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Facelift

May 21, 2011

Hm. WordPress did some facelifting. They claim to have made it faster and leaner and whatnot. Perhaps they have, in general terms, but for me, writing is still horribly slow. Inputting text lags just like before. The keyboard shortcut for italics still won’t work. Previewing also slow.

Well. It probably has something to do with this glorified slide rule I choose to call a netbook. But still.

This lagging problem made me consider and briefly test that blogging software that is included in the bloat monster that is Microsoft Live. It might have been better for writing but it was even slower to start than Firefox.

I wish computer speed would outrun software bloat already. It seems unlikely though. And in a way I understand why. Some bloat is good. Or rather, some bloat is not bloat. Nothing makes this more obvious than when comparing operating systems. Let’s take DOS 6.22. If I recall right, it took some 5 MiB of storage space, while the Windows 7 folder on this computer occupies almost 11 GiB.

Sounds like W7 is much more bloated? Yes. In a way it is. Lots and lots of drivers and services and DLLs are never used or are extremely generic, even if only used in a singular way by me. On the other hand, 5 MiB back then was often more than 11 GiB is now, if you consider hard drive sizes. And you get a whole lot more bang for the buck. Things like automatic upgrades, user-friendliness, multi-tasking, plug-and-play, a standard interface for all application, robustness, support for devices without having to install drivers… these things were nowhere in sight back then. Things really are better now.

That’s where bloat comes from: not from necessarily needed all features, but from the fact that the programmer is now free to think “why not?” and just chuck it in. Storage space is so incredibly cheap that they don’t have to think about it. It’s not a concern. If a program is ten megabytes instead of two, no one is going to notice and no one is going to care. So the programmer can then move everything to an even more generic, abstract, less efficient level.

(Well, I say “less efficient” but that is only true from the view-point of people with steam-powered analytical engines. For the programmer it’s much more efficient to not have to be held up by details. Without making programs bloated and “inefficient”, we would still be stuck in the 60s, program-wise. If that.)

Even so, I get annoyed every time a small, simple program takes up a whole megabyte. Perhaps I’m just old. I mean, one megabyte is nothing these days. If you have a 1 TB drive, it’s like a millionth of that. It’s not even a blip on the radar. But it’s so wasteful. Why are compilers and linkers still so helplessly retarded?

What was I talking about? Oh. Right.

The internet. The same thing bothers me here; that things are always so sluggish. I almost daily wish for a more minimalistic web. And not just minimalistic design, but less dazzle and more speed.

I long ago observed that the larger the entity is that owns a website, the slower and more cluttered it will be. It’s eerily accurate. Among the few exceptions are Wikipedia, Google, and Great Satan itself, Facebook. Surely there are more but a company like Microsoft has an incredibly sluggish site. And trying to find a driver to download on any given hardware manufacturer’s site is made of a seppuku-inducing amount of clicking and searching.

(Another observation is that the better a programmer someone is, the worse they are at making their personal website look non-horrible. It’s like they’re all stranded in the 90s.)

Returning to the facelift. Saving a draft is slighty less incredibly slow and the new full-screen mode is fantastic. It’s weird but typing in full-screen is actually fast. No lag. This will probably be my new default way of writing my ramblings. Even if I have to leave that view to spellcheck and preview and tag and such. Unless I learn some shortcuts. But that crazy-talk!

And I like that they’re leaving IE6 in the dust. Old browsers are holding the whole damn internet back. Not updating your browser is like inadvertently bringing back the era of browser wars in that that it forces every major site to make fallback solutions.

On the whole I’m very “meh” on this whole thing. Still sluggish in anything but full-screen mode.

But then again: slide rule.

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