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The Windows Chronicles – When Software Dies

By November 13, 2003apple, web-tech

The 1968 movie The Party opens with Peter Sellers playing a guy from Bombay as movie extra, one of hundreds of people who will get killed in the big desert battle scene. Obviously Sellers’ character is supposed to die quickly, and without fanfare. However, the naive fellow thinks he is supposed to deliver an award winning performance, so after he is shot he takes forever to die (with lots of gasping, coughing and sputtering). And, thus, he ruins the director’s carefully choreographed scene. Eventually, the accident-prone Indian winds up blowing up the specially constructed castle and is banned from ever working in Hollywood again.

I think about the interminable death scene whenever I’m working on my Windows computer and it starts acting strange. If you work with Windows computers you know what I’m talking about. Like when Windows starts getting slow or quirky in a way that you just know is going to end in death. Of course, if you are busy you just cross your fingers and hope for the best. But as things deteriorate you soon wind up pulling the plug and rebooting to cut short the misery.

One never knows if this is properly classified as a death or a mercy killing. But, either way, it is a painful process. After that taxing emotional roller-coaster I rarely find myself admiring Windows’ noble effort to cling to life. Instead, I find myself highly impatient with Windows, sort of like the director in the Peter Sellers movie.

Any death is painful, even the death of a computer operating system. And that’s one big reason I like my Macintosh. It rarely crashes, and I never have to reboot it. But Macs aren’t perfect either and sometimes an application will crash. But death on a Mac is a much different experience. With a Mac app crash there is no warning whatsoever; the app just disappears followed by a brief flash and a dialogue box that tells you “this application has unexpectedly quit.”

I like that. No prolonged suffering period, no holding out of false hopes. Just poof, and it’s over. A moment of silence for the irretrievably lost data and it’s on to the next thing.


P.S. If you appreciate my observations, you might want to check this out.
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