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The Biggest Time Suck at the Office Might Be Your Computer (bloomberg.com) 169

Sharing personal anecdotes and recent studies, a new report on Bloomberg blames outdated computers, decade-old operating systems and ageing equipments for being one of the biggest hurdles that prevents people from doing actual work in their offices. From the article: Slow, outdated computers and intermittent internet connections demoralize workers, a survey of 6,000 European workers said. Half of U.K. employees said creaking computers were "restrictive and limiting," and 38 percent said modern technology would make them more motivated, according to the survey, commissioned by electronics company Sharp. Scott's (a 25-year-old researcher who works at an insurance firm) PC runs the relatively up-to-date Windows 8 operating system, but his computer sometimes struggles to handle large spreadsheets and multiple documents open simultaneously, slowing him down. Others are in a worse spot. One in every eight business laptops and desktops worldwide still run Windows XP, which was introduced in 2001. [...] Some businesses can't help using old hardware or operating systems, because they use specialized software that also hasn't been brought up-to-date.
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The Biggest Time Suck at the Office Might Be Your Computer

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  • Biggest time suck? There has to be 101 better ways to word that.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Well, vendors have done their job. They always find a way to make hardware seem old. Seriously, if you're running a newer laptop and can't handle multiple spreadsheets, the problem isn't the hardware. Nor is it the operating system, for that matter. No, it's the simple fact that it's easier to lean on increased compute capacity to shorten the software release cycle.

    If only I had known how slow XP made my system back in 2001, when it was new!

    • if you're running a newer laptop and can't handle multiple spreadsheets, the problem isn't the hardware

      I don't entirely disagree that a lot of problem is bloat in SW, it's out of control. However, many, many employers buy new laptops that are cheap but have lousy processors, inadequate memory, horrible video chips (i.e. Intel default) low res displays and small hard disks. That really is a HW problem.

      The first thing I do is drop the engineer card, and find the process for getting a top of the line laptop

      • by dnaumov ( 453672 )

        Intel gpus have not been inadequate for non-gaming desktop use for a very very long time now, they have no problems driving HIDPI retina monitors. But vendors selling new computers in the year 2017 without an SSD just make me sigh.

        • How do you make that assessment? On any given system I can tell without looking when I'm on intel graphics. If I can tell without looking, it's inadequate. I could not distinguish AMD from nVidia without looking or a game workload. Those are adequate.

          • On a laptop with Ivy Bridge i3 I could tell it was recent (2012) graphics as the web videos were so buttery smooth compared to older stuff or linux.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ewibble ( 1655195 )

        Sorry it is bloat, I don't care how crappy your laptop is if it can't run a spreadsheet or two well. Excel 2.0 was released in 1987 that is 30 years ago, the speed even your cheapest computer is well over 1000 times faster (I am being very conservative here, and excluding multi core) they had what memory measured in kilobytes not Gigabytes, and yet people still have problems running a few spreadsheets.

    • by Lennie ( 16154 )

      How about running: new hardware and old software. That is a good way to increase productivity (no loss of productivity getting used to new software and a speed boost form running newer hardware).

  • by DontBeAMoran ( 4843879 ) on Thursday April 20, 2017 @11:27AM (#54270029)

    Slashdot, HackADay, etc...

  • Economics is hard (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Thursday April 20, 2017 @11:29AM (#54270047) Journal
    The cost of a new high-end PC over a three-year lifetime is trivial compared to a typical office-worker salary. The cost of a decent chair over its 10-20 year lifetime is even smaller. Yet somehow companies refuse to spend 1% of a salary on something that will make people 5% more efficient.
    • by Brett Buck ( 811747 ) on Thursday April 20, 2017 @11:36AM (#54270123)

      However, the cost of 3-6 months trying to get a new machine configured properly and the correct software installed is NOT trivial in terms of time wasted. And 3 months would be an optimistic estimate. The biggest time waste I see is the dreaded "refresh", where you have everything working, then someone comes around wanting to "upgrade" your machine, and then you spend weeks or months arguing with IT about which applications should be installed, finding that half your documents are corrupted because this version of WORD is incompatible with the last 5 (all of which are also incompatible with each other), and poking around the internet trying to troubleshoot because no one has any idea what to do about it.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Will it make them more efficient though. is efficiency even the goal?

      Suppose i assign my salaried employee Tom a certain amount that at peak efficiency can be done in 40 hours a week. his computer and uncomfortable chair reduce his efficiency by 5%. So he has to work 42 hours a week to complete it. do i care they he stayed an hour late twice a week to finish his work? it not like I'm playing him overtime or anything.

      • I don't buy that anyone is stuck with old custom software. If you had it made before, you can do it again, it's just an excellent excuse for refusal to replace PCs and get some unpaid overtime from people whose PC takes half an hour to boot up, but you don't start paying them until they signed in.

        • Businesses get stuck with custom software all the time. The trick is a business is on a 10 year+ hardware refresh cycle while IT is pushing 5 at best.

          I started working for a company in 2012. The computer for me to use to start with was a Windows 2000 with a 19" crt.
          Now my work station was quickly upgraded as a computer refresh was going around so in a couple of weeks I had dual 21" monitors and a modern tower. However the software connected to was windows 2003 terminal server running Great Plains softwar

    • The cost of a new high-end PC over a three-year lifetime is trivial

      Before you look into cost you need to ask yourself what problem are you trying to solve? I have yet to see a computer slowdown in an office that could be fixed by better hardware or more high-end.

      Computers are bogged down primarily by crap software, corporate management software, and my personal favourite: share point. Well okay that last one is extreme but we do that with every web interface.

      Maximo turned from a great asset management database with a great front end into an in the browser special that work

    • It probably just looks that way to you from the employee side because you overlook everything that the company does buy for you, and concentrate on the few things you want/need but the company hasn't bought yet.

      From the employer's viewpoint, the cost to hire an employee is typically 1.5x to 3x the employee's salary [investopedia.com]. 1% is roundoff error.
      • I'm well aware of the overheads, and see this from both sides. For us, procurement rules make it trivial to spend £3000 on a laptop that we'll replace after 2-3 years, but almost impossible to spend £1000 on a chair that comes with a 15 year warranty and is likely to reduce absences due to back pain by a month over its lifetime.
    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      The cost of a decent chair over its 10-20 year lifetime is even smaller.

      Until Microsoft yanks my chair out from under me and tries to install a new one. While I'm standing, they tell me how great it will be when I finally get to sit down again.

      Then, it will take me a few weeks to find where the new height and seat back tilt controls are.

      • The cost of a decent chair over its 10-20 year lifetime is even smaller.

        Until Microsoft yanks my chair out from under me and tries to install a new one. While I'm standing, they tell me how great it will be when I finally get to sit down again.

        Then, it will take me a few weeks to find where the new height and seat back tilt controls are.

        And then you find out the height control is locked out by a domain policy and the tilt control is buggy, causing you to periodically flop back so far you stare at the ceiling, at which point you're supposed to reset the chair...

  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Thursday April 20, 2017 @11:29AM (#54270057)
    >> his computer sometimes struggles to handle large spreadsheets and multiple documents open simultaneously

    Hi "MsMash" and welcome to SlashDot! We are a thriving community of developers and IT folks who do interesting things like "compile code", "simulate load" and "troubleshoot." Having to deal with a computer too slow to handle a bunch of crappy Office documents isn't something we really ever face, since our challenges are greater than those faced by the poor schlubs (like this imaginary office worker) we mock.

    Do you have any stories that might interest us instead?
  • Ugh spreadsheets (Score:5, Interesting)

    by athmanb ( 100367 ) on Thursday April 20, 2017 @11:38AM (#54270131)

    In a recent ticket I got, one of our finance guys complained that our computers (Haswell i7, 8GB RAM with an SSD) were too slow and that he needed a better one. The finance director of course immediately signed off on the purchase request before even asking me for a price. I couldn't quite believe that complaint and had him show me what wasn't fast enough, and was treated to a horrible mess of a XLSX with a million rows, two hundred columns, and vlookups and pivot tables everywhere.

    Out of pure curiosity I let that run on a 64 bit Excel on an empty terminal server with 128GB of RAM and of course it ran like crap on there too. I never tried deciphering the spaghetti code of that spreadsheet, but I'm almost certain that if it had been developed in a real programming language, it would've stepped down the O(n) complexity by a couple levels and made the whole calculation run in seconds.

    Never believe anybody who says his computer is too slow because of a spreadsheet.

    • by Brett Buck ( 811747 ) on Thursday April 20, 2017 @11:47AM (#54270205)

      I have seen a bunch of those, but the speed seems to be a secondary consideration. You can't tell whether the results are correct in any more than trivial cases.

      • "You can't tell whether the results are correct in any more than trivial cases."

        In most cases, I think you can safely assume that non-trivial results are probably mostly wrong. Coding a spreadsheet correctly is no easier than coding the same logic in FORTRAN, Python, or any other relatively sane programming language. Which is to say -- it's damn difficult.

        • In fact, it's massive MORE difficult than a real computer language. If nothing else, you can't examine the code in any useful way.

    • One of my colleagues needed a newer laptop. the previous one wasn't even 2 years old, i5 with 16GB RAM, but it was getting slow. They needed a fast laptop because they worked on complex queries for reports... the queries are executed on the database server.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      > ...it would've stepped down the O(n) complexity by a couple levels and made the whole calculation run in seconds.

      ITYM "it would've reduced the constant factors by many orders of magnitude". Linear complexity is not bad. It's the best you can do for something that has to consider every piece of input data at least once.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You don't know the half of it. Google "HPC services for Excel"

      I apologize, but it's important to know that this.. Exists.

      You've had a glimpse of the madness that leads men to do terrible things.. But what kind of sick depravity must one endure to device compute node clusters for Excel spreadsheets?

    • The problem isn't so much spreadsheet or the language or even the complexity. But rather that people just don't have a frigging clue how to write macros.

      My three pet peeves:
      - Application.ScreenUpdating - You did remember to try and not draw every action on the screen like CSI Miami doing the worlds slowest fingerprint searches right?
      - Not understanding that you can nest loops, and if statements. How many times have you seen code that causes the same set of cells to be looped through sequentially three times

      • Part of the problem comes when an "urgent" request for data comes in, and you have to cobble together a piece of crap that is only supposed to be used once. Then it gets requested again. And again.

        I have some VBA code that I am proud of (well, as proud as anyone can be of something done in VBA). I have a few monstrosities that I hope no one ever sees. The difference is that I had time to think about the first group. The second group grew as management requirements and requests changed mid audit/lawsuit/w
  • Sure, if we're talking about an office of programmers, this might all hold true, but most businesses in this world manufacture white tube socks. They manufacture white tube socks the same way today as they did thirty years ago. If my 486DX250 hadn't gone missing in 1998, it would still be adequate for the manufacturing of white tube socks.

    There are many employees who feel demoralized because they manufacture white tube socks. And if you show them new, shiny, expensive things, then they'll feel better abo

    • Way to channel Michael Richards from UHF!
    • "I have a car, a sportscar, it's 8 years old. Do I want a new car? Hell no! Does my car have a back-up camera?"

      FWIW, I just installed a backup camera in my 18 year old Toyota Camry. It's useful because they stopped making cars with adequate rear visibility about four decades ago. But I didn't have to buy a new car with no spare tire and a lot of truly obnoxious electronics in order to get the capability. (The camera was actually a bonus. I really bought the new radio mostly because the old one had no dec

      • "I have a car, a sportscar, it's 8 years old. Do I want a new car? Hell no! Does my car have a back-up camera?"

        FWIW, I just installed a backup camera in my 18 year old Toyota Camry. It's useful because they stopped making cars with adequate rear visibility about four decades ago. But I didn't have to buy a new car with no spare tire and a lot of truly obnoxious electronics in order to get the capability. (The camera was actually a bonus. I really bought the new radio mostly because the old one had no decent way to play mp3s).

        Hah! I use a '92 Ford Sierra daily to work and back. It doesn't even have a radio. On the plus side, no one wants to steal it, repairs are shockingly cheap (equiv to perhaps 90USD in the last two years for oil/filter/plug changes) and it will probably take me to work and back daily until my eventual retirement. Don't ask me what the mileage is, cause the clock has rolled over anyway, so I stopped noticing.

  • by creimer ( 824291 ) on Thursday April 20, 2017 @11:48AM (#54270211) Homepage
    The biggest time sink at my job is the system that exports CSV files to use in Excel. If you don't select your data and copy into a new Excel spreadsheet, updating the calculations on a 70MB file takes 90 minutes. That's not a problem on a clean Excel spreadsheet.
    • Excel? 70MB? Golly Gee whiz, what could the problem be here? Nothing for it, we'll just need to get you a faster computer ...

      • by creimer ( 824291 )

        Excel? 70MB? Golly Gee whiz, what could the problem be here? Nothing for it, we'll just need to get you a faster computer ...

        It's a $3,000 17" Dell laptop. Throwing more money at the problem isn't going to help.

        • Excel? 70MB? Golly Gee whiz, what could the problem be here? Nothing for it, we'll just need to get you a faster computer ...

          It's a $3,000 17" Dell laptop. Throwing more money at the problem isn't going to help.

          Woosh

    • The biggest time sink at my job is the system that exports CSV files to use in Excel. If you don't select your data and copy into a new Excel spreadsheet, updating the calculations on a 70MB file takes 90 minutes. That's not a problem on a clean Excel spreadsheet.

      I'm curious - in a previous story and previous post you said you were a programmer. Why can't you write a program that eats in that CSV file and spits out the numbers and charts you need?

      I did that once for a multi-megabyte spreadsheet with millions of rows that took roughly 60 mins on the user's computer in Excel. They ran this perhaps once a day. Exporting that data to CSV takes them a few mins, and my program (written in R, of all things) processed it and spat out the correct matrices (in CSV form) in a

      • by creimer ( 824291 )

        I'm curious - in a previous story and previous post you said you were a programmer.

        I have an A.S. in computer programming but I don't work professionally as a programmer. I do occasionally write or modify a PowerShell script at work. I program in Python at home.

        Exporting that data to CSV takes them a few mins, and my program (written in R, of all things) processed it and spat out the correct matrices (in CSV form) in a matter of minutes.

        It takes me a few minutes to highlight the text in the columns that I need, create a blank Excel file, and paste the text into the new Excel file. The new Excel file behaves fine. If I worked with the original CSV file, Excel has to recalculate the entire spreadsheet with 1M+ blank cells for every little change.

  • If it works for McClaren's F1 Team [jalopnik.com] it's good enough for you!
  • Users lie. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ledow ( 319597 ) on Thursday April 20, 2017 @11:56AM (#54270281) Homepage

    500+ users
    150+ machines.

    Not one of them is slow enough to discourage a user (doesn't stop them trying to claim that).

    Windows 8.1. 8Gb, SSD. EVERYWHERE. Everything you could want to do, office-wise, will fly. We have no power usage and EVERYONE has the same exact source image for their machine. Even IT.

    The biggest restriction is really that we *only* have Gigabit to the desktop. Plenty of oomph on the switches, more than enough backbone, massive internet line, servers and storage sitting mostly idle, but sometimes the gigabit is a bottleneck (e.g. 1Gb profile takes 8 seconds to download!).

    But turn the PC on, within 30 seconds you are at the logo-wallpaper of the logon screen. Type in your username/password, if it "knows" you (i.e. it's your computer or you logged in there recently), if gets to desktop in 10-20 seconds. If it doesn't know you, it's profile download and (possibly) GPO setup etc. which can take a minute or two admittedly. Applications launch and then work. You can open EVERYTHING on the image at once (I know, I've done it) and it still works just fine.

    Last time someone claimed something was slow (after re-images and all sorts), we took the machine apart on their desk, "changed" the hard drive for the exact same drive through some sleight of hand, re-imaged it again. They still - months later - keep telling me how much faster it now is (than the previous re-image of an identical image on the exact same hardware? Really?).

    It's all in their head. In the same way time slows when you are bored and speeds up when you're in a hurry, they perceive it differently when they're desperate to get something important done, but nobody's ever demonstrated an unreasonable logon, program startup, or response time.

    After years of doing IT and actually collecting metrics on this (perflog etc.), I just take it in my stride now.

    The irony: The IT Office machines - including my own - are their rejects from last year, that were deemed "slow". I put the exact same image back on them, put the IT software GPOs on (so they actually have MORE junk than a normal machine), and have been using them for 3 years now.

    Eating your own dogfood kinda throws out all the crazy performance theories. And if it's bad enough to bug them for even ten minutes, I assure you it will bug me more using it for EVERYTHING every single day of my working life.

    • I used to tweak the MenuShowDelay entry in the registry in WinXP machines. Default was something like 400 (ms), which is about half a second; I'd "adjust" some performance things, then just set that to something like 5 or 1...now their Start menu "feels snappier" and they get that notion of a speed increase. Now the computer's faster, and they think I did a wonderful job when there was nothing to be done to begin with because their HDD is just slow and they only have 512MB RAM.

      • by ledow ( 319597 )

        We deploy Classic Shell.

        Same reasons, and fixes the Metro shite so it goes away unless someone really wants it (we tie it to Shift-Win-key instead).

        Take off the delays, animations and other shite and stuff just appears when you click the button.

    • The problem isn't that users are lying. It's that one time in the 3 years they've worked at that company, the computer was slow because it was receiving an update in the background at the same time that a hung browser session was eating up 99% of the CPU cycles. The computer worked fine 99.99% of the time. But to the user's mind, that 0.01% experience is evidence that the computer isn't fast enough and needs to be replaced.
    • 30 whole seconds? My 4 year old linux laptop goes from power button to fully booted gnome with wifi loaded in 2.91 seconds. And that's comparing to "done everything, all services loaded" (mine) to "ready to take some basic input and wait another 4 minutes to load bloatware" (winblows)
      • by ledow ( 319597 )

        From cold boot, with BIOS, yes.

        From normal Windows 8 "sleep" power off? Seconds.

        I'm not picking and choosing my metrics here. I gave you worst-case, real-world, observed. They don't take 4 minutes to load bloat because they're a managed system. Nothing on startup that doesn't need to be, everything works and loads in seconds when you want it.

        And even 30 seconds isn't "too long" to wait for a computer to turn on. Normal working day, however? It never goes off so doesn't even figure.

        If I wanted to Wake-

    • Similar kit here, except replace the SSD with a 5400 RPM HDD and Windows 8.1 with Windows 10. And McAfee. Yeah. YEAH.

      These are Haswell i7 boxes with otherwise extremely high-end hardware (for a business PC), running Windows 10 v1607 x64, basically the fastest version of modern Windows (compressed RAM is awesome). But they were too cheap to spend on SSDs, so we wait. And wait. And wait.

      Outlook startup, cold cache: 68 seconds.

      Firefox launch, cold cache: 35 seconds.

      Eclipse launch, cold cache: 3 to 5 minutes. S

  • ... Electronics manufacturers diagnose that poor office performance is caused by lack of up-to-date electronic hardware!

    In other news, Oracle announces that lack of database software costs the USA $671 billion a year. [Disclosure: I made that up].

  • It looks like Windows 7 is going to become the next Windows OS that will not die, replacing Windows XP as Microsoft's most problematic legacy OS. Windows 7 is less than 3 years away from it's end of support date at this point, and people are still doing new deployments of it every day.

    No wonder Microsoft is trying to block Windows updates on new AMD Ryzen and Intel Kaby Lake PC's.... they're trying to force organizations to upgrade to Windows 10 sooner than later to avoid having even more unpatched systems to deal with 2 1/2 years from now.

  • Doesn't exactly help things.

  • One in every eight business laptops and desktops worldwide still run Windows XP, which was introduced in 2001.

    My car still uses a steering wheel and pedals, which were introduced in the 1800's. It would seem to me that RETRAINING all your workers to learn a new OS every 5-7 years would be much more expensive in terms of productivity than just leaving things alone.

  • It sucks and its always ringing.

  • SSD + Fast CPU (Score:5, Interesting)

    by WoodburyMan ( 1288090 ) on Thursday April 20, 2017 @12:15PM (#54270411)

    This is the reason we upgraded ALL our workstations (about 200-250 workstations between two sites) to SSD's about two years back. We calculated the time it takes for a system to boot, assuming once a day, time lost while they get coffee / etc waiting for it to boot, and time during the day spent waiting for things to load. The ROI for us on these purchases was less than a year with time lost taken into account. Let alone moral/frustration issues.

    We also have done away with ordering bare minimal system. Everything we order has the latest generation i5 Quad Core or better (i7 Quad Cores or Xeons) for users that do CAD work. Back in 2009-2011 during the downturn, that his us hard, we had to buy a lot of lower end systems to replace dead hardware, and we felt the effects of it for years with users being frustrated.

    • I haven't the slightest idea why we haven't switched to all SSDs yet, but at least if you are using a laptop they're default there.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        We have very stringent requirements for hard drive destruction. HDDs require grinding of the drive, SSDs require smelting of the drive. The facilities and environmental concerns from smelting hard drives make it impossible to find a place within 200 miles that can do this.

  • The biggest time suck at my office is definitely the presence of excessive and mindless multi-taskers who burden both their computers and colleagues with their totally unnecessary and unbearably scatterbrain BS.
  • A spreadsheet so large and complex that a PC running Windows 8 (or even XP) is a time sink because it slows down during data entry? Really. Hey you fucking little kid - go do that shit by hand like we did before spreadsheets. I'll show you what a time sink is.

    The real time sink? Slashdot. Reddit. Facebook. Any of a thousand sites with content that is infinitely more interesting than entering data into a spreadsheet. That's your god damned time sink.

  • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Thursday April 20, 2017 @12:40PM (#54270593)

    Windows 8 dual UI does slow people down

  • by pele ( 151312 )

    Or the lot of them, all 6000, are just a bunch of your run-of-the-mill OFFICE MOANERS who have time to participate in surveys. Their shitty computers load survey pages so fast you see. Must be a virus or something.

    Wait, 6000? I thought there are 500.000.000 people in Europe? So 6000 MOANERS makes a decent sample-size now, does it?

    I have never EVER had issues with workplace machines, only a few times when office laptops were stolen overnight, promptly replaced by new laptops and ONCE when the multi-core CPU

  • When a company doesn't care if you have the tools to do your job properly, they obviously aren't worried about how productive you're being. Given that, why should you sweat it?

  • by ai4px ( 1244212 ) on Thursday April 20, 2017 @12:49PM (#54270661)

    Over the years I've gone from putting my own PC together (and the driver conflicts and the like) to just buying an off the shelf PC like your average schmoe. I've got both iOS and android tablets at home,and win10. The biggest time sink for me is hands down, Win10. Both my office laptop and home PC run it. I dread the super tuesday updates. At first Win10 would reset all my program preferences, but that has settled down. Most of all, it's the boot process that takes 5 minutes and then the user login that takes an additional 8 minutes. My tablets on the other hand can reboot in 60 seconds or less. Windows is simply bloated.

  • by evolutionary ( 933064 ) on Thursday April 20, 2017 @12:58PM (#54270745)
    Okay,this article is a mess and it's missing some key factors and some VERY misleading information. The biggest, that people need a crazy amount of RAM to run basic operating systems. In my experience speed problems are not because you don't have the latest operating system. Contrary to popular belief, the newest operating system (especially Windows 8/10) actually CREATE slowdowns. Those "live" tiles, the windows store monitors, the data collection scanning/transmitting to ms your private data all take more Memory resources. Windows XP in fact consumes less memory but it's 64-bit version is virtual unusable because of lack of proper drivers for hardware. Windows 7 can be tweaked in a few ways. Take off those fancy graphical theme/effects that alone helps.I find disabling SuperFetch makes a significant difference. On a Windows 8 Mini computer (by Asus) I was able to improve performance significantly by disabling and uninstalling all the tile features (which is a pain in the arse), as well as Superfetch) made a difference. See these articles:

    http://www.techregar.com/maste... [techregar.com]
    http://www.windowsbleu.com/201... [windowsbleu.com]
    IT Professional often do NOT have the latest OS (except for testing) because we as professionals know of the memory consumption as well as privacy/OS control issues surrounding windows 8/10. So they will opt for Windows 7 pro (64-bit), a Mac or Linux variant (usually CentOS, Debian, or Scientific Linux..Linux Mint is for consumer use and it excels there).

    Most people use computers for 4 things: Internet, Word Processing, Multimedia and gaming). The first 3 don't require that much memory unless you are creating a media server. If you are a gamer then you truly need the memory of the games. No way around that. And the latest games may not run as well as Windows 7 (but every game I've seen doesn't require Windows 8 or 10). But those systems are typically 1k to 2k USD to build. If you are an professional artist or musician or developer you may need more. I find 16 GB is a real blessing if you need to run Virtual machines or do a lot of Java development.

    A few other things to improve Windows performance: There are services that truly have no business being there. The Update services that people seem to keep putting into systems are creepy. For example Mozilla Firefox actually installs an update service. Why would you even need a service running for a browser update? The browser gives you update alerts when it's running? Google has a updating service which you mess up the programs if you remove it. Adobe is one of the WORST offenders as they keep installing crap to try to push you to use their "cloud" services. The Adobe updater background applications can be disabled or removed. (they are sometimes preinstalled on laptops). Oh, And let's not forget Antiviruses. Some a great with memory, others are memory hogs. Symantec products are wasteful in resources in every respect. The best memory effecient antiviruses I've seen are Eset, BitDefender (not the free edition...sorry), and F-Secure. While I like Gdata it's a memory hog, no question. The most common reasons for PC slow downs are malware running on most people's PC without knowing it. For that I suggest a regular scan with Malware Bytes and Search & Destroy. I personally prefer the "classic" one without any of the automatic stuff but some may prefer the newer one. IT Professionals use these tools and a regular basis as they know no tool finds everything. Here are links to both:

    https://www.safer-networking.o... [safer-networking.org]
    https://www.safer-networking.o... [safer-networking.org]

    and Malwarebytes:
    https://www.malwarebytes.com/m... [malwarebytes.com]

    There are free versions but some should
  • And not powerpoint presentations or pointless meetings with people who you're not sure why were invited (and oftentimes that includes yourself)?

    What about status updates to management who require them in powerpoint which is just an export of all the dashboards you specifically made for them so they could refresh them 10x a day instead of asking for status on a 20 person concall every week?

  • Certainly the author does not work at Microsoft.
    Today hardware is far faster then even a few years ago, so why is it slower for the users? A: Developers think the extra power is to accommodate more layers of program code? But if you are running an earlier OS like AmigaDOS (AROS)... it flys faster than my three finger typing, on current hardware.
    So let me guess, the NSA uses current hardware but programs in assembly... How else might they process all the spying they do?

    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      the NSA uses current hardware but programs in assembly

      The NSA uses high end FPGAs.

  • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Thursday April 20, 2017 @01:44PM (#54271121) Journal

    McAfee slows and jams up lots of stuff at our org.

    The cyber security team has used very aggressive McAfee settings. The security manager gets awards for security, but there is no anti-award for jamming productivity to counter. Thus, his incentive is to crank McAfee to 11. Productivity is somebody else's problem.

    For example, McAfee is set to On Access scanning on every desktop and server, meaning it scans almost every file accessed. Java "compressed" files, such as JAR's take forever to de-compress and scan, often more than 2 minutes. Thus, anything that uses Java as its engine is almost useless.

    One can request such files be white-listed on a case-by-case basis, but the security team is too bogged down to get to them in a timely manner, and they often use a narrow interpretation "to be safe" such that they miss some files, requiring multiple rounds of requests to get such apps use-able.

    McAfee's scan logs don't give enough info to be useful for up-front white-listing. Most users stopped bothering and just avoid using Java-based apps, paying for the more expensive alternatives. They blame Java instead of McAfee because they don't know the difference. (Arguably it could be said that large compressed libraries are a bad idea on Java's part. I hope they rid that feature. Or McAfee could make its scanners more Java-friendly.)

    On a more general level, performance consultants have looked at our slow systems and concluded we should get PC's with SSD's instead of disks. But there's (allegedly) no budget for that, so even new PC's are disk-based and McAfee and On Access scanning gradually eats them up over time as typical Windows time-bloat piles up. Thus, we go through PC's faster, and in the end DON'T save money by using disks (productivity aside).

    And lately they install more security doo-dads from other companies. They don't talk much about them to keep them stealthy. Those just add slugs on top of snails.

    We joke we don't get hacked because our slow systems make the hackers fall asleep waiting for response. Security through Snoozativity.

    I guess I shouldn't entirely blame the fastidious security manager because breaches could cause real havoc at our org. But, resources are not allocated to deal with the downsides of such fastidious cyber security. That's the top boss's fault.

    • We have a smallish Windows Server estate running on vSphere supporting 400+ client machines. Because we're not allowed to spend money on a real VM-aware AV solution, we're forced to run Configuration Manager Endpoint Protection locally ("It's free!") on each individual VM, which is absolutely killing the I/O performance on our SANs. I'm not allowed to turn it off or even down. We scan everything on access, so our file server, even ridiculously over-resourced with its very own physical disks in the SAN, is s

      • Oh, needless to say the root causes remain unaddressed because of bean-counters slashing our budgets and upper management over-ruling our advice.
  • ... a new report * on Bloomberg blames outdated computers, decade-old operating systems and ageing equipments for being one of the biggest hurdles that prevents people from doing actual work in their offices.

    * sponsored by Microsoft and Intel

  • by Tony Isaac ( 1301187 ) on Thursday April 20, 2017 @02:15PM (#54271383) Homepage

    Never mind time suck, I spend my entire day, every day, sitting in front of a computer! Please, take it away, so I can get something done!

    Wait, I'm a programmer, that might not work so well.

  • I can get really frustrated with other drivers in a matter of seconds, but in reality I always get where I'm going a minute or two later. Then I can get pulled into an hour long BS meeting but hey, I'm getting paid to sit here so... sure, the computer can frustrate me for a few seconds here and there. But I doubt it's really a big time sink, even if I got the ultra-extreme top of the line model. That said, I have some issues with the servers/SAN...

  • by uncoveror ( 570620 ) on Thursday April 20, 2017 @04:04PM (#54272113) Homepage
    I work at a help desk for a hospital and Physician's office network in Cincinnati, Ohio. Technology, as a boat anchor stopping people in their tracks, is especially bad in healthcare. The network here behaves like two cans and a string, especially since they piled on it with thin clients that have n internal storage and zero clients that are really just dumb terminals. Also, many full-fledged PCs are really showing their age. On top of that, most people who have to use the computers are intimidated by them, especially when dealing with Epic, an electronic medical records software that is obscenely complicated and unwieldy, but has somehow become the industry standard. There are also other software packages that complicate tasks that used to be simple. Even people like janitors and cooks who need supervisors to dial the help desk for them are expected to use the computers to due tasks like check their now paperless pay stubs, and sign off on performance reviews. It seems computers have been simply thrown at problems they are not the right tool to solve, and created problems that did not previously exist. This is at a system that some magazine named the most wired in the region, or maybe it was the most wired in the industry. This distinction does not seem award worthy from my perspective.
  • by scdeimos ( 632778 ) on Thursday April 20, 2017 @05:40PM (#54272631)

    Some businesses can't help using old hardware or operating systems, because they use specialized software that also hasn't been brought up-to-date.

    Nonsense! Virtualize that crap and run everything else on shiny new hardware. I'm sure there are still brain-dead banking applications that require ActiveX controls to run in MS-IE 5.5 or 6.x but that shouldn't stop everything else in the world from progressing.

  • The user who is having trouble with multiple open documents probably doesn't have a computer that is too slow overall. What the user has is a computer with insufficient RAM to handle the workload. That gets worse over time; although the memory demands of Microsoft's operating systems has been pretty stable since Vista, the applications keep getting bigger. (Web browsers in particular consume more and more RAM because the web pages keep getting more complex.)

    Installing more RAM in that computer would likely

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