Are Humans the Biggest Bottleneck of Computer Systems?

By: Zach Hope

Just the other day someone commented on my touch typing. They said that it was something that they would have loved to be able to do, but learning how to use a computer is hard enough already. Now my typing is not superfast, I just have learnt to not need to look at the keys when I am typing. I learnt the basics around 15 years ago with an old typing tutor application. Since then it is just practice that has gotten me to know the keyboard so well.

We ended up talking about the QWERTY keyboard layout, and how it is actually not the best configuration. Certain keys are used more often than others, yet the layout doesn’t reflect this perfectly. By moving the keys around, particular combinations could be typed quicker because it would be easier for our fingers. This sounds a design flaw, but there was a good reason for this layout when the QWERTY was invented.

Many decades ago the common typewriter was invented. It worked without needing electricity and each key mechanically moved a metal arm that stamped a single letter on the paper. There was a problem with this design; if you pressed two keys in very quick succession the two arms would hit each other, causing a spelling mistake. The way this was solved was to slow down the typist on particular keystroke combinations. The QWERTY made it just slightly awkward to type these problematic sequences, and so it was incorporated as the worldwide standard keyboard layout.

In time, word processors had replaced the typewriter, yet the slightly awkward QWERTY layout remained. People had got so used to it and there wasn’t enough reward to persuade typists to learn a completely new layout.

This story is a good example of how people are often the biggest bottleneck in computer systems. Often people optimize their PCs to make starting Windows a few seconds quicker, but they don’t consider the inefficiencies of typing. If you are not an amazingly quick typist, the QWERTY layout probably is not slowing you down. But then you could say that if you were to invest in some typing lessons, this would be a much wiser upgrade than buying the latest hardware.

When you start to think in this way, it becomes apparent that the computer fulfils its side of the bargain very well. Windows can launch Word or Outlook in a matter of seconds. On the other hand, typing documents and emails accounts for hours of time each day. In proportion, the inefficiencies of the user are almost always the best place to start if you want to improve productivity.

Speaking of emails, I recently heard that a Phones4U in the UK have banned employees using email. This sounds a bit weird, but just think how many times you have wasted time emailing someone back and forth, when you could have phoned them and sorted it in a few seconds. These kinds of bad habits cost companies a small fortune in lost productivity.

Computers and users and not completely separate entities however. You could argue that minor computer performance niggles create a large loss of efficiency in the user. For example, if your computer is behaving a bit sluggishly, it could annoy you so much that they you give up and make a cup of tea. Frustration from slow computers has to be one of the biggest bottlenecks, and yet it is often overlooked.

Article Source: ABC Article Directory

Zach Hope is the author of Speed-Up-Windows-XP.com, a site that can teach anybody to significantly speed up Windows to invigorate old computers. You can eliminate slow boot ups today and transform your very slow computer.

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