Byte Me Article 306 – The Complexity of Computers

14th January 2017

Battling Unlimited PC Power

In the last 20 years that we have been building, supplying and fixing computers we have seen a 100 fold increase in their power and capacity.  Along with this we have seen operating systems increase in complexity from the truly ground-breaking (at the time) Windows 95 to the current Windows 10.

We are often asked by customers – “why do they need to make these things so complex”?  The answer is simple.  They are designed to be so many things to so many people.  A teenager can purchase a Windows 10 PC off the shelf and in no time they have all of their music on it – grouped via artist or genre and in a playlist that can give them a different song all day every day for a month.

At the same time a scientist can buy the same PC, install their own software and do complex computational modelling in 10 minutes that would take a lifetime of button pressing – even with a good calculator.  The same PC can also suit a mechanic with a USB adaptor to diagnose and tune the latest petrol or diesel engines and automatic transmissions.

Unfortunately and because of mass marketing and a grab for recurring online revenue all 3 of the above people will have trouble with trial and persistent software prompting them for their hard earned dollar.  This latest annoyance has become part and parcel of the modern computer and Internet connection.

It is easy to see that for a single operating system to be able to cater for such varied use it needs to be incredibly complex and hence it is.  Just to develop some of the systems and commands needed there is a whole swag of technical jargon and computer terms that the average layman has little clue about.

In most cases a computer user will only need around 10% of the options provided to them by an operating system and so the initial configuration or setup of the PC becomes and important once off task.  This is where professional help can save a lot of cursing and wasted time at best and a complete disaster at worst.

If you could buy the one car that was able to be configured after purchase for the same variation of different tasks then it too would need to be able to be configured along the lines of the following.  Optional 4×4, different levels of power and economy, different colours, different interiors, left or right hand drive, different transmission modes, power ratings, load carrying capacities, towing capacities, maximum speeds, language, number of seats, connections to other cars, connections to service centres, connections to the manufacturer for updates and for protection against a range of very smart & sophisticated thieves.

Do you think the average driver could change and configure all of these systems themselves?  It is almost like the modern PC is a technical factory in a box.  The number of digital uses that it can cope with are nearly limitless.

If you are having trouble with a new PC then don’t be too harsh on yourself as like most things, IT is an acquired skill and it is also a skill the even the techs find can quickly become out of date if they are not exposing themselves to the latest and newest.  It is just lucky that they enjoy working in this field, or where would it leave the rest of us? 

Future Byte Me topics can be emailed to [email protected] and Bruce is contactable at Kerr Solutions, 205 Musgrave Street or on 49 222 400.

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