98% Remaining…

While the concept of a %-complete progress bar while installing computer applications or browsing web sites is, in theory, a good idea, the reality is somewhat different.

There’s a fundamental concept that is missing from the %-complete indicator: the unit of measure.

That is, does the progress bar an indicator of the Volume of data, the number of files to be written, or the duration of time expected for the process to finish.

I’ve had users say, “The progress bar in IE is all the way to the right, but there’s still nothing on the page… your system sucks!” Well, in that case, the progress bar is an indicator of time, not volume. That time value can vary depending on different factors.

How about waiting for an application to install–there’s that effing progress bar, scrolling across the page. Just when you think it’s finished, it jumps back to 0%, hoping you didn’t notice. In this case, it’s actually an indicator of the volume of data read or written to the drive for each file, not for the entire program–which, in some cases, may consist of hundreds, thousands, or tens of thousands of files. But it doesn’t say that.

I just spent an hour freezing my ass off in a datacenter waiting for one of those stupid progress indicators to go from 98% complete to 100%. The first 98% went by in about four minutes.

Tip: When you write an application that uses a progress bar, get out your stopwatch and time the process on an “average” computer. Do it a few times and record the highest number. Then, write your code to show the user how much time it’s expected to finish the needed process. 


It’s clearly a rare occasion when I actually write anything in my blog anymore — work, general photo stuff, my house, and my son keep me quite busy. Hopefully around October, things may lighten up a bit.

Couple of things to share quickly for those interested:

The house is coming along–rather slowly, but still coming along

– We’ve just had our floors delivered and I’ll be installing them sometime in June. Bamboo. Inexpensive but hopefully they’ll last and, if needed, tolerate refinishing in 15 years.

– Over Memorial Day weekend, I sprayed the ceiling in our bedroom (4 coats) then painted the walls (2 coats). Looks pretty good. As an aside, whenever I paint a room now, I start wishing I had new windows… someday.

– I also, while waiting for coats of paint to dry, laid all of the full 6” slate tiles for our new entryway (layout, test fits, Hardibacker, tile). This is the project that I was most pleased with; I’ve never done tile work before and it looks rather nice. Granted, it still needs grout, oh, and being a natural material, they’re not perfectly level, but I really like the results so far. Besides, Daisy called me a perfectionist while doing all the prep work for this, so I decided that they didn’t need to be absolutely straight and level. At some point, I’ll need to get a wet saw to do the cuts on the remaining tiles. Fortunately, the cuts are all in the coat closet.

Next projects will be installing wood floors, replacing doors and jambs, trim work, new windows. Wow… this is like work.

In other news, I’ve had a realization. Sure, this is something that others perhaps have realized before me, but it seems appropriate given the state of the nation and the world:

Frodo Failed:
George Bush Has the Ring!