Like most blog postings this is a rant. Basically why are there so many simple tasks that have to be handled by such complex systems? Let’s start with the kiosks I had to build for a gift certificate company I was starting up. This was iGift.com, a venture backed by Isiah Thomas that was created to do online fulfillment of gift certificates for shopping malls and downtown shopping districts. The online stuff was straight forward. But we had to put kiosks in local stores that would dispense gift certificates so I found a company that would build the application as well as the beautiful purple boxes to hold the computers. The elements were simple: A touch screen display with seven screens for the shopper to work through, a card swiper, and a modem. The only kiosk vendors I could find delivered this package on Windows NT. I reluctantly figured they knew what they were doing. I began to doubt that when I found I had to visit each kiosk once a day to reboot it, until they sent a little utility that did that for me every night at midnight.
The next case of using way too much computing power for a simple task is seen in this picture. I saw this at the Frankfurt airport: a scanner of boarding passes caught in the process of booting Windows 2000.
It always annoys me that just to present a Power Point slide deck you need to use a whole computer. How many times have you been giving a presentation and have some warning or notice pop up? This picture was taken at the SC Magazine Awards Ceremony at this year’s RSA conference. The overhead screens were just cycling through the logos of various sponsors and this anti-virus update warning popped up.
Why can’t you just put your presentation on a USB dongle and plug that into the projector?
And then the all time most idiotic use of a computer is captured in this picture. I just took this picture Monday on my way through security at the Detroit Airport. These monitors have only one function: to display that green background and arrow to indicate an open line for a metal detector. Even when the line is closed the display is not changed.
Why do we need this kind of computing power thrown at the simplest tasks?