NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article
Ask Dr. DOS
The Doctor of Computing is available
to answer all of your computing questions

by Steve Bass, Pasadena IBM Users Group, January 2002
(click to email author)

Dear Dr. DOS:
I'm thinking about switching over to Unix, XENIX, Linux, or maybe even Zipnix from Unysis. Any idea which is faster, niftier, or slicker? --Power User, Los Altos

Dear P.U. -
It looks like you're stuck in the Power User's Credo of, "if it's not broken, fix it." A workshop at Fall Comdex convinced the Dr. DOS staff that 1) your wife has no idea how much you're really spending on computer equipment, and 2) making your computer go faster, slicker and niftier leads to severe emotional fragmentation. Stick with Windows XP.

Dear Dr. DOS:
I'm one of the holdout still using floppy disks for storage of critical data files and for emergency boot disks. There are times when I seem to have to wait forever for my floppy disks to format. Any ideas for speeding things up? --Slowpoke, Cincinnati

Dear Slowpoke:
Floppies are notoriously slow, especially compared to other external storage devices. The reason is the material floppy disks are coated with tends to catch the arm of the disk drive. Floppy manufacturers have known how to solve the problem since the early eighties and haven't because of the cost. Dr. DOS suggests a light coating of PAM (hold six inches from the disk and spray for no more than three seconds) to the upper portion of the disk.

We recommend using only the best quality disks and never try this with Iomega Zip or JAZZ disks. Be careful -- one dimwit tried using SPAM either due to an existential disorder or a typo and caused his disk drive to crave white bread.

Dear Dr. DOS:
Every time I sit down at the computer I feel a great sense of discomfort as the time seems to speed by very quickly. Just what is happening? --Whoosh, New York

Dear Whoosh:
Computer time is different from other time. Watches, clocks, and other time pieces seem to become inaccurate when you're at the computer. Every five minutes of computer time is equal to what seems equal to one hour of my wife's time, at least from her perception. Actually, for every five minutes at the computer, only 25 minutes goes by on the clock.

It's a simple recalculation based in the number of time slices your computer uses. For example, when we first started using PCs, they used an 8088 processor with an internal clock that ticks about 18 times a second (Mean Greenwich Time). This time factor (8088s only) pushes time ahead 25 minutes for each 5 minutes of real or actual time. The ratio of 5:1 is obvious (except to you, Whoosh).

An ancient AT class machine (80286) pushes the time factor to 7:1; 80486 machines provide an even faster 11:1 ratio. Nowadays, a 1.5GHz class machine pushes the envelope at 45:1

Experiment with these time factors in conjunction with your spouse. "Dinner is ready," she'll say. "Five minutes, Honey," you respond. Take careful note at the strong relationship between the time factor of your older PII and, say, a newer PIII, and the length, depth and substance of your marriage.

This is to inform you that this column is allegedly humorous and we strongly urge you to ignore the advice contained within, especially anything suggesting spraying substances into or around your PC or its peripherals.
Bass's attorney, Bernie
Dewey, Cheatum, and Howe, Attorneys

Steve Bass is a Contributing Editor with PC World and runs the Pasadena IBM Users Group. He's also a founding member of APCUG. Write to him at steve_bass@pcworld.com. Check PCW's current edition at http://www.pcworld.com/resource/toc/index.asp and sign up for the Steve Bass online newsletter at http://www.pcworld.com/bass_letter.

There is no restriction against any non-profit group using the article as long as it is kept in context, with proper credit given to the author. This article is brought to you by the Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal Computer User Groups (APCUG), an International organization to which this user group belongs.

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