[Do you really need M.E.?]
September 23, 2000 By Dave Kristula
I started college at the end of August 2000. Into the dorms came kids, and with them: new PC's. 1-Gigahertz processor? What for? Why is anyone going to need a 1-Gigahertz computer to write a paper or do a little online research? Oh, that's right. The computer wasn't for the "study" aspect college - it was for the "gaming" aspect.
There is a great misunderstanding of the power of the computer, especially in the mature generations (parents of college students?). Right now, 1-Gigahertz is only useful when you are doing things like heavy 3D modeling or intense graphics/video editing. If you are sitting there, thinking of what the next sentence should be in the middle of your paper -you know, after the font has been adjusted to 16pt and set to triple spacing so your professor thinks your paper is longer than it really is-and nothing is being typed for the moment, you are wasting precious processor time. Thinking for two seconds? You just wasted 2 billion computing cycles. Thinking for only half second between keystrokes? Already wasted one half billion cycles. And so on.
People tell me they need the "fastest" computer on the market because they will be outdated too soon. But sometimes, fast gets to the point where any quicker is unnecessary. Increased processor speeds are allowing programmers to become lazy and the marketers of their software become even lazier. That's why we have slow software on 1-gigahertz computers that is continually crashing or just not doing what it should be doing.
Microsoft told us Windows 95 would be this great improvement over Windows 3.11. It was an improvement, but buggy -- and the fixed version, OSR2, was not free. Windows 98 was supposed to be even better. Still buggy, and the fix, Second Edition, was not free either. So what about Windows M.E.? I'm not taking out my wallet yet. History tends to repeat itself. Once Microsoft proves that ME can do more than decrease my taco and pizza budget for the month, I'll consider upgrading. Until then, I'm sticking with what I've got.
Oh, are you still worried about wasting processing time on a computer of 200Mhz or higher? Consider putting those would-be-wasted clock cycles to good use. Join Distributed.Net. Distributed.Net allows you to download a piece of software that cracks legal encryption to prove to the U.S. government that better standards are required to keep things like our credit card numbers safe from crackers when we purchase online. If you or your team discovers the key that reveals the prize-winning code, you could be in some cash. Check it out. What do you have to lose? Just remember to turn it off when you play your new 3D game!
Dave Kristula is the editor of SLASH Magazine. He doesn't have much time to edit this magazine anymore because he studies full-time at Albright College. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Contribute to the Dave Kristula Scholarship Fund. You won't regret it. :P
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