I’ve just taken delivery of a new laptop at work. Faster than light quad core 8th gen i7, 1920x1080 matt LCD (yes you can still get matt screens), 1TB SSD, massive battery life, SD card slot, multiple USB3.1 A and C connectors, support for 4 screens, stupidly fast 2.4 and 5GHz wifi, NFC etc. etc. Wonderful, it’s light and goes like the clappers.
But there’s no disk in use light. So now you have no idea when everything locks up whether it’s because W10 has thrown it’s teddy out of the pram or it’s Eclipse and its stupid Java runtime doing a big garbage collection or just a huge amount of disk activity. Every computer has a disk light. From the earliest minicomputers and mainframes to my previous computer had flashing lights. I can remember peering into the computer room at university to see what the “blinkenlichts” were doing when things were running slow. And now, nothing. I guess it’s progress.
Yeah, what a first world problem but it has absolutely spolied my new toy. Bloody Dell rubbish.
I do miss the noise some disks made. I had a Newbury Data 60MB “Penny” in ooooh 1989/90 that made a reassuring clickity-click noise. There’s a 48TB NetApp in the wee cluster cupboard at work (it’s mainly switches and the inbound fibre and routers now with just 5x 1U 16 and 24 core servers in there). Even with all those spinning rust disks, you can’t hear it above the fans in the routers!
There’s an alarm (peizo sounder) that makes a piercing noise when the temperature in there rises above the setpoint. That means either something is burning or the AC has failed. The fun thing is all the fans in the equipment are thermostatically speed controlled and when the AC works the fans spin slowly and you can hear the alarm when it is tested. When the AC fails, the fans start to speed up. Finally by the time the alarm goes off the fans are making so much noise you cannot hear the alarm. It’s only when you wonder why the office seems noisy that someone checks to find the room like a sauna. Reseting the AC means the temperature comes down and the fans slow down till you can hear the alarm sounding. That needs another button press to silence. Failure by design
The marketer in me says to better integrate with everyday life of most people, blinking LEDs on electronics should go away. Most people don’t care about the inner workings and “activity status”, they just want the bloody thing to do as told without creating any distractions.
Then the engineer in me would have a separate display with CPU load, RAM usage, disk activity and network throughput right there on the front of the case.