Blogs & Comment

How do you turn this thing off?

After a long evening of, say, updating photos on my aging clunker of a Dell laptop, it’s time to shut down and head to bed. Click, click, click, clickten minutes later I’m still hunched over the glowing screen trying to get software to close, forcing to quit strange device detector programs, waiting to make sure (yet another) update is installed and doesn’t prevent my system from actually, once and for all, powering off for the night.
Why is this so hard? I just want to go to bed.
It’s good to know I’m not alone. I stumbled across an interesting blog postby some fellow named Elliotte Rusty Harold who is, according to his blog, an adjunct professor of computer science at New York’s Polytechnic University. In the post, he writes about how asininemy word, not hisit is that shutting down a computer or closing a program often requires multiple steps, with alert windows always double-checking if you reallyare sure want to do that. The reason software double-checks, of course, is to help you avoid losing unsaved work.
But as Elliotte points out, computers should never lose data. The programs should not have to be told explicitly to save the data in the first placeit should just do it all the time. The hardware and memory limitations that required this cautious approach are no long a problem.
Most interesting, though, was a comment he added to the post:

Mobile devices may indeed be the wedge that brings this style of no-save interface into the mainstream. No backwards compatibility issues, and no expectation that they will work like a traditional desktop computer. As they get more powerful they will replace first laptops and then perhaps desktops: just plug into a monitor, a keyboard, and a power supply. After all, no one really cares how big the box is. We want big monitors and full size keyboards but the box that holds the CPU only needs to be large enough to plug all the peripherals into.

And that’s when it occured to me how little I even bother to turn on my old clunker of a laptop anymore. Instead I use my iPhone much more frequently for personal e-mail, social media and entertainment than I do the Ol’ Dell. In fact, I actively avoid even turning that thing onin part because I never know how long it will take to turn it off again.
So there’s your challenge, tech industry: instead of just making software good to use, make it easier to stop using, too. Because some of us need to get some sleep.