Saturday, September 10, 2005

Twenty things "they" don't want you to know

PC World makes a list. Some are stupid, some are useless, some are obvious, but a couple are worth the effort of reading this.

And if I might revise and extend,

CPU is faster than you think: don't even bother thinking about it. The major speed bottlenecks in a PC are the memory subsystem and the hard drive, not the processor. In the good old days, going from 300 to 450 was a 50% jump in speed, and a unique situation. Now you might get that 1.5 up to 1.7, or that 2.8 up to 3.0. You will not notice the difference. And the extra minutes it might shave off of a DVD encoding process aren't worth the effort.

You Too Can Exploit Windows' Bad Security: Consider this: it takes more time to download and install these programs that it does to make a folder called "passwords and serial numbers" and put it in a drawer. Lock the drawer. Done. Sometimes, it takes more time and effort to automate a process than it does to just do it.

High End Manufacturers: Probably more useful advice in the non-computer world. I've fallen for this uncountable times: "a Honeywell humidifier? Don't they make rockets and shit? Hell yeah I'll buy it!" When, of course, it was really made by "Yin Chen Lucky Profit Concern" and uses 4000 watts of electricity (*) and falls apart in a week.

Digital Zoom This is a very good one. What all that interpolation crap means is that when you kick the digital zoom up to say 4x, the camera crops the photo down to a 1/4, and then enlarges the result. So that fancy 4 million pixel camera just took a 1 million pixel photo that will look blocky/fuzzy next to your other non-digital-zoomed photos.

In all things: never misinterpret the word "digital" as any indicator of quality. It's like saying "cotton quality" for clothes or "latex quality" for paint. Meaningless. Digital is just an awkward way of encoding information that makes it easier to manufacture things and easier to process that information. And compress that information. Those 100x70 pixel video videos on websites that are unwatchable? Digital quality!

* - Look at that next time you're buying small electronics- the cheaper ones many times will use more electricity, eating up that price "savings" every month.


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