7 minutes left
I’m syncing my laptop to my Dropbox account—my online back-up—and the application is helpfully telling me how much longer it will take. My nearly catastrophic hard-drive crash last September led to this good thing: All my data is now backed-up.
14 seconds left
Two weeks ago my laptop crashed again, right before a work deadline. After using the Big Guy’s desktop computer to finish my project, I waited super patiently for my laptop diagnosis, although I did wonder just exactly why it takes longer to figure out what’s wrong with one laptop than it does to create the whole next generation of laptops.
While waiting, I also foolishly indulged myself by reorganizing the stuff in my magic online cache:
- Purging the really outdated stuff
- Deciding which of the surviving stuff could be archived online, and which stuff had to be available day-to-day on my laptop
- Renaming and re-nesting folders of stuff
All while missing George Carlin and his take on stuff.
19 seconds left
I say “foolishly” because I was, in effect, betting against my laptop returning in a usable condition. Given the paltry bandwidth allocation from our internet service (sic) provider, the sensible thing would have been to wait to make major changes until I absolutely had to initialize a new laptop from the online master.
1 minute left
I say “foolishly” because, although it was computer-related work, it did not further the only remotely urgent computer task at hand: selecting the sooner-than-later replacement for the crash-prone laptop now lying prone on the repair bench.
47 seconds left
I say “foolishly” because it was work that by any objective measure had less claim on my time than, say, cleaning house or weeding flower beds.
11 seconds left
And I say “indulged” because I was really doing it for pleasure, not for any practical reasons that outweighed the aforementioned good reasons not to do it. Pleasure? Well, of course. There are few activities more innately and reliably satisfying than sorting stuff, as long as said stuff requires no heavy lifting. A place for every bit of stuff and every bit of stuff in its place. Lovely.
3 minutes left
And so I’m feeling bad about having foolishly indulged, when something catches my attention.
26 seconds left
I frown suspiciously at the Dropbox monologue box (this not being a dialogue in any way that I understand), mentally reviewing the last few numbers: 11 seconds, 3 minutes, 26 seconds. Huh? What kind of time-to-completion estimate is that?
55 minutes left
Before I can do more than register that my download rate from my IS(sic)P has dropped to 50 KB/sec, the line of text flickers again. The download rate jumps to 5,400 KB/sec, and then to 10,400 KB/sec.
4 minutes left
Then I notice the copying sequence. Like spit on a hot stove, successive files jump from folder to folder (work, travel, nature, blog, family, administrivia) and from type to type (JPEG, PDF, Word, Excel), in no discernible pattern.
17 seconds left
No human would copy files like this. Different humans would tackle the job differently, sure, but wouldn’t everyone tackle it in some, umm, you know, order? By source folder, perhaps, copying all the files relating to a given topic and then moving on to another folder. By file type, perhaps, copying all the photos first, and then all the Word documents.
<1 minute left
Could this jumping by file type be why the reported “time left” also keeps jumping around? Is the estimating algorithm extrapolating from the last file handled to all the thousands of remaining files? Over the laptop fan noise, I can almost hear the thought process . . .
Web-optimized photo? Hah! Easy-peasy. I’ll be done in no time. Next!
Word document? Excel spreadsheet? PowerPoint presentation? Stay right there, I’ll be done in a minute or two.
Unscrunched Adobe Acrobat file from a scanned document? Multi-megabyte, full-resolution photo? Oof. This will take a little longer.
12 minutes left
I sigh, and leave the office. While Dropbox is doing its thing in its own inscrutable way, it’s clearly better for my blood pressure if I do a different thing.
I think I’ll go pull one weed, wash one glass, prune one branch, throw one pair of jeans into the washer, dead-head one iris, wash one plate, tie up one runner of Virginia creeper, dust one end table, run to the store to buy one slice of bread, and run home to pull one more weed.
But don’t go anywhere: I’ll be done in just 11 seconds. Or 55 minutes.
I’m sure I can be as inscrutable and inestimable as any dagnabbed computer application. So there.