Monday, April 13, 2009

Black Holes and Electronic Time Sinks

Some people think black holes are a myth. I can't speak intelligently on the fine points of black holes--or quantum physics, for that matter--but I can prove one exists in my computer, and it's sucking up my time. I should be fair to my poor little laptop--the black hole in it isn't unique. There's one in the big 19-inch flat-screen monitor the laptop is frequently attached to in the studio. There's one in the TV in the kitchen. And there's a really big one in the living room, in close proximity to the home entertainment system. All of these black holes seem to attract me, pulling me into their orbit and suctioning off seconds, minutes, and hours until I wonder what happened to all my free time.

I like technology. Technology is my friend, and that wonderful, vast network of networks (the Internet) encircling the globe has allowed me to explore libraries, visit museums, and talk to people around the world, transcending time and space. However, all this lovely technology takes time--inordinate amounts of time. A lovely example is the time I spent this weekend with the laptop, a high-speed connection, several pieces of software, and a large quantity of time. I downloaded a bunch of rare episodes of Doctor Who, along with the recently aired (in Britain) Doctor Who Easter special, Planet of the Dead, and two of the most recent episodes of another British sci-fi sitcom, Red Dwarf. Once downloaded, the recently-aired TV programs had to be converted to a format compatible with the DVD recorder in the home entertainment system ("ripping"). The downloading wasn't a problem--I can read and answer e-mail, chat with people, and blog as necessary while downloading, but ripping is another matter. Ripping requires most of the available memory (I have 2GB of RAM), so everything else s l o w s t o a c r a w l while the software works its magic...slowly. I have to keep checking back on the progress of the programs while they're working, and each time I sit down, I have to swing through my e-mail accounts and check the Ravelry fora for any new messages. And there goes a bit more time, lost while sitting in front of the computer instead of my wheel, or with my needlework in my hands.

Is there a solution for this odd time-space problem? I haven't come up with one...yet. But give me time; if I don't lose it to the black hole inside this little box, maybe I can come up with a solution.