True Story No26

 If in doubt do nowt

A problem with computers running software slower than they can cope with is what you do when something apparently goes wrong.

Wiggling your mouse and clicking again may not appear to do much but it often can.

If you click to open a program then do it again a bit later the extra click may open up a second version of the same program.

Setting your desktop to Web-Style with single click operation can be decidedly dodgy if your finger has little patience or things are slow in getting under way.

Usually you don't realise the second program is there until you close the one you're working with and another was there, hiding underneath.

If you're processing a picture and do you realise that with each click the computer thinks it has to turn the picture yet ANOTHER 90 degrees.

Another annoying thing is that not all inputs are echoed back with "wait" or "processing please hang on a minute" or something reassuring or ACCURATE.

I downloaded some data the other day from the Internet and a message came up and said "Loading files…this may take a few minutes". It took two hours!

If someone gets unaccountable program errors I always check to see if they've got single click in operation and disable it. That often fixes things.

Repeated mouse clicks when the computer is struggling to complete a task compounds the delay.

Each time a key is pressed or a mouse button clicked, the action is a message to the computer which it will then feel obliged to deal with.

A good rule is to firmly press "Enter" once or click once and then keep fingers clear if you are doing a long winded operation, say associated with graphics. If you don't know what I mean try scanning a colour picture at maximum resolution and then rotating it through 90 degrees.

Anyway this story is about a young lady, Carol …., who was given one of the first E-mail systems for internal communications within the Company.

The computer was installed next to her desk and she duly read the handbook.

Next she tested the operation.

First type a message, then add an address and finally press "Enter".

Nothing happened… just the dull thud of the key.

Try again and press "Enter".

Finally, repeated bashing of the key in exasperation.

Nothing happened.

She read the manual again and carefully repeated the steps.

This went on for most of the morning until she gave up in disgust and went back to her typewriter and clattered away as usual.

Next morning a big parcel arrived at the young lady's desk.

She opened it and found inside several pounds of Z-fold A3 paper.

There was miles of it and each sheet had the same message, "Hello Jean, this is Carol...."

The top sheet was labelled "confirmatory copies of E-Mails sent by Carol …."

Then the phone rang.

"Hello Carol, this is Jean.

Something's gone wrong with this new E-Mail system…yesterday my printer wouldn't stop.

We had to unplug it because it used up all our paper.

It kept printing out the same message over and over again….Hello Jean this is Carol….".

I think these new computers are absolute rubbish!

If only the programmer had arranged for the screen to show "Sending" or suchlike!

Over the whole Company we must have wasted tons of paper.

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