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ATPM 15.09
September 2009





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by Mark Tennent,


Week one in new job. It appears that I was over-hasty last time, thinking I couldn’t turn on the Dell computer. What had happened was, I had entered a zone of anti-time.

This is a region between normal dimensional time and space, encountered by the likes of Dr. Who, Picard, Janeway, and Kirk, all of whom have the option to re-calibrate their forward arrays to emit tachyon anti-anti-time particles. In the office environment this is not feasible as this lecture may show, and especially so when dealing with a Dell.

In my efforts to turn on the Dell, one of the buttons I pressed had started the machine, but it took so long before anything happened, I had given up. Even ancient Mac IIs, circa 1989, played a start-up chime when power was switched on. The boot process was lengthy, but one knew something was about to happen, and one could watch a progression of icons across the screen as control panels and system resources sprang into being.

Working with Windows XP is, on the whole, an enormous chunk of anti-time for a Mac user. The delays between clicking on something and the result is not necessarily part of this. Instead it is one’s continual attempts to get rid of the gross ugliness of the interface. Something so stupidly awkward, clunky, and downright obscene to one’s eyes could only have been designed by a committee. They then sold it to a business world which has no idea of elegance and how it enhances productivity. Let’s ignore for now the number of times Windows XP crashes or freezes, or programs just disappear for no apparent reason. One second they are there in front of you, and the next you are dumped back to the desktop. If this is how businesses use computers, no wonder the world is in a mess.

Of course, there are many other elements of anti-time common to most offices and especially local government. Self-employment for 20+ years makes you efficient. Start the day at 8 AM, attend to e-mails, do any correspondence or marketing, and start work. By 2 PM a day’s tasks are nearly completed, the rest of the afternoon to 6 PM makes up an extra half day of productivity.

This is not what happens in offices around the world. Employees waste an hour or more getting to and from work, then start around 9 AM by making coffee and having a chat about last night’s TV. Meetings, both formal and informal, are two of the biggest regions of anti-time and are usually a complete waste. Throughout the day, anti-time slips into your dimensional reality as colleagues interrupt work with offers of drinks, photos of the baby, jokes, or requests for help getting the photocopier to work. Productive time is an illusion which stretches through lunch and on to going-home time. Flexi-time enhances this illusion further as the gap between start and finish becomes less tangible.

On the other hand, regular pay means no more waiting 30, 60, 90, or 120 days for payment, or filling in VAT returns, end of year accounts, and dealing with cold-callers.

Nice work now that I’ve got it, but I pine for my Mac every second I spend with Windows, and I especially miss working from my own office. I’m looking into the latter, but it seems inevitable that the rest of my working life is destined to be ruined by Microsoft—a company which has held the world to ransom for too long with such poor quality software.

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Reader Comments (3)

Angus Wong · September 1, 2009 - 18:44 EST #1
Hmmm, reminds me of my "wilderness days."

But you have something going for you that I didn't back then: Macs are hot and popular these days!

Stephen · September 19, 2009 - 19:32 EST #2
I feel for you. After much effort, I've been able to find a way of using my Macbook in the office for 90% of my tasks these days, and the employer's Dell stays locked in a drawer until I absolutely need it for custom templates and so on. You're right about the inherently unproductive nature of working in an office, especially the time-sucks like commuting etc.
Andrew · September 20, 2009 - 14:59 EST #3
I agree with you. I have to use windows XP at work and it is just so awful.

I think the point about aesthetics making for better productivity is important. It seems to me macs work easy and I work much faster

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