“Takes forever”

Every morning it seems that my computer takes longer and longer to start up. I’ve tried glancing through the event logs to try to make sense of what might be causing the problem, but it quickly became obvious that it was going to take more time than I have these days to wade through that data. So I’ve more or less decided to live with sluggish startups, opting instead to the time to get my coffee and use my iPad to get some work done.

I also thought it would be useful to put some numbers being this “takes forever” descriptor I’ve been using, so this morning I decided to roughly time how long it took for my computer to be ready to do useful work.

Once I entered by authentication credentials, it took about 4-5 minutes to get to a usable desktop. I say 4-5, since it by the 5 minute mark, Dropbox was still syncing and there were certainly other apps that had not finished loading. But I decided to go ahead and launch Outlook.

Outlook took another 2 minutes to load. I then launched Firefox, which took another minute to get to a productive state.

So let’s say 8 minutes startup time.

That’s a lot slower than the instant-on experience I get with my iOS/OS X devices, but remember that those devices are usually in standby mode. Try launching a Mac or iPad/iPod/iPhone from off and you’ll experience the same slow start.

My laptop (Thinkpad X201i) and Windows 7 support stand-by mode, of course. The start-up is faster than from off, but there are glitches that make the process unreliable. The showstopper for me is that the external display attached to my docking station only works if I launch Windows cold. If I drop a sleeping laptop into the docking station, the screen is filled with digital garbage, and I need to undock, shut down (also slow!), replace in dock, then turn the laptop on. As a result of this, I almost never ‘sleep’ my laptop.

So that’s a long way to say that it took my laptop a long time to start up this morning! And while this isn’t directly related to web services, it is part of my work and within the scope, I’ve decided, of what I am going to write about here.

(I have some ideas about how the lack of responsiveness in our computing technology encourages ADD-like behaviour, how as the computer’s delay threatens to undo or deny us the state of flow we desire, we being to flit from one thing to another attempting to maintain/achieve the state of flow, regardless of whether the tasks we are carrying out are productive or otherwise useful. Ideas for another time, perhaps.)