *will* fix the problems that traditionally plague Windoze boxes. MS has hired a *lot* of great programmers. Until I see it for myself, I'll keep all of my vital programs and data on a unix flavour.
  • All we would do would be futzing around with configuration files and recompiling kernels...
    Mmm, no. I've been using Linux [Slackware w/ 2.0.x kernel] on my desktop at work for over three years, and the only time I really "futz around" is when I install new hardware (video, NIC, etc.) and need a new driver. Last time I patched the kernel was February '97.

    Compare with my counterparts who run NT, each of whom has had to reinstall their operating system anywhere from once to 6 times during the same interval. That's in addition to "futzing" with new drivers (for bug fixes), application upgrades/reinstalls, and the like. Not to mention recovering from random BSODs as often as once a week.

    I'm sure Macs are fine, too, but don't think that just because you can configure a Linux system as much as you want, it means that you have to do it.

  • That's why I use the command line kill. Nice and clean kill, no dialog boxes :)

  • Right... And if you were running equivalents on
    the same hardware under a *NIX OS, it would be
    overpowered. ;-) Seriously, whether or not an
    equivalent *NIX box would perform as well, it
    would most certainly not crash merely by having
    "too many" server apps running on it. This is
    a perfect example of the NT apologist mindset.
    That, and "you must be incompetent if your NT
    box is crashing!" C'mon guys, these are pitiful
    excuses. That and the assertion that if you had
    only installed SP5 (you buffoon), your box would
    suddenly become well-behaved. Even if true,
    aren't we glossing over NT's previous state of
    broken-ness waaay far back in SP4 times? Gee, how
    long ago was that?

    You folks claiming to keep NT boxes up for eons
    are either lying, very forgetful, or possessing
    some great secret that I'm sure many others here
    would like you to share. Which is it?

    And concerning the distribution of incompetents
    in the IT business... If so many are having
    trouble keeping their NT boxes from crashing and
    so few have such problems under a *NIX OS, doesn't
    that mean that NT is the preferred OS of morons?
    ;-) That still doesn't explain away the crashing
    however, as I though IT morons was exactly the
    target market for NT. And heck, if you hafta be
    an expert at it, why not run an OS that's
    friendly to experts instead of morons?

    Ok, a few low-blows there I grant you. And one

    Red Hat Linux release 4.0 (Colgate)
    Kernel 2.0.30 on an i486
    login: cwilkins
    Last login: Fri Aug 20 17:01:27 from
    [cwilkins@wabbit ~]$ uname -a
    Linux 2.0.30 #1 Mon Jun 9 10:38:03 EDT 1997 i486
    [cwilkins@wabbit ~]$ uptime
    5:11pm up 400 days, 1:12, 7 users, load average: 0.05, 0.01, 0.00
    [cwilkins@wabbit ~]$

    400 days. That's an old 486/66 box with RedHat4.0
    (Service Pack 0 ;) Anyone out there "competent"
    enough to beat that number on _any_ NT box?
  • I have had the pleasure of using Windows 95 and 98 for several large CGI projects & web sites. I've also had the pleasure of seeing the system go down on me anywhere from 1 to 5+ times a day, not to mention the countless times I had to restart b/c the system would slow down to the point where the mouse was lagged and it took 5 seconds to redraw the screen.

    I guess the consequences of computers crashing are not as much as mangled or lost documents but rather frustration resulting from the person having to boot back up, wait a minute for scandisk to check for errors, open up all the folders, editors, and apps again, open the last saved version of the document, etc. The frustration makes it hard to get into the "working mood" again and makes you feel like quitting. Trust me, I know.

    Even worse, if you work on your document non-linearly (ie. not typing an essay but jumping around a program's source code, making changes here and there), trying to figure out what you've already done and what you need to do to the document after you load it from an old saved version can be a bitch.

  • >Three good reasons why productivity hasn't increased much in the >workplace since computers were introduced.
    There's a fourth reason why "productivity" hasn't increased much.

    4. People discovered that they had no real need or use for the so-called "productivity" software that was being hyped at them....
  • How do you know there aren't any in Linux? Or UX? Or FreeBSD? Or any other OS? You only know what's documented.
  • by Jamie Zawinski ( 775 ) <> on Thursday August 19, 1999 @08:32AM (#1737909) Homepage

    Productivity? Who cares about that?

    Wasn't this modern technological society supposed to make life easier? Wasn't automation supposed to mean that we would have more time to play instead of work? Yet people today are working as hard (or harder, depending on what you read) than people did in pre-industrial times. Yeah, we live a little longer (arguably -- opinions differ) and we have better teeth (no question), but the ``Protestant Work Ethic'' still has us working like slaves instead of doing what we really want to do. It's gotten so bad that a lot of people think that what they want to do is fnord ``be a productive member of society!''

    Still, there's a lot of cool stuff you can buy, isn't there?

    be silent

  • Have you SEEN what Terminal Services and MetaFrame do to NT? It is almost required that they be rebooted nightly, otherwise they slow down to the point of unusability, which takes about three days.
  • Surely you jest. At my location, we have problems with our NT servers due to problems with NT that M$ knows about, and described in the following knowledge base articles: Q196745 ("Very slow paged pool leak in Windows NT 4.0") and Q185211 ("Non-Paged Pool Memory Leak in COMX Pool Tag.")

    The first one says that it is a known problem, and to install the latest service pack... well, we installed SP5, and the leak is still there! I noted that the article never said that the service pack fixed the problem. It has been a known bug since SP4.

    Article on the non-paged pool leak seems to have disappeared recently from the M$ knowledgebase. Fortunately, I have a printout. The status is: "M$ has confirmed this to be a problem in Windows NT version 4.0. We are researching this problem and will post new information here ... as it becomes available."

    If you read the article on the paged pool leak, you will see that if you have the situation described, YOU CANNOT KEEP NT SERVER UP FOR MORE THAN A WEEK. And there is no workaround. There isn't even a fix for the non-paged pool leak.

    So, don't question my competency, when the problems are not fixable by me, and M$ hasn't gotten off their ass and fixed it.

    If we had the source code, it'd be fixed. HAIL LINUX!

  • yeah, I'd have to agree with this guy. two hours seems a bit extreme. and as much as I'd love to bash Windoze for its instability, this summer I realized that it didn't seem to crash all too often. hardly ever, really. *however*, I just got back to school and got my network hooked up again, and it's back to crashing 5 times a day. my suspicions have been confirmed, the network is the problem. Word never seemed to crash, Quake 2 either (expect network games, or when I switched back to the desktop a few times and the video got screwed up). Ah well, back to good old reliable (cough) CWRUnet. (hey, it's got an entry [] on Everything. :)

    (yes, I realize it probably would be a *lot* more stable if I switched from ATM to plain old boring ethernet, but I like to go fast. :)
  • My Mac crashed constantly:
    A typical web dev session:
    Open Photoshop, Open Illustrator, Open EMACS, do some stuff, Open Navigator, Open Graphics Converter, Close Illustrator (low on memory), Close Graphic Converter, Open Illustrator, Go to Navigator and hit refresh....Error of Type 2 occurred...Reload Navigator, [continue in a similar fashion], THE POINTER FREEZES, Reboot (5 minutes), start all over again

    Of course, I saved before I switched between applications, so I didn't loose anything major, but the Mac does crash often when you are using it.

    I develop for the Web using Linux now, and it never crashes or gives me trouble. I did have to cut some flips to get the Gimp to work, though, so it's not perfect.
  • I so COMPLETELY agree with you. People are people. They aren't computers. If doing work is something they enjoy they'll get a lot done. If not, they'll limit the amount of work they do in a day.
  • ........Joke collumn

    By that do you mean the article by Mr. Moody, or your post?

    I do disagree with his estimate of a two-hour recovery time, but I would be happy if Windows only crashed once per day. As it turns out, when I actually am working in Windows, it tends to crash every few hours.

    Why, you ask, do I "tolerate MS siftware"? Because the programs I need to run don't exist on other platforms. (Maybe I can get away with WINE in the future, but right now it doesn't run the last few versions of the programs I use on a daily basis.) "Complain! Write to the company making the program and tell them to support other platforms!" Well guess what? They used to support other platforms (specifically Macintosh), but after those OS's shares of the market dropped below 10% combined, they wisely saw the cost-benefit ratio disappear and dropped everything except Windows 9x/NT. (The company of which I speak is Autodesk, maker of AutoCAD -- but feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, as far as I have heard from company reps Autodesk hasn't supported MacOS for at least five releases now.)

    If you truly get uptimes with Windows that amount to months on end, I applaud you. I'd also like to know how you do it, since even the "robust" NT OS seems to crash on me every few days.
  • Would you take apart your typewriter? how about painting your phone, or rearranging the buttons on it??
    Sure, if it made me more comfortable or "productive", and was reversible so that the next poor sap who had to use it could set it as he/she liked it.

    I remember an officemate of mine who took apart and rebuilt his chair so that it reclined a little bit, the way he liked it.(OTOH...he works at M$ now...hmmm...)

  • Something else to keep in mind is that with computers, employers are able to track EVERYTHING a little better. And they do...

    An employee at Powell's Books, a monstrous used book store observed to me once that they were changing the kind of people they were hiring from book people to computer people. These new types may be able to find a book, but they won't recognize many of the more obscure greats.

    With NT it is possible to manage an employee's access privileges right down to whether they print landscape or portrait orientation. Employees know it, that they are being monitored. How does this affect morale? How many more managers become necessary to make observations, and to manage employees.

    These computers also allow for more meetings and for more memos and for more tiers for efficiency to be stripped away. I had a TeX job with more managers than production...and so many meetings very little got done. I think that all of the production has been laid of or upgraded to management now.

    So there may be a need for redefinition of productivity, and perhaps a new look at the Perotesque managerial facism which is becoming so popular in the corporate world.
    Rick Rezinas
  • Just an aside - this is the same Fred Moody who wrote The charge of the Linux brigade []. I have read some of his other past articles in the archive and ROTFLMAO-ed a few times. The guy made some hilarious predictions and sniped at will at the Unix/Netscape/Open Source crowd, positioning himself almost always with Microsoft.

    So think what you will about the Solow's paradox (I don't know what to think, frankly, because I don't know anything about the methodology with which the productivity data is gathered) but don't take this guy's opinion seriously.

  • Yea. All that administration stuff is wholely dependant on Powerpoint. How silly of me.

    That's why management just doesn't get "the Unix thing". There's no PowerPoint for Unix. How can they possibly do anything?

    The subtle point here (below the radar of your average troll)... is that while they definately have uses, some "office tools" tend to cause a lot of bogus work. We find ourselves able to push more data around - but a lot of that data really has little to do with actual productivity.

  • ok, 1 crash/day isn't that far off. but lets look at in closer. only 1 in 3 crashes ussualy causes any significant data loss. and only 1 in 20 crashes causes the operating system to piss all over itself. lets say that it takes someone 15 minutes just to reboot, and 2 hours to recover a lost document, or correct a corrupted one. and lets say it takes on average 45 minutes for a tech to repair the 1 in 20 crashes that causes OS damage. now lets say that 1 in 5 of those requires an OS re-install, which takes 4 hours to get the OS back on, network configured, and apps back on. lets say you are managing a 500 computer network.

    so you have 500 crashes/day totle. 2/3 of those require just a re-boot = 333 crashes = 83.25 Hours

    and 19 out of 20 requires 2 hours of work by the user. well with 166 crashes left, this comes to 158 * 2 = 316 hours.

    now you have 9 crashes/day that require a tech to do some work. 4/5 of those require just 45 minutes work so 2 crashes*45=1.5 hours

    ok, and 1 of those crashes requires an OS re-install that is 4 hours of a techs time.also note that when the tech is fixing the computer, the worker isn't working, so count these times also.

    ok, so
    83.25 + 316 + 1.5 + 4 = 404.75 hours of clerical time lost * say $12/hr=$4857/day

    add to this 5.5 hours of tech time/day * say $18/hr = $100/day.

    now lets see how many days/year are working days.
    52 weeks * 5 = 260 days * 4957 = 1.3 Million/year.

    now for just 500 computers, that is significant. That dosent count for other IS costs such as new servers etc.....
  • right. productivity falls because of "race norming", "sex norming", and people in human resources refusing to beat people over the head. you seem to be suggesting that things would go better if we kept things as white as possible.

    maybe you went back to the data centre because no one wanted to work for you.

  • "If your software isn't working right, _you're_ doing something wrong", which is often just a fraud. Guys who have successfully run Pr1mos, AS/400, VMS, Novell Netware, etc., etc., don't suddenly become incompetent when faced with a supposedly admin-friendly box doing more than 1 job.

    That's what happened at my last job - heavily loaded NT servers that wouldn't stay up, even after MS themselves came in to fix it.

    The problem with NT seems to be a combination of specific memory leaks, which a particular installation may or may not activate, and an increased vulnerability to conflicts between applications, because of (1)the registry, (2) the lack of separate paths for libraries and executables, (3) the disorganized approach to different versions of the same dynamic library, and (4) possibly other things. But, Steve Ballmer _has_ been re-focusing on product quality, we can hope that future versions of NT will be more polished.
  • the point here: use whichever OS makes you the most productive.
    i can't help it if sexy women think the mac OS makes me more desirable ...
  • "You need to look at what else you're running. A properly set up box (i have lots of them) doesn't behave that way. 98 is trash, i won't argue there, but NT is stable when set up correctly."

    Linux doesn't crash when set up any way that it runs. This is the point that you Microsofties miss. Microsoft software is UNPREDICTABLE! Printers disappear, icons change colors, IE takes a dive when the machine is JUST SITTING THERE...What the f*ck??????????? Exchange disassociates mailboxes from NT accounts FOR NO REASON (don't touch our server ever, and these things constantly crop up), SQL server logins get "access denied"...try again 1 second later, your in..WTF???. How about VPN? Encryption? The VPN encryption in NT Server is completely circumventable. I have learned that MS takes continuous effort to maintain, and is hackable as hell. Our Linux box has been running flawlessly for 168 days since upgrading, and it does more work anyways. Micro$oft...What a bunch of a**holes.

  • In a few current management training classes, they've pointed out that workers in the US learn the same thing that a lot of kids learn.

    If I do a lot of work or try new things, I'll probably screw something up. If I do, then my boss will jump down my throat. So, I shouldn't try anything [including extra work].

    Apparently, this style is passed via upbringing. Usually, parents don't pay attention to a kid unless he's screwed the pooch. So, you see, the general feel of workplace America (according to this line of reason) is the art of not being seen.
  • hype aside, i think the big problem is that people use computers for reasons other than "productivity". these reasons include:
    • standardisation/reproducability
    • surveillance
    • recreation

    as for "productivity", its a largely bogus concept anyway. the purpose of the capitalist enterprise is to provide a comfortable life for the various people who run it, just as in any other bureaucratic institution.

  • Economists use some very simplistic measures of productivity. For them nothing has value unless it can be measured, and the only measure of value is the selling price.

    If I look at productivity of toilet paper production over the years (I haven't done this, so this might not be a good example) I might find that toilet paper prices (taking inflation into account) have been pretty stable and it takes just as many inputs to produce a roll of toilet paper now as in 1920. An economist might conclude that toilet paper technology has been stagnant and there has been no improvement in productivity.

    If I go into an actual toilet paper factory I'd probably find that the workers have better conditions and are generally healthier today (due to less exposure to toxic chemicals). If I use the toilet paper I might find that it's much softer and stronger than it was in 1920. None if this is captured in the economic analysis.

    The fact is that productivity has increased incredibly, but in this competitive marketplace we keep trying to improve the product instead of making it cheaper or giving ourselves the benefit of a more relaxed lifestyle. This is one of the problems with our competitive economy. It certainly leads to rapid and exciting advancement, but it doesn't let us enjoy the benefits.

  • I would consider having to reboot because of a configuration change on a box that is not in the core OS (kernel) to be a "crash."
  • Well if a screen saver can cause a crash of the whole OS then that's not a stable OS IMHO. If it just crashed your GUI, that I could see....
  • Judging by how slow American car manufacturers have been to adopt the level of automation found in Japanese plants, I would say we have a whole lot of trade unions here in the US.
  • That statistic really doesn't jazz me one way or the other. Assume that of the 1500 users, only 1000 are actually working with documents. That means that on a given day, there's a 1/500 chance that your document will be hosed.

    To further descend into the realm of meaningless statistics, assume that Joe Shmoe will also produce/edit 500 documents in a year - that's MS Word, or PowerPoint, or any other type of document which gets saved, at the rate of around 2 per day. If you fall on the statistical average, you'll need one document restored a year.

    Certainly, this is not good. On the other hand, it's not nearly bad enough to say that this is where all the putative lost productivity is going.
  • We sent men to the moon with tons and tons of vacuum-tube and discrete-transistor analog technology. And quite a heap of mainframe computer technology as well.

    We couldn't have done it without the computer. But we did it without what 80% of the people at random would think you meant by the word 'computer' today.
  • Anyone who thinks JWZ is onto something here owes it to themselves to read Juliet Schor's The Overworked American : The Unexpected Decline of Leisure []. Schor documents this vague feeling that we're really not working any less (in fact, we work more) than our pre-computer ancestors. The only reason we think we work less today is that we do compared to the labor mills of the 1800's. But compared to the agrarian/craft culture before that, we have piddly amounts of leisure. Lots more to buy, if you're among the lucky to to employed. But not as much time to spend with your family and neighbors.

    If you really want to question those assumptions, follow that with Gene Logsdon's The Contrary Farmer []. Logsdon claims that, intelligently run, a 20-30 acre farm (such as the one he farms in Ohio) can provide a base for economic self-sufficiency with only an average of 2-4 hours of work per day. Leaving plenty of time to bring in some cash by writing books, and to enjoy the sunsets and catch some fish.

    "But there is another strong objection which I, one of the laziest of all the children of Adam, have against the Leisure State. Those who think it could be done argue that a vast machinery using electricity, water-power, petrol, and so on, might reduce the work imposed on each of us to a minimum. It might, but it would also reduce our control to a minimum. We should ourselves become parts of a machine, even if the machine only used those parts once a week. The machine would be our master, for the machine would produce our food, and most of us could have no notion of how it was really being produced."
    -- G. K. Chesterton

  • Maybe they had the floppy-disk version.

  • "I'm in the same boat. If somebody can't get a PC running NT to stay up indefinately, they should be fired. Period. NT: Install, apply latest service pack, walk away. Any questions?"

    Bullshit. I've had to reinstall NT 7 times on our server because it has a lot of applications on it, and if you install them in the wrong order. Blam! BSOD. Stuff like SQL Server 6.5 and Exchange...BackOrifice. Hard to believe they sell it all together, but its a ridiculous song and dance to get it all to work. How could the order of installation really be considered something a "competent" admin would know? Answer me this: Why does out ISS WWW service stop for no apparent reason every few days, with no event log entries or IIS log entries. Just stops. I'm sure I screwed up the installation cuz I'm incompetent, right...install NT4 option pack, reinstall SP4. Just like it says in the "mistake base".

  • Ahhh... But if I were CTO in a public company, I have to worry about the quarter. Shouldn't I take the short term view, as long as it doesn't kill the company, and just deal with the lower productivity?

    If I switch over to your system, there will be a learning curve, and I'll have to worry about actually keeping my employees from leaving after 6 months. That goes against the way we do business in Amayrica, sayr!!

  • I've been using 95 since it came out, but let take the example of my current job. I have a Dell P2-450 with 64MB RAM. I have been using it for 4 months now. I use it all day every day. I always have Lotus Notes, telnets, IE, Vantive (crappy client/server system), Sonique, and MSN Messenger running. I also heavily use Office 97. How many times has my machine crashed since I got here (with the exception of a buggy Winamp I tried)? ZERO. Not one crash, hang, anything. I have not been so lucky at previous jobs, but I have never come close a daily crash. When someone complains about thier windows box crashing its usually because they have games and 3d drivers and all sorts of non-productive stuff. I have a feeling that if I was to go monkey around with Linux I would have far more problems than the author here has with Windows.
  • if your employees are so slovenly in managing their mission critical digital information[...]

    I agree there's a problem here, but it's your mission critial digital information :)

  • Applicatoin programs should not be able to crash a system, period. If you believe otherwise you are the one that is incompetent.
  • Indeed.

    Has anyone noticed that this resembles the "damages" companies report after a cracker ("hacker" for you media-philes) attack?

    I'm not a fan of NT in the workplace, but please! If you're going to abuse math, do it with some class. An editorial's ass should never be the source of statistical data.

  • Unless the lusers like looking at the BackupExec screen, there has to be a reason why they want files restored.
  • Productivity absolutely has increased! The fallacy that Solow and Moody both accept is that if I can get my old job done in half the time, my boss will let me go home at noon every day. Bullshit! Clearly my boss will take that extra time and set me to work on features that are desireable but that previously couldn't be budgeted. I'll still spend the same number of hours working, but the resulting product will be spiffier than had I worked at my old pace.

    The trouble with Solow's "Paradox" (I thought that word was reserved for logical impossibilities, not just quirky statistics) and with this column is that nobody is thinking outside the box. The obvious question to ask here is not "Why do I still work 8 (or 12 or 23 :) hours a day" but "How does my definition of 'productive' differ from the definition of 30 years ago?"

    I'm sure we've all wished to ourselves at one time or another that sleep weren't necessary and that we could spend our nights working. Elysium dreams of endless freetime spring into our minds. But this is nonsense, because you know that if nobody had to sleep, our economy would gobble up the slack and the PHB's would have us all working 20 hours a day.

    The obvious parallel is the electric light. I wonder whether people deluded themselves into thinking at the turn of the century that their bosses would still release them at dusk and that they could spend the rest of their day before bed on their own pursuits. Hah! A quick look around any server farm at 3am quickly illustrates the defectiveness of that reasoning.

    Sure it takes the same number of work-hours to produce a 1999 car as it did a 1950 car. But look at the difference in complexity between the cars!

  • > Restart the computer.. even on good size HDs, the scandisk program will take about 5 minutes to get through.

    I think the most amusing aspect of Scandisk is that Micro$oft has the balls to tell you that:

    "To avoid seeing this message again, always shut down the computer properly using the Shut Down option in the Start Menu."

    You know, for all the times I've seen that, I'm ready to state that I'd love to shut down the computer properly at least once in my life, but I can't quite seem to get the thing to let me. Must be a problem with the operating system...

  • I disagree. I'd say that most corporate workplaces use NT. Win 95/98 is NOT for the workplace and MS says this explicitly.

    Microsoft may say that 95/98 is not for the workplace, but it's there, and that's a good thing. Try imagining teaching people NT over 95 or 98. No, real people.
  • While people often try to compute monetary costs of lost productivity, I think it's much more important in the case of Windows to consider the human cost.

    I haven't updated in years, but the concept hasn't changed. Multiply wasted time by enough people, and you're right up there with the highway death toll or a medium sized war.
  • All Solow's Paradox proves is that the real bottleneck in labor is the human mind, not rote labor. Before there were calculators, people had to add 12 + 132 in their heads before they came up with 144. Now people need to find the buttons 1, 2, 3, + and = on a calculator. The calculator is doing the routine labor, but the amount of time it takes to get the answer is the same.

    In other words, people are spending less effort due to computers, but aren't more efficient. Effort relates to rote "assembly line" labor. Efficiency comes from the human mind, and computers haven't made any improvements on the mind last time I checked. Hence productivity remains constant, even before the BSOD existed.

  • Hah! If you can get NT4 to run for days without crashing, which I am lucky enough to do on CERTAIN machines, you'll be forced to reboot since memory leaks grind the OS down to a halt after about 3 or 4 days of heavy usage.

    Don't forget, many people are also using Win9x because NT4 doesn't support their hardware.


  • This trend started well before the PC. If you really want to trace back the whistles and bells, I'd say the non-improvement in office productivity started with the photocopier.

    How many people today can tell you what "cc:" means in e-mail? Answer: Carbon Copy. Before photocopiers, you had to stack paper with sheets of carbon paper between them, and run that through your typewriter. At best, a secretary could create 3 simultaneous copies at a time (1 original + 2 carbons) before the quality got really bad.

    When photocopiers first came out in the 1960's (I was just a kid then, honest), I can remember hearing ads on the radio like, "Mrs. Smith, I have a meeting in an hour. Please make 20 copies of this letter." "But Mr. Jones, that will take the rest of the day!" "Not any more, Mrs. Smith. We now have a Xerox blah blah...."

    Sure, making the actual copies is faster. But now, instead of only the essential people receiving correspondence, EVERYONE can be copied, and sucked into meetings. More paperwork crap (or e-mail, same thing) to wade through.

    As someone else pointed out, the secretaries have all but disappeared, leaving documents to be created by higher paid, but otherwise mostly computer illiterate users. The users aren't really to blame. A salesman used to have professional clerial staff (like typing pools) to back him up. Now that salesman has a PC and no training on how to use it effectively.

    Is it suprising this has resulted in a zero-sum gain?
  • The number one reason is that work is evil and
    a four letter word.
  • C'est pas mal, ca... :)
  • Moody = Ridiculous Outfits(Management_School(Katz));

    First of all, of course productivity has gone up since the advent of the computer; it's MANAGEMENT, SALESMANSHIP and BUSINESS ACUMEN that determine profitability, among other things, none of which have anything to do with computers, what OS one uses, etc.

    If my computer spits out twice as many data widgets as it did yesterday, I am being mas productive. If my computer is twice as fast as it was yesterday, it stands to reason that I can meet that expectation of my productivity.

    That's not to mention that the tasks are more complicated: There's not even a comparison between what I'm doing digitally now and what I was doing with a computer even 5 years ago.

    Going back even further, I made $45 bucks a week picking strawberries when I was 10, and it made me enough money for two pairs of kid pants. Now I can buy 2 pairs of fat man pants for that same money, and it only takes me 3 hours to earn it! So not only is my work since the dawn of the information age much more complex (and therefore, one might argue, more valuable), it's more efficient. I'm working smarter, not harder, remember?

    I'm having doubts about this guy Moody. Maybe someone can explain how this guy is even remotely credible, cause it's not his takes, or the Afrika Bambaataa beanie that's doing it for me.
  • Why has productivity not increased with the increase in tools?

    Easy, it has. In my line of work slide rules, pencil and paper flew humans to to moon. Now I sit in front of a 400MHz computer running (NT, ugh) gobs and gobs of models outputting thousands (millions?) of lines of more output in a week than any engineer in the Apollo era ever did in a career.

    But what am I building? I'm building better and more sophisticated experiments. There's more power, less weight, less cost, more regulations, and I'm still getting it done. Why? Because I have better tools to make quicker decisions, create more data to make more complicated decisions, or read slashdot.

    Let's be realistic, the tools we create are created to get the job done. What do you need to get the job done? Labor. There is still only so many hours in the day. But there's more work to do to continue to make improvements (cars, airplanes, buildings, bridges, roads, etc) over existing products. Otherwise nothing would get safer, cheaper, or more efficient.

    I'm sure if we were still manufacturing gas guzzling cars without seatbelts, anti-lock brakes, passenger compartment safety cages, fancy sound system, shift on the fly four wheel drive, and traction sensing power, we'd be more efficient when measuring efficiency as stated in the article.

    "Man könnte froh sein, wenn die Luft so rein wäre wie das Bier"
  • by Anonymous Coward
    With the exception of /. readers, I've found that most people use their computers (whether at work or at home) for nothing more than personal finance, word processing and e-mail/Net surfing. That's it. Their machine is idle 95% of the time, because a person's day is consumed by activities that are in no way related to a computer. Sure, the computer has made us productive in that 5% window (creating documents, communicating over the web), but we still need to write paper cheques, sign paper contracts, meet people face to face, drive to the supermarket, and drive to work. For all the hoopla of our "connected society", we're still very disconnected. Oh, and BTW, FIRST! SuperDuck
  • sorry for the language, but let's take a reality check.. a fair chunk of the work being done in business today wouldn't even be *possible* without computers.

    case in point: trot down to your local office supply store and buy a pack of ledger paper. now take it to your accounting department and ask them to run the numbers for next quarter's budget on it.. no spreadsheets allowed. if you're lucky, they'll just laugh in your face.

    the same is true for all those databases and custom front-end applications which allow people sitting at a phone to take orders. just *try* checking the availability of every item manually (and don't forget, you not only have to check the shelves, you also have to cross reference against the other pending orders which haven't been packed yet). let's see what happens to the concept of same-day shipping if we go back to the good old paper-and-pencil method.

    next up: desktop publishing.. sure, The Computer Is Just A Glorified Typewriter.. one which prints in any font, any size, isn't locked to a character-mapped raster, can generate graphics on the fly, allows you to make incremental changes to a document without losing all your previous work in the process, and can print as many identical copies of that document as you want. go haul out your old Smith Corona and see how long it takes to knock out a dozen employment applications, or twenty copies of the yearly sales report (*with* graphs) for the upcoming board meeting.. and remember, close doesn't count: they all have to be *identical*. how many of us can truly say we're nostalgic for the days of carbon paper and white-out?

    computers have allowed us to become blase' about the prospect of an individual doing, in a few minutes or hours, what used to take entire departments days or weeks (hyperbole? go add up all the day's transactions in a bank by hand). if anyone wants to measure the effect of computers on productivity, i want to see a test where they do *exactly* the same work without recourse to computers at all.
  • It's not the computer, nor the OS on it that is causing productivity to fall in recent years; it is the people using the computers that are the cause.

    About ten years ago I had the pleasure of working with the last of the "classically trained secretaries" that I ever met. She was the type of highly trained employee that did everything ONCE, no printing ten slightly different drafts of the same damned thing, just one. She KNEW what her boss wanted and how to create it in one go.

    All the other secretaries (sp?) in that office were new to the profession (er, "job") and had learned their way arround computers before they learned thir actual jobs. In the same amount of time it took one of these people to do one document on a computer the secretary in my previous paragraph could get four done, on a computer or on a typewriter.

    Of couse, she also got paid a lot more than the other, but she had been with that firm for 20+ years.

    In all my other jobs involving office staff I have never seen professional office staff, just entry level people looking for better work while muddling through this job.

    Productivity has gone down because business no longer looks at clerical support as a profession, and niether do those who enter the field. Women used to go to college to learn to be professional clerical staff. Now it's whomever knows how to type faster than 10 words a minute.

    Add to this the fact that we expect one person to do on their computer what four to ten people used to by hand and we get a clearer idea of the problem.

    That's my rant for the day.
  • I'm curious about his assumptions.

    a) 1 million people using Windows on a given day.

    b) 1 crash per day.

    c) 2 hours lost per crash.

    I don't think I actually lose 2 hours per crash -- but I save often and reboot often. ;) I probably lose about 20 minutes.

    I don't have 1 crash per day -- I reboot before I use my Windows machine and use it minimally. I probably do about a day's worth of Windows work in 3 weeks so I am probably not typical. (I mostly use Solaris ;)

    However, I think 1 million users per day is low, offsetting the other issues.

    Does anyone have any good data on this?
  • A lot of what this stems from is computers being put into applications where they may not be needed. Case in point: my father's gardening. My father grew up on a farm, and even today keeps a large vegetable garden and maintains many farm implements.

    Years ago, when my father needed a part, he simply went to the dealership, told them the part number, they got one out of the bin, he paid, and then he left. Now, he goes to the same dealership, and tells them the part number. They punch it into a computer, and everyone waits while the computer searches the dealership's inventory, and finally prints out a page of information at the end of the counter. Then, whoever is working at the dealership reads the printout, goes to the bin, and finally gets the part.

    It doesn't someone with a stopwatch to see that this is clearly an extra step. Now the dealership is happy because they can track their sales, and make all kinds of cutesy graphs, but my father now has to wait longer in line, and productivity hasn't gone up a bit.

  • The trouble with Solow's "Paradox" (I thought that word was reserved for logical impossibilities, not just quirky statistics)

    Solow is to "paradox" as Alanis is to "irony"?

  • Modern life is hard and stressful in unique ways, but reactionary longings for a golden age gone by are a waste of time.

    I agree with this -- I certainly believe that we have it better off today than in any previous era. Douglas Coupland wrote a wonderfully obnoxious essay about this called `` The Past Sucks []''. He notes that if you dig deep enough into the minds of some SCA type who longs for the past, you'll hear a laundry-list of exceptions: ``but I'd have to be a member of the royalty; and I'd have to have had my shots; and I'd need espresso.''

    So no, I don't want to live in the past, I don't want to go backwards.

    My point was, isn't it about time that the progress we've made started paying some dividends?

    We're getting more work done faster instead of being able to work less. That hardly seems like a good trade to me.

  • Sorry, I'm just not buying the idea that the reasons we aren't seeing more productivity out of computer users is because Windows keeps crashing. It's ludicrous: I'm by no means a MS fan, but Windows isn't so bad (on any of the installs I've done, anyway) that it crashes too much to get any work done.

    <speculation type="rampant">
    The main reason that most people aren't able to point to solid gains in productivity all across the board is because the nature of the work we do has changed. For example: in a retail environment - let's say, a clothing store with only one or two locations - people still want to do the same things they always have. Clients want to buy clothes, vendors want to take money and keep inventory. The things that have changed is that all the steps either faster or easier. I don't need to be carrying cash if I have plastic, and vendors can get near instantaneous reports on inventory and sales, rather than having to count by hand. This is all great, but it doesn't mean that they're actually going to be selling any more clothes.

    There's a rule in economics called "The Agricultural Treadmill." Basically, it means that even though modern production techniques may improve so much that you can farm thousands of acres with only a couple of guys, it doesn't mean that people are magically going to get hungrier and want to buy all that food. I think the same thing applies here. There's a point of diminishing returns in how fast you can get information critical to your business, because you get information much faster than your business actually needs it.

    The folks at Oracle, MS, Lotus - none of 'em will tell you this. Who loves ya? ;) </speculation>

  • The article is talking about the desktop OS that most business users are running for "productivity apps" folks, and that's Windows 95 (some 98, but not much), not NT.

    Productivity hasn't increased because the productivity tools, the Office apps, crash often, and tend to break easily. Install any application that uses ODBC and you risk breaking Access or other parts of Office. Crash one of the Office apps, and it may end requiring a re-install of the OS and huge stack of application CDs. If an Office app crashes and damages the user's document file, there's a good chance the user won't even know there's a problem with the file and will waste hours trying to load it. To make matters worse, Word will blindly load a broken file without any sanity checks, then bring the system down if the doc is badly broken (this is why I prefer Lotus Word Pro--at least it usually won't load a broken document).

    Speaking from personal experience, moving from Windows to Linux has already saved me at least 30 days of downtime in the last year. I've had only two hard crashes, both while tweaking the IDE controller settings with hdparm, so those don't really count since I knew that what I was doing could crash the box. I've never had Linux crash, rendering itself unusable and requiring a re-install, while Windows 95 did this to me at least three times, and OS/2 at least once. I've never had Emacs/XEmacs crash and destroy a document, neither has WP 8.0 Linux crashed.

    Windows 9x is nothing but a distraction. Any time wasted with crashes, broken documents, feature-bloated, overly complex software is dollars down the tubes. This is unacceptable, unless you don't value your time.

    Microsoft should introduce two new certifications:

    • MCMNE: Microsoft Certified Menu Navigation Engineer
    • MCCRE: Microsoft Certified Crash Recovery Engineer
  • Well, if you're happy with servers that can't stay up longer than 3 months then you have what you want. Do you have 30 servers yet, so you and the users get to deal with a crash every three days?
  • He's got a point. Although I'd REALLY argue those numbers.

    Take the average Windoze user with Office installed. User is typing a 50 page report, and Windoze crashes. Drat.

    Restart the computer.. even on good size HDs, the scandisk program will take about 5 minutes to get through.

    Open Word. Assuming no options have been changed from the default settings, there should be a version that is no more than 10 minutes old sitting on the computer. Load up and make changes. 20 minutes max to get back to the point where it was before.

    Agreed, there are people and programs that don't save often, but that's their own fault. When you work with ANY computer system, you should know this as a hard and fast rule.

    I also wonder about his 1 crash/day/person. My winbox at home has yet to crash from the OS in the last month. (I've had to do restarts because Half-Life didn't work right but...). I'm in charge of 2 windows boxes at work that have been running for about a month without a need to restart. I think that a properly tuned/setup Winbox is rather unfallible to crashes... not that the stability of Linux isn't tons better than this, but it's a lot more than Moody makes out.

"To take a significant step forward, you must make a series of finite improvements." -- Donald J. Atwood, General Motors