Question 158 of 365: What is the percent complete?

I was told by a coworker the other day that computers don’t know how
to tell time. Specifically, they have no idea when something will
finish downloading, rendering, or installing. They make fictitious
estimates based on arbitrary data and they recalibrate every
half-second. In other words, their ability to predict the future is
just as flawed as ours is.

Yet, we wait there, watching the dialog boxes and progress monitors
fill up and tell us that we are ready to move on to the next step. We
silently count down the percent that we have left. We know that the
process is flawed, but we watch and predict along anyway.

I often wonder if developers put these installation and progress bars
on the screen simply to show us that there is something going on,
regardless of the relationship to what is actually happening.

A real progress monitor would actually visualize the files being
copied and show the code compiling. Just like the old defrag
visualization, the progress could be little blocks of color filling up
and shuffling around. At least then, we would see it as the ridiculous
act that ones and zero allocation really is.

Going to my mother-in-law’s funeral today made me think that we were
all trying to check our internal progress monitors. We were
desperately looking for those little sprites filling up a box. We
looked around at the ones we thought might be likely to go next, but
with just as much uncertainty as to our final download time, we will
be wrong.

In fact, as every moment is being copied from present to past, the
hard drive of our life is filling up. Some of our drives will quit
prematurely and some will be reformatted by events that give us a new
set of experiences. We will never know when the horrible clicking
noise will signal to everyone around us that we are about to fail.

As obscure as this metaphor may be, I would love to know where my
progress meter is at right now. Am I at 20 percent done or closer to
90? Is the bar closing rapidly on the end or will I stall like a bad
internet connection?

Just like computers are not going to get more accurate in predicting
the future of downloads (mostly because of connection issues and
background processes), we are not going to get any better either. Yet,
I hope I am wrong about both.

Sprites are fun to watch accumulate, but living my life is even more so.

Posted via email from The Throughput

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